Barack Obama doubles down on ‘defund the police’ critique

Former President Barack Obama doubled down on his ‘defund the police’ criticism saying the slogan concerns not just white people but individuals like his mother-in-law who may fear officers won’t help them in times of need if the system changes.  

Obama faced backlash earlier this month for saying the ‘snappy slogan’ could alienate people. 

In an interview with The Daily Show on Tuesday he said more people would support the movement if it was better explained, adding the slogan ‘defund the police’ may sound too scary for some people to support.  

‘I think the concern is there may be potential allies out there that you’d lose. The issue always is how do you get enough people to support your cause that you can actually institutionalize it and translate it into laws?’ he said to host Trevor Noah.

‘But if we say defund the police, not just white folks, but Michelle’s mom might say, “if I’m getting robbed who am I going to call and is somebody going to show up?”‘ he said, mentioning his mother-in-law Marian Shields Robinson. 

Former President Barack Obama defended his stance on the 'defund the police' saying he never meant to 'chastize' the movement, but its phrasing may not sit well with people like his mother-in-law

Former President Barack Obama defended his stance on the 'defund the police' saying he never meant to 'chastize' the movement, but its phrasing may not sit well with people like his mother-in-law

Former President Barack Obama defended his stance on the ‘defund the police’ saying he never meant to ‘chastize’ the movement, but its phrasing may not sit well with people like his mother-in-law

'If we say defund the police, not just white folks, but Michelle’s mom might say, "if I’m getting robbed who am I going to call?:' he said of his mother-in-law Marian Robinson, pictured above with Michelle Obama in 2014

'If we say defund the police, not just white folks, but Michelle’s mom might say, "if I’m getting robbed who am I going to call?:' he said of his mother-in-law Marian Robinson, pictured above with Michelle Obama in 2014

‘If we say defund the police, not just white folks, but Michelle’s mom might say, “if I’m getting robbed who am I going to call?:’ he said of his mother-in-law Marian Robinson, pictured above with Michelle Obama in 2014

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Obama said police reform is a ‘very legitimate belief’, but the slogan can be polarizing for some. 

‘If there is, for example, a homeless guy ranting and railing in the middle of the street, sending a mental health worker rather than an armed untrained police officer to deal with that person might be a better outcome or all of us and make us safer,’ he said. 

‘If we describe that to not just white folks but say Michelle’s mom, that makes sense to them,’ he added.

The 59-year-old Democrat said he was shocked at the criticism he received following his critique of the ‘defund the police’ slogan.

‘There were two or three writers, who I admire, who wrote Obama’s making it his mission to chastise Black Lives Matter. What? Hold on a second, I just spent the whole summer complimenting them. What are you talking about?’ he said. 

He clarified that he wasn’t pointing to the Defund the Police movement as the reason Democrats lost seats in the Congressional election, as some liberals have. 

The 59-year-old Democrat said he was shocked at the criticism he received following his critique of the 'defund the police' slogan. 'There were two or three writers, who I admire, who wrote Obama’s making it his mission to chastise Black Lives Matter. What? Hold on a second, I just spent the whole summer complimenting them. What are you talking about?' he said

The 59-year-old Democrat said he was shocked at the criticism he received following his critique of the 'defund the police' slogan. 'There were two or three writers, who I admire, who wrote Obama’s making it his mission to chastise Black Lives Matter. What? Hold on a second, I just spent the whole summer complimenting them. What are you talking about?' he said

The 59-year-old Democrat said he was shocked at the criticism he received following his critique of the ‘defund the police’ slogan. ‘There were two or three writers, who I admire, who wrote Obama’s making it his mission to chastise Black Lives Matter. What? Hold on a second, I just spent the whole summer complimenting them. What are you talking about?’ he said

‘The reason it caught attention I suspect is there were some in the Democratic party who suggested the reason we didn’t do better in the Congressional elections was because of this phrase… That actually was not the point I was making,’ he said. 

‘The issue here becomes, at any given time, how are we translating and using language,’ Obama said. 

‘Not to make people more “comfortable”, because that’s always a strain and historically the concern in these debates is often, “Are we just trying to make white people comfortable, rather than speaking truth to power?’ he said.

‘The issue to me is not making them comfortable, it is: Can we be precise with our language enough that people who might be persuaded around that particular issue to make a particular change that gets a particular result that we want — what’s the best way for us to describe that?’ he added.

Protesters have continued to push 'defund the police' since the Memorial Day death of George Floyd, who died under the knee of a white Milwaukee cop, as well as other black Americans, including Breonna Taylor and Rayshard Brooks, who were killed by law enforcement

Protesters have continued to push 'defund the police' since the Memorial Day death of George Floyd, who died under the knee of a white Milwaukee cop, as well as other black Americans, including Breonna Taylor and Rayshard Brooks, who were killed by law enforcement

Protesters have continued to push ‘defund the police’ since the Memorial Day death of George Floyd, who died under the knee of a white Milwaukee cop, as well as other black Americans, including Breonna Taylor and Rayshard Brooks, who were killed by law enforcement 

The movement seeks to divest funds from police agencies and reallocate them to non-policing forms of public safety such as social services, sending out mental health workers to people in mental crisis, and other community resources

The movement seeks to divest funds from police agencies and reallocate them to non-policing forms of public safety such as social services, sending out mental health workers to people in mental crisis, and other community resources

The movement seeks to divest funds from police agencies and reallocate them to non-policing forms of public safety such as social services, sending out mental health workers to people in mental crisis, and other community resources 

Obama has been doing a series of interviews to promote his new book ‘A Promise Land’ chronicling his presidential campaign and first few years in office.

In early December in an interview with Peter Hamby’s Snapchat show Good Luck America he said ‘snappy’ slogans like ‘defund the police’ can alienate people.

‘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 told Hamby.

Protesters have continued to push ‘defund the police’ since the Memorial Day death of George Floyd, who died under the knee of a white Milwaukee cop, as well as other black Americans, including Breonna Taylor and Rayshard Brooks, who were killed by law enforcement.

Their chant has become a rallying cry — and a stick for President Donald Trump to use on Democrats as he portrays them as soft on crime.

The movement seeks to divest funds from police agencies and reallocate them to non-policing forms of public safety such as social services, sending out mental health workers to people in mental crisis, and other community resources.

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