PHILADELPHIA — Rep. Jamaal Bowman is backtracking from his defunding-the-police rhetoric and blaming Republicans for using the slogan as a “fear-mongering tactic.”
Mr. Bowman, the newest and only male member of Congress’ far-left “Squad,” said his and his colleagues’ support for stripping funding from police wasn’t about getting rid of the police but about finding smart fixes to a broken criminal justice system.
“No one is anti-police, at least I’m not,” Mr. Bowman told reporters at the annual House Democrats’ retreat that’s being held this year in Philadelphia, where an ongoing crime wave includes a surge in homicides. “We need a smarter approach. I don’t want any police to be killed.”
Mr. Bowman accused Republicans of distorting the defund-the-police movement for political gain.
“Republicans are all about fear, fear-mongering tactics, and they’re driven by that fear and that anger and rage and that idea that the Democrats and this multiracial society is coming to take America,” he said. “So, we’ve got to come with truth, and we got to come with love.”
Mr. Bowman said he still wants to see police reform efforts get done at the federal level.
The congressman, who is backed by the far-left Justice Democrats political action committee, has advocated for a racial justice overhaul of police and courts. He said he also wants more resources directed to social services agencies to handle domestic and mental health issue that often falls on law enforcement.
A Pew Research Center poll found the majority of Americans wanted to increase police funding in 2021, despite numbers that showed more support for stripping monies from law enforcement in 2020.
The poll found only 23% of Black respondents supported efforts to defund the police, which dropped 42% from 2020 — the year George Floyd was murdered by a Minneapolis police officer.
For young adults, the poll found support for defunding police dropped from 34% to 23%.
The Pew survey was conducted in Sept. 2021 among 10,371 respondents. It had an error margin of +/-1.6%.