Vic Mensa chopped it up with Talib Kweli last night in a live episode of People’s Party where the host, Mensa, and co-host Jasmin Leigh delved deeply into what has become a pretty hot topic nationwide: defunding the police. Following the veto-proof decision by the city of Minneapolis to disband their police force, the idea of diverting budget from law enforcement into other community-based initiatives is quickly catching fire.
As a Chicago native, Mensa knows the issue of police overreach well and took some time to expand on the idea of “defund the police” while on People’s Party.
“Police, by and large, have one function in our society and it’s primarily brutality,” begins Mensa, 39 minutes into the interview. “When we talk about ‘defunding the police,’ what we’re saying is ‘fund alternatives solutions to the issues that we face.’ In Chicago, the police are 40% of our city’s budget, so you can only imagine what percent of our city’s budget education is, you can only imagine what percent of our city’s budget housing is, you can only imagine the resources that are not being put into employment opportunities for the youth who are being weaponized as this symbol of black criminality… why don’t we put 10% of that into our education, put 10% of that into affordable housing, into the community point-blank? Statistically, more policing doesn’t equal less crime, but what is the opposite of crime? It’s education and employment.”
The police conversation actually starts around the 35-minute mark of the video, when Kweli asks Mensa about the lasting impact of his song “16 shots” — which detailed the police killing of Laquan McDonald.
“It can get fatiguing when you see a new name every day when you’ve got a new rallying cry every week because another person has been killed by the police,” Mensa says. “I mean, man, Emmett Till is Laquan McDonald and Emmett Till is Breonna Taylor — those brothers and sisters that rode down on the capitalist white supremacist imperialist society, with its foot on their neck, in the name of that man, they were able to change the world so that we do have a different existence than them, and it still ain’t perfect, and it still ain’t right and we still can’t condone it. But the fact that they rode for that man, made our lives differently, and gave us an opportunity to take things further.”
Check out the full chat above where Kweli and Mensa go deep on the verses of Black Star’s “Thieves in the Night,” looting in America, and Vic’s come up with fellow Chicagoan Chance the Rapper.