On Sunday, both Ben Carson and Bernie Sanders commented on the death of Sandra Bland. While Ben was hesitant to say that the woman’s death had anything to do with her skin color, the left-wing candidate explicitly stated it had a hand in her demise.
In a interview on CBS’ Face the Nation, Carson was asked about recent comments made by Bernie about Sandra’s death. The democratic socialist candidate, appearing on the same program, remarked that if Bland was a “white, middle class woman” her death would not have occurred.
Ben did not directly deny Sanders’ statement, but instead indicated that he felt there was more to look at in the case than racial tension. Carson argued that there was, perhaps, more than meets the eye to the death of Sandra, and that police officers should not be wholly repudiated for the actions of individual members of the force.
“There is no question that we need to be looking at these kinds of issues, I think we also have a tendency to inject race into everything anytime that there are people of different races involved in a conflict. Are there rotten police officers? Of course, there are, just like there are rotten lawyers, and rotten doctors, and rotten teachers, and rotten journalists. But we don’t condemn the whole class for that.”
Expanding on that point, Ben said that issues of class and economic instability — rallying cries of Bernie’s campaign — needed to be referenced just as often as those of race are brought up when it comes to dealing with controversial police action. In the case of Bland, the justice of current punitive policies deserves scrutiny, Carson said.
“Someone gets a moving violation. That thing costs like a 170 bucks. They don’t have any way of paying that. They ignore it the next you know there’s a warrant for their arrest, they lose their job. All we have to do is be a little sensitive and say, look, you can pay this off at $5 a week. These are the kinds of things I think will make a difference in our society.”
Bernie Sanders, who is both white and the eldest candidate running the race, has recently made an attempt to distinguish himself in the black community as the most sympathetic candidate to their grievances. While many candidates, particularly Donald Trump, have become known for ejecting Black Lives Matter protesters from their rallies, Bernie made headlines for inviting hecklers from the group on to the stage to talk about their issues. Despite those efforts, Sanders is still lagging behind Hillary Clinton when it comes to securing minority support — a voter bloc that is absolutely essential for any candidate vying for the Democratic nomination, reported Business Insider.
While neither candidate is currently leading in the polls, the face-off over Sandra Bland’s death does offer some interesting insight into what a debate between the candidates would look like. Furthermore, it begs the question of where African-American votes would go in an election with both of them on the ticket. While Bernie Sanders hails from the party more commonly linked with the black community, Ben Carson has actual first hand experience with those concerns that the other candidate can’t claim.
[Image via Justin Sullivan and Joshua Lott/Getty Images]