Part Two, edited, will air Monday, October 1 on CNN Newsroom and iReport.
By Gloria Ruiz-Goiriena, Senior Campaign Producer, Campaigns & Advocacy
An online petition sponsored by a group called “Defund the Police” gained a great deal of attention over the summer. The organization, which describes itself as a grass roots civil rights organization, sought to mandate law enforcement body camera use across the nation. It stated its desire to “raise the public awareness of the excessive use of force by law enforcement against the poor, youth, people of color, and immigrants.” The group collected around 700,000 signatures on the petition, but the campaign fell apart when two lawmakers in Kansas cut all funding for the bill when they discovered it would actually cut funding for law enforcement employees rather than cameras.
The “Defund the Police” petition did not come from a group comprised of social justice advocates advocating to force law enforcement agencies to purchase body cameras for their officers. It was a nationwide social media movement led by law enforcement. Corporations whose executives had signed the petition including Exxon, IBM, Honeywell, and Raytheon put out press releases, with executives from these companies on hand to decry these social-media protesters. Senator John Cornyn tweeted that “civil disobedience is never the right course of action” and that “civil disobedience against the Obama Admin is last gasp of 1960’s.” Police said the petition would be a huge burden to police departments nationwide.