That’s partly why Black Lives Matter activists are calling for cities and towns to scale back funding for law enforcement, among other changes. They point to studies that show that increases in police funding have not significantly reduced crime.
Instead, they say, officials should use some of that money to help fund public education, affordable housing, mental health services, and job creation programs. Experts say investments in those areas would benefit communities and help reduce crime and violence.
As the Black Lives Matter movement grows, more white people are expressing support for such proposals—some for the first time. Indeed, while Black activists have long rallied against systemic racism, huge numbers of white Americans are now protesting alongside them.
“I was shocked to see so many white kids out here,” Walter Wiggins, 67, told reporters at a protest in Washington, D.C. Wiggins began attending civil rights protests as a child in the 1960s. “Back then,” he says, “it was just Black folks.”
In addition to supporting police reforms, more Americans are acknowledging the role racism plays in society. According to a Monmouth University poll conducted in late June, 67 percent of Americans say racism and discrimination are a “big problem” in the U.S. That’s up from 51 percent in 2015. A recent survey from the polling firm Civiqs also found that support for the Black Lives Matter movement has reached an all-time high.
While the long-term effects of the current demonstrations remain to be seen, many experts are optimistic.
“These protests are a hopeful sign of change on the horizon,” says Gillion. “This moment is forcing us to deal with long-standing inequality. And even though these discussions are painful, they’re what lead to change.”