On Defunding Police

#DefundthePolice is the primary overarching demand of the Movement for Black Lives, and many cities are beginning to make tentative moves in this direction. Why are police the problem, and why is the answer defunding and not reforming the police?

“My plea for discipline in this moment is particularly for white progressives and radicals. I can’t tell you how many Black folks reposted the New York Times opinion piece by Betsy Hodges, “As Mayor of Minneapolis, I Saw How White Liberals Block Change”. White allies, much as I love you, I have to say, you have a history that has marginalized folks of color. White progressives, this is your time to get this right.”

What’s Needed Right Now: Discipline and a Diversification of Tactics, by Eric K. Ward

Violent protests are not the story. Police violence is. by Dylan Scott
The protests will eventually end. But state-sanctioned violence against black Americans won’t.

Structural Violence, a pretty academic summary
As a rule, structural violence is instituted to keep power among those who already have it by systematically depriving those underneath of certain needs, thereby creating a system of haves and have-nots and making it difficult, if not impossible, for those suffering under some form of structural violence to raise themselves into a better socioeconomic position.

Seven Reasons Police Brutality Is Systemic, Not Anecdotal, by Bonnie Kristian
Despite the increasing frequency with which we hear of misbehaving cops, many Americans maintain a default respect for the man in uniform. As an NYPD assistant chief put it, “We don’t want a few bad apples or a few rogue cops damaging” the police’s good name. This is an attractive proposal, certainly, but unfortunately it doesn’t hold up to scrutiny.

A Judge Asked Harvard to Find Out Why So Many Black People Were In Prison. They Could Only Find 1 Answer: Systemic Racism, by Michael Harriot
After gathering the raw numbers from nearly every government agency in the state’s criminal justice system, examining the data, and researching the disparate outcomes, Harvard Law School’s Criminal Justice Policy Program found that Black incarcerees received more severe charges, harsher sentences and less favorable outcomes than their white counterparts.

Militarization has fostered a policing culture that sets up protesters as ‘the enemy’, by Tom Nolan
The militarization of police departments has been a feature of U.S. domestic law enforcement since the 9/11 attacks. What is clear from the latest round of protest and response, is that despite efforts to promote de-escalation as a policy, police culture appears to be stuck in an “us vs. them” mentality.

‘It’s More Than Just Tragic’: Ma’Khia Bryant and the Burden of Black Girlhood, by Alisha Haridasani Gupta
The report found that Black girls as young as 5 years old are held to adultlike standards and, in turn, receive harsher punishments for their behavior: Black girls are more likely to be suspended or arrested at school than their white peers, often for minor infractions, like using their cellphones or throwing tantrums. In another report by the same researchers, one girl recalled that in elementary school, during a game at recess, she had thrown a ball and it had hit another girl in the face. She was then accused of assault and battery. Others shared that if they spoke up in class, they were labeled sassy or outspoken, while their white peers were seen as intelligent.

Police act like laws don’t apply to them because of ‘qualified immunity.’ They’re right. by Patrick Jaicomo and Anya Bidwell
There’s a legal obstacle that’s nearly impossible to overcome when police officers and government officials violate our constitutional and civil rights.

“Increasingly Rightwing” Police Unions Have Made Policing More Dangerous In America, posted by Jason Kottke
The political ideologies of police unions moved further to the right in response to calls for reform from the Obama administration and groups like Black Lives Matter, resulting in increasing violence and a lack of accountability & consequences for police.

De-escalation Keeps Protesters And Police Safer. Departments Respond With Force Anyway, by Maggie Koerth and Jamiles Lartey
Researchers have spent 50 years studying the way crowds of protesters and crowds of police behave — and what happens when the two interact. One thing they will tell you is that when the police respond by escalating force — wearing riot gear from the start, or using tear gas on protesters — it doesn’t work.

How Much Do We Need The Police? from the Code Switch blog, by Leah Donnella
There are obviously a lot of people who agree broadly with the notion that the way that policing happens in this country is a problem and that there needs to be some sort of change. But they’re pretty invested in the idea that police are needed to maintain public safety. People ask the question, without police, what do you do when someone gets murdered? What do you do when someone’s house gets robbed?

The answer to police violence is not ‘reform’. It’s defunding. Here’s why, by Alex S Vitale
Bias training, body cameras, community dialogues — Minneapolis has tried them all. It’s not working. We need a better response.
And if you liked that, try his book: The End of Policing, by Alex S. Vitale

Somewhat tangential but definitely related to this debate:
I’m a Black gun owner. I have mixed feelings about gun control, by Akin Olla
I believe in many forms of gun control, but the conversation about guns on the left often lacks complexity as we scramble for a simple answer to an extremely complicated problem. I don’t have much faith that the government will protect me or other minority Americans from the kind of violence that the police ostensibly exist to combat, and I know that gun control laws have historically been used to target Black people, particularly Black socialists like myself.

The Pandemic Is the Right Time to Defund the Police, by Melissa Gira Grant
The coronavirus has slowed much American police work, but the rate of police killings has remained relatively unchanged. Even when oversight is exercised, police continue to kill and keep their jobs. Now some cities are being urged to take a broader view: to shrink the police force altogether through the power of the budget, particularly at a moment when so many other social programs and essential services are at risk of being cut during a pandemic.

Policing the Colony: From the American Revolution to Ferguson, by Chris Hayes
“The existence of the Bill of Rights is an acknowledgment of the fact that democracy, by itself, is no guarantee against the potential excesses of the state’s police power. But on the ground in Ferguson, the Bill of Rights itself seemed to have no force.”

about Fred Hampton, by Claire Willet
“not to be the white asshole who just got here five minutes ago & is already like “I CAN’T BELIEVE YOU DIDN’T KNOW THIS, GOD, MEGAN,” but in researching my book I learned some stuff history class omitted which might be helpful to other white folks, specifically about Fred Hampton”