Also over the weekend, while Republicans were in Iowa attending a forum, some of the 2016 Democratic candidates attended the Netroots Nation 2015 conference of progressive activists. This year, the event was held in Phoenix and created some headlines for Martin O’Malley and Bernie Sanders, who were both heckled during their question and answer time.
Report from CNN:
Democratic presidential candidate Martin O’Malley apologized on Saturday for saying “All lives matter” while discussing police violence against African-Americans with liberal demonstrators.
Several dozen demonstrators interrupted the former Maryland governor while he was speaking here at the Netroots Nation conference, a gathering of liberal activists, demanding that he address criminal justice and police brutality. When they shouted, “Black lives matter!” a rallying cry of protests that broke out after several black Americans were killed at the hands of police in recent months, O’Malley responded: “Black lives matter. White lives matter. All lives matter.”
The demonstrators, who were mostly black, responded by booing him and shouting him down.
Later that day, O’Malley apologized for using the phrase in that context if it was perceived that he was minimizing the importance of blacks killed by police.
“I meant no disrespect,” O’Malley said in an interview on This Week in Blackness, a digital show. “That was a mistake on my part and I meant no disrespect. I did not mean to be insensitive in any way or communicate that I did not understand the tremendous passion, commitment and feeling and depth of feeling that all of us should be attaching to this issue.”
O’Malley’s problems stem from following up his statement of “black lives matter,” by also saying “white lives matter, all lives matter.” That is not the message the crowd wanted to hear. As a result, O’Malley lost control of his speaking time and was not able to articulate much of his message.
Report on Sanders from USAToday:
Sanders, a left-leaning independent U.S. senator from Vermont, was visibly irritated at times during his shorter-than-expected appearance at the Netroots Nation gathering. He, in turn, angered the “Black Lives Matter” protesters by not immediately responding to them.
The hashtag #BlackLivesMatter is widely used on social media by activists and their allies.
“Black lives, of course, matter,” Sanders said at one point. “… But if you don’t want me to be here, that’s O.K.”
Sanders threatened to leave, and I don’t think anyone can blame him. If these candidates were invited and given time to speak, they should be allowed to speak without constant interruption from the audience.
Hillary Clinton, who last attended the Netroots Nation conference in 2007, did not attend this year.