After #BlackLivesMatter protesters co-opted a Bernie Sanders speech in Seattle in honor of Michael Brown, who was shot and killed by police officer Darren Wilson one year ago in Ferguson, Sanders responded in an admirably progressive way. On Sunday, ahead of a massive event in Portland which ended up drawing at least 20,000 supporters, Sanders unveiled a new campaign policy via his website under the heading "Racial Justice."
The detailed platform addendum takes aim at what the Sanders campaign is calling the "four central types of violence waged against black and brown Americans," i.e. physical, political, legal, and economic. The call for change mentions Brown, Sandra Bland, Eric Garner, and many others by name, adding that Americans "should not fool ourselves into thinking that this violence only affects those whose names have appeared on TV or in the newspaper." Sanders also makes a point to categorize acts of violence instigated by white supremacists as "racist terrorism," a subtle though remarkable act of accurate labeling.
Speaking on the desperate need for police reform on a federally mandated level, Sanders offers an in-depth list of steps the nation should take to ensure such reform becomes a reality:
At the federal level we need to establish a new model police training program that reorients the way we do law enforcement in this country. With input from a broad segment of the community including activists and leaders from organizations like Black Lives Matter we will reinvent how we police America.
We need new rules on the allowable use of force. Police officers need to be trained to de-escalate confrontations and to humanely interact with people who have mental illnesses.
We need to make sure the federal resources are there to crack down on the illegal activities of hate groups.
Peruse the entire announcement and related proposal here.