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< Back to question How do we think about institutional racism in the American police force? Show more Show less

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?

'The police must be reformed!': The police are systemically racist Show more Show less

This position believes that the coercive power of the the police has grown too far. The role of the police is to protect individual freedom, but police today now threaten this, more than they uphold it. The force has co-opted longstanding racial tensions in America to expand its own power. It is essentially corrupt and powers must be curbed.
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Defunding police will disproportionately harm ethnic minorities

Reducing police numbers will create disproportionate negative consequences for those the movement is trying to help. It will create a two-tier system of justice, whereby wealthy white communities and businesses will invest in private local and personal security. Meanwhile, underprivileged groups will be left without this protection. Across the US, minorities are much more likely to be victims of violent crime. This system will therefore leave them more vulnerable to attack, and deepen racialised inequalities tied into law and order. Proponents include San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo.
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Proponents


The Argument

Although Defunding the Police is a very nuanced concept, essentially the most important factor of this argument is that it would cut police budgets. This would mean reducing the number of police officers, and also cutting the funding that would be required to implement programs to systematically better these departments.[1] In South Africa, the police were essentially disbanded after the apartheid regime. After this disbandment, private security became a major business and many wealthy white neighborhoods were able to purchase this security. Unfortunately, the demographic that disbanding the police was meant to help, was hurt the most. With no money for private security and no functioning police, many poor and middle-class black people in South Africa are suffering[2]. If America is allowed to make the same mistakes as South Africa, it will only worsen the suffering of the black Americans that this policy would be trying to protect. According to a Gallup Poll, 90 percent of black Americans would like to see reform in police training and 81 percent were against reducing police presence in their communities. Beyond all of this, In urban areas, only about 19 percent of black residents own a gun, many are completely reliant on police protection in a dangerous situation.[3] If there is going to be a solution to the question of whether the government should defund or reform the police, it should be found from the communities most affected by police violence. These communities have given their answers loud and clear: the answer is reform.

Counter arguments

Many supporters of the Black Lives Matter Movement disagree with the idea of police reform. Because the police unions wield such political power, they are often times able to effectively block any legislation that they disagree with [4]. This has caused many to become disillusioned with the prospect of reform and opt for a more powerful change, such as defunding.

Premises

Rejecting the premises


References

  1. https://www.penncapital-star.com/commentary/reform-dont-defund-the-police-this-is-why-opinion/
  2. https://coffeeordie.com/south-africa-private-security/
  3. https://www.city-journal.org/defunding-police-would-harm-minority-communities
  4. https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2020/08/03/how-police-unions-fight-reform

This page was last edited on Monday, 21 Sep 2020 at 05:16 UTC

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