As you may have heard already, the Netroots Nation gathering in Phoenix this weekend turned into quite the mess. Already suffering from a boycott for choosing the immigrant-unfriendly state of Arizona for this year's gathering, its session with presidential candidates Bernie Sanders and Martin O'Malley was taken over completely by protesters from the Black Lives Matter movement. They chanted, they heckled, they came up on the stage, and both Sanders and O'Malley reacted like deer in headlights. David Dayen has a pretty thorough rundown of what happened here.
I won't pretend to know very much about either the movement itself or how Sanders and O'Malley should have responded. But it did get me curious: What exactly are their demands? Luckily they have a convenient website, and if you scroll down a bit you come to a button labeled "Learn About Our Demands." Perfect. So here they are:
- We demand an end to all forms of discrimination and the full recognition of our human rights.
- We demand an immediate end to police brutality and the murder of Black people and all oppressed people.
- We demand full, living wage employment for our people.
- We demand decent housing fit for the shelter of human beings and an end to gentrification.
- We demand an end to the school to prison pipeline & quality education for all.
- We demand freedom from mass incarceration and an end to the prison industrial complex.
- We demand a racial justice agenda from the White House that is inclusive of our shared fate as Black men, women, trans and gender-nonconforming people. Not My Brother’s Keeper, but Our Children’s Keeper.
- We demand access to affordable healthy food for our neighborhoods.
- We demand an aggressive attack against all laws, policies, and entities that disenfranchise any community from expressing themselves at the ballot.
- We demand a public education system that teaches the rich history of Black people and celebrates the contributions we have made to this country and the world.
- We demand the release of all U.S. political prisoners.
- We demand an end to the military industrial complex that incentivizes private corporations to profit off of the death and destruction of Black and Brown communities across the globe.
At the risk of being yet another clueless white guy, I'd be curious to know how this translates into concrete initiatives. In the case of presidential candidates, the options are legislation, executive actions, more active enforcement of existing laws, and the bully pulpit. In the third bullet point, for example, are they literally asking for a full-employment bill? Or something else?
Anyway, I was curious about their specific demands, so I figured others might be too. Now that I've seen them, I'm still curious about how they expect this to play out. The protest at Netroots Nation probably did little except to benefit Hillary Clinton, who didn't attend and therefore couldn't be caught flatfooted. In addition, all of the Democratic candidates are likely to at least give more frequent shout-outs to racial issues over the next few days and weeks.
But what's next after that?