“Back the Blue” advocates would have you believe that the “defund the police” rallying cry is a call to end policing in America outright. While there certainly are those who wish to abolish the police, “defund the police” is a call to take some of the funding normally granted to police departments and allocate them to other things such as mental health resources or social work.
In Seattle—a city that saw so many protests against systemic racism in policing over the summer that the Department of Justice declared it an “anarchist jurisdiction”—officials appear to be honoring “defund the police” calls by slashing the city’s police department’s budget for 2021, but not by as much as activists wanted.
NBC News reports that the Seattle City Council decided Monday to cut the budget of the Seattle Police Department by nearly 17 percent. Many activists demanded the department’s budget be cut by 50 percent, but Mayor Jenny Durkan basically said, “Nah, but we’ll cut a little bit.”
“I believe we are laying the groundwork to make systemic and lasting changes to policing,” Durkan said in a statement. “We have rightly put forward a plan that seeks to ensure SPD has enough officers to meet 911 response and investigative needs throughout the city, while acknowledging and addressing the disproportionate impacts policing has had on communities of color, particularly Black communities.”
Council member Teresa Mosqueda, who heads the the budget committee, said it was a top priority to “downsize the SPD’s budget” and move money to other social programs that will “invest in community alternatives that produce healthy outcomes for” minority communities.
“We have much more work to do, and we must get to work on those next steps now,” Mosqueda said.
According to a city hall spokeswoman, Durkan is expected to sign the 2021 budget into law next week.