Long Island-raised Oscar winner Natalie Portman says that after initial misgivings, she is in favor of trimming police budgets and moving some of those funds to social services.
"When I first heard #defundthepolice, I have to admit my first reaction was fear," Portman, who turned 39 on Tuesday, wrote on Instagram. "My whole life, police have made me feel safe. But that's exactly the center of my white privilege: the police make me as a white woman feel safe, while my black friends, family and neighbors feel the opposite: police make them feel terror. And for good reason. Police are the 6th leading cause of death for black men in this country."
She noted, "These are not isolated incidents. They are patterns and part of the system of over-policing of black Americans."
The Jerusalem-born actress, who was raised locally in Jericho and graduated from Syosset High School, went on to say, "Reforms have not worked. Minneapolis, where George Floyd was murdered, [has] one of the most progressive police forces in the country," where officers undergo "extensive anti-bias training."
The movement broadly labeled "Defund the Police" advocates a push "to redirect funding toward other public services," according to The Wall Street Journal, or, similarly, "to redirect some funds for police departments to other areas such as education and health care," according to Forbes magazine. Portman reposted a graphical-text slide from the activist group The Slacktivist that defines the term as "reducing police budgets (& power) on a local and state level and investing that money directly into poor communities of color through public services."
Some, including critics commenting on Portman's post, as well as Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson, have incorrectly interpreted the term to mean "abolish police departments," as Carson said on CNN's "State of the Union" Sunday.
Portman added that she is "grateful to the leaders" of the group Movement for Black Lives, "who have made us imagine, what a world could be like in which we invested in nourishing people; (in their education, healthcare, environment, shelter) — rather than putting all of our money into punishment. I've gotten to the age in my life, where if my gut feels uncomfortable, I take the situation as wrong. But this concept initially made me uncomfortable because I was wrong. Because the system that makes me feel comfortable is wrong."