Black Lives v. Bernie

Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., speaks at the Alliance for Retired Americans 2015 National Legislative Conference in Washington, Thursday, July 9, 2015. (AP Photo/Molly Riley)

Why are members of the Black Lives Matter organization targeting Bernie Sanders?  Because they can.

There’s no way they’d get within a mile of any Republican function or, dare I say it, a Hillary Clinton event.

When you hold big public rallies, you’re going to have interaction with the public, and Black Lives Matter is a public movement.

Strategically I think it was a mistake to, basically, force Sanders from the stage.  One has to believe there were many allies of Black Lives Matter, albeit white allies, in the Seattle crowd.  I don’t care what your mission is, don’t alienate your allies.  But being an old, privileged white guy, I shouldn’t be second guessing the motives of an organization defending the lives of African-American men.

Flathead Memo’s James Conner had a harsher take, calling the activists “black racist thugs” and “shock troops” and to “charge (them) with assault, throw them in jail and throw away the key.”

I have great respect for Conner and his writing and usually agree with his posts.  I can understand his anger since Sanders is one of the few candidates who would actually address the police violence, racism and poverty that plague America’s minorities.  I imagine he sees it as just plain bad manners, too.  But neither he nor I can ever comprehend the pain being felt in the African-American community over the shooting deaths of so many young, black men.

Sanders handled it well at both venues that have been disrupted: at Netroots Nation and Seattle’s Westlake Park.  He kept his head, stayed above the fray and then left the stage, this time for another Seattle engagement that was 15,000 strong.

He still needs to articulate his stand on police violence against people of color, and advance a strong anti-racism policy, though.


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  • What I’ve heard is that the two women and one man who closed Bernie Sanders’ speech down are not affiliated with Seattle BLM. In the long run, this incident doesn’t add up to much. Just a few folks who acted unwisely.

  • I am not a minority per se, but I have always been TREATED as a minority because of my dark skin. And I have always fought for the rights of ALL minorities, including black people. And I must say that I was OUTRAGED that these morons did not led Bernie Sanders speak! Someone from the dark side put sponsored them. I am absolutely DONE with the so called black lives matter movement! They’re not thugs, they’re WHORES for someone. Not sure who. But I’m sure it will come out in the wash. Terrible, horrible thing that these young black whores did! I, too, along with Bernie, have fought long and hard for equal rights for minorities. In fact, I too, have risked my life for them. And I’m insulted by the conduct of these little whore twits who have NO idea what it’s like to take on the real bad guys!

      • What have these little WHORES done? Here’s what Bernie’s done! Jeebus, they weren’t even ALIVE long enuff to comprehend what they’ve done. And that’s just real sad. The ReePubes or Hitlery are behind this one. Hell, maybe even the CIA. Sumthin’ stinks REAL bad here. Bernie needs security, and he needs bodyguards who will keep the rightwing whores away! If I would’a been in that crowd, I would NOT have tolerated these little twits to interrupt true democracy! They don’t have that right.

        • Now, if these little WHORES have a resume to match Bernie’s, well then, by all MEANS prevent us from listening to a man of great integrity who has walked the walk!! But they don’t. They’re twenty something dipshits who have great big egos and rightwing sponsors! Not enuff. I can’t abide it. The black community needs to swing into action, for this looks VERY much to simply be another rightwing tactic to divide people. Hell, they’ve been using this playbook since the twenties when they first started destroying the union movement. It’s nothing new, but it works. I say it’s time to STOP this sh*t!

          • HOLY SHiT! I have been reading extensively all the progressive sites out there and I gotta tell ya that NEVER have I seen such an orchestrated writing campaign to give these little whore plants an air of legitimacy! Someone is funding this attack on Bernie. Who, I don’t know! But the attack is truly breathtaking in scope! Anyone with ANY computer savvy sees what this is. Abso-friggin’-lutely incredible! AND, unprecedented! What the hell is going ON here? The ONLY folks who could pull this off would be the Izrailees nazzies! They hate Bernie for his peace efforts, and they’ve got the endless writers available! Crazy, crazy stuff goin’ on here in our supposed democracy! Well, at LEAST they didn’t kill him!………yet!

          • Really? What would YOU call a twenty something who has absolutely NO experience in politics and probably less in life in general disrupting an event for which thousands had showed up? I’m stickin’ by analysis. Sumthin’ is REAL wrong here. She was a Palin supporter? Give me a break. REAL wrong goin’ on here, Pete. Real wrong. She’s on someone’s payroll. She’s a plant. What would YOU call such a person? Everyone I know is absolutely outraged by this dirty tactic. And they’re right!

