Rep. Cori Bush, D-Mo., was seemingly unhappy on Tuesday night after President Biden announced his support for funding police departments.
In his first State of the Union address, Biden told Congress: “The answer is not to defund the police, it’s to fund the police. Fund them. Fund them.”
“Fund them with resources and training they need to protect our communities,” the president continued.
While his message received loud praise in the audience, with a standing ovation from both his party and Republicans, Democrats like Bush said Biden has the wrong idea.
“With all due respect, Mr. President. You didn’t mention saving Black lives once in this speech,” Bush tweeted. “All our country has done is given more funding to police. The result? 2021 set a record for fatal police shootings."
With all due respect, Mr. President. You didn’t mention saving Black lives once in this speech.
All our country has done is given more funding to police. The result? 2021 set a record for fatal police shootings.
Defund the police. Invest in our communities. https://t.co/t0n0EpHMwd
— Cori Bush (@CoriBush) March 2, 2022
“Defund the police. Invest in our communities.”
A flagship Black Lives Matter account shared a tweet suggesting it also wasn't happy with the president’s stance on the issue, using a screenshot of Rep. Maxine Waters's face, from at some point in the night, to deliver its message by meme.
— Black Lives Matter (@Blklivesmatter) March 2, 2022
Other Democrats, however, including New York City Mayor Eric Adams, as well as leaders in other liberal cities, have called for increased police budgets to combat crime.
Rep. Ritchie Torres, D-N.Y., told MSNBC that “the defund-police movement is dead in New York City — and good riddance,” adding, “Any elected official who’s advocating for the abolition and/or even the defunding of police is out of touch with reality and should not be taken seriously.”
Similarly, Rep. Val Demings, D-Fla., the former chief of the Orlando Police Department, used Biden’s remarks as a moment to support funding law enforcement, even touting her new legislation that would do just that.
She tweeted: “Public safety is the foundation on which we build great communities,” and then included a link to her bill, which would provide grants to help municipalities with deescalation, domestic violence and officer safety training, among other things.
Republicans are seemingly using this opportunity to lump Democrats together and criticize them for jumping ship on the idea of defunding.
Republican strategist Rick Wilson tweeted: “Biden guts the ‘Defund the police’ stupidity.”
Meanwhile, Rep. Lauren Boebert, R-Colo., said: “Is the entire Democratic Party going to act like they didn’t just defund and demonize the police for the last 2 years? #SOTU.”
During his address, Biden opened his remarks on policing in America with a story about how he visited the NYPD days after funerals were held for two of its officers, Wilbert Mora and Jason Rivera, who were fatally shot in January after a man opened fire on them with a stolen gun.
Rising crime in some major U.S. cities has led Democratic leaders to reverse course or take a stance against defunding police departments.
But Biden also aimed to appease critics of police when he touched on two controversial arrest tactics that have gained notoriety following the deaths of several Black Americans.
“That’s why the Justice Department required body cameras, banned chokeholds and restricted no-knock warrants for its officers,” he said.
No-knock warrants came under fire in 2020 when officers in Louisville, Ky., stormed, unannounced, into the apartment of Breonna Taylor, a Black woman and paramedic, fatally shooting her after her boyfriend fired on them, thinking they were intruders.
More recently, several Minneapolis police officers are once again under a microscope after a SWAT team conducted a no-knock warrant at an apartment downtown, shooting and killing Amir Locke, a 22-year-old Black man.
Bodycam footage from the Feb. 2 incident captured police storming in, then announcing their presence and seeing Locke, who was noticeably shaken from being suddenly woken up. Officers were following up on a tip involving a murder case, but Locke’s name was not mentioned in the warrant, according to the Minneapolis police chief.
Civil rights attorney Benjamin Crump, who is representing Locke's parents, said during a February press conference, “The blood of Amir Locke, the blood of Breonna Taylor, should hopefully call for a ban on no-knock warrants all over the country, President Biden.”
On Tuesday, Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., introduced a bill that would limit no-knock warrants, naming it after Locke.
Hours before Biden’s address, she unveiled the legislation, called the Amir Locke End Deadly No-Knock Warrants Act. It would enact "strict limitations on the use of no-knock warrants in drug-related investigations."
The bill directly affects federal agencies but would open up grant funding for state and local law enforcement.
As for Biden, he also touted his American Rescue Plan, which he said provided more than $250 million to cities, states and counties for hiring more police officers and investing in “proven” strategies.
“So let’s not abandon our streets. Or choose between safety and equal justice,” he said.
“Let’s come together to protect our communities, restore trust and hold law enforcement accountable.”