Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez defended her support for “defund the police” Thursday night after an election season in which Republicans weaponized the mantra to paint Democratic opponents as anti-cop and soft on crime.
Democratic leaders complained that two issues closely associated with AOC – defunding the police and socialism – contributed to Democratic losses in House races last week.
AOC defended her position when a 14-year-old student asked her during a virtual town hall meeting to define the meaning of “defund the police.”
Ocasio-Cortez, the Democratic Socialist congresswoman admitted that some critics were “apoplectic” over defunding the police.
But she complained that too much funding is pumped into the NYPD at the expense of other preventive safety measures, such as mental health workers and school guidance counselors.
“I believe the path toward justice is a long arc. Safety is not just an officer with a badge and a gun,” the congresswoman said.
“Our [police budget] is too high,” she said, citing a $6 billion figure for the NYPD.
She said unchecked spending on the NYPD “becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy” and crowds out spending on other needs such as housing and health care.
“It’s about a budget shift,” Ocasio-Cortez said.
Moreover, she said many of her constituents complain that “too many people” are killed by “police violence” – with protests erupting after the police-related death of George Floyd in Minneapolis.
“It’s my job to listen. We need to invest in those other types of safety,” Ocasio-Cortez said.
“We need to stop being so reactionary,” she said.
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