Jamaal Bowman Campaigns With Defund Police Groups as Primary Vote Nears

'We must defund **and** demilitarize the police,' New York Working Families Party said

(@JamaalBowmanNY X)
May 28, 2024

In the final push of his primary campaign, embattled New York Rep. Jamaal Bowman (D.) is leaning on the help of groups that support defunding the police.

Bowman on Monday touted a coalition of progressive groups, including the New York Working Families Party and The Jewish Vote, that is working to push him across the finish line in his June primary race. These groups repeatedly called to defund the police, including in New York City—a portion of which is represented by Bowman.

Bowman posed for a picture with members of the left-wing groups, whom he described as a "multiracial, working-class movement" for "people power."

"I'm inspired by the multiracial, working-class movement we're building! From Co-op to Larchmont we're building a movement for jobs and education, not bombs and incarceration!" Bowman tweeted. "Shoutout to everyone who showed out [sic] yesterday. This is what people power looks like."

Bowman's allies support the fringe position of defunding the police.

"We must defund **and** demilitarize the police," the New York Working Families Party wrote in June 2020.

"The NYPD isn't just employing a few bad apples—it's deliberately cultivating bad apples at the expense of Black and brown New Yorkers," the group wrote in a post one month later. "Defund police, invest in our communities."

"Defund the police," The Jewish Vote wrote in May 2020.

Eight months later, the groups called on presidential candidates to endorse defunding the police to get their vote.

"If @AndrewYang wants to win our votes, he should focus on #TaxTheRich, Defund the Police, a #GreenNewDeal—NOT equating a nonviolent human rights tactic to literal Nazis," the group wrote.

Democrats in New York's 16th Congressional District will choose their congressional nominee on June 25. Westchester County executive George Latimer has shown to be a formidable law-and-order, pro-Israel Democratic challenger to Bowman. The race's results could shed light on how other elections will play out in swing districts where the Israel-Hamas war is a salient issue.

Bowman in a Sunday Instagram story highlighted Felicia Singh, who was a leading organizer and works as the director of policy and government relations at the Coalition for Asian American Children and Families. Singh posted a photo of the group of campaigners, writing "Working Families Party. I'm right next to [Bowman]."

Bowman responded to Singh, who has personally advocated for defunding the police, with a "hand heart" emoji.

Singh called to defund the police as recently as April.

"I hope that what people seeing happen to students by the NYPD becomes a MASSIVE learning for people who were afraid of the word 'defund' but understand it now," Singh wrote in an April 30 post.

"How can @NYCCouncil vote to ban chokeholds when they're still happening in our black communities? Reforms don't work alone," Singh wrote in a June 2020 post. "Defund the police now."

Two months later, she highlighted the Austin, Texas, city council's decision to cut $100 million from the police budget as an example of defunding the police in action.

"We can't say that we have zero examples of how to defund the nypd [sic] and reinvest in communities. We can't say it's impossible. We can't say it won't work. We can only say the NYC is behind in centering the #blacklivesmatter movement and that's a damn shame," Singh wrote.

The city of Austin reversed those budget cuts one year later amid a crime spike.

Bowman has collaborated with The Jewish Vote before, attempting to rehabilitate his image among Jewish voters in light of his anti-Israel rhetoric following the Oct. 7 attack.

The group is the electoral arm of Jews for Racial & Economic Justice (JFREJ), a left-wing nonprofit that has routinely disparaged the Jewish state and argued against sending anti-Semitic hate criminals to jail.

In its Oct. 7 statement on "escalating violence in Israel-Palestine," JFREJ said Hamas's slaughter of innocent Israelis was not "unprovoked," citing "decades of occupation" and "the stifling blockage of Gaza." Days later, the group's executive director, Audrey Sasson, accused Israel of "genocide."

Bowman, much like The Jewish Vote, blamed Hamas's attack on Israel's "blockade of Gaza" and went on to accuse the Jewish state of "mass murder," "genocide," and "ethnic cleansing." Those comments have incensed local Jewish leaders. Twenty-six rabbis in Bowman's district, for example, wrote a letter in October urging Latimer to launch a primary campaign against Bowman, citing the congressman's "effort to erode support for Israel on Capitol Hill and within the Democratic Party."

"Many of us tried to engage the Congressman early in his term, seeking constructive dialogue about the damaging positions he took—especially on matters related to America's relationship with Israel," the rabbis wrote. "Regrettably, Congressman Bowman disregarded our outreach and doubled down on his anti-Israel policy positions and messaging."

Bowman has also been intertwined with the Working Families Party since he began his political career in 2020. The party's New York chapter endorsed his primary campaign at the time, citing him as an "excellent" alternative challenger to then-incumbent Eliot Engel, who had held the seat for over 30 years.

"Jamaal Bowman is going to be an excellent congressman—pass it on," the Working Families Party wrote in a post before the 2020 primary.

Bowman did not return a request for comment.