Want To Defund The Police? Here’s How To Help

Natalie Gontcharova

The movement to defund the police is gaining unprecedented support right now for good reason. Protests have erupted across the country because police have gotten away with committing violence against Black people for decades. Last week, Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin killed George Floyd. Breonna Taylor’s 27th birthday would have been today, but on March 13 police killed her in her sleep.

Police officers have also engaged in rampant brutality during the nationwide protests against racist violence. Louisville, KY, restaurant owner David McAtee, 53, died on Monday when police shot into a crowd of protestors. Sarah Grossman, 22, reportedly died after being sprayed with tear gas in Columbus, OH. Police in Buffalo, NY, slammed 75-year-old Martin Gugino to the ground. Dounya Zayer ended up in the hospital as a result of a seizure and concussion after New York police officer Vincent D’Andraia threw her to the ground. Photographer Linda Tirado was permanently blinded in one eye with a rubber bullet. There are countless stories of police attacking, harassing, and arresting journalists and bystanders simply for documenting the protests or being out after newly imposed citywide curfews.

It’s a misconception that “defunding” means stripping the police of all their funding. While some organizations are calling for abolishing the police completely, most of the defunding efforts ask for cities and states to restructure their budgets and reinvest in healthcare, employment, education, and housing. It’s also important to remember that defunding is different from reforming, which advocates say has largely been ineffective. 

“The demand of defunding law enforcement becomes a central demand in how we actually get real accountability and justice, because it means we are reducing the ability of law enforcement to have resources that harm our communities,” Black Lives Matter co-founder Patrisse Cullors told WBUR. “It’s not possible for the entity of law enforcement to be a compassionate, caring governmental agency in Black communities. That’s not the training, that’s not the institution. We have spent the last seven years asking for training, asking for body cameras. The body cameras have done nothing more than show us what’s happened over and over again. The training has done nothing but show us that law enforcement and the culture of law enforcement is incapable of changing.”

In some places, the calls to reallocate budgets have worked. In Minneapolis, activist groups Reclaim the Block and the Black Visions Collective successfully lobbied the city council to shift $1.1 million from police to violence-prevention efforts last year. In L.A., the city recently shifted $150 million away from police.

If you are interested in joining the movement to defund the police, below are action steps and resources.

The number-one thing you can do is research how much of your city’s budget goes toward police, and lobby your lawmakers to reallocate that spending toward healthcare, education, and housing. There are local efforts underway in several major cities. If you’re able to, attend your local city council meetings to be part of the conversation on the budget. The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights has created a toolkit with resources and information for how to get involved. 

Reclaim the Block is a Minneapolis organization that organizes the community and city council members to move dollars away from the police and toward “community-led safety initiatives.” You can sign its petition to defund the police, donate to the organization, download educational resources, or check out the digital toolkit

The Black Visions Collective, also in Minnesota, is an organization built on Black liberation that lobbies to divest from the police department. You can donate to support its work and follow it on social media.

You can learn more about the history of police violence in Minneapolis and donate to MPD150, an effort toward a police-free Minneapolis.

Communities United for Police Reform in New York City works to end discriminatory policing and seeks a $1 billion budget cut to the NYPD through its #NYCBudgetJustice campaign.

No New Jails NYC attempts to keep the city from constructing new jails, diverting funds toward housing, mental health, ending homelessness, and other initiatives.

Learn more about the differences between defunding and reforming through Critical Resistance, a national grassroots organization working to abolish policing, imprisonment, and surveillance.

Sign the #DefundThePolice petition at Black Lives Matter.

Like what you see? How about some more R29 goodness, right here?

The Outcry To Defund The Police Is Getting Louder

Police Are Becoming Violent To Enforce Curfews

Gun Violence Awareness Is Tied To Police Shootings

More From

  • Trump Just Called Black Lives Matter A “Symbol Of Hate,” Further Stoking Division

