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Response to TM99 (Reply #83)

Fri Jul 24, 2015, 11:58 AM

84. Nice try. Are you saying African Americans have evolved their opinion in the last month and ....

Bernie has drawn them under his umbrella?

I'm guessing you didn't see this in Phoenix?

http://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2015/jul/18/martin-omalley-bernie-sanders-interrupted-hecklers-phoenix

Democrats
O'Malley and Sanders interrupted by Black Lives Matter protesters in Phoenix

Netroots Nation session derailed as crowd chants over speeches
Activist invited onstage before O’Malley is forced to leave it


Martin Pengelly in New York
@MartinPengelly

Saturday 18 July 2015 15.32 EDT


The Democratic presidential candidates Martin O’Malley and Bernie Sanders were heckled and constantly interrupted during an appearance at the Netroots Nation conference on Saturday, as protesters over police brutality towards African Americans took the stage in Phoenix.
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O’Malley was eventually forced offstage, after the protest and his attempts to respond delayed the appearance of Sanders.

O’Malley, who stood patiently throughout the interruption, which was led by Tia Oso, national coordinator for the Black Alliance for Just Immigration in Phoenix, attempted to answer questions from activists. He eventually left the stage clapping and saying rhythmically: “Black lives matter, black lives matter, black lives matter.”

Arriving on stage shortly afterwards for what turned out to be an abbreviated, 20-minute appearance, Sanders shook moderator Jose Antonio Vargas by the hand and said: “Earning your pay today?”

He then said: “Let me talk about what I’m going to talk about for a second.”

Sanders began a prepared introduction – as had been delivered by O’Malley – talking about policies, including media bias and the need for a raised minimum wage. Chants of “black lives matter” and either “save our men” or “say her name” then broke out again.

“Black lives of course matter,” Sanders said. “I spent 50 years of my life fighting for civil rights and dignity, but if you don’t want me to be here that’s OK. I don’t want to out-scream people.”

The crowd allowed Sanders to continue, and he stood and walked the stage to make points about prisons policy and other social issues, repeating his campaign theme of calling for “a strong grassroots movement which I call a revolution” and calling for more people, and young people in particular, to vote.

As activists began chanting again – changing their refrain to “I want Bernie Sanders to say my name” – he attempted to answer questions, eventually asking Vargas “What are we doing here?” and “Are you in charge here?”
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Gaining some sort of hold on proceedings, Sanders said: “Black people are dying in this country because we have a criminal justice system which is out of control, a system in which over 50% of young African American kids are unemployed. It is estimated that a black baby born today has a one in four chance of ending up in the criminal justice system.”

Sanders and moderator Vargas – a journalist and film-maker who is an undocumented migrant – achieved some flow of question-and-answer conversation, on criminal justice reform, immigration and more.

On immigration, Sanders said: “I support what the president did [on executive actions in the face of Congressional intransigence] and would go further. But you have a Republican party owned by big business and too many Democrats also owned by corporate interests.”

O’Malley had spoken to Vargas for more than 20 minutes about a range of policy issues before an activist took the stage to deliver a long monologue about immigration and police violence in Arizona and beyond.

To chants of “black lives matter”, an organiser pleaded: “Give the governor a chance to respond.”

Subsequently, a second protester, a Black Lives Matter activist who was introduced as Patrice, was invited on to the stage to ask a question.

“It’s not like we like shutting shit down, but we have to,” she said. “We are tired of being interrupted.”

She added: “We are in a state of emergency. If you don’t know that emergency, you are not human.”

“I want to hear concrete actions,” she told O’Malley, “and I want to hear an action plan.”
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Bernie Sanders appears at the Netroots Nation 2015 Presidential Town Hall.
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Bernie Sanders appears at the Netroots Nation 2015 event. Photograph: Charlie Leight/Getty Images

“Let me say a couple of things,” O’Malley began in response. “All of us as Americans have a responsibility to recognise the pain and the grief throughout our country for all of the lives that have been lost to violence, whether at the hands of police or civilians.”

His words were greeted by heckling.

O’Malley tried to respond, saying: “This is … let me … sure. I’ll just share with you … I’m trying to respond as best I can. No … hey. Look … I know, I know.”

Vargas said: “What just happened there? I’m so lost.”

O’Malley switched to an inclusive tack. He said: “Every life matters and that is why this issue is important. Black lives matter, white lives matter, all lives matter.”

He was greeted, repeatedly, by booing.

It was reported afterwards that the teleprompter on stage had carried an apology to O’Malley.

Among pressure groups, support for the protesters was strong.

Anna Galland, executive director of MoveOn, issued a statement which said: “The presidential candidates’ responses today to the powerful protest led by black activists at Netroots Nation … make clear that all Democratic candidates have work to do in understanding and addressing the movement for black lives.

“Saying that ‘all lives matter’ or ‘white lives matter’ immediately after saying ‘black lives matter’ minimises and draws attention away from the specific, distinct ways in which black lives have been devalued by our society and in which black people have been subject to state and other violence.”

A joint statement from Democracy for America and the Progressive Change Campaign Committee said: “Black lives matter and we stand in solidarity with every single organizer and activist who stood up and demanded that presidential candidates challenge power and respond to the crushing consequences of structural racism.”

Immediately after the event, in a tweet, O’Malley said: “Everyone deserves a voice. #blacklivesmatter. I WILL promote a racial justice agenda as president.”

Using the same medium, Vargas said: “To folks who ask me why I didn’t stop protestors: We cannot silence people of colour and women of colour #BlackLivesMatter. #nn15”

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