Sen. Tom Cotton criticized The New York Times over an op-ed the newspaper published Friday calling on cities to abolish their police departments, saying that the column would put Americans’ lives in “danger.”
“Running this column puts lives in danger,” Cotton wrote on Twitter in response to an op-ed from activist Mariame Kaba entitled “Yes, We Mean Literally Abolish the Police.”
Cotton was using the same line of argument that a group of New York Times staffers adopted to force the newspaper to apologize for running an op-ed from the Arkansas Republican published on June 3.
In the op-ed, Cotton called on the National Guard to tamp down on looting and rioting that stemmed from protests over the death of George Floyd, a 46-year-old black man who died in police custody in Minneapolis on May 25, video showed.
A group of Times staffers openly revolted over the Cotton op-ed, saying it put the lives of the newspapers’ black staffers in danger.
The Times caved in to the internal pressure by attaching several editor’s notes to Cotton’s article. Editorial page editor James Bennet resigned. Cotton responded by mocking the Times for bending over backwards to appease the “woke children” on the newspaper’s staff. Cotton also pointed out that his op-ed differentiated between peaceful protesters, whom he said he supports, and rioters and looters who descended on numerous cities across the United States.
Running this column puts lives in danger. pic.twitter.com/SkESdnYpX2
— Tom Cotton (@TomCottonAR) June 13, 2020
Kaba’s op-ed echoed the arguments of the “Defund the Police” movement that sprung up in the wake of Floyd’s death.
Some activists who support the spirit of the defund the police movement have said that the slogan is not meant to convey that police departments should be shut down. Instead, they assert that police departments need to reallocate resources toward social services. (RELATED: Tom Cotton Runs Ad In New York Times After His Op-Ed Caused Outrage)
Democratic lawmakers — including former Vice President Joe Biden — have said that they do not support defunding police departments, instead supporting widespread reforms.
But Kaba rejected those half measures in her op-ed, writing that police departments are beyond reform.
“Enough,” she wrote. “We can’t reform the police. The only way to diminish police violence is to reduce contact between the public and the police.”
She added: “But don’t get me wrong. We are not abandoning our communities to violence. We don’t want to just close police departments. We want to make them obsolete.”
“We should redirect the billions that now go to police departments toward providing health care, housing, education and good jobs. If we did this, there would be less need for the police in the first place,” she said.
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