With pieces of legislation like the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act in limbo and tactics like no-knock warrants are killing Black Americans, we are still waiting for police reform to happen. One of the points of contention has been messaging – explicitly surrounding the slogan, “Defund the Police, which was adopted right after the murder of George Floyd in May 2020.
To “defund the police” really means to take money that has gone to substantial police budgets and to put them in things like mental health care and preventative measures. Some representatives in the Democratic party feel like the saying is too abrasive, especially heading into midterm elections.
According to Axios, Rep. Cori Bush (D-MO), who has been at the forefront of movements such as one to extend the eviction moratorium, doesn’t plan on backing off using the slogan. Rep. Bush acknowledges that the Democratic Party has to do a better job explaining the shift in money to law enforcement would better all parties. However, Bush explains that Democrats need to deliver on promises.
“Defund the police’ is not the problem,” she added. “We dangled the carrot in front of people’s faces and said we can get it done and that Democrats deliver, when we haven’t totally delivered.”
“If [Republicans] take the majority, it’s just done as far as trying to get the legislation across,” Bush said.
Speaking of the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act, some Congressional Black Caucus members have signaled breaking up the bill and passing it in smaller pieces –much like what the Build Back Better Act is going through right now. Bush pushed back on that strategy.
“If we couldn’t get George Floyd done back when millions of people were marching in the street, then how do we expect to get more than one thing done [on policing] over the next few years?” the lawmaker said.
Bush was also asked about pressure from fellow Democrats to either drop the phrase or change it up entirely. Still, Bush stands film that reform should be the main focus.
“Oh, absolutely,” Bush said when asked by Axios whether she feels pressure from others in her party to change her rhetoric.
“I’ve had colleagues walk up to me” and say that “defund the police” doesn’t help in their districts. Bush didn’t name to whom she was referring.
Bush said she won’t alter her stance until there’s meaningful reform. She said that should focus on ending the mechanisms by which police have killed Black people, including chokeholds and no-knock warrants.