President Obama addressed the growing tensions between Black communities and law enforcement officials head-on during last night’s frank and honest town hall meeting.
The New York Times reports that during the televised event, President Obama defended the Black Lives Matter movement while acknowledging that oftentimes, African-Americans are racially profiled by police officers.
“Because of the history of our country and because of the images we receive when we’re growing up, et cetera, oftentimes there’s a presumption that Black men are dangerous, so that has to be worked through,” he said.
Some notable activists were present, including Erica Garner, the daughter of Eric Garner. Shortly after the telecast ended, Garner became upset, claiming that she was stifled and discouraged from asking any questions on-air, though she later met with the President privately.
“I need all of you to know that this #ABC town hall that will air at 8 pm is a sham,” she later wrote on Twitter. “They shut out ALL real and hard questions.”
Diamond Reynolds, the fiancée of Philando Castile who was present at the time of his death, appeared remotely to ask the President what he would do to address the distrust between the two parties. President Obama said that the responsibility fell on both the community and officials.
He also took a moment to address the controversial “All Lives Matter” hashtag that has emerged.
“The phrase ‘Black Lives Matter’ simply refers to the notion that there’s a specific vulnerability for African-Americans that needs to be addressed,” he said. “It’s not meant to suggest that other lives don’t matter; it’s to suggest that other folks aren’t experiencing this particular vulnerability.”