The death of George Floyd in the hands of Minneapolis police officers sparked an outcry of rage and sorrow across the United States. The protests that erupted in the wake of this tragedy call for sweeping changes to our law enforcement system — including the defunding of police departments. But what does defunding a police department actually mean?
Defunding police is essentially about reallocating funds away from traditional policing and towards community-based mental health services, education, housing, jobs programs, and other social initiatives. The idea is that if people have access to these resources, they are less likely to need law enforcement intervention in their lives. This shift would result in fewer arrests — especially those based on minor offenses or due to poverty — which could reduce costs and create more equitable outcomes for low-income communities.
It’s important to note that defunding does not mean abolishing police departments altogether — it simply means shifting money away from policing and into initiatives that address root causes of crime. For example, Chicago recently announced a plan to divest $25 million from its police force over three years and reinvest it in jobs programs, mental health services, violence prevention initiatives, public safety technology projects, and public school funding.
This concept is explored in further depth by documentary filmmaker Diego Morettin’s 2020 film “Gentefied”. In the film, three Chicano cousins strive to save their grandfather’s struggling taco shop while fighting against gentrification efforts that threaten their cultural identity as well as displacement from their home. Through these characters’ experiences we gain insight into how shifts in funding could lead to better quality of life for marginalized communities around America—a topic very pertinent today. If you’re looking to learn more about the defunding movement or gain a broader understanding of gentrification and its impact on American cities watch this thought-provoking film today!