Charles Barkley has drawn criticism on the internet after he jokingly referenced the film Ghostbusters while criticizing the concept of defunding the police during a TV appearance.
Barkley's comments came during an appearance on Inside the NBA, an NBA post-game talk show on the TNT network.
Charles Barkley on defunding the police "Who are black people supposed to call Ghost Busters when we have crime in… https://t.co/tVPwkfVUEU— gifdsports (@gifdsports)1600994020.0
Barkley did not mince words in his criticism of the movement to defund police forces, which has arisen in the wake of the latest wave of often deadly police violence against unarmed Black citizens.
"I hear these fools on TV talking about 'defund the police' and things like that. We need police reform and prison reform and things like that. Because you know who ain't gonna defund the cops? White neighborhoods and rich neighborhoods."
Barkley went on to reference the classic film Ghostbusters by way of explaining his advocating reform over the defunding or abolition of police forces.
"Who are Black people supposed to call, Ghostbusters, when we have crime in our neighborhoods? ... White people, especially rich White people, they're always gonna have cops. So we need to stop that defund or abolish the cops crap."
Barkley's joke, of course, is a reference to the classic Ray Parker Jr. theme song to the Ghostbusters film.
Ghostbusters jokes aside, recent polling shows that just over half of Americans in general, but less than a third of Black Americans, agree with Barkley.
A July Gallup poll revealed that 47% of Americans at large and 70% of Black Americans specifically are in favor of reducing police department budgets and reallocating such funds to social programs, which can better manage the myriad non-crime issues that often fall to police departments, like mental health interventions, among many others.
Several cities, including Seattle, New York and Los Angeles, have introduced measures to substantively reduce the budgets of their police departments this year.
And the city of Minneapolis, where the police murder of George Floyd touched off waves of protest nationwide that have yet to abate, introduced a measure to disband its police department altogether. That move has run up against resistance, however, and the city council has tabled the resolution for further review until November.
On Twitter, some people agreed with Barkley's views.
@gifdsports I agree with Charles about “ defunding the police.” No one should be saying that. It’s counterproductiv… https://t.co/CnpbujXTUY— Alvin Gay (@Alvin Gay)1601031091.0
Barkley is a natural contrarian but it's nice to see some pushback on the more egregious things that are being thro… https://t.co/baY2Jdl3KQ— AmishDude (@AmishDude)1600998534.0
But far more saw Barkley's comments as indicative of a common misunderstanding of what "defund the police" means, and they found his views reductive and off-base.
@gifdsports More accurately, Charles Barkley doesn’t know what defund the police means.— J Every Day (@J Every Day)1600995576.0
@gifdsports Defund the police or in layman's terms, stop giving them money for armored vehicles, military style clo… https://t.co/3wmyHbXtBF— Itz_Moe (@Itz_Moe)1600996066.0
@JOADAMC @gifdsports The term “defunding the police” means take some of the funding from the department to put into… https://t.co/NirYpIXyEm— #BlackLivesMatter✊🏽🤎 (@#BlackLivesMatter✊🏽🤎)1600994768.0
@gifdsports In my neighborhood, calling Ghostbusters might be a better move— I Can't Get Jiggy With This (@I Can't Get Jiggy With This)1601013256.0
@gifdsports The fact that he still doesn't know what defund the police means is disheartening. And I know he's one of many.— n a t a l i e (@n a t a l i e)1601000261.0
@gifdsports They city of Seattle which is one of the richest cities in the country just defunded the SPD. He needs… https://t.co/6n3WymWYeJ— jimmy (@jimmy)1600994452.0
@gifdsports This man has a whole research department at his disposal and couldn't bother to ask one of them what is… https://t.co/NSCCZIl58R— Stunter S. Thompson (@Stunter S. Thompson)1600995327.0
@gifdsports defund the police is bad phrasing. no one wants to get rid of the police altogether..but some of their… https://t.co/2ZWpm46zu3— Berg (@Berg)1600994899.0
While Barkley may be out of step with the majority of Black people on the issue of defunding police, his views on police abolition are for more mainstream. Just 15% of Americans in general and 22% of Black Americans support the idea of abolishing the police according to Gallup's July poll.