Jun 14, 2020 - Politics & Policy

James Clyburn: "Nobody is going to defund the police"

House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn (D-S.C.) pushed back on the idea of defunding the police on CNN's "State of the Union" Sunday, insisting that "police have a role to play" and that the system can be restructured and reimagined in order to respond to the current crisis.

Why it matters: Clyburn is the highest-ranking African American in Congress and an important voice in the effort to reform policing at the federal level. He and other Democratic leaders, including Joe Biden, have voiced opposition to the idea of defunding or abolishing police departments pushed by activists in recent weeks.

What he's saying:

Nobody is going to de-fund the police. We can restructure the police forces. Restructure, re-imagine policing. That is what we are going to do. The fact of the matter is that police have a role to play. What we've 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. ... This is a structure that has been developed that we have got to deconstruct. So I wouldn't say defund. Deconstruct our policing. 
— Rep. Clyburn

The big picture: House Democrats unveiled a sweeping police reform bill last week that aims to broaden police accountability, reimagine police training, and ban chokeholds and the use of no-knock warrants in drug cases, among other things. They're aiming to pass the package by the end of June.

Driving the news: Clyburn condemned the shooting of Rayshard Brooks, a black man who was killed by an Atlanta police officer on Friday night after resisting arrest.

  • "This did not call for lethal force," Clyburn said. "And I don't know what's in the culture that would make this guy do that. It has got to be the culture, it's got to be the system."

Go deeper: Black Lives Matter co-founder explains "Defund the police" slogan

Go deeper