Biden denounces “defund the police” slogan in SOTU address


(NewsNation Now) — In his first State of the Union address, President Joe Biden railed against the liberal wing of his own party Tuesday as he denounced the “defund the police” slogan.

“We should all agree: The answer is not to defund the police,” Biden said. “The answer is to fund the police with the resources and training they need to protect our communities.”

Biden said communities shouldn’t have to “choose between safety and equal justice when it comes to policing.” He also urged lawmakers to pass universal background checks, ban assault weapons, high-capacity magazines, and repeal liability shields that mean guns makers can’t be sued.

“These laws don’t infringe on the Second Amendment. They save lives.”

The president noted that the American Rescue Plan includes $350 billion dollars to cities, states, and counties that could be used “to hire more police and invest in proven strategies.” He said these “trusted messengers” could help break the cycle of violence and trauma and give young people hope.

Biden’s remarks come as some Democrats are calling on funds for police departments across the country to be redicrected in response to police killings of unarmed Black people, including George Floyd and Breonna Taylor, who were both killed in 2020.

The police reform movement became a rallying cry for activists on the progressive left, but down-ballot Republicans have used the slogan to paint vulnerable Democrats facing reelection as extreme.

“It became an issue that defined many races in 2020 and I don’t think we can allow the same mistake to happen in 2022,” said Democratic strategist Antjuan Seawright. “Therefore, I think it’s good that we’re being crystal clear about our position on the issue.” 

Beyond losing votes in virtually every election since 2008, Democrats have been effectively ostracized from many parts of rural America, leaving party leaders with few options to reverse a cultural trend that is redefining the nation’s political landscape. 

Many advocates for the “defund the police” movement including Rep. Cori Bush (D-Mo.), said defunding does not necessarily get rid of police altogether. The purpose is to reallocate the money to other agencies funded by local municipalities.

Bush, who attended Biden’s State of the Union Speech, voiced her opinion via Twitter on the president’s response to funding the police.

“With all due respect, Mr. President. You didn’t mention saving Black lives once in this speech. All our country has done is given more funding to police. The result? 2021 set a record for fatal police shootings. Defund the police. Invest in our communities.

Rep. Cori Bush (D-MO)

Biden’s push to fund the police echoes House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s stance on the matter. Last month, Pelosi said “defund the police” is “not the position of the Democratic Party.

Watch Biden’s full State of the Union speech.

The Hill contributed to this report.

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