Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams’ recent victory in New York City’s Democratic mayoral primary is more proof that calls to “defund the police” are a “non-starter, even with black people,” House Majority Whip James Clyburn (D-SC) said.
Clyburn, the No. 3 House Democrat, rounded on MSNBC host Mehdi Hasan when the journalist asked him: “is the whole attention on ‘defund the police’ really a deflection by the party leadership from your own failures? That’s what your critics on the left would say.”
“That is absolutely poppycock,” Clyburn responded on Hasan’s show Thursday.
“I know what I’m talking about. I’m out here with the voters every day …. and I can tell you ‘defund the police’ is a non-starter, even with black people. And if you don’t think that’s true, then look at the results of what just happened in New York City. The proof is in the pudding.”
Adams, a former NYPD captain and an outspoken proponent of increased policing to counter the city’s ongoing crime wave, edged out former Sanitation Commissioner Kathryn Garcia in the June 22 primary. Due to difficulties involving the introduction of ranked-choice voting in the city, Adams’ victory was not confirmed until this week.
“I know what I’m talking about,” Clyburn insisted. “I talk to people every day, and ‘defund the police’ is a chokehold around the Democratic Party, and let me remind you, if you’re going to categorize left and right, I’m on the left of my party. Nobody can call me anything but a progressive. I’ve been one all of my life.”
Hasan then claimed that “not a single New York mayoral candidate ran on ‘defund the police’, forgetting or ignoring former Bill de Blasio aide Maya Wiley’s campaign vow to slash the NYPD’s budget by $1 billion and her refusal to rule out disarming cops.
“I’m not sure why you seem to think it’s such a big problem for your party,” the host told Clyburn.
“I said it [was a problem] because it’s real. It’s a real problem,” Clyburn shot back. “We should stop sloganeering. In [the 1960s], ‘Burn baby burn’ destroyed our movement, and ‘defund the police’ will do the same thing to progressive movements today. This kind of sloganeering does us no good.”
Clyburn is a longtime critic of the “defund the police” movement. Following last year’s election, in which Democrats saw their House majority shrink, he told CNN that the party “can’t pick up these things just because they make a good headline. We need to work on what makes headway, rather than what makes headlines.”
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