Lizzo, The Weeknd, and John Legend have each signed an open letter calling for police budgets to be cut, amidst the Black Lives Matter movement, which is working to end police brutality. It follows the death of George Floyd, an African American man who was killed by a white police officer in Minneapolis last week.
Patrisse Cullors, a co-founder of Black Lives Matter and founding member of Movement 4 Black Lives (M4BL) launched the open letter. It calls for local officials to cut police budgets and their spending, and instead use these funds to increase spending in health care, education, and community programs.
“The time has come to defund the police,” the open letter begins.
“Black communities are living in persistent fear of being killed by state authorities like police, immigration agents or even white vigilantes who are emboldened by state actors.
“According to the Urban Institute, in 1977, state and local governments spent $60 billion on police and corrections. In 2017, they spent $194 billion. A 220 percent increase.
“Despite continued profiling, harassment, terror and killing of Black communities, local and federal decision-makers continue to invest in the police, which leaves Black people vulnerable and our communities no safer.”
The police officer responsible for killing George Floyd, Derek Chauvin, has been charged with second-degree murder and manslaughter. His three colleagues who were present, Thomas Lane, Tou Thao and J Alexander Keung are now facing charges of aiding and abetting second-degree murder and aiding and abetting second-degree manslaughter.
The officers were not immediately charged and are now facing consequences due to the pressure from the Black Lives Matter movement. The movement is protesting police brutality all across the United States. Australians will also protest across the country this weekend, in solidarity with protests in the United States and calling for change on our own soil, centring around Australia’s own history of violence against Black and First Nations people.
Briggs offered a powerful statement earlier this week, pointing out, “Australia has its own history of police brutality and indigenous deaths in custody. There have been more than 400 Indigenous deaths in custody, and not a single conviction.”