As lawmakers continue negotiations on a police reform bill, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) is taking a swipe at a popular rallying cry around the push to overhaul policing in the country.
Speaking to reporters on Tuesday, the Kentucky lawmaker said, “I think defunding the police has gotta be one of the dumbest ideas ever surfaced by anyone in our country.”
Watch the video below:
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell:
“I think defunding the police has gotta be one of the dumbest ideas ever surfaced by anyone in our country.” pic.twitter.com/JxvoXLvtEw
— The Recount (@therecount) June 1, 2021
The phrase ‘defund the police’ gained fresh attention last year as protests against police brutality and racism erupted around the country following the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis.
While the phrase was widely adopted by protesters, the idea remains unpopular among wide swaths of the population.
Just weeks after Floyd’s death, a Reuters/Ipsos poll found that 39% of respondents said they support the push to defund the police, while 57% said they oppose it. And roughly a year later, a USA Today/Ipsos poll found that just 18% of respondents said they support defunding the police, while 58% said they oppose the push.
A majority of white Americans, 67%, said they oppose defunding the police, and 84% of Republicans said the same. Meanwhile, just 28% of Black Americans and 34% of Democrats said they support defunding the police.
Some Congressional Democrats have championed the push to defund the police and are going so far as to call for the abolition of the police.
After the fatal shooting of Daunte Wright in Brooklyn Center, Minnesota in April, Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.) tweeted, “It wasn’t an accident. Policing in our country is inherently and intentionally racist. Daunte Wright was met with aggression [and] violence. I am done with those who condone government funded murder.”
“No more policing, incarceration, and militarization. It can’t be reformed,” she added.
But, Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) pushed back on the idea during an interview with CNN. He said, “We know, the bottom line here, we do need law enforcement in this country for safety and security in our homes and our neighborhoods and our cities.”
“But we must demand of law enforcement with all the par that is given to an individual officer that this type of racial conduct be purged from law enforcement,” he added.
President Joe Biden claimed during a Zoom call with civil rights leaders in December that Republicans successfully weaponized the “defund the police” phrase during the 2020 election to “beat the living hell out of us across the country.”
Still, he signaled his desire to make some progress on police reform.
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