How will the campaign for Democrats to distance themselves from “defund the police” work out? Let’s just say that the campaign trail has a number of potholes lurking for candidates in 2022. Black Lives Matter activists won’t let go of their ongoing attempts to undercut law enforcement, and won’t shy away from attacking popular Democrats who shy away from BLM.
Not even prominent black Democrats will be immune, as BLM-NY co-founder Hank Newsome made clear yesterday. Newsome called Adams a “c**n” and “a white man in blackface” for Adams’ criticism of BLM-NY over its lack of effort in preventing violence and crime in black neighborhoods.
Newsome does have a point buried in the demagoguery, however:
“If Black Lives matter, then the thousands of people I saw on the street when Floyd was murdered should be on the street right now stating that the lives of these black children that are dying every night matters,” Adams stated.
“Our problem is black lives are oppressed and not receive justice. Something happens to a white person the world moves, right? Let’s get back to Eric Adams,” Newsome said. “This mayor is a Democrat but use conservative Republican talking points. At the end of the day we have a name for someone like this. This is someone we call a c**n, right?”
“Woah,” anchor Bill Hemmer said in shock.
“He is a black man – a white man in black face and a conservative-minded white man at that. What we have is a man with hundreds of people on the city’s payroll, billions of dollars in budget and 40,000 police officers,” Newsome continued. “He has 10 victims in one night. The night before he had 16 shooting victims on the train and they say, ‘What are you going to do about policing?’ and he says, ‘What about BLM?’ Is America not smart to see him deflecting?”
Put aside the ad hominem name calling, the racial demagoguery, and the laughable notion that Adams is “conservative-minded.” Adams might be less progressive than Bill de Blasio, but that’s almost impossible to avoid. Adams is much less the return of Rudy Giuliani or even Michael Bloomberg, and more of a return to the leftward mayoralties of 1970s New York City.
In the substantive sense, though, Newsome has a real point. Would it help if BLM-NY spoke out more about violence within its community that didn’t involve police? Sure, but that has its limits too. Adams wasn’t a fan of “autonomous zones” in which BLM and its allies seized parts of cities and imposed their own control over the activities within them, for instance. (Neither was anyone else, of course, especially those trapped in these CHAZes.)
Anyway, the end of those autonomous zones made it clear that it’s not BLM-NY’s job to keep black children from dying every night. That’s the job Adams signed up to do. And to the extent that he’s complaining about not getting help from BLM-NY, Adams is deflecting … and favorable media coverage of Adams’ deflection lets him off the hook for it. As Newsome says, reporters and voters should be smarter than that.
Of course, the kind of policing that will help drive down those numbers is precisely the kind of policing that BLM opposes. Personnel-intensive community policing, broken-window strategy, and firm and forceful prosecution deter crime significantly, as we all learned in the 1990s when those policies began to have an impact on crime rates. To the extent that BLM keeps agitating for police retreat in urban areas, they’re certainly not helping. But just because they’re agitating for policies doesn’t mean politicians have to adopt them or pander to those activists either.
That’s the lesson that Democrats may have finally taken from their two-year embrace of “defund the police” and the activists that demand it. Politico covered the pushback within the party from suburban Democrats that want their party to chart an opposite course in 2022:
Abigail Spanberger railed against members of her own party for playing into the GOP’s hands on “defund the police” after the 2020 election. This year, she’s not waiting for permission to do it her way.
The days of Democrats’ own base pushing to strip law enforcement resources are mostly behind them, with even President Joe Biden talking up his plans to do the opposite. And while Republicans aren’t yet citing law enforcement funding in the same manner they did in the last election, swing-district Democrats hear echoes of those attacks in the GOP’s focus on rising crime rates and the border crisis.
And Spanberger — who described the “defund” slogan as voters’ top issue in her own 2020 race — is one of many Democrats who worry those hits could prompt even more drastic political casualties than their unexpected losses two years ago.
“I thought that was a terrible idea,” the Virginia Democrat said of the “defund” slogan, which she said obfuscated the meaning of police reform and confused voters.
She and other Democrats are bracing for the GOP onslaught, unwilling to let Republican attacks go unanswered this year.
They’d better be prepared for an onslaught from BLM activists as well, accusing them of being racists and supremacists for reversing course. That will be part of the process of re-marginalizing the radical fringes of the Left, and it won’t be cost-free. That should remind Democrats of the price of trying to mainstream radicals in the first place.