In an effort to receive bipartisanship to change criminal reform, President Obama arrived in Oklahoma Thursday (July 16) to sit with inmates at the Federal Correctional Institution El Reno, being the first sitting president to do so.
However, as his motorcade arrived, a group of angry protesters greeted him by waving the Confederate battle flag across the street from the hotel he was staying at.
Politico reports a man named Andrew Duncomb, who refers to himself as the “Black Rebel” organized the Confederate flag demonstration and also spearheaded a similar protest at the Oklahoma State Capital a day after South Carolina removed the flag from its state capital.
But despite Obama’s harsh reception by some, its said the mixed-race crowd was mostly happy to see him.
The New York Times reports the president visited Cell Block B, which was emptied for the occasion, the inmates were moved to another facility for the time being. As he walked through the minimum-security prison, he sat with six non-violent offenders for 45 minutes during a round table conversation, which will air on HBO this fall. The conversation proved to have a lasting effect on the president.
“When they describe their youth and their childhood, these are young people who made mistakes that aren’t that different from the mistakes I made and the mistakes a lot of you guys made,” Obama said. “The difference is they did not have the kind of support structures, the second chances, the resources that would allow for them to survive those mistakes.”