Celebrities have joined forces drafting an open letter demanding local governments stop providing increases in funds to police.
Among the gilded names are: Lizzo, John Legend, Natalie Portman, Jane Fonda and The Weeknd, Talib Kweli, America Ferrera, Taraji P. Henson and many more.
The letter was released by Black Lives Matter co-founder and activist Patrisse Cullors. The overture is in conjunction with Movement 4 Black Lives, a coalition of over 100 black rights organizations.
The “open demand” letter to “defund” the police requests that governments quit increasing police budgets and instead redistribute those funds. Alternative spending would go to: healthcare, neighborhood infrastructure and education. All to help support communities across the country, particularly communities of color.
The letter was released in the aftermath of the death of George Floyd. It links the horrific deaths caused by both the coronavirus pandemic and police brutality.
“The COVID-19 deaths and the deaths caused by police terror are connected and consequential to each other,” the letter states.
The United States has “the largest military budget in the world” yet comes up short in the healthcare department.
“The United States does not have a national healthcare system,” the letter reads. “Policing and militarisation overwhelmingly dominate the bulk of national and local budgets.”
The Defund Conundrum
The letter claims that police and military funding has increased every year since 1973. However, “funding for public health decreased every year”.
It also highlights the Trump administration’s 2018 elimination of the US Pandemic Response Team.
“Vote no on all increases to police budgets. Vote yes to decrease police spending and budgets. Vote yes to increase spending on healthcare, education and community programs that keep us safe,” the letter reads.
Ms Cullors said that the letter does not ask for all funding to police be eliminated. Instead, supporters demand unnecessary funds as well as tasks of police departments be shifted to other suitable departments with a higher need.
“Law enforcement should not be the first responder for mental health crises, they shouldn’t be the first responders for drug and alcohol abuse,” said Cullors. “There are a significant number of public health crises that law enforcement are forced to be the first responders to but should not be, and we could actually reallocate those dollars and give them back to the community.
“I’m talking about renegotiation of where we prioritise our money. Right now it’s mostly prisons and police, and we want to reallocate those dollars and put them into the community.”
Advocates for police reform say that the phrase “defund the police” doesn’t mean what many people think it means. “Be not afraid,” Christy E. Lopez, a Georgetown University law professor, wrote in The Washington Post. “‘Defunding the police’ is not as scary (or even as radical) as it sounds.”
What it actually means, these advocates say, is reducing police budgets and no longer asking officers to do many jobs that they often don’t even want to do: resolving family and school disputes, moving homeless people into shelters and so on. Instead, funding for education, health care and other social services would increase.