In early October 2020, Snopes readers asked about the authenticity of an image of a tweet circulating on social media platforms that was mocked up to look like it had been written by Democratic vice presidential candidate Kamala Harris:
The tweet states, “I just filed an official complaint with Instagram to get @cops.page removed from the platform. We need to focus on defunding the police rather than supporting them. Do not follow this page.”
The post doesn’t appear on Harris’s Twitter timeline on Sept. 9, 2020 (the date on the tweet above), nor does it appear on Politiwoops, a database of deleted tweets from politicians run by the non-profit news outlet ProPublica.
Furthermore, one would expect that if the vice presidential candidate on a major political party ticket stated she wanted to focus on “defunding the police rather than supporting them,” it would be major news. We found no stories from any reputable news organization reporting it.
The idea of defunding the police came from nationwide racial justice protests in the U.S. in the spring and summer of 2020, sparked by high-profile deaths of Black Americans while in police custody, including George Floyd in Minneapolis, and Breonna Taylor, in Kentucky. Activists advocated for taking money from local government budgets allocated to police departments and investing instead in programs like community services and mental health crisis response teams.
In a June 2020 interview with The New York Times, Harris stated that, “We do have to reimagine what public safety looks like,” but added she didn’t want to “get rid” of police departments:
It is status quo thinking to believe that putting more police on the streets creates more safety. That’s wrong. It’s just wrong. You know what creates more safety? Funding public schools, affordable housing, increased homeownership, job skill development, jobs, access to capital for those who want to start small businesses, or who are running small businesses in communities.
But, no, we’re not going to get rid of the police. We all have to be practical. But let’s separate out these discussions
Her running mate, Joe Biden, also doesn’t support defunding the police, although U.S. President Donald Trump has stated otherwise. Biden has stated, “I don’t want to defund police departments. I think they need more help, they need more assistance.”