Black Lives Matter protesters’ outrage at Sander’s event vital for change


The primaries for the 2016 presidential election are most certainly in full swing as the candidates campaign. This gives us, the constituents, much to discuss, laugh at and consider.

As the voters, what issues have we pushed for them to speak on?

A current issue would be the call to end institutional racism in America, as well as a demand to end the unnecessary deaths of unarmed African-Americans due to police brutality. This issue is the sole reason for the Black Lives Matter movement whose supporters have been making their presence known at various political events in an attempt to force the candidates to examine and speak on the issues they protest about.

One of their recent attempts was during Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders’ rally in Seattle, Washington. Co-founders of the Black Lives Matter (BLM) Seattle chapter jumped the barricades that were around Sanders’ stage, according to CNN.

The co-founders, Marissa Johnson and Mara Jacqueline Willaford took over the microphone while holding a sign that read “Smash Racism.” Johnson introduced herself, choosing to speak over the boos and calls for arrest that came from the crowd. CNN claims she went on to say, “I was going to tell Bernie how racist this city is, filled with its progressives, but you already did it for me, thank you.”

Eventually Johnson threatened the Sanders supporters saying they would never hear him speak if she did not hear silence “now.” Johnson demanded that Sanders “take action on saving black lives” and urged him to “ release his plans to reform policing.”

Sanders sat back and participated as Johnson and Willaford demanded a four and a half minute moment of silence in honor of Michael Brown — the unarmed black teen who was killed a year ago in Ferguson, Missouri — whose one year anniversary was on the following day (Aug. 9th). The four and a half minutes was to represent the four and a half hours Brown’s body was left in the street after being shot.

Was this the best way to get their point across? Furthermore, was the action inappropriate? Most people would think so. After all, most of us were taught it is rude to speak when others are speaking, but what happens when it is your turn to speak and no one is listening? Change will not happen through a pretense of calm. Change requires people to be uncomfortable; it means getting outside of your comfort zone and pushing boundaries. As a black woman who supports the movement, I think it will require more brave acts like this to get the message heard.

Personally, I am tired of tweeting and hash tagging the names of innocent unarmed African-Americans who have been murdered at the hands of police, only to have the media crucify them by painting the victims as immoral or corrupt people, as if having a criminal record is a justification for murder.

This is not to negate the amazing things Sanders plans to do for his constituents, namely minorities. Though financial disparity plays a gigantic role in racism and Sanders’ economic policy reform would potentially change the lives of countless minorities, it is not the answer to end police brutality which is what BLM members have been pushing.

From this perspective, it seems like BLM members must force the magnitude and truth of the issue down America’s throat.