Abbott spoke out against a trend of city councils flirting with the idea of police defunding.
“Some cities in Texas want to defund and dismantle police departments in our state,” Abbott said. “We cannot let this happen in Texas.”
Abbott framed his plea as a call of support for law enforcement, centering police officers among potential victims of defunding efforts and calling on “every Texan and every candidate for public office, regardless of party affiliation” to sign.
“This reckless action invites crime into our communities and it threatens the safety of all Texans, including our law enforcement officers and their families,” Abbott said. “We need all leaders and all Texans to join us in backing the blue.”
Abbott’s focus on the safety of police officers has drawn support from some Republicans and criticism from progressives as well as some conservatives who would have preferred a focus on the safety of citizens.
Texas House District 47 candidate and Austin police officer Justin Berry tweeted support for Abbott’s pledge.
“Join me & [Abbott] by standing by our great men & women in law enforcement by showing support by signing the pledge to NOT defund our police,” Berry wrote.
Conservative writer and activist Charles Blain rankled at Abbott’s police-centered angle, saying Abbott missed an opportunity to respond to the desires of minority communities.
“There was a chance to actually make this issue about the safety and protection of communities, particularly low-income and minority communities, because, ya know, black people appreciate good cops in their neighborhoods, but somehow it’s about ‘backing the blue,’” Blain tweeted.
In a joint statement, House Democratic leaders Chris Turner (D-Arlington) and Garnet Coleman (D-Houston) said that no Democrats in the legislature want to defund the police and condemned the video as theatrics.
“We can’t let Governor Abbott’s political games distract us from the real issues we need to address, nor can we let it distract from the Trump and Abbott Administrations’ failed response to the COVID-19 pandemic,” the statement reads.
Abbott called on supporters to share their pledges on social media this Thursday at 2:00 p.m.
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