Democrat Rep. Henry Cuellar now says he doesn’t believe in defunding police after being carjacked in Washington, D.C.
By Cassie B. // Oct 04, 2023

Representative Henry Cuellar (D-Texas), who has voted in the past for measures that would facilitate defunding the police, has now said that he does not believe in cutting funding to police after being carjacked at gunpoint by three men near his home in Washington, D.C.

The incident took place on Monday night at around 9:30 pm, when three young men came up behind him, pointed a gun at him and demanded his keys. It occurred just blocks away from the U.S. Capitol in the Navy Yard neighborhood, which is widely considered one of the nicer neighborhoods in the city and is home to numerous lawmakers.

Cuellar recounted what happened to the media: "I was just coming into my place. Three guys came out of nowhere and they pointed guns at me. I do have a black belt, but I recognize when you got three, three guns -- I looked at one with a gun and another with a gun, a third one behind me -- So they said they wanted my car. I said, 'Sure.'”

He added that he thinks being calm in these circumstances was the right approach. He was not hurt in the incident.

According to a witness, the suspects were three black men wearing knit caps and ski masks who appeared to be around 16 years old. Police have recovered the vehicle and Rep. Cuellar's phone, and the FBI and the Capitol Police already have leads in the case.

According to the D.C. Police Union, armed robberies in Ward 6, which is where the carjacking took place, have risen by 95 percent compared to last year. Carjackings have also risen 57 percent overall in D.C., where well over two carjackings are reported each day. Violent crime is up 40 percent overall year over year in D.C., while property crime is also surging.

The city also recently surpassed its 200th homicide for the year, reaching a 38 percent rise over the same period last year. It took until late December to reach this milestone in 2022.

Despite all this rising crime, 173 House Democrats voted in February to reduce the penalties associated with carjackings and many other types of violent crimes in D.C.

Although Cuellar initially voiced reservations about voting for an $82 million spending bill because it contained provisions that would facilitate defunding police, he ultimately ended up voting against an amendment that would take out the language making it easier to defund the police. He also voted for the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act, which sought to hold police more accountable and end racial profiling.

Cuellar says penalties for crimes should be higher

However, Cuellar is now praising the police and pointed out that he has law enforcement officers in his family. He also accused some of this fellow Democrats of going too far with their support for reducing police funding and supporting criminal justice reforms.

He said in an interview with Fox News: “I don’t believe in defunding the police. I voted against what the Washington, D.C., Council did to lower penalties. I think that’s a wrong direction. I was one of 30 Democrats that we don’t feel that you affect crime by lowering the penalties. You ought to increase the penalty.”

Several lawmakers have taken the opportunity to amplify calls to come down harder on criminals.

Representative Burgess Owens (R-Utah) posted on X: "Rep. Cuellar was carjacked near my same DC apartment building. This chaos is the result of Democrat-led Soft on Crime policies, no different than their Open Border debacle. It's time for Democrats to start taking the safety of Americans seriously."

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell spoke out against rising crime in D.C. on the Senate floor, acknowledging that Americans face these crimes every day.

"American families deserve to feel safe in their homes and in their neighborhoods, and certainly in the nation's capital. It shouldn't take another assault or carjacking or homicide to convince local leaders to actually start doing their jobs," he stated.

Sources for this article include:

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