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Sanders: Black Lives Matter Protest Not A 'Confrontation'

Bernie Sanders did his best to try to downplay the notion that he's not on the same side as the Black Lives Matter protesters that interrupted the forum at Netroots Nation last week.

Bernie Sanders did his best to try to downplay the notion that he's not on the same side as the Black Lives Matter protesters that interrupted the forum at Netroots Nation last week on this Sunday's Meet the Press.

TODD: I want to play a clip where you had sort of a reaction last week at Netroots Nation and a confrontation with the Black Lives Matter protest.

SANDERS: I didn't have a confrontation. What I had was, I was there to speak about immigration reform and some people started disrupting the meeting, and the issue that they raised was in fact a very important issue about Black Lives Matter, about Sandra Bland, about black people getting yanked out of, in this case with Sandra Bland, getting yanked out of an automobile, thrown to the ground and ending up dead three days later because of a minor traffic violation.

So this is a very important issue, and issue of concern that I strongly share.

TODD: Well I guess, there were some people who felt you were being too dismissive of the protesters...

SANDERS: No, I was not dismissive. I've been involved in the Civil Rights movement all of my life and I believe that we have to deal with this issue of institutional racism and this is what I also believe, in speaking to the SCLC last night, this is what I quoted. Martin Luther King, when he died, when he was assassinated, understood and was working on a poor people's march. We have to end institutional racism, but we have to deal with the reality that fifty percent of young black kids are unemployed, that we have massive poverty in America, in our country and we have an unsustainable level of income and wealth inequality.

Sanders also responded to the criticism that his answers are always economic injustice and that institutional racism is a separate problem.

SANDERS: They are parallel problems. They are absolutely correct, but as Martin Luther King Jr. told us, you have to address both. We have to rid this country of racism as we saw in Charleston, S.C. a few weeks ago. A guy motivated by hate groups who goes out and kills black people because they're black. Sandra Bland being yanked of her car, dying three days later, for what? For a minor traffic violation. But my view is that we have got to deal with the fact that the middle class in this country is disappearing, that we have millions of people working for wages that are much too low, impacts everybody, impacts the African American community even more.

Those are issues that do have to be dealt with, just at the same time as we deal with institutional racism.

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