Disrupting Speeches, Protesters Challenge Sanders and O’Malley: Say ‘Black Lives Matter!’

Tia Oso of the National Coordinator for Black Immigration Network joins moderator Jose Antonio Vargas and Democratic candidate Martin O’Malley onstage. ||| twitter

Raising the profile of Black women killed by police violence, demonstration forces candidates to address racial injustice

By Lauren McCauley

Demanding that pervasive racial injustice and police brutality against people of color be addressed on the campaign trail, protesters with the Black Lives Matter movement interrupted speeches by Democratic candidates Bernie Sanders and Martin O’Malley Saturday evening.

Cutting off O’Malley’s prepared remarks during the annual Netroots Nation convention in Phoenix, Arizona, activist Patrisse Cullors described the urgency driving the protest. “Let me be clear—every single day people are dying, not able to take another breath,” she said. “We are in a state of emergency. If you do not feel that emergency, then you are not human. I want to hear concrete action plans.”

Protesters said they were galvanized by this week’s one year anniversary of the police killing of Eric Garner and the suspicious and tragic death of Sandra Bland. During the event, they chanted and challenged the candidates to “Say her name,” referring to Bland and other women killed while in police custody, and to “Say that black lives matter.”

The action made it clear that the minority vote should not be taken for granted by candidates on the left.

The Guardian reports:

O’Malley was eventually forced offstage, after the protest and his attempts to respond delayed the appearance of Sanders.

O’Malley, who stood patiently throughout the interruption, which was led by Tia Oso, national coordinator for the Black Alliance for Just Immigration in Phoenix, attempted to answer questions from activists. He eventually left the stage clapping and saying rhythmically: “Black lives matter, black lives matter, black lives matter.”

Sanders began a prepared introduction – as had been delivered by O’Malley – talking about policies, including media bias and the need for a raised minimum wage. Chants of “black lives matter” and either “save our men” or “say her name” then broke out again.

“Black lives of course matter,” Sanders said. “I spent 50 years of my life fighting for civil rights and dignity, but if you don’t want me to be here that’s OK. I don’t want to out-scream people.”

Speaking with Buzzfeed after the event, Angela Peoples, co-director of LGBTQ rights group Get Equal, said the activists wanted to hear specific steps from the candidates on how they’re going to address the issue of police violence as well as the overarching issue of institutional racism. The minority community wants to hear the demands and principles of “black lives matter” reflected in their campaign, she said.

Peoples added that Sanders talking about income inequality isn’t enough.

“We can not talk about income inequality as if that’s going to be the silver bullet that protects black and brown lives when they’re in police custody or when they’re being profiled and killed by the police,” she said.

In an interview with journalist David Dayen, protest organizer Ashley Yeats echoed those same ideas. When asked how a candidate can bridge the divide between racial and economic justice when speaking to the progressive community, she said:

When you talk about economic justice, who’s the poorest of the poor? Talk about gentrification, talk about mass displacement. Talk about the things that actually lead to poverty. Who is affected by that? Talk about whose neighborhoods are flooded with really harmful drugs. Talk about who’s denied access to resources. Talk about who [isn’t]? that is all in black and brown neighborhoods. So if you’re doing economic justice but you’re not talking to black and brown people, you’re not actually doing economic justice. So that’s the challenge I pose and that’s how you bridge the gap, get people to realize that if you’re talking about economic issues, black people are part of every category.

Yeats also said she wants to hear “actual steps that show you’re thinking about something,” using “simple and clear language.”

Saturday’s protest specifically aimed to raise the profile of Black women victims and challenge presidential hopefuls to respond to these issues in “real time.” The candidates, Yeats continued, “claim that they represent all of America, but then you get up there and you see when they’re pressured on issues that are specifically black they fumble.”

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House Democrats Defeat TPP For Now

As FDL Alum, David Dayen wrote at Salon…

The Democrats’ TPP rebellion just drew blood: Everything you need to know about today’s shocking vote

Today’s rebuke for the Obama Administration and his friends on the Republican side of the aisle on their trade agenda restores democratic accountability to the process of governing. What Obama was proposing was a trick, one used repeatedly to advance distasteful policies, by getting each side to vote only on the parts they like. And House progressives responded by saying they wouldn’t play that game anymore. If they can withstand the pressure, not only will trade be derailed, but the era of the split-vote gambit, where opponents help the victors, will be over.

Progressive Democrats took their stand on trade adjustment assistance (TAA), a separate bill to “fast track” trade authority for the President, which the Senate linked together, so that they had to pass concurrently. TAA offers modest job training, income support and health insurance assistance to workers who lose their jobs from trade deals. It’s not very effective, but it sounds good; Democrats who oppose trade deals can say that they at least got some help for workers.

TAA and fast track have passed together ever since the Trade Act of 1974. This is a Washington game where Democrats get to vote for TAA so Republicans don’t have to. Republicans don’t favor TAA because they see it as welfare.

That set up liberal Democrats as the deciding factor on whether Obama would get his fast-track trade authority. The President went to Capitol Hill to tell Democrats to “play it straight” on the vote. But voting for TAA as a sweetener for a policy most Democrats don’t support is the opposite of playing it straight. It’s a stupid game, and progressives finally decided not to play… {more}

From The Nation’s George Zornick…

…Here’s what happened: The House considered three bills Friday. One was a generally noncontroversial customs enforcement bill. Another was the actual fast-track trade-authority legislation. (You can read the case against that bill here.) And the third was a bill providing trade-adjustment assistance to workers who get screwed over by trade deals. Republicans have long detested trade-adjustment assistance as a wasteful big-government program, and Democrats were not happy with the way it was being paid for.

The way House Speaker John Boehner structured the process along with the Senate, all three bills had to pass or else the entire package would not advance. (If you’re a gambler, think of it like a three-item parlay bet.)

Progressive Democrats who oppose fast track feared it would pass with mainly Republican votes alongside a small number of Democrats, but they sensed an opportunity on the must-pass trade-assistance bill—since relatively few Republicans would back the legislation, it would be much easier to kill by withholding Democratic votes. And if trade assistance goes down, so too would fast track.

And that’s exactly what happened. Minority leader Nancy Pelosi took the floor early Friday afternoon and said that explicitly defeating trade assistance “is the only way we will be able to slow down fast track.” When the votes rolled in shortly thereafter, the trade-assistance bill failed with 302 votes against it and only 126 in favor.

It’s worth stressing here how much progressive organizing had to do with this defeat. President Obama personally appeared in Congress at the last minute Friday morning to appeal to Democrats one more time, on the heels of crashing the congressional baseball game the night before. But Pelosi and Democrats remained unswayed, and in her speech, Pelosi instead credited the work of activists holding members to a “hot stove” back home.

But fast track isn’t quite dead yet. Boehner moved on to the fast-track and customs bills anyway, both of which “passed,” though fast track only got two votes more than it needed. The package still won’t advance without trade-adjustment assistance—but Boehner scheduled a revote for Tuesday. {more}

Meanwhile, outside the Capital…