‘The time has come to defund the police’
The open letter was organised by Patrisse Cullors, one of the co-founders of Black Lives Matter, and a founding member of the Movement 4 Black Lives, a coalition of more than one hundred Black rights organisations. It calls for police spending to be reallocated on things like health care, education, and community programmes.
The letter opens by placing the recent George Floyd protests in the context of other recent Black murders: Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, Dreasjon Reed, and Tony McDade. It also discusses how at the same time black people are suffering disproportionately from COVID-19, “four times more likely to die than their white neighbours”.
“It is important to state this within the context of the scourge of anti-Black police terror and the resulting uprisings taking place across the US,” the letter reads. “The COVID-19 deaths and the deaths caused by police terror are connected and consequential to each other. The United States does not have a national healthcare system. Instead, we have the largest military budget in the world, and some of the most well-funded and militarised police departments in the world, too.”
“Policing and militarisation overwhelmingly dominate the bulk of national and local budgets. In fact, police and military funding has increased every single year since 1973, and at the same time, funding for public health decreased every year, crystallised most recently when the Trump administration eliminated the US Pandemic Response Team in 2018, citing ‘costs’.”
The letter highlights how state and local government spending on police and corrections jumped from $60 billion to $194 billion between 1977 and 2017, and lays out alternative ways for the money to be used, concluding: “The time has come to defund the police.”
The letter asks signatories to demand their local officials take a pledge to vote ‘no’ on all increases to police spending, vote ‘yes’ to decrease police spending and budgets, and vote ‘yes’ to increase spending on health care, education, and community programmes.
You can read the letter in full here.