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September 26, 2021
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Black Lives Matter leaders met with Biden officials – and they’re disappointed with police reform talks

Black Lives Matter leaders met with Biden officials  – and they're disappointed with police reform talks
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Protesters gather near the White House before a group tried to pull down the statue of Andrew Jackson in Lafayette Square on June 22, 2020 in Washington, DC.

Drew Angerer | Getty Images

Black Lives Matter leaders met with members of President Joe Biden‘s team as the White House and lawmakers are negotiating the details of a potential police reform deal.

In a statement first provided to CNBC, Black Lives Matter said leaders recently met with White House officials to discuss their agenda. The activist group isn’t pleased with what has happened since the discussion, namely with proposals to give more funding to police departments.

“Leaders from Black Lives Matter met with White House officials earlier this year to discuss our policy agenda, and while we appreciate the chance to talk with them, we are surprised by their lack of progress on issues that matter to Black people, the same communities that so strongly supported Biden-Harris during last year’s election,” the Black Lives Matter Global Network Foundation told CNBC in an email Tuesday.

It’s unclear when the meeting took place or which officials from both sides were at the gathering. Politico reported in May that BLM had yet to meet with the Biden White House. The Washington Post reported late last year that Patrisse Cullors, a co-founder of Black Lives Matter, wrote a letter to Biden and Kamala Harris about a potential meeting.

Black Lives Matter press representatives did return requests for additional comment. The White House did not return requests for comment.

Rep. Karen Bass, D-Calif., who is one of the lawmakers working on police reform, told NBC News that negotiations have hit some roadblocks due to infighting between law enforcement groups.

“I worry that it could prevent us from coming to a deal. And you know what I think it would be a really sad statement about the profession that they would actually prevent reforms and refuse to modernize,” she said.

The meeting and its aftermath indicate that Black Lives Matter and the Biden team are headed for a standoff. It’s also a sign that Black Lives Matter may not have as much influence in the Biden White House as the group had hoped.

Black Lives Matter, which was created after the 2013 acquittal of George Zimmerman in the killing of unarmed Black teenager Trayvon Martin, has been calling for a reduction in police spending. For years, the group has inspired and organized large protests against brutality toward Black people.

Last year, the group and the Black Lives Matter motto surged in popularity and relevance following the police killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and other Black Americans as protests erupted across the country.

Biden won the 2020 election with the overwhelming support of Black voters.

The president recently said that states could take from $350 billion in stimulus funds in order to give a boost to police departments. Biden has also announced a slate of actions his administration are taking to curb the uptick in crime and gun violence.

This hasn’t sat well with Black Lives Matter or activists calling for defunding police departments.

“And now we see the President arguing for increased spending on police rather than investing in housing, education, climate preparedness and healthcare,” Black Lives Matter’s statement to CNBC said. “This is no time to return to the dangerous days of the tough-on-crime fear-mongering of the 1990s when more cops were placed in our neighborhoods, rather than services that improve lives and keep Black communities safe.”

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