Sam Levin in The Guardian:
The call to “defund the police” has become a rallying cry at protests across America this week, and some lawmakers appear to be listening.
Activists who have long fought to cut law enforcement budgets say they are seeing an unprecedented wave of support for their ideas, with some elected officials for the first time proposing budget reductions and divestments from police. Here’s what we know about the movement, and how cities and states are responding.
What does it mean to ‘defund the police’?
For years, community groups have advocated for defunding law enforcement – taking money away from police and prisons – and reinvesting those funds in services. The basic principle is that government budgets and “public safety” spending should prioritize housing, employment, community health, education and other vital programs, instead of police officers. Advocates argue that defunding is the best way forward since attempts to reform police practices over the last five years have failed, as evidenced by the brutal killing of George Floyd. Groups have a range of demands, with some seeking modest reductions and others viewing full defunding as a step toward abolishing contemporary police services.