President Obama has convened a cabinet meeting on Monday December 1, 2014 to discuss the tough lessons learned from the ongoing unrest in Ferguson, Missouri. The meeting also included young people from civil rights and activist groups based in Ferguson , mayors, and law enforcement officials from and across the country.
The topic was how to address the deteriorating relations between the police and the communities they serve, and how to ensure that the divide is bridged.
The relationship between the police across major cities in United States of America and the communities has reached the lowest levels following the killing of the unarmed black teenage, Michael Brown’ in Ferguson, MI by a white police officer (see here).
Among the people who attended the meeting were many young people: two members of the newly formed Ferguson Commission, a rap artist, leaders in the Ferguson protest movement, and national grassroots organizers and activists. These young people and rising leaders gave testimonies and asked the government to make real changes.
One of the two members of the newly formed Ferguson Commision is a particular young leader: Rasheen Aldridge, Jr, AfroAmerica Network Black Man of Year 2014 (see here). Rasheen Aldridge was joined by Brittany Packnett, the executive director of Teach for America in St. Louis.
The 20 years old Rasheen Aldridge, Jr., Director of Young Activists United St. Louis, and the youngest member of the Ferguson Commission, said the following:
“We attended this meeting to make it clear to President Obama that we are in crisis, and police officers must be held accountable...It is a crisis when a Black American can get locked up for traffic fines, but police officers are rarely prosecuted for killing unarmed children,” he said. “Black communities have suffered under racially biased policing and unconstitutional law enforcement policies for far too long. This has to stop.”
Ashley Yates, co-founder of St. Louis based Millennial Activists United said: "The president requested this meeting because this is a movement that cannot be ignored. 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.”
In his response, President Obama said:
"When I hear about young people around this table talking about their experiences, it violates my belief in what this country can be. That’s not who we are.I don’t think that’s who the overwhelming majority of Americans want us to be."