Natalie Portman Explains Why She Initially Feared Defunding the Police

When Natalie Portman first heard #DefundThePolice, her initial reaction was fear. "My whole life, police have made me feel safe," she wrote. "But that's exactly the center of my white privilege."

By Elyse Dupre Jun 09, 2020 12:57 PMTags
Natalie Portman, 2020 Oscars, Academy Awards, Red Carpet FashionsSteve Granitz/WireImage

Natalie Portman took to Instagram to share her thoughts on defunding the police.

"When I first heard #defundthepolice, I have to admit my first reaction was fear," the 39-year-old actress wrote in a post. "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."

The Oscar winner went on to explain "these are not isolated incidents" and that "they are patterns and part of the system of over-policing of black Americans." 

"Reforms have not worked," Portman continued. "Minneapolis, where George Floyd was murdered, is one of the most progressive police forces in the country, having undergone extensive anti-bias training."

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She then expressed her gratitude to the leaders of Movement For Black Lives, "who have made us question the status quo. And 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."

Near the end of her post, Portman reflected on how she's "gotten to the age" in her life where if her "gut feels uncomfortable" then she takes "the situation as wrong."

"But this concept initially made me uncomfortable because I was wrong," she concluded. "Because the system that makes me feel comfortable is wrong. #DefendBlackLives #DefundThePolice."

She also shared additional information and resources via The Slacktivist.

Portman isn't the only celebrity to call for the defunding of the police. John Legend, America Ferrera, Yara Shahidi and more stars have, as well

Her post comes about two weeks after Floyd died at the hands of police. Floyd died after a police officer, Derek Chauvin, pinned Floyd to the ground by kneeling on his neck for eight minutes and 46 seconds during an arrest. Chauvin was later fired from the police department and was arrested. He is facing charges of second-degree murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter. He appeared in court via video conferencing on Monday but did not enter a plea. According to NBC News, Judge Jeannice Reding set bail at $1.25 million with no preconditions or at $1 million with conditions.

Three other officers involved in the arrest—J. Alexander KuengThomas Lane and Tou Thao—were fired and arrested, as well. They are facing charges of aiding and abetting second-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter. 

"Thomas Lane and J.A. Kueng held Mr. Floyd by the legs and hips to further restrict movement," a press release from Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison stated. "Tou Thao stood guard to prevent members of the public, who gathered nearby to witness the police action, from intervening to aid Mr. Floyd."

Kueng, Lane and Thao attended an arraignment last week, where they did not enter pleas. According to NBC News, a judge ordered they be held on "an unconditional bail of $1 million compounded with $750,000 of conditional bail."

Hennepin County Sheriff records show all four former officers are still in custody.