Minnesota activist argues ‘defund the police’ about ‘equal treatment,’ not dismantling law enforcement

“We’re not asking for the police to be completely abolished,” Minneapolis activist Raeisha Williams told “The Story” Wednesday in an effort to explain her call for “defunding” the police. “What we’re asking for is equal treatment.”

“We are citizens, we’re American citizens that helped build this country …” she told host Sandra Smith. “What we’ve asked for from the beginning of time since we’ve landed here as slaves in America [is] equal treatment so that we as citizens get the same treatment as our White citizens.”

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Williams described the difficulties she said Black Americans face when dealing with the police.

“When African-Americans typically call the police for help or when they’re in need, the call time is much longer and the length [of time it takes] for them [police] to arrive to the scene is greater. These are statistics that are already out there,” she said. “And so what we’re asking is when we call, show up and show up quickly, as quickly as you do in prominent White affluent communities.

“Show up and be respectful and kind and have a little bit of, you know, understanding that we may be going through some trauma at the time, just treat us as human beings.”

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Williams told Smith that to her, the concept of “defunding” the police referred to “moving funds to community resources.” According to her, “police do not have the insight, the understanding, the capability or the training to take care of all of the issues that take place in [the] community.

“And so when we’re talking about that, we’re talking about mental health issues. We’re talking about domestic calls. Let’s take some of that funding and repurpose it in the community’s hands with organizations who are on the ground doing the grassroots work.”

Williams, whose brother was shot and killed in 2018, said African-Americans want police to focus on what she described as “high crimes, such as gun violence in our community [and] rapes.”

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“African-American males and young children go missing at greater numbers than White Americans,” she added. “Those missing reports aren’t being taken serious. We’re having a lot of break-ins and vandalism that’s happening in our community …

“But we want you to focus on the real crime and stop over-policing African-Americans and people of color and focus on the crime, the drugs, the gun violence that’s taking place, and really, really help us bring about change in our communities.”

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