Unfund Police Departments? What Does That Even Mean?

First, a reminder about tonight’s Zoominar, and then we examine the consequences of George Floyd’s murder, analyzing what defunding police could mean. We examine Trump’s response and then Biden’s.

Many of us understand that the US has never really been governed by a democracy. And any democracy that exists today is swiftly eroding under Donald Trump. Today we begin by examining the implications of the George Floyd murder, how it is different, and what reform could look like. Not band-aid reform, not cosmetic reform, real reform. When the Minneapolis City Council has a veto-proof vote to disband the police department, you know things are different. And when CNN publishes a piece on what disbanding a police department could look like, you know things are different. We include a moving 60 Minutes video featuring Sherrilyn Ifill, President of the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, followed by an excerpt from the NYTimes suggesting that Trump has finally reached a tipping point. We then offer a 10-minute speech from Joe Biden. I have never, ever seen him even remotely close to this decisive, deliberate, compelling, and convincing. If this is who shows up for the next five months, I will cheerily cast my vote for him. First a reminder about our Zoominar today:

How PNM Runs Circles Around Our Legislature and PRC, and How A Group of Local Shareholder Activists Are Exposing PNM’s Dissembling, a Zoominar Conversation from Retake Our Democracy, Tues., June 9, 6:30 – 8 p.m. Please share information about this Zoominar with friends.

For the past five years, the activist group PNM Shareholders for a Responsible Future has introduced resolutions and asked questions at the PNM Annual Meeting to increase attention to the urgency of climate change and to pressure the utility to strike a balance between shareholder profits and the company’s responsibility to the people and environment of our state. 

Group members will share their questions from a recent Annual Shareholder meeting, exploring how the ETA dramatically restricts the regulatory power of the PRC not only with respect to the San Juan Generating Station, but also Four Corners and Palo Verde. The questions also illuminate how badly both ratepayers and the environment are served by PNM’s plans for replacement power at San Juan. If you want to get clarity on what is really going on at the PRC and learn how PNM is running circles around our legislature and the PRC, you won’t want to miss this discussion. Click here to register. You must register to secure a “seat” in the Zoom room, and we are almost full.

Defunding Police:
What Does That Mean & What Could It Look Like

Defunding police departments is as simple as it sounds. Instead of funding a police department, a city would direct those funds to invest in communities, especially marginalized ones where much of the policing occurs. While some advocates seek to completely disband police departments, essentially doing away with law enforcement, others want to significantly reduce funding and redirect those funds to services and supports that address the social determinants of crime and violence. CNN examined what defunding police can mean and how it could transform the criminal justice system. From CNN:

“Isaac Bryan, the director of UCLA’s Black Policy Center, points to history: Law enforcement in the South began as slave patrol, a team of vigilantes hired to recapture escaped slaves. Then, when slavery was abolished, police enforced Jim Crow laws — even the most minor infractions.”

CNN: “There’s a growing call to defund the police. Here’s what it means

It is no wonder that communities of color have grown more to fear the police than to seek their protection.

CNN spoke with Patrisse Cullors, co-founder of the Black Lives Matter movement, who commented that defunding police “means that we are reducing the ability for law enforcement to have resources that harm our communities. It’s about reinvesting those dollars into black communities, communities that have been deeply divested from. Those dollars can be put back into social services for mental health, domestic violence and homelessness, among others where police are often the first responders to all three.”

Disbanding the police means that rather than “strangers armed with guns,” showing up when a crisis erupts, first responders would be mental health providers, social workers, and victim advocates. And according to CNN, there is some evidence reducing police engagement actually reduces levels of crime.

“A 2017 report, which focused on several weeks in 2014 through 2015 when the New York Police Department purposely pulled back on “proactive policing,” found that there were 2,100 fewer crime complaints during that time.”

CNN: “There’s a growing call to defund the police. Here’s what it means

Read the full CNN article at this link.

It’s a safe bet that we won’t witness many cities disbanding their police forces entirely, but in Minneapolis nine city councilors, a veto-proof majority, have announced that is exactly what they intend to do. I am sure this may involve considerable negotiation but it is remarkable that such a drastic system change is being considered. I think we are going to see more and more radical proposals related to a wide range of systems that have been revealed as sorely lacking during this pandemic. Stay tuned.

