#Top Democratic leaders try to quell calls to ‘defund the police’ ahead of election

#Top Democratic leaders try to quell calls to ‘defund the police’ ahead of election

June 9, 2020 | 9:08am

Top Democratic leaders on Capitol Hill are trying to stifle growing efforts nationwide to “defund the police” — a battle cry by prominent progressives as well as protesters in the wake of George Floyd’s death in Minneapolis.

Senior Democrats are hoping to slow down the momentum for the idea before it overshadows their broader police reform effort — and fuels national Republicans’ argument that Democrats are moving to the fringe left as the November election approaches, according to new reports.

“I think it can be used as a distraction and that’s my concern,” Rep. Karen Bass, chairwoman of the Congressional Black Caucus, said Monday, according to Politico. “I think the intent behind it is something that I support — the idea that communities need investments.”

Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer are instead moving forward with a sweeping bill that would promote transparency, crack down on the use of excessive force and ban controversial practices like chokeholds.

Questions of funding or structure would not be part of the reforms, and left to local leaders.

“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.), also a CBC member, said Monday, according to the report. “We are the Congress. What we’re doing here today is our role.”

Meanwhile, a veto-proof majority of the Minneapolis City Council over the weekend voted to disband the city’s police department.

A number of cities, including New York and Los Angeles, are considering diverting funds from their police departments to youth and social service programs.

Moderate Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) blasted the idea of defunding police departments.

“You can’t defund the police, that’s stupid, it’s crazy and anyone who talks about that is nuts,” he said, according to Politico. “You have to have the police.”

Protesters march down Pennsylavania Avenue from the Capitol as George Floyd police brutality demonstrations and marches are held around Washington
Getty Images

Several senior Democrats discussed the matter in a private caucus call Monday, according to the report.

“This movement today, some people tried to hijack it,” House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn (D-S.C.) said on the call. “Don’t let yourselves be drawn into the debate about defunding police forces.”

House Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler (D-N.Y.) said the “defund the police movement” is “easily caricatured by demagogues and Republicans.”

But Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) told fellow Democrats on the call that although she understands the “profound discomfort” around the defunding issue, “It is not crazy for black and brown communities to want what white people have already given themselves and that is funding your schools more than you fund criminalizing your own kids,” according to Politico.

Former Vice President and 2020 Democratic candidate Joe Biden said Monday night that he does not support defunding the police — and that federal aid to police should be tied to their ability to “meet certain basic standards of decency and honorableness.”

President Donald Trump said Monday that he opposes the “defund the police” movement and argued that 99 percent of officers are “great people.”


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