Last week, a speech by Bernie Sanders was interrupted by two women claiming to be from Black Lives Matter. There is some controversy as to whether they are actually part of the organization, but then again, it’s not really a centralized group.
After the interruption, though, Sanders supporters were torn. Some felt he didn’t give them the respect and attention they deserve. Others complained that Sanders was the wrong target because he was already on the side of civil liberties, to which the first group noted that it made sense for them to target Sanders because he would be the candidate who is most likely to take the message to heart.
Here’s a debate between Bill Maher and hip-hop artist Talib Kweli:
Kweli and the people who said that Sanders would be the most likely to listen to their message appear to have been right. He almost immediately hired an African-American criminal justice advocate as his national press secretary and he released a new platform which is getting a lot of praise.
In the platform, he addresses violence as not only physical, but also political, legal and economic. The tone of his message is angry and passionate.
Sandra Bland, Michael Brown, Rekia Boyd, Eric Garner, Walter Scott, Freddie Gray, Tamir Rice, Samuel DuBose. We know their names. Each of them died unarmed at the hands of police officers or in police custody. The chants are growing louder. People are angry and they have a right to be angry. We should not fool ourselves into thinking that this violence only affects those whose names have appeared on TV or in the newspaper. African-Americans are twice as likely to be arrested and almost four times as likely to experience the use of force during encounters with the police.
We are far from eradicating racism in this country. In June, nine of our fellow Americans were murdered while praying in a historic church because of the color of their skin. This violence fills us with outrage, disgust, and a deep, deep sadness. Today in America, if you are black, you can be killed for getting a pack of Skittles during a basketball game. These hateful acts of violence amount to acts of terror. They are perpetrated by extremists who want to intimidate and terrorize black and brown people in this country.
Of course, there are specifics and I’ll let you read those in detail, but he addresses demilitarizing police, investing in community policing, hiring police that reflect the community, police training, body cameras, forcing the justice department to more aggressively investigate wrongful deaths and wrongful force, and cracking down on hate groups. He also addresses voting rights and racial disparities in sentencing. He also wants to get rid of for-profit prisons and focus on rehabilitation, which would do away with so many problems.
Hillary Clinton has also addressed race, but it hasn’t yet become an official part of her platform. I have no doubt that with mounting pressure, she will specifically add it to her platform as well.
Featured image via Flickr/PeterStevens