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Response to intheflow (Original post)

Sun Aug 9, 2015, 11:07 AM

8. Yesterday's disruption of Bernie's rally was borne from the failure of Democrats at Netroots...

The simple fact is that both O'Malley and Sanders did poorly in their responses to the BLM activists. That perception was as clear as day. This is in the words of those activists themselves. I'm sure that a lot of people here have questions as to why BLM activists have gone about standing up at rallies, well. I suggest that those people listen to them when they explain themselves. Huffpost Live did an interview with the activists. You can check out the article here:

http://www.colorlines.com/articles/watch-huffpost-live-interview-blacklivesmatter-activists-who-took-over-netroots-nation

Watch: HuffPost Live Interview With #BlackLivesMatter Activists Who Took Over Netroots Nation

by Kenrya Rankin Naasel

Tue, Jul 21, 2015 2:05 PM EDT

Over the weekend, #BlackLivesMatter activists interrupted a town hall session at the progressive-minded Netroots Nation convention in Phoenix to address the issues impacting black people in this country and call the names of women who have died in police custody. The session featured presidential hopefuls former Maryland governor Martin O’Malley and Vermont senator Bernie Sanders, and organizer Tia Oso took the stage to directly ask: “What is your agenda going to be to make sure that black lives do matter and that as a leader of this nation? Will you advance a racial justice agenda that will begin to dismantle, not reform not make progress, but begin to dismantle structural racism in this country?”

The crowd was less than satisfied with the responses, including O’Malley’s, “Black lives matter, white lives matter, all lives matter.”

After the event, HuffPost Live interviewed three of the organizers: Tia Oso, an organizer for the Black Alliance for Just immigration; Ashley Yates, a Black Lives Matter activist; and Patrisse Cullors, a co-creator of the #BlackLivesMatter hashtag and movement.

When asked if the candidates provided the responses she was looking for, Cullors said:

No, I don’t think that they were honest in their responses… Today was about holding senator Bernie sanders and former governor O’Malley accountable for what’s to come and we wanted to test them to see if they would be able to really hold their ground when we put their feet to the fire. And I was not that impressed. I think that former Gov O’Malley failed, especially when he proclaimed, ‘white lives matter.’ It’s very clear that he didn't actually understand why we say black lives matter, and also just was very defensive. We need bold and courageous leadership right now. We don’t need people who are gonna be cowardly and people who are going to be defensive. And I think Senator Bernie Sanders had a speech already prepared, especially ‘cause he heard us shut it down back there. So he was prepared with a speech instead of really listening to our questions. And so I would give him a D-.


Here's another article by Tia Osa in Mic.com, where she fully clarified her reason why she felt it necessary to confront candidates like Sanders:

http://mic.com/articles/122629/i-am-the-black-woman-who-interrupted-the-netroots-presidential-town-hall-and-this-is-why

I Am the Black Woman Who Interrupted the Netroots Presidential Town Hall, and This Is Why

By Tia Oso July 21, 2015 LIKE MIC ON FACEBOOK:
I am Tia Oso, the black woman who took to the stage and demanded a microphone on July 18 at the Netroots Nation Presidential Town Hall in Phoenix, Arizona. I did this to focus the attention of the nation's largest gathering of progressive leaders and presidential hopefuls on the death of Sandra Bland and other black women killed while in police custody, because the most important and urgent issue of our day is structural violence and systemic racism that is oppressing and killing black women, men and children. This is an emergency.

Sandra Bland and I had a lot in common. We were both black women, active in our communities and the Movement for Black Lives. We both pledged sororities: I'm a Delta, Bland was a member of Sigma Gamma Rho. I have also been harshly confronted by police during "routine" traffic stops and feared for my safety and my life. Reading about Bland, about her life and brutal killing, the accusation of suicide, I felt devastated and enraged. As a human being and a person committed to the cause of justice, I was overwhelmed with grief for Bland, her family and the countless lives taken in what amounts to a genocide of black people who are first criminalized, then brutalized by the United States' justice system.

I was also determined that Bland's death and name would not be ignored nor dismissed. Though the Movement for Black Lives, initiated by young people in impoverished communities across the country, has galvanized a new generation into the grassroots movement to resist police violence, black women are not always the face put forward to rally around. Organizing is often led by women, but our experiences are often minimized. I recognized the opportunity that I had to change this narrative. I, along with the 50 other black organizers attending Netroots Nation 2015, decided we would use the platform of the Presidential Town Hall to demand that former Democratic Gov. Martin O'Malley and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) #SayHerName and address the crisis of structural racism and their plans to make sure that black lives matter should they be elected president.




Let's not forget that the immediate reaction by black activists to Sanders' response to the protestors was scathing:

http://www.latimes.com/nation/nationnow/la-na-nn-berniesoblack-trends-20150719-htmlstory.html

Just how black is Bernie Sanders?

By DEXTER THOMAS

Black Twitter was calling Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders “black” on Sunday, and it’s not because of his civil rights pedigree. Well, not exactly.

To some politically minded Twitter users, the Bernie Sanders who spoke at Saturday’s Netroots Nation conference in Phoenix did not look like the civil rights rabble rouser that he has claimed to be. When protesters began chanting “say her name,” a reference to black women who have died in police custody, Sanders simply talked over the protesters. When asked to speak about recent events such as the death of Sandra Bland, a young black woman who died in a Texas jail after a traffic stop, he shifted the topic to the economy.

