The Black Lives Matter movement was called out by U.S. President Barack Obama on the international stage on Saturday. During a town hall meeting catering to young people in London, England, Obama spoke out against some of the tactics of the Black Lives Matter movement, which has been disrupting Hillary Clinton campaign events with increasingly volatile protests.
As Bloomberg reports, Obama began his town hall with the London youth by crediting the Black Lives Matter movement for effectively bringing the very real problem of U.S. police brutality into the spotlight and keeping it there. The POTUS, however, went on to say that the Black Lives Matter activists need to evolve their game plan for dealing with political leaders beyond merely “yelling at them.”
Obama told those in attendance that, in general, political activists must be willing to sit down and speak with political leaders and openly compromise with them to bring about political change once they’ve effectively gotten their leaders’ attention, which the Black Lives Matter movement has clearly already done.
“You can’t just keep on yelling at them and you can’t refuse to meet because that might compromise the purity of your position.”
During his address at the London town hall, Obama spoke of his younger years, during which he was a political activist himself.
The Black Lives Matter movement rose to the national spotlight in the United States following the death of Michael Brown and subsequent massive protests and riots against police brutality in Ferguson, Missouri, in 2014.
Members of Black Lives Matter have been seen protesting several Hillary Clinton campaign events, even getting into a loud verbal altercation with former president (and possible future presidential spouse) Bill Clinton at an event in early April. Black Lives Matter protesters have also targeted the rallies and speeches of Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump, who has a track record of having Black Lives Matter protesters ejected from his campaign stops whenever possible.
The Black Lives Matter organization has chosen to target Hillary Clinton due to her use of the descriptive term “super predators” back in the 1990s. Clinton used the term to describe repeat offenders during a push for legislation that many, both inside and outside of the Black Lives Matter activist group, think helped facilitate a massive rise in incarceration. Most of those incarcerated due to the legislation pushed by Hillary Clinton were members of minority groups, and according to Black Lives Matter, the term “super predators” is “racially charged language that targeted young people.”
President Obama, who chided the methods of the Black Lives Matter organization in London, is pushing legislation that would almost cancel out the changes Clinton helped put into effect in the 1990s. The proposed Obama legislation would “roll back” some of the harshest sentences meted out to so many offenders as the nation’s prisons (many of them for-profit) were filled to capacity.
Barack Obama met with Black Lives Matter leaders earlier in 2016 at the White House, reportedly to discuss some of the legislative changes he would like to see become law before he leaves office.
Obama has been a fairly staunch supporter of Black Lives Matter, even when the group’s protests caused civil disruption such as road closures and even led to the need for National Guard intervention at police brutality protests. Many believe that Obama’s recent critical words to the Black Lives Matter movement are politically motivated, coming at a time when the President is likely going to be becoming more involved in the 2016 U.S. presidential election. Hillary Clinton is currently the undisputed Democratic front-runner, leading her rival Bernie Sanders by hundreds of delegates, and Obama is expected to put his full support behind her campaign in the near future.
It is likely that Hillary will rely on Barack Obama to help rally the support of the nation’s young black voters, many of whom identify with the Black Lives Matter movement, and many of whom currently support Bernie Sanders. Not surprisingly, Barack Obama commanded much of the young black vote in both of his successful White House bids.
Hillary Clinton was directly confronted by a Black Lives Matter protester at a campaign fundraiser earlier in 2016, who called the former Secretary of State out for using the term “super predator” back in the 1990s. To her credit, Clinton apologized publicly for her use of the controversial term at that time.
During his town hall event in London, the POTUS called on the Black Lives Matter activists to try to compromise with leaders, even leaders who they disagree with, to bring about realistic change that everyone can live with.
“Too often what I see is wonderful activism that highlights a problem but then people feel so passionately and are so invested in the purity of their position that they never take that next step and say, ‘How do I sit down and try to actually get something done?'”
There has been no official response from Black Lives Matter leaders regarding Obama’s London comments.
[Image Courtesy Of Christopher Furlong/Getty Images]