PROTESTERS across the United States are demanding that government and city officials "defund the police" following the death of George Floyd while he was in the custody of the Minneapolis PD.
New York Mayor Bill de Blasio became the most high-profile lawmaker to support the move, announcing on Sunday he would be diverting funds from the NYPD's $6billion annual budget to social services.
Why are there protests and riots in the US?
Hundreds of protests have taken place across the United States in recent weeks calling for an end to racism and police brutality after a video emerged online of former police officer Derek Chauvin kneeling on 46-year-old Floyd’s neck for almost nine minutes while he was pinned to the ground.
Three fellow Minneapolis police officers at the scene, J Alexander Kueng, Thomas Lane, and Tou Thao, watched on and did not intervene as Floyd repeatedly pleaded that he could not breathe.
Floyd was later taken to hospital where he died.
An autopsy report from Hennepin County Medical Examiner's Office concluded that Floyd’s cause of death was "cardiopulmonary arrest complicating law enforcement subdual, restraint, and neck compression."
In response, protestors have marched to protest the injustice, while rioters and looters have also raged across cities nationwide.
Following Floyd's death on May 25, 44-year-old Chauvin was fired from Minnesota city’s police department and was charged with murder. Chauvin’s three fellow officers were also sacked and have been charged with aiding and abetting.
What does 'defund the police' mean?
Protestors and activists say the solution to police brutality and racial injustice is to drastically decrease local police budgets.
Instead of pouring city budget funds into police departments, local governments should be redirecting money into investing in marginalized communities.
As thousands demand police reform nationwide, President Donald Trump called for "law and order" on Monday morning, tweeting that he does not want to "abandon our police" and that the "Radical Left Democrats have gone crazy."
What did the Minneapolis council say about defunding the police?
Following the deaths of Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Eric Garner at the hands of law enforcement, Minneapolis officials announced their intent to defund and disband the city’s police force.
Nine out of 13 members of the Minneapolis City Council members made the announcement on Sunday afternoon as hundreds of protesters rallied in the city to call for changes to the Minneapolis Police Department.
The announcement came after Minneapolis City Council President Lisa Bender and council member Jeremiah Ellison tweeted that they intend to replace it with a "transformative new model of public safety," and that the changes were "really past due."
"Our commitment is to end our city’s toxic relationship with the police department, to end policing as we know it," Bender said.
The council's vision for a new budget would include directing police budgets towards mental health services and youth programs, reported CBS Minnesota.
What is the open letter to defund the police and who has signed it?
Black Lives Matter co-founder and founding member of Movement 4 Black Lives Patrisse Cullors has issued an open letter calling for more local government officials to decrease their police budget expenditure.
The letter has received signatures from 47 high profile celebrities, ranging from John Legend, Joaquin Pheonix, Lizzo, Natalie Portman, Tory Lanez, Chris Martin, and Taraji P Henson.
"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," the letter states.
"In 2017, they spent $194billion. 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."
Cullors demands nationwide cuts to police budgets in favor of the money being reinvested into education, health care, and community programs that benefit the Black community.
"Where could that money go? It could go towards building healthy communities, to the health of our elders and children, to neighborhood infrastructure, to education, to childcare, to support a vibrant Black future. The possibilities are endless."
The letter calls for "the end to police terror" in the wake of the deaths of Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and several more.
"Vote no on all increases to police budgets. Vote yes to decrease police spending and budgets. Vote yes to increase spending on Health care, education, and community programs that keep us safe."
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