Since the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis on Memorial Day, protesters across the United States have articulated a clear goal: defund and disband the police. This idea has been supported by Minneapolis’s congressional representative Ilhan Omar and a supermajority of its city council members.
A poll for the Huffington Post finds that most Americans agree there is a strong argument for substantial police reform, but 57% oppose defunding the police. A poll for ABC News echoed this. The breakdown of opposition to defunding is particularly interesting. Most Democrats oppose it (though not by much,) and most blacks oppose it, too. The only group that registers support is “self-described liberal.”
Calls for extremist policies like getting rid of the police actually hurt the cause of sensible police reform. The Huffington Post poll found that, after banning chokeholds, defunding the police was the second most widely known police reform policy. Extremists are drowning out the rest of us.
Defunding the police does mean no police, unless you are going to rely on volunteers. Some may see that as a worthy goal, but I wonder how many would volunteer to get involved in an incident like the shooting of six people at a Minneapolis bar last week, or the torrent of gunfire that killed one and injured eleven more this past weekend?
It is true that, during the riots, we saw Americans engaging in the great and noble American tradition of armed self-defense. But when Minneapolis city council talks about a “new transformative model for cultivating safety,” you can be pretty certain that they aren’t thinking of a city full of people like Paul Kersey, the vigilante hero of the Death Wish movies.
What they want is both a city without police, and a citizenry unable to defend themselves. A recipe for disaster to most of us, but apparently it won’t be a problem if we implement socialism. Or something.
John Phelan of St. Paul is an economist at the Center of the American Experiment, a non-profit public policy organization based in Golden Valley that advocates for free enterprise, limited government, personal responsibility and government accountability.