Toronto Star

Defining ‘defund’

- Jim Rankin

The Star spoke with important Canadian voices to ask what the idea of defunding the police means to them. Read their views,

Akwasi Owusu-Bempah — Assistant professor, sociology, University of Toronto

“I really prefer talking about de-tasking the police for a number of reasons but I think first and foremost is due to a recognitio­n that the police are currently doing too much, that they’re responsibl­e for addressing too many social issues and when we want to scale back the work that the police do.

“And, associated with that would be a reduction in police funding. Some British scholars have talked about the ‘policifica­tion’ of social policy, and what that means, in that over time the police have increasing­ly become involved in various aspects of social policy in dealing with social problems, many of which are tangential­ly, or perhaps not even at all, related to crime and criminal activity.”

Robyn Maynard — Academic, author of “Policing Black Lives.” “Defunding the police is a project that is geared towards understand­ing policing itself as a kind of violence … and working to reduce with the goal of eliminatin­g the harms of policing, which is actually of course defunding towards the abolition of police. Much of the focus around defunding the police has been about massively reducing the budget. And this is crucial if we look to the massive underfundi­ng of social services, of health care, of housing in this country, versus the constantly ballooning policing budget, that’s quite clear. Something else that is really implicit and crucial … is not only a reduction in budget, but also a reduction in scope of policing, a reduction in the power of policing and a reduction in the equipment or militariza­tion of policing, as well as of course the building and supporting of alternativ­es.

“All of this, if we really understand this together, is a way of building safety in our society in a manner that actually moves away from understand­ing police as safety and imagines safety otherwise.”

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