    On Wednesday, President Donald Trump attacked the Black Lives Matter movement, calling the rallying cry a “symbol of hate,” despite never taking such a firm stance against white supremacist symbols and organizing. Of course this comes as no surprise, as Trump has repeatedly made nods to his far right supporters. This time, it’s personal for the president, whose comments about Black Lives Matter came in response to New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio’s plans to paint the phrase as part of a mural outside Trump Tower on Fifth Avenue. Trump was quick to criticize the decision, along with the city’s plan to cut the New York Police Department’s budget by $1 billion. “NYC is cutting Police $’s by ONE BILLION DOLLARS, and yet the [mayor] is going to paint a big, expensive, yellow Black Lives Matter sign on Fifth Avenue, denigrating this luxury Avenue,” Trump wrote on Twitter. “Maybe our GREAT Police, who have been neutralized and scorned by a mayor who hates & disrespects them, won’t let this symbol of hate be affixed to New York’s greatest street. Spend this money fighting crime instead!”Trump’s comments about the Black liberation protests and symbols appear to be an effort to appeal to the further right, white racist contingent of his base. All week, the president has defended of racist symbols, statues, and even racist housing policy.On Sunday, Trump retweeted a video of a Florida supporter chanting, “White power.” In the days that followed, the president focused much of his energy on matters surrounding the preservation of statues of racist slave owners and Confederate monuments. “This is a battle to save the Heritage, History, and Greatness of our Country!” he said Tuesday, as the Department of Homeland Security announced the following day that it would form a task force to “protect American monuments, memorials, and statues.” The Trump campaign has ramped up its dog whistles in recent weeks, as well, as the president appears to be using the ongoing unrest to amp up his own base. Last month, his campaign was under fire for using fascist imagery and white nationalist symbols in their Facebook ads. But the Trump administration’s assault on Black Lives Matter movement is nothing new. In 2017, the FBI announced it would begin targeting “Black Identity Extremists,” classifying movements for Black rights as a “violent threat.” Trump’s persistent attacks on the ongoing anti-police uprisings could end up costing him the election, as thousands of people nationwide continue to take the streets in a show of collective struggle, solidarity, and power we haven’t seen in years. And the message is clear: The Trump administration and the entire existing political establishment won’t see peace until justice is served.Like what you see? How about some more R29 goodness, right here?Trump's AFFH Threat Impacts Communities Of ColorHow Kellyanne Conway's Daughter Is Trolling TrumpTrump Tweeted A Video In Support Of "White Power"

  • Ghislaine Maxwell Arrested By FBI In Connection With Jeffrey Epstein Sex Trafficking

    For years, it has been alleged that a trusted group of women helped recruit young girls for Jeffrey Epstein to sexually abuse. The name at the top of that list, the name mentioned alongside Epstein’s in interviews and lawsuits, is Ghislaine Maxwell, a British socialite and former girlfriend of Epstein’s. On Thursday, NBC New York reported that Maxwell had been arrested on charges related to conspiring to help Epstein abuse young girls.The FBI confirmed to Refinery29 that Maxwell was arrested around 8:30 am Thursday in Bradford, New Hampshire. Charges are still sealed, and Maxwell is expected to appear in federal court later today. But Maxwell’s arrest seems long overdue in the reported sex trafficking ring that surrounded Jeffrey Epstein. Epstein was arraigned on sex trafficking charges in July 2019 for allegedly abusing dozens of underage girls as part of his sex-trafficking operation. After Epstein was found dead the following month by an alleged suicide, the focus on his crimes only intensified, with much of the attention turning to Maxwell. An outcry from Epstein’s survivors begged for justice in the form of an investigation into Maxwell. “Jeffrey is no longer here, and the women that helped him are,” Teresa Helm, one of Epstein’s accusers, told a judge last August, according to the New York Times. “They definitely need to be held accountable for helping him.”Maxwell was a confidante to Epstein for decades, and she has been accused of helping recruit and groom young girls for Epstein under the guise of helping them with modeling and educational opportunities. The Miami Herald referred to her as “Epstein’s madam,” while staff at Epstein’s Palm Beach estate called her “the lady of the house,” and to Epstein, she was simply, “my best friend.”Maxwell’s name came up again and again in the stories of accusers. In documents unsealed last summer related to a 2015 defamation case, CNN reported that Virginia Roberts Giuffre said that Maxwell had assisted Epstein in keeping her as a “sex slave.” Sarah Ransome, an accuser who sued Epstein in 2017, told the New York Times in an interview that Maxwell “orchestrated the whole thing.” In a civil lawsuit filed in July 2019, Jennifer Aaroz accused Maxwell, along with three other women who worked in Epstein’s home, of conspiring to “make possible and otherwise facilitate [Aaroz’s] sexual abuse and rape.”“For years I felt crushed by the power imbalance between Epstein, with his enablers, and me,” Aaroz wrote in the New York Times. “Standing up to the entrenched network of power and wealth that surrounded Epstein is scary, but I am no longer afraid.”Like what you see? How about some more R29 goodness, right here?Netflix Doc Introduces Early Epstein AccusersAll Of Jeffrey Epstein's Political ConnectionsA Complete Timeline Of Jeffrey Epstein's Crimes

  • The Baby-Sitters Club Leans Into ‘90s Fashion — With A Gen Z Twist

    The Baby-Sitters Club is back in business, thanks to a new adaptation of the beloved series by Ann M. Martin. Set in present-day Stoneybrook, a fictional suburban town in Connecticut, Netflix’s The Baby-Sitters Club 10-episode series follows a now-diverse cast of seventh-graders who start a babysitting business to make extra money.In a move that will delight the (grown-up) fans of both the books and ‘90s TV series (and movie!), the girls still hold the meetings in Claudia’s room because she is the only one who has an “olden times phone” — aka a landline, which Claudia makes a point to say her family got as part of an ultra-high-speed internet package. Naturally, super-stylish Claudia bought the physical phone on Etsy instead of any big-box retailer. In another old-school nod, they spread the word about BSC using flyers rather than social media. Of course, as 12-year-olds, they are also too young to have Instagram, a problem the girls are willing to work around before Claudia’s sister suggests an analog way to promote the business; in the same way that the BSC’s Gen X would-be clients will love the nostalgic appeal of landlines, there’s no doubt that they’ll also take to flyers-as-advertising, too.  Similarly, the inspiration for Netflix’s The Baby-Sitters Club fashion feels delightfully retro, and also comes from the original source. “[I was] definitely inspired by the books. Ann M. Martin wrote the characters so clearly, which is always a gift to a costume designer when taking a book to screen,” says costume designer Cynthia Summers, whose past work includes shows like A Series of Unfortunate Events and Girlfriends’ Guide to Divorce. “I was also inspired by blending fashion of the ‘90s with current Gen Z fashion.” From the first episode, the girls’ unique personalities come through in the clothes they wear. Just like in the books, the club’s president and founder, Kristy (Sophie Grace), has, what Summers calls, a “tomboy/athletic-meets-comfort-meets-I borrow from my brothers’ closet” aesthetic. This translates into turtlenecks worn underneath sweatshirts, baseball caps, jeans, and sneakers; in one episode, Kristy’s style is described, in true Gen Z fashion, as “normcore.” At the beginning of the series, Mary Anne (Malia Baker), the shyest member of the group, “is stuck in a pre-pubescent nightmare when it comes to fashion.” Her closet is filled with cutesy pajamas, animal slippers, and skirt-overalls that were no doubt picked out by her overprotective widower father. After convincing her dad to allow her to do a makeover midway through the season, Mary Anne’s style turns “New England prep with pops of color and print,” with a lot of button-down shirts and knits. Quirky, creative Claudia (Momona Tamada) wears clothes that are “art house-inspired all the way,” according to Summers. Her wardrobe is the most exciting and eclectic of the group, and features bold prints (with lots of leopard!), loud colors, oversized knits, fashion-forward overalls, and statement accessories that range from cherry-shaped sunglasses to various headbands and printed socks. “Claudia’s style is whatever inspires her in the moment,” says Summers. “If she can’t purchase or repurpose it, she creates it.”Stacey (Shay Rudolph), a recent transplant from New York City, has the most fashion-forward wardrobe, which includes sheer blouses with oversized sleeves, a sequin bomber jacket, and lots of stylish coats that are in stark contrast to what the other girls wear. “Stacey needed to appear as an ‘outsider’ when she arrived in Stoneybrook for our story. She also has a personal story she is trying to hide, so her facade is strong and sophisticated,” Summers says. “She is more mature than the other girls in some ways, and we wanted her to visually stand out, and her more sophisticated big city New York look helped us tell that story.” Meanwhile, Dawn (Xochitl Gomez), who joins the group a few episodes in, is the ultimate “Cali girl,” according to Summers, with a penchant for ‘80s fashion like flannel shirts, acid wash denim, and creepers. To keep the looks authentic, Summers opted to shop at popular modern stores with relatively accessible price points. “Most of the characters’ [looks] were purchased from places these girls would shop in real life: Zara, H&M, American Eagle, Gap, Urban Outfitters, Aritzia, Topshop, Kate Spade, Alice + Olivia, Anthropologie, Nordstrom,” says Summers. “Because we shot in Canada, 80 percent of everyone’s fashion was purchased at Simons in Vancouver. Also lots and lots of vintage shopping and upcycling.”But just because the looks came from mall-mainstays doesn’t mean that the fashion is boring. Claudia’s earrings alone