Obama Praises 'Outstanding Work' of Black Lives Matter Organizers at White House Meeting
President Barack Obama met with civil rights leaders on Thursday afternoon to discuss issues such as criminal justice reform and building trust between the police and the communities they serve.
The list of invitees included representatives from the NAACP, Black Lives Matter, and the National Urban League, as well as University of Missouri student organizer DeShaunya Ware and the Reverend Al Sharpton. Obama praised the Black Lives Matter leaders in attendance, saying they have "made history" and done "outstanding work."
Aislinn Pulley, a representative of Black Lives Matter Chicago, declined the invitation, saying in an article at Truthout.org, that she would not participate in what she called “basically a photo opportunity” for the president.
The clash between Republicans and the president over filling the Supreme Court vacancy also came up, with the Reverend Al characterizing the standoff as a "civil rights violation."
"We see it as a civil rights violation for them to in any way impair the Constitution of this country and to act as if the president is anything less than the president of the United States until January 20, 2017," the Rev. Al Sharpton told reporters after the private meeting. "He cannot be minimalized, marginalized or disregarded without doing the same to the American people."
Sharpton's sentiment captured long-held suspicions among many blacks that Obama has faced greater political opposition and public disrespect because of his race. Sharpton said Obama should not be "profiled any different than any other president in American history."
In his remarks following the meeting, Obama praised the some of the community organizers in attendance by name, including Black Lives Matter agitator Deray McKesson.
"We've got some young people here who are making history as we speak," Obama said. "People like Brittany [Packnett] who served on our Police Task Force in the wake of Ferguson and has led many of the protests that took place there and shined a light on the injustice that was happening. People like Deray McKesson who has done some outstanding work mobilizing in Baltimore around these issues -- and to see generations who are continuing to work on behalf of justice and equality and economic opportunity is greatly encouraging to me."
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