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How do we think about institutional racism in the American police force? Show more Show less
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On June 8 2020, Minneapolis City Council announced it would be dismantling its police force. In its place, they pledged to introduce a new model for public safety, free from the institutional racism that had plagued its police. The decision was unprecedented, and yet, it has been followed by similar moves across the US, for police budget cuts and investigations into how they are run. At the heart of this debate is the question of institutional racism: where it comes from, how it manifests, and how it can be overcome. Following George Floyd's murder, pressure has grown for perceived systemic oppression to be addressed. Others argue that this is a myth, and that police are being victimised for the ills of society. The way that people are mobilising around this question reveals the fundamental ideas that drive their perspectives. So, who are these groups, what do they stand for, and why?

'We must abolish the police!': Reforming the police means getting rid of them Show more Show less

This position believes that institutional racism is insidious because it is intangible. The police are an exploitative state tool for oppression. Without a total re-imagining of social security, we cannot have meaningful change.
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Defund the police

This lobby calls for the reallocation of police funding into community initiatives that would put an end to systemic racism. These include mental health, housing and education. An excessive amount of police funding is spent on army-grade weapons. Proponents call for a detailed examination of police funding, and investigation into what many see as its militarisation. This group includes Senator lhan Omar who has called for the government "to completely dismantle the police department because it is a cancer, rotten to its core."

The Argument

The push to defund the police is not simply a push for sanctions against a broken and structurally racist system. Defunding the police is the solution for a failed system that will continue to fail the public until it is removed entirely. The concept of defunding the police wouldn’t remove the presence of law enforcement completely. Instead it would shift the focus towards a more community based approach. The funds would instead go to community outreach programs and social services [1]. A study using 60 years of data found that over the years, increasing police presence and force has done nothing to lower crime rates. Instead, many social scientists argue that equal, quality education, as well as solid work infrastructure is what successfully reduces crime in communities[2]. Defunding the police would reallocate money into educational institutions and, in turn, create more jobs. Many people of color simply do not trust the police. This history of distrust stems all the way back to the founding of law enforcement in America, which started as slave patrol in the south[3]. Many communities of color still don’t feel protected by their local police departments and would rather see the safety of their community in the hands of their community[1].

Counter arguments

A common counter to the call to defund the police is that defunding would only make matters worse, and that it is better to focus on reform. Erroll G. Southers, a black ex-cop says that community programs that the police have put into place such as health and wellness for mothers or the elderly, after-school activities, community block parties and much more would all be the first to disappear following the budget cuts[4]. Like Southers, many other opponents to defunding the police argue that defunding will only exacerbate the racial inequalities that are already present.

Proponents

Premises

Rejecting the premises

References

  1. https://www.cnn.com/2020/06/06/us/what-is-defund-police-trnd/index.html
  2. https://www.brookings.edu/blog/fixgov/2020/06/19/what-does-defund-the-police-mean-and-does-it-have-merit/
  3. https://plsonline.eku.edu/insidelook/history-policing-united-states-part-1
  4. https://www.usatoday.com/story/opinion/voices/2020/06/11/defunding-police-could-backfire-black-former-detective-column/5331008002/
This page was last edited on Monday, 21 Sep 2020 at 04:57 UTC

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