Why protesters want to defund police departments

The proposed restrictions vary by city. In Charlotte, city council member Braxton Winston has introduced a motion that would prohibit money from being spent on chemical agents used to disperse crowds and protesters, while creating a police oversight committee made up of the city council and city manager to review the department’s spending. “There’s always been a political ability to make these changes,” Winston says. “It just seems that we may be in a moment where people that are in positions like mine are finally getting the political will.”

State officials are also hearing these demands. The Minnesota Legislature’s People of Color and Indigenous Caucus suggested policy changes, including funding “community-based intervenors and problem-solvers that can partner with local peace officers.” And in Colorado, Democrats in the state senate introduced a police accountability proposal aimed at increasing transparency. But there are few if any specific proposals currently being proposed on the state level to defund the police; much of the energy is currently on the local and federal levels.

Congress is under pressure to do something. One letter from more than 200 activists, elected officials, and other community leaders called on House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer to defund the police, urging them to funnel money that a recent coronavirus-response bill allocated to law enforcement to other emergency response instead.