Celebs who embraced defund the police cause go mum amid violent crime surge in blue cities

The White House and Democratic leaders seeking to distance themselves from previous support of controversial movement.

Published: July 14, 2021 5:58pm

Updated: July 14, 2021 10:34pm

The same celebrities who locked arms last year with leftist activists like Black Lives Matter cofounder Patrisse Cullors to promote the "defund the police" movement have suddenly gone silent.

Stars like John Legend and Natalie Portman weren't content demanding laws to curb police brutality in the wake of George Floyd's death while under restraint by Minneapolis police. They demanded cities reduce funding for local law enforcement.

Defund the police proponents define the movement differently, but most agree it means steering funds earmarked for police departments to other recipients. Think social services, mental health advocates and related fields. The group's more radical elements demanded the complete elimination of local law enforcement, but few politicians pushed the movement that far.

Legend, Portman, Lizzo, Taraji P. Henson, The Weeknd, Common, America Ferrera, Brie Larson, Yara Shahidi and Jane Fonda signed an open letter last June embracing #DefundPolice initiatives, hoping their A-list cachet could propel the movement forward.

They also flexed their social media accounts for the cause, like Lizzo's 2020 Instagram livestream where she suggested places where followers can donate to the cause like she did. The singer currently boasts 10.8 million followers on the social media platform.

Kendrick Sampson of "Insecure" fame penned a personal op-ed about his dedication to the cause.

"I want us all to participate in tearing this system down and building better for our community," he wrote. "That is the point of this — defund police and prosecute killer cops. Get involved in those movements. I don't give a f*** if you support me. It's about this movement for a better world for our children, for Black children."

A separate open letter, created by the Sampson-founded BLD PWR and signed by Tessa Thompson, Issa Rae, Billy Porter, Anthony Mackie, Idris Elba, Michael B. Jordan and more, demanded the Hollywood community "divest from police."

Their messaging worked, in a way, since many U.S. cities followed their lead. In New York City, Mayor Bill de Blasio vowed to slash police funding by $1 billion.

An August 2020 report from Forbes.com cited 13 U.S. cities following that path, including Democrat-led cities like Austin, Texas, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Baltimore and Washington, D.C. Other municipalities, according to Forbes.com, hoped to follow their lead.

That was before data began flooding in about rising levels of city-based violence nationwide. New York Magazine shared the grisly data, showing homicides spiked by roughly 30% in the country in 2020 and climbed 24% more during the first part of 2021.

The defund the police movement has been noticeably quieter of late. President Joe Biden's White House distanced itself from the cause anew in recent weeks, with its communication team surfacing the counterintuitive meme that it is Republicans who are behind the push to defund.

Defund stalwarts like de Blasio recently reneged on his promised $1 billion cut while keeping the number of current police officers steady. That comes as shootings have jumped 77% from March 2020 to March 2021.

New Yorkers just selected Eric Adams, a former police officer who doesn't support the defund cause, to be the Democrat's choice for the Big Apple's next mayor. House Majority Whip James Clyburn (D-SC) said Adams' victory shows the current Defund movement is "a non-starter, even with black people."

Minneapolis, the unofficial epicenter of the defund movement, saw local officials vowing to increase officer recruitment efforts in 2022 following a flurry of defund-style measures. The number of citizens shot in the city ballooned nearly 90% compared to last year, according to PBS.

A March Ipsos/USA Today poll showed only 18% of respondents support defund the police, a number that includes just 28% of black citizens.

JustTheNews.com reached out to 10 celebrities who promoted Defund the Police last year, asking if they had changed their minds about the movement or had any new positions to share on the subject.

The following stars' representatives did not return requests for comments:

  • Brie Larson
  • Kendrick Sampson
  • America Ferrera
  • John Legend
  • Yara Shahidi
  • Tessa Thompson
  • Taraji P. Henson
  • Jane Fonda
  • Amber Riley

Natalie Portman's representatives said the actress is working overseas and is unavailable for comment.

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