President Barack Obama invited Al Sharpton to a series of White House meetings on Monday concerning the Ferguson riots, but he did not feel it was necessary to give someone from the Ferguson police department a seat at the table.
On Tuesday, White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said that Obama wanted to invite various “stakeholders” from many different communities, including two youth activists from Ferguson. When asked if the White House didn’t feel like officers from the Ferguson police department should have been invited to the discussion, Earnest replied, “no.”
“This is a kind of discussion that is taking place not just in Ferguson but in communities all across the country,” Earnest said, noting that Obama “was able to tap into the broader national sentiment in the context of this meeting even though it didn’t include law enforcement officials from Ferguson.”
The White House on Monday invited law enforcement officers, faith leaders, youth leaders, and administration officials to discuss better policing practices.
After a Ferguson grand jury found that there was not enough evidence to indict officer Darren Wilson in Michael Brown’s death, rioters and looters burned down the city. Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder have said there should be a “sustained discussion” about Ferguson, with Holder on Monday vowing to “seize” what is a “unique opportunity” to “end racial profiling once and for all.”
Law enforcement officials who were invited to the White House meetings on Monday included:
- Anthony Batts, Police Commissioner, Baltimore City
- Richard Beary, President, International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP)
- Charles Ramsey, Commissioner, Philadelphia Police Department
- Darrel Stephens, Executive Director, Major Cities Chiefs Police Association
- Blake Norton, Vice President, Police Foundation
- Dwayne Crawford, Executive Director, National Organization of Black Law Enforcement
- James Pasco, National Fraternal Order of Police
Obama also met with two “youth leaders” from Ferguson. Obama later cited their stories and said that hearing “young people feeling marginalized and distrustful even after they’ve done everything right” only “violates” his “belief in what America can do.”