Chicago’s new Mayor-Elect Brandon Johnson told a group organizing for a “police-free future” that black people should be removed from “state-sponsored policing” as a way to fight “white supremacy.”
During the George Floyd riots in the summer of 2020, Johnson came out in support of the “defund the police” movement and spoke on a panel titled “We Don’t Call Police: A Town Hall on a Police-Free Future” in which he praised organizers for pushing “an agenda that actually can transform people’s lives,” the Chicago Tribune reports.
“And part of it is removing ourselves away from this, you know, state-sponsored policing,” he said, “but also the tools that have been placed against Black folks that have been used violently, whether it’s policing, or administering standardized tests, or … around how white supremacy finds its way in every facet of our lives, that we have to fight and resist that.”
Johnson also defended looting during the Floyd riots, stating that “what we’re seeing obviously is an outbreak of incredible frustration and anguish” that’s tied to “a failed racist system,” Wirepoints reports:
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Johnson was asked by a WGN-TV interviewer at [the time widespread looting was taking place], “Do you worry about stores leaving Chicago and the county because they don’t think it’s safe?”
Johnson bristled at the concern. He replied, “these companies have insurance and assurance.” He also said, “you can’t take a certain level of urgency to protect capital and the wealthy and not have that same tenacity to provide relief for families that have been devastated through structural racism for generations.”
Johnson amplified the point, saying, “We have to redirect dollars away from a failed racist system and move it into the hands of people who really are trying their very best to survive day-to-day. And if we can’t do that as a government, we are failing to meet the moment…To continue to criminalize people, and to chastise folks for being poor, it’s tired and it’s old. We actually need a new direction that really calls for massive investments in neighborhoods.”
Johnson also claimed in a debate that standardized tests have “roots in eugenics to prove the inferiority of Black people.”
He later distanced himself from the “defund the police” movement, stating: “With all due respect, I get how they are trying to paint a brother. I get it. But I’m not going to be subject to a hashtag that no one can define.”
Johnson also said just weeks ago he never said “defund the police” — despite stating during a debate that defunding police is not “a slogan, it’s an actual real political goal.”
Johnson defeated pro-police former Chicago Public Schools CEO Paul Vallas with 51.42% of the vote versus Vallas’ 48.58% in Tuesday’s election.
Though Lori Lightfoot was voted out as a result of “widespread dissatisfaction from voters over her handling of crime and policing in the nation’s third-largest city,” voters replaced her with someone who is even more radical.
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