Sunday, August 9, 2015

Bernie Sanders, #BlackLivesMatter and what happened in Seattle.

Dusting off this blog to address some stuff that happened yesterday in Seattle, because it's important that everyone understand the dynamics at play here.

First off, let's start with what actually happened. The Washington Post has a solid writeup:

Sanders was the final speaker on a long program held at a city park. Shortly after he took stage, a small group of protesters from a Seattle chapter of Black Lives Matter took the microphone and demanded that the crowd hold Sanders “accountable” for not doing enough, in their view, to address police brutality and other issues on the group’s agenda.

After sharing a few local grievances with the crowd, including school disparities and gentrification in Seattle, the protesters asked for a period of silence to commemorate the one-year anniversary of Michael Brown being shot and killed during a confrontation with a police officer in Ferguson, Mo.

Event organizers allowed the period of silence, as some in the large crowd booed and shouted for the protesters to leave the stage. Afterward, Marissa Janae Johnson, who identified herself as a leader of the Black Lives Matter chapter in Seattle, asked the crowd to “join us now in holding Bernie Sanders accountable for his actions.” She motioned for Sanders to join her at the microphone.

After several minutes of frantic conversations, Sanders left the stage and greeted people in the large crowd who had turned out to see him. Many chanted his name.

In the hours that followed, several activists took to social media to question whether Johnson was speaking for the broader Black Lives Movement.

This isn't the first time this has happened, but we need to dig deeper to see what exactly is going on. Specifically, we need to see who the protesters in both cases were really speaking for, and we need to understand why they were called to do it, and Bernie supporters need to know what to do about it.