Civil rights leaders gathered for a meeting with President Barack Obama Wednesday at the White House a week after a black man killed five police officers at a protest against police brutality in Texas. DeRay Mckesson, a prominent activist with the social justice movement Black Lives Matter, said the gathering was aimed at coming up with “concrete actions” to help Obama mend relations between law enforcement officials and black communities.
“We are at the @WhiteHouse right now for a 3-hour convening w/ President Obama re: the recent events in #BatonRouge & across the country,” Mckesson tweeted Wednesday. “We will bring up concrete actions @POTUS can take to make impact.”
Mckesson, who recently finished in fifth place in the Baltimore mayoral race, has made headlines for his calls for action against police brutality. Most recently, he was arrested over the weekend in Louisiana during a protest in Baton Rouge.
“At times, all 50 of us were in one cell, unable to all sit, sleeping on the floor or under the benches,” he tweeted at the time. “But our spirits remained strong.”
— deray (@deray) July 13, 2016
Brittany Packnett, a Minneapolis-based Black Lives Matter leader, also attended the White House meeting, as did law enforcement officials, civil rights leaders and local politicians, The Hill reported. The meeting Wednesday came a week after a U.S. Army veteran attacked police officers in Dallas last week during a Black Lives Matter protest highlighting the recent high-profile killings by police of black men in Minnesota and Louisiana.
“I think it’s the president’s desire to try to move the ball forward and make some progress in helping communities identify steps that they can take to address this problem,” White House spokesman Josh Earnest told reporters.
Obama attended a memorial service for the slain officers Tuesday in Texas. He said law enforcement officials largely do their job, but some have acted in prejudice against people of color.
“We have all seen this bigotry in our lives at some point,” Obama said. “None of us is entirely innocent. No institution is entirely immune. And that includes our police departments. We know this.”