        • What part of “let’s lay off … until we know the whole story” don’t you understand? This is Don’s site but my post. You want to get banned from what’s probably the last site in the blogosphere that still takes your comments? He can reinstate you when he gets back from his road trip but any more from you until the facts are in and you’re gone.

  • I remember 1968, a year of assassinations, race riots, and the election of Richard Nixon to the White House. A lot of his support came from a backlash against the violence, and a sense that Democrats could not be trusted to keep the streets safe. Nixon’s acceptance speech at the Republican National Convention was a masterful example of how to exploit those anxieties.

    I think that could happen all over again. We’ve already had the race riots and streets aflame. Now we have Black Lives Matter stage stormers shutting down speeches, depriving audiences of their right to hear Bernie Sanders speak. Their tactics were thuggish. Their message was racist: “you’re white supremacist liberals.”

    Sanders, an old hand at protect, handled himself well. The lead organizer of the Westlake rally, Robby Stern (there’s a great photo of him in the Seattle Times) had constables ready to restore order and make arrests if called upon, but Stern was more afraid of having black party crashers arrested than of how wimpy he looking by letting the BLM get away with shoving Sanders (probably a federal crime).

    Every time an outrage such as Seattle’s occurs, more votes are pushed into the Republican column for 2016. If these BLM agitators want to accomplish something useful, let them spend their time registering voters and get them to the polls. But if they continue disrupting events, arrest them, frog-march them to the nearest hoosegow, and throw away the key.

  • Obstructing someone’s speech is not protected free speech (law of contradiction). The offenders should be appropriately punished to protect our right of free speech. This groups cause has been hurt by their actions.

    • To both Tim and James: I’m not sure arresting the stage crashers would have helped the situation. It could have really put a damper on the event and maybe even turned ugly. This wasn’t a Republican rally where the cops would have been applauded for roughing up some protesters. People both at the event and then following it in the news will draw their own conclusions about the Black Lives Matter campaign.

      I think now that Bernie has put out a detailed policy statement on inequality, police violence, social justice and racism, further disruptions should not be tolerated.

      • The organizers failed to protect the right of the audience to hear the scheduled speaker. BLM’s rowdies were offered a slot after Sanders, but insisted on speaking first. The organizers caved. Then the BLM agitators exceeded the time they were allotted, shouted racial slurs at the crowd, refused to surrender the microphone, thus breaking their promise, and shoved a U.S. Senator. That’s what put the damper on the event. Hauling the agitators to the Hoosegow so that the audience could hear Sanders would have been applauded as a responsible exercise of police power.

        The more I think about this, the more I’m convinced the BLM stage stormers wanted to be arrested. That’s why they kept escalating the event. When they weren’t arrested, they lost their chance to become martyrs, but they did succeed in humiliating the organizers. I challenge Democrats to explain why organizers who abase themselves this way help win votes for Democratic candidates.

        • I think you answered your own question, James. Perhaps the protesters did want to be arrested and become “martyrs” to their cause. They weren’t arrested, so that strategy failed and an unpleasant situation didn’t escalate into total chaos.

          And IMHO, I don’t believe how the event went down will cost Democrats any votes 14 months from now.

  • Me too Larry, the few who took the mike in Seattle,
    did not look real to my experience.

    Therefore i’m all the more curious
    how they got to center stage mike control!

    Maybe desperate and brave.
    Maybe duped by whom?
    Maybe po$itioned there by whom all?

    Cowgirl Commenters and Amy Goodman and/or Thom Hartman
    may release truthings that matter before conclusions and hypothesizing judgements.

    How odd that two dissimilar Commenters both rushed to comment about judgements!

    Certainly, currently hereabouts are the most alive, informative plus most interesting Comments of any Blog in Montana, in my experiences.

    • Bob, it’s very hard for me to write dispassionately about this topic. I have watched in horror at the slaughter of young black men recently. And the perps walk away scot free! I was devastated by the slaughter in the church. I can’t fathom that depth of evil. I work with a black pastor here in GF, and now, every time I see him I think that it could have been him. And like the pastor that was murdered, Pastor Marcus is one of the most decent men I know.
      And then there came the Sandra Bland affair. I think that like most liberals my age who stopped thinking about race a long time ago, all we saw was a beautiful, intelligent, articulate, caring young woman who died for absolutely no reason at all! This woman was STOLEN from us! She, like all the black victims, was stolen from us! Why? Why is this allowed to happen? I would have been MUCH more aggressive then she was with the campus cop!
      The problem that I have is that we haven’t even been allowed a sufficient period for mourning. We need time for reflection, and a little time to sort this all out. But yet, these supposed black lives matter little twits attack one of the ONLY decent men left in politics who can make a difference! And call the likes of me a racist! That is simply pure bullshit! These young women can have NO idea of what has transpired over the last sixty-four years of my life. And it’s terribly wrong and insulting for them to insert themselves in such a manner into a situation which they know nothing about. Hell, they INHERITED a far better America than their ancestors were born into. And they should stop attacking the folks who fought for their rights along the way!
      Well, their little stunt was more than I could tolerate. I still think that someone put them up to it. It was embarrassing for all of us. And very, very counterproductive to the cause of civil rights for all.

