In a statement that is sure to draw consternation from the African American community, Democratic presidential hopeful, Bernie Sanders has said that it is basically the behavior of black youths when confronted by law enforcement that is largely responsible for such encounters resulting in the youth being shot, and often killed.
The self-described “democratic socialist” from Vermont, suggested at a forum over the weekend that young black Americans stay on their best behavior when dealing with police officers “so that you don’t get shot in the back of the head.”
Sanders was speaking at the Second Step Presidential Justice Forum at the historically black Benedict College in Columbia, South Carolina, when a student asked him, if he were Sanders’ son, what advice he would give him when it comes to getting pulled over.
“I would do my best to identify who that police officer is. In a polite way, ask him or her for their name. I would respect what they are doing so that you don’t get shot in the back of the head,” the Democratic presidential candidate said.
Sanders has failed to poll well with the African American community, such statements are probably why, but to his credit the Senator added to his reply to the youth, “But I would also be very mindful of the fact that as a nation we have got to hold police officers accountable for the actions that they commit.”
Sanders then summed up by saying that while he would be cautious, people should still do their best to defend their individual rights and keep police officers in line.
“So to answer your question, I would be very cautious if you were my son in terms of dealing with that police officer. But I would also defend my rights, and know my rights, and make sure — if possible — that police officer’s camera is on or goes on.”
Sanders’ answer was very different from the equally cringey one that gaffe-prone former Vice President Joe Biden gave when a female student asked a similar question at the same event. “If you were my daughter, you’d be a Caucasian girl and you wouldn’t be pulled over,” Biden said. “But here’s the deal. Here’s the deal, what I tell you is that’s what’s wrong. That is what’s wrong. There is institutional racism that still exists.”