Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) wants to take federal funds away from any police department that has violated the civil rights of the citizens they serve. The Minneapolis City Council agreed with calls from Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) to disband the city’s police department and unanimously passed a resolution to replace the police with a “community-led public safety system.” Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti seeks to cut $150 million from the police budget. New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio announced he would slash the city’s police department budget too.
Despite all these actions, some leftists are engaging in word gymnastics by stating that “defund” really means reform. Yet, in a New York Times op-ed titled “Yes, We Mean Literally Abolish the Police,” Mariame Kaba — an activist and an anti-crime organizer — clarified for Americans what “Defund the Police” means.
Kaba writes, “We don’t want to just close police departments. We want to make them obsolete.” She criticized a police reform bill put forth by Democrats as something that was tried and failed in the past. She concluded the police couldn’t be reformed because they are always racist, violent, and “don’t catch the bad guys.”
She states, “The surest way of reducing police violence is to reduce the power of the police, by cutting budgets and the number of officers in half” as an immediate step. But don’t confuse that with her ultimate goal: “We don’t want to just close police departments. We want to make them obsolete.”
Without the police, what should the community do to protect themselves against criminals? Kaba suggested using “community care workers” to address mental health issues and “restorative-justice models” instead of “throwing people in prison.”
Thanks to Kaba’s clarification, it seems even many of the leftist readers of The New York Times reject the call to “defund the police” once they grasp its true meaning. One comment at NYTimes.com that accrued more than 2,600 “likes” said: “This is a fantasy. You can fund all the social programs you want, you won’t eliminate crime or disorder. I appreciate law and order.”
Another one with more than 1,300 “likes” wrote: “This is a non-starter for me. Serious reform is needed. But you might as well call for abolishing hospitals or grocery stores.” A man who says he lived in the Bronx during the 1970s exclaimed he knew from firsthand experience that abolishing police is “a terrible idea.”
These readers who disagree with Kaba are not in the minority. An ABC News/Ipsos poll finds 64 percent of Americans oppose the “defund the police” movement and reject many of its goals, such as reallocating police department funding to mental health, housing, and education programs. Even 43 percent of Democrats oppose both defunding the police and reallocating funding to other causes. The poll reveals that the majority of Americans do believe that police keep them safe and a society without police is unthinkable and dangerous.
Americans Realize How Much We Need Good Police
The recent weeks of unrest across America have only served to reinforce the idea that policing is needed to maintain law and order. Americans saw that when police pull back, a movement that started with a legitimate grievance was quickly hijacked by criminals who are bent on destroying the communities and livelihoods of black and Caucasian Americans alike.
Burning down black-owned businesses, looting Louis Vuitton stores, and killing black police officers had nothing to do with finding justice for George Floyd. The combination of the pandemic, the riots, and now the calls for defunding the police have convinced many Americans that they need to become gun owners so they can protect themselves, their families, and their communities.
USA Today reports that Americans are loading up on guns and ammo in the wake of the riots. Firearm sales went up 78 percent in the last week of May, compared to the same time in 2019. The online ammunition website Ammo.com saw a 602 percent increase in revenue since the pandemic.
The International Firearm Specialist Academy website saw a 50 percent rise in first-time gun owners taking online training classes. The FBI reported more than 3 million background checks in May, the highest for on record for that month. Gun and ammo manufacturers and retail shops expect sales to remain strong in June too.
Gun restriction has long been a top issue in the Democratic Party’s platform. During the Democrat presidential primary race, all candidates advocated for strict gun laws including universal background checks and the banning of assault weapons. The recent surge of firearm sales presents Democrats a dilemma: they can’t call for defunding the police and gun control at the same time. Democrats have to choose one.
If they keep supporting the “defund the police” movement, Democrats will lose on the gun control issue because when Americans hear “defunding the police,” they hear government giving up enforcing laws and protecting law-abiding citizens. They envision a lawless world where no one will help them when criminals rob their houses or attempt to rape women.
Americans don’t need any data (although there is plenty) to tell them that when police retreat, crime spikes. As long as there is a persistent call for defunding the police, Americans will take matters into their own hands by becoming gun owners and Democrats will fail to win hearts and minds on the gun control issue.
Voters Will Turn to Trump For Law and Order
The “Defund the Police” movement has not only turned more Americans into gun owners and supporters for the Second Amendment, but may prove to be a boon for President Trump’s reelection campaign. Since downtown Oakland saw some of the worst riots and looting in the nation, I recently checked in with a friend who lives there to make sure she and her family are safe.
Like me, she’s an immigrant from China and experienced Chairman Mao Zedong’s “Cultural Revolution” when growing up. Unlike me, she has supported Democrats for years. She loathes everything Trump stands for, from his immigration rhetoric to positions on foreign policy. For the sake of our friendship, we typically avoid discussing domestic politics as well.
This time, however, she went straight to domestic politics. She told me she and her family were safe but the riots and looting in downtown Oakland were terrifying. She was heartbroken to see so many immigrant-owned “mom and pop” stores ransacked or even burned to the ground.
She conveyed that while she wanted to see justice for Floyd, night after night of destruction and lawlessness were just “too much.” They reminded her of China’s “Cultural Revolution” from 1966-1976. She told me: “I didn’t come all this way to America to re-live a ‘Cultural Revolution’ in 2020.” Then she said something I would never have thought she’d say before: “Trump is right. We need law and order.”
She’s not the only longtime Democrat who is deeply troubled by the call to get rid of the police. Bill Maher, the host of “Real Time,” also blasted Democrats for their call to “defend the police.” “That’s so ‘Democrats’ for you,” said Maher, “You know, they must have meetings to be this f—ing stupid about politics. ‘Hey guys, we’re making some headway here, how could we turn this into something that makes people have to vote for Trump?’”
There is probably a silent majority of level-headed Americans, who, like my friend, are sick to their stomach to see the injustice and brutality that Floyd suffered. They demand justice for Floyd and serious reform for our nation’s police force.
What’s equally important to this silent majority, however, is that they don’t want to continue to experience constant chaos, lawlessness, and destruction. Many probably are troubled by some of the president’s tweets and disagree with him on a number of issues. But if the choice this November is between “Defund the Police” and “Law and Order,” many will hold their nose and vote for Trump.