Democrats' infighting over 'defund the police' movement heats up as AOC, 'Squad' refuse to back down

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Some Democrats in Congress have tried to distance themselves from anti-police rhetoric following the party's underperformance in last week's elections, but left-wing activists and lawmakers are intent on pushing the party even further to the left. 

House Majority Whip James Clyburn of South Carolina, Rep. Conor Lamb of Pennsylvania and Rep. Abigail Spanberger of Virginia are among the Democrats who've tried to distance themselves from socialism and the "defund the police" movement following the election. But the party's activist base has said that won't fly. 

Justice Democrats, a far-left group aligned with Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., was one of four left-wing groups who signed a memo Tuesday urging Democrats to embrace Black Lives Matter, which has called for slashing funds to police departments across the country. 


"The lesson to be learned from this election cannot and should not be to lean into racist resentment politics, or back away from the social movements that pushed Democrats to power," read the memo, which was obtained by Politico. 

"If Democrats cower from the national conversation sparked by the Black Lives Matter movement, then the only ones left owning this space will be the GOP," the memo continued.

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Black Lives Matter sent a letter on Nov. 7 to President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris requesting a meeting "to begin the immediate work of Black liberation." 

The organization posted an update on Monday asking supporters to sign a petition in support of their request for a meeting.

"Black people cannot and will not live through the indifference of a Democrat-controlled government refusing to wrestle with the most egregious and damnable shame of not delivering for Black people — especially when Black people are their most consistent and reliable base," the post asserted. 

Biden's transition team didn't immediately return an email asking whether they intend to grant Black Lives Matter the meeting.  

The "Squad," a small group of first-term House Democrats headed by Ocasio-Cortez, added three incoming members who support the "defund the police" movement. That includes Cori Bush of Missouri, who has also called to "defund the Pentagon." 

Ocasio-Cortez, meanwhile, has urged the party publicly to move further left and embrace its activist base, leading an "embrace the base" campaign on social media.

One infographic she posted on social media, titled "The Movement for Black Lives Turned Out Voters," asserts that "1.1 million people registered to vote in the first half of June amid BLM protests across the country." 

The Movement for Black Lives is a coalition of left-wing activist groups, including Black Lives Matter, whose stated goals include abolishing both prisons and police departments. 

"We believe that prisons, police and all other institutions that inflict violence on Black people must be abolished and replaced by institutions that value and affirm the flourishing of Black lives," the coalition's website stated.

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