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Howard University Student Asks Question on Safety to Obama During #POTUSTownHall

By Paul Holston, Editor-in-Chief
Posted 8:38 AM EST, Fri. July 15, 2016

On Thursday, President Barack Obama held an ABC News town hall, moderated by David Muir, entitled “The President and the People: A National Conversation,” surrounding the topic of policing and the discussion of race relations in America. The town hall was held after the recent deaths of both law enforcement officers from a mass shooting in Dallas and the police-involved fatal shootings of two African-American men, Alton Sterling in Louisiana and Philando Castile in Minnesota.

During the town hall, questions were asked to the president by a variety of members in the audience and by satellite, to include Sterling’s 15-year-old son, Cameron, and Diamond Reynolds, Castile’s girlfriend who recently buried her boyfriend that day prior to the event.

One question in particular that was asked to Obama came from Howard University sophomore political science major Clifton Kinnie, a Ferguson, Miss. native who is also recognized as a Black Lives Matter activist. Kinnie asked Obama, “What do you envision safety looks like for poor black and brown communities?” [BUZZFEED: Activist Erica Garner Says She Was “Railroaded” By ABC News]

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According to ABC, Obama responded to Kinnie by saying that “the goal of protest isn’t just to protest for the sake of protesting.” Obama also addressed recent comments from critics of the “Black Live Matter” movement, who have said that its not supporting “all lives.”

“We shouldn’t get too caught up in this notion that somehow people who are asking for fair treatment are somehow automatically anti-police, are trying to only look out for black lives as opposed to others,” Obama said. “The phrase ‘Black Lives Matter’ simply refers to the notion that there’s a specific vulnerability for African Americans that needs to be addressed. It’s not meant to suggest that other lives don’t matter. It’s to suggest that other folks aren’t experiencing this particular vulnerability.”

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After the town hall, Kinnie spoke to The Undefeated saying that “the president and I agreed, poverty is violence. This is not just bad apples and good apples. This is systematic. We have to address that.”

Kinnie received much praise by colleagues and others on asking the question to the president on Twitter, to include a tweet by Howard University’s official Twitter account:

Not all who watched the town hall necessarily agreed though, after a recent poll by The Hilltop revealed that more people felt that the town hall was either neutral or dissatisfying in light of the recent deaths of both police officers and victims of police brutality.

Read more about last night’s ABC News #POTUSTownHall here: President Obama Urges Police, Communities to Come Together During Town Hall: ‘It’s Not Us Versus Them’


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