WASHINGTON — A presidential visit to the site of unrest in Ferguson, Missouri would be "too little, too late" today, an activist who met with President Obama at the White House said Tuesday.
Ashley Yates, a leader in the Missouri-based Millenial Activists United protest group, was among the protest leaders who met with Obama at in the Oval Office Monday as part of a full day of White House meetings focused on police relations in the wake of events in the Missouri town.
On a conference call with reporters the day after the Obama meeting, Yates and other activists who were in attendance were asked if they pressured Obama to visit Ferguson, a trip the president has not taken since the unrest began in August.
Yates said the time for Obama to walk the streets of Ferguson has come and gone.
"Absolutely not, that's too little, too late," Yates said.
"What we need him to do now is him use the power of his position, the power of the highest office of the land to enact some real change," she said. "We have been on the ground making the changes that we can in our community, but these are high-level changes and these are systemic issues and we need systemic solutions for them. We need the backing of our black president to say that this is a racial issue and that he stands behind us."
"We don't need him to come and put boots to the ground," she said. "He should have done it 100 days ago."
Yates and other activists on the call approved of Obama's proposed executive actions calling for more transparency in how the military hardware sent to local police by the federal government is used, but called on the president to do more to curb so-called "militarization" programs entirely, a step the White House has so far declined to take, citing the intent of Congress.