Harriet Alexander, Daily Mail, April 13, 2021
Reform of the police is no longer enough, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez said on Tuesday, as she joined fellow ‘squad’ member Rashida Tlaib in calling for the police to be abolished.
The New York congresswoman responded on Tuesday to the killing of another black man, Daunte Wright, 20, in a Minneapolis suburb Sunday. He was killed by a white policewoman, Kimberly Potter, who shot him in the chest at a traffic stop in what the Brooklyn Center police chief said was an accident, when she meant to reach for her Taser.
‘Daunte Wright’s killing was not a random, disconnected ‘accident’ – it was the repeated outcome of an indefensible system that grants impunity for state violence, rewards it w/ endlessly growing budgets at the cost of community investment, & targets those who question that order,’ said Ocasio-Cortez.
‘Cameras, chokehold bans, ‘retraining’ funds, and similar reform measures do not ultimately solve what is a systemic problem.
‘That system will find a way – killings happen on camera, people are killed in other ways, retraining grows $ while often substituting for deeper measures.’
Her comments mark her strongest support yet for a movement to abolish the police. She has previously backed calls to defund police departments, but has not until now spoken in favor of a total scrapping of the forces, and starting again.
The analyst group Public Citizen counted 991 people killed by police in the U.S. last year. They tweeted that there were only 18 days where the police did not kill someone in 2020.
Ocasio-Cortez’s fellow Democrat progressive, Tlaib, who represents the area around Detroit, had earlier called for the abolition of police.
‘It wasn’t an accident,’ she tweeted on Monday.
‘Policing in our country is inherently & intentionally racist. Daunte Wright was met with aggression & violence. I am done with those who condone government funded murder.
‘No more policing, incarceration, and militarization. It can’t be reformed.’
Ocasio-Cortez has been a vocal supporter of calls to defund the police, arguing that the money is better spent on mental health and social issues.
Asked in June what an America with defunded police would look like, she replied: ‘It looks like a suburb.’
She continued: ‘Affluent white communities already live in a world where they choose to fund youth, health, housing etc more than they fund police.
‘When a teenager or preteen does something harmful in a suburb (I say teen bc this is often where lifelong carceral cycles begin for Black and Brown communities), White communities bend over backwards to find alternatives to incarceration for their loved ones to ‘protect their future,’ like community service or rehab or restorative measures.
‘Why don’t we treat Black and Brown people the same way?’
During a primary debate in June, Ocasio-Cortez also called for the demilitarization of police forces by reducing the amount of military equipment departments can obtain and for ending qualified immunity for officers that protects them for prosecution of crimes committed in the course of their work.
She also called for a ban on chokeholds, such as the one that killed George Floyd.
She tied the US’s expansive military budget to issues with US law enforcement, suggesting it needed cut as well as police funding.
‘We would not be giving local police departments who are undertrained a tank if we didn’t give the military too much money to have extra damn tanks lying around to begin with,’ she said.