NBA legend Charles Barkley slammed calls to “defund the police” as a measure that would disproportionately affect communities of color, saying police reform to “weed out the bad cops” is the better strategy after several cities announced budget cuts to their police departments.
Speaking Monday on ESPN’s morning show, Get Up, Barkley argued that “we just need police reform, because we need police.”
“We need to weed out the bad cops — you know I hear these guys getting on television these politicians talking about ‘defunding the police department.’ First of all, that would have a negative effect on the black communities — who the black people gonna call, Ghostbusters?” Barkley asked. “Because they’re not gonna defund the police in the good white neighborhoods, so we need police reform.”
Barkley has repeatedly argued against defunding the police in the wake of national protests following the death of George Floyd. “We need the cops, most of the cops do a fantastic job, but instead of defunding and all this other stuff, let’s just do police reform. Everybody should be on board for that whether you’re a Democrat, Republican, conservative or liberal,” Barkley said last week on CNN.
While prominent Democrats, including Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders, have dismissed calls for defunding the police and have instead proposed more funding for departments, other liberal politicians have moved to cut funding for law enforcement.
“You can’t really reform a department that is rotten to the root,” Representative Ilhan Omar (D., Minn.) said in a Sunday interview, after the Minneapolis City Council announced last week that a veto-proof majority had voted to dissolve the police.
Boston mayor Marty Walsh announced last week that the city’s government would divert 20 percent of the police department’s overtime budget — approximately $12 million — to other programs, while New York mayor Bill de Blasio has also revealed a similar measure.
The NYPD said Monday that it was eliminating its anti-crime unit, which includes 600 plainclothes officers, and the LAPD has announced a budget cut of more than $100 million to help “reinvest” in communities of color. The latter announcement came after Los Angeles mayor Eric Garcetti said he was dropping a proposal to increase the police budget.
“We all have to be part of this solution together. We all have to step up and say, ‘What can we sacrifice?’” Garcetti explained.
Murder rates in Los Angeles and New York City have both spiked in recent weeks.