Chicago BLM Activist Declined White House Invitation to Event Preceding Black History Month Reception

Black Lives Matter Chicago co-founder Aislinn Pulley said that she was not interested in “a photo opportunity and a 90-second sound bite for the president.”

President Barack Obama speaks about race relations while flanked by Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.), Senior Adviser Valerie Jarrett and the Rev. Al Sharpton in the Roosevelt Room at the White House in Washington, D.C., on Feb. 18, 2016.
President Barack Obama speaks about race relations while flanked by Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.), Senior Adviser Valerie Jarrett and the Rev. Al Sharpton in the Roosevelt Room at the White House in Washington, D.C., on Feb. 18, 2016. Mark Wilson/Getty Images

A Chicago Black Lives Matter activist declined an invitation to meet with President Barack Obama on Thursday before a Black History Month reception at the White House, saying that she was not interested in “a photo opportunity and a 90-second sound bite for the president,” the Chicago Tribune reports

Aislinn Pulley, co-founder of Black Lives Matter Chicago, was one of some 20 people who were invited to the White house for an intergenerational meeting of black leaders to discuss criminal-justice reform in the nation. Invitees included individuals such as the Rev. Al Sharpton, U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch, NAACP President Cornell Brooks and Black Live Matter activist DeRay Mckesson.

On Thursday, Pulley stated that she was not interested in “a photo opportunity and a 90-second sound bite for the president.”

“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,” Pulley wrote in an op-ed for Truthout.

“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,” she wrote. “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.

“If the administration is serious about addressing the issues of Black Lives Matter Chicago—and its sister organizations that go by different names across this nation—they can start by meeting the simple demands of families who want transparency, who want police that kill Black people unjustly to be fired, indicted and held accountable,” she continued. “A meeting arranged to carry this out is one that would be worthy of consideration. Until this begins to happen on a mass scale, any celebrations of Black History that go on inside the walls of the White House are hollow and ceremonial at best.”

Read more at the Chicago Tribune.

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