I was disheartened to read this piece (maybe I misunderstood it — if so, I apologize), because many people who are calling for defunding of the police are communities of color. Specifically, black people — including the co-founder of BLM. Many black leaders have been leading this call all week. They’re not calling for an abolishment of the police, but an examination of the overwhelming disproportionate amount of tax dollars that are currently funding rubber bullets, riot gear, and more importantly, police bonuses and pensions for officers who have a long history of terrorizing black people.
In Los Angeles, where I’ve lived for the past five years, the budget was slated to receive a $700 million increase from last year, most of which was earmarked for bonuses. Bonuses given to police officers who’ve recently violated the civil and human rights of protestors. Bonuses given to the LAPD, which has notoriously terrorized black people. This week, Police chief Michael Moore blamed the protestors for George Floyd’s death before he was forced to walk it back. This is where my hard-earned money is going? Fat pensions and bonuses? Racist top cops who are protecting and serving white people?
I encourage you to listen to some of the stories from this week’s livestream with the commissioner to understand why we’re angry about how MUCH of the budget is allocated to the police and how those funds are used.
Especially when said police officers are detaining protestors without reading their Miranda rights, among other abuses.
I can also confidently say the same for NY, my home of forty years, where white citizens knew of the NYPD’s history of violence and racism, the corruption that goes back to the 70s, and their gross overfunded pensions. This week alone, gas was sprayed on peaceful protestors, we saw leaked racist comments from the union head, police barrelling into peaceful protestors, and my friend who lives in BK shared a video where officers in Crown Heights blasted a song “Ni***** Love a Watermelon”. I can literally go on and on and on. Even the mayor’s staff is calling for the police to be defunded.
We have a right to examine how much we’re funding the police, how that money is used, and if it should be reallocated or funneled into other programs. We have a right to question the people we pay to protect and serve and if they’re truly doing just that. Are they doing their jobs? Are they protecting and serving all people? Are they operating within the confines of the law? Are they acting like decent, compassionate people? If I was in a company and was bad at my job, I would be fired — I most certainly would not be getting bonuses. Why can’t we hold police officers to that same standard?