Understanding ‘Defund the Police’

I’m tired of hearing people who assume they know what “Defund the Police” means terribly mischaracterize it, without even spending two minutes to read a little about it and find out for themselves. I’m tired of hearing our air-conditioner repair man turned Governor of Tennessee continue to either ignorantly or intentionally mischaracterize it.

Unsurprisingly, it always seems to be the so-called Conservatives who intentionally mischaracterize the, admittedly less-than-perfect, terms and slogans adopted by those seeking Freedom and Equality in this nation (radical ideas to be sure!).

So, it’s sadly not at all surprising that the same people who read “Black Lives Matter”1 and — due to their own biases, implicit or otherwise — manage to hear2 “ONLY Black Lives Matter”, instead of what has always been the clear meaning of the phrase, which is that “Black Lives ALSO Matter”, are today reading “Defund the Police” and seeing “close all the police departments”, instead of what the actual meaning is.

Now, to be clear, there are a few people who want just that, to get rid of all police departments and police, but even so, it doesn’t mean they want a nation of chaos where no one at all even attempts to enforce the law. Regardless, these calls — with which I do not agree — are being made by an extremely small number of people.

No, “Defund the Police” is simply the recognition that police officers are being asked to do too much in modern America.

As John Oliver pointed out in his show of 5 June 2020 (linked here), the issue that today is being called “Defund the Police” was actually explained perfectly well four years ago by then Dallas Police Chief David Brown during a press conference on Monday, 11 July 2016, after a gunman and U.S. Army veteran of the Afghan War, shot and killed five Dallas police officers, and wounded nine others, after the conclusion of a peaceful Black Lives Matter demonstration — just one of a number of protests held across the country on the night of 7 July in the wake of the killings by police officers of Alton Sterling in Louisiana and Philando Castile in Minnesota, just days before — and just as a peaceful march was taking place just several blocks from Dealey Plaza.

We’re asking cops to do too much in this country. We are, we’re just asking us to do too much. Every societal failure, we put it off on the cops to solve. Not enough mental health funding, “let the cops handle it.” Not enough drug addiction funding, “let’s give it to the cops.” Here in Dallas, we got a loose dog problem, “let’s have the cops chase loose dogs.” You know, schools fail, “give it to the cops.” Uh, seventy percent of the African American community is being raised by single women, “let’s give it to the cops, to solve that as well.”

That’s too much to ask; policing was never meant to solve all those problems. And I’ll just ask for other parts of our Democracy, along with the Free Press, to help us. To help us, and not put that burden all on law enforcement to resolve.

As Dave Chappelle touched on in his remarkable and seemingly improptu performance, “8:46” (linked here), the shooter was a Black military veteran, one in a line of Black military veterans involved in the shootings of police officers in recent years.

yeah, in a minute…

1 For more on the meaning and importance of “Black Lives Matter”, please see the truly exceptional YouTube series, Uncomfortable Conversations with a Black Man, by Fox Sports Analyst and former NFL linebacker Emmanuel Acho. Both Episode 1, and episode 2 (with Matthew McConaughey), deal specifically with “Black Lives Matter” and Acho’s explanations are clear, concise and unequivocal.

2 Not at all unline the classic “he said, she heard” (or vice-versa) scenario.

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