Longtime racial justice activist Al Sharpton took aim at the “Defund the Police” movement Tuesday, calling the thought of abolishing law enforcement a “latte liberal” fantasy.
Sharpton is the latest high-profile leftist to defect from the “Defund the Police” line, following in the footsteps of former Vice President-turned-2020 Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden, who refused to endorse the idea and has, more recently, worked to distance himself from ongoing anti-racism and anti-police brutality protests, particularly as they’ve become violent in places like Kenosha, Wisconsin.
Appearing on MSNBC to comment on New York City’s recent uptick in gun violence, something New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio dismissed on Tuesday, according to the New York Daily News, telling reporters the city had experienced an “overwhelmingly peaceful weekend.”
“We’ve always heard about the tale of two cities. On the side of the city that I come from, which is Blacker and poorer, we’ve seen more in terms of gun usage. I got a lot of attention when I did the eulogy for George Floyd’s funeral, but I also, a month later, preached a 1-year-old kid’s funeral in Brooklyn who was killed by a stray bullet,” Sharpton told host Joe Scarborough Tuesday morning.
“Six people were shot over Labor Day weekend at a festivity in Brooklyn,” Sharpton continued, “so I would say statistically we’re not much higher than where we were, but on the ground it is certainly feeling more violent, feeling more unsafe in unsafe communities.”
Sharpton, asked about the “Defund the Police” movement, claimed that the idea of abolishing law is enforcement the brainchild of rich leftists who see racial justice as an “academic” problem.
“We need to re-imagine how we do policing,” Sharpton said, “To take all policing off is something a latte liberal may go for as they sit around the Hamptons discussing this as an academic problem. But people living on the ground need proper policing.”
Sharpton: Defunding the NYPD is "something a Latte Liberal may go for as they sit around the Hamptons discussing this as an academic problem. But people living on the ground need proper policing." pic.twitter.com/TkXnVgUBEq
— Tom Elliott (@tomselliott) September 8, 2020
Sharpton has been a longtime opponent of defunding and dismantling police departments, despite the fact that “defunding the police” is a key demand of core Black Lives Matter organization and the Black Lives Matter movement writ large.
According to The Wall Street Journal, Sharpton has been questioning who, precisely, is behind the “Defund the Police” movement and whether they are in touch with the minority communities they’re ostensibly advocating for.
“Mr. Sharpton charged that some people are trying to ‘hijack’ a movement intended to improve policing and redirect it toward the dangerous goal of removing police from the streets,” WSJ reported in August. “On MSNBC he called out ‘those that have no identity with the communities, that don’t live in any of the danger’ but who are trying to ‘put us in harm’s way to fix some purist latte liberalism that they advocate.'”
He then accused the “latte” leftist crowd of retreating to high-income enclaves to read “so-called progressive literature to each other.”
Sharpton is hardly alone in believing that the “Defund the Police” movement would put minority communities in harm’s way. The New York Times reports that black lawmakers are overwhelmingly opposed to defunding the New York Police Department, and Gallup notes that just 19% of black Americans are on board with abolishing law enforcement.
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