Sherrilyn Ifill:
A Voice of Remarkable Poise & Insight

Sherrilyn Ifill is overpowering in her analysis of George Floyd’s murder, how this was different, and how what comes next must also be different. This is only 13 minutes and so worth your time. She speaks truth to power in such a compelling manner.

Sherrilyn Ifill, NAACP Legal Defense Fund President

A View of Trump From the NY Times

I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve thought to myself: “This is it. He can’t get away with this. This presidency is over.” In Monday’s NYT, Jennifer Senior asked the question: “Is This the Trump Tipping Point?” The excerpt below, gives you an idea how she answers that question:

Trump is flailing like an overturned turtle. A historic health crisis, an economic crisis and a social crisis all at once — it’s far too much for a reality TV star to handle, no more manageable than it’d be for him to land an airplane. What this moment may have revealed, ironically enough, is that only in a time of stability and outrageous decadence could the United States have had the luxury of picking such a dark and divisive candidate with the intellectual firepower of a water gun. When Trump asked voters “What have you got to lose?” most never dreamed that the answer could be: Everything.”

New York Times “Is This the Trump Tipping Point?”

To read the full post, click here.

Where Did This Joe Biden Come From? WOW!!!

Joe Biden is never going to be as progressive as Bernie Sanders or Elizabeth Warren. He has baggage, to be sure. But he will listen to the right people and, who knows, maybe he will pick Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms as his running mate. Bottoms has leapt to near the top of the list of those being considered and Sen. Klobuchar has plummeted.

Right now, more than anything, we need a calming force in the White House. I’ve been skeptical about Biden’s capacity to inspire, but the speech below absolutely blew Roxanne and I away, as it conveys exactly the kind of empathy, sincerity, and dignity that has been utterly absent from the White House.

In solidarity and hope,

Paul & Roxanne



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5 replies

  1. As Heather Cox Richardson put it yesterday, defunding the police will be much like the defunding of social programs which Republicans have carried out. We have to make sure this goes through! Up to now, the typical response to any problem has been brute force – in the international realm, in the nation, and in local communities. Defunding the police will mean switching to a humane approach to problems that gets at the root causes.
    By the way, one way to improve policing, I believe, is to return to police beats, on foot where possible. When police officers walk a beat, they get to know the people and to see them as human beings; that is a key element. It is expensive, but can be financed by reducing funding for weapons and military-style teams and training.

  2. I became skeptical of excellent oratory devoid of follow through – in fact, just the opposite where the General Welfare was concerned – during Obama’s presidencies. Biden’s speech was well done on the “oratory” scale. I’m glad he managed to stay coherent enough to do so. There’s a chance I may be compelled to vote for Biden. But, if so, I will not be unaware of his actual RECORD over the years.

    He is the current face that the DNC establishment has given us. Much like 2016. Otherwise well known as “neo-liberal.” That choice is counter to any authentic response to The People. If elected, it is no time to let down our guard, our efforts, our awarenesses gained through turmoil, pain, violent death, and the subjugation of the Majority of the American people of all races by the Zillionaire Class. How many remember The Who (rock n’ roll, not WHO) anthem, “Won’t Get Fooled Again”?

    They pray, “We don’t get fooled again.” But we have, of course. Over and over. And, even the Anthem acknowledges this: “Meet the new boss. Same as the old boss.”

    I support looking for the way forward (I.e. “light”) anywhere we can find it. I regard voting Trump out as a choiceless beginning. I do not swallow Biden as the answer, but the only choice, thanks to much political maneuvering. Situation normal. “Eyes Open, Eyes Open, Eyes Open” and “Keep On, Keep On, Keep On” as the guide. I appreciate that Retake’s service and perseverance has made that ever more possible as we make our way through.

  3. Thanks for posting that speech by future president Biden. It’s a really good speech by a really good man.

  4. Tell me Biden did that without a teleprompter. And probably rehearsals. (Granted Trump could never manage even that much.)

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