During an interview on Sunday, Senator Bernie Sanders tried to put as much distance between himself and the idea of defunding police departments even going so far as to say that "nobody I know who's running for office talks about defunding the police."
Sander's statement drew immediate attention on social media with many Twitter users reminding him of past comments from "Squad" member Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez who said, "Defunding police means defunding police," when she rejected New York City's $1 billion budget cut from its police department in June.
Well, Senator, may I introduce you to your closest philosophical ally in the House of Representatives? pic.twitter.com/4lDdGycx6b
— Drew Holden (@DrewHolden360) November 15, 2020
“It does not mean budget tricks or funny math," the congresswoman said at the time. "It does not mean moving school police officers from the NYPD budget to the Department of Education’s budget so the exact same police remain in schools."
Progressives argue that those liberal policies help to stir the party's core base and are popular among the general electorate which is the attitude that has been repeated many times by Sanders. But on Sunday the self-declared democratic socialist seemed to do a one-eighty on the issue.
"What we talk about is making police officers accountable, making sure that police departments do what they can do best, figuring out how you deal with mental illness, how you deal with homelessness," he told CNN host Jake Tapper, "whether those are, in fact, police responsibilities, making sure the police officers are not killing innocent African-Americans. That is not defund the police."
Rep. Ilhan Omar, another member of "The Squad," has also called for the Minneapolis Police Department to be fully dismantled after the police shooting of George Floyd back in May.
In June Omar told Tapper, "You can't really reform a department that is rotten to the root. What you can do is rebuild."
Omar said it was an "opportunity for this city to come together and have the conversation of what public safety looks like, who enforces the most dangerous crimes that take place in our community."