Today 1 percent of American households own more wealth than the bottom 90 percent combined. This disparity of wealth and opportunity in our country is the highest it’s been since 1962.
The police in our communities are given the responsibility of managing our unequal system, which has, in turn, led to an economy of punishment over an economy of care. The result? African Americans experience higher lethal force by police than whites.
Although it is essential to implement reforms such as a national ban on choke holds, body cameras required by all police, and establishing a transparent national reporting system on the criminal behavior of police, this is not enough!
Defunding the police is a call for the systemic transformation of our police system. It does not mean eliminating all police funding. It does not mean being without police. What it means is a reassessment of our values.
If all residents matter, then all should have equal access to the opportunities our country offers. What it means is the reallocation of funds to those services that the police are not trained to provide: crisis-intervention specialists, social workers and behavioral- and mental-health experts.
Getting care to our citizens who need it is essential. But until we begin to address the inequalities in our society – the disparities in housing, employment, education and health care – we will be dysfunctional and unable to offer our children and grandchildren a truly great America.
Let’s start with discussion and action on reconsidering police resources. It is a beginning!
Sister Bay, Wisconsin