DeRay Mckesson, a prominent Black Lives Matter activist who was arrested during a protest in Louisiana, discussed the power of public assembly on Friday night’s episode of The Late Show with Stephen Colbert.
“When I think about protests, I think of it as this idea of telling the truth in public,” he said, adding how victims of police violence like Philando Castille and Alton Sterling should still be alive. “And what’s powerful is that these conversations, I hope, are leading to better conversations about solutions.”
“So when you think about the protests in Baton Rouge,” he continued, “I didn’t plan to get arrested, but so many people got arrested that really brought attention to the crisis with the Baton Rouge Police Department.”
Mckesson also discussed a recent meeting he attended at the White House with President Barack Obama, civil rights leaders, and police officials. “We met with the President for about four-and-a-half hours. It was one of the longest meetings of his presidency, and we talked really about solutions,” he said, citing topics such as police union contracts and money from the federal government.
“I do think that the space was productive, but we know that just being in the room in and of itself doesn’t change things,” Mckesson added. “So I’m hopeful that this will lead to concrete things.”
Colbert followed up by asking whether Mckesson has been able to see situations of police violence from the perspective of the cops, who, he postulated, may not all have racist tendencies.
“We can accept that policing is hard, we can accept that people wanna wake up every day and they wanna go home alive,” Mckesson said. “We accept those things. When I think about the medical profession, right? I’m not a doctor, but I have expectations about how doctors function. I’ve not been a policeman, but I have expectations that they don’t kill people as a condition of their job.”
Watch Mckesson’s conversation with Colbert in the video above.