On debate stage, Democratic candidates say Black Lives Matter

October 14, 2015

Black Lives Matter, from its start protesting police violence and racial injustice towards people of color, made it onto the Democratic debate stage on Tuesday, with several candidates explicitly referencing the group.

However Hillary Clinton, who just last week met with representatives of Black Lives Matter, did not mention the activists’ organization by name, although she did emphasize the need for criminal justice reform.

Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders most strongly embraced the group on the stage of the first debate among Democratic candidates for the November 2016 presidential election.

“Black lives matter. And the reason those words matter is the African-American community knows that on any given day some innocent person like Sandra Bland can get into a car and then three days later she’s going to end up dead in jail or their kids are going to get shot,” he said, in response to a question about the movement.

“We need to combat institutional racism from top to bottom and we need major, major reforms in a broken criminal justice system in which we have more people in jail than China,” he said.

Clinton, who was not asked directly about the group, did call for an overhaul of the criminal justice system, as well as for a “new New Deal for communities of color.

Black Lives Matter, a decentralized national movement against racism in policing and the justice system, arose out of anger and grief over police killings of unarmed black men and gained momentum over a series of protests last year.

Democratic presidential candidates U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders (L) and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton debate duringthe first official Democratic candidates debate of the 2016 presidential campaign in Las Vegas, Nevada October 13, 2015. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson


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