The former President claimed the slogan "alienated" people rather than bringing them together. Progressive Democrats regretted his comments.
Former President Barack Obama has received severe backlash from progressive members of Congress for his comments about the Defund the Police campaign. Minnesota House Representative Ilhan Omar criticized his statements, affirming that the phrase "defund the police" was more than just a slogan. A slew of other politicians joined her, including Missouri Representative-elect Cori Bush. Obama claimed that "snappy slogans" like "defund the police" were alienating people. He cautioned young activists against using such phrases if they care about bringing genuine reforms to the police in the United States, BBC News reports. As it stands, it appears that the former President may represent an old order of the Democratic Party.
Yes We Can Defund The Police— Benjamin Dixon (@BenjaminPDixon) December 2, 2020
Speaking with Peter Hamby on the Snapchat original political show Good Luck America, Obama stated, "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. 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?" Omar took to Twitter responding, "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."
Note: While Obama is talking about “snappy” slogans, as if that’s the real issue here, Biden has already said that he believes police departments need *more* money. This isn’t about a difference in marketing strategy, but fundamental opposition to a movement.— Kirsten West Savali (@KWestSavali) December 2, 2020
The Minnesota Representative was not the only person to take a stand against Obama. Also on Twitter, Representative Bush chimed in, "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." Charles Booker, another newcomer, and Kentucky's youngest black state lawmaker, also tweeted, "We didn’t lose Breonna because of a slogan. Instead of conceding this narrative, let’s shape our own. It’s time we listen to the people, organize and build coalitions around our own message, and cast a vision that inspires us all to lead for change at the ballot box and beyond."
Perhaps the former President represents the old order of Democratic leadership. While his pal and former Vice President Joe Biden have plans to spend more on funding police departments, a growing 'Squad' of progressives is fighting to prevent this. Among the Defund the Police campaign's demands include divesting funds from police departments and reallocating them to non-policing forms of public safety and community support, such as social services, youth services, housing, education, healthcare, and other community resources. While some activists within the campaign look for moderate reform, others argue for full divestment as a step toward the abolition of contemporary police services.
this is the best explanation I've seen for "defund the police" as a slogan and policypic.twitter.com/O5tUNk4IQQ— ☀️👀 (@zei_squirrel) December 2, 2020
Whether these demands will realistically be met across the United States during these politicians' lifetime is still questionable. Nonetheless, various cities have already made headway. For instance, in June this year alone, the Baltimore City Council approved a $22.4 million budget cut for the police department and the Portland City Council cut $15 million from its police budget. Sarah Johnson, the director of Local Progress, affirmed, "What is really inspiring is really seeing this movement in city after city after city really working to define for those places what public safety looks like, and what our budget should look like. It's kind of a reflection of our values as a society." Local Progress is a movement of local elected officials advancing a racial and economic justice agenda across all levels of local government.