It’s a demand that doesn’t have support with Hoosier Black lawmakers and Indianapolis’s Black police chief.
For some, defunding the police means more of a reallocation of resources. But those with Indy10 made clear in their panel, they don’t believe that’s enough.
“When you look at the police, you’re basically talking about a frat with guns,” said panelist “Zion.”
All panelists identified themselves with Indy10 Black Lives Matter at the beginning but did not use their last names.
Their discussion did not hold back.
“Statistically, we know that they do not keep us safe,” “Kyra” said. “Them being on streets has not kept us safe at all.”
Panelists said the money saved from unnecessary militarization could be used better elsewhere, such as schools, affordable housing, and other community programs to help de-escalate violent situations.
They also don’t see diversifying the force with more minorities as a solution.
“We don’t want white supremacy in blackface,” “Jess” said. “Show me a cop of color who has joined the force, and I’ll show you someone who belongs under a white sheet marching along with the KKK. It is no benefit to me. There are no good cops.”
But, the Indiana Black Legislative Caucus (IBLC) disagrees.
As the state legislators unveiled their five priorities last week, the lawmakers acknowledged some needs, such as added training and body cameras, will require additional money.
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“IBLC does not believe in defunding the police,” said state Rep. Robin Shackleford, an Indianapolis Democrat. “We believe in reimagining the police. We believe in restructuring the police but we do not believe in totally getting rid of law enforcement. We see the need for law enforcement in our communities.”
The Indy10 panel came the same day as the city gave out $300,000 to four community groups. The money comes from the Office of Public Health and Safety, not the police department budget.
Police Chief Randal Taylor said he’s open to reimagining his budget and giving money for mental health and similar concerns to other groups, but only if the responsibility for dealing with that issue is removed, too.
“I understand people’s concerns and a desire to get more funding to these types of groups, these grassroots groups, but I don’t think it should be at the expense of the police department and the work we’re trying to do,” Taylor said.
But that idea, and, in fact, the chief himself, is not popular with Indy10.
“We’re not looking for it to be the wild, wild West out here. We’re not asking for things to be changed tomorrow. It’s a cultural shift that needs to take place,” “Leah” said.
“Capitalism has to die simultaneously,” “Michelle” added. “Because the police is like the military for white supremacy … all of these things have to crumble together to really make this work.”
The panel said people can help their cause by contacting the police chief, other city leaders and legislative leaders, too.
News 8’s Richard Essex contributed to this report.