Black Lives Matter Supporters Divided On Activists’ Antics At Bernie Sanders Rally

Since the death of Missouri teen Michael Brown, Black Lives Matter has grown as a movement and gained visibility while attempting to push their agenda into the mainstream conversation on race in America. In over a year, Black Lives Matter has swelled beyond local territories with supporters stretching as far as Ottawa, Toronto and the UK. But recent Black Lives Matter actions have started to chafe some supporters, eroding their confidence in the efficacy of the movement.

Steering clear of GOP political events, Black Lives Matter protesters have targeted primarily democratic events, specifically ones where Bernie Sanders is an invited guest. Supporters agree Black Lives Matter message is important to the overall national conversation, but perceive the methodology they employ as counterproductive.

Between Black Lives Matter’s presence at Phoenix’s Netroots Nation event and Seattle’s rally celebrating the anniversaries of Social Security and Medicare, fractures are springing up among supporters. At odds is Black Lives Matter’s most recent actions at the Bernie Sanders rally in Seattle.

Washington State Senator Pramila Jayapal, who attended the rally and, writing for the Huffington Post, admitted that the issues of “preserving and expanding social security and Medicare” were “eclipsed” by Black Lives Matter’s actions at the rally. But she conceded that disruption is the actual goal of protest.

While Jayapal did not say the protesters were “wrong,” some did, as noted by Jayapal.

“Some white people said they no longer support the Black Lives Matter movement. Others said they do support it, but this event had eroded their support.”

On one hand, detractors are calling out Black Lives Matter activists for infiltrating the rally, misappropriating the months-long hard work of the grassroots organization who put on the event, and rudely addressing the crowd who waited to see Bernie Sanders, calling them “racist.” Black Lives Matter supporters also blasted the protesters’ antics for not allowing Sanders, who has an extensive civil rights record, to speak, subsequently shutting down the event.

Conversely, staunch Black Lives Matter supporters say the actions of the two activists, who recently came under fire, achieved the desired outcome, pointing out that their actions brought about Sanders’ plan to fix systemic issues. However, critics say the plan was already in the works when Black Lives Matter activists took over the stage. NPR reported the plan following the rally. Some Black Lives Matter supporters believe the activists’ actions revealed the true hearts of Sanders supporters who booed them, refusing to acquiesce to a demand for a moment of silence for Michael Brown, an action critics say was more about the way the two protesters rudely forced their way onto the stage than underlying racism.

While it can be argued that the actions of some Black Lives Matter protestors are indeed provocative, it cannot be argued that their actions have resulted in people talking. For the Black Lives Matter movement, the ends seem to be justifying the means.

[Photo by Scott Olsen / Getty Images]