John Legend Offers An Explainer On The Movement To Defund The Police

As protests persist across the country in response to police brutality and the murder of George Floyd, many are pushing for cities to defund their police departments. The movement to defund police has been met with confusion, so John Legend offered his explanation as to what defunding police would really look like. No, it doesn’t mean abolishing police entirely. Rather, defunding police suggests redistributing budgets away from police and towards social programs.

Legend opened his explainer by acknowledging that many conjure up images from The Purge when envisioning American cities defunding police departments. “I know this word ‘defund’ has caused some controversy, even from some who are inclined to agree with a lot of the underlying arguments,” he began.

Legend pointed out that huge portions of a city’s budget are directly funneled into police departments. Money that could potentially benefit social service programs like health care and education, which are known to benefit low-income areas and reduce the crime rate, suffer at the expense of police surveillance.

Instead, Legend nudges his followers to envision a “healthier world” in which we use resources to uplift communities, rather than policing them. Legend explains that defunding police doesn’t mean getting rid of them entirely. It means there would be fewer police officers combined with more social workers touting expertise in areas like health care, conflict resolution, and drug treatment.

The singer explains that the operative word in the movement is “defund,” which is meant to signal a redistribution of resources away from policing forces and towards other programs. Electing to “reform” or “retrain” police would not be as effective, as many cities have been retraining officers for decades and yet police brutality still persists.

Legend ended his message by reminding his followers that increasing the minimum wage and passing gay marriage laws seemed impossible decades ago, but activists have successfully pushed legislation that has made progress a reality.

Read Legend’s full explainer on defunding the police above.