After George Floyd was murdered by a police officer in Minneapolis in May 2020, there were calls to defund the police and pushback by several notable Democrats who opposed defunding, including former President Barack Obama. One of the loudest voices against defunding has been House Majority Whip James Clyburn (D-SC).
Former New York Police officer Eric Adams was elected on Nov. 2 as the next mayor of New York City — proof that Clyburn was onto something. A Democrat and former Brooklyn Borough president, Adams will be the second Black mayor of the nation’s largest city. He’s also a former New York Police Department captain who ran on a campaign of increased police funding to deal with New York City’s ongoing crime wave.
Adams soundly beat his Republican opponent Curtis Sliwa, founder of the Guardian Angels anti-crime patrol.
When Adams won the Democrat primary in October, Clyburn said his win proved that calls to “defund the police” are a “non-starter, even with Black people.”
Clyburn’s motives for his opposition to defunding the police were questioned during an October interview. “Is the whole attention on ‘defund the police’ really a deflection by the party leadership from your own failures? That’s what your critics on the left would say,” MSNBC host Mehdi Hasan said.
“That is absolutely poppycock,” Clyburn responded. “I know what I’m talking about. I’m out here with the voters every day …. and I can tell you ‘defund the police’ is a non-starter, even with Black people. And if you don’t think that’s true, then look at the results of what just happened in New York City. The proof is in the pudding.”
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Obama warned Democrats in 2020 who were pushing to defund the police that “you lose people with snappy slogans like ‘defund the police’.”
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Clyburn agreed. The party “can’t pick up these things just because they make a good headline. We need to work on what makes headway, rather than what makes headlines,” he told CNN.
Black communities were also opposed to defunding the police, according to a Gallup poll conducted from June 23 to July 6. It found that 61 percent of Black respondents said they’d like police to spend the same amount of time in their community, while 20 percent answered they’d like to see more police, totaling 81 percent. Just 19 percent of those polled said they wanted police to spend less time in their neighborhoods, Newsweek reported.
Although Adams is pro-police, he has encouraged some police reform. He often talked on the campaign trail about being beaten by police officers as a teenager when he was arrested for trespassing. As an officer, he was a vocal critic of the police department, advocated for Black officers and spoke out about injustices, AP reported.
Despite this, Adams did not support calls from some progressives to defund the police.