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I already wrote about how Bernie Sanders beat out all of the GOP Candidates in their own debate by actually asking and engaging the candidates on Twitter
On Saturday, August 8, 2015, a group of protestors claiming to be affiliated with #BlackLivesMatter, a grassroots movement started in the wake of the shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, MO; interrupted a rally in Seattle, WA for Presidential Candidate Bernie Sanders.
A short period of time after Sanders entered the venue to speak at Westlake Park, two women and one man took the stage and confronted Sanders, demanding an opportunity to speak. Some noise and chants of “Boo!” could be heard from the crowd.
A protester who identified herself as Marissa Johnson began with “I was going to tell Bernie how racist this city is with all its progressives, but you’ve already done that for me. Thank you.”
Johnson then spoke about police violence against black people in Seattle, mentioning a federal investigation into Seattle’s law enforcement agencies which resulted in the appointment of a federal monitor to ensure Seattle police were meeting the terms set forth by the Justice Department. According to the Seattle Times, as of March 17, 2015, the Seattle Police Department has been under Federal oversight for 3 years, with a plan to transition off of oversight still in the future.
Johnson asked for a moment of silence for 4 ½ minutes to represent the 4 ½ hours Michael Brown is supposed to have laid dead in the street after being killed. Various calls asking Johnson to “get off the stage” and “arrest her” were heard during the moment of silence.
Johnson then called on the audience to hold Sanders accountable for his actions. Johnson went on the say that earlier this year at NetRoots Nation gathering, at a similar interruption of Democratic Presidential Candidate Dennis O’Malley and Sanders, protesters had asked both candidates for “concrete plan of action” for a criminal justice reform package.
Johnson said “Bernie, you were confronted at NetRoots by black women, and you have yet to put out a criminal justice reform package like O’Malley.”
Sanders responded “Black lives, of course, matter. I’ve spent 50 years of my life fighting for civil rights and for dignity. But if you don’t want me to be here, that’s OK. I don’t want to outscream people.”
Then on Sunday, August 9, 2015, Sanders appeared on NBC’s Meet the Press to speak with Chuck Todd regarding criticism from fellow Democratic nominees O’Malley and Hillary Clinton.
Sanders struck what can only be termed a defensive tone when asked about NetRoots Nation gathering, the Seattle Rally and O’Malley and Clinton’s criticism on Sanders’ previous statements regarding gun control.
Sanders clarified his position on gun control, stating that guns have a different role in rural Vermont than they do in the rest of urban America. However, Sanders also took issues with being dismissive of the #BlackLivesMatter movement stating “No, I’m not dismissive. I’ve been involved in the civil rights movement all of my life.
Bad moves Bernie!
You don’t have to go so far as to pick up a history book to understand the immense level of patience that the black community has had in regards to the ongoing and systemic discrimination since the end of slavery in the United States.
The entire post-Civil War history of black America has been about struggling to secure even the most basic of rights and dignity. From repealing the Jim Crow laws in the United States, to ending poll-taxes and literacy tests, to the recently revised (er, gutted?) Voting Rights Act. A solution to the indignities and inequality of black Americans has been piecemeal at best.
I applaud the black community for their patience and apologize for the white community’s complacency when it comes to the struggles you face in dealing with a fundamentally racist criminal justice system.
I can only assume that the reason you interrupted Sander’s rally in Seattle was to hold him accountable for him failing to craft comprehensive criminal justice reform plan. In Phoenix, at the NetRoots Nation gathering, you asked him for something concrete. You’ve been waiting for politicians to do right by you for decades, and if it were me, I’d be wanting some answers to. It’s just basic human decency.
And as for my community, the white community, I’ve got two words for you “Boo hoo!” (And yes, that was sarcasm.)
Really?! The reaction I’m getting from people in my daily life and the reaction I witnessed in response to the protest amongst the crowd in Seattle was nothing more than the offended sensibilities of privileged white people. When taken in the broader context of the suffering of the black community, white sensibilities mean little to nothing. Who cares if your sensibilities were offended when unarmed teenage black men and women are being shot and assaulted for no legal reason on a fairly regular basis?
I’m sorry that cut into Bernie’s meet-and-greet time for donators, but that was kind of the point. It’s probably why he was so dismissive. After all, Sanders can’t fund a campaign without having people to pay $1,000 per plate to listen to him speak and take a picture with him. If this was the case, and the protestors affiliated with #BlackLivesMatter realized this, then I say “Brava!” because that was well-played.
Look Bernie, you were caught off-guard. You weren’t expecting them to hold you accountable for a promise that you likely didn’t mean (but never publicly denied), just to get them off the NetRoots Nation stage. The statement in regards to not wanting to “overscream” people was dismissive. Getting defensive about on these two incidents on Meet the Press was pretty much your only option to save face. And when it comes down to it Bernie, your history with the Civil Rights movement becomes completely irrelevant if you don’t or won’t do what was asked of you at NetRoots. Come up with a concrete plan of action to root out and end systemic racism in local police jurisdictions.
Your dismissiveness has cost you a golden opportunity, Bernie. You could have been the leader on this discussion, and that kind of leadership would have been worth more political capital than whatever amount of money you raised.
I’m Michael, and I’m the Philosophical Gaytheist. Gaytheist? Is that a gay theist, or a gay atheist? Well I like f*#ikng men and I don’t believe in God. My philosophical sophistication will intrigue you, and then make undergrads everywhere realize to never major in philosophy.