Bernie Sanders Gets Clear on Racial Politics
After being accused of inadequately representing the interests of blacks during his presidential campaign, Democratic candidate Bernie Sanders took the major step Sunday evening of publishing a detailed platform articulating his views on the chronic violence inflicted upon Americans of color both physically and via the nation’s political, legal and economic systems.
“We must pursue policies that transform this country into a nation that affirms the value of its people of color,” the document, titled “Racial Justice,” begins. “That starts with addressing the four central types of violence waged against black and brown Americans: physical, political, legal and economic.”
To better communicate his message to minority voters, the Sanders campaign Saturday announced the hiring of Symone Sanders, a black volunteer organizer with the D.C.-based Coalition for Juvenile Justice, who will serve as the campaign’s national press secretary and one of its strategists.
BELOW: Watch Symone Sanders introduce Sen. Bernie Sanders to a record-breaking crowd of 28,000 in Portland, Ore., Aug. 9.
“Sandra Bland, Michael Brown, Rekia Boyd, Eric Garner, Walter Scott, Freddie Gray, Tamir Rice, Samuel DuBose,” the document continues, responding to calls by activists that the candidate prioritize the well-established pattern of fatal police aggression against unarmed black Americans. “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.”
The candidate then turned to the matter of violence against blacks by people not associated with the state.
“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.”
These realities can only be addressed, he asserted, by reinventing policing in the U.S. along lines designed with input from the communities that the police serve, including activists from organizations like Black Lives Matter. He also said the Justice Department should honor its duty of “aggressively” investigating and prosecuting officers who break the law, that officers should be trained “to de-escalate confrontations and to humanely interact with people who have mental illnesses,” and that federal money should be withheld from states and localities that do not make progress in this area, while those that do make progress should receive more.
Read what the candidate says about political, legal and economic violence here.
— Posted by Alexander Reed Kelly.
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