Stuart Baum (MI): ‘The Institution of the Police is Broken and Must be Upended’

By | Jun 10, 2020
Stuart Baum

Stuart Baum (22), a Democrat from Detroit, MI, attended Jewish day school growing up and is a recent graduate of Wayne State University where he served as student government president. Baum is an intern in the Michigan state legislature, where he serves as a community liaison, connecting residents’ concerns with legislative priorities. He is also working at the Brennan Center for Justice on advancing and protecting voting rights. As a member of the LGBTQ community, he would like to see more attention paid to gay rights in the presidential campaign.  

We are providing the unfiltered opinions of voters interviewed for this project. Those views are based on their understanding and perception of facts and information from a range of sources. In some cases, that information may be misleading or incorrect.

What are your reactions to the protests occurring across the country? They are well-founded, just, and necessary. The fact that a small number of individuals are abusing the protests to engage in unrelated looting does not deter from that.

What are your reactions to the looting, curfews and the police response of pepper spray, rubber bullets and arrests? The looting is bad, but I believe it has been overblown by those who take issue with the protests themselves. The curfews are making the situation worse, and the police need to really stop instigating, agitating, and escalating conflict with the protesters through their use of pepper spray, rubber bullets, and arrests on peaceful protestors.

What do you think about the call to “defund” police departments? I was surprised by how this has really become a popular idea. I think it makes sense; the institution of the police is broken and must be upended. We are relying on this broken institution to deliver critical services to our most vulnerable populations when we ought to use the funding to meet this need in a manner that doesn’t rely on broken institutions. Police officers are not social workers and never can be, and we need to stop trying to shoulder them with this, when they continue to engage in this misconduct, and instead build better institutions to meet this need.

Have you participated in any demonstrations? Please tell us about your experience. I have not yet but I am planning to.

How do you think the president has handled this crisis? How has Joe Biden handled this crisis? The President has handled this horribly, but I am not surprised. He is a horrible racist and hate monger, and he has undone any progress that was made in the last administration. Joe Biden has handled it better, all things considered, but he has to do so much more. Biden needs to own up to how he helped create this problem, and he needs to roll out a platform written by movement leaders with real reforms to end this cycle of police violence.

Have the events that have taken place over the last week changed your views on the upcoming Presidential election? They have not changed my views, but they have strengthened my views that we need true criminal justice reform. Clearly Donald Trump and the Republican Party are not interested in bringing that about, but we need to hold Democrats accountable too and make them do better.

Do you think recent events will push people to one candidate or the other? This moment feels different from others. I think and hope that people who were not as aware of these issues will become more aware and more inspired to push for progressive change. Only the Democratic party is even showing any real support for this, and I think that is clear. 

Is there anything else you would like to share with us? I hope that Jewish Americans will become as supportive of the fight against institutional racism and abuse by the police against people of color as much as they do against anti-Semitism.

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