Some top Democrats are now speaking out against growing calls to defund the police following protests over George Floyd’s death.
“I think it can be used as a distraction and that’s my concern,” Rep. Karen Bass (D-Calif.), chairwoman of the Congressional Black Caucus, told reporters Monday. “I think the intent behind it is something that I support—the idea that communities need investments,” she said.
The idea to defund the police has been foisted by leftists and activists following the death of Floyd, who died in police custody in Minneapolis last month, leading to widespread protests, arson, looting, and clashes with police.
“We’re keeping our eyes on the prize, and that needs to be the story. State and local will do what state and local needs to do,” Rep. Lisa Blunt Rochester (D-Del.) told Politico. “We are the Congress. What we’re doing here today is our role.”
“You can’t defund the police, that’s stupid, it’s crazy and anyone who talks about that is nuts,” said Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.). “You have to have the police.”
On Monday, Democrats offered a package of reforms that would establish a federal ban on chokeholds, the mandatory usage of body cameras, and a national registry of complaints.
Biden’s campaign said in a statement he “does not believe that police should be defunded.”
“No, I don’t support defunding the police. I support conditioning federal aid to police based on whether or not they meet certain basic standards of decency and honorableness,” the former vice president later told CBS News.
A majority of the members of the Minneapolis City Council said Sunday they support disbanding the city’s police department, an aggressive stance that comes just as the state launched a civil rights investigation after Floyd’s death.
Nine of the council’s 12 members appeared with activists at a rally in a city park Sunday afternoon and vowed to end policing as the city currently knows it. Council member Jeremiah Ellison, who had professed his support for far-left group Antifa, promised that the council would “dismantle” the department. “It is clear that our system of policing is not keeping our communities safe,” Lisa Bender, the council president, said. “Our efforts at incremental reform have failed, period.”
Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) has argued that Minneapolis’s police department needs to be disbanded, while Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) called for federal funds to be stripped from any department that violated the civil rights of citizens.
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) thanked officers in a Twitter post on Monday and pilloried Democrats.
“Democrats want to defund you, but Republicans will never turn our backs on you,” he wrote.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.