(The Hill) – Democrats are seeking to shed the ‘defund the police’ slogan and are more visibly proactive in tackling rising crime rates, even as Republicans seek to tie them into the 2020 movement ahead of the election November mid-term.
President Biden traveled to New York on Thursday to meet with Mayor Eric Adams (D), a former NYPD captain elected last year, and Governor Kathy Hochul (D) to announce new plans for combat gun violence days after two of the officers were shot dead by a man armed with an illegal weapon.
“Enough is enough because we know we can do things about it,” Biden said. “But for resistance, we get from certain areas of government and Congress and state legislatures and organizational structures there, you know, Mayor Adams, you and I agree, the answer is no d abandoning our streets is not the answer.
The remarks come amid growing concern about rising violent crime rates in some major cities. According to a recent report by the Council on Criminal Justice (CCJ), homicides in major US cities have increased 44% since 2019 and 5% since 2020.
Republicans are seeking to attribute those increases to Democrats, continuing a strategy they used successfully in 2020 to tie Democrats on the ballot to activists seeking to ‘defund the police’ following high-profile killings of black people. Americans by the police.
“Joe Biden and Democrats’ soft-on-crime policies have emboldened criminals in Democratic-run cities across the country,” Republican National Committee Chair Ronna McDaniel said, responding to Biden’s remarks on Thursday. . “Americans are less secure because of Democratic leadership failure, and until Joe Biden condemns the dangerous policies and anti-police rhetoric of Democrats like Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg, he is complicit in the rise in crime across the country.”
Polls show that the public’s appetite for police funding cuts has waned. A Pew Research survey released in October found that 47% of Americans said police spending in their respective communities should be increased, up from 31% in June 2020. The poll also found that support for decreasing the Police funding fell from 25 percent in 2020 to 15 percent in October last year.
Moderate Democrats have blamed losses in a number of swing districts in 2020 on progressives’ embrace of the “defund the police” slogan, and now many party members are swinging hard the other way. They are also seeking to clarify their positions on public safety.
“Defund the police is an absolutely stupid slogan,” said Democratic strategist Adrian Hemond. “Even if you agree with the political goals of what people in this movement are pushing, that’s a really bad slogan because it’s not really indicative of a hundred percent what they say they want. do, at least most of them.”
Calls to “defund the police” came to a head in 2020 amid nationwide protests against police killings of unarmed black people, including George Floyd and Breonna Taylor. The movement has called for reallocating funds from police departments to other government agencies, which supporters say would more effectively deter crime and protect minority communities.
The term has become a rallying cry for activists on the progressive left, but Republicans have used the slogan to portray Democrats vulnerable to re-election as extreme.
“It has become a problem that has defined many races in 2020 and I don’t think we can allow the same mistake to happen in 2022,” said Democratic strategist Antjuan Seawright. “Therefore, I think it is good that we are perfectly clear on our position on the matter.”
Ahead of Biden’s visit to New York this week, National Democrats amplified their message on the matter, touting what they said was their party’s support for law enforcement and dismissing the idea that the rhetoric of the “police funding” posed a threat to them.
“The police defund movement is dead in New York and good riddance,” Rep. Ritchie Torres (DN.Y.) told MSNBC on Tuesday. “And any elected official who argues for the abolition and or even the defunding of the police is out of touch with reality and should not be taken seriously.”
Ahead of Biden’s visit to New York, Democrats were busy pointing out that House Republicans opposed the president’s US bailout package last year, which provided $350 million to help local governments, which include police services.
Additionally, Democrats cited Republican opposition to the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act in the House and Senate. The legislation would ban racial profiling at all levels of law enforcement, ban choke holds, carotid holds and no-knock warrants, institute a national police misconduct registry and revise legal protections currently given to law enforcement known as qualified immunity.
“This is a step to make sure voters across the country, wherever they live, understand where we are and I don’t know anyone who doesn’t want safer communities,” Seawright said. “But I think in the same vein, we want accountability and we want a policing system that doesn’t discriminate or abuse its power.”
However, Republicans say the strategy won’t work at the polls in November.
“Voters aren’t going to believe Democrats are suddenly tough on crime after spending the last two years trying to defund the police,” said Mike Berg, spokesman for the National Republican Congressional Campaign Committee.
“The fact is, the Democrats’ pro-crime agenda is why we’re seeing a wave of violent crime against the country,” he added.
And Democrats are not necessarily united on the issue of policing.
The day before Biden’s visit to New York, Minneapolis police shot and killed 22-year-old Amir Locke while he was serving a no-knock warrant. The shooting of another black man in a city still reeling from Floyd’s murder has sparked a new wave of outrage and scrutiny from the police department, including from progressive Democrats in Congress.
And some on the progressive left argue that rejecting calls for defunding the police does nothing to bring liberals to the table on the issue.
“I think it’s a misguided political strategy, but I also feel like it also robs the discourse of the seriousness it deserves and makes it harder to have the real conversation, which is to say how to keep our communities safe,” Maurice said. Mitchell, national director of the Working Families Party.
“For decades, all we have done is put more and more public resources into the police, prisons and prisons, and less and less public resources into education, into health care. health,” Mitchell said. “We need to reconsider this strategy, this 40-year strategy of defunding our communities and investing deeply in police and police-only solutions.”
However, on Thursday, the New York Working Families Party issued a statement praising Biden for traveling to New York to meet with officials to discuss public safety, but added that more funds were needed outside of the health sector. police.
“The most impactful thing President Biden can do to increase security is to pass [Build Back Better], which makes critical investments in housing, jobs, health care and violence prevention. Pouring more federal dollars into policing and incarceration will not solve the problem,” the group said in a statement.
Still, Democrats say it’s best to amplify their stance on the issue of policing and public safety early in the midterm cycle.
“Collectively, if we know that it is being used to energize the opposition party and challenge some people in our party, it does not make sense to continue playing gymnastics with words on the issue which could potentially be used to define certain races in 2022,” says Seawright.