Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has joined other top progressive Democrats in backing a growing movement to defund police departments in the wake of George Floyd’s death.
The congresswoman from the Bronx voiced support for the policy solution aimed at combating police brutality and racial injustice during a congressional primary debate on NY1 on Friday night.
Ocasio-Cortez said she’s ‘actively engaged in advocacy’ for a ‘reduction of our NYPD budget and defunding a $6billion NYPD budget that costs us books in the hands of our children and costs us very badly needed investment in NYCHA [New York City Housing Authority] and public housing’.
As protesters demand police reform, a proposal is gaining steam: reducing the #NYPD’s budget.— Spectrum News NY1 (@NY1) June 6, 2020
Rep. @AOC expressed support for that in a NY1 debate. https://t.co/vo8uqhoSZR. #NY1Politics pic.twitter.com/bQK2glBPgk
‘Defund the police’ has become a rallying cry for protesters calling for police reform during 13 straight days of nationwide demonstrations over the death of Floyd, a black man who was killed after a white Minneapolis cop knelt on his neck during an arrest on May 25.
Activists are demanding that US cities reroute the massive funds allocated for policing and divert them into resources that will help black communities thrive, such as education, housing and social services.
A Defund the Police petition has garnered thousands of signatures including from celebrities Lizzo, John Legend, and Taraji P Henson.
‘Despite continued profiling, harassment, terror and killing of Black communities, local and federal decision-makers continue to invest in the police, which leaves Black people vulnerable and our communities no safer,’ the petition states.
Ocasio-Cortez and several liberal New York City Council members have called for Mayor Bill de Blasio to slash at least $1billion from the NYPD’s $6billion budget.
De Blasio rejected that idea on Friday, saying that the money was necessary to keep New York City safe.
‘I do not believe it’s a good idea to reduce the budget of the agency that’s here to keep us safe,’ he said during a press briefing.
Leaders in other cities, including Washington DC Mayor Muriel Bowser and Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey, and the chair of the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) have also said they don’t support efforts to defund police departments.
Ocasio-Cortez laid out several other policy solutions for police reform during Friday’s debate, including an end to qualified immunity that shields officers from legal accountability and to the transfer of military equipment to police departments.
Fellow ‘squad’ member Rep Ilhan Omar (D – Minnesota) took the movement even further when she called for the Minneapolis Police Department to be disbanded.
‘The Minneapolis Police Department has proven themselves beyond reform. It’s time to disband them and reimagine public safety in Minneapolis,’ Omar tweeted Friday.
House Democrats, led by the CBC, are expected to present their legislative solutions for police reform on Monday, and will hold a vote later this month.
Rep Karen Bass, chair of the CBC, came out against cutting police budgets last week.
‘No, I don’t believe that we should defund police departments,’ the California Democrat said Wednesday.
Ocasio-Cortez is facing a heated election challenge for New York’s 14th District from former TV journalist Michelle Caruso-Cabrera. The Democratic primary is coming up in just over two weeks on June 23.
During Friday’s debate, Caruso-Cabrera attacked Ocasio-Cortez for voting against a coronavirus relief package in April and for sheltering at her Washington DC apartment at the start of the pandemic.
‘AOC is MIA,’ Caruso-Cabrera panned.