Cities around the US have already cut at least $1.19 billion from police budgets since George Floyd was killed
Cities including New York, Los Angeles, Oakland, and Boston have answered calls to reduce police funding as Black Lives Matter protests continue.
“It was never my intent to insult anyone and I’m truly sorry to those that were offended.”
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Take care of yourself and your fellow protestors while you’re supporting your cause.
It’s been over a month since Black Lives Matter protests started after the police killed George Floyd in May. Since then, protesters in Minneapolis were able to push the city council to disband the police department and begin to reimagine what their security systems will look like. But the protests — and the actions that have come out of them — are not isolated to the city where George Floyd was suffocated and killed: Across America, protesters have continued to demand that officials defund and abolish police forces and change the country’s systemized racism altogether. But one month of civil unrest later and it doesn’t seem that the movement to take action is slowing down by any means. On Monday, June 29, Democrats in Congress proposed legislation that aims to end excessive use of force by police, and get rid of protections that shield police officers who are accused of misconduct from being prosecuted. While laws that protect police officers have already been undone in places like New York, a federal law would be an expansive intervention in the way policing works across the country. In cities like Portland and Minneapolis, student-led campaigns have pushed public school boards to cut ties with the police and take officers out of schools. For Portland schools, that means freeing up $1 million to be used on much-needed social services and more.Despite individual wins and federal policy proposals, protesters and organizers in most cities are still fighting for officials to take real action around the main demand from protesters: defunding police departments and reallocating the funds to underfunded services like education and housing. In Seattle, New York, Baltimore, Portland, and elsewhere, budgets remain in the high millions and billions even after cuts that might seem substantial at first glance. In Seattle, for example, protesters rejected a recent proposal by Mayor Jenny Durkan to cut the police budget by $20 million, which would only be a 5% reduction in funding. And in Los Angeles, council members approved a budget cut of $150 million to LAPD’s $1 billion, still a small slash.Advocates are also asking for real change, rather than symbolic gestures. While officials like D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio have named plazas in honor of Black Lives Matter and had “BLACK LIVES MATTER” murals and words painted on streets, activists have said and shown that they want much more than PR stunts that don’t provide any material change. Still, the ever-growing size of the movement has continued to ignite people’s passion to keep protesting and organizing for real justice.Most recently, protests have taken the form of staged sit-ins at government buildings in response to moves for reforms and adjusted budgets rather than defunding plans. In New York, protesters have camped out at City Hall, waging Occupy City Hall for more than a week, in an attempt to pressure de Blasio and other officials in charge of the budget to cut NYPD funds by at least $1 billion, and reallocate it to social services.On top of cutting the police budget, the DefundNYPD campaign also demanded the city not increase NYPD budget lines in 2021, that no new policing-related initiatives are created, and more budget transparency. On the day of the budget vote, June 30, those occupying City Hall in Manhattan stayed the whole night watching the budget meeting from screens outside, with many disappointed in the budget outcome that failed to cut the $1 billion demanded, provided $13 million to the NYPD for “Special Expense,” and further defunded necessary services like healthcare, affordable housing, and more.“The City Council failed New Yorkers today. Instead of shrinking policing, the Council moved cops from the NYPD to other agencies, refused to institute a hiring freeze on police and failed to take meaningful steps to shrink the NYPD’s massive and abusive presence in our communities,” Communities United for Police Reform said in a statement released on July 1 after the budget vote. “We will continue to fight for true justice for our communities, and for a budget that provides New Yorkers with the resources and services that we deserve.”In Philadelphia, protesters have similarly asked city officials to reallocate police budgets into community services, homeless services, and libraries by holding a sit-in at the Municipal Services Building. This came as a last-ditch effort after weeks of protests achieved only a 4.3% reduction in the Philadelphia Police Department’s proposed 2021 budget.Philadelphia has already proposed cutting the city’s $19 million increase to the police budget to $14 million. But according to Flan Park, an organizer in Philadelphia, this falls far short of what organizers demanded. Park said that allies called for at minimum, a $120 million reduction to PPD — an amount equivalent to the total increase to police operating budgets since the current mayor began his first term in office, while other coalition organizations called for things like a 50% reduction and immediate abolition of the police department.