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What “defund the police” really means

It’s not as radical as it sounds.

Among those protesting against police brutality in the US, there’s a slogan that’s taken hold: “defund the police.” The key idea is to move the billions of dollars the country spends on policing to social services and other public spending. And when you take a look at the massive disparities between policing budgets and those of other city agencies — the idea of defunding the police seems much less radical than it sounds.

It’s a policy activists have been talking about for decades. At its most basic, it could diminish the role of policing in society — but for many, this movement also embodies a call to abolish the system and create something new entirely. Both these ideas have converged into the popular “defund the police” slogan, which in a matter of weeks has shifted the needle on what’s possible for public safety in the US. In the past two weeks, cities across the country have canceled contracts with police in schools. And in Minneapolis, the city council voted to dismantle the police department and establish a community-led model.

Check out the video above for more on the data behind defunding the police. And for further reading, check out the work of my colleagues on the fight to defund the NYPD, and how a new poll suggests the majority of Americans support redirecting funds from police to other services.

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