Since the death of George Floyd in the summer of 2020, progressives have pushed for radical new policing changes in the United States, spawning movements such as Defund the Police. But these movements fall far short of popularity, and President Joe Biden and a wide range of Democratic legislators have rejected the rhetoric entirely.
Rep. Rashida Tlaib (Democrat from Minnesota), a progressive female congressman elected during a wave of Democratic victories in 2018, made the news recently when she defended a proposed law that would free federal prisons within 10 years, with no exception for especially cruel criminals. drug lords or sex traffickers.
Tlaib-approved legislation called the Breathing Act calls for the Justice Department to draw up a “roadmap to abolish prisons.” The bill requires “the complete liberation of federal places of detention for 10 years” and “a moratorium on the construction of all new federal prisons, detention centers, immigrants and youth.”
Tlaib and other members of The Squad, a group of young, progressive leftists. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortes (DN.Y.), Ilhan Omar (D-Minnesota) and Ayanna Pressley (D-Massachusetts) have been adamant about anti-police and prison initiatives.
Following Dount Wright’s death in 2021, Tlaib called for an “end to security, detention and militarization,” a call echoed by Omar and Pressley.
In the midst of protests against the police, many of which escalated into riots, in the summer of 2020, New York Democrat Mayor Bill DeBlasio proposed to cut the NYPD budget by about $ 6 billion by $ 1 billion.
But New York Rep. Ocasio-Cortez, who openly defended Defund the Police, rejected the offer.
“Not funding the police means not funding the police,” Ocasio-Cortez said in a 2020 statement. “This doesn’t mean budget tricks or fun math. This does not mean transferring school police officers from the NYPD budget to the Department of Education budget to keep the same police force in schools. ”
After Democrats saw disappointing results in the 2020 House of Representatives elections, some blamed the failure on the anti-police. But Ocasio-Cortez continued to defend the movement.
“I believe that the path to justice is long. Security is not just an officer with a badge and a pistol, ”said the self-proclaimed Socialist Congresswoman.
Minnesota Rep. Ilhan Omar, whose area was the epicenter of the anti-police in the summer of 2020, also spoke out openly in defense of the refusal to fund the police.
In the midst of the 2020 protests and riots, Omar urged people to “stay on the streets” and “show them we mean action.”
Although the momentum of the movement has subsided, Tlaib’s newest controversy shows that this feeling remains very vivid among progressives.
But antipolice and prison sentiment are far less popular with Biden, Democratic senators, and black members of Congress.
Biden Rejects Funding Waiver Act, Tlaib Act
On Wednesday, White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki answered the question whether Biden supports Tlaib’s proposed law.
“The president does not support the abolition of prisons,” Psaki said. “He thinks that such measures will make us less secure, and he will not support legislation that includes this.”
This response fits in with Biden’s broader efforts to distance himself from anti-police sentiment without alienating voters who share those sentiments.
His presidential campaign, which took place in the midst of unrest in the United States, sought to portray Biden as moderate in order to allay the average American’s fears that Biden would follow with progressive anti-police rhetoric.
“No, I do not support the refusal to fund the police,” Biden told CBS during his presidential campaign.
Rather, Biden called for “federal police assistance to be conditional on whether it meets certain basic standards of decency and dignity”; and, in fact, can demonstrate that they can protect the community and everyone in the community. ”
Biden also supported efforts to increase social spending at the state and local levels, but without cutting funding or replacing police departments.
Any attempt to redefine policing through federal legislation such as the Tlaiba Breathing Act would have to go through Biden before becoming law. Biden’s stated stance against such efforts will challenge progressives hoping to really make significant changes at the federal level.
Senate deputies vote in defense of the police
Before any legislative overhaul of policing comes to Biden, he must go through the Senate. But senators from both parties rejected the rhetoric.
During a vote on amendments to the $ 3.5 trillion Democratic budget bill, which has since been cut to $ 1.85 trillion, Senator John Cornin (R-Texas) pushed an amendment to provide additional federal funding to police departments.
Sending a clear message to the progressive in the House of Representatives, all 50 Democrats joined all 50 Republicans to vote in favor of the proposal, showing rare unanimity.
Senator Joe Manchin (DW. Virginia), whose voice is essential to democratic political goals, has come out strongly against the anti-police force.
November 2020 mail Manchin tweeted, “Justify the police? Defund, my ass. I’m a proud West Virginia Democrat. We are a party of working men and women. We want to protect American jobs and healthcare. We don’t have some crazy socialist program and we don’t believe in police protection. “
Senator Kirsten Cinema of Arizona, another critical voter, also reiterated her opposition to the movement.
But the movement is not popular with even the most left-wing progressive senator, Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.). Sanders expressed his support for efforts to reform police departments across the United States, but rejected attempts to weaken or abolish the police.
When asked if he agreed with the squad’s call for “no more police, imprisonment and militarization,” Sanders bluntly replied, “No, I disagree.”
Prominent black faction members reject “police excuse”
While progressives on the left argue that the Justify the Police movements work for the benefit of minorities that they claim are being unfairly targeted by the police, their position is not shared by members of the Black Congress.
“I told some friends that [‘Defund the Police’ is] probably one of the worst slogans, ”said Rep. Karen Bass (California), chairman of the Black faction, during Live broadcast of the Washington Post in 2020.
“The police are the first to declare that they are law enforcement officers and not social workers. What we have done in our country is that we have not invested in health problems, social and economic problems in communities. We’re leaving the police to pick up the shrapnel, ”Bass said. She represents Los Angeles. “In my city, for example, we have over 40,000 homeless people every night. Why should the police get involved in this? “
House Majority Whip Jim Cliburn (DS.C.) also came out strongly against the anti-police.
“I know what I’m talking about, I’m here with the voters every day,” Cliburn said during an interview with Medhi Hasan. “I can tell you that Defund the Police is not a launch, even with blacks.”
Clyburn blamed the rhetoric for the return of poor Democrats to the House of Representatives in 2020 and urged proponents of progress in the party to drop the issue.