Today several Ferguson protest leaders met with Barack Obama in the White House.
** Ashley Yates, Millennial Activists United
** Rasheen Aldridge, Young Activists St. Louis
** Brittany Packnett, St. Louis educator and activist
** T-Dubb-O, St. Louis hip-hop artist
** James Hayes, Ohio Students Association
** Phillip Agnew, Dream Defenders
** Jose Lopez, Make the Road New York
Barack Obama met with the lead instigators of the Ferguson and Dellwood riots today in the White House to discuss how the local police have terrorized Ferguson.
The Ferguson Action page reported:
It has been one week since a St. Louis County grand jury failed to indict Officer Darren Wilson for shooting Michal Brown, an unarmed teenager, six times in the head, chest and arms. Communities nationwide have responded to the miscarriage of justice by carrying out more than 150 sustained, coordinated and intense protest actions that show no signs of letting up. Primarily led by young people of color, the continued sit-ins, highway shutdowns and walkouts have commanded the White House’s attention.
Today President Barack Obama, Vice President Joe Biden and Attorney General Eric Holder met with seven Black and Latino organizers – from Ferguson, Mo.; Columbus, Ohio; Miami, Florida; and New York City – who have been leading some of the ongoing actions to disrupt a status quo that is intolerable.
“The president requested this meeting because this is a movement that cannot be ignored,” said Ashley Yates, a co-founder of the St. Louis-based organization, Millennial Activists United. “We have two sets of laws in America – one for young Black and Brown people, and one for the police. We are sick and tired of our lives not mattering, and our organized movement will not relent until we see justice.”
The young leaders conveyed the experience of a traumatized community in Ferguson, where police have terrorized peaceful protesters with pointed guns, rubber bullets, chemical agents, bean bags and menacing threats. They further discussed the routine harassment and violence that many police departments inflict on countless communities of color across America, and their demands for the federal government to hold police departments that use excessive force accountable.
Ashley Yates told The Guardian the community had every right to riot before the verdict was announced:
“If they can’t serve justice in this, the people have every right to go out and express their rage in a manner that is equal to what we have suffered,” said Ashley Yates, a co-founder of Millennial Activists United, who was arrested last week while protesting in Ferguson.
Yates spoke alongside Tef Poe and Tory Russell, activists for Hands Up United and the Organisation for Black Struggle, hours after it emerged that authorities in Missouri were making plans to deal with potential riots in the event of Wilson avoiding prosecution.
“We’re going to take our anger out on the people who have failed us, and if they are prepared to deal with that, then let them have at it,” said Yates. Poe said that while people in America often expected “casual revolution”, Ferguson may be “the moment when we can’t do that”.