Defunding police departments now sit squarely on the police reform radar. The concept is new to some and familiar to others. On, Sunday the Minneapolis city council voted to dismantle the Minneapolis Police Department and replace it with a model that centers around real community safety. The decision sent ripples through many communities nationwide, as they too wrestle with police violence against its black and brown citizens.
Leading this huge undertaking is MPD150, a collective of organizers, researchers, artists, and activists. MPD150 is clear on what their objective is.
The goal of this initiative is to shift the discussion of police violence in Minneapolis from one of procedural reforms to one of meaningful structural change. We will achieve this by presenting a practical pathway for the dismantling of the Minneapolis Police Department; the transference of its social service functions to community-based agencies and organizations; the replacement of its emergency intervention functions with models not based on military methods; and the redirection of resources to support community resilience and people-directed development.MPD150
MPD150 has made available MPD150.com, a website chocked full of resources that further expound on the topic of police dismantling. The thought of any approach that challenges traditional systems of oppression such as dismantling the police department- is certain to drum up unsubstantiated fears. Fears often derived from individuals that do not have to contend with police terror in their communities. Policing for them is a luxury and a tool that they can use at will to inflict harm and danger on communities of black and brown people.
The call to dismantle is not a call for mayhem, and it is not a “liberals wet dream.” Police violence impacts everyone, but Black and Brown people bare the brunt of that of abuse. To replace such a system acknowledges the evils of the past and puts the community on a path for true healing and reconciliation, something the future deserves. Hopefully, many city leaders will not simply be onlookers but become active participants in championing this change within their own communities.
7 Notable Responses from MPD150 Police Reform Initiative Inquiries
- The defunding process-“strategically reallocating resources, funding, and responsibility away from police and toward community-based models of safety, support, and prevention.”
- “Creates space for more mental health service providers, social workers, victim/survivor advocates, religious leaders, neighbors, healers, and friends– all of the people who really make up the fabric of a community– to look out for one another.”
- “Cops don’t just respond to violent crimes; they make needless traffic stops, arrest petty drug users, and engage in a wide range of “broken windows policing” behaviors that only serve to keep more people under the thumb of the criminal justice system. We may need a small specialized class of public servants whose job it is to respond to violent crimes.”
- “It’s not just that police are ineffective: in many communities, they’re actively harmful. The history of policing is a history of violence against the marginalized– American police departments were originally created to dominate and criminalize communities of color and poor white workers, a job they continue doing to this day.”
- “Most social service agencies and organizations that could serve as alternatives to the police are underfunded, scrambling for grant money to stay alive while being forced to interact with officers who often make their jobs even harder. “
- “Video footage (whether from body cameras or other sources) wasn’t enough to get justice for Philando Castile, Samuel DuBose, Walter Scott, Tamir Rice, and far too many other victims of police violence other reforms, even when noble in intention, simply do not do enough to get to the root of the issue.”
- “Throughout US history, everyday people have regularly accomplished “impossible” things, from the abolition of slavery to voting rights, to the 40-hour workweek, and more. What’s really impossible is the idea that the police departments can be reformed against their will to protect and serve communities whom they have always attacked.”
Black and Brown communities have a right to feel safe and protected and not criminalized when they need help. They deserve a system that understands this and moves accordingly.