I was unable to attend this week’s public meeting, but I very much want to communicate my support for the effort to defund police departments, here and throughout the nation (and abroad).
To clarify, the movement to defund the police begins by examining budgets critically and holistically. We thereby determine (1) how public funds are spent on so-called law enforcement (and the arms industry), and (2) if it is in the public interest to endow armed officers to address social problems—especially while austerity (i.e., cutting the public sector) remains the dominant economic rule.
This effort, which grew within communities of color, is based on a broad view of (1) the billions devoted to law enforcement rather than to the social services that enhance well-being and reduce crime, and of (2) the tendency within an increasingly militarized law enforcement system to exacerbate conflict and to harm citizens and residents—especially nonwhites.
Doing this effectively means, in the words of Mychal Denzel Smith, “divest[ing] from the idea of policing, [the] carceral logic that has seeped into all of our thinking, that the police are somehow a necessity in safety, when they have proven over and over that they’re not.”
While I do not write on behalf of the Democratic Socialists of America, my own views on this important issue are widely represented there, and I am a member of its Central Vermont chapter.
Carl G. Martin, Montpelier