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Sen. Booker’s enthusiastic ‘embrace’ of anti-defund the police measure riles activists & BLM (VIDEO)

Sen. Booker’s enthusiastic ‘embrace’ of anti-defund the police measure riles activists & BLM (VIDEO)

Senator Cory Booker (D-New York), a vocal proponent of criminal justice reform in the US, has rubbed some people the wrong way with a sarcasm-dripping endorsement of a measure against defunding the police.

Booker delivered an impassioned short speech on the Senate floor on Tuesday as the chamber worked through a grueling 13-hour vote-a-rama on hundreds of proposed amendments to the bipartisan infrastructure bill. He offered a full-throated backing to a “gift” of a proposal to “establish a deficit-neutral reserve fund relating to decreasing federal funding for local jurisdictions that defund the police.”

“If it wasn’t [a] complete abdication of Senate procedures and esteem I would walk over there and hug my colleague from Alabama,” Booker said, referring to the Republican author of the amendment, Senator Tommy Tuberville, who had the floor right before him.

“Thank God, because there are some people who’ve said that there are members of this deliberative body that want to defund the police, to my horror,” the senator from New Jersey continued, saying that a vote on Tuberville’s proposal will “put to bed this scurrilous accusation.”

I would ask unanimous consent to add something else to this obvious bill. Can we add also that every senator here wants us to fund the police, believe in God, country, and apple pie?

His call for unanimity was apparently heard, as all 99 present senators voted to pass the amendment.

Booker’s speech, entertaining as it was, didn’t land well with some left activists, who found it despicable and cringe.”

The Black Lives Matter Twitter account reacted with an angry tirade, denouncing Democrats who voted for the amendment and Booker’s performance in particular, bringing up his race. Booker is one of three African American incumbent federal senators, along with Tim Scott (R-South Carolina) and Raphael Warnock (D-Georgia).

The slogan “defund the police” became popular amid the mass protests against racial injustice and police brutality triggered by the killing of George Floyd in 2020. It arguably became a major liability for Democratic politicians supporting the movement, since its meaning is open to many interpretations.

Their opponents framed it as a call to ax policing and degrade public security in the name of ideology, which seems like a particularly bad proposition amid a surge in crime rates that many places in the US are currently experiencing.

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Booker was never a fan of the slogan but is a vocal advocate of reforming the criminal justice system, including by reducing the role of the police in things like responding to mental health emergencies. Many supporters of the slogan call for the same things.

While Booker’s sarcastic ‘endorsement’ of the amendment was apparently rhetorical (and Tuberville's submission arguably was too), some people doubted that the publicity stunt was a good one. “Cory Booker is an idiot if he thinks Democrats supporting anti-Defund the police legislation will prevent Republicans from accusing Dems of defunding the police in the future,” one such skeptic remarked.

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