A woke Big Apple Democrat who once loudly backed defund the police is suddenly changing his tune.
Rep. Mondaire Jones represents a cushy district in Westchester County, but redistricting has forced him to run for reelection as a carpetbagger in a competitive open seat in Lower Manhattan and Park Slope.
Suddenly facing a tough primary against former Mayor Bill de Blasio and State Assemblywoman Yuh-Line Niou — Jones now says “black Americans don’t want to send police officers out of their communities.”
But in June 2020, in the month after the death of George Floyd, Democrats nationwide were captivated by the “DEFUND” slogan and Jones was no exception.
“Of course we need to end mass incarceration, and legalize cannabis and defund the police,” he told Wenonah Hauter, founder of the NGO Food & Water Watch, during an interview in June 25, 2020.
“Let me go back and say we need to, you know, talk about defunding the police, cutting that funding and reallocating it to social workers, and youth employment.” he added in a July 8 interview with political commentator Katie Halper in July 2020.
Many Democratic-controlled cities like Minneapolis and New York City implemented defund policies, and saw immediate jolts of violent crime. As the grim consequences of the policy emerged, public safety began to creep back into voter’s minds.
Poll after poll after poll in 2021 and 2022 have shown voters deeply opposed to defund policies. Liberal voters in San Francisco voted to recall their woke George Soros-funded District Attorney Chesa Boudin, in what many believe to be the start of a progressive backlash.
With a re-election looming in a foreign district, Jones apparently saw the writing on the wall. When asked in a HuffPost interview last week about if there was a “specific rhetorical phrase that … progressives have employed that hurts more than it helps,” his response was blunt.
“You’ve got leaders of the [Working Families Party] saying ‘defund the police’ was not the best phrase to articulate a vision for how to move toward humane, more effective policing that doesn’t brutalize black and brown communities while still keeping them safe,” he said.
“Black Americans don’t want to send police officers out of their communities,” he added after President Biden’s 2022 State of the Union address in which he called for funding police departments.
“It’s about polling,” Guardian Angels founder and former mayoral candidate Curtis Sliwa told The Post. “His consultants are telling him, hey you gotta start moving toward the center.”
Jones is one of many Democrats who have pivoted on the issue.
Stacey Abrams, a rising Democratic star, now says she wants to refund the police, telling Axios last month she would raise base pay for Georgia state troopers and other law enforcement officers if elected governor in November. In a June 2020 interview with CNN she previously voiced her support for defund.
“Mondaire, like many other Democrats, is now on the defense over right wing talking points. That seems to be the standard for Democrats as we go into November,” Patrick Bobilin, a New York City progressive organizer who still supports defund the police — and said Democrats who waffled are “cowering in fear.”
The primary is scheduled for Aug. 23.
“Rep. Jones believes New Yorkers deserve to feel, and actually be, safe. That’s why, as a member of the Judiciary Committee, he has led the fight to end gun violence in America and provide law enforcement with the resources to stop the rise of white supremacist domestic terrorism. He also knows we must address the root causes of crime like underinvestment in public schools and housing, and that effective policing does not require brutalizing Black and brown communities,” said spokesman Bill Neidhardt.
When asked to provide examples of “White supremacist domestic terrorism,” Neidhardt declined to offer any examples and asked “Are you implying hate crimes in New York City didn’t increase 76% in the last year alone?”