Following a challenge from Black Lives Matter activists at the Netroots Nation convention, Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) used his time on The Ed Show yesterday to address Sandra Bland’s July 13, 2015, death in a Texas jail:
We have to take a look at use of force policy. That’s what you saw in that dreadful and painful video of Sandra Bland. What you saw is an aggressive, overactive police officer who dragged this woman out of her car, assaulted her, sent her to jail. For what crime? A minor traffic violation. That happens all over this country, and it especially happens to people of color. We need a real hard look at the way police departments function in America. And we need to figure out a way in terms of how we treat African-Americans so that young people can walk down the street without having to worry about whether they are going to be harassed or shot in the back. We’ve got a lot of work in front of us.
Many people feel that Sanders missed the mark when the activists asked him and fellow presidential candidate Martin O’Malley how they would dismantle the structural racism that devalues the lives of black people in America. When host Ed Schultz asked if connecting with people of color is going to be a stumbling block for his campaign, Sanders promised that he will work hard to earn their vote:
Look, I come from a state which is 95 percent white. That’s just a simple reality. We’ve only been in this race for president for about two and a half months. So we have a lot of work to do to reach out to the African-American community and the Hispanic community. But I’m very proud. I’m proud of the record that I have established in all of my years in Congress. I’m proud of the fact that I have been a leader it the fight for civil rights and social justice in this country. We are gonna get that record out to the American people. And I believe at the end of the day, we are gonna have a significant amount of support from the African-American and the Hispanic communities, because the agenda that we are proposing is going to be very, very meaningful to them.
Watch the full video here.