NASHVILLE, TN (WSMV) – “Defund the Police” is one of the demands by protestors during rallies across the city throughout the week.
But what does that mean?
“We’re fully supportive of police reforms in Nashville,” says Lonnell Matthews.
He’s the co-chair of the Nashville division of My Brother’s Keeper Alliance. The initiative started in February 2014 by President Obama to support young men of color in closing the achievement gap.
Matthews said, “I would really like to see Nashville leadership show that they have the will to have some significant change happen and happen pretty swiftly.”
Thursday Mayor Cooper accepted a challenge by the former President to all Mayors, to review, engage, report, and reform police use of form policies. The Mayor said, “locally we will review our police use of force policies, engage our black and other minority communities by including an input diverse range of experiences and stories.”
Cooper also says Nashville can set a new standard in community policing.
MNPD Chief Steve Anderson says the department is a leader compared to what other major city police departments are doing.
“We’re a good police department and we have good policies but all of those are subject to review at anytime and we certainly welcome any criticism and any advice on what we can do better,” Chief Anderson said.
Lonnell Matthews says if Nashville were to defund police, like the Mayor of Los Angeles has started doing, it’s important to establish where that money goes.
“What is the reallocation? It’s not just about taking money away from certain agencies, it’s about how do we create public safety in a proactive way? Is that really pouring more money into education? Is that pouring more money into social services,” he said.
He also believes the rallies aren’t just about police reform.
“There are other issues of equity and systemic racism that we have to address from every arena. From education, from housing, economic development, incarceration. We have to look at all those issues if we really truly want to see positive change and progress," he said.
Matthews says he’s not sure that protesting will stop until there is change.
“I think the point that they will stop is when black people really have received acknowledgment of the disparaging history that we faced in this country and some atonement for the suffering that black people have faced. I think that’s when we’ll see them stop. Until then I think the protests and the voice of anyone, any community that feels oppressed is going to be needed,” he said.