What happened to Bernie Sanders and Martin O'Malley in Phoenix?

Protestors shouting 'Black lives matter' cut short an appearance by 2016 Democratic candidate Bernie Sanders in Phoenix Saturday. An interview with Martin O'Malley was also disrupted. 

(AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)
As dozens protesters shout, Tia Oso of the National Coordinator for Black Immigration Network, center, walks up on stage interrupting Democratic presidential candidate, former Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley, right, as moderator Jose Vargas watches at left, during the Netroots Nation town hall meeting, Saturday, July 18, 2015, in Phoenix.

Democratic presidential candidates Bernie Sanders and Martin O'Malley arrived at the annual Netroots Nation convention hoping to impress some of the party's most influential liberal activists. Things didn't exactly go as planned.

Demonstrators protesting cases of police brutality and the treatment of black Americans by law enforcement disrupted a presidential forum Saturday as Mr. O'Malley, a former Maryland governor, was interviewed on stage. The group later heckled Sanders, a Vermont senator. Polls show both trailing Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton, who did not attend the forum.

The raucous scene unfolded when a large group of protesters streamed into the convention hall chanting, "Black lives matter!" As O'Malley and interviewer Jose Antonio Vargas looked on, one of the group's leaders took over the stage and addressed the audience as the largely female group of demonstrators railed against police-involved shootings, the treatment of immigrants and Arizona's racial history.

Before departing, O'Malley told the convention: "Black lives matter. White lives matter. All lives matter," prompting some heckles and boos in the crowd.

He later apologized at an immigration event. "I meant no insensitivity by that and I apologize if that's what I communicated," he told reporters. "That was misstated. What I intended to say was that we're all in this together — that black lives do matter and we have a double-standard of justice in this country."

Sanders tried to address the roughly 3,000 Netroots activists as many of the protesters shouted at him and disrupted his remarks. At one point, Sanders said: "Black lives of course matter. I spent 50 years of my life fighting for civil rights and if you don't want me to be here, that's OK."

During an abbreviated 20-minute appearance, the self-described democratic socialist about the need to address wealth and income inequality, noting that blacks and Hispanics face high rates of unemployment.

Sanders later addressed police brutality at a large rally in Phoenix Saturday night, telling a crowd of more than 11,000 it is unacceptable for young black men to be beaten and killed while walking down the street.

"When a police officer breaks the law, that officer must be held accountable," Sanders said. He later quoted the 19th century black abolitionist Frederick Douglass: "Freedom doesn't come without struggle."

Sanders and O'Malley are vying to become the Democratic alternative to Clinton, who was campaigning in Iowa and Arkansas on Saturday. Sanders has risen in polls in recent months and sought to broaden his appeal to minorities and a more diverse section of the Democratic electorate, addressing immigration and criminal justice.

Yet some liberal groups panned the appearances. Anna Galland, the executive director of MoveOn.org Civic Action, said the responses showed that all Democratic candidates have work to do to understand the black lives movement.

Galland said while issues of economic and racial justice intersect, "portrayals of racial injustice as merely an offshoot of economic injustice or the implication that solutions to economic inequality will take care of racism represent a fundamental misunderstanding of how race operates in our country."

The demonstrators were promoting the national "Black Lives Matter" movement, which seeks changes to law enforcement policies following several high profile deaths of black men at the hands of police.

Clinton spoke up for raising the minimum raise during a dinner for state Democrats Saturday night in North Little Rock, Arkansas. She noted that "the economy is still stacked for those at the top."


Associated Press writer Andrew DeMillo in North Little Rock, Arkansas, contributed to this report.

You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.
Real news can be honest, hopeful, credible, constructive.
What is the Monitor difference? Tackling the tough headlines – with humanity. Listening to sources – with respect. Seeing the story that others are missing by reporting what so often gets overlooked: the values that connect us. That’s Monitor reporting – news that changes how you see the world.

Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

If you’re looking for bran muffin journalism, you can subscribe to the Monitor for $15. You’ll get the Monitor Weekly magazine, the Monitor Daily email, and unlimited access to CSMonitor.com.

QR Code to What happened to Bernie Sanders and Martin O'Malley in Phoenix?
Read this article in
QR Code to Subscription page
Start your subscription today