The demand to “Defund the
Police” is organic and legitimate. It has risen to a national
discussion and we must be super clear on what this means to local
communities before the racist power structure decides for us. If we
are to have meaningful, lasting reforms, the Black Lives Matter
movement must lay specific proposals in front of their local and
state houses now. We need disciplined and strategic organization to
ensure change is in place.
common denominator in the meaning of defunding the police is that
there will be no more increases in police budgets, and that funds
diverted from the sacred, bloated budgets will be invested in meeting
human needs. The divested dollars would be pumped into community
mental health services, housing programs, youth recreation, training
and employment, childcare, parks, and education.
corporations like Nike, Target and the NFL gave their employees
Juneteenth off as a paid holiday. We should see this as a payoff when
most of them have less than stellar practices related to the hiring,
retention and supporting of Black employees. It wasn’t that
long ago that Roger Goodell and the NFL smacked down the righteous
concerns of quarterback Colin Kaepernick regarding police violence
against Black men and booted him out of the game (forever?). A sorry
from Goodell’s sorry ass is empty until he makes substantive
changes in his own racist organization.
not get the strategy twisted or let it get derailed. Confederate
statutes or Aunt Jemina on the pancake box are symbols of white
supremacy. Dealing with those symbolic reminders of oppression are
important but they don’t change the real power dynamics in this
country. If they changed Jemina’s name to Zuri and put her in
African attire, police terrorism of Black communities would not stop.
If Juneteenth was made a national holiday tomorrow, we would still
have a huge racial income gap in this country.
are many well-intentioned people who’ve flooded the streets of
cities across the nation. They are showing up in support of Black
lives but may not know where and how to turn their expressions of
outrage into policies and legislation that will hold lawless
institutions accountable. Some windows are closing on the
opportunities to actualize demands not to mention the stalling
tactics being used by local and state officials. Their plan is to
just outwait the angry folks and it’ll be business as usual.
demand from the streets to defund police departments has resounded
across the country because we collectively came to the same
realization. The budgets of police continue to balloon while social
services and programs get cut. Defund the police means different
things to different people, and the meaning falls along a wide
spectrum from getting so-called School Resource Officers out of
schools to ending hyper-surveillance programs.
the police will look different in each city and town. It will be
based upon the local demands, the political landscape, and the
organizing capacity of the community to follow through. This country
gets selective amnesia when it comes to racism. That’s why
there’s a memory gap on promises made six years ago when
Michael Brown was murdered by a Ferguson cop. We must be vigilant and
alert. As communities start scrutinizing the local police budgets,
they will be met with a seemingly impenetrable wall. They may be
surprised at what they might find—or what they can’t
find. Sometimes these budgets have many layers and unions have been
successful at keeping their complete budgets and bargaining contracts
secret. Elected officials are hesitant to take this bull by the horns
because of the strength of police unions, their ability to retaliate,
and the expansive influence of their political donations. Do not be
deterred. This wall must be cracked if there’s to be any
progress on police accountability.
there are some principles which have emerged from police terrorism
work that are helpful in keeping local efforts grounded. We should
not support any reforms that consolidates state or corporate power.
We should not support any policy or decision that harms Black lives.
Our work should always be moving us towards a genuine re-alignment of
political and economic power.
movement and its allies have proven we will go through COVID-19 to
express our outrage over the continued racist murders of Black people
at the hands of cops and their wanna-be enforcers. Now we must go
through the blue wall to get what we need.