“Groups like Philly for Real Justice, Black Lives Matter Philly, and Black and Brown Workers Cooperative have been organizing around the connections between police brutality and economic injustice toward Black Philadelphians for years before this summer,” Flan says. “Their leadership has been pushing these issues for a long time. I don’t think that even a flat or no increase budget for the PPD would have happened this summer without years of groundwork coming to fruition as people rapidly mobilized. But this fight far from finished.”The protests and demands won’t be dying down anytime soon. Over the last month, there have been protests in every state in America, with protests in major cities spanning Seattle to New York continuing each day since May 29. What started as individual protests to call for justice for those killed by police — including George Floyd, Tony McDade, and Breonna Taylor — has quickly shifted into a nationwide movement to fundamentally end policing and transform communities. Kandace Montgomery, an organizer with MPD150 in Minneapolis, who has been pushing to defund the police for years, told the Minneapolis Star Tribune that this moment feels different from the early days of Black Lives Matter, as more people are joining the cause. “Folks in a very decentralized way are mobilizing to the streets to demand justice. Organizers have been clear on this forever, but the general public is more clear that we need to eradicate systemic racism and abolish the police, and that is what feels different now.”Like what you see? How about some more R29 goodness, right here?When Police Reform Isn't Enough, We Must DefundWant To Defund The Police? Here’s How To HelpCopaganda: How Police Continue To Ask For Sympathy
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Nationwide, police officers have responded to recent uprisings against police brutality with force, attacking protestors with batons, tear gas, and rubber bullets. But even as viral videos have shown officers beating protestors senselessly one day, the next day there have been others that show officers taking a knee or giving an impassioned speech about standing united with protestors. This kind of cognitive dissonance continued during Pride Month, as New York’s police department politicized rainbow logos by putting them on cop cars in a seeming show of support for pride, before then showing up at the city’s Queer Liberation March with pepper spray and a brutal show of force. But, over a month into this latest period of mass civil unrest, and one thing seems to be clear: The police that continue to brutalize protestors are also trying to appeal to them. As cities around the country entered the fifth straight week of demonstrations following the police killing of George Floyd, the Metro Nashville Police Department in Tennessee released a country music ballad of a “good cop” who is deeply emotional about Floyd’s killing.“I’m angry and sad. I’m a whole lot confused,” Sergeant Henry Particelli sings along with his guitar. He later continues, “I’m just trying to get a grip on what happened that night. I’m sure you never wanted this kind of fame, I’m so sorry that’s how we know your name.”The music video for the song includes people holding signs with slogans like, “Peace,” “Unity,” and “Embrace everyone’s differences.” Most of the people featured in the video are other MNPD officers, a spokesperson said. While the intention behind the song, according to Particelli — who doesn’t reveal he’s a cop until the end of the video — was to demonstrate how people in law enforcement and across the country feel about Floyd’s death, it’s actually a pretty classic example of cop propaganda, or copaganda. Copaganda typically encompasses things like fictionalized, positive TV depictions of police officers, heartfelt social media posts made by police departments, and videos of cops kneeling with anti-police brutality protestors; it is all the media made in an effort to show police as being uncomplicatedly friendly, heroic, and good. But these one-dimensional displays actually do harm by presenting cops as being solely friends and allies to the public at-large, rather than offering a truthful depiction of the deeply violent and racist nature of police work in America. Despite the MNPD’s supposedly “feel good” video of a cop singing about George Floyd’s death, the department also engages in a more insidious form of copaganda on social media. The MNPD has used its Twitter account to push a mix of content, including feel-good photos of cops posing with children wearing badges of their own, followed by mugshots of people who participated in anti-police riots. This bizarre social media binary makes it clear that the department wants the public to think they’re solely a force for good, who like to hang out with little kids, while protestors are all criminals, who belong behind bars. This isn’t unique to just one police department in one city, though. Since the national demonstrations have started, those in power have employed their own counterinsurgency tactics, which include various forms of copaganda. Most prominently, officers have performed faux solidarity with protestors by making speeches and taking knees. In Bellevue, WA, Police Chief Steve Mylett got on his knee in the middle of a crowd of protestors, saying, “What happened to George Floyd is a crime.” After a passionate speech to the sounds of cheers, Mylett told protestors, “We are with you, we are not against you.” A month later, the same police department reportedly arrested 23 protestors. In NYC’s Washington Square Park, on June 1, the highest ranking NYPD officer was filmed on his knees, linking arms with protestors and hugging them in the street. But in the days before and after, NYPD officers in downtown Manhattan were reportedly kettling crowds, using batons, and pepper-spraying demonstrators. These police-led actions are not only meant to assuage a public that’s uneasy about brutal police tactics, but it also serves to discredit the demands of abolitionist and Black liberation movements, and to make them potentially complicit in copaganda. I watched firsthand at a recent protest in Louisiana when several activists urged police to march with them, while others on the frontlines questioned this demand, arguing that whether or not cops march or kneel with activists, they’re still in uniform, wearing their badges, and have the power to continue killing people. When cops coerce activists into allowing them to kneel with them or join marches, it becomes easier for them to push their “good cop” narrative, at the expense of the march’s true goals. The recent wave of copaganda aside, a deep dive into the history of policing shows a corrupt system that doesn’t leave much room for sympathy. Police have always been “a force of violence against Black people,” as the abolitionist organizer Mariame Kaba wrote for The New York Times. Modern police departments first emerged as slave patrols in the South in the 18th and 19th Centuries; they have always been an adversary to labor movements; and