Activists in Michigan’s second largest city are hoping to defund the police, they told reporters on Monday.
The group “Defund the GRPD” — as in, Grand Rapids Police Department — calls for severely cutting funds to patrol the town.
“We challenge you to be a part of creating a world where communities are fully funded,” group member Danah, who declined to give her last name, said, WZZM reported.
She did not define “fully funded.”
“Where neighbors take care of each other, where we practice community accountability that prioritizes safety, healing, and empowerment,” Danah said.
The Grand Rapids city charter requires at least 32 percent of the city’s budget to be spent on its police force. According to the news station, the city allocated 37.4 percent of its fund to the department.
Both numbers are “too high,” the group said.
“We cannot continue to live in a world where we use police and prisons as a way to solve our most pressing social problems,” Danah said.
“We cannot continue to live in a world where the police have the biggest budget of our city, when people of color are disproportionately dying of (coronavirus), when education for students of color is continually underfunded, and folks are struggling just to get by,” she said.
According to its Facebook page:
Defund the GRPD ultimately means the abolition of the GRPD. We imagine a world with the leadership of Black folks, Indigenous folks, and more Folks of Color, where mutual aid and community care are fully funded, and where communities support one another.
Earlier this year, “Defund the GRPD” announced several finalists for its “Worst of Grand Rapids” honors.
One category attacked local charities as having a “Savior Complex.”
We’re approaching the end of our voting period for the Worst of Grand Rapids awards! Let’s keep the pressure and hold…
An adoption agency, Bethany Christian Services, was criticized for engaging in “rampant white saviorism” and enabling “genocidal, permanent separation of families at the border.”
The group also criticized a homeless shelter and an organization called “Kid’s Food Basket.”
The spokeswoman for “Defund the GRPD” said the group created the “Worst Awards to have that conversation of: How do we give communities power?”
Danah continued, “How do we hold these harmful businesses, nonprofits, public officials accountable for the harm they’re perpetuating, because we know that the police and prisons are not holding people accountable for that.”
In June 2020, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D) told Mojo in the Morning she understood the “sentiment” of Defund the Police and supported the “spirit” of the movement.
She was forced to backtrack and said she did not support cutting funding to police departments.