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Ted Cruz says fighting to end police brutality is actually bad for Black people

Studies show Black Americans are far more likely to be shot and killed by police than their white counterparts.

By Donna Provencher - April 14, 2021
Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX)

Texas Sen. Ted Cruz (R) attacked Democrats Tuesday night, falsely claiming that the “abolish the police” movement harms Black and brown Americans, who are disproportionately victims of violent crime.

Cruz appeared to be referring to the “defund the police” movement, which traditionally advocates for a redistribution of some police funding to other community services.

“Rashida Tlaib, the radical leftist Democrat congresswoman, said in response to what happened in Minnesota, we need to end policing. So they’re not even hiding,” he said on Fox News’ “Hannity.”

Cruz was referencing comments made by Michigan Democratic Rep. Rashida Tlaib, who tweeted Monday condemning police brutality after the April 11 shooting of an unarmed Black man, Daunte Wright, by a white police officer in Brooklyn Center, Minnesota.

“It wasn’t an accident,” Tlaib wrote. “Policing in our country is inherently & intentionally racist. Dante Wright was met with aggression & violence. I am done with those who condone government funded murder. No more policing, incarceration, and militarization. It can’t be reformed.”

Cruz on Tuesday slammed those comments and the “abolish the police” movement as harmful to Black and brown Americans.

“If they succeed in doing that, the people who would will be hurt the most are low-income Americans, many of them are African Americans, many of them are Hispanic. They are the ones that are often the victims of murder, the victims of violence. But the Democrats are willing to do this to get power,” he claimed.

Cruz’s remarks mischaracterize what most proponents of the “abolish the police,” or “defund the police,” movements actually mean when they use these phrases.

Most advocates of these movements do not propose getting rid of every police department and officer in the country. Only 27% of Democrats support the total elimination of police departments, according to Gallup. Rather, many proponents advocate for defunding portions of the police budget and reallocating these funds to other social programs and community welfare programs to prevent crime and ensure public safety.

They note that, in many cities, such as Minneapolis — where Black Lives Matter protesters took to the streets in 2020 to bring attention to the death of George Floyd, a Black man killed by a white police officer who knelt on his neck for nearly 10 minutes — police budgets have been vastly prioritized over other social services. Minneapolis recently allotted $193 million to its police department, but only $31 million toward affordable housing, $400,000 to the Office of Crime Prevention, and $250,000 for groups within the community that serve at-risk youth, for instance.

While Cruz is correct in saying that young Black people are disproportionately the victims of violent crime, he’s wrong in claiming that more policing solves that problem.

Research is clear that Black Americans are around three times as likely to be killed by the police as their white counterparts. Police are also more likely to kill Latinos, Native Americans, and Alaska Natives than white people.

Since 2015, police have fatally shot at least 135 unarmed Black individuals, according to analysis of law enforcement data, which authorities acknowledge is incomplete.

Reports have also noted that fewer police officers doesn’t necessarily equate to less crime in a community, and conversely, that more police offers doesn’t mean more crime. Other studies have found that community policing does not actually have an effect on the violent crime rate in urban areas.

Widespread distrust of law enforcement only complicates things further.

In high-crime, low-income areas — the areas Cruz mentioned Tuesday — residents tend to distrust police, with only about 30% saying police respect people’s rights and treat them with dignity and respect, and only 38.7% agreeing that when the police make an arrest in their community, there is reason to believe the person has done something wrong, according to a 2017 Urban Institute study.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.

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