A day after being interrupted by Black Lives Matters protesters at a campaign event in Seattle, Washington, Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) released a detailed platform on combating racial inequality.
Sanders' campaign posted the platform on his website on Sunday, and he addressed the issue of racial justice that evening in front of more than 20,000 supporters in Portland, drawing his largest crowd yet along the campaign trail. Nearly 12,000 people attended Saturday’s event in Seattle.
The platform delineates policy proposals pertaining to what Sanders calls “the four central types of violence waged against black and brown Americans: physical, political, legal and economic.”
Sanders proposes a series of police reforms, including the demilitarization of police forces, a federal program giving police body cameras, and increasing police transparency and accountability. He also calls for an end to mandatory minimum sentences for non-violent offenses and bemoans the disproportionate rate at which blacks are targeted by police.
“It is an obscenity that we stigmatize so many young Americans with a criminal record for smoking marijuana, but not one major Wall Street executive has been prosecuted for causing the near collapse of our entire economy. This must change,” he said. “We must address the lingering unjust stereotypes that lead to the labeling of black youths as ‘thugs.’ We know the truth that, like every community in this country, the vast majority of people of color are trying to work hard, play by the rules and raise their children. It’s time to stop demonizing minority communities.”
To combat what he calls political violence, Sanders stresses the expansion of the Voting Rights Act and restoring the Act’s “preclearance” provision, which was gutted by the Supreme Court last year. He also proposes ending laws that ban convicted felons from voting.
Again, credit where credit is due. These are the issues that Black Lives Matter activists in Seattle wanted Bernie to address, and it didn't take him very long to do it, either. These are all programs and reforms that I can support. More will need to be done, but Sanders absolutely gets points here for understanding that he will need the black vote to win both the primary and the general. My estimation of Sanders has gone up somewhat,
But the problem remains that Sanders is willing to talk about people of color, and not as much directly to us. More needs to be done.
So two things: Bernie Sanders is willing to learn, and activism does work.
Your move, rest of the Democratic field.