Defund the Police

The phrase “Defund the Police” is a slogan often associated with the Black Lives Matter movement, especially popularized after the death of George Floyd due to police brutality in 2020. 

For supporters of the slogan, this phrase is often a justified and deeply felt reaction to what they see as longstanding racism and abuse of power among police officers, who they believe unfairly target racial minorities. They see defunding the police and reallocating funds to support people in marginalized communities as a way to reduce aggression toward minorities and as part of a path to justice. They often see those who oppose their slogan as supporting the institutions of systemic racism and hate.

Those who oppose the slogan see this phrase as an unfair attack on police officers who risk their lives to save others, and who have an impressively positive record overall in  very difficult situations. They believe reducing police funding not only puts lives in danger, but increases crime and violence, particularly among less affluent, often minority, communities who cannot afford private security. 

Many supporters of the slogan hope to reallocate funds that are currently used on policing to alternative solutions like unarmed social workers who they argue are better equipped to deal with mental health issues; furthermore, others argue that the funds should be used on the education sector or healthcare, rather than policing. 

Those against the movement argue that the foundational beliefs backing up the Defund the Police movement represent a false narrative, arguing that police have been unfairly demonized and that policing is not racist, as is claimed. They argue racial census data is the wrong benchmark for evaluating police behavior and that the proper benchmark is crime rates, arguing officers are deployed to where criminals are active. They argue an anti-cop narrative has been woven out of the public’s lack of knowledge of criminal offending and victimization data, and that police target high-crime areas, not specific races.

Many activists urging for defunding the police want to reduce the prison population and call for a gradual transition of funding from policing and correctional facilities to education, investments in underfunded neighborhoods, and mental health services. Activists believe that the cycle of violence must be eradicated from its roots, which they say often results from the current criminal justice system itself, arguing people with a past criminal record are less likely to find a job to be able to support their families, leading to more poverty, which often leads to more crimes and violence. They believe helping these communities instead of punishing them could be an apt solution.

People who oppose defunding the police typically argue that the root of injustice and inequality is not the criminal justice system itself, but rather, fatherlessness and other factors that ought to be addressed on a cultural level rather than through funding reallocation away from police forces.