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Booker says he sees 'sentiment and the substance' behind 'Defund the Police' phrase but 'it's not a slogan I will use'

Sen. Cory BookerCory BookerPolice reform talks hit familiar stumbling block Almost 20 advocacy groups team up to pressure Congress to pass health care bill for immigrants Biden adds pressure to congressional talks with self-imposed deadlines MORE (D-N.J.) said Sunday that he sees the “sentiment and the substance” behind the “Defund the Police” rallying cry but added, “it’s not a slogan I will use.”

The former 2020 Democratic presidential contender told NBC’s “Meet the Press” that people should not “just dismiss” the slogan without diving “into the substance.”

“As I said earlier, it is not a mark of a beloved community to prey upon the most vulnerable in your society,” Booker said. 

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“This is the outrage that I think people on the streets are feeling and that I share is that we are over policing as a society, that we are investing in police, who are not solving problems, but are making them worse, when we should be in a more compassionate country,” he added. 

The death of George Floyd in Minneapolis police custody, as well as the deaths of other African Americans in recent months, have sparked more than a week of nationwide protests against police brutality and racial inequality. 

"Defund the police" has become one of the slogans commonly seen at demonstrations and Washington, D.C.’s, local chapter of Black Lives Matter on Saturday painted the phrase next to the city’s “Black Lives Matter” mural on 16th Street. 

The New Jersey senator criticized the societal decision to treat mental illness, addiction and poverty “with prison, jail and police.”

Booker, a former mayor of Newark, said when he ran police departments, “exhausted” officers would ask, “‘Why are we using police to deal with the fragility or vulnerability of our society?’”

“There’s so much money going into our police departments that is a more expensive way to deal with it,” he said.