Jun 14, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Ilhan Omar defends idea of dismantling Minneapolis Police Department

Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) said on CNN's "State of the Union" Sunday that the Minneapolis City Council's decision to dismantle the Minneapolis Police Department as it currently exists does not mean that nothing will take its place to ensure the community is kept safe and crimes are investigated.

Why it matters: Critics of the idea of defunding or abolishing police departments, including President Trump, have characterized the move as radical and dangerous. Omar argues that coverage of Minneapolis' decision has been misleading, and that the city's policing infrastructure must be reinvented "because you can't really reform a department that is rotten to the root."

What she's saying:

"A new way forward can't be put in place if we have a department that is having a crisis of credibility, if we have a department that's led by a chief who's suited for racism, if we have a department that hasn't solved homicide — half of the homicides in Minneapolis police department go unsolved. There have been cases where they've destroyed rape kits. And so you can't really reform a department that is rotten to the root. What you can do is rebuild.
And so this is our opportunity, as a city, to come together, have the conversation of what public safety looks like, who enforces the most dangerous crimes that take place in our community, and just like San Francisco did — right now, they're moving towards a process where there is a separation of the kind of crimes that solicit the help of, you know, officers, and the kind of crimes that we should have someone else respond to."

The big picture: Prominent Democrats, including Joe Biden and House Majority Whip James Clyburn (D-S.C.), have voiced their opposition to the "defund the police" movement, which has largely been pushed by activists and progressives like Omar. Biden's presidential platform has even called for $300 million more for community policing.

  • Omar dismissed this idea "ludicrous" and said it rejects the calls of the protesters who have taken to the streets over the past few weeks.
  • "If you had a company that wasn't producing, you wouldn't just pour more money into it so that it would produce," Omar said. "You would step back and say, let's look at what works, what doesn't work, and how do we move forward."

Go deeper: Stacey Abrams says debate over defunding police is creating a "false choice"

Go deeper