Morgan Freeman rejects defunding of police: 'Police work is very necessary'
Actor Morgan Freeman said during a recent interview that he does not support the movement to defund police. "I’m not in the least bit for defunding the police," Freeman said in an interview with Black Enterprise deputy digital editor Selena Hill. "Police work, aside from all the negativity around it, is very necessary for us to have them and most of them are guys that are doing their job. They’re going about their day-to-day jobs. There are some police the never pulled their guns except in rage, that sort of thing. I don’t know."
Hill shared the interview with Freeman and actor Frankie Faison, who is most famous for his roles as police head Ervin Burrell in ‘The Wire’, on her Instagram. The interview was about their new film ‘The Killing of Kenneth Chamberlain’ — Freeman co-executive produced it — which is based on the real-life story of a 68-year-old Black veteran who was fatally shot by police inside his home in White Plains, New York. "Well, I agree with Morgan," Faison told Hill. "I’m certainly not in favor of defunding policemen."
Hill, who said she’s an avid supporter of defunding police and the ideas behind the #AbolishThePolice movement, wrote on Instagram, “Although both Mr. Freeman and Mr. Faison were vocal about the need to stop police violence against Black bodies, they both rejected the idea of ‘defunding the police’,” adding that in her opinion, their response is a “reflection of the movement’s struggle to educate certain parts of our community about what the phrase actually means.”
In an interview with New York Daily News, Freeman said of the film and its subject: “What stands out eventually is how unnecessary that entire situation was. This is a domestic situation, not robbers, not [a] killing, there’s no criminality involved here at all.”
On November 19, 2011, Chamberlain’s LifeAid medical alert necklace was triggered, and police came to his home and demanded that he open his front door. Despite his objections, cops reportedly broke down his door. According to police, when Chamberlain charged at them with a knife, he was tasered, and then fatally shot. “Somebody set off his Life Alert system, go check it out. So they get there to check it out and the person says that it’s OK, it was a mistake. They had already been told that also by a dispatcher, OK? They canceled that call. So why continue? Why did they continue?” asked Freeman.
“There’s no such thing in this situation as justice for Kenneth Chamberlain Sr. But there should be accountability,” said Freeman. “ Accountability becomes a real subject matter here. How can all these policemen be there and nobody to lift a finger, to prevent this tragedy, you know? And it’s a tragedy not only for the Chamberlain family, it’s a tragedy for the policeman who did it — just wondering how that’s gonna play out in his life.”
Back in June, Freeman and Professor Linda Keena, a criminal justice professor at the University of Mississippi donated $1 million to the university to establish a Center for Evidence-Based Policing and Reform. The center, it was reported then, will be the only one of its kind in Mississippi and one of only a few in the nation.
“Look at the past year in our country — that sums it up,” Freeman said at the time. “It’s time we are equipping police officers with training and ensuring ‘law enforcement’ is not defined only as a gun and a stick. Policing should be about that phrase ‘To Serve’ found on most law enforcement vehicles.”