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Letter: Defund police and fund community-based programs

Letter: Defund police and fund community-based programs

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Only $5 for 5 months

When will we start to understand that evolving policies on the police is part of change and fixing the system?

When I started making my sign for the Black Lives Matter protest in early June, I started to get very sad that it is 2020 and Americans still are against civil rights and want to argue about whether Black lives matter, but I go to get hopeful that the movement is hitting the streets in every state and it’s here to stay.

When people started talking about defunding the police, I was excited to hear more and ready to support, I mean who would really be mad at shifting funds from the biggest money guzzler and putting it back into the local economy? One reason why I thought that it was beyond time was because we have seen police reform, yet nothing has changed.

Take Minneapolis, prior to the murder of George Floyd, the Minneapolis police department got huge reforms which included body cams, bias training, and police/community encounters. However, those efforts have not been effective, yet police budgets get bigger every year while budgets for public institutions shrink. This overwhelmingly leads to communities of color with worse infrastructure every year.

With such a large budget, the answer to every problem overwhelmingly ends up being policing. Schools that are not managed well develop the school to prison pipeline. People who suffer from drug overdoses are criminalized. When housing becomes far too unaffordable, then homeless people are imprisoned. The problem is that we rely on police to respond to every situation, rather than having a community-based initiative that would result in more trust in the community’s officials and virtually no discourse. When people are just expected to get six months of training and told to go out onto the world with no consequences, I believe the wrong people join that field.

If the police are defunded and a community-based group is set to respond nonviolently, we would be looking at better education in the city, better housing opportunities, safer communities, and an all around a better place to live.

LUANA GARCIA

ROANOKE

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