Former President Barack Obama is more about “debunk the phrase” or “denounce the idea” when he criticized the “Defund the Police” movement.
The comments are part of a three-part interview that Obama did with Peter Hamby, host of Snapchat’s “Good Luck America.” The first part was released early Wednesday with the second and third parts set to follow Thursday and Friday.
“If you believe, as I do, that we should be able to reform the criminal justice system so that it’s not biased and treats everybody fairly, I guess you can use a snappy slogan like ‘Defund The Police,’ but, you know, 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 in a message to young activists.
“But if you instead say, ‘Let’s reform the police department so that everybody’s being treated fairly, you know, divert young people from getting into crime, and if there was a homeless guy, can maybe we send a mental health worker there instead of an armed unit that could end up resulting in a tragedy?’ Suddenly, a whole bunch of folks who might not otherwise listen to you are listening to you.”
Obama said those activists were using rhetoric that reached each other but not a larger audience. His former vice president, President-elect Joe Biden, lost some support when he campaigned that he did not support the “Defund the Police” effort as scrutiny rose over police’s killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and others.
“And if you want to get something done in a democracy, in a country as big and diverse as ours, then you’ve got to be able to meet people where they are,” Obama said. “Play a game of addition and not subtraction.”
Plus law enforcement reform, minus “Defund the Police.”