they regularly terrorize communities and kill people with impunity. It’s no coincidence that in a moment of national unrest, when demands to “abolish the police” are gaining widespread popularity, that cops would ramp up propaganda to paint themselves in a different light. Forms of “feel-good” propaganda pull on American nationalism, too. One such example is a video that made the rounds earlier this month of a cop fixing a fallen American flag.Regardless of these copaganda displays, though, the abolition movement is not about singular officers and their intentions. Rather, the movement is about reevaluating the systems that have put those officers in charge of deciding whether certain people deserve to live or die. It’s quite possible, and probable even, that Sergeant Henry Particelli, who sang how sorry he is to George Floyd, was sincere. But Particelli, and all the other officers who have engaged in forms of copaganda, are missing the point. The problem with the police is not simply about individual officer’s intentions; it’s not about the “good guy” narrative. Instead, it’s about an authoritative policing system that has oppressed Black and brown people for centuries, a system that needs to be dismantled now.Like what you see? How about some more R29 goodness, right here?Police Conspiracy Theories Put Workers At RiskPolice Are Going On Strike. Should Anyone Care?NYPD Pepper Sprayed Queer Liberation Protestors
Photos show how protesters in New York City are occupying City Hall, demanding the police budget be cut before the July 1 deadline
Hundreds of protesters have set up camp inside City Hall Park in Manhattan to demand at least $1 billion be cut from the NYPD before July 1.
Every year, people across the United States celebrate the founding of this country with backyard barbecues, a trip to the beach, plenty of beer, and of course, fireworks. But this year inherently feels different, and demands that we all reconsider the foundations that this holiday is built on. For most, 2020 has been spent indoors as we try to flatten the curve of the global coronavirus pandemic — a collective action many have taken to keep each other safer in the absence of a government-enforced plan to aggressively address the public health crisis. We’re also in the midst of an economic recession, leading the president to start reopening the economy. But as the pandemic continues and the economy declines, the swift and massive national uprising against systemic racism and police violence has redefined conversations about freedom in this country, especially as we approach arguably the most important election in recent history. This year is heavy, and with everything going on, it also provides us with an opportunity to reckon with what the Fourth of July really means.On July 4, 1776, the country’s 13 colonies adopted the Declaration of Independence stating that “all men are created equal,” and yes at the time that really did only apply to white, property-owning men. Despite the fact that 244 years have passed since the United States was supposedly liberated from British rule, the systemic oppression of Black Americans continues to this day in the forms of housing, medical, job, and education discrimination, while also being disproportionately harmed by policing, the criminal justice system, and the prison industrial complex. Over the last five weeks, following the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis, activists have taken collective action against racist policing and white supremacy writ large. Thousands have demanded the abolition of the police, and for the release of people incarcerated across the country. Racist statues, including of slave owners and Confederate monuments, have been toppled in more than 15 cities — sometimes by political leaders, and often by protesters. But, the Southern Poverty Law Center estimates as of last year that there were still 1,747 monuments, schools, cities and counties, holidays, and U.S. military bases named after Confederate figures. The United States has never truly reconciled its racist history, while asserting itself as the freest nation on the planet. Black communities have historically been pillaged by racial capitalism, while being deprived of the resources and investments they need to thrive. The legacy of American slavery lives on both in these buildings and statues, and in the systems that define the fabric of our lives. In a country where Black people are still routinely killed by police with impunity, and where 2.3 million people are incarcerated in jails, prisons, and immigration detention centers — with Black people disproportionately affected — the Fourth of July has always been a whitewashed holiday that celebrates the illusion that we are all truly free.The backdrop to this year’s Independence Day is a centuries-long fight for liberation for Black people that thousands of people have taken to the streets over the last month. At the end of the day, our liberation is tied to one another. This year, let us reckon with the fact that the Fourth of July has never really been about collective freedom or liberation, especially in a country that was founded on land stolen from Indigenous peoples. Independence Day may be different this year, especially for people who haven’t paid attention until recently to the racist systems on which this country is founded, and it should be. Let this year strip the American flags and exceptionalist narrative of this supposedly free country, and instead center the continued struggle for Black liberation. Like what you see? How about some more R29 goodness, right here?Trump Called Black Lives Matter A "Symbol Of Hate"How Black Women Are Reclaiming Joy Right NowHow To Find Black-Owned Businesses Near You
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- Meredith Videos
At the foot of Mount Rushmore and on the eve of Independence Day, President Donald Trump dug deeper into America’s divisions by accusing protesters who have pushed for racial justice of engaging in a “merciless campaign to wipe out our history.”
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The Facebook post suggested that Nazis "tore down statues" just like some protesters who have taken to the streets across the US in recent weeks.
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