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[The Nation] How to Make Defunding the Police a Reality

For the past half-century, American cities have spent more on policing each year. All of a sudden, nationwide protests have put divestment on the table.

JUNE 29, 2020


Constance Malcolm knows all too well about the outsize power of the NYPD. A white officer chased her teenage son Ramarley Graham into their home and shot and killed him in their bathroom in 2012. “I’ve been fighting for eight years, and I didn’t get any justice,” she said. The officer, Richard Haste, was indicted on manslaughter charges by a grand jury, but a judge dismissed them; Haste stayed on the force five more years before he quit just after he was found guilty in a departmental disciplinary review. “I wouldn’t call it justice,” she added, “because somebody’s life was taken and there’s nothing that could replace it.”

Malcolm works in a nursing home and said she hasn’t been given enough protective equipment since the Covid-19 pandemic hit. She has tested positive for coronavirus antibodies, and a lot of her patients died. “Even before the coronavirus, black and brown communities were not getting what we needed,” she said. “Many of our people don’t even have access to good health care, affordable housing, good quality food, or a strong education.”

Despite this, spending on the police continues to increase. “The NYPD keeps getting the highest budget, even though they kill our children and nothing happens,” Malcolm said. “We’re in a crisis. Police brutality is a crisis. The only way to deal with this and keep our community safe is to defund the police.”

Erik McGregor | LightRocket via Getty Images

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