Black Lives Matter Activists Shut Down Sanders Rally

Amna Shoaib
Protesters pull a bone-headed move at Bernie Sanders' Seattle campaign stop.

Black Lives Matter protesters disrupted and shut down a rally for Democrat presidential candidate Bernie Sanders in Seattle, but the motivation is a bit head-scratching.

The two activists, Marissa Janae Johnson and Mara Jacqeline Willaford, co-founders of the Black Lives Matter chapter in Seattle, held placards that read "Smash Racism" before interrupting the rally.

One of the activists was permitted to address the crowd, but was met with a cold response and even boos. Unperturbed, she said, “I was going to tell Bernie how racist this city is, filled with its progressives – but you already did it for me, thank you.”

After the two activists led a four-minute moment of silence to commemorate Mike Brown's death anniversary, they seemed in no hurry to vacate the podium for Sanders. Eventually, the rally was called off.

The thing is, Sanders wanted to talk race relations. That's partly what he was in Seattle to do. So by storming the event, the Black Lives Matter movement actually stopped a conversation on race.

Sanders made no effort to conceal his disappointment at this incident. Talking to CNN, he said, “I think it is unfortunate because, among other things, I wanted to talk about the issues of black lives, the fact that the American people are tired of seeing unarmed African-Americans shot and killed.”

Hours later Sanders doubled down on his commitment to representation within his campaign by introducing a key new staffer, Simone Sanders.

Simone Sanders is a criminal justice advocate and a supporter of the Black Lives Matter movement. She met Sanders three weeks ago, when she offered him advice on the criticism leveled against him by Black Lives Matter activists.

“Educating America, the community, letting people know who Bernie Sanders is and what he’s about,” Simone Sanders said. “And not just, 'Oh, I fought for civil rights and I protested and I sat at the lunch counters.' That’s important and that’s great but that was 50 years ago and he has a lot more to stand on than just what he did 50 years ago.”

By the end of her meeting with Sanders, she had a job offer.

Simone Sanders was greeted with great applause as she assured the audience that as far as the Black Lives Matter movement was concerned, "Bernie would turn those words into action."