Bernie Receipts #1– Bernie, Black People, and the Crime Bill
This is a weird and terrible primary season, and I really wish it would go away.
That said, I am not a time traveler and completely lazy, so I doubt I will be able to escape all of the political arson that will be setting America aflame for the next 11 months, so, here I am, matches in hand and pouring on the gasoline. Last time we did this, it sucked ass, so, I had hoped we had learned at least a few lessons on how to do Politics right since then. I am usually right. But unlike what usually happens, I was wrong, it was wishful thinking. I am not known for optimism unless shit is at its lowest point, and we are not there yet, so get used to my resting bitch face, people, I’m just an asshole.
Guess what’s back rearing its ugly head again? That’s right, it’s the 2016 Primary Campaign!! Just when we thought we could FINALLY move on with our lives, the muthafuckin’ Crime Bill drama has begun anew, and it’s like 2016 never fucking ended. Some leftist people blame those godawful centrists and moderates for this unfortunate place we find ourselves in, because everyone knows that centrists and moderates are to blame for everything ever. If only they would hurry up and open some re-education centers and teach everyone to be more like AOC we could finally have all the Free Shit Bernie Sanders wants to give us. Yay!
And speaking of Bernie Sanders… Bernie Sanders voted for the Crime Bill.
It was a controversial issue that haunted Hillary Clinton and her supporters in 2016, due to the Sanders plan to use it against her, and it was the one of the most infuriating issues of all time. The Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994, aka, The Crime Bill, contained some features that have since been shown to contribute to the Mass Incarceration of Black People. Things like the Three Strikes provision are now universally reviled, and some states, like California, are headed towards doing away with many of the negative aspects associated with their versions of the law. This is a GOOD THING.
Bernie, to make himself look good, has contended on multiple occasions that he voted for it because, “The House version of the bill included a ban on semi-automatic assault weapons,” which turned out to be only half true. That’s fine, because he has also said to Chuck Todd who was quizzing him on this issue, “Hold it. To the best of my knowledge, there were two important provisions, and that is the Violence Against Women Act. And my understanding is there is a ban on assault weapons.” which is perfectly true, as far as those two provisions being in the final bill are concerned.
What is NOT TRUE is the idea that Bernie had to be dragged kicking and screaming to the halls of Congress to give his “yea” vote in any way, shape, or form. In fact, Bernie spoke out against those who were trying to defeat the Crime Bill more than once, stating,
“There are a lot of provisions in this bill I don’t like, but I thought it meant more money for police in Vermont and more money for prevention programs.”
From Sanders Top Hits:
Sanders Supported Increased Funding For Police, Drug And Crime Enforcement, Anti-Crime And Children’s Programs In The Crime Bill. “Mr. Speaker, at a time when increased property taxes in Vermont are placing a very painful burden on our citizens, it is absolutely appropriate that the Federal Government play an increased role in helping our communities address the crime problem. Under this legislation the State of Vermont will receive at least $44 million dollars to hire more than 500 new Police officers; $6.5 million for drug and crime enforcement in our most rural areas; $3 million for our cities and towns to use in ways they feel useful, and $1.2 million for a variety of children’s programs.” [Rep. Bernard Sanders, Congressional Record, 8/11/94]
Oh look!, Bernie is a COP!
Okay, Bernie may not really BE a cop, but he certainly wanted 500 more cops on the streets of Vermont, and when he got them, it’s likely they were out arresting Black People. Vermont is a state that is about 95% white and 1% black, yet maintains a 10% black population in its prisons; Black people that Bernie Sanders has done nothing to help. EVER.
He has literally NEVER helped ONE.
Then there was USA Today‘s recent analysis of FBI arrest data from 2011 and 2012. According to that report, black people in Burlington, Vermont, were arrested at a rate of 243.2 per 1,000 people. The rate for Ferguson, Missouri — where similar disparities prompted uprisings and a Department of Justice investigation last year — was much lower, at 186.1.
