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As a strong supporter of Bernie Sanders, my first reaction to hearing about yesterday’s Black Lives Matter protest at Netroots Nation was disappointment. This looks bad, I thought. Bad for Bernie, who is the only presidential candidate with any chance of challenging structural injustice. And bad for Black Lives Matter, who could easily be interpreted as shutting down progressive discussions about immigration and economic inequality to make people focus on their priorities. I’ve had my share of mistakes during protests, as have all the activists I respect most, so I certainly had some sympathy. But I thought their protest was just that: a mistake.
Then I watched the video of Sanders responding to the protest, or should I say, failing to respond and instead just speaking over and past them. He tried to just continue with his stump speech and seemed annoyed with the disruption. Several times he looked at moderator Jose Antonio Vargas as if he expected Vargas to control these women, once asking, “Are you in charge here?” The closest he came to discussing policing issues directly was mentioning his success with community policing in Burlington, VT, a city that was pretty much all white and pretty much irrelevant to the discussion of racist policing.Read more