'It's not a slogan': Progressives push back on Obama's comments on 'defund the police' movement

Rep.-elect Cori Bush (D-Mo.) and other progressive Democrats are pushing back against comments former President ObamaBarack Hussein ObamaTop nuclear policy appointee removed from Pentagon post: report Prosecutors face legal challenges over obstruction charge in Capitol riot cases Biden makes early gains eroding Trump's environmental legacy MORE made in a recent interview in which he warned that candidates could risk losing support from some voters by using “snappy” slogans like “defund the police.”

“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 of "defund the police" in an interview with “Good Luck America” host Peter Hamby released early Wednesday.

“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?” Obama added.

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The comments drew immediate pushback from Bush and other progressives after they first surfaced in an Axios report published Tuesday afternoon ahead of the interview’s release.

“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,” tweeted Bush, a Black Lives Matter activist and nurse who rose to prominence earlier this year when she defeated longtime Rep. Wm. Lacy ClayWilliam (Lacy) Lacy ClayCori Bush hits her stride by drawing on activist past Lobbying world Ex-Rep. Clay joins law and lobbying firm Pillsbury MORE (Mo.) in the Democratic House primary for Missouri's 1st District. 

“It’s not a slogan. It’s a mandate for keeping our people alive. Defund the police,” Bush added.

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Calls to “defund the police” grew among progressives earlier this year following the police killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and other Black Americans, incidents that sparked months of protests against police brutality and racism nationwide.

Supporters of the movement advocate for money allocated for police departments to instead be shifted to community and social programs.

Rep. Ilhan OmarIlhan OmarHolding back on defensive systems for Israel could have dangerous consequences The Memo: Biden's immigration problems reach crescendo in Del Rio Pentagon 'aware' of reports Wisconsin military base's struggle to feed, heat Afghan refugees MORE (D-Minn.) wrote Tuesday night that the push is “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 added on Twitter.

Not long after, Rep. Ayanna PressleyAyanna PressleyHolding back on defensive systems for Israel could have dangerous consequences Warren, Bush offer bill to give HHS power to impose eviction moratorium Haitians stuck in Texas extend Biden's immigration woes MORE (D-Mass.) also took to Twitter to say she was “out of patience with critiques of the language of activists."

“The murders of generations of unarmed Black folks by police have been horrific … Whatever a grieving family says is their truth. And I’ll never stop fighting for their justice & healing,” she wrote.

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In a series of tweets on Wednesday afternoon, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-CortezAlexandria Ocasio-CortezDon't let partisan politics impede Texas' economic recovery Ocasio-Cortez explains 'present' vote on Iron Dome Dingell fundraises off Greene altercation on Capitol steps MORE (D-N.Y.) said it wasn’t until activists “said ‘defund’ that comfortable people started paying [attention] to brutality.”

“The thing that critics of activists don’t get is that they tried playing the 'polite language' policy game and all it did was make them easier to ignore. It wasn’t until they made folks uncomfortable that there was traction to do ANYTHING even if it wasn’t their full demands,” the New York Democrat wrote. 

“The whole point of protesting is to make ppl uncomfortable. Activists take that discomfort w/ the status quo & advocate for concrete policy changes,” she continued. “Popular support often starts small & grows."

"To folks who complain protest demands make others uncomfortable ... that’s the point,” she added.

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