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Tyler Perry on defunding the police: 'I am not for taking money from the police'

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Media mogul Tyler Perry appeared on Anderson Cooper 360 Wednesday night and weighed in on calls to defund the police as nationwide protests against police violence continue. To some, defunding the police means redirecting funds to other places like social or mental health programs. To others, it means to abolish the police completely. Perry doesn’t fall into either category.

“You gotta understand this,” Perry said, “I am not for taking money from the police department. I think we need more police. My studio is in a neighborhood where I think we need police. But we don’t need police that are undertrained.”

Perry showed support for the police by teaming up with them earlier in July to help spread good will to the people of Atlanta when he bought 1,000 Kroger gift cards for the police to hand out to residents. But, despite his support, he believes that reforms are needed and agrees with some of the reforms being called for by the movement.

“I think we need the police. I know that I need the police. I have several that work for me here at the studio. We need them. But we need them reformed,” Perry said, “we need them trained well, we need the right structure. Some of the things inside of defund the police, I really understand. Like having officers who are clinically trained to deal with certain situations. I think all of those things are helpful, but taking money from the police department to make the police department smaller, that troubles me.”

Perry explained why he was troubled when he first heard of defunding the police, and it didn’t have anything at all to do with actually defunding the police.

“When I first heard it, I was troubled by it,” Perry said. “I thought, ‘OK, this is gonna be weaponized in this political year.’ I completely thought that that was happening, that’s exactly what’s happened. It’s been weaponized.”

Perry also spoke about the optimism he felt when he first saw so many people of all different races protesting across the country after George Floyd was killed by a Minneapolis police officer, and why that optimism was short-lived.

“I became very, very optimistic when everybody galvanized together, because I know that’s when change comes. When people galvanize and come together as one, that’s when change happens,” Perry said. “But lately, I’ve been very, very concerned that the message is being hijacked by some other groups, or political ads and parties that are trying to stop the message of what we’re asking for here is police reform.”

Anderson Cooper 360 airs weeknights at 8 p.m. on CNN.

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