Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) struggled on Sunday when pressed by CNN’s Jake Tapper about who will be responsible for investigating crimes and locking up criminals if the Minneapolis Police Department is dismantled.
“So, let’s talk about that, because you have talked about the dismantling, the need to dismantle the Minneapolis Police Department,” Tapper said. “What takes its place, and — if you could just decree what takes its place? Who investigates crimes? Who arrests criminals? What happens?”
Omar, who previously referred to the police department as a “cancer,” responded, “So, Minneapolis unanimously just voted on a resolution that will engage the community on a one-year process of what happens as we go through the process of dismantling the department and starting anew.”
“A new way forward can’t be put in place if we have a department that is having a crisis of credibility, if we have a department that’s led by a chief who’s suited for racism, if we have a department that hasn’t solved homicide,” Omar continued, later adding, “And so this is our opportunity, you know, as a city, to come together, have the conversation of what public safety looks like, who enforces the most dangerous crimes that take place in our community.”
Tapper again pressed her for details on what would take the place of law enforcement, to which Omar responded, “I think that’s really where the conversation is going wrong, because no one is saying that the community is not going to be kept safe.”
Omar said that moves to increase police funding “sounds ludicrous” to her.
Rep. @IlhanMN on “who investigates crimes” if the police department is “dismantled”:
“We have a department that’s led by a chief who’s suited for racism …. You can’t really reform a department that is rotten to the root." pic.twitter.com/OD3uZtfG8L
— Tom Elliott (@tomselliott) June 14, 2020
CNN HOST JAKE TAPPER: Welcome back to STATE OF THE UNION. I’m Jake Tapper.
Activists and protesters around the country are rallying around a slogan, defund the police. But that push is also running up against steep opposition, including in the Democratic Party.
Joining me now, Democratic Congresswoman Ilhan Omar, who represents part of Minneapolis, also the author of a new book, “This Is What America Looks Like.”
Congresswoman, thanks so much for joining us this morning. We have a lot to get to.
But before we do, I do…
REP. ILHAN OMAR (D-MN): Happy anniversary, Jake.
TAPPER: Oh, thank you so much. I appreciate it.
It’s the fifth anniversary of STATE OF THE UNION with me. So, thank you very much. I appreciate it.
I want to start with this horrific video of Rayshard Brooks. He was shot and killed by a white police officer in Atlanta on Friday night. Atlanta, a lot of protests and more.
What was your reaction when you saw the video?
OMAR: It’s, again, a reminder that, you know, police officers can’t continue to be judge, jury, and executioner.
We’re not only seeing cases where there is, you know, mortal danger to police officers where they might take a shot, but the cases of people who are subdued being killed by police officers, people who are being shot in the back. It’s just really quite disheartening to see the continuation of images like this appear.
And I think it’s a reminder again why, you know, trust in the system as it is right now is so low.
And I think this is really our opportunity to listen to the voices of the mayors of, like San Francisco and others who are really putting forth bold ideas of what it looks like, not only to move away from fully investing in this kind of public safety measures, but also those like Minneapolis who are committing to the dismantlement of a department that is beyond repair, so that the community has the space to come together to reimagine what public safety should look like.
TAPPER: So, let’s talk about that, because you have talked about the dismantling, the need to dismantle the Minneapolis Police Department.
What takes its place, and — if you could just decree what takes its place? Who investigates crimes? Who arrests criminals? What happens?
So, Minneapolis unanimously just voted on a resolution that will engage the community on a one-year process of what happens as we go through the process of dismantling the department and starting anew.
A new way forward can’t be put in place if we have a department that is having a crisis of credibility, if we have a department that’s led by a chief who’s suited for racism, if we have a department that hasn’t solved homicide. Half of the homicides in Minneapolis Police Department go unsolved.
There have been cases where they have destroyed rape kits. And so you can’t really reform a department that is rotten to the root. What you can do is rebuild. And so this is our opportunity, you know, as a city, to come together, have the conversation of what public safety looks like, who enforces the most dangerous crimes that take place in our community.
And just like San Francisco did, right now, they’re going — they’re moving towards a process where there is a separation of the kind of crimes that solicit the help of officers and the kind of crimes that we should have someone else respond to.
TAPPER: Well, just…
OMAR: And so this is really — this is, again, just the process of going through this together.
TAPPER: You’re — just to be clear, though, you’re not saying that there’s nothing that takes its place. You’re not saying…
OMAR: Absolutely not.
TAPPER: … that if a woman is raped — a woman is raped, there…
OMAR: I think that’s really where the conversation is going wrong, because no one is saying that the community is not going to be kept safe.
OMAR: No one is saying crimes will not be investigated. No one is saying that we are not going to have proper response when community members are in danger.
What we are saying is, the current infrastructure that exists as policing in our city should not exist anymore. And we can’t go about creating a different process with the same infrastructure in place.
And so dismantling it, and then looking at what funding priorities should look like as we reimagine a new way forward is what needs to happen. And that is truly why you have 13 members unanimously on a city council vote to start this process.
And I know that there are many places where a process like this is needed, many places where they might not go through the drastic process of dismantling.
But just like in Camden, they realized that there was just a department that was beyond reform, as it was. They dismantled it, and they figured out a different way to move forward as a community in regards to providing public safety for one another.
TAPPER: Yes. So…
OMAR: And that’s what needs to happen in Minneapolis, and that’s what we’re committed to.
TAPPER: So, there are a lot of Democrats, as you know, who disagree with what you’re talking about.
I just spoke with House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn, who has come out in opposition to the defund movement. He’s talked about the need to reform. But he said defunding could — quote — “hijack the movement.” In addition, Joe Biden has said he does not support defunding the police. And, in fact, he’s proposing $300 million more for community policing. What’s your response?
OMAR: Well, it sounds ludicrous to me to have people pour out into the streets asking for the system to be transformed, and for us to say, in order for that transformation to happen, we’re just going to give more money to the system, without really doing any kind of systematic change.
If you had a company that wasn’t producing, you wouldn’t just pour money, more money, into it, so that it would produce. You would step back and say, what — let’s look at what works, what doesn’t work, and how do we move forward?
And so I think, for people who really are questioning and talking about this movement, they’re not paying attention to what the people are asking for.
And, to me, we’re — this is not for members of Congress. This isn’t for the president. This is a municipality issue. This is a state level issue. And so I happen to represent a city that is eager and ready to take on this call and deliver.
OMAR: And there are many other cities that are doing this.
OMAR: And so we do more damage when we say to these people that they’re — we don’t believe in their ability to govern their cities and serve their constituents.
We do better when we say, what do you need in order for you to provide for your constituents a way forward? And we’re going to be there to support you and cheer you on as you figure out how to keep everyone safe.
TAPPER: Democratic Congresswoman Ilhan Omar of Minnesota, thank you so much for your time today. We really appreciate it.
OMAR: Thank you for having me, Jake.
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