Black Lives Matter co-founder Alicia Garza rebuked President Obama’s criticism of the “defund the police” movement as a “snappy” slogan, Fox News reports.
“What I want to hear from former President Barack Obama if he’s going to use his vast platform for these conversations, what I want to hear from President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris, is: what are you going to do?” Garza asked in an interview for Politico’s Women Rule Capstone event. “And that’s what we haven’t heard amid all this hoopla about ‘defund the police.’”
There were disagreements among the Democrats over “defund the police” movement and the growing push towards socialism after a poor performance in the House in November.
“You lost a big audience the minute you say it,” Obama said of the anti-police effort, adding that “snappy” slogans may draw attention but it “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?” Obama told Peter Hamby, host of Snapchat’s “Good Luck America.”
Joe Biden has previously said he does not support defunding the police, but promised to invest in community projects and social programs to lessen the burden on the police and install a national police oversight commission in the first 100 days of his presidency.
“This movement, which really helped to push [Biden’s] campaign over the finish line, was used as a political football all throughout this election cycle and that was true in 2016 as well,” Garza said. “There’s a lot of valuable airspace that was used to be condescending to the very people who have opened the imagination of what this country can be — and how we can get closer to the promise that this country has offered to so many.”
“Defund the Police” became part of the demand for change during mass Black Lives Matter protests in all 50 states following the killing of George Floyd in Police custody.
Garza said she is looking for Congress and the Biden-Harris administration to make policy changes addressing police brutality and police accountability. She endorsed the The BREATHE Act, drafted by Black Lives Matter activists, and introduced by Democratic Reps. Rashida Tlaib of Michigan and Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts. The four-part legislative proposal calls for divestment from law enforcement agencies and investment in communities of color, according to Politico.
The BREATHE act proposes eliminating life sentences, expunging drug crimes for non-violent criminals, shutting down and defunding multiple federal agencies and permanently closing prisons and immigration detention centers, among other agenda items, according to Fox News.
Garza, who as principal of the Black Futures Lab polls Black political behavior, said Democrats could do a better job of engaging their base, with a number of them voters of color and BLM “is not only changing conversations but it’s changing laws,” Politico reports.
“There are not enough of us looking at how we legislate — how we make the rules, how we shape the rules, how we change the rules of not just policy but of our society and our culture,” Garza explained. “And how we do so in a way that doesn’t just rely on symbols but relies on substance.”
The Breathe act also seeks to end gang databases, establish pilot programs for a universal basic income, and afford voting rights and “lifetime education” to all undocumented immigrants and incarcerated individuals, Fox News reported.