Defund Police Movement Alive Despite ID Leaders’ Opposition
BOISE, Idaho – The call to defund police departments has become a rallying cry across the nation in the wake of George Floyd’s death. Leaders in Idaho, from the governor to Boise Mayor Lauren McLean, have rejected this demand.
But Adrienne Evans, executive director of United Vision for Idaho, says they shouldn’t be so quick to dismiss it. She says the proposal isn’t a call to eliminate police officers, but rather to shift law enforcement funding to other priorities.
“We have an opportunity – with this call for defunding the police – to invest in those priorities,” says Evans. “Housing, essentials that people need, schools – things that keep people safe, instead of arresting them when they don’t have access to those things.”
Protests against police brutality and racism have taken place in cities across Idaho since George Floyd’s death on Memorial Day in Minneapolis. Protesters continue to gather in Boise to call for change.
The Pocatello police chief and others say they aren’t given enough resources to meet all the demands of their jobs.
Evans says there are other measures cities and the country could take to cut down on police use of excessive force, including a ban on using choke holds. She also believes the U.S. should adopt a national database to weed out bad police officers.
“We need a national database system, so when an officer has violated his or her oath, they are now put into a system,” says Evans. “And they can’t just move to a different town or a different state and join those police forces.”
While major changes to the criminal justice system haven’t yet reached to Idaho, Evans believes the protests that have happened, even in small towns across the state, are sparking a transformative moment.
“One of the things that we’ve never seen in this country before are the kinds of protests that are happening in small and rural-town places,” says Evans. “Where people are coming together and they’re standing up for each other, and they’re demanding real justice.”
Evans encourages people concerned about police brutality and racism – especially in a state like Idaho, that is predominantly white – to listen to black leaders.