BARACK Obama has slammed the Defund The Police movement – saying it made white people fear African-Americans will "get out of control".
The former president also said the controversial slogan – endorsed by some Democrats – actually made it harder to reform police forces.
Defund The Police became a rallying cry for left-wing activists in the summer following Black Live Matter protests.
After several police forces across the US were accused of killing and brutalising black citizens, campaigners wanted their budgets slashed or for them to be dismantled altogether.
Obama joined other senior Democrats who say that only served to alienate the majority of voters.
He told CNN analyst April Ryan he first realized the contempt many white Americans felt on the subject of police reform after he condemned the arrest of black Harvard professor in 2009.
Henry Louis Gates Jr was detained by cops in Cambridge, Massachusetts, after a neighbor reported a possible break-in – even though he proved it was his house.
Obama said: “This became a big controversy.
“Just the fact that I was seen as questioning the police… really upset a bunch of folks and I think it indicated the degree to which the issue of police relations with minority communities, and the black community in particular, is always a hot topic.
“It is something that unearths or escalates fears within the white population that somehow the African American community is going to get out of control in some way or is not respecting authority.”
Obama said he believes what the black community is looking for today is “good and fair policing”.
Obama also criticised the Defund The Police campaign in a separate interview with Peter Hamby, host of Snapchat’s Good Luck America.
He accused anti-police activists of trying to please each another rather than push for policy changes that might appeal to the broader public.
He said of the "snappy" slogan: “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.”
He went on: “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?”
The Black Lives Matter movement rose during Obama's administration after Trayvon Martin, 17, was shot dead by a neighborhood watch captain.
It exploded in the last year Donald Trump's presidency after a number of black men died at the hands of police including George Floyd in Minnesota.
New York Mayor Bill de Blasio became the first high-profile figure to endorse calls to Defund The Police when he said he was diverting money from cops to social services.
But Joe Biden alienated activists in the Democratic Party when he said he didn’t support the campaign.
He has said he supports banning chokeholds and creating a national police oversight committee, but not stripping departments of funding.
Obama accused Trump of "fanning" racial tensions with claims of a breakdown in law and order.
And he said Biden cannot "fix" the deep divisions in society, can but "set a tone of inclusion".
He was speaking as part of a round of interview to promote his memoir A Promised Land.
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