Protesters advocate defunding the police at rally in Silver Spring

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Speakers want county to invest more in social services

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Protesters gathered in Silver Spring on Saturday to advocate for defunding the police

PHOTOS BY DAN SCHERE

More than 100 protesters gathered in Veterans Plaza outside the Silver Spring Civic Center Saturday evening to advocate for defunding the police.

The protest, organized by multiple area social justice organizations, followed the death last month of George Floyd, a black man in Minneapolis. Floyd, 46, died on May 25 after a white police officer pinned him to the ground with his knee for nearly nine minutes.

In the weeks since Floyd’s death, protests have occurred across the country, including numerous peaceful demonstrations in Montgomery County. Saturday’s rally in Silver Spring was meant to promote the “defund the police” movement, which advocates for redirecting money from police departments toward social services and other community resources.

We are here to say that the [police] are not the answer in Montgomery County,” Tiffany Kelly, a member of the Silver Spring Justice Coalition, said at the rally.

Kelly said there are more important items in the county’s budget that need funding than police. “We need childcare services. We need mental health services. We need to invest in our schools,” she said.

Hashim Jabar, of the group Racial Justice Now, told the crowd he didn’t approve of the county’s school resource officer program. “A school resource officer is the police. They are trained as police. They are trained by the police to arrest criminals, not to teach students,” he said.

During separate virtual forums last week, County Council Member Tom Hucker and County Executive Marc Elrich said they think there needs to be a greater emphasis on funding for social services, although neither said they think the police should be defunded.

Protesters carried signs at the rally that included “End White Silence” and ‘Reformation is not remedy. Defund police.”

Mike Stark, a Silver Spring resident carried a sign that said, “Defund and disarm the cops.” Stark said in an interview that he could “imagine a world without cops altogether,” but is willing to compromise toward redirecting resources away from policing.

“We’ve consistently funded more and more cops at the expense of social services and schools and other kinds of mechanisms that are known to deter crime and improve society,” he said.

Dan Schere can be reached at Daniel.schere@bethesdamagazine.com

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