While giving a speech on Social Security in Seattle, Bernie Sanders was again shouted down by Black Lives Matter activists.
Bernie's response? He stood by and let them take the microphone. He waited patiently while activists demanded a four and a half minute moment of silence for Michael Brown. Bernie gives them their four and a half minutes, but the activists continued to refuse to relinquish the microphone. One memorable quote was the activists claiming the entire crowd were "white supremacist liberals". Activists also demanded that Bernie apologize for the fiasco at Netroots Nation some weeks back.
In the end, Bernie Sanders was unable to make his remarks, and he left the stage after negotiations with the activists failed.
I'm not going to present much comment in the diary, but I'll be commenting below. But please, take a minute and think to yourself how you would feel if people who looked exactly like you were being systematically hunted by the police, an organization which is almost unprosecutable and unrestrainable in its actions. Have a little empathy before you call for BLM to be "arrested", as I saw in one diary. And note that, yes, Bernie Sanders needs black people if he wants to be the nominee, and every subtly racist remark you make is another black voter who won't give Bernie the time of day.
To the black community on Daily Kos: Please, weigh in on this. I for one would like to hear your voice in this.
Edited to include a crucial missing quote, and another piece of missing information. This is a developing story. Bear with me!
4:09 PM PT: See here, raw video of the event.
4:36 PM PT: Black Lives Matter has now begun using the hashtag #BowDownBernie
Further quote from activists' Facebook page:
"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."
4:43 PM PT: Update from BLM's Seattle on Facebook:
Black Lives Matter Seattle
17 mins ·
To the people of Seattle and #BernieSanders I am so sorry for what happened today in Seattle. I am a volunteer who just runs this page and I am only just starting to get into the movement. I was unaware of what happened and now that I've seen the video I would like to say again that I am sorry. That is not what Black Lives Matter stands for and that is not what we're about. Do not let your faith in the movement be shaken by voices of two people. Please do not question our legitimacy as a movement. Again I would like to apologize to the people of Seattle and I will be trying to reach out to Mr. Sanders.
5:04 PM PT: To clarify:
The statement by BLM Seattle is not directly affiliated with the national movement. The national movement is proud of its new hashtag, #BowDownBernie, which I for one unequivocally denounce.
6:05 PM PT: Further clarification:
It seems there are no less than three Black Lives Matter Seattle Facebook pages. The one with the apology (see the update at 4:43 PM PT) is a volunteer-run page that is not affiliated with the national movement.
The page with the #BowDownBernie hashtag claims itself to be a recognized affiliate of the Black Lives Matter movement. Here is the full press release from this page:
PRESS RELEASE: Black Lives Matter Seattle #BowDownBernie Action
MEDIA CONTACTS: Marissa Johnson (360) 840-6234 email@example.com
Black Lives Matter Seattle organizers and supporters take over Bernie Sanders’ rally at Westlake on Saturday, August 8, 2015.
Today BLM Seattle, with the support of other Black organizers and non-Black allies and accomplices, held Bernie Sanders publicly accountable for his lack of support for the Black Lives Matter movement and his blatantly silencing response to the #SayHerName #IfIDieInPoliceCustody action that took place at Netroots this year.
Bernie’s arrival in Seattle is largely significant in the context of the state of emergency Black lives are in locally as well as across America. The Seattle Police Department has been under federal consent decree for the last three years and has been continually plagued by use-of-force violations and racist scandals amongst their rank and file. Seattle Mayor Ed Murray has refused to push any reform measures for police accountability, not even the numerous recommendations of his self-appointed Community Police Commission. The Seattle School District suspends Black students at a rate six times higher than their white counterparts, feeding Black children into the school-to-prison pipeline. King County has fought hard to push through a plan to build a $210 million new youth jail to imprison these children, amid intense community criticism and dissent. The Central District, a historically Black neighborhood in Seattle, has undergone rapid gentrification over the past few decades, with Black people being displaced from the only neighborhood that we could legally live in until just years ago. While white men profit off of the legalization of marijuana, our prisons are still filled with Black people who are over-incarcerated for drug offenses.
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.
On this, nearly the one year anniversary of the ruthless murder of Mike Brown, we honor Black lives lost by doing the unthinkable, the unapologetic, and the unrespectable. Out of radical love for our Black brothers and sisters, we put our lives and our bodies on the line to testify to their persecution and resilience. We join together in Black love to #SayHerName and declare that #BlackLivesMatter, understanding that our love will disrupt the complicity and corruption of our anti-Black society; GOP, Democrat, and otherwise.
There is no business as usual while Black lives are lost. We will ensure this by any means necessary.
With the strength of our ancestors and for the future of our children,
Black Lives Matter Seattle Co-Founders
Marissa Johnson and Mara Willaford
Would you like to give them your opinion regarding #BowDownBernie? Marissa Johnson's contact information was posted in the press release. Please, be respectful if you contact Ms. Johnson. You do no one any credit when you send hate mail.
6:46 PM PT: One more update: It would seem the widely despised #BowDownBernie hashtag has so far reared its head only on this facebook account, which was the account used by today's protestors. However, the hashtag itself is associated with two prominent, well-known activists in the movement. This was a legit attempt by BLM to introduce this hashtag, not some fringe group.