Leaders who represent us all don’t exist: Civil rights leader DeRay Mckesson responds to his harshest critics

Civil rights activist DeRay Mckesson played a major role in documenting the Ferguson protests and the movement birthed to hold law enforcement accountable for the victims of police violence.

Even though police officer Darren Wilson was never charged for killing Michael Brown, McKesson became a leading voice of Black Lives Matter, We the People and continues to fight for justice as a lecturer, television personality and author.

He joined D. Watkins for an honest conversation around police, his critics and the future of protest. When discussing what he learned from being a part of a large protest movement, the now author of "On the Other Side of Freedom: The Case for Hope," argued that police aren't the only way to keep America safe.

"Do officers need guns to get cats out of trees? No. Do officers needs guns to pick up kids who skip school? No," Mckesson told SalonTV's D. Watkins. "We should start to think about alternatives to policing that actually make sense."

Mckesson, who ran for mayor of Baltimore two years ago, says his activism in Ferguson inspired his interest in changing systems and gathering more data to better understand how the systems operate and identifying where the problems are.

Whether he's talking about electing better candidates to office, or doing behind-the-scenes work, Mckesson is committed to holding influential roles. "We can't just fight the people in power, we have to be the people in power," he said.

Watch the video above to hear Mckesson's response to why people either love him or hate him.

Photography by Jill Greenberg. Watch Jill's TedxTalk on the Female Lens and the problem with only seeing the world from a man's perspective. And find out more about Jill's initiative Alreadymade., a mission to hire more female photographers and content creators.

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About "Salon Talks": Hosted by Salon journalists, "Salon Talks" episodes offer a fresh take on the long-form interview format, and a much-needed break from the partisan political talking heads that have come to dominate the genre. "Salon Talks" is a destination for information through conversation. Viewers can expect discussions with A-list actors, artists, authors, thinkers, and newsmakers as we explore the full range of the human condition. The show streams live on YouTube and Salon.com.

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