Ethics & Public Policy Center

Progressives Have More Power Than Anyone Else to Improve the Lives of Black Americans

Published in The Washington Post on June 9, 2020

The Minneapolis City Council’s apparent decision to defund its police force is shocking. It is also a clear demonstration of how much power progressives hold to address racial inequality if they really want to.

Control and funding of police departments are entirely local affairs. There is no federal or state constitutional requirement for any city to have a police department, and many smaller cities across the country do not. Professional police forces did not even exist in the United States until 1844, when New York City created the first department. Minneapolis’s tentative decision is entirely within its — and its voters’ — purview.

Police are far from the only important institution under primarily local control. Public K-12 schools are still largely managed by locally elected school boards. Local governments employ hundreds of thousands of people nationwide, and they contract with private firms to provide services that employ millions more. The power of the local purse to impact employment decisions within a city or county’s boundaries is immense.

Click here to read the rest of this piece at the Washington Post’s website.

Henry Olsen is a senior fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center.

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