Activist wants police funds resourced to social programming, housing

Young people are encouraged to find issues they are passionate about



When talking about protests, Activist Bree Newsome Bass says if someone is concerned about the issue, then a truly peaceful protest would not incite violence.

JENAE LAXSON, Evergreen roots editor

WSU’s Martin Luther King Jr. and Common Reading programs hosted an event Thursday, featuring a well-known activist. 

Activist Bree Newsome Bass said she grew up in a diverse area of Columbia, Maryland. The area had mixed-income housing and both her parents were teachers. 

“When I was growing up, my mom in particular, her work really focused on disparities in education,” she said.

Newsome Bass said she grew up with an awareness of the inequality that is present in education. She became involved in activism in 2013 and in 2015, she went to the South Carolina State House to remove the Confederate flag from its post, she said. 

Newsome Bass said she was concerned about violence when she made her descent to the ground after retrieving the flag. While she was removing the flag, police officers had tasers pointed at her, she said.  

When Newsome Bass did reach the ground, she was arrested and held for a few hours before being released, she said. 

People argue the Confederate symbols need to be respected because they are a part of history. But the monuments were put there to rewrite the history of the Civil War, she said. 

“Of course, we need to remember what happened and we need to educate on it,” Newsome Bass said. 

Newsome Bass became involved with the Black Lives Matter movement after a string of killings involving the police and Black people, she said. 

Newsome Bass said there is never a right way to protest for people who do not want to hear the protest. If someone is concerned about the issue, then a truly peaceful protest would not incite violence. 

The events over the last few weeks have shown the realities of police behavior, she said. They are choosing when to be involved and violent. 

Newsome Bass said the police are more of the source of the problem than the solution. Instead of putting money into policing, the funds should go into social programs and housing. 

Instead of sending a police offer to handle a domestic dispute, a social worker should be sent, she said. 

“It’s not defunding, it is about changing where we source things,” she said. 

It is important for everyone to get involved in protests because the pandemic has demonstrated how the overall health of the U.S. is impacted by who has access to health care, Newsome Bass said. 

“This is a big reason why the outbreak is so bad here,” she said. “It impacts the overall quality of life.”

Newsome Bass said she is cautiously hopeful for the new administration and it is possible a turning point has been reached. 

Young people can get involved by connecting with an organization and finding an issue they are passionate about, she said. 

The next MLK and Common Reading event is scheduled for Tuesday, Feb. 9.