Washington council OKs Black Lives Matter talk

Two council member dissent; one calls it 'domestic terrorist group'

WASHINGTON – The Washington City Council approved a Black Lives Matter speaker for Sunday in Central Park.

But the request drew sharp comments from council members who argued they did not support the Black Lives Matter movement.

More than half of the council said they did not support the Black Lives Matter movement and instead felt all lives matter.

Carol Ray, vice-president of the Washington Public Library Board of Trustees, approached the council about bringing in a speaker to discuss the Black Lives Matter movement.

Dr. Kesho Scott is a sociology professor at Grinnell College. The proposal was to have her speak in Washington’s Central Park on Sunday at 1:30 p.m.

According to the application sent to council, the talk would break down the true meaning of Black Lives Matter.

Council member Steven Gault said he felt any group that needed to clarify which race it supported was a racist group and one he did not support.

Fellow council member Fran Stigers agreed, saying these issues did not arise in Washington and were only problems in major cities like Minneapolis and Seattle.

“This is a domestic terrorist group that you want them to come in and talk to us about,” he said.

Gault agreed, saying these problems are brought into smaller towns because of those who live in the inner-city.

“I have no problem with the color of their skin.,” Gault said. “I have a problem if you’re a gangbanger and you’re causing a problem. There are problems that are not from here, and the color of the skin is the problem.”

Stigers made a motion to deny the request. Gault seconded it, but the motion failed.

Discussion continued and council members Brendan DeLong and Elaine Moore said they felt all lives mattered and did not support the Black Lives Matter movement. However, both were in support of having the speaker in Washington’s Central Park on Sunday.

Danielle Pettit-Majewski and Millie Youngquist spoke in support of the speaker.

Pettit-Majewski said she felt it was important to learn from others about the struggles they face.

Youngquist agreed, saying this is exactly what the community needs to be doing at this time.

“We need to start having a dialogue, and I hope everybody would be willing to hear what she has to say,” she said.

The council approved the motion on a vote of 4-2 with Stigers and Gault opposing.