Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) again came face to face with Black Lives Matter protesters at a rally in Seattle on Saturday, forcing the presidential candidate to leave the state, The Hill reports.
Marissa Johnson and Mara Willaford, co-founders of Black Lives Matter – Seattle, jumped on stage and demanded that Sanders relinquish the microphone. He quickly moved to the side, signaling for the event organizer to defuse the situation.
Willaford began screaming in a high-pitched tone, “Let her speak!” The BLM activist then reached over the event organizer’s shoulder to get to the microphone.
Even as he insisted that they would get a chance to speak after Sen. Sanders, they refused to wait. Finally, an agreement was reached which allowed them to speak for several minutes. The BLM activists went over their allotted time and Sanders ended up not speaking at the rally. He, instead, shook hands with the crowd who applauded him.
Read more below from The Hill:
Johnson spoke, among other things, about police violence in Seattle, mentioning a federal investigation into the city’s law enforcement that resulted in the appointment of a monitor to make sure Seattle police were complying with the terms set forth by the Justice Department.
“Bernie says that he’s all about the people and about grassroots. The biggest grassroots movement in this country right now is Black Lives Matter,” she added.
She then mentioned the anniversary event that sparked the Black Lives Matter movement — the shooting of an unarmed black teenager named Michael Brown by a white police officer in Ferguson, Mo. last year.
Johnson requested four-and-a-half minutes of silence from the crowd, to honor the four-and-a-half hours Brown allegedly laid dead in the street after being killed.
“If you care about Black Lives Matter, as you say you do, you will hold Bernie Sanders specifically accountable for his actions,” Johnson continued.
She mentioned a similar interruption by Black Lives Matter activists during the annual progressive NetRoots Nation gathering. Protestors flooded the stage early on in the event and shouted down Democratic presidential hopeful Martin O’Malley as well as Sanders.
Willaford and Johnson released a statement on Facebook explaining their actions:
This city is filled with white progressives, which is why Bernie Sanders’ camp was obviously expecting a friendly and consenting audience for today’s campaign visit. The problem with Sanders’, and with white Seattle progressives in general, is that they are utterly and totally useless (when not outright harmful) in terms of the fight for Black lives.
While we are drowning in their liberal rhetoric, we have yet to see them support Black grassroots movements or take on any measure of risk and responsibility for ending the tyranny of white supremacy in our country and in our city. This willful passivity while claiming solidarity with the #BlackLivesMatter movement in an effort to be relevant is over.
White progressive Seattle and Bernie Sanders cannot call themselves liberals while they participate in the racist system that claims Black lives. Bernie Sanders will not continue to call himself a man of the people, while ignoring the plight of Black people. Presidential candidates will not win Black votes without putting out an explicit criminal justice reform package. As was said at the Netroots action, presidential candidates should expect to be shut down and confronted every step along the way of this presidential campaign. Black people are in a state of emergency. Lines have been drawn in the sand. You are either fighting continuously and measurably to protect Black life in America, or you are a part of the white supremacist system that we will tear down in the liberation of our people.
Read the full statement here.
As previously reported by NewsOne, Black Lives Matter founder Patriss Cullors led a protest at Netroots Nation in Phoenix, Arizona, effectively shutting down the speeches of presidential hopefuls Martin O’Malley and Sen. Bernie Sanders, MSNBC.com reports.
“It’s not like we like shutting sh*t down, but we have to,” Cullors said. “We are tired of being interrupted.”
With shouts of “Black lives matter!” and “Say her name!,” two hashtags that have been used to raise awareness about state-sanctioned violence against Black people in the United States, protesters refused to be silenced even as O’Malley and Sanders tried to stick to their talking points.
After the event interruption, Sanders unveiled a racial justice platform addressing systemic and institutional violence against Black and Brown people, saying in part: “We must pursue policies that transform this country into a nation that affirms the value of its people of color. That starts with addressing the four central types of violence waged against black and brown Americans: physical, political, legal and economic.”
Read more here.