‘Defund the Police’ Gains Groundswell of Support on Social Media — But What Does it Actually Mean?


As George Floyd’s death continues to spark calls for racial justice and the end of police brutality, America remains locked in a debate about what actions must be taken to make those goals a reality. As a natural consequence of this conversation, questions have been raised about the future of law enforcement and whether the country’s policing practices need to be reformed, restricted or even abolished altogether.

That’s where the rallying cry to “defund the police” comes into play.

The call means different things for different people. The push to take funding away from police departments has drawn traction among protesters, and there are different perspectives on how far people want to take it. The View provided a case study for this discussion on Monday when Meghan McCain tried to press Senator Kamala Harris (D-CA) on whether she’s on board with the message.

McCain asked about the Minneapolis city council’s plan to dismantle their police department despite the mayor’s opposition. As Harris tried to explain that she supports community development over increased police funding, McCain asked again “Are you for defunding the police?”

“How are you defining ‘defund the police?’” Harris retorted.

“Well, I’m not for anything remotely for that,” McCain answered, providing her interpretation of the slogan.

“We need to reimagine how we are achieving public safety in America,” Harris replied.

To put it simply, the slogan refers to the enacting spending cuts to the money city budgets allocate to police departments.

Defunding the police is hardly a new topic of debate, though the Floyd protests have prompted a renewed calls for the move — and potential action in Minneapolis. It’s worth noting that not all proponents of the move are necessarily calling for police budgets to be completely wiped out.

Washington Post contributor Christy Lopez explained in an op-ed that some people want the police to have their role in society recalibrated, with cops trained in better ways to protect their communities. Others, like Senator Harris, believe in reallocating excess funds from police departments in order to support social services. And then, there are those who believe that over-policing has perpetuated systemic injustice against minorities, the poor, and the mentally ill, and that reform is not enough to change that system.

President Donald Trump and others have seized on the “defund the police” slogan to attack their political foes as supporting lawlessness. And while Trump has sought to tie his 2020 opponent Joe Biden to the push, a spokesman for the former vice president and Democratic nominee said Monday he is not in favor of defunding the police.

As the phrase got picked up amid continued protests this week, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti and New York Mayor Bill de Blasio both made news by moving to reduce police funding in their respective cities. The fact remains, however, that there is not a clear answer to the question of what “defund the police” means, and the only way to reach a productive discussion is if all necessary viewpoints are incorporated into the conversation.

Watch above, via ABC.

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