On Thursday, President Barack Obama hosted a meeting with activists from the Black Lives Matter movement and other civil rights leaders to discuss strategies t0 reform the criminal justice system. According to the president and leaders within the movement, the discussion went well with both sides engaging one another on the matters of the day.
Raw Story reports that the meeting between Obama and BLM figures such as DeRay McKesson and Brittany Packnett was as intense aa discussion as expected. Given the political climate and the ongoing battle nationwide to address the use of excessive police force, the meeting was destined to be an opportunity for this generation’s civil rights movement to finally deliver their concerns to the highest office in the land.
From Raw Story:
“They are much better organizers than I was when I was their age, and I am confident that they are going to take America to new heights,” Obama said of Brittany Packnett, DeRay Mckesson and other young protest leaders.
“The degree of focus and seriousness and constructiveness” they show reminded him of older, existing civil rights organizations, he added.
According to the White House, the meeting to bring young Black Lives Matter protesters together with long-time leaders from the civil rights movement was the “first of its kind”.
Joining the discussion in a panel format was Rev. Al Sharpton and Re. John Lewis, who also spoke on the administration’s aims to revamp the criminal justice system and building a bridge of trust between the activists and law enforcement.
McKesson called the meeting a “robust” conversation and seemed pleased that President Obama allowed the meeting to run longer than scheduled. The leader also stated that their group addressed Obama’s senior staff as well. The Baltimore native also stated he asked Obama to consider issuing an executive order that would bring about a new standard for the use of force and also train federal law enforcement officers to preserve life.
One Black Lives Matter leader out of Chicago declined to attend the meeting, stating that the meeting was nothing more than a publicity stunt. Aislinn Pulley wrote in a column for Truth Out that her attendance at the meeting would have been an essential slap in the face to the movement as she voiced doubts that the government truly wishes to address the movement’s actions.
Below and on the following pages, Mckesson and Packnett shared a series of tweets regarding their experience at the civil rights panel discussion.