Trump holds roundtable with Americans helped by police amid protests

Roundtable discussion comes amid nationwide calls to 'defund the police'

President Donald Trump held a roundtable discussion Monday with Americans who have been helped by law enforcement amid nationwide protests to reform police departments.

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“Our officers have been under vicious assault, and hundreds of police have been injured, and several murdered. You’ve been reading about it just like I’ve been seeing it. Reckless politicians have defamed our law enforcement heroes as the enemy,” the president said. “These radical politicians want to defund and abolish the police from our nation.”

There have been calls to defund the police for years, but they were brought into the mainstream following the death of George Floyd while in the custody of Minneapolis police in May.

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“Defund the police” can mean different things to different people, with some arguing there should be a restructuring of police departments with reduced funding, while others believe police departments as they currently exist should be abolished altogether.

Black Lives Matter co-founder Patrisse Cullors said we need "radical shifts" in how we think about policing.

“It’s not possible for the entity of law enforcement to be a compassionate, caring governmental agency in black communities. That’s not the training, that’s not the institution,” she told Boston’s NPR news station WBUR last month. “And so what we’re asking for is a reinvestment in how we understand what’s needed in our communities. Why is law enforcement the first responders for a mental health crisis? Why are they the first responders for domestic violence issues? Why are they the first responders for homelessness?”

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Trump has entirely dismissed the idea of defunding the police and referred to the movement as a "fad."

“We will never, ever defund our police. OK? That I can tell you. We are not defunding police,” Trump said Friday, according to Politico.

But the president did sign an executive order on June 16 that will create a national police misconduct database, create new guidelines for use of force and increase the deployment of social workers and mental health professionals in response to relevant calls.

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Some cities have already started scaling back the budgets for police departments. The New York City Council approved an $88 billion budget on June 30 that will cut $1 billion from the New York Police Department's budget.

But some activists and lawmakers, like Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., said the budget cuts don’t go nearly far enough.

“Defunding police means defunding police," the congresswoman said in a statement. "It does not mean budget tricks or funny math. 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. f these reports are accurate, then these proposed ‘cuts’ to the NYPD budget are a disingenuous illusion. This is not a victory. The fight to defund policing continues.”

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