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The 'Squad' claps back at Obama after he criticizes 'Defund the Police' slogan

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'It's not a slogan but a policy demand'

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The "Squad" is not happy with former President Barack Obama.

After Obama noted in an interview that slogans like "defund the police" don't exactly help Democrats appeal to most Americans, members of the progressive congressional "Squad," including Reps. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) and Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.), criticized the former president.

"We lose people in the hands of police. It's not a slogan but a policy demand," Omar tweeted in response to Obama. "And centering the demand for equitable investments and budgets for communities across the country gets us progress and safety."

During the interview, which was released on Wednesday, Obama responded to a question asking for his advice to young progressive activists who have popularized the controversial slogan.

"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.

"Defund the Police" was a slogan adopted by the activist left calling for a redistribution of government funding away from law enforcement and toward other social services. It is a literal call to decrease police funding.

Obama's criticism of the slogan was not well received by the activist left.

"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," said Congresswoman-elect Cori Bush, a Black Lives Matter activist who won a House seat in Missouri's 1st Congressional District in November. "It's not a slogan. It's a mandate for keeping our people alive. Defund the police."

"Lives are at stake daily so I'm out of patience with critiques of the language of activists," Pressley said.

Democrats are still reeling from a crushing performance in the 2020 congressional elections in which their majority in the House of Representatives shrunk and they failed to win several races that pollsters and pundits predicted would be easy pick ups. On a conference call that took place shortly after Election Day, several congressional Democrats, including party leaders like House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn (D-S.C.), warned that running on pro-socialism platforms or advocating for policies like defending the police would prevent Democrats from winning in the future.

Far-left members of the Democratic conference insist, however, that the party underperformed in the election because they did not unify around those messages. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) in particular has chastised party leadership for running to the center. After Obama's comments were published, Ocasio-Cortez defended far-left activists who are making people "uncomfortable."

"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," she tweeted. "It wasn't until they made folks uncomfortable that there was traction to do ANYTHING even if it wasn't their full demands."

"The whole point of protesting is to make ppl [sic] uncomfortable," she continued.

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