John Legend, Natalie Portman Other Celebs Sign Letter to Defund Police

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Singers John Legend and Lizzo, and actresses Natalie Portman and Taraji P. Henson are among the Hollywood celebrities who’ve signed a letter pushing the defunding all police departments in the wake of the police involved death of Minneapolis man George Floyd. The open letter claims that in 2017, $194 billion was spent on the police by America’s various governments even as police have “continued profiling, harassment, terror and killing of Black communities.” Black communities are living in persistent fear of being killed by state authorities like police, immigration agents, or even white vigilantes who are emboldened by state actors. According to the Urban Institute, in 1977, state and local governments spent $60 billion on police and corrections. In 2017, they spent $194 billion. A 220 percent increase. Despite continued profiling, harassment, terror and killing of Black communities, local and federal decision-makers continue to invest in the police, which leaves Black people vulnerable and our communities no safer. The letter — which was also singed by Common, Jane Fonda, America Ferrera, Brie Larson, ACLU executive director Anthony Romero — goes on to insist that the money spent on police would be better spent on “building healthy communities,” or to go “to the health of our elders and children, to neighborhood infrastructure, to education, to childcare, to support a vibrant Black future.”

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