John Legend: Paying Cops and Building Prisons ‘Destructive for Our Society’

John Legend arrives at the Oscars on Sunday, Feb. 22, 2015, at the Dolby Theatre in Los An
Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP

Grammy Award-winning pop star John Legend is doubling down on his calls to defund the police, saying that paying cops and building prisons are “destructive for our society.”

Legend is one of Hollywood’s most vocal supporters of the Defund the Police movement, which is demanding that police departments around the country be stripped of taxpayer dollars in response to the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis. John Legend said that paying police officer’s salaries is “expensive” and “destructive.”

“If we spend the money on the front end, so that folks have a chance to succeed, then we don’t have to spend it on the back end, paying a bunch of cops and building a bunch of prisons and all these other things that are really expensive and destructive for our society,” he told the Los Angeles Times in an interview published Monday.

The “All of Me” singer also said that the public should be wary of the police because their accounts of incidents are almost always untrue.

“We’ve come to the realization that these accounts from the police are almost never to be believed, particularly when they don’t admit any wrongdoing, because almost every single time it doesn’t match up with what’s on the camera,” Legend told the newspaper.

“Camera phones and social media have been a significant difference in this whole movement. These conversations and these uprisings have been happening for literally decades, and nobody believed us when we said this isn’t fair, we’re being abused, we’re being killed with no accountability. People didn’t believe us, and now they finally do because the proof is there.”

Legend’s comment come as major cities in the U.S. have seen spikes in crime, including murder, coinciding with calls to Defund the Police and the Black Lives Matter protests. New York has reported murders surging by 79 percent in May while shootings jumped by 64 percent. This weekend, Chicago saw the  highest number of shooting victims in a single weekend this year, with 104 people shot across the city from Friday evening to Monday morning. Other cities seeing a surge in crime include Seattle and Minneapolis

Legend has taken to Twitter in recent days to explain why he supports the Defund the Police agenda.

“Police funding takes up a huge portion of our local budgets. Budgets are moral documents which spell out in black and white what our priorities are. We have finite amounts of money to spend and right now we spend far too much on policing,” he tweeted earlier this month.

The pop star argues that “defund the police” doesn’t mean eliminating law enforcement entirely, but said there should be “significantly fewer police.”

“It means there should be significantly fewer police and more professionals of other types with expertise in their fields, whether it’s social work, health care, conflict resolution, drug treatment, etc,” he tweeted.

In his interview with the L.A. Times, Legend voiced his support for the Black Lives Matter protests that continued to take place in cities around the country.

“These protests are very important, and they get a lot of media attention and have been really moving for the country,” he said. “But they start to kind of die down, and that’s when a lot of the work has to happen still.”

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