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Leaders of the Black Lives Matter movement have made the announcement that they will not support any of the presidential candidates in the 2016 presidential election, The Guardian reports.

During the seventh annual Black Women’s Roundtable Policy Forum in Washington D.C last week, co-founder Alicia Garza explained that the group doesn’t want to be used as a pawn in a political agenda, and said they plan to keep addressing candidates regarding their stance on the treatment of African-Americans.

The group has most recently been criticized for interrupting candidates like Bernie Sanders during campaign rallies.

“Black Lives Matter as a network will not, does not, has not, ain’t going to endorse any candidates,” Garza said. “Now if there are activists within the movement that want to do that independently, they should feel free and if that’s what makes sense for their local conditions, that’s fantastic. But as a network, that’s not work we’re engaged in yet.”

Garza, who founded the group with Opal Tometi and Patrisse Cullors, explained their origins after the death of Trayvon Martin in 2012. They continued the movement with the death of Michael Brown last year. Its proliferation and the continued use of the hashtag #BlackLivesMatter has spawned over 26 chapters across the United States.

Members of smaller groups have met with presidential candidates like Hillary Clinton — the Democratic candidate spoke with Daunasia Yancey and Julius Jones, leaders of BLM Boston back in August. Clinton told the activists that deep-rooted racism will be difficult to change, but she is willing to find resources to create a plan to improve criminal justice reform, police training, job creation, education, and more matters aligned with African-Americans.

Garza said as a growing group, it wouldn’t be fair for the movement to link themselves with a politician. However, over the summer, the Democratic National Committee publicly stated their support of BLM, a move Garza believes was ill-mannered.

“It’s too early in the development of the network and it’s too early in the genesis of the movement to rally around anyone in particular who hasn’t demonstrated that they feel accountable to the Black Lives Matter movement or network,” said Garza, who also works with the National Domestic Worker Alliance. What we’ve seen is an attempt by mainstream politics and politicians to co-opt movements that galvanize people in order for them to move closer to their own goals and objectives,” she said.

Other presidential candidates have opposed the idea of working with BLM. Donald Trump told reporters he wouldn’t give leaders his microphone, while Senator Rand Paul thinks the group should change their name. Republican governor of Wisconsin, Scott Walker, also dismissed the idea of sitting down with the group.

SOURCE: The Guardian | VIDEO CREDIT: NDN

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