PORTLAND'S EYE-POPPING turnout to see Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders on August 9 came with a quiet coda.
After speaking to a crowd of roughly 19,000 in the Moda Center (with thousands more outside), Sanders sat down with representatives of the group Don't Shoot PDX, according to reports on activist Marcus Cooper's Facebook page.
Cooper says Sanders, his wife, Jane Sanders, and the campaign's newly hired press secretary, Symone Sanders (no relation), met with activists to discuss the omission of institutional racism as one of the campaign's platforms.
"[Jane Sanders] mentioned that she didn't know what to do because [Black Lives Matter] is telling [the campaign that] they are not using their privilege correctly," Cooper writes. "We told them in multiple examples that they have a platform with a large following, and without direct action, nothing will come of it."
Following a snafu in Seattle the day before—where two activists took the microphone, and the stage, from the Vermont senator—his campaign acted quickly, hiring Symone Sanders, a black woman, as press secretary. At Sunday's rally in Portland, she warned the amped crowd that there might be some disruption, and advised attendees to drown out any protests by chanting "We stand together."
Cooper writes that the senator stayed quiet during much of the meeting, while his wife and press secretary spoke to the group.
"Having Symone (since she is a black woman) being able to silence the angry blacks that are attacking is also a part of that privilege," Cooper writes. "We also reminded them that silencing blacks and having your [followers] speak toward blacks, telling them how we should go about speaking out on our oppression, is a form of white supremacy."
During the rally, the roar of the crowd was deafening at times to those who made it in (reports say 9,000 were turned away at the door when seating ran out), as Sanders talked single-payer health care, tuition-free college, pay equity, corporate greed, and—perhaps most importantly—ending institutionalized racism.
The presidential hopeful laid out a new platform on racial justice following the Seattle event, but his communications director has said it was just a coincidence that it followed the Black Lives Matter interruption. SHELBY R. KING
HOURS PRIOR to the Bernie Sanders rally on August 9, Don't Shoot PDX activists took to the streets at SE 82nd and Division and blocked traffic for four-and-a-half minutes in remembrance of unarmed black teenager Michael Brown's killing in Ferguson, Missouri, exactly one year before.
In what representatives of Don't Shoot PDX say was a targeted move, Portland police arrested longtime Portland organizer Teressa Raiford and another female protester.
Both Raiford and the other woman were released around 11 pm on Sunday, according to a Don't Shoot PDX spokesman.
The action in Southeast Portland had attendees worried that protesters would attempt to hijack Sanders' stage at the Moda Center, but while Don't Shoot PDX activists stood and chanted during Sanders' hour-plus speech, the crowd was too loud, and the energy too high, for many attendees to hear.
On Aug 11, Don't Shoot PDX blocked traffic for four-and-a-half hours with a protest in downtown Portland. SRK