Steve Scalise rips ‘defund police’ movement, says cops why he’s still alive

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Steve Scalise rips 'defund police' movement, says cops why he's still alive

House Minority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.) had strong words for the “defund the police” movement Wednesday, recalling how officers helped save his life during a 2017 mass shooting by a left-wing extremist.

“If it wasn’t for Capitol Police who were on that ballfield that day — when, you know, when they talk about defunding the police, one of the craziest ideas I’ve ever heard of in a town where there’s a lot of crazy ideas, that’s why it’s the worst of them,” Scalise said on the “Real America” podcast hosted by Republican National Committee Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel.

“How many people every day in communities are alive because police risked their lives to keep us safe?” the Louisiana lawmaker asked.

Scalise sustained near-fatal injuries at the hands of James Hodgkinson, who fired more than 100 rounds at GOP lawmakers, staff and lobbyists while they were practicing for the Congressional Baseball Game in Alexandria, Va.

Scalise was shot by James Hodgkinson during a practice for the Congressional Baseball Game
Scalise was shot by James Hodgkinson during a practice for the Congressional Baseball Game
EPA/FBI / HANDOUT
Scalise credited the Capitol Police and Virginia police officers who responded to the scene of the shooting and saved his life.
Scalise credited the Capitol Police and Virginia police officers who responded to the scene of the shooting and saved his life.
EPA/SHAWN THEW

“If it wasn’t for David Bailey, Crystal Griner, who were the Capitol Police officers with me, then the Virginia police who showed up later and ultimately confronted and took down the shooter — he had free reign over all of us, and his intention was to take us all out,” Scalise recalled. “So it’s one of those things where you say, ‘Look at anybody who dares to embrace that movement.’ I’ll take that on every day.” 

Scalise noted that he is still in physical therapy and is battling long-term nerve damage, before accusing Democrats of turning a blind eye to political violence across the spectrum. 

Progressive activists and lawmakers’ push to cut funding to police departments began to gain traction after George Floyd was murdered by Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin in the summer of 2020. While lawmakers on both sides of the aisle have expressed support for reforms to prevent police brutality, GOP lawmakers have warned that cutting police funding leads to an uptick in violent crime and hinders law enforcement from receiving the resources necessary to protect communities.

Scalise returning to the Capitol building after recovering from his injuries on September 28, 2017.
Scalise returning to the Capitol building after recovering from his injuries on September 28, 2017.
Photo credit should read SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images

“They don’t want both sides of the story being told,” Scalise said. “There is a desire you see on some of their parts to just want perennial victimhood.

“I don’t look at myself as a victim.” he added. “I’m lucky God gave me a second chance. And yet they only wanted to look at one side of the story when we were saying, ‘Look, if you want to look at political violence, there was a whole lot of political violence that went unchecked during the summer [of 2020] where they were killing cops, where they were beating people in the streets, burning down buildings. They didn’t want to look at any of that.”  

Republicans are expected to make the “defund the police” movement a focus of their messaging strategy this November as the party looks to take back the majority in both chambers of Congress. 

“[Americans are] rejecting this all across the board in states where you wouldn’t think,” Scalise told McDaniel. “The people of Minneapolis voted against defunding the police when the Democrat leaders wanted to defund the police.

“And so it shows you they’re way out of touch, not only with mainstream America, they’re out of touch with Democrat voters in a lot of these states,” he added. “And, you know, we’re going to work to get it back. And we’re not just going after Republican votes and independent votes, there are a lot of Democrats that are coming our way too because of this.” 

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