This is Bernie’s town. Surely such a great and wonderful Progressive Powerhouse as the Honorable Bernie Sanders would be on top of these issues in his own town, right? Wrong. He is not on top of them in ANY town. When two protesters in Seattle, Mara Willaford and Marissa Johnson, interrupted the old Marxist to tell him about Mass Incarceration in their community, Bernie huffed off with a sour face, and the women were treated to ignorance and bile from the Bernie friendly media.
But Bernie Sanders? Bernie Sanders? Bernie Sanders, of all presidential candidates, is the one that you choose to target on the issue of America’s structural racism? Bernie Sanders is the most progressive serious presidential candidate, and the most liberal, and the most vocal and wise on the issue of America’s entrenched and widening economic inequality. If you truly care about such inequality, you should be planning to vote for Bernie Sanders.
See? Bernie is our best friend because we are Black and if we actually cared about ourselves we would knock off the foolishness and vote for him. Because……he is the most vocal and wise? Vocal, I will give him, but “wise” is just some bullshit fuckery based on his age or something, because Bernie can be quite the dumbass when it comes to Black people and Criminal Justice.
The U.S. Sentencing Commission had recommended to Congress that it eliminate the disparity (PDF). It meant that Congress should do so by lowering the guidelines for crack so that they’d be equal to those for powder. Most Democrats, of course, supported this change.
So far so good, right? The disparity in sentencing between Crack and Cocaine meant that Black people, who more often were caught with Crack, did significantly more time in prison than their white counterparts. Most legislators were good with lowering sentences for Crack.
But not Bernie.
“This Congressman thinks that drugs are a scourge on America, and I strongly believe we must fight cocaine use in any form. We should be addressing the fairness issue by raising the punishment for powder cocaine, not lowering the sentence for crack offenses. I am deeply disturbed that this was not given as an option today.” –Bernie Sanders
Wow, so progressive. Bernie, who thinks Black People sell the most drugs, was in no way interested in providing relief to the untold number of Black men and women who were locked away for additional years due to having been caught with Crack rather than Cocaine. Some Best Friend he is. If he thinks we sell the most drugs and he cares so much about our liberation, why the fuck would he oppose this legislation?
I don’t fucking know, go ask his lying ass, all I know is that Bernie has never done shit to free any Black people from Prison, and it IRKS ME that he gets credit for being “The New Moses” leading us from captivity.
In 2015, Sanders was asked why there were a disproportionate amount of POC in jail for nonviolent drug offenses.
Two people present said Sanders asked: “Aren’t most of the people who sell the drugs African American?”
Sanders said he “clearly misspoke”https://t.co/6mApH9j3zk
— BuzzFeed News (@BuzzFeedNews) April 6, 2018
Misspoke my ass! Bernie is an old ass white man and he thinks like an old ass white man, and that’s where he gets his old ass white man ideas. Clearly, he “misspoke” multiple times since he had to have it explained to him by Black activists.
In a September meeting with Campaign Zero, a movement formed out of the Ferguson protests, activists asked Sanders why, in his opinion, there were a disproportionate amount of people of color in jail for nonviolent drug offenses. Sanders, seated across the table, a yellow legal pad at hand, responded with a question of his own, according to two people present: “Aren’t most of the people who sell the drugs African American?” The candidate, whose aides froze in the moment, was quickly rebuffed: The answer, the activists told him, was no. Even confronted with figures and data to the contrary, Sanders appeared to have still struggled to grasp that he had made an error, the two people present said.
Our Best Friend Bernie doesn’t seem to know shit the fuck all about our lives, which is not surprising since, Vermont is worse than Ferguson when it come to locking us away and out of sight. What’s even worse, is that even after losing the Black vote so badly in 2016, Sanders continued ignoring black activists in Vermont, and did not include them in events for his, now defunct, Sanders Institute.
Curtiss Reed, the executive director of Vermont Partnership for Fairness and Diversity, has been taking Sanders to task on the very issues he gets credit for Championing.
“I’m tempted to say this is no longer a question of benign neglect on the part of the senator, but willful ignorance on his part not to include marginalized voices in this national conversation on the progressive movement,” Reed said.
