Black Activists Want More From Obama On Policing

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As President Obama responds to the latest fatal confrontations between police officers and black men, he has confronted a growing list of expectations that young black activists have placed on him. Black Lives Matter activists and others who share their goals have questioned why a president they see as uniquely aware of racism is not doing more to help them, reports the New York Times. “I feel like the black community is not being listened to, including by the president,” said Erica Garner, whose father, Eric, was killed in 2014 by a New York City officer who placed him in a chokehold. “We can’t expect him to do everything, but he is the leader, and he can point us in the right direction to ensure that we can get justice.”

Obama gave his condolences to Ms. Garner but said he could not do more in her case during an open Justice Department investigation into what happened to her father. White House officials have said that Black Lives Matter activists had grievances but few constructive suggestions. “The goal of protest isn’t just to protest for the sake of protesting,” Obama said at a town-hall-style meeting last week. “The goal of protest is to then get the attention of decision-makers and sit down and say, ‘Here’s what we would like to see,’ and have a negotiation, which over time can actually lead to improvements in the system.” Brittany Packnett, a member of Obama’s commission on policing that reported last year, said she had encouraged fellow activists to aim high in what they are asking of the president, even as her own expectations of what he can do are tempered by experience. “We should absolutely ask for everything that we need from this president,” said Ms. Packnett, who has met with Obama several times, including last week. “And also know that we’re not going to get it all now, and we’re not going to get it all from him.”

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