Top progressive pol Sen. Bernie Sanders is breaking with his left-wing protégés over their calls to defund the police in the wake of the killing of Daunte Wright.
Speaking to CNN Wednesday, Sanders (I-Vt.) said he did not agree with Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.) over her call for “no more policing, incarceration, and militarization” after the killing of Wright, a black man who died at the hands of a white police officer.
“No I don’t,” Sanders replied when asked if he concurred with his fellow progressive, who has been joined in her calls by fellow Squad members Reps. Omar and Pressley.
“I think that what we need to do is to understand that there needs to be major, major police reform all across this country,” the Vermont senator continued, “We are tired of seeing the same thing, week after week and year after year. We do not want to see innocent African Americans shot in cold blood.”
“So I think that’s an area that needs significant amount of work and I hope that Congress begins work on that immediately.”
Wright was fatally shot by a Brooklyn Center cop, identified as 25-year veteran Kimberly Potter, during a traffic stop Sunday.
Brooklyn Center Police Chief Tim Gannon said the officer had intended to deploy a Taser as the man struggled with police but fired a handgun instead.
The death heightened tensions in an already emotionally fraught state, which is awaiting an outcome in the trial of Chauvin, who is accused of murdering Floyd when he held his knee on Floyd’s neck for almost 10 minutes.
Potter has since been charged with second-degree manslaughter.
In response to Wright’s death, Tlaib took to Twitter to reiterate her call to defund the police.
“It wasn’t an accident. Policing in our country is inherently & intentionally racist. Daunte Wright was met with aggression & violence,” she wrote on the platform.
“I am done with those who condone government-funded murder. No more policing, incarceration, and militarization. It can’t be reformed,” she continued, reiterating her position that the police, as currently trained, cannot protect their communities and must be defunded and replaced.
Fellow progressive pal Rep. Ilhan Omar expressed a similar sentiment.
“We are sick and heartbroken. In the closing days of Derek Chauvin’s murder trial, Brooklyn Center police killed 20-year-old Daunte Wright, another Black man, during a traffic stop,” Omar’s tweet began.
“This violence is a basic part of police interactions with communities of color,” she continued. “It must stop.”
Pressley, meanwhile, kept her message short, writing, “From slave patrols to traffic stops. We can’t reform this.”
All three lawmakers have previously voiced their support for defunding the police.
For his part, Sanders has never hopped on the “defund the police” bandwagon, instead arguing the opposite.
Speaking with The New Yorker last year, Sanders was questioned about a letter he sent to Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) arguing that cops should be paid higher wages.
“Do I think we should not have police departments in America? No, I don’t. There’s no city in the world that does not have police departments,” the Democratic socialist responded.
“I didn’t call for more money for police departments. I called for police departments that have well-educated, well-trained, well-paid professionals. And, too often around this country right now, you have police officers who take the job at very low payment, don’t have much education, don’t have much training — and I want to change that.”