Protesters Weigh In on Defunding Police

Demonstrators kneel in front of City Hall on June 3. Laura Wenus / Public Press

At the demonstrations against police brutality and racism that have brought thousands to San Francisco’s streets in recent weeks, many protesters have carried signs carrying a demand to “defund the police.” The uprising sparked by the killing of George Floyd by a Minneapolis police officer has turned a spotlight on this proposal, and locally, Mayor London Breed and Supervisor Shamann Walton have announced they are developing a proposal for something in that vein. How much money exactly is in play is unclear, but Walton and Breed have indicated they intend to redirect a portion of the SFPD’s nearly $612 million budget to benefit the city’s African American community.

At a June 9 protest in front of City Hall, the crowd cheered and clapped when Breed brought up that proposal in her remarks. “Civic” spoke with people demonstrating about whether the idea of defunding the police department appealed to them, how drastically they would reduce funding, and what they would like to see money reinvested in.

“I think that the defunding is different than reform. And I think that defunding would be more beneficial than reform because I feel like every time we have reform, they end up actually getting more responsibilities as opposed to less.”

— Denay Morales

“Tear it all down and rebuild it. … If we do it halfway, we’ll still have the lingering aspects of that still-installed racism.”

— Adrienna Johnson