Top Democrats, Republicans Unite in Opposing Calls to Defund Police

Top Democrats, Republicans Unite in Opposing Calls to Defund Police
Members of the New York City Police Department look on as protesters demonstrate in Times Square on June 7, 2020, following the death of George Floyd by a Minneapolis police officer in New York. (Bryan R. Smith/AFP via Getty Images)
Ivan Pentchoukov

Top Republicans and Democrats expressed bipartisan opposition in recent days to the idea of defunding local and state police forces across the nation.

Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden and President Donald Trump oppose the idea, which has been promoted by far-left Democrats including Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.)

Trump said: “There won’t be defunding. There won’t be dismantling of our police. There’s not going to be any disbanding of our police.”

Biden said in an interview with CBS: “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.”

Republicans, including Trump, were quick to call out the Democrats after far-left progressives promoted defunding the police. The issue, which is opposed by most voters, was already distracting from and could eventually overshadow the police reform package introduced by Democrats on June 8.

“Sleepy Joe Biden and the Radical Left Democrats want to ‘DEFUND THE POLICE’. I want great and well paid LAW ENFORCEMENT. I want LAW & ORDER!” Trump wrote in a tweet on June 7.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) likewise rejected the idea, which appears to have broad support by both violent extremists and the peaceful protesters involved in the nationwide demonstrations following the police custody death of George Floyd in Minneapolis.

“The funding of police is a local matter, as you know. From the standpoint of our legislation, we’re not going to that place. What we’re doing is talking about how we change policy to make our policing more just,” Pelosi said in an interview with MSNBC.

“If peaceful protesters rightly do not want to be lumped in with a subset of looters and rioters who seek destruction, then the vast majority of police officers cannot be lumped in with the very worst examples of heinous behavior,” McConnell said on June 8.

“But instead we’re already seeing outlandish calls to defund the police or abolish the police take root within the left-wing leadership class.”

Other Democrats and Republicans also oppose the idea.

Congressional Black Caucus Chair Rep. Karen Bass (D-Calif.) told CNN that she doesn’t “believe that you should disband police departments.”

“But I do think that in cities and states, we need to look at how we are spending the resources and invest more in our communities,” Bass said, before pivoting to the substance of the police reform bill.

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) wrote on Twitter, “Democrats’ calls to defund or disband the police are asinine and would end up killing many Americans if enacted.”

Protesters in Washington painted the sidewalk not far from the White House with the words “Defund the Police,” next to the words “Black Lives Matter,” which was a mural authorized by Mayor Muriel Bowser. The official website for the Black Lives Matter organization issued a call on May 30 for a “national defunding of police.”

In Minneapolis, the movement to defund the police is gaining traction. Nine of the Minneapolis City Council’s 13 members have pledged to dismantle the city’s police department. Councilmember Jeremiah Ellison promised that the council would “dismantle” the department; the city’s mayor was recently jeered for opposing the idea.

Rep. Omar, whose district covers all of Minneapolis, said the city’s police department should be scrapped because it “is rotten to the root.”

“I will never stop saying not only do we need to disinvest in police, but we need to completely dismantle the Minneapolis Police Department,” Omar said.

The movement to defund the police started in the wake of Floyd’s death in police custody. The officer who pinned Floyd to the ground with a knee on his neck faces second-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter charges. Three of the other officers involved were indicted on lesser charges.

The ideology behind the movement alleges that police departments across the nation are systematically racist.

In a question-and-answer session on Reddit on June 8, Kailee Scales, the managing director for Black Lives Matter, said that “the call for defunding the police force is based in simple facts.” She then claimed that “modern-day policing institutions have their roots in slave-catching. These systems were created to hunt, maim, and kill Black people—and are the result of centuries-old anti-Black attitudes codified into law.”

Roughly a quarter of the people killed in confrontations with police in 2019 were black. The number is much less than would be predicted by the crime rate among blacks.

African Americans, who account for 13 percent of the population of the United States, made up more than half of known homicide offenders and committed about 60 percent of burglaries during the same year, according to Heather Mac Donald, a fellow at the Manhattan Institute and author of “The War on Cops.”

Attorney General William Barr disagreed with the idea that police departments are systemically racist.

“I think there’s racism in the United States still, but I don’t think that the law enforcement system is systemically racist,” Barr said in an interview with CBS.

The push to defund the police is a hot-button topic, especially in the wake of mass riots, looting, and arson in major cities across the nation. Meanwhile, police attempts to restore order have also generated images of potentially excessive force, which have further fueled the calls to defund law enforcement.

In announcing their police-reform legislation, Democrats steered clear of the police defunding movement. The wide-ranging bill, if enacted, would place a ban on chokeholds, scrap a legal doctrine that shields police from civil lawsuits, make body cameras mandatory nationwide, limit the transfer of military weapons to police departments, and set up a national registry for complaints about police misconduct.

Charlotte Cuthbertson and Bowen Xiao contributed to this report.
Correction: an earlier version of the article incorrectly stated the city in which George Floyd was buried. Floyd was buried in Houston, Texas. The Epoch Times regrets the error.
Ivan is the national editor of The Epoch Times. He has reported for The Epoch Times on a variety of topics since 2011.
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