President Donald Trump on Friday asserted that calls to defund the police would eventually die off, writing off the movement for wide scale police reform as a “fad.”
“We will never, ever defund our police. OK? That I can tell you. We are not defunding police,” Trump said during an unrelated event at U.S. Southern Command in Florida.
“What’s going on here, admiral, when you hear ‘defund the police,’ you are probably saying it’s a foreign language, right?” he continued. “So, just a terrible thing, but I assume this is going to be a fad. We’ll call it a fad.”
It’s the first contention from the president that the push from police reform, borne out of recent global protests over law enforcement killings of Black Americans and broader racial inequities, will simply fade away despite sustained calls for police reform nearly a month and a half after the protests first erupted.
Demands to defund the police have grown, especially on the political on the left, despite disagreements over what exactly that entails.
In Minneapolis, where the killing of George Floyd in police custody first sparked the unrest, the city council has moved to disband the city’s police force. In other major cities like New York and Los Angeles, lawmakers have moved to redirect funding away from police departments and toward other social services.
The rallying cry has been met with resistance by establishment Democrats in Congress, however, and polling shows “defunding” the police is unpopular even while there’s support for overhauling law enforcement practices and departments.
Republicans have seized on the movement, trying to tag Democrats, including former Vice President Joe Biden, with the slogan ahead of November’s election. Biden has resisted the label, insisting that he does not support defunding the police and pointing instead to his proposal to reform the nation’s law enforcement.