Former President Barack Obama has come under fire by progressive Democrats after criticizing the ‘defund the police’ campaign and referring to the phrase as a ‘snappy slogan.’
Obama weighed in on the police reform movement during an interview on Peter Hamby’s Snapchat show Good Luck America that aired Wednesday morning.
The president told the host that ‘snappy’ slogans like ‘defund the police’ could alienate people and potentially undermine the cause.
‘You lost a big audience the minute you say it, which makes it a lot less likely that you’re actually going to get the changes you want done,’ Obama said.
‘The key is deciding, do you want to actually get something done, or do you want to feel good among the people you already agree with?’
His comments drew backlash from several progressive Democrats who support the movement including ‘The Squad’ members Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ilhan Omar, Ayanna Pressley and Rashida Tlaib as well as Rep-elect Cori Bush.
‘With all due respect, Mr President—let’s talk about losing people. 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,’ Bush tweeted on Tuesday.
Omar also responded to the comments in a similar statement saying the phrase was a policy demand rather than a slogan.
‘We lose people in the hands of police. It’s not a slogan but a policy demand. And centering the demand for equitable investments and budgets for communities across the country gets us progress and safety,’ she tweeted.
The former president had been referring to the expression adopted by BLM and police reform activists this summer following the death of George Floyd, who died under the knee of a white Minneapolis cop in May, as well as other black Americans including Breonna Taylor and Rayshard Brooks, who were killed by law enforcement.
The chant has since become a rallying cry – as well as a stick for President Donald Trump to portray Democrats as soft on crime.
The phrase had also drawn criticism from those who believes it intends to get rid of law enforcement and encourage lawlessness.
Supporters however argue that the movement isn’t about eliminating police departments or stripping agencies of all of their money.
Activists say it is more about taking positive steps towards police reform in America by spending more on what communities across the US need, such as housing and education.
Massachusetts Rep. Pressley also fired back at Obama, saying she was fed up with the debate on semantics.
‘The murders of generations of unarmed Black folks by police have been horrific. Lives are at stake daily so I’m out of patience with critiques of the language of activists. Whatever a grieving family says is their truth. And I’ll never stop fighting for their justice & healing,’ she said on Twitter.
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SOURCE: Daily Mail, Karen Ruiz and Valerie Edwards