The next morning, Roderick Morrow, a host of the Black Guy Who Tips podcast, started a wildly funny hashtag called #BernieSoBlack.

Snip

Since #BernieSoBlack took off, some opposition has formed. Many tweeters are now using the hashtag to argue that the protesters were disrespectful, and to highlight Sanders’ past accomplishments.

“It’s ironic,” Morrow said of these tweets. “They don’t appreciate that we’re asking Bernie to do better.”



In the longer wake of Netroots, it was still very clear that Sanders still had perceived deficiencies in the arena of race relations. Here's a rundown:

http://www.counterpunch.org/2015/08/04/bernie-sanders-top-five-race-problems-the-whiteness-of-nominal-socialism/

AUGUST 4, 2015
Bernie Sanders’ Top Five Race Problems: the Whiteness of Nominal Socialism
by PAUL STREET

Racism as Just an Economic Problem

The nominally socialist Democratic Party presidential candidate Bernie “sheep dog” Sanders, from 95% white Vermont, has, it turns out, has some race problems – at least five by my count. The first one, very much on his display in his speech to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s old organization the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) last July 25th, is his economistic tendency to downplay the significance of race and the importance of specifically anti-racist struggle.

Reflecting the influence of the Black Lives Matter movement that has arisen in response to racist police killings, Sanders addressed the SCLC to demonstrate his commitment to racial justice. He came armed with a surplus of terrible statistics on US racial disparities and institutional racism. Sanders seemed eager to wrap himself in the legacy of Dr. King. “Bernie” (as his liberal; and progressive fans like to call him) trumpeted his own youthful work in the 1960s Civil Rights Movement. He quoted King on the disgraceful existence of mass poverty in a land of prosperity and on the obscenity that (as King noted in Memphis, Tennessee just days before his assassination or execution) “most of the poor people in our country are working every day…and…making wages so low they cannot begin to function in the mainstream of the economic life of our nation.”

After praising King for understanding that (in Sanders’ words) “it is useless to try to address race without also taking on the larger issue of [economic] inequality” Sanders moved into long, fact-filled reflections on wealth and income inequality and corporate plutocracy in contemporary New Gilded Age America. He reiterated his standard campaign denunciations of the Republican Party, the right-wing billionaire Koch brothers, and the Supreme Court’s oligarchic Citizens United decision. He called for major federal jobs programs and infrastructure investments, combined with progressive taxation and single-payer health insurance, to fight poverty, create good jobs, and downwardly redistribute wealth and power in the U.S.


Now to answer your questions:

Why do you think protesters targeting Sanders and not Clinton or any Republican?


I think for two reasons: They're primarily focusing on Sanders because he's the one doing large public events in the wake of his Netroots fiasco. You also have to note that this is the first disruption of his rallies, happening more than two weeks after Netroot's wake. And what has happened since? More black lives lost and, as I've pointed out in that last article, Sanders is still found wanting. Netroots created a connection between BLM and Sanders, it's an ongoing process.

The second reason has to do with the fact that Hillary hasn't had the same types and amounts of public rallies as Sanders has.

Is there a central organizing force behind the BLM movement, or are chapters (for lack of a better word) being formed locally and acting independently under the rubric of BLM because it's a nationally recognized phrase/movement? I ask this because I've read more than once that the "real" BLM organizers don't support protesting Sanders, but I can't find any posts from any group claiming to be BLM actually saying this.


The central organizing force is around Black lives themselves. This movement began to gel in social media and then it took to the streets. Each region of the country has their own locally based concerns. BLM/SEA sent out a press release in the wake of Sanders' event and they highlighted their own concerns:

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.

https://www.facebook.com/BLMSeattle/posts/716844418437393


Here in Detroit, not only does the local movement align themselves with the general one (police brutality, an opposition to white supremacy and the rest), but things like water shutoffs are addressed as well.

If these are local movements, are they spontaneous, or are they off-shoots of local racial justice organizations? I think what I'm trying to figure out is, are they being lead by seasoned/trained community organizers or by people/young people new to the struggle? I ask this because I've worked as a community organizer and given Sanders' history of working for fair housing and socialist views, it seems like he should be the frontrunner for people seeking more equity, at least economically - which is such a huge component of the social construction of racism in the US.


These are not your daddy's activists. These are the recently college educated and social media activists. Their objective is to rewrite the book. This is why there's a distinct last of resonance with Sanders and of Democratic politicians with BLM. Check out the HuffPost Live interview.

In your opinion, are these protests primarily unfocused and born out of anger, or do you think the protesters believe one candidate should be held accountable for solving 500 years of socially constructed racism? My apologies for the word "unfocused" in my question, because I know the anger is real, but as one who studies histories, I understand there are movements born out of reactionary anger from societal repression (the Stonewall riots, and of course, the initial BLM organizing around Trayvon Martin's killing) and those born out of intentional planning (Nat Turner, NAACP, and the Black Panthers). So I guess what I'm asking is, do you think there's a targeted strategy behind the protests?


There's anger, which is righteous. There's also frustration as well, however it's not about holding any one candidate accountable. It's not like that it's O'Malley's or Sanders' fault that America is a white supremacist nation. They are demanding that the candidates outline a plan of action to abolish systemic and institutional white supremacy in this country. Those candidates who have stated that they're allying with the movement. The BLM activists are rightly impatient. As long as more black bodies are lying dead in America's streets every single day, their sense of urgency dictates their direction.

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intheflow Aug 2015 OP
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