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Analysis: Get ready for the re-fund the police debate

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That much-needed conversation is ongoing in cities and states around the country — and in the Senate, where a bill to create new national policing standards, like every other piece of major legislation, remains stalled.
A lot of attention was paid last year to calls for redirecting police budgets toward mental health and social services, shorthanded as “defund the police.” Those moves will be complicated by an increasingly visible and alarming rise in crime over the past year.
More than 7,500 people have died from gun violence in the US this year, according to the Gun Violence Archive, including at least 471 teenagers and 120 children.
In Minneapolis, where Floyd was killed and the City Council and mayor cut down the policing budget, reacting to progressive calls to invest money elsewhere, the city is now seeking outside help to police the streets.
Jacob Frey, the city’s mayor, announced the need for federal and state reinforcements at a news conference Sunday, according to the Minneapolis Star-Tribune. The paper has also written that in the aftermath of Floyd’s killing, the Minneapolis police began losing officers and has 200 fewer available to work.
There were at least 12 mass shootings this past weekend. Crime is up nationwide, as CNN reported in April, looking at an uptick in homicides in major cities in 2020.
Why is crime up? Here’s what CNN’s Emma Tucker and Peter Nickeas wrote, in a thorough report with data from cities around the country, including Baltimore and St. Louis:
Experts point to a “perfect storm” of factors — economic collapse, social anxiety because of a pandemic, de-policing in major cities after protests that called for abolition of police departments, shifts in police resources from neighborhoods to downtown areas because of those protests, and the release of criminal defendants pretrial or before sentences were completed to reduce risk of Covid-19 spread in jails — all may have contributed to the spike in homicides.
Covid-19 seemed to exacerbate everything — officers sometimes had to quarantine because of exposure or cases in their ranks, reducing the number of officers available for patrol, investigations or protest coverage. It was difficult-to-impossible to keep physical distance during protests.
Now, police departments are reeling, police officers are changing their tactics and the country is gearing up for an unpredictable summer as the country emerges from pandemic lockdown.
Re-fund the police. The New York Times has a very specific look at policing in Los Angeles, where after George Floyd protests city leaders re-directed $150 million from the police budget. But in the face of rising crime rates, a new effort to hire 250 additional officers has the effect of re-funding the police.
The politics of police are complicated. Nationally, Republicans have made the rate of crime in US cities a major part of their criticism of protests and calls for police accountability.
Democrats are more likely to blame the fact that the country is literally awash in guns, and particularly appalling to them is the latest issue du jour — so-called ghost guns, DIY firearms kits sold in parts over the internet without oversight or serial numbers.
What is all but guaranteed is that thousands of Americans will die from gun violence over the next few months. Summer is the high season for gun violence.
Rising anti-Semitic attacks in the US. CNN’s report cites attacks in New York and Los Angeles, which were condemned Monday by President Joe Biden.
From the story: The attacks appear to be inspired by the latest round of violence in the Middle East between Israel and Palestinian militant group Hamas, with the perpetrators in one incident in Los Angeles being identified as pro-Palestinian men. They have added to a climate of fear in the Jewish community that has been exacerbated by conspiracies propagated by politicians in the US, said Jonathan Greenblatt, CEO and national director of the Anti-Defamation League.
Georgia Republican Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene does not understand the Holocaust. Separately, in Congress, Greene has been criticized for repeatedly comparing House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s insistence that lawmakers wear masks on the House floor to the Holocaust.
This is what she said: “You know, we can look back at a time in history where people were told to wear a gold star, and they were definitely treated like second class citizens, so much so that they were put in trains and taken to gas chambers in Nazi Germany. And this is exactly the type of abuse that Nancy Pelosi is talking about.”
The Covid origin mystery gets more mysterious. A few months ago I wrote a newsletter with this headline: On Covid origin, it’s spies v. scientists. That’s no longer an accurate headline, since at least one notable scientist, Dr. Anthony Fauci, along with former US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Robert Redfield, are not so sure Covid occurred naturally, which is the prevailing scientific view.
“I am not convinced about that, I think we should continue to investigate what went on in China until we continue to find out to the best of our ability what happened,” Fauci told PolitiFact’s managing editor Katie Sanders.
“Certainly, the people who investigated it say it likely was the emergence from an animal reservoir that then infected individuals, but it could have been something else, and we need to find that out. So, you know, that’s the reason why I said I’m perfectly in favor of any investigation that looks into the origin of the virus.”
‘State-sponsored hijacking.’ The diversion of a Ryanair flight by Belarus, tricking it into landing in order to arrest a dissident journalist, has caused an international incident. The activist, Roman Protasevich, was traveling from Athens, Greece, to Vilnius, Lithuania, when the plan was diverted to Belarus, supposedly for a security alert. But really it was just so Belarussian authorities could arrest Protasevich. Western airlines are now avoiding Belarus airspace and some countries, like Poland, are suspending flights to Belarus.
Olympics in trouble again. The US has advised US citizens to avoid travel to Japan. The Olympics, postponed from last summer, are scheduled to start July 23.
Covid vaccine milestone. Half of US states have vaccinated half of their eligible individuals. Also, the 2021 vaccination map looks exactly like the 2020 election map, writes CNN’s Harry Enten in a story I wish I’d gotten to first.
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