On Sunday’s Meet the Press, Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders said no when asked whether he needs to apologize to the Black Lives Matter protesters who interrupted his speech in Seattle. NBC’s Chuck Todd raised the question over an email acquired by BuzzFeed in which Sander’s African American outreach staffer, Marcus Ferrell, issued an email apology for “not reaching out sooner” to Black Lives Matter.
Black Lives Matter activists have demanded an apology from Sanders, who walked off stage when female African-American activists took over the stage at a campaign rally in Seattle.
BuzzFeed reports that Ferrell reached out to Black Lives Matter to request a formal meeting between Sanders and the activists. This meeting could’ve ended in the potential introduction of legislation, hinting that Sanders was willing to take political action as a U.S. Senator for the Black Lives Matter movement. You can read the bulk of the email below.
“I am reaching out to you on behalf of our campaign because you are the folks doing the work for Black Lives Matter. I apologize it took our campaign so long to officially reach out. We are hoping to establish a REAL space for REAL dialog between the folks on this email and our campaign. If you guys know of anyone that should be on this email chain and is not, please feel free to forward them this message and my contact information.
“As you may or may not know, our campaign and your movement has run across each other on 2 different occasions. We would like to have a more formal interaction with the movement. We wanted to let you know that we hear you, we want to do a better job speaking out on the issues, and as a sitting U.S. Senator, possibly introducing legislation and making a constitutional change. We would like to know what YOU would like to see happen. Would you be willing to have a preliminary conference call to set up a face to face meeting with the Senator in DC? I’d like to get feed back from you to see if that could even be an option.We would like to meet with you within the next month.”
Sanders denied being directly involved in his staffer’s emailed apology. Yet, Sanders did say he had met with Black Lives Matter activists and defended his record on racial issues.
“On the issue of Black Lives Matter, let me be very clear, the issue that they’re raising is a very, very important issue. And there is no candidate that is stronger in fighting against instistutionalized racism, and by the way reforming the broken criminal justice system. Chuck, we have more people in jail in the United States of America than any other country on Earth. And we need real change, we need to do away with the militarization of local police departments, we need to do away with minimum sentencing, we need education and jobs for our young people rather than jails.”
Sanders responded when further pressed if he felt an “apology was necessary” to Black Lives Matter activists.
“No, I don’t. I think we’re going to be working with all groups. This was sent out without my knowledge.”
[Image via Win McNamee/Getty Images]