This is a good time to reiterate the point that a society is based on institutions not laws. When we state an idea like (pardon the Christian sentiments) "Thou shalt not kill" or "Thou shalt not steal" we are stating institutional principles: the general, socially derived and communally held principles that killing and stealing are morally wrong, and should not be done. Most people in a society incorporate these institutional principles into their daily lives, using their own good judgment and reasonable inference to maintain the principles in their own actions and interactions. Such people are effectively invisible to law, and law is effectively invisible to them, because they are in accordance with the principles that underlie law.
Law only comes into existence when there are:
- Disagreements about the interpretation of a principle (about when killing someone or taking something is or is not allowable and justified)
- People who ignore, through ignorance, affect, or malice, the institutional principles that the rest of the community holds.
Disagreements over interpretation lead to the creation of a body of law which prescribes how institutional principles should be applied in specific contexts; refusals to comply lead to the enforcement of laws. Police are only necessary in the second case.
A self-aware and conscientious society would have no real need for laws or police. Socialization would guarantee that all members of the society take institutional principles seriously without adjudication or enforcement. Obviously that's utopian, but it is a central principle of many hyper-individualist philosophies: philosophical anarchism, Marxism proper, Libertarianism, etc. In more realistic cases, some form of legal adjudication and procedural enforcement is required, if only because people are naturally fractious and given to differences of opinion. But the extent of such adjudication and enforcement is a wide-ranging variable, subject to a lot of debate.
In general, the 'Defund the Police' movement isn't meant to eliminate laws and police. The movement begins with the assertion that laws and policing no longer conform to the institutional principles held by the community. As a consequence, the movements hold that the community must take control of the systems of adjudication and enforcement, forcing those systems back into compliance with those institutional principles. The quickest and easiest way to assert such control is through the power of the purse: cutting the funding of law enforcement until law enforcement agrees to stop ignoring institutional principles. In extreme cases (as we saw in Seattle) that may result in the absence of police; but all that absence means is that the community reverts to individually respected institutional principles. When and if those institutional principles start being disputed or ignored, the community will revert to adjustication and enforcement.
Minneapolis is an interesting case. What's happened is that the community has decided that the police force itself ignored the institutional principles of the community. They disbanded that force, and will now try to create a new police force based on different structures, structures that will (hopefully) conform to the institutional principles of the community better than the old police force. The result might not be what we would naturally think of as 'police', but if it serves the institutions of the community effectively, that is of no consequence.