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Obama To Meet Civil Rights Leaders To Talk About Mistrust Of Police

Officers wearing riot gear walk through a park on Sunday in downtown St. Louis.
Image credit: Tom Gannam

After another day of mostly peaceful protests in Ferguson, Mo., President Obama is scheduled to meet with civil rights leaders to discuss mistrust of police in communities of color.

A White House official said Obama will also meet elected officials, and community and faith leaders, “to discuss how communities and law enforcement can work together to build trust to strengthen neighborhoods across the country.”

Of course, the series of meetings comes after a grand jury decided not to indict Darren Wilson in the killing of Michael Brown. The decision led to a couple of days of protests, in which demonstrators set fire to vehicles and buildings while police fired upon the crowd with tear gas.

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that six demonstrators were arrested on Sunday after they demonstrated outside the St. Louis Rams game and at local chain stores like Target.

The paper spoke to one protester at a downtown plaza:

” ‘Our rights are taken away from us every single day, and we usually give up but we stuck to this,’ said demonstrator LaShell Eikerenkoetter, 25, of Jennings. ‘There are voices that aren’t out here but my voice is out here for them.’

“Eikerenkoetter, hoarse from yelling, said she’s been protesting since a Ferguson police officer shot Michael Brown on Aug. 9, and plans to continue.”

The White House, for its part, said Obama had scheduled today’s meetings in response to the recent events in Ferguson.

“As the country has witnessed, disintegration of trust between law enforcement agencies and the people they protect and serve can destabilize communities, undermine the legitimacy of the criminal justice system, undermine public safety, create resentment in local communities, and make the job of delivering police services less safe and more difficult,” the White House official added.

Obama is also scheduled to meet with his Cabinet, which is considering changes to a federal program that delivers equipment to local and state police.

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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