John Legend says he’s “frustrated” by Democrats who want to increase law enforcement funding, saying more money won’t solve policing problems across the country.
“Spending more and more on police with no upper limit is not the solution,” the “All of Me” singer said in an interview with The Guardian published Sunday.
“I’m frustrated by Democrats who believe that throwing more money at policing is going to solve these problems and are not looking at the root causes,” Legend, 43, said.
The criminal justice reform advocate, who last month issued endorsements in half a dozen local district attorney races, said he was “mystified” by opponents of calls to “defund the police,” saying, “we haven’t defunded the police.”
“We’ve increased funding, especially due to the American Rescue Plan,” the EGOT winner said.
“The solution to homelessness is increasing the supply of affordable housing and supportive housing. We can’t send the police out to ‘clean up the streets.’ Where are we going to put these folks? In jail?” Legend asked.
Asked if he’s concerned that the country will return “to the panic of the 1990s” regarding criminal sentencing, Legend replied, “I am worried about it. Back then, it was bipartisan, and now seeing how [President] Biden and others talk about crime, it sounds bipartisan, too.”
“I know that they’re responding to people’s real fears, and I really do empathize,” continued Legend, who has been open about his mother’s substance abuse and incarceration when he was a child.
“I’ve had friends who have been victims of crime recently. It’s not an illusion that people are seeing crime go up since the pandemic. People are apprehensive and afraid. They feel less safe, and we can’t just say, ‘You’re not experiencing what you’re experiencing,’” Legend, one of Hollywood’s most outspoken Democratic supporters, said.
“But we have to say that there are better solutions than more police and prisons. And politicians have the ability to lead on this issue and not just follow or propose Band-Aids. They can focus on systemic issues that cause crime and actually in the long run make people safer.”