INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — The Rev. Charles Harrison of the Indianapolis Ten Point Coalition is defending his decision to meet with U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions on Monday.
Local civil rights activist Dominic Dorsey criticized Harrison for scheduling the meeting, calling the Trump administration divisive and “anti-black.”
The Monday afternoon meeting will focus on strategies to reduce urban gun violence and the possibility of expanding Ten Point. Harrison said it will be the first meeting with a White House official in the Indianapolis Ten Point branch’s 20-year history.
“If we’re going to address this national crisis, then we need every level of government involved,” Harrison said.
Ten Point leaders will explain how the group walks through the streets, connecting with young people and trying to steer them away from crime.
“Let’s talk to the attorney general. If he wants to help, let’s let him help. If he doesn’t want to help, then we just move on,” Harrison said. “But we’re certainly going to ask him.”
Harrison said he is hoping that help can come in the form of federal funding, something the Indianapolis Ten Point Coalition does not get now. National Ten Point leaders will attend the meeting to discuss the possibility of expanding to new cities.
Indiana Attorney General Curtis Hill and Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department leaders will also be at the table.
“This madness has to end, and we’ve got to do it together as Americans. Not as Democrats or Republicans. Black or white. This is an American problem,” Harrison said.
Dorsey, who is the president of the local civil rights group Don’t Sleep, called the decision to meet with Sessions “laughable.”
He sees the meeting as a public relations stunt for President Donald Trump’s team — a team Dorsey describes as xenophobic, homophobic and anti-black.
“I don’t think it’s about eliminating crime. I don’t think it’s about anything other than political elitism,” Dorsey said. “I don’t think it’s about anything other than expedience and trying to gain some favor within the black community.”
Harrison said he’ll tell Sessions that Ten Point helped reduce the murder rate in the neighborhoods it patrols, including Butler-Tarkington and Crown Hill.
“Dr. (Martin Luther) King (Jr.) and civil rights leaders met with racist governors and mayors,” Harrison said. “Yet they sat down at the table of brotherhood and were able to find common ground for the good of African-Americans all over America.”
Harrison said he has not talked to anyone from the White House about the meeting. Hill reached out to Sessions to set it up.