AOC: ‘Defund the Police’ Slogan Should Not Be Repackaged ‘to Make it Palatable’ for Affluent White People

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez speaking to attendees at a rally for Bernie Sanders in Counc
Matt A.J. / Flickr

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) on Tuesday addressed the controversy over the widespread call to “defund” the police, attempting to offer a quick explainer on the demand for action but warning the message should not be repackaged “to make it palatable for largely affluent, white suburban ‘swing’ voters.”

“‘Defund’ means that Black & Brown communities are asking for the same budget priorities that White communities have already created for themselves: schooling > police,etc,” Ocasio-Cortez said as part of a greater social media thread.

“Lots of DC insiders are criticizing frontline activists over political feasibility and saying they need a new slogan. But poll-tested slogans and electoral feasibility is not the activists’ job,” she continued, describing activist work as organizing support and transforming public opinion, “which they are doing.”

“And by the way, the fact that ppl are scrambling to repackage this whole conversation to make it palatable for largely affluent, white suburban ‘swing’ voters again points to how much more electoral & structural power these communities have relative to others,” she added, defending the language embraced by activists:

Calls to defund or “abolish” the police have permeated many of the protests that have popped up around the country over the last week, some of which descended into violence and chaos.

However, it is not just a matter of rhetoric, as progressives are, indeed, crafting plans to defund police departments and in some cases end them completely.

The Minneapolis City Council, for example, announced on Sunday its intention to “begin the process of ending the Minneapolis Police Department,” outlining its vision for a “police-free future.”

“We recognize that we don’t have all the answers about what a police-free future looks like, but our community does,” they wrote. “We’re committed to engaging with every willing community member in the City of Minneapolis over the next year to identify what safety looks like for you.”

Minneapolis City Council President Lisa Bender has defended the decision and stressed she “stand[s] by that bold statement.”

CNN’s Alisyn Camerota questioned Bender on the subject of dismantling the police on Monday.

“Do you understand that the word, dismantle, or police-free also makes some people nervous, for instance?” Camerota asked. “What if in the middle of night, my home is broken into? Who do I call?”

While Bender said she hears that concern “loud and clear from a lot of my neighbors, and I know, and myself too,” she said it “comes from a place of privilege because for those of us for whom the system is working, I think we need to step back and imagine what it would feel like to already live in that reality where calling the police may mean more harm is done.”

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio (D) on Sunday also detailed changes, announcing that the city would be “moving funding from the NYPD to youth initiatives and social services.”

“The details will be worked out in the budget process in the weeks ahead,” the mayor said. “But I want people to understand that we are committed to shifting resources to ensure that the focus is on our young people.”

NYPD Commissioner Dermot Shea said he was “1,000% behind shifting some funding from the police to youth programs.”

A recent YouGov poll showed that, despite the progressive calls to defund the police, it is widely unpopular among Americans in terms of potential police reforms. The survey showed 65 percent of Americans opposing defunding police, with just 16 percent of Americans supporting it.



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