When the Bethlem Royal Hospital stopped selling tickets for visitors to gawk at inflict minor torments on the mentally insane within its walls many thought the practice of using the insane as a form of entertainment had passed. But a time traveler from Georgian England would have found themselves quite at home in Phoenix this weekend for the annual meeting of
Nutroots Netroots Nation. This event started in 2006 and is organized by the DailyKos website.
Hillary Clinton had the good sense to skip the event. Martin O’Malley and Bernie Sanders? Well, not so much. Via CNN, which, oddly enough, has some to the best coverage:
Former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley and Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders planned to attend a public sit-down interview with journalist Jose Antonio Vargas in front of a left-leaning crowd here at the annual Netroots Nation conference, a gathering of progressives, when the tone of the program shifted just a few minutes into the event.
O’Malley was answering questions from Vargas on stage when dozens of boisterous conference attendees flooded through a side door and shouted down the White House contender.
“What side are you on my people?” they sang in unison as they approached.
Tia Oso of the Black Alliance for Just Immigration, who represented the demonstrators, climbed onto the stage, secured a microphone, and delivered a speech while O’Malley looked on.
“We are going to hold this space. We are going to acknowledge the names of black women who have died in police custody. And Governor O’Malley, we do have questions for you … As the leader of this nation, will you advance a racial justice agenda that will dismantle — not reform, not make progress — but will begin to dismantle structural racism in the United States?”
“Yes,” O’Malley replied, but before he could say more, the demonstrators in front of the stage shouted over him by reciting names of black women who have died in police custody. While they shouted, O’Malley stood in silence. At one point he turned to Oso on stage: “My people came here as immigrants from Ireland.”
Below, dozens shouted several chants in unison.
“Black lives matter! Black lives matter!” they shouted toward O’Malley, and began a call-and-repeat rallying cry that activists have been using in the wake of the death of 28-year-old Sandra Bland, who died in police custody last week. “If I die in police in custody!” one of the chants went, “Burn everything down! That’s the only way mother******* like you listen!”
Conference organizers begged them to allow O’Malley to respond.
“I think all of us as Americans have a responsibility to recognize the pain and the grief throughout our country from all of the lives that have been lost to violence, whether that’s violence at the hands at the police or whether that’s violence at the hands of civilians,” O’Malley said, before being interrupted again.
“Don’t generalize this s***!” one person shouted back.
O’Malley said he wanted to require police departments to report all police-involved shootings and brutality complaints and he called on departments to implement civilian review boards. He vowed to release a wide-ranging plan on criminal justice reform.
The demonstrators started shouting and booing again when O’Malley said: “Black lives matter. White lives matter. All lives matter.”
O’Malley later apologized for the remarks, telling This Week in Blackness, a digital news site, that he “meant no disrespect” to the black community.
“That was a mistake on my part and I meant no disrespect,” O’Malley told the outlet. “I did not understand the tremendous passion, commitment and feeling and depth of feeling that all of us should be attaching to this issue.”
And when he stepped off stage, he chanted, “Black lives matter! Black lives matter!”
You read that right. A candidate for his party’s nomination for president just apologized for saying “all lives matter.”
Bernie Sanders fared no better.
After talking over one another, Sanders eventually ditched pre-planned remarks and tried to address questions from demonstrators.
When Sanders cited the Affordable Care Act as a law he supported that helped people of color by making health insurance more accessible, one man shouted, “we can’t afford that!”
Before Sanders finished speaking, many of the protesters walked out on him toward exit doors in the back.
Bernie Sanders refusing to address white supremacy. Where’s the courage? #nn15
— Hairo Cortes (@HCortes96) July 18, 2015
Bernie Sanders’s supporters were so incensed by the bum’s rush their superannuated hero got from the #BlackLivesMatter bunch that they created the #BernieSoBlack hashtag to help him. (I swear to Heaven I AM NOT MAKING THAT UP!)
While this is great fun, it is also sort of meaningless. Clinton and O’Malley and Sanders will siphon off whatever cash they can. Maybe the #BlackLivesMatter gals will skip a few meals to send a campaign donation and lose some tonnage in the process. No reputable candidate is going to allow these assclowns anywhere near his or her campaign.