Things That Matter

President Obama Warns About Political Backlash From Using Phrase ‘Defund The Police’

Update December 3, 2020

Americans protested in mass this summer against police brutality and racil injustice at the hands of police. George Floyd’s death sparked days of unrest in major cities across the country and “Defund The Police” became a common phrase. No, post-election, President Obama is arguing that a different phrase is needed for the idea.

President Barack Obama spoke recently and had some thoughts on “Defund The Police” and AOC’s place in Democratic politics.

“Defund The Police,” while a digestible size, oversimplifies a complex issue. President Obama argues that using that phrase has alienated voters and led to the 2020 election results.

“If you believe, as I do, that we should be able to reform the criminal justice system so that it’s not biased and treats everybody fairly, I guess you can use a snappy slogan like ‘Defund The Police,’ but, you know, you lost a big audience the minute you say it, which makes it a lot less likely that you’re actually going to get the changes you want done,” Obama told Peter Hamby on Snapchat’s “Good Luck America.”

Obama continues to say that activists need to adopt language that gets the message across in a clear way. Yet, the messaging has to leave no room to be misconstrued by a the other side.

President Obama is also championing more time and attention to Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. President Obama is encouraging the Democratic Party to give AOC more space because she is bringing in and speaking to a much broader, younger base. His chief critique is that AOC was given so little time at the DNC. What we really need, according to President Obama, is more attention for the younger members.

Original: It’s no secret – the U.S. is at a reflection point. For generations, Black Americans have had to endure a system built to support and encourage white supremacy. Unarmed black man after unarmed black man have been harassed by white Americans and shot dead by police, leading to mass protests across the country.

However, this time seems different. The fatal arrest of George Floyd sparked an unprecedented, nationwide response that’s included peaceful protests, violent clashes involving overzealous cops, incidents of looting — and demands from activists to “defund the police.”

But what does “defund the police” mean? It’s not necessarily about gutting police department budgets.

George Floyd’s murder has led to a rapid shift in thinking about the role police play in cities across the country. The phrase “Defund the police” has entered the mainstream but it’s also stirred up plenty of controversy and become a rallying cry against Democrats for those on the right.

As the protests have gathered in strength and size, more and more people are talking about defunding, dismantling, abolishing, and reimagining what police forced should look like.

Defunding the police is shorthand for a divest and invest model: divesting money from local and state police budgets and reinvesting it into communities, mental health services, and social service programs – so that there is less need for actual police officers.

Most experts agree that police are currently tasked with too many different jobs – which contributes to outsized police budgets.

Credit: Roberto Schmidt / Getty

It’s no secret that America has come to rely on it’s more than 18,000 police agencies to do a lot more than actual police work. Officers these days are charged with fighting terrorism, acting as liaisons with homeless communities, working with children in school, responding to calls for mental health crises, performing welfare checks and social work, mediating domestic disputes, and responding to drug overdoses. Most of the time, officers have no training in any of these situations which can lead to conflicts.

As the police take on more work, their budgets have also grown substantially. The U.S. spends an estimated $100 billion on their police forces annually, with another $80 billion spent on incarceration. Policing typically accounts for one-third to 60% of American cities’ annual budgets. 

Those who call for police defunding say they would rather have some duties handled by nonviolent specialists trained in social work, education, or drug counseling.

From New York to LA, some cities are already taking measures to redirect police department budgets. But will it be enough?

For example, in New York City, the NYPD enjoys a $6 billion budget. Yes, that’s billion with a B. It’s easily takes up the largest chunk of the city’s budget. In fact, the NYPD gets more money than homeless services, housing development and upkeep, youth and community services, health and hospitals, and parks and recreation combined.  

In response, Mayor Bill de Blasio on Sunday pledged to shift an unspecified amount of the NYPD’s $6 billion annual budget to “youth initiatives and social services,” saying, “Policing matters for sure, but the investments in our youth are foundational.”

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti also said last week he would cut the city’s police budget by as much as $150 million to help fund $250 million for youth jobs, health initiatives and “peace centers” — reversing an April plan to increase spending on the LAPD by 7 percent.

Why not just reform police and provide more training?

Credit: Ragan Clark / Getty

Those who are against defunding the police say that advocated should focus on legal oversight and reform. But it’s become obvious over decades of police brutality and systemic racism, that police reform and new regulations and laws cannot and have not stopped the police from illegally killing citizens.

You have to look no further than the city of Minneapolis, where George Floyd was murdered by the city’s police. The city had instituted major reforms in the wake of the Ferguson, Missouri protests and President Obama’s task force. New rules implemented by the city required bias and de-escalation training and the use of body cameras. It tightened its use-of-force standards, diversified its leadership, and started collecting demographic data. In 2015, it spent $4.75 million on a project led by procedural reformer Phillip Atiba Goff to strengthen the ties between the police and community.

And yet George Floyd, and so many others, are still dead.

