I was disheartened to read Richard Snelgrove’s recent op-ed in the Deseret News. It demonstrated a deep misunderstanding about what activists mean when they say “defund the police.” More troublingly, this misunderstanding represents the kind of willful ignorance that has — for centuries — held us back from truly addressing police violence and racial discrimination.
No one is demanding that we abandon the rule of law and succumb to anarchy, as Mr. Snelgrove implied. “Defund the police” means “reallocate funds from the enormous police budget into other forms of public safety.” I believe this unfair and inaccurate characterization is willful because there are literally hundreds of explainers detailing the eminently reasonable policy goals that fall under the banner of “defunding the police,” just one Google search away. Unfortunately, this misrepresentation of his constituents’ demands is just the tip of the ignorance iceberg.
Councilman Snelgrove wrote that “in the United States we can rest assured that the police cannot make an arrest without due process of law.” Breonna Taylor was killed by the police in her own apartment by officers executing a no-knock raid, in plainclothes, at 1 a.m., at the wrong address, searching for someone that was already in custody. Botham Jean was killed by an off-duty police officer who trespassed into his apartment, apparently mistakenly, and in a split second ended his life. Twelve-year-old Tamir Rice was killed by police for playing with a pellet gun.