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Defunding the police is a viable option

Defunding the police is a viable option

Defunding the police is a viable option
June 20
12:00 2020

It was May 25 when the murder of George Floyd was caught on camera. Former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin placed his knee on Floyd’s neck to subdue him despite Floyd telling him repeatedly that “he couldn’t breathe.” Floyd was pinned to the ground for eight minutes and 46 seconds, resulting in his death. Though this is far from the first act of blatant misuse of authority and police brutality, it seems to be the straw that broke the camel’s back as it ignited protests worldwide. These protests have now led to talks of defunding the police.

What does it mean to defund the police exactly? It means to “remove funds from the police department and invest them in social services such as mental health, domestic violence and homelessness,” according to an article from CNN. What kind of impact does that have exactly? It means as a society, we are turning away from looking at the police as public servants and being the first ones that we turn to for help. Though it’s rarely been done before, I believe we should look for alternatives. Minneapolis City Council members unanimously voted to replace the police department in favor of a community-led public safety system. Though plans are still being conjured up by the city council, the vote is veto proof.

As a person of color, I’ve witnessed corruption in the police force firsthand. I remember waking up on a school night to an officer flashing a light in my face and telling me to show both hands as he placed a hand on his holster. They were looking for my father because he violated probation and they asked to enter the house which my mother gave consent to. She quickly retracted her consent and told them to leave as they didn’t have a warrant.

The police searched for my father at my aunt’s house and the situation escalated to them roughing up my uncle and cuffing him to a chair. When they did get a hold of my father, he was beaten and taken to the hospital because searching for him was too inconvenient for them. I’ve had other encounters such as being pulled over for not having my headlights on that led to me being pinned to the ground and handcuffed due to miscommunication between me and an officer. As a person of color, being pulled over by an officer feels like it can lead to a life or death situation.

Personal experiences aside, the Black Lives Matter movement has been dominating trends across multiple social media platforms such as Twitter and Instagram in an effort to spread the message that people are done watching Black Americans and other people of color get murdered by authorities who were sworn in to protect them. If that wasn’t enough, these officers seldom face severe repercussions for their actions.

It isn’t uncommon for these officers to get dismissed by their department only for them to get rehired in another, adding insult to injury. Though Chauvin and the three other officers have since been arrested for Floyd’s murder, Chauvin is still eligible to receive pension and other benefits while he’s incarcerated unless he’s convicted of his second-degree murder charge. On top of that, no charges have been filed out of 1500 shootings committed by police in LA county.

Though there are justifiable concerns about the total abolishment of the police department, I believe if there are solid plans to replace the police department with a safer community-led model, then we should take that risk. For decades, we’ve tried having faith in a justice system that has let its community down time and time again. I believe there are cops who have genuine intentions to protect the people, but there has been too much violence inflicted on members of so many communities. If a cop murders a single civilian, I consider that a betrayal of the cop’s oath which means they have betrayed the people entirely. Floyd isn’t the first victim and he likely will not be the last, but we can make sure justice is served even if it’s at the expense of the police force. Change cannot wait any longer.

Featured Illustration: Olivia Varnell

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Adrian Maldonado

Adrian Maldonado

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