Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders, Ind-Vt., attracted a personal-record-breaking crowd at the University of Washington in Seattle Saturday, just hours after Black Lives Matter protesters shut down an earlier event. At Sanders' first rally, where he was scheduled to talk about Social Security, about a dozen Black Lives Matter protesters hopped on the stage at the same time he did. They took control, and an event organizer told the crowd they would be allowed to speak before Sanders, the Hill reported.
"I was going to tell Bernie how racist this city is, filled with its progressives, but you already did it for me. Thank you," Seattle Black Lives Matter co-founder Marissa Johnson said, going on to say how important addressing police violence was. "If you care about Black Lives Matter, as you say you do, you will hold Bernie Sanders specifically accountable for his actions."
Johnson was likely referring to last month's NetRoots convention in Phoenix, where a different group of Black Lives Matter activists interrupted interviews with Sanders as well as Democratic presidential candidate and former Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley. Afterward, O'Malley released a criminal justice reform package, the Washington Post reported.
"Black lives, of course, matter. I spent 50 years of my life fighting for civil rights and for dignity," Sanders said at the time. "But if you don't want me to be here, that's OK. I don't want to out-scream people."
After a 4 1/2-minute moment of silence Saturday to recognize the one-year anniversary of unarmed black 18-year-old Michael Brown's death in Ferguson, Missouri, event organizers shut down the rally. Sanders released a statement saying he was disappointed he wasn't able to talk about Social Security and Medicare. "There is no other candidate for president who will fight harder than me" for criminal justice reform, Sanders said.
Sanders' second event in Seattle is set to start in 15 minutes. The 10,000 person arena is close to full. pic.twitter.com/OK36RfS8zh
— Dan Merica (@danmericaCNN) August 9, 2015
Sanders' day wasn't over. After a successful fundraiser at a local bar, he took the stage at the University of Washington to talk about income inequality, climate change and education. An estimated 15,000 people were in attendance -- his largest crowd yet. Sanders did not specifically mention his earlier botched rally but brought up the need to improve prisons.
"Too many young lives are being destroyed by the so-called ‘War on Drugs,' ” he said. “Too many lives are being destroyed by our system of incarceration.”
Even more people were expected to turn out for a Sunday night event in Portland. Sanders was due to speak at the Moda Center stadium, where the capacity is 19,980, the Oregonian reported.