From KOMO News (Seattle):
Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders was shoved aside by several Black Lives Matter activists and eventually left a Social Security Works rally at Westlake Park without giving his speech.
Sanders was just starting to address several thousand people gathered shoulder to shoulder at Westlake Park when two women took over the microphone.
“It’s about the people, it’s about grassroots movements,” Mara Jacqueline Willaford, Black Lives Matter member said after taking the microphone. “The biggest movement right now in the country is the Black Lives Matter movement.”
Organizers couldn’t persuade the two to wait and agreed to give them a few minutes, prompting boos from some in the crowd.
As Sanders stepped back, the women passionately spoke about Ferguson and the killing of Michael Brown and held a four minute moment of silence.
When the crowd asked the activists to allow Sanders to speak, one activist called the crowd “white supremacist liberals,” according to event participants. Participants also said a Black Lives Matter activist confronted Sanders, stating he needed “to be held accountable”.
Several chants could be heard from members gathered. “I can’t breathe” was chanted out as a Social Security Works rally organizer tried to calm the crowd.
After waiting about 20 minutes, Sanders himself was pushed away when he tried to take the microphone back.
Social Security Works rally organizers pleaded with Black Lives Matter activists to leave the stage and allow Sanders to speak, but the activists remained on stage until the event was forced to end.
Sanders waved goodbye, left the stage with a raised fist salute and waded into the crowd. He shook hands and posed for photos with supporters for about 15 minutes, and then left.
Here’s where things get interesting. From the Daily Kos:
4:36 PM PT: Black Lives Matter has now begun using the hashtag #BowDownBernie
Further quote from activists’ Facebook page:
“The problem with Sanders’, and with white Seattle progressives in general, is that they are utterly and totally useless (when not outright harmful) in terms of the fight for Black lives.”
4:43 PM PT: Update from BLM’s Seattle on Facebook:
Black Lives Matter Seattle
17 mins ·
To the people of Seattle and #BernieSanders I am so sorry for what happened today in Seattle. I am a volunteer who just runs this page and I am only just starting to get into the movement. I was unaware of what happened and now that I’ve seen the video I would like to say again that I am sorry. That is not what Black Lives Matter stands for and that is not what we’re about. Do not let your faith in the movement be shaken by voices of two people. Please do not question our legitimacy as a movement. Again I would like to apologize to the people of Seattle and I will be trying to reach out to Mr. Sanders.
5:04 PM PT: To clarify:
The statement by BLM Seattle is not directly affiliated with the national movement. The national movement is proud of its new hashtag, #BowDownBernie, which I for one unequivocally denounce.
And so it goes…