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As urban crime spikes, ‘defund the police’ policies look increasingly racist

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Annetta Nunn, the first African American woman to lead the Birmingham, Ala., police department, slowly rose to her feet and began to speak. It was 2003 and I was attending a leadership class at the FBI Academy, filled with police and federal law enforcement executives from major agencies across the country. Each of us made remarks, in turn, about the most significant challenges we faced. In those still-raw post-9/11 days, comments focused on ways we might prevent additional terrorist attacks.

Chief Nunn stood — the rest of us had spoken while remaining seated — and looked around the room. “Every day,” she began, “there are young Black men killing other young Black men in my city.” She paused in front of a silent room. “That is our terrorism.” And then she sat down.

Her message was clear. Terrorism is a headline grabber, a galvanizing threat that triggers massive spending and endless strategic planning sessions among law enforcement, intelligence and defense communities around the world. I sat atop an entire agency created in response to 9/11 and our national “war on terrorism.”

But Chief Nunn and many other urban police chiefs were immersed daily in a form of terror exponentially more deadly than the aggregate effects of traditional terrorism in this country. And yet, her terror reality, to this day, hasn’t galvanized anything. It hasn’t created any new agencies or triggered massive spending increases. There is no “war on urban murders and shootings.” 

Chief Nunn’s terrorism targets residents of countless Martin Luther King Jr. Avenues in our major cities; 9/11 targeted residents of Wall Street. And therein lies the difference in response to the horrible violence in both settings. We tolerate a level of violence that is sequestered within poorer, minority communities that we don’t tolerate when it touches the more affluent.   

This is a true racist reality, unlike the hyperventilated outrages of misused words, or sports team logos, or whatever perceived “racist” slight emerges tomorrow. Violent crime within many major cities has jumped startlingly this year, with double-digit percentage increases — up from already unacceptable levels. Minorities, particularly Black Americans, are the main victims.  

And what is our response? “Defund the police.” 

Make no mistake: Efforts to defund the police are truly racist policies, in implementation and in impact. Affluent communities will not feel the effects of reduced policing. Poorer communities already are reeling from higher crime that has gone unchecked — in some cases, by design, it seems — by politicians who want to restrict police actions. Politicians, by the way, whose blustering about their own need for beefed-up security exposes jaw-dropping hypocrisy.

Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot, whose residence enjoys around-the-clock security, sputtered that she receives death threats. Yes, well, those threats pale in comparison with simply living day-to-day as a young man or woman in certain west and south Chicago neighborhoods. Mayor Lightfoot is correct: Beefed-up security is an effective antidote to violent crime — an antidote owed to every American, not just to the privileged.

It is naked sophistry to claim that less police presence is in order because minority communities then will be protected from isolated instances of police abuse. Police abuse does occur; to the extent that it is racially motivated or influenced, it must be that much more aggressively addressed. But pulling real police protection from neighborhoods that need it most is doubly punishing the victims of crime. Victims who, according to a recent Gallup poll, want nothing to do with efforts to diminish policing: 81 percent of Black Americans want the same or more police presence in their neighborhoods. 

The sheer insane illogic of defunding the police indicates that something else is going on here. Urban leaders’ tolerance of violent Marxist/anarchist rioters belies their leftist sympathies with the destructive mob. Artificially created chaos always has been the totalitarian recipe for justifying state control of everything. Allowing violence and destruction a long leash is a sickening strategy — but it’s a strategy, plain and simple.

The cities burning this summer are controlled by Democratic politicians, which is a problem for the party. Noble Democrats have worked hard to overcome the party’s Jim Crow, segregationist, racist heritage. But it is fair to ask whether today’s ultra-left Democrats are simply implementing new forms of racist policies from a different angle. When you stack defund and demonize the police policies up against other “progressive” sacred cows, a disturbing pattern emerges.  

The Democratic Party, which used to be pro-life a generation ago, now unceasingly works to fund Planned Parenthood, founded by a white supremacist/eugenicist, which has planted about 80 percent of its abortion clinics next to heavily minority communities. As a result, Black pregnancies in the U.S. are terminated at five times the rate of white pregnancies. 

Powerful teachers unions lobby incessantly to prevent alternative charter schools from taking hold in disadvantaged communities. Too many of our minority children, stuck in failed schools, are being sentenced to minimal-skill jobs and government dependency by these “progressive” policies that wouldn’t be tolerated in affluent suburbs.  

All of this taken together doesn’t look like a coincidence. It looks like a strategy — a strategy that is continuing a long history of damage to Black communities. It is true racism in raw form.

Chief Nunn’s terrorism has not abated in the 17 years since she made her stark statement to our class. In fact, it’s grown worse. Withdrawing police resources from communities that are suffering violence far greater than any terror attack we’ve ever experienced is racist negligence of already underserved communities.  

Instead of foolishly defunding the police, let’s declare a “War on Urban Violence” to protect our minority communities with the same resolve and determination we offered our financial community after 9/11. That would be a powerful step toward racial equality.

Kevin R. Brock, former assistant director of intelligence for the FBI, was an FBI special agent for 24 years and principal deputy director of the National Counterterrorism Center (NCTC). He independently consults with private companies and public-safety agencies on strategic mission technologies.

Tags Annetta Nunn defund the police homicide spike Lori Lightfoot Public safety

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