Bernie Sanders said Tuesday that he’s against abolishing the police, an idea that some progressive activists in the Black Lives Matter movement have argued for recently.
Abolishing the police has become a subject of discussion following the death of George Floyd, a black man who died after a police officer kneeled on his neck for several minutes. Protests against police brutality and systematic racism spread across the country after his death and sparked conversations about police reform.
In an interview with the New Yorker, Sanders said that he thinks police departments need to have “well-educated, well-trained, well-paid professionals.” (RELATED: These Are The Major Cities Enacting Police Reforms Following Wave Of Police Brutality Protests)
“Change does not happen overnight,” Bernie Sanders said. “It changes when political consciousness changes, it changes when millions of people get involved in the process and take to the streets.” https://t.co/H9fMmMf5x0
— The New Yorker (@NewYorker) June 9, 2020
“Anyone who thinks we should abolish all police departments in America, I don’t agree,” he said. “There’s no city in the world that does not have police departments.”
The senator said the country has “police officers who take the job at very low payment, don’t have much education, don’t have much education – I want to change that.” He clarified that he does not push for police departments to get more funding, but that he wants officers who are well-paid.
Sanders added that there are many issues like mental illness, addiction, and other issues that “should be dealt with by mental health professionals or others, and not just by police officers.”
“I think we want to redefine what police departments do, give them the support they need to make their jobs better defined.”
Sanders isn’t the only member of Congress who’s pushed back on the idea of defunding the police despite progressive activists pushing for police departments to be abolished or defunded, according to a Politico report.
Democratic West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin said, according to the report, that “you can’t defund the police, that’s stupid, it’s crazy, and anyone who talks about that is nuts. You have to have the police.”
Members of the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) have also said they’re against defunding the police. Democratic California Representative Karen Bass, chairwoman of the CBC, said Monday that calls to defund police departments “can be used as a distraction,” according to Politico. She added that the “intent behind it,” which is that “communities need investments,” is something she supports.
Other democrats that have expressed concern over the idea are House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn, House Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler, Pennsylvania representative Madeleine Dean, presumptive presidential nominee Joe Biden, and Delaware representative and Congressional Black Caucus member Lisa Blunt, according to Politico.