President Joe Biden made the unlikely claim Tuesday that it is Republicans who are pushing for “defunding the police,” despite near universal GOP support for law enforcement and the fact that cutting police budgets was his own party’s rallying cry in 2020.
Speaking at a recreation center in Monterey Park, California, the same community in which a gunman killed 11 and wounded nine inside a dance studio on January 21, Biden announced an executive order with new gun control measures. The order, which would increase background checks for gun purchases, promote “red flag” orders, and make public federal records on violations by firearms dealers, has been met with opposition from Republicans.
“Congressional Republicans should pass my budget instead of calling for cuts to these services or defunding the police or abolishing the FBI, as we hear from our MAGA Republican friends,” Biden said.
While it is true that some Republicans have called for abolishing the scandal-ridden FBI, calls for defunding police departments have been the exclusive province of Democrats ever since the George Floyd riots of 2020. Biden himself was not among Democrats calling to cut police budgets, but Vice President Kamala Harris praised then-L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti for planning to lop up to $150 million from his city’s police budget.
“Right now, what we’re seeing in America is many cities spend over one-third of their entire city budget on policing but meanwhile we’ve been defunding public schools for years in America,” Harris said in June of 2020.
The funding of police departments is a local matter, but GOP governors like Florida’s Ron DeSantis or Texas’ Greg Abbott have staunchly supported the police. Meanwhile, “defund the police” advocates have been visiting the White House or meeting with White House aides, which White House visitor logs revealed as reported last June.
Some of those activists included Rashad Robinson, the president of Color of Change; Carmen Rojas, the president and CEO of the Marguerite Casey Foundation; Latosha Brown, the co-founder of Black Voters Matter; and Tylik McMillan, who serves as the “National Director of Youth [and] College” at Al Sharpton’s National Action Network, Fox News reported.
“So many people are twisting themselves into word pretzels,” Rojas tweeted in 2021. “They say we need justice in one breathe & not all police are bad in the next. We must be unwavering in our commitment to freedom. The best way to realize it is to defund the police and support abolition. Period.”
Rojas “visited the White House in December 2021 and appeared to meet with Nia Page,” a Special Assistant to then-Biden adviser Cedric Richmond, Fox News noted. Rojas’ Marguerite Casey Foundation had also featured Robinson on its board; Robinson also visited the White House in 2021 and reportedly met with Richmond.
Color of Change pushed to “dismantle” and replace the Minneapolis Police Department in 2021, according to Fox News. They created a petition titled, “TAKE ACTION: Defund the police, and invest in communities now!” The petition states, “The Minneapolis City Council recently approved a potential ballot measure that would change the city charter and dismantle the Minneapolis Police. Now it’s up to us to hold them accountable, push for further systemic changes.”
In March 2022, the Marguerite Casey Foundation tweeted, “#DefundthePolice.”
Brown, according to the White House visitor logs and Fox News, has communicated with Vincent Evans, who worked for Vice President Harris’s office. Referring to police reform, Brown stated, “It’s kind of like having weeds in the yard. You can cut the weeds down, you know, when you’re mowing the grass, but until you uproot or kill the weeds, it will still take over your yard,” reported the Washington Examiner.
“In August 2020, Brown promoted a ‘Defund the Police 101 Teach-In’ event led by two other defund the police activists,” Fox News stated.