“There won’t be defunding. There won’t be dismantling of our police. There’s not going to be any disbanding of our police,” Trump said, adding that police have “been letting us live in peace and we want to make sure we don’t have any bad actors in there.”
In the wake of George Floyd’s death while in police custody in Minneapolis, protests have erupted across the United States in dozens of cities and towns. Some of the protests turned violent as demonstrators clashed with police, while others set fire to buildings, looted businesses, and committed acts of vandalism. For the past several days, however, the protests have been mostly peaceful.
Trump noted that after Floyd’s death, “sometimes we’ll see some horrible things like we witnessed recently but I say 99.9—let’s go with 99 percent of them—great, great people and they’ve done jobs that are record-setting.”
During the protests, some city officials have said they would defund or even abolish the police. Among them is New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, who said on Sunday that the city will move some of its funding from the New York Police Department to social services, while the City Council of Minneapolis said it will abolish its police department but didn’t offer many details.
“These will be the first of many steps my Administration will take over the next 18 months to rebuild a fairer city that profoundly addresses injustice and disparity,” de Blasio said in a statement about the move.
Trump, meanwhile, has cast himself as the “law and order” candidate in the wake of the riots and calls for police reforms, likely setting up a potential campaign strategy to tie Democrats and Joe Biden to the “defund the police” mantra ahead of November’s elections. Activists said they support demilitarizing and cutting funds for police departments and reallocating the money to housing and mental health services.
“Let’s see here. The mayor of L.A. wants to defund police, take money away from police. Mayor de Blasio wants to take money away from the police,” White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany said in a Monday news conference.
“That means cutting of police. That means reducing police departments. That means defunding police departments, if not getting rid of them entirely. No, he does not agree with that and the rest of America does not agree with that,” McEnany also told reporters on Monday. She likened the movement to the “abolish ICE” claims that surfaced in 2018, referring to the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency.
A spokesman for Biden’s campaign told news outlets Monday that the former vice president doesn’t support defunding or abolishing police forces.
“He hears and shares the deep grief and frustration of those calling out for change, and is driven to ensure that justice is done and that we put a stop to this terrible pain,” spokesman Andrew Bates said in a statement. “Biden supports the urgent need for reform—including funding for public schools, summer programs, and mental health and substance abuse treatment separate from funding for policing—so that officers can focus on the job of policing.”