Charles Barkley Slams ‘Defund the Police’ Movement: ‘Who are Black People Supposed to Call? Ghostbusters?’

“You know who ain’t going to defund the cops? White neighborhoods and rich neighborhoods,” NBA analyst says Thursday night

Charles Barkley harshly criticized the calls for defunding or outright abolishing the police, arguing that it would only further widen the inequality gap between predominantly white and predominantly Black neighborhoods.

“We need police reform and prison reform and things like that. Because you know who ain’t going to defund the cops? White neighborhoods and rich neighborhoods,” the NBA analyst said Thursday during TNT’s coverage of the Western Conference Finals. “Who are Black people supposed to call? Ghostbusters? When we have crime in our neighborhoods? We need police reform. White people, especially rich white people, they’re always going to have cops. We need to stop that ‘defund’ or ‘abolish’ the cops crap.”

The “Defund the Police” movement is less about getting rid of law enforcement and more about diverting funds away from police departments toward social service programs, as well as non-police forms of public safety. In many cities, police department budgets account for a majority of the local government’s yearly budget.

A Gallup Poll in July found that nearly half of Americans (47%) — and 70% of Black Americans — were in favor of some kind of reduction in police department budgets and would shift them to social programs. When it comes to abolishing the police entirely (something that’s also been misconstrued as getting rid of any kind of public safety apparatus), only 15% of Americans are in support, including 22% of Black Americans.

Barkley also touched on Breonna Taylor, the EMT who was killed by a Louisville cop earlier this year, arguing her tragic death shouldn’t be put in the same light as George Floyd or Ahmaud Arbery. Floyd was murdered by a Minneapolis cop while Arbery was fatally shot while jogging.

“It’s bad this young lady lost her life,” Barkley said of Taylor. “But we do have to take into account that her boyfriend did shoot at the cops and shot a cop. So, like I say, even though I am really sorry she lost her life, I don’t think we can just say we can put this in the same situation as George Floyd and Ahmaud Arbery. I just don’t believe that.”

A Kentucky grand jury declined to bring murder charges in the killing of Taylor, a 26-year-old Black medical worker who was killed by police in her home last March during a botched “no-knock” raid. Instead, former Louisville police officer Brett Hankison was indicted on Wednesday on three counts of first-degree wanton endangerment.

The two other officers involved in the botched raid, Jonathan Mattingly and Myles Cosgrove, were not charged at all.