Reed, for his part, did not just wake up one day and decide that criticizing Bernie would be a good way to get attention to important issues for Black Vermonters. He has been pressing Sanders on his ignoring of Black issues in Vermont for years, even going for far as to write an open letter in 2015, giving him five bits of advice.
Let’s see if Bernie has followed any of the free advice he was given.
Acknowledge there are people of color living in Vermont.
NOPE. Bernie didn’t even help Kiah Morris, the Black Vermont legislator who was driven from office by racism and threats.
Personally and frequently meet with groups of Vermonters of color across the state to learn of the micro-aggressions, micro-invalidations and micro-injustices we experience under the New Jim Crow.
This did not happen.
Personally and frequently meet with the organizations governed and managed by people of color engaged in the struggle to dismantle structural racism in Vermont to learn what has been working and where there are substantial challenges.
Again. This did not happen.
Personally and frequently meet with white Vermonters who are working at the “consciously skillful” level to learn firsthand the challenges they face helping their well-intentioned white colleagues.
LOLOLOL! Yeah right. Never happened.
Stop talking about your experience in the civil rights movement of five decades ago like a proud Eagle Scout showing off his merit badges.
OMG. Bwaahhaahaahaahaa!!! Hahahahaha! This is hilarious because I remember when he got booed by black women for bringing up MLK and Jesse Jackson.
Bernie spent the post-Crime Bill years both touting his “Strong record of supporting tough on crime legislation,” on his campaign website in 2006, and running on it when seeking to retain his seat. So, why are Bernie’s supporters and surrogates now making Bernie out to be some type of hero Liberator on the issue of Crime and Punishment, while making excuses for Bernie voting for the exact legislation that is now deemed problematic? Sanders, who said he will not be running a negative campaign, appears to have quite a few prominent Progressives, like Lara Balezon who endorsed Berniecrat Chesa Boudin for Kamala’s old job, willing to do his dirty work for him, while he pretends to stay above the fray. You know why.
Why did (suspected) Sanders supporter Lara Balezon use the issue of being too tough on crime as a way to torch Sanders competitors like Kamala Harris when Bernie’s record is far more terrible? She not only attacked Kamala Harris last year, but also went after Hillary 3 YEARS AFTER the 2016 election was over and done, as you can see in this tweet:
This comment from HRC, who promised to “bring super predators to heel,” is risible. ("Superpredators” don’t exist, but HRC & others called young black men by that name and condemned them for life). Progressives rightly criticize @KamalaHarris for her criminal justice record. https://t.co/aoCABWbjUq
— Lara Bazelon (@larabazelon) January 26, 2019
If you think she only goes after her fellow women, don’t worry, she doesn’t. She made sure to save some of her fire for Joe Biden this Summer, while making sure to take a dig at Harris. She attacked Joe for APOLOGIZING for the harm caused by the Crime Bill, which is kinda fucked up since she appears to do so for Bernie, who never apologizes for anything.
How will @JoeBiden explain his 180 degree turn on criminal justice at the next debate? This is the same guy who bragged about the 1994 crime bill “We do everything but hang people for jaywalking.” How will @KamalaHarris respond? Ppl in glass houses. https://t.co/uuZSV98eDb
— Lara Bazelon (@larabazelon) July 24, 2019
Bernie has still not apologized for his role in passing the crime bill, for opposing lowering sentences, for ignoring Vermont activists, or for saying Black people sold the most drugs. Yet he still allows himself to be credited for being our savior. He was even praised by writers for Law Enforcement focused media for telling a young Black Man asking what advice he would give him if he were his son to prevent being shot by police, “I would respect what they are doing so that you don’t get shot in the back of the head,” which is super tone deaf.
Bernie may be a Progressive Hero when it comes to his beliefs on economics, but let’s stop bullshitting about his street cred on Black issues. Bernie Sanders, like most men his age, is very fond of cops. He has never freed any Black people from prison, and needs to stop running around pretending to be our best friend. Best friends apologize for their own shit and don’t go around pretending it doesn’t stink.
It’s 2020, what has Bernie Sanders done for Black People since he’s been in Congress?
Not a goddamn thing.