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MoveOn.org Civic Action Executive Director Anna Galland had the following reaction to the #BlackLivesMatter action at the Netroots Nation presidential town hall in Phoenix this morning and to Sen. Sanders’ and Gov. O’Malley’s responses:
“The presidential candidates’ responses today to the powerful protest led by Black activists at Netroots Nation—as well as other remarks from the campaign trail in recent weeks—make clear that all Democratic candidates have work to do in understanding and addressing the movement for Black lives.
“Saying that ‘all lives matter’ or ‘white lives matter’ immediately after saying ‘Black lives matter’ minimizes and draws attention away from the specific, distinct ways in which Black lives have been devalued by our society and in which Black people have been subject to state and other violence.
“Similarly, while economic and racial justice issues certainly intersect, and reducing economic inequality will benefit people of all races, portrayals of racial injustice as merely an offshoot of economic injustice or the implication that solutions to economic inequality will take care of racism represent a fundamental misunderstanding of how race operates in our country.
“Frankly, all Democratic presidential candidates need to do better. Candidates must make clear that they stand in solidarity with the movement for Black lives and be willing to say explicitly ‘Black lives matter’—full stop, without qualifiers. Candidates should develop and convey an understanding of how racism operates independently of as well as how it intersects with economic inequality, and say what they intend to do to about it. And candidates should heed the call to say the names of Black men and women like Sandra Bland who have died in police custody, and give specific commitments to address police brutality and mass incarceration.”