NEW ORLEANS — Activists in Duncan Plaza demanded Thursday afternoon a drastic reduction in the budget of the New Orleans Police Department and reallocation of that money to other community interests.
Sade Dumas, an organizer of the Defund NOPD event, and part of Orleans Parish Prison Reform Coalition called for those funds to go to things like housing, mental health services, and education.
“Two-thirds of our budget goes to what our city deems as public safety, which is over-policing our residents — which is over-policing black bodies, and we can’t stand for that anymore,” said Dumas.
Defund NOPD stood to present radical ideas for a post-police future, and the dismantling of systems that some believe just don’t work.
Syrita Steib-Martin, of Operation Restoration spoke before the crowd.
“So if we defund and divest police, the question is always: what are we gonna have? I know that I remember my grandparents talking about how the community took care of the community,” said Steib-Martin. “So, prior to policing happening, the community took care of the community.”
At the same moment, more than a thousand public comments poured into a meeting of City Council’s Criminal Justice Committee.
Meeting by Zoom call, Councilman Jason Williams grilled Police Superintendent Sean Ferguson on the use of tear gas and rubber bullets on protestors last week.
Ferguson defended NOPD’s reforms over the last seven years, saying that NOPD serves as a model for police departments in cities like Chicago and Baltimore.
“We’re leading the nation in 21st century policing, constitutional policing at that,” said Chief Ferguson.
Ed. Note: The video embedded here is a raw video of the Defund Police Rally that took place Thursday. It contains strong language.
While outside, some protestors called for the total dissolution of the NOPD, the core message begins with “care, not cops.”
Protestors want a smaller budget for the police department and reallocation of funds.
“We can’t just be fighting to tear down these systems of brutality; we have to be fighting to replace them with something better. We have to be fighting to replace these evil systems with a new economy that’s going to work for everyone in Louisiana,” said Michael Eskaeluka.