South Florida Access: Should police be defunded? (includes video story)

Ever since the murder of George Floyd and the resurgence of the Black Lives Matter movement, the term “defunding the police” has become a prominent topic. During the last week of May to June of 2020, the term was searched many times in the state of Florida.

But what does it really mean?

South Florida Access reporter Valeria Venturini spoke to Dwight Bullard, former Florida senator and political director of New Florida Majority, an organization that educates and advocates for marginalized groups. Bullard believes people can’t be completely against the idea of defunding the police.

“You are watching education be defunded, when you are watching a health care system be defunded, when you are watching your public transportation system be defunded all by the same government entities that control police officers,” he says.

Bullard explains that defunding the police doesn’t mean spending less, but rather to take funds away for the “purpose of reallocation.” Participatory budgeting, he says, is a way for taxpayers to know where tax dollars are going and how they are being spent, allowing them to question the destinations of their money.

“The question that people have to ask themselves is ‘are the police the best-equipped entity for [certain] services?'” Bullard explains.

How does protesting help?

Ahzin Bahraini is co-founder of Protests Miami, an organization that assembles peaceful protests to take action for social change. Bahraini says that although significantly fewer people are out on the streets peacefully protesting, they continue to organize.

“We use this term ‘occupy all of the lanes’ and protesting is one of the lanes,” Bahraini explains. “Debate at public forums is one lane, voting and education are others. Going out on the street and taking direct action helps to disrupt the system.”

South Florida Access reached out to the South Florida Police Benevolent Association, an organization that according to its website “establishes a good relationship between law enforcement and the community” for comment, but did not receive a response.

Julissa Mederos is a junior majoring in Digital Communications + Media at FIU. Apart from being an executive producer for SFA, she is also the sound engineer and webmaster for The Roar, FIU’s student radio station. 

Valeria Venturini, originally from Caracas, Venezuela, is a Broadcast Journalism with a minor in Social Media Marketing and E-Analytics. Bilingual in Spanish and English, she has a deep passion for storytelling and wants to provide a voice for others. Venturini dreams of working at a news station delivering stories to her community, interviewing citizens, celebrities and political figures.

Ana Soler is majoring in journalism with a translation & interpretation certificate at Florida International University. She has a passion for writing and reporting in both English and Spanish. She is a lover of linguistics, pop culture, entertainment, traveling and learning about people of all walks of life.

Originally from Bogotá, Colombia, Monica is working on her broadcast journalism bachelor's degree. She loves to write and is passionate about sports, the art of interviewing and strives to become an on-air sports talent. She produces digital content and is a social media manager.