  • What surprises me (not) is that those who hold to faked moon landings and hurricane powered microwaves and black op marathon bombings and MKULTRA control of shootings in Newtown and Denver are so very quiet about this ham-handed attempt at mole-driven propaganda. I thought this stuff would be kinda in their wheelhouse, so to speak.

  • So called ‘christofascism’ did not make much sense, until I went to Wikipedia for ‘Clerical facism’.

    imo it’s the corrupt clerical facists that make rotten fruit into sour wine and propagandize children also grown up children.
    Like praising the name of Scott Walker as one
    who walks the Christian talk.
    Like condemning recent Seattle subjects, while ignoring Police brutality in Seattle.

    Be wary of condemning figureheads in Montana,
    while ignoring corporate brutalities against peoples of Montana,
    and ? how many Koch financed hate incubators in Montana,
    and ? > 1/4 of recent MT Legislation derived from ALEC + Texas connection + FGA of Florida.
    Montana lives also matter!
    But do they?
    Notice how much Comment there is on Don’s Post
    on improving Education in Montana!

    • Don writes comprehensive, thoughtful pieces on education and politics. I prefer the low-hanging fruit ripped from today’s headlines. And my New York Post-like headlines grab the readers by the short and curlies. I swear, Don brought me aboard as click bait. 🙂

  • For all the concern about these disruptions, I think Sen Sanders has taken a masterful approach towards improvising, adapting and overcoming. I think he trumped his critics when he opened his rally(with 27,500 people) in Los Angeles two days later with speakers from the Black Lives Matter movement. I believe he showed great restraint on Saturday by withdrawing from a situation would only have reflected worse on his campaign and on his hosts that day (who did a horrible job of staging their rally).

    When I compare his actions against the ham-fisted attempts by the last few Republican presidential candidates to control their campaign audiences, it strengthens my support for him and his proposed policies.

  • Sanders’s supporters deeply and understandably want to see this is a tent-expanding win, but I think he’s been deeply wounded. Embracing BLM was his only choice, but people like the women who interrupted him aren’t going to be appeased, and his messaging has been critically compromised. Every debate he’s going to have to answer for anything questionable the BLM movement is associated with – and it wouldnt’ be hard for those who wished him ill to manufacture a convenient ‘uprising’ close enough to a key election to ensure a Nixon-like Law & Order victory for his opponent. More fundamentally, Sanders knows that his biggest liability is that he’s an unabashed liberal. As a result, he’s been trying so hard to make himself a populist, mixing vague promises (ala Obama) with a few concrete policy goals that avoid hot-button emotional issues and that would broadly benefit middle and working class Americans. In other words, he’s convincing economically insecure white Americans that he’s not like all the other Democrats, he’s fighting for the people (and his party/ideological label is insignificant). That’s a much harder sell now that he’s been forced to take a firm position in a very emotional controversey where it’s uncear if he has majority support. Moreover, whatever very reasonable proposals he has to reverse police violence are now going to be seen through the distorted optics of racial division – common-sense things like ending the drug war or ensuring police are held accountable that would benefit all Americans will now be seen as ‘pandering’ to the Black community. This might work out in the primary, but in the general election it not only weakens Sanders (in the off chance he gets nominated) but reduces support for those positions overall.

    • Bump to an old post, but still relevant. This was the last “bump” in Bernie’s campaign. Since he’s held large events in major early states (NH, IA, SC and beyond). The ability to stay on message and enhance appeal in minority communities show the strength of Bernie’s discipline and organization.

      Since there are consistent polls that show Bernie catching and passing Hillary in the early states. This issue is tied to the for-profit prison issue, the recording of police issue and many other social justice issues that disproportionately affect minorities and so Bernie should continue to make inroads.

      Bernie has begun to enter the “and then they fight us” stage of the battle for the Democratic party. Ignoring and laughing has not worked. The first volley by his opposition has demonstrated Bernie’s strength and ability to focus on policy and effectively becoming empowered by criticism.

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Pete Talbot

'Papa’ Pete Talbot is first and foremost a grandfather to five wonderful grandchildren. Like many Montanans, he has held numerous jobs over the years: film and video producer, a partner in a marketing and advertising firm, a builder and a property manager. He’s served on local and statewide Democratic Party boards. Pete has also been blogging at various sites for over a decade. Ping-pong and skiing are his favorite diversions. He enjoys bourbon.

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