President Joe Biden Speaks Out Against “Defund the Police” During First State of the Union Address

During his first State of the Union address, President Joe Biden received applause from Democrats when rejecting to defund the police.

On Tuesday, President Joe Biden gave his first State of the Union, where he addressed pressing topics like Russia’s war with Ukraine, lifting COVID-19 restrictions, and the status of his presidential agenda. There was one moment, however, that stood out to those in the social justice space — Biden received a standing ovation after publicly denouncing a phrase that has been long-debated: defund the police. With Vice President Kamala Harris and Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi sitting behind him, Biden gave his remarks on fiscally supporting law enforcement.

“We should all agree: The answer is not to defund the police,” Biden said. “The answer is to fund the police with the resources and training they need to protect our communities.”

He also addressed that crime is higher in Democrat-voting cities. Biden then referenced the deaths of two police officers — Jason Rivera and Wilbert Mora — who were killed on January 22nd in Harlem while responding to a domestic violence call, according to The New York Times. Biden vowed to their families that he’d “restore the trust and safety” in every city.

“I know what works: Investing in crime prevention and community police officers who’ll walk the beat, who’ll know the neighborhood, and who can restore trust and safety,” Biden said. Under his presidency, Biden, using funding from the American Rescue Plan, sent money to local governments to expand their police departments.

“That’s why the American Rescue Plan provided $350 billion that cities, states and counties can use to hire more police and invest in proven strategies like community violence interruption—trusted messengers breaking the cycle of violence and trauma and giving young people hope,” Biden said.

Since the 2020 murder of George Floyd–which sparked national protests and uprisings–activists have called for police defunding. In January, Pelosi shot down the notion, saying that the “defund the police” slogan was “dead” and doesn’t align with Democrats’ position with law enforcement. After his speech, Cori was the most prominent politician to speak out against Biden’s phrasing.


Jaelani Turner-Williams

Jaelani Turner-Williams is a contributing news writer for Okayplayer with bylines at Billboard, MTV News, NYLON, Recording Academy and more. Read her mind on Twitter at @hernameisjae.

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Jaelani Turner-Williams

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