In a lengthy tweet storm, singer John Legend defended the movement to “defund” the police and attempted to explain the goals behind it.
I know this word “defund” has caused some controversy, even from some who are inclined to agree with a lot of the underlying arguments. Some hear that word and envision The Purge, some dystopian descent into anarchy
Some intentionally want to cast the argument in extremes like that so they can score political points. But I ask that those of you who are reasonable and actually care about making this country healthy and safe for all people engage with the thoughtful arguments in this piece
Police funding takes up a huge portion of our local budgets. Budgets are moral documents which spell out in black and white what our priorities are. We have finite amounts of money to spend and right now we spend far too much on policing
And that choice comes at a cost. We defund housing support, health care, education and child care, the arts, drug treatment, community centers, all sorts of services that would actually reduce the problems that we ask the police to surveil and contain
Whenever there are budget cuts, those “softer” services are on the chopping block first. And, since we know we’re not solving the underlying problems, we figure we better keep a huge police force to contain them. Let’s resolve to do differently. Let’s imagine a healthier world
This doesn’t mean there will be no police; it means there should be significantly fewer police and more professionals of other types with expertise in their fields, whether it’s social work, health care, conflict resolution, drug treatment, etc
“defund” is the word because it says we’re taking away some funding from one budget item and moving it to higher priorities. “reform” or “retrain” does not at all suggest the same thing. We’ve been supposedly doing the latter for decades
It’s not the job of grass roots activists on the left to craft political messaging for mainstream democratic candidates. I’m almost 100% sure Biden won’t be tweeting #DefundThePolice
. It’s the job of activists to push these politicians toward meaningful change.
Everyone was saying $15 minimum wage and Medicare for All and gay marriage were also unrealistic and ridiculous but activists moved the conversation and pushed politicians toward progress
See tweet below: