An increasing number of artists have signed an open letter to defund the police. Among those who have signed include John Legend, Common, the Weeknd, Lizzo, Jane Fonda, Megan Rapinoe, Yada Shahidi, and Anthony Romero, the executive director of the ACLU, according to Rolling Stone.
The letter was released by activist Patrisse Cullors, a co-founder of Black Lives Matter and a founding member of the Movement 4 Black Lives, a coalition of more than 100 black-rights organizations
This doesn’t necessarily mean end the police, though that isn’t as radical an idea as you may think, but instead stop increasing funding, and shift the money to other vital services. This would include health care, education, job opportunities, community programs and more that would help to prevent root causes of crime, racial and economic inequalities. Instead of playing whack-a-mole with crime, prevent the moles from even coming up.
It cites the deaths of unarmed black people like George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, Tony McDade, in addition to the impact of COVID-19 has had on the black community.
“Policing and militarization 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, crystallized most recently when the Trump administration eliminated the US Pandemic Response Team in 2018, citing ‘costs.’”
The letter also quotes stats from the Urban Institute that “in 1977, state and local governments spent $60 billion on police and corrections. In 2017, they spent $194 billion.”
Los Angeles is proposing a police budget of nearly $2 billion, which is over 50% of the city budget. The NYPD will get $6 billion in the next proposed budget as they spend nearly $700 million on overtime, with a proposed 1% cut for this year to help with COVID-19 shortfalls (they offered so generously), as Youth and Community Development are cut 32%.
The letter sums it up to ask your local officials to:
- Vote no on all increases to police budgets
- Vote yes to decrease police spending and budgets
- Vote yes to increase spending on Health care, Education, and Community programs that keep us safe.