Jamaal Bowman Says He Takes 'Marching Orders' From Activist Group Working To Defund Police

Bowman's 'Equity or Else' resolution endorses proposal to 'reallocate/divest police budgets'

Jamaal Bowman (Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
February 1, 2024

New York Democratic congressman Jamaal Bowman says he takes his "marching orders" from a left-wing activist group that is working to defund police and pull officers from schools.

During a Wednesday afternoon press conference, Bowman unveiled his "Equity for All Resolution," legislation that endorses a policy platform from activist group Journey for Justice Alliance. That platform—which the group calls "Equity or Else"—demands lawmakers "reallocate/divest police budgets" and "institute policing-free schooling with no school resource officers." Bowman during his press conference lauded Journey for Justice Alliance and other activist groups for making his job "easy," saying he can merely adopt their proposals rather than craft his own.

"Before I got to Congress, I was in these streets in education, rocking with Journey for Justice" and other groups, Bowman said Wednesday. "My job is easy. Take my marching orders from them, write the resolution, introduce it."

The admission comes as Bowman faces a difficult primary campaign against Westchester County executive George Latimer, who entered the race against Bowman in December. Bowman may hope his embrace of left-wing activist groups prompts a fundraising surge—the congressman raised just $735,000 last quarter, while Latimer on Monday said he raised nearly $1.4 million in the roughly three weeks after launching his campaign.

In addition to Journey for Justice, Bowman's Wednesday presser featured Parents Supporting Parents, another left-wing advocacy group based in New York City. The group's executive director, Tanesha Grant, called to defund the New York City Police Department as recently as last year and has portrayed police officers as pigs.

"I am also one of the people who still call to defund the police," Grant wrote in August. Roughly two years earlier, in June 2021, Grant spoke at an abolish police protest in New York City that featured a piñata depicting a pig in a police uniform.

"We smashed the shit out that pig," Grant wrote in an Instagram post that included the hashtags "DefundNYPD" and "Refundthepeople."

Bowman, who did not return a request for comment, also called to defund police in 2020 but later backtracked, saying two years later that he is not "anti-police." Bowman also accused Republicans of using the slogan "defund the police" to scare voters but did not mention his own embrace of the message.

"A system this cruel and inhumane can't be reformed," Bowman said in December 2020. "Defund the police, and defund the system that's terrorizing our communities."

In a statement sent to the Washington Free Beacon, Grant refrained from discussing policing, instead pledging to work with Bowman on "the inequities in public education." Journey for Justice Alliance national director Jitu Brown, however, confirmed that his group's Bowman-endorsed platform "includes a demand for 'police free schools.'"

"That was added to the agenda because in town halls and listening sessions, it was repeatedly brought up by youth and parents," Brown told the Free Beacon.

Bowman's "Equity for All Resolution" calls on Congress to formally endorse Journey for Justice's "Equity or Else" quality-of-life platform, including "the acknowledgment that racial inequity can only be undone by changing the belief systems that currently serve as a foundation for our institutions, policies, and society at-large." The bill's cosponsors include Reps. André Carson (D., Ind.), Hank Johnson (D., Ga.), and Summer Lee (D., Pa.).