Civil Rights Leaders Warn of Threat From White Supremacy

(Bloomberg) -- Civil rights leaders warned about the dangers white supremacy poses to the US following a meeting with President Joe Biden.

“White supremacy activity is a danger to our democracy,” Derrick Johnson, CEO of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People said after the White House meeting Friday. “So as we stand here as civil rights leaders, we are aligned with this administration to protect democracy.”

The meeting came a day after Biden accused Donald Trump and Republicans in a prime-time speech of stoking political extremism that threatening democracy in the US.

Read more: Biden Banks on Democratic Outrage, Risking Deeper US Divisions

Participants said they discussed a number of issues with Biden, including criminal justice reform, voting rights, support for Black farmers, and the administration’s effort to secure the release of Brittney Griner, the WNBA player sentenced in Russia on drug charges. The Biden administration has said Griner is being wrongfully detained.

“We are happy we had the meeting the day after he made such a passionate speech about democracy,” said long-time civil rights activist Reverend Al Sharpton, adding that Black Americans have had a different experience of democracy than other Americans.

Sharpton said Biden was committed to prioritizing further action on voting rights if Democrats kept control of Congress in the November midterm elections. And Sharpton said leaders pushed Biden on doing more on criminal justice reform -- beyond his executive order on policing -- including possible legislation.

Read more: Biden Orders Revamp of Policing in Wake of George Floyd’s Death

“We discussed that more may be necessary,” Sharpton said. “We’re shooting for the law.”

Biden signed an executive order in May directing federal law enforcement agencies to revise their policies on use-of-force to limit tactics like no-knock warrants, choke holds and carotid restraints. The measure offers grants as an incentive to state and local police departments to adopt similar policies.

Participants at the meeting also included Melanie Campbell, president and chief executive officer of the National Coalition on Black Civic Participation, and Marc Morial, president and CEO of the National Urban League.

Biden last met in person with most of the civil rights leaders, collectively, in July 2021. In that meeting, the leaders also pushed for criminal justice reform and voting rights legislation, but those efforts ultimately stalled in Congress, casualties of Democrats’ thin majority.

Biden has credited Black voters with reviving his presidential primary campaign and sending him to the White House. He has said that addressing systemic inequality is among the top priorities of his presidency.

But he has been stymied on his attempts to sign legislation on issues especially dear to Black voters, like police reform and voting rights.

Biden carried some 92% of the Black vote in the 2020 presidential election. Democrats are relying on strong turnout from African-American voters in places like Georgia, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin to maintain or expand their thin majority in the US Senate.

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