News have circulated that three people who are activists for the Black Lives Matter movement interrupted a Bernie Sanders demonstration on August 8th, 2015. Bernie Sanders made a speech about expanding social programs for the needy and disenfranchised on the anniversary of Social Security and Medicare at a Seattle rally. Then a couple of women and a man from the Black Lives Matter local chapter came on stage, interrupted Bernie and drove him off the stage while the audience shouted, ”Let Bernie speak!” The young women went on to address the fact that it was the one year anniversary of Mike Brown’s slaying in the hands of former police chef, Darren Wilson in Ferguson and how angry and upset they were about the racial inequalities in Seattle, Washington and racism in our country overall. At the end, Bernie Sanders ended up leaving the rally.
Honestly, I don’t agree with the young people interrupting a political rally like that . To me, it was rude and uncalled for to go in front of someone like that in a crowd of people and interrupt what he was about to say. This was disrespectful not only to Bernie Sanders but to those who came to the rally to hear him speak. If these people wanted to have a chance to speak, they should have let Bernie speak and then ask him or his politician advisors if they can come up there and speak. However, there is more to this incident than meets the eye and it should be discussed.
As I listened into these two, young women speaking about the racial injustice in Seattle and Black men and women being murdered in the hands of the police, I couldn’t help but feel empathy for these young women. I could feel the angst and frustration in their voices when they spoke about how racial inequalities in Seattle disadvantaged minorities particularly African Americans. I could understand their frustration because it hurts and angers me to see many African Americans and other minorities live in impoverished ghettos due to centuries of institutionalized racism in the education system, healthcare, job hiring, workplace, housing etc. that hinders their progress in society. It was horrible to read about them talk about the brutality and violence many Black men and women face while interacting with the police. Even though, I disagreed with their interruption of Bernie Sanders’ rally, I believe what they said shed light on the racial inequalities in Seattle.
Bernie Sanders is a Socialist senator from Vermont who is running for the Democratic ticket in the 2016 presidential race. His stance on reforming the education and healthcare system along with lowering the National debt and closing the gap between the rich and poor has appealed to many people on the left. But his economic and political reforms were void of analysis on the racially charged political atmosphere and institutionalized racism in this country despite the fact that he marched with Martin Luther King in the Civil Rights movement and protested against police brutality and segregation in the 1960s. As of recently, Bernie Sanders has added “Racial Justice” platform page on his campaign website and added an activist from Black Lives Matter to his staff.
Ultimately, I believe these activists’ actions was unfair to Bernie Sanders because these women took over and didn’t even allow the man to speak in his own rally. However hearing Marissa Johnson speak about the injustices in Seattle reminded me of the fact that racial disparities needs to be discussed more openly in society.
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