A tale of Twin Cities: The danger lurking behind ‘defund the police’ demands in the US
When you visit the city of Minneapolis in Minnesota, you cannot help but fall in love with it. The mix of old and modern architecture, the art shows, music festivals and farmers’ markets give a sense of culture, warmth and exclusivity.
In recent years the Twin Cities, Minneapolis and Saint Paul, were on the way to becoming an important business capital in the American Midwest, opening the door for many big companies to move their headquarters to these vibrant neighborhoods.
Then everything changed. The once peaceful city became a nightmare for its residents, forcing those that could to relocate to the suburbs.
In the wake of George Floyd’s death while being taken into police custody in May 2020, a series of protests erupted in Minneapolis. In a flash, a wave of violence swept over what once was a safe city as gunshots were fired, businesses were looted, public and private buildings were set on fire, and police officers were targeted.
Led by the Black Lives Matter and Antifa movements, thousands of Americans demonstrated across the country. However tensions flared and they turned violent in some cities, such as Atlanta, Louisville, Portland, Los Angeles, New York and Washington.
Law enforcement used tear gas, rubber bullets, stun grenades and curfews in an attempt to disperse groups of violent protesters and prevent clashes. The National Guard was activated in several states because of the civil unrest.
In the name of racial justice and anti-police brutality efforts, the idea of defunding or even abolishing the police has been raised by left-wing progressive politicians, activists and university students, who are calling for changes to law enforcement policies and strategies.
As the anti-police sentiment has spread across the country, several far-left media outlets in the US played their part in stoking the anger and hatred directed against the men and women in blue by focusing on what they describe as “systematic racism.”
Black Lives Matter launched a petition calling for the national defunding of the police and for the money that is saved to be invested in predominantly African American communities to help them thrive.
People such as George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and Ahmaud Arbery, who were killed by law enforcement officers (in the case of Arbery, by a former officer), deserve justice... Defunding the police is not the solution.
According to the introduction to the petition: “George Floyd’s violent death was a breaking point — an all-too familiar reminder that, for Black people, law enforcement doesn’t protect or save our lives. They often threaten and take them.”
Michigan Representative Rashida Tlaib, a progressive, echoed the concerns that police departments in the US have reached the point of no return and cannot be reformed. In message posted on Twitter, she wrote: “I am done with those who condone government-funded murder. No more policing, incarceration, and militarization.”
New York Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez shared her colleague’s words on Instagram, and pointed out the difference between the lives of white people and people of color in America: “White communities bend over backward to find alternatives to incarceration for their loved ones to ‘protect their future,’ like community service or rehab or restorative measures. Why don’t we treat Black and Brown people the same way?”
As a result of these events and developments, Americans have been confronted for the past 13 months with a vicious cycle of crime. Meanwhile a large number of police officers are either retiring or resigning.
According to 2020 FBI crime data, the number of murders in the US increased by 25 percent compared with the year before. More than 20,000 murders were reported, the highest total since 1995. And CNN reported that 63 of the 66 largest police jurisdictions in the country reported an increase in at least one category of violent crime, such as homicide, rape, robbery or aggravated assault, in 2020.
Statistics also show that crime is trending up in Minneapolis, where the city council redirected nearly $8 million from the police budget to other programs, even though the number people wounded by gunfire in the city has risen by 250 percent since 2019.
American streets are not safe anymore and some citizens are ready to take matters into their own hands to protect their families and property. Records reveal a historic increase in the sale of firearms last year and the first four months of this year.
All of the chaos and uncertainty is the result of progressive politicians and activists who want to abolish, defund or cancel everything they disagree with, under the pretext of racial justice but without proposing any solid alternative solution.
People such as George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and Ahmaud Arbery, who were killed by law enforcement officers (in the case of Arbery, by a former officer), deserve justice. Bad officers should be held accountable for their actions; the world watched as police officer Derek Chauvin was tried and convicted of second-degree unintentional murder, third-degree murder, and second-degree manslaughter for killing Floyd by kneeling on his neck for nine minutes.
Defunding the police is not the solution, however. On the contrary, budgets should be significantly increased so that the necessary reforms can be implemented, and to encourage young Americans to join the force, connect with their communities and make a difference.
As a Minneapolis resident, I have seen up close what happens when there is no law and order in my neighborhood, when mothers are too scared to let their children ride their bikes with their friends, and how lonely it feels driving through a once charming downtown that has been turned into a ghost town.
The far-left has given Republicans a political gift for the 2022 elections with their defund-the-police policy demands. Without law and order, there can be no justice at all.
- Dalia Al-Aqidi is a senior fellow at the Center for Security Policy. Twitter: @DaliaAlAqidi