Rep. Clyburn: ’Nobody is going to defund the police’

Kelsey Tamborrino

House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn said Sunday no one is going to defund the police, and instead called for a "reimagining" of police forces across the country.

"I would simply say, as I have always said, nobody is going to defund the police," Clyburn (D-S.C.) said on CNN.

"We can restructure the police forces, restructure, reimagine policing," he added. "That is what we are going to do. The fact of the matter is, the police have a role to play. What we have got to do is make sure that their role is one that meets the times, one that responds to these communities that they operate in."

Protesters across the country have rallied behind a call to defund police departments following the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis and others. But top Democrats on the Hill have spoken out against those calls.

"The fact of the matter is, this is a structure that has been developed that we have got to deconstruct," Clyburn told host Jake Tapper. "So, I wouldn't say defund. Deconstruct our policing."

Activists have pointed out that the calls for defunding police does not mean that law enforcement will cease to exist. Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) said the call to defund police doesn't mean communities won't be protected.

"I think that's really where the conversation is going wrong, because no one is saying that the community is not going to be kept safe," Omar said on CNN. "No one is saying crimes will not be investigated. No one is saying that we are not going to have proper response when community members are in danger."

Instead, she said the current policing infrastructure should not exist anymore, and echoed Clyburn's call to reimagine the system, citing changes in places like Camden, N.J.

"We can't go about creating a different process with the same infrastructure in place," she said. "And so dismantling it, and then looking at what funding priorities should look like as we reimagine a new way forward is what needs to happen."

Asked about Clyburn's comments — as well as presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden's comments that he does not support defunding the police — Omar said: "It sounds ludicrous to me to have people pour out into the streets asking for the system to be transformed, and for us to say, in order for that transformation to happen, we're just going to give more money to the system, without really doing any kind of systematic change."

"If you had a company that wasn't producing, you wouldn't just pour money, more money, into it, so that it would produce. You would step back and say, what — let's look at what works, what doesn't work, and how do we move forward," she said.

"And so I think, for people who really are questioning and talking about this movement, they're not paying attention to what the people are asking for," Omar added.