JASON SILVERSTEIN, NEW YORK DAILY NEW
President Obama speaking at a town meeting in Britain.
President Obama criticized the Black Lives Matter movement during a town hall meeting in London Saturday — saying the activist group “can’t just keep on yelling” about the issues it wants to change. Obama’s comments came during day two of his visit to Europe, at a Q and A event for young people. One audience member asked Obama if he felt his administration had done enough to discourage racial profiling at airports. His answer led him to discussing social justice movements, with Obama specifically naming the Black Lives Matter movement. He said he admired such groups for being “really effective in bringing attention to problems” of racial injustice — but he also showed those movements some tough love.
“Once you’ve highlighted an issue and brought it to people’s attention and shined a spotlight, and elected officials or people who are in a position to start bringing about change are ready to sit down with you, then you can’t just keep on yelling at them,” Obama said. “And you can’t refuse to meet because that might compromise the purity of your position. The value of social movements and activism is to get you at the table, get you in the room.”
Black Lives Matter did not respond to his remarks.
Obama has openly supported the Black Lives Matter movement in the past. At a White House forum in October, he dismissed the popular “all lives matter” rebuttal to the national group, saying: “I think everybody understands all lives matter…They were suggesting was there is a specific problem that’s happening in the African-American community that’s not happening in other communities. And that is a legitimate issue that we’ve got to address.”
Obama in February praised prominent Black Lives Matter activist Deray McKesson for an “outstanding” job leading the movement in Baltimore, where McKesson is now running for mayor.
Black Lives Matter groups have consistently clashed with presidential candidates on the campaign trail. Several members have been assaulted at Donald Trump rallies, while Hillary Clinton has had heated exchanges with protesters accusing her of racial insensitivity.