AOC supports Defund the Police demands in wake of George Floyd's death
WASHINGTON - Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez threw her weight behind a growing movement to defund police departments that has become a rallying cry for some protesters in the wake of George Floyd's death.
The progressive firebrand put her stamp of approval on the far-left demand as a policy solution to combat police brutality and racial injustice during a congressional primary debate that aired Friday night on NY1.
Ocasio-Cortez said she's "actively engaged in advocacy for" a "reduction of our NYPD budget and defunding a $6 billion NYPD budget that costs us books in the hands of our children and costs us very badly needed investment in NYCHA [New York City Housing Authority] and public housing."
Ocasio-Cortez echoed the demands of Black Lives Matter and police reform activists that New York City should be spending less on policing and put that money into resources that would help black communities thrive, such as education, housing and social services.
That stance puts her at odds with the chair of the Congressional Black Caucus and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio who say they don't support efforts to defund police departments.
Activists and liberal New York City Council members are calling for New York to slash at least $1 billion from NYPD's $6 billion budget.
“I do not believe it’s a good idea to reduce the budget of the agency that’s here to keep us safe,” de Blasio said Friday during a press briefing.
Ocasio-Cortez offered up her support for the #DefundthePolice movement when laying out her policy solutions to police reforms. She also wants to end qualified immunity that shields police officers from legal accountability and she also wants to end the transfer of military equipment to police departments.
House Democrats, led by the Congressional Black Caucus, are expected to unveil their police reform legislative solutions this week and hold a vote later this month. Rep. Karen Bass, the leader of the influential CBC, came out against slashing police budgets this week.
"No, I don't believe that we should defund police departments," Bass said Wednesday.
Ocasio-Cortez is facing a heated primary challenge from former TV journalist Michelle Caruso-Cabrera. The Democratic primary is June 23.
During the debate, Caruso-Cabrera hit Ocasio-Cortez on voting against a coronavirus relief package in April, for fighting Amazon's expansion into New York City and for holing up in her Washington DC apartment for a period of time at the start of the coronavirus outbreak.
Caruso-Cabrera said: "AOC is MIA."
Meanwhile, Ocasio-Cortez gave tepid support for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who is backing AOC's reelection. Ocasio-Cortez gave a mixed response when asked if she would vote to have Pelosi continue as House Speaker.
"Well you know, that's always subject to continuing dynamics," Ocasio-Cortez said. "But I support her. Yes. Maybe? Yes. If she wants it, she's also already indicated that she may or may not run again."
The Defund the Police petition has gotten celebrity support from the likes of John Legend, Natalie Portman and Lizzo. They are demanding police budgets be cut and money invested into education, community programs and healthcare.
"Despite continued profiling, harassment, terror and killing of Black communities, local and federal decision-makers continue to invest in the police, which leaves Black people vulnerable and our communities no safer," the petition says.
DC prepares for perhaps the biggest protests yet following death of George Floyd
DC paints 'Black Lives Matter' on road that leads to White House ahead of weekend protests