“Defund the police.”
It’s a phrase that, up until the sickening eight-plus minute video of George Floyd’s death in Minneapolis police custody, wouldn’t have even come close to entering the vernacular.
Most of us tacitly understood that, while there might be bad actors or rogue elements within police departments, those were what should be targeted — not entire departments themselves, which were engaged in the important work of keeping communities safe.
And yet we now have former super-prosecutor Sen. Kamala Harris of California telling us that calls to defund the police are actually about “reimagining public safety.” If you mean “reimagining” it by imagining less of it, I’d say yes.
So would Pastor Darrell Scott. He’s the leader of the New Spirit Revival Center in Cleveland Heights, Ohio, and an ally of the president’s.
In testimony before the House Judiciary Committee on Wednesday, he warned against defunding the police, saying the concept “makes absolutely no sense at all.”
Speaking at the hearing addressing police brutality, Scott, an African-American, discussed experiences being racially profiled, saying he “could have very easily been George Floyd.”
“However, I do not recommend throwing the baby out with the bathwater by labeling all police officers as bad cops simply because of the bad actions of a rogue segment of those whose job is supposed to be to protect and to serve American citizens,” he said.
“In fact, in certain inner-city communities across America, increased funding for police and increased police presence is actually necessary in order to enforce the law and to guarantee the safety and the security of law-abiding members of those communities.”
Scott instead said that “the prospect of defunding and, or dismantling police forces across the country is one of the most unwise, irresponsible proposals by American politicians in our nation’s history, and makes absolutely no sense at all, at least to me.”
“I believe it is nothing short of the politicizing of current social events in an effort to garner votes during this election season,” he continued.
“I also believe that it’s a reactionary measure that can and will result in short- and long-term damage to American society, particularly in our inner-city and urban communities.”
What you’ll notice is that there are very few — if any — people who look at what happened to George Floyd and call it justified.
What you’ll also notice is that there are very few — if any — people who can accurately explain how taking away money from police departments would have prevented his death.
That’s not really the point, though, as Pastor Scott notes. This is all about politicization.
It’s easier to frame this as a matter of punishing a recalcitrant kid than as part of an overarching political animus toward police departments and officers. That’s way too far to the left for most Americans, even if they want to see some sort of police reform around the use of force.
But taking away money from police departments as a collective punishment for the killing of George Floyd doesn’t make any sense, particularly since it would definitionally be taking the money away from police officers and departments who didn’t have anything to do with it.
When protesters take their case to the streets, the slogan is on signs — and no one really needs to defend signs.
When politicians end up defending it, you get mush-mouthed phrases like “reimagining public safety.”
It will be reimagined if you defund police departments, and you won’t like what ends up being imagined.
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