Jun 7, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Black Lives Matter co-founder explains "Defund the police" slogan

Black Lives Matter co-founder Alicia Garza told NBC's "Meet the Press" on Sunday that growing calls to "defund the police" are not about eliminating police departments, but about reinvesting funds toward "the resources that our communities need."

Why it matters: Some activists say the only solution to fixing systemic issues in law enforcement is to defund and dramatically scale back police forces nationwide. But some Republicans, including President Trump, have seized on the politically charged slogan to paint Democrats as radicals.

  • Washington, D.C., Mayor Muriel Bowser has faced backlash for debuting a "Black Lives Matter" mural on a city street on Friday while still proposing an increase to the D.C. Metropolitan Police Department's annual budget.
  • A day later, protesters painted their own message — "Defund the Police" — after Black Lives Matter D.C. accused Bowser of using the mural as a "performative distraction from real policy changes."
  • In Minneapolis, meanwhile, Mayor Jacob Frey was told by protesters to go home after he refused to commit to defunding the police department.

What she's saying: "So much of policing right now is generated and directed towards quality-of-life issues, homelessness, drug addiction, domestic violence," Garza said. "What we do need is increased funding for housing, we need increased funding for education, we need increased funding for quality of life of communities who are over-policed and over-surveilled."

  • "Are we willing to live in fear that our lives will be taken by police officers who are literally using their power in the wrong way, or are we willing to adopt and absorb the fear of what it might mean to change our practices, which will ultimately lead to a better quality of life for everyone."
  • "Seven years ago people thought that Black Lives Matter was a radical idea. And yet Black Lives Matter is now a household name and it's something being discussed across kitchen tables all over the world. Why can't we start to look at how it is that we reorganize our priorities so that people don't have to be in the streets protesting during a national pandemic?"
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