Aislinn Pulley, the co-founder of the Chicago Black Lives Matter movement, passed on an invitation to the White House's meeting of multi-generational civil rights leaders, claiming the meeting is a "sham."
Pulley published an op-ed Thursday on the website Truth-Out.org and said the meeting would send the wrong message about her as an activist:
“As the cofounder of Black Lives Matter Chicago, I was issued an invitation to this event, and various news outlets have already listed me as an attendee. But as a radical, Black organizer, living and working in a city that is now widely recognized as a symbol of corruption and police violence, I do not feel that a handshake with the president is the best way for me to honor Black History Month or the Black freedom fighters whose labor laid the groundwork for the historic moment we are living in.”
The meeting was billed as the "first of its kind" and was held on Thursday. Topics at the meeting were to include "a range of issues, including the administration’s efforts on criminal justice reform” and “building trust between law enforcement and the communities they serve."
Pulley's opinion piece claims the event was nothing more than a PR stunt from the White House.
I was under the impression that a meeting was being organized to facilitate a genuine exchange on the matters facing millions of Black and Brown people in the United States. Instead, what was arranged was basically a photo opportunity and a 90-second sound bite for the president. I could not, with any integrity, participate in such a sham that would only serve to legitimize the false narrative that the government is working to end police brutality and the institutional racism that fuels it. For the increasing number of families fighting for justice and dignity for their kin slain by police, I refuse to give its perpetrators and enablers political cover by making an appearance among them.
The meeting was held as part of the White House Black History month reception. Other people at the meeting included, Deray McKesson, President of NAACP Legal Defense Fund Sherrilyn Ifill, and Democratic Rep. John Lewis.
Pulley also said that change will not come through the government but by movements like Black Lives Matter. “We assert that true revolutionary and systemic change will ultimately only be brought forth by ordinary working people, students and youth — organizing, marching and taking power from the corrupt elites.”