Last Friday, Representatives Alexandria Ocasio Cortez and Jamaal Bowman held a virtual town hall where they spent most of their time talking about reimagining community safety, i.e. defunding the police. AOC made some headlines when she suggested that people were be driven to “hysteria” by reports about increases in crime:
AOC says she want to make sure rising levels of crime don't "drive a hysteria." pic.twitter.com/if2iJWtGQa
— The Post Millennial (@TPostMillennial) June 27, 2021
According to AOC, the last time crime in New York City was at current levels was 2013 and, at the time, there were reports about crime reaching a new low. That may be true but it obscures the fact that, for obvious reasons, people are pleased when violent crime reaches a new low and unhappy when it suddenly spikes, in part because they don’t know where it’s going next.
Rep. Bowman also said he still wanted to see “the reallocation of resources from NYPD towards more social services” though he said he hadn’t thought about an exact amount he’d like to see cut. Rep. Bowman’s desire to see cuts to the police in favor of more spending on social services seems a bit at odds with his own behavior. The New York Post reported Saturday that earlier this year Bowman requested an increased police presence to guard his home:
“About a week after the Jan. 6th incident at the Capitol, we received a request from the Congressman’s office for increased police presence at his residence,” Yonkers Police Department Detective Lt. Dean Politopoulos told The Post.
“In response, our Intelligence Unit was notified of the request and the local precinct instituted what is called a directed patrol at the Congressman’s home for the next two weeks,” Politopoulos said…
“A system this cruel and inhumane can’t be reformed. Defund the police, and defund the system that’s terrorizing our communities,” he said in December 2020.
Bowman isn’t the first “defund the police” supporter to prove himself a hypocrite. Last November, Portland City Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty, who has repeatedly advocated for slashing the police budget, called 911 when she became unhappy with her Lyft driver and then refused to get out of his car.
AOC and Bowman can talk all they want about putting crime in context but when shootings are up over 50% compared to the same time last year, people are right to be concerned. That especially true since the spike nationwide comes on the heels of a push by activists to defund the police. It certainly true that in most places around the country police weren’t actually defunded (though they were in New York) but it’s also true that police in many major cities saw a wave of resignations and retirements that effectively cut the size of police forces long before any funds were cut. The left’s anti-police pressure campaign accomplished what many city councils did not. People are right to worry that going further in the same direction is only going to make things worse. They want to know that, if they face a violent crime, they can get a police response just like Rep. Jamaal Bowman.
Here’s the full town hall recording. I have this cued up to the portion where Reps. AOC and Bowman discuss defunding the police: