The Bernie Sanders campaign website has revealed a new section devoted to racial justice a day after activists claiming to represent Black Lives Matter Seattle interrupted the candidate at a social security rally in Westlake Park. The racial justice link is now under the his campaign website's "issues" tab.
Here's what the Bernie Sanders issues tab looked like yesterday:
And here's what it looked like today:
"We need a societal transformation to make it clear that black lives matter and racism cannot be accepted in a civilized country," the new section reads. The website adds that input from the Black Lives Matter movement ought to help "reinvent" policing in America and help the federal government work toward a model police training program.
When asked if the website change came in response to yesterday's interruption, Sanders' communication director Michael Briggs said the new racial justice platform "was already in the works." He added that it "consists mostly of information already on the website from a speech last month to the Southern Christian Leadership Conference."
"We must reform our criminal justice system," Sanders said in his address to the Southern Christian Leadership Conference on July 25. "Black lives do matter. And we must value black lives." He mentioned Sandra Bland, Michael Brown, Rekia Boyd, Eric Garner, Walter Scott, Freddie Gray, and Tamir Rice specifically.
On Saturday, Marissa Johnson, one of the activists claiming to represent Black Lives Matter Seattle by interrupting Sanders, said that she wanted Sanders to "take responsibility for his actions" at the July Netroots Nation conference, where Sanders was interrupted by Black Lives Matter activists. "Bernie, you were confronted at Netroots by black women who said black lives matter, and you have yet to apologize or put out a criminal justice reform package like O'Malley did," Johnson said.
A week after the Netroots conference, Sanders laid out his vision for criminal justice reform in the Southern Christian Leadership Conference speech, naming community policing, a federal police training model, education and skills training for the incarcerated, and ending the incarceration of young people as initiatives that he believes need to be pursued.
"It is an obscenity that we stigmatize so many young Americans with a criminal record for smoking marijuana, but not one major Wall Street executive has been prosecuted for causing the near collapse of our entire economy," Sanders added in his SCLC speech. "This must change."
On Saturday, Sanders released a statement in response to the interruption by Johnson and Mara Willaford, another activist. "I am disappointed that two people disrupted a rally attended by thousands at which I was invited to speak about fighting to protect Social Security and Medicare," it read. "I was especially disappointed because on criminal justice reform and the need to fight racism there is no other candidate for president who will fight harder than me."
Read the rest of Sanders' racial justice platform here.
This post has been updated.