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Aaron Gould Sheinin

Sam Olens joins President Obama’s discussion on ‘justice for all Americans’

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WASHINGTON, DC - JULY 13: U.S. President Barack Obama (C) speaks during a conversation on community policing and criminal justice July 13, 2016 at Eisenhower Executive Office Building in Washington, DC. President Obama hosted a conversation with activists, civil rights, faith, law enforcement and elected leaders from around the country on ways can "keep people safe, build community trust, and ensure justice for all Americans." (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

WASHINGTON, DC – JULY 13: U.S. President Barack Obama (C) speaks during a conversation on community policing and criminal justice July 13, 2016 at Eisenhower Executive Office Building in Washington, DC. President Obama hosted a conversation with activists, civil rights, faith, law enforcement and elected leaders from around the country on ways can “keep people safe, build community trust, and ensure justice for all Americans.” (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

President Barack Obama on Wednesday hosted a meeting at the White House on Wednesday of governors, mayors, police chiefs, activists, civil rights leaders and state and federal law enforcement officials to “have a conversation about ways we can keep people safe, build community trust and ensure justice for all Americans.”

The four-hour meeting came on the heels of fatal police shootings in Baton Rouge and Minneapolis, the massacre of police in Dallas and the resulting protests in Atlanta and cities around the country.

One Georgian was among those in attendance.

 

“Very constructive discussion. President moderated the entire four hours,” Georgia Attorney General Sam Olens said in a brief email exchange as he was flying home to Atlanta.

The only press reports we can find of the meeting comes from the Washington Times and from The Associated Press. The paper reported that Obama said afterward that “there are still deep divisions about how to solve these problems” of race, policing and accusations of excessive force.

The White House said those in attendance included activists from the Black Lives Matter movement and the Rev. Al Sharpton. An invite list says those in attendance included U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch, the Los Angeles chief of police, the head of the Louisiana state police, Gov. John Bel Edwards of Louisiana

“There is no doubt that police departments still feel embattled and unjustly accused,” Obama said, according to the Washington Times report. “And there is no doubt that minority communities, communities of color, still feel like it just takes too long to do what’s right. We have to as a country sit down and just grind it out.”

The Times wrote that Obama predicted more anger and unrest in cities.

“Sadly, because this is a huge country that is very diverse, and we have a lot of police departments, I think it is fair to say that we will see more tension between police and communities this month, next month, next year, for quite some time,” Obama told reporters.