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Bush posted on Twitter more than a dozen messages filled with hateful and threatening language that she has received. “White supremacists wanted me dead before I came to Congress,” she tweeted in a description. “And white supremacist threats on my life have only intensified as a Black woman speaking truth in the halls of power. Just know: They won’t stop us. They can’t.”

In one message Bush shared, she was told to “tone it down b—h.” “You’re going to get yourself murdered if you keep running off that big old gorilla mouth,” the unnamed writer penned. “You ever see what you look like when you are spewing that s–t? You need to be put into a f–king cage at the zoo. Instead of police reform, how about N—-r reform. As they say in the country, “The only good n—-r is a dead n—-r.”  In another message, the congresswoman was called a “bed-wench” and “porch monkey n—-r.” And in yet another of the inhumane messages, someone wrote: “i hope somebody defuses your head from your body.”

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While the disgusting messages prompted Democratic legislators like Sen. Cory Booker and Rep. Jamaal Bowman to issue statements of support for Bush, Republicans instead criticized Bush for feeling the need to protect herself and her staff. And they often relied on their misinterpretation of the defund-the-police-movement to do so, author Chris Boutté pointed out even before Bush revealed the specific hate messages she’s received. “Here’s my question: Is the article’s definition of ‘defund the police’ the same as Cori Bush’s?” he asked on Twitter. “Hit pieces make it seem as though defund means abolish. It actually means to reallocate SOME funds to better community services.”

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The movement to defund or demilitarize the police pushes government officials to rethink how cities utilize police departments and reallocate a portion of police budgets to mental health, education, and social services. It gained traction following the death of George Floyd, a Black man murdered by ex-Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin when the officer kneeled on his neck for more than nine minutes. In responding to former president Barack Obama’s criticism of the phrase ‘defund the police,’ Bush responded in a tweet with the stories of Michael Brown and Breonna Taylor, other Black people killed at the hands of police. 

With all due respect, Mr. President—let’s talk about losing people,” Bush said in her tweet. “We lost Michael Brown Jr. We lost Breonna Taylor. We’re losing our loved ones to police violence. It’s not a slogan. It’s a mandate for keeping our people alive. Defund the police.”

Brown, an 18-year-old Black man, was shot at least six times and killed by a white police officer in Ferguson, Missouri. Despite the common narrative that Brown was suspected of robbing a convenience store, officers admitted they had no knowledge Brown was a robbery suspect and had only stopped him for walking in the street. Breonna Taylor, a 26-year-old emergency medical technician, was sleeping on March 13 when Kentucky police who had obtained a “no-knock” drug warrant bashed in her door and shot her eight times even though no drugs were found in her apartment and the person authorities were searching for was already in custody in Louisville that night.

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