Was “Defund the Police” a Sneaky Effort to Undermine Real Criminal Justice Reform?

Dr. Munr Kazmir
4 min readNov 1, 2021

“Defund the police!” led criminal justice reform efforts right off a cliff. “End civil asset forfeiture!” should have been the rallying cry instead.

Photo by LOGAN WEAVER on Unsplash.

Rising crime in cities across America has elected Democrats and Democratic candidates running, not walking, from the progressive movement to “Defund the Police.”

“Defund the police,” was always a road to nowhere. And maybe it was designed to be.

Sometimes people opposed to a movement, instead of countering it outright, will platform and empower the least viable aspects of it. It’s a sort of “damning with faint praise” meets “straw man” attack formation. Kind of like the way those defending industrialized agriculture and overfishing against environmentalists always try to reduce the argument to “cow farts.”

The reason for this is simple: “Cow farts,” sounds stupid.

“Intense animal agricultural operations and commercial overfishing is a growing threat to the environment, just take a look at this latest factory-farm-times-five in China,” is harder to dismiss.

“Defund the police!” and “Stop Cow Farts!” are proposals made by people who don’t really want anything done about either.

They know arguments about extreme measures will take years to play out in the public sphere, during which time nothing whatsoever will be done about any of it. After a certain amount of stalling and obfuscation, the public mood for policing and criminal justice reform will have shifted- as indeed it already has- and the issue can be safely relegated to the back burner where it has been simmering away for decades.

Things like “defund police!” and “end qualified immunity!” were always bound to draw intense pushback, even from blocs that reliably vote Democrat.

Why start with the highest, most inaccessible fruit when there was so much low-hanging and poisonous fruit ready to drop off the criminal justice reform vine?

Ending no-knock warrants could have easily passed with bipartisan support; as might have a sensible measure like ending traffic stops. Traffic cams work better anyway and the dangerous task of arresting people on outstanding…