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The Dems Embrace Black Lives Matter but Street Protests Continue

Do black lives matter to the DNC?

by Justin O'Connell

Protesters took to the streets of Philadelphia to voice deep concerns over societal problems including police brutality - the brunt of which targets minority communities.

“Black lives matter,” one man said. “That’s all I gotta say. Black lives matter.”

When asked to elaborate on the slogan, “all lives matter,” he replied: “It doesn’t matter until black lives do.”

As the crowd marched on chanting, we encounter a caucasian man, his sign reads, “white silence = violence.”

The man went on to criticize New York City’s  stop and frisk policies, a type of limited search when police confront a suspicious person in an effort to prevent a crime from taking place. The police question the person and pat them down in search of weapons and drugs.

But what deems a person suspicious?   “...the color of their skin,” he said, noting that it didn't seem right.

One man discussed the prevalence of law enforcement at the Democratic National Convention. “There is a lot of overtime being paid,” he said. “We need funding in this city of Philadelphia to help us stop closing our schools.”

His soluion to the violence is though education which would " help prevent more lives from being lost."

Still, there was an underpinning of hope among the protesters. “I think the country is just now starting to try and talk about some things...”

Inside the Wells Fargo Convention Center last night, where the DNC is being held this week, former President Bill Clinton advertised his wife better than she does. He called her a “changemaker” and discussed her stalwart pursuits in healthcare as First Lady - topics that might not resonate with the Black Lives Matters protesters.

As President, Bill Clinton oversaw an expansion of the prison industrial complex and continuation of the War on Drugs largest spearheaded under Ronald Reagan’s presidency.  Mr Clinton endorsed the bipartisan “Crime Bill” of 1996, which focused on punishment, not crime prevention.

Under the bill, the death penalty was extended to multitudinous new criminal offenses. It provided $8 billion for the building of new prisons. Criminologist Todd Clear wrote for the New York Times about the crime bill, highlighting how harsher sentencing had added 1 million to the prison population since 1973. The US leads the world in incarceration rate.

"Why," Clear asked, "do harsh penalties seem to have so little to do with crime?" He argued that "police and prisons have virtually no effect on the sources of criminal behavior." He cited the statistics: "About 70 percent of prisoners in New York State come from eight neighborhoods in New York City. These neighborhoods suffer profound poverty, exclusion, marginalization and despair. All these things nourish crime."

Protesters cited this as a reason for the disconnect between police and the communities they serve.

Some Black Lives Matters protesters find Hillary Clinton “hard to trust.” Yet, Mrs. Clinton has allowed Black Lives Matters representatives speak at her convention, and on the first night racial inequality was an oft evoked problem in American society.

In a Democratic primary debate, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders was celebrated for his answer to the question, “Do Black Lives Matter?”

“Black lives matter,” said Sanders. “The reason those words matter is the African-American community knows that, on any given day, some innocent person like Sandra Bland can get into a car and then, three days later, she's going to end up dead in jail. Or their kids are going to get shot. We need to combat institutional racism from top to bottom.”


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Justin is a California-based writer who covers music, cannabis, craft beer, Baja California, science and technology. His writing has appeared in VICE and the San Diego Reader.



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