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Posted under: Culture

How Defunding The Police Helps To Defund Racism

Radical? Yes. Necessary? Yes.

This year, Governor Gretchen Whitmer of Michigan, settled a four-year long case in which a group of  Black students in Detroit had to fight for the literal right to literacy. In 2016, these students filed a lawsuit against the state of Michigan for the abominable conditions of Detroit schools while also arguing that it is a constitutional right for students to receive proper schooling. Yes, this is a massive win for the students, organizers and so many others but no one, especially students, should have to fight for adequate funding and education. Defunding the police could help prevent other students from having to take on that unfair battle.

When you hear, “defund the police,” what comes to mind? Do you think it means dismantling police departments to the point of stripping protections away from communities? Or do you feel that it means, one day we’ll walk outside to relive a scene of The Purge because there are no law enforcement officials to protect us? Defunding the police equates to none of these options but it does involve the redistribution of resources to other community territories that need it.

via GIPHY

Minneapolis made waves this month when its city council announced that they planned to move forward with defunding their police department . This monumental decision came off the heels of two weeks of demonstrations protesting the murder of George Floyd at the hands of former officer Derek Chauvin. As such, the #DefundPolice movement has picked up, with many rejoicing at the possibility while others were not so enthused . As we make strides towards unpacking racism and oppression, we need to factor in police brutality and why defunding the police is necessary.

When federal, local and state governments invest upwards of billions of dollars into this oppressive system that disproportionately affects communities of color, there needs to be real conversation about investing those funds in areas that could actually save Black lives. It becomes more than a trending problem when The American Public Health Association declares police violence a public health issue. It’s a crisis. If we actually reinvested the colossal amounts of money that are put into the police force, there would be opportunities to analyze what the root of these issues are instead of subjecting our people to an inherently racist system. This “divest and invest” strategy would seek to create real safety by improving the lives of Black people through investing in facets of the community such as education, healthcare and more as well as reducing interactions with the police.

When it comes to healthcare, If COVID-19 has shown us anything, it’s revealed just how wide the healthcare gap is for Black people. Due to preexisting health issues that disproportionately affect the Black population in the U.S., COVID-19 has ravaged our communities by intensifying these conditions.

Until we get to a point where it isn’t open season on Black people, abolishing the police force will save more Black lives than an intact police force. If community issues such as autistic patients straying away from their caretakers trigger police officers to fire their weapons, there’s a major problem.  It is a clear indicator that structural changes are necessary. To defund the police is to protect Black lives like caretaker Charles Kinsey and his autistic patient Arnolda Soto, who survived an unjustified police shooting; Breonna Taylor, who was murdered by police in her sleep; George Floyd, who was suffocated by police; Black COVID-19 victims, whose poor access to healthcare made them more vulnerable; and those seven students who fought for the right to literacy in Detroit. We have been shown time and time again that we don’t need better policing, we need a world without policing.

Channeling money into a system that profits off the disenfranchisement of people of color sends a direct message that Black (and brown) lives do not matter. Organizations like Detroit Action, Black Visions Collective and so many other abolitionist groups have been championing this movement for years and it’s time we all follow suit. It is no longer a discussion on matters of opinion, now it’s right versus wrong. As it stands, defunding the police is the necessary step in preserving communities of color who are on the receiving end of this harsh system and its repressive policies.

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A Detroit native, Kenneth 'Kenny' Williams Jr. is a self-described cultural critic and visual storyteller. While at Michigan State University, Kenneth received a Bachelor of Arts degree in Communications and went on to obtain his Master of Arts degree in Public Relations. Kenneth's passions include pop culture, writing, and using his skill sets to actively and positively promote the narratives of Black people and Black culture. Interested in seeing more from Kenneth? Follow him on Medium at https://medium.com/@kennethwilliams310