theroot | Thursday’s ABC town hall with President Barack Obama was anticipated with bated breath.
Many were looking forward to an honest conversation about race and about the current tensions between the black community and police officers in the aftermath of the shooting deaths of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile and the attack in Dallas that left five officers dead.
Unfortunately, many activists left disappointed, even angry, at what they witnessed and heard.
Erica Garner, the daughter of Eric Garner, who died after being choked by New York City police in 2014, stormed out of the taping of the town hall, saying that she had been “railroaded” by the network, denied the opportunity to ask the president a question, something she said she had been promised.
Garner said she felt that she had been “used for ratings,” and a few activists in the room agreed that the event seemed to be manipulative.
“It felt manipulative and disingenuous, and if we’re really trying to have a town hall about race in this country, it’s going to have to look much more like a truth-and-reconciliation process. It can’t be an hour and 15 minutes with the president taking up the most space, with people asking what he thinks of things instead of demanding that he do things,” Patrisse Kahn-Cullors, co-founder of the Black Lives Matter Network, told The Root Friday.
“The town hall was clearly a curated event for ABC to quell protesters and organizers. It had nothing to do with actual future for black people, and I think that for us, we want to push POTUS in his last few months as the president to take executive action, to defund law-enforcement agencies that have consistently violated the civil and human rights of black people,” she added.
Pastor Traci Blackmon of the Christ the King United Church of Christ, and the acting executive minister of justice and witness of the United Church of Christ, wrote an extensive Facebook post after the town hall, describing her own disappointment.