Members of the “Defund police” squad spend on private security

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It’s a tight race among ‘defund the police’ Democrats at this year’s Olympics, but New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and other House members of ‘the Squad’ are well-positioned to win. ‘gold. Fully adhering to the “good for you, but not for me” policy, AOC, Ilhan Omar of Minnesota, Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts and new team member Cori Bush of Missouri, are among the most outspoken defenders of the funding – while also being, according to reports by the Federal Election Commission, among the largest expenditures on personal security.

All of these lawmakers support the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act, which passed the House last summer but is stalled in the Senate. Pressley also sponsored the BREATHE Act, a bill backed by Black Lives Matters leaders, who believe the Floyd Act doesn’t go far enough. The BREATHE Act, which calls for the total elimination of federal law enforcement agencies, especially those tasked with reducing illegal drug and immigration-related activity, would initially only apply at the federal level , but would ultimately affect state and local police departments in those areas as well.

With support from Squad, Pressley sponsored the reintroduction of the Ending Qualified Immunity Act, which makes it easier for individuals to sue state and local authorities, primarily the police. She and Bush are also among the sponsors of the People’s Response Act, which aims to create a public safety agency within the Department of Health and Human Services, replace incarceration with health-based alternatives, and provide $7.5 billion in community grants. policing-based organizations as alternatives to policing.

Representative Ayanna Pressley sponsored the BREATHE Act, which calls for the total elimination of federal law enforcement agencies.
John Tlumacki/Boston Globe via Getty Images

Yet despite their rhetoric and legislative proposals, Squad members rely on private security — or, in the case of male Squad member, New York Rep. Jamaal Bowman, local police — to provide the protection they need. would refuse to their own constituents.

In the two months between April 15 and June 28, Bush spent nearly $70,000 of his campaign funds on personal safety, the most of any House lawmaker. That’s nearly $20,000 above the median household income for residents of his district, which covers St. Louis and adjacent communities. Bush, who often wears a Black Lives Matter or a “Y’All Gone Stop Killing Us!” t-shirt, says she thinks defunding the police would prevent the deaths of people like Michael Brown and Breonna Taylor. But it’s unclear who would stop the murder that would then ensue. Of the 130 homicide victims in St. Louis so far this year, half of whose residents are African American, all but ten of the victims were African American (98 males and 22 females). The vast majority of them involved firearms – not one fired by a police officer.

Asked about her personal security expenses, Bush described herself as a ‘life-threatening black woman’, saying white supremacists, including cops, made threats and ‘racist attempts’ against her life. , and that his “body is worth being on this planet right now. She said she had “too much work to do” and “too many people.” . . need help right now. She suggested people should ‘absorb it’ because ‘defunding the police has to happen. We need to defund the police and put that money into social safety nets because we’re trying to save lives. »

Rep.  Cori Bush.
Rep. Cori Bush’s security payments accounted for a third of her campaign spending of about $200,000 in the second quarter.
Paul Morigi/Getty Images

Ironically, despite Bush’s support for St. Louis’s vote to fund its Metropolitan Police Department, the only officers who lost their jobs in the city were two St. Louis city sheriff’s deputies who kept during his visit to the prison. Both were fired by Sheriff Vernon Betts, a black Democrat, after repeated warnings that they had not obtained second job approvals or private security licenses.

Although Bush’s security payments accounted for a third of his campaign spending of about $200,000 in the second quarter, the bulk of that portion – $54,120.92 – went to RS&T Security Consulting, a new company. -yorker with two addresses in Manhattan and a website under construction. The only local recipient, Nathaniel Davis, whose address is the same as that of the Bush campaign committee, received three payments totaling $15,000.

AOC spent less on security and kept some of that spending local. The $4,000 she spent in the second quarter of 2021 was a sharp drop from more than $45,000 in the first quarter. Although she represents parts of the Bronx and Queens, about $35,000 of Ocasio-Cortez’s local spending in the first quarter went to businesses with addresses in Brooklyn, including three payments of $3,000 each to C’ is Bon Collective and two payments totaling approximately $25,000 to Three Bridges, LLC. In February, she also paid $1,552.50 to a Houston company to provide personal security while visiting the city during hurricane relief efforts.

Representative Ilhan Omar.
Representative Ilhan Omar reduced her security bills in the second quarter from just over $3,000 to $2,800.
Emilie Richardson/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Like RS&T, the company used by Bush, neither C’est Bon nor Three Bridges provide much information online about their business. But Tullis Worldwide Protection, the Virginia company that Ocasio-Cortez paid about $4,000 in January, touts the experience of its CEO, Devin Tullis, including stints with private military contractor Blackwater, whose employees were accused of committing war crimes in Iraq. Asked about his work for the AOC, Tullis said little but noted that he “does not hire social workers” – the squad’s preferred option to replace the police.

Pressley and Omar were more modest than their colleagues in their security spending, but they still spent far more than most House members. Pressley spent over $4,000 in the first quarter of 2021 and over $3,500 in the second quarter. While some of her spending was local, she employed a Virginia company in January and a Washington, DC company in March. Omar also reduced his security bills in the second quarter from just over $3,000 to $2,800, all spent locally in St. Paul and nearby Ramsey, Minnesota.

At least in the chutzpah competition, Bowman may have outdone the other team members. After being elected in 2020, he wasted no time in expressing his support for the George Floyd law, calling it simply a floor, not a ceiling, in the battle for police reform. Bowman, who has called cops ‘white supremacist’ officers, represents parts of the Bronx and Westchester County – where, at his request, the Yonkers Police Department, the county’s largest, is providing extra protection at the single-family home he shares with his wife and children.

Representative Jamaal Bowman.
Representative Jamaal Bowman wasted no time in expressing his support for the George Floyd Act, simply calling it a floor, not a ceiling, in the battle for police reform.
Caroline Brehman/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images

Keith Olson, president of the Yonkers Police Benevolent Association, summed up the hypocrisy by noting: “Not so long ago, the congressman called for a dramatic reduction in policing in the most violent neighborhoods and the most criminal. . . . Asking these same police officers to protect your family while creating policies that make communities of color less safe is simply disgraceful. »

Dorothy Moses Schulz is a professor emeritus at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice, CUNY, a retired MTA-Metro North Railroad police captain who has served as a safety and security consultant for transit agencies across the country, and a researcher adjunct at the Manhattan Institute. Excerpt from the City Journal.

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