Natalie Portman, John Legend, Lizzo call for police to be defunded

Lizzo, John Legend, Natalie Portman, Jane Fonda and The Weeknd are just a handful of the celebrities who have signed an open letter demanding local governments stop providing increases in funds to police.

The letter, released by Black Lives Matter co-founder and activist Patrisse Cullors, is in conjunction with Movement 4 Black Lives, a coalition of over 100 black rights organisations, according to Rolling Stone.

The “open demand” letter to “defund” the police requests that governments quit increasing police budgets and instead redistribute those funds to spend on healthcare, neighbourhood infrastructure and education to help support communities across the country, particularly black communities, the outlet said.

According to the publication, other entertainers who signed the petition include Talib Kweli, America Ferrera, Brie Larson and Taraji P. Henson.

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The letter, released in the aftermath of the death of George Floyd, links the horrific deaths caused by both the coronavirus pandemic and police brutality.

“The COVID-19 deaths and the deaths caused by police terror are connected and consequential to each other,” the letter states.

It also points out that the United States has “the largest military budget in the world” yet continues to come up short when it comes to healthcare.

“The United States does not have a national healthcare system,” the letter reads. “Policing and militarisation overwhelmingly dominate the bulk of national and local budgets.”

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It also claims that police and military funding has increased every year since 1973 while “funding for public health decreased every year”. It also highlights the Trump administration’s 2018 elimination of the US Pandemic Response Team.

“Vote no on all increases to police budgets. Vote yes to decrease police spending and budgets. Vote yes to increase spending on healthcare, education and community programs that keep us safe,” the letter reads.

Ms Cullors said that the letter does not ask for all funding to police be eliminated. Instead, supporters demand unnecessary funds as well as tasks of police departments be shifted to other suitable departments with a higher need.

“Law enforcement should not be the first responder for mental health crises, they shouldn’t be the first responders for drug and alcohol abuse. There are a significant number of public health crises that law enforcement are forced to be the first responders to but should not be, and we could actually reallocate those dollars and give them back to the community. I’m talking about renegotiation of where we prioritise our money. Right now it’s mostly prisons and police, and we want to reallocate those dollars and put them into the community,” she said.

This story originally appeared on Fox News and has been reproduced here with permission

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