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After Last Week’s Riots, A Black Woman Has Been Appointed to U.S. Capitol Police Chief


After Last Week’s Riots, A Black Woman Has Been Appointed to U.S. Capitol Police Chief

The Washington Post / Getty

Last week, after President Donald Trump incited riots and terrorism at the Capitol in Washington, D.C. the tenth chief of the United States Capitol Polic, Steven Sund, submitted his letter of resignation. His resignation came hours after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi condemned his reaction to the violent insurrection at the capitol and called for his termination. During a press conference, Pelosi expressed her disbelief at Sund’s failure to “even” make a call during the breach. Speaking about his lack of action, Pelosi said “There was a failure of leadership at the top of the Capitol Police,” referring to Sund.

At the time of his resignation, Sund informed members of the Capitol Police Board that his resignation will begin on Jan. 16. Now, to fill his place, the U.S. Capitol Police have appointed a Black woman as the department’s acting chief .

Two days after the riots at the Capitol, Yogananda Pittman was named the acting chief on the U. S. Capitol Police (USCP) website

Pittman joined the department in 2001 and is the first woman and first Black person to lead the organization. According to NPR, Pittman “as been with the force since April 2001 and was named acting chief on Friday, according to the U. S. Capitol Police (USCP) website. That came two days after pro-Trump extremists faced off and eventually overwhelmed security forces at the U.S. Capitol complex.”

Pittman’s career at USCP has been described as “distinguished.”

In 2012, she became one of the first Black female supervisors to rise to the rank of captain. NPR notes that “in that role, she oversaw more than 400 officers and civilians and was an integral part of the security planning for President Barack Obama’s second inauguration the following year, according to her biography… Her first assignment with the USPC was in the Senate Division, where she was assigned to provide “security and protective details for U.S. Senators and visiting dignitaries.”

Last October, Pittman was recognized as the 2020 recipient of the Women in Federal Law Enforcement’s Outstanding Advocate for Women in Federal Law Enforcement award.

“It is very important for young female law enforcement officers to see someone who looks like them in leadership positions,” Pittman said in a statement in response to her award. “It says to them that these positions are obtainable and available to them.”

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More Information Has Come Out About the Man Who Senselessly Shot a Young Woman While She Was Walking Her Dog

Things That Matter

More Information Has Come Out About the Man Who Senselessly Shot a Young Woman While She Was Walking Her Dog

Photo via bella_joy_gardens/Instagram

On June 10th, 2020, a senseless crime was committed. 21-year-old Isabella Thallas was shot and killed while she was out walking her dog with her boyfriend, 26-year-old Darian Simon. Simon, who was shot as well, survived.

Almost immediately after Thallas lost her life, the police were informed of the murderer: 36-year-old Michael Close, who lived in the same building as the couple.

Michael Close had shot the couple from his window with an AK-47. Thallas died almost instantly.

Close was quickly arrested and charged with first-degree murder, first-degree attempted murder, first-degree assault, and possession of a high-capacity magazine during a crime.

But questions piled up as to why Close committed this crime in the first place. Why did he target the couple? Was the murder pre-meditated? How did this unstable man get his hands on an AK-47?

As the police put the pieces together, the motive was shocking. According to Close, he shot and killed Thallas because her dog defecated in the alley behind his unit.

The story he gave police lined up with Darian Simon’s version of events as well. Simon says that he and Thallas were walking their dog together behind their building. Simon commanded the dog to “poop” when he heard Close yelling at him from the window above them.

“Are you going to train that f—ing dog or just yell at it?” Close allegedly yelled out the window at them. When Simon bent down to pick up the dog’s feces, that’s when Close open-fired out the window. Simon was able to run away with wounds to his lower body. Thallas lost her life.

According to Close’s girlfriend, the man had been mentally unwell for a long time.

He had been diagnosed with depression as well as a personality disorder but refused to seek help. He frequently abused drugs and alcohol after being sober for three years.

The murder of Thallas was a culmination of a tumultuous night where he had been drinking and arguing with his girlfriend for hours. Thallas just happened to be the person who was at the receiving-end of his outburst. She was at the wrong place at the wrong time.

And recently, some more disturbing information has come to light about Thallas’s murder.

According to Denver Police, the gun that Close used to murder Thallas was taken from his friend, police officer Sgt. Dan Politica.

The close friendship between a police officer and an unhinged murder is, understandably, drawing questions from the Denver community.

The Denver Police Department confirmed that Close and Politica were “close friends”. Thalla’s mother, Anna Thallas, appears to have even more information on the friendship.

“They’re best friends. Life-long best friends for over 20 years. They grew up together,” she told 9News Denver.

Anna Thallas is angry and frustrated that the Denver police aren’t conducting an internal investigation.

The DPD argues that Sgt. Politica did nothing wrong. Thallas points to his failure to report the rifle missing until after her daughter was missing as a massive red flag. It is also worth noting that Politica has a history of violence and disciplinary actions by the DPD.

According to phone records, Close texted Sgt. Politica before the murder complaining about a dog in his neighborhood. After he murdered Thallas, he left Politica a voicemail saying he “really f—-d up bad.”

“That man should be stripped of his uniform,” Anna Thallas said. “Had that officer acted in his capacity and the oath that he took to serve and protect and was a responsible gun owner, Isabella might still be alive. My daughter might still be here.”

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