deserve their own show (or at least their own Instagram account), with styles ranging from single statement pieces to intricate fruit-shaped baubles. “The fruit earrings are a nod to the books,” says Summers, who pulled most of Claudia’s accessories from jewelers like Konplott and Claire’s, as well as vintage stores. “When we couldn’t find what we needed, we created pieces that looked like something Claudia would make for herself. Like, the ‘pineapple earrings’ are actually from key chains we deconstructed and made into earrings.”In a cyclical fashion loop, Claudia also embraces trends from the time of the first television adaptation of the series — ones that have made a comeback in recent years. Think: yellow plaid (which, with Clueless’ Alicia Silverstone playing Kristy’s mom, is especially apt), barrettes, and scrunchies. “I love being able to work past decades’ fashion into current trends… some fit and some do not,” Summers says. “Scrunchies, maybe because they are also practical, seem to have made the recurring fashion trend… again!”While the show explores familiar middle school topics like having a period for the first time and developing a crush, it also delves into political and social issues. In one episode, Mary Anne stands up for a trans girl, whom doctors continuously misgender. In another, through the experience of her beloved grandmother, Claudia learns about Manzanar, a World War II internment camp where Japanese-Americans were forced to live after being classified as enemy aliens by the U.S following the attack on Pearl Harbor.It’s these kinds of important storylines that inspired the most exciting fashion on the show. In one episode, Claudia dons a “Stay Angry” T-shirt designed by artist Irene Koh for the Angry Asian Man — famously worn by Randall Park in Always Be My Maybe. “We decided, as Claudia is an outspoken, bit of a rebel artist that she would at some point, address her ethnicity within America,” says Summers. “This was a great way for us to understatedly have Claudia be a part of, or be aware of, a current movement of Asian American visibility, through art. It was a perfect choice for our character’s purposes.” Another scene where each girl’s unique aesthetic is on display is at Kristy’s mom’s wedding, for which Kristy trades her jeans and sweatshirts for a simple blue silk gown. Meanwhile, Claudia appears in a Rotate by Birger Christensen mutton sleeve mini dress, a custom fascinator, and platform booties; Mary Anne in a vintage navy blue taffeta floor-length gown by Alfred Sung; and Dawn in a boho-esque Ulla Johnson maxi. And Stacey? Summers says, “I wanted [a] black-and-white [look] but could not find what I wanted so we purchased two dresses — one white, one black — used the top of one and the skirt of the other, and added a custom black-and-white fascinator and amazing Jeffrey Campbell rhinestone-encrusted shoes.”It is this blend of vintage pieces with popular fashion brands of today that make The Baby-Sitters Club a fun watch for both fans of the first TV show and movie (who may have kids old enough to read the books now) and new viewers. Like yellow plaid, being a member of BSC never goes out of style.The Baby-Sitters Club will be available on Netflix on July 3. Like what you see? How about some more R29 goodness, right here?The Trends From Clueless That Are Still Popular‘Valley Girl’ Remake Is ‘80s Fashion GoldAn Ode To Virgin Suicides Fashion Nightgown

  • 31 Looks To Jumpstart Your Summer Style

    As stores, outdoor restaurants, and workplaces begin to open up around the world — even if, in some places, they really shouldn’t — so, too, do opportunities to get dressed again, in something other than pajamas and nightgowns, that is. After two months spent indoors wearing nothing more than sweatsuits and fuzzy socks, followed by two more months in boxers and tank tops, changing back into non-quarantine attire is going to take some adjusting to; as I recently discovered, putting together a truly, well-put-together outfit these days isn’t quite as easy as riding a bike. At least not without a dose of inspiration to get you started.  To solve the sartorial dilemma at hand, we went ahead and scoured Instagram’s finest fashion accounts for summer looks worth copying, from bikini tops paired with wide-leg trousers to slinky sundresses dressed up with cowboy boots (practical, I know). Find an outfit (or 31, for every day in July) that’ll get you excited to get dressed again by clicking through the slideshow ahead. You’ll be back to winning best-dressed again in no time. Like what you see? How about some more R29 goodness, right here?The Best Under-$150 Buys Of The MonthThe Best Fashion Looks From The 2020 BET AwardsBlack Queer People In Fashion To Support Now