During a Justice Forum, the Democratic Presidential candidate made a few comments that did not sit well with Black voters - for good reason.
Everybody's favorite Democrat Bernie Sanders was the one feeling the burn after a controversial answer to a question about police brutality during his appearance at the Second Step Presidential Justice Forum on Saturday, October 26. The Presidential candidate, while answering questions from the audience, received one from a Black student who asked, "If I [were] your son, what advice would you give me next time I'm pulled over by a police officer?" Instead of first addressing the systemic issues of racism in White America and its intersections with police brutality, Sanders suggested following protocol "in a polite way" so that he doesn't "get shot in the back of the head," Complex reports. Needless to say, the answer didn't go down too well with the audience.
After the question was asked, Sanders responded, "I would do my best to identify who that police officer is in a polite way - ask him or her for their name. I would respect what they are doing so that you don’t get shot in the back of the head." This is the headline-stealing moment that most news outlets grabbed on to. However, he continued, "But I would also be very mindful of the fact that as a nation, we have got to hold police officers accountable for the actions that they commit. So to answer your question, I would be very cautious if you were my son, in terms of dealing with that police officer, but I would also defend my rights and know my rights and make sure, if possible, that the police officer's camera is on what goes on." Sparse applause followed.
Though Sanders didn't get off to the best start, as many users across social media platforms have agreed, he did point out some of the issues within the nation's flawed policing system. It was, unfortunately, his opening statement that bothered most individuals. Post the inception of the Black Lives Matter movement and after witnessing several Black deaths due to police brutality, many believe that the Presidential candidate should have been more mindful in his choice of words. DuaneAMoody on Twitter, for instance, stated, "So, Black Americans [are] naturally disrespectful and not polite? Got it. Oh, Bernie Sanders. I want to support you, but your-seasoned generic answers like these towards Black American issues. Lord, the Democrats are in real trouble. They NEED the Black vote in both elections."
Others, on the other hand, believed that Sanders simply told it as it is. Rather than sugarcoating the realities of being a Black man in American, grandfather Bernie was blunt and straightforward in their opinion. Darkcoco53 posted, "I’m not a Bernie supporter but his response was correct. Black folks are talking to their children especially their sons about what to do during a police stop. I’m glad he didn’t sugarcoat his words." Is there a correct response? That may not be clear. However, at a time when the Black vote is crucial for a Democratic win, it is perhaps time that Presidential candidates - especially White candidates - pay more attention to their words and think more thoughtfully about their strategies.
HBCU Student asks @BernieSanders, “If I were your son, what advice would you give to me the next time I’m pulled over by a police officer”?— Jamiah (@NJPrince21) October 26, 2019
Bernie: “Identify who the police officer is - and I would respect what they are doing so that you don’t get shot in the back of the head”. pic.twitter.com/Ks5VKxQrOC