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  February 13, 2016

Sanders Campaign Takes Up Issue of Police Brutality in Erica Garner Ad

Attorney Kamau Franklin says Bernie Sanders has gone further than most mainstream candidates in the past 20 or 30 years on accountability for police brutality
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Activist attorney Kamau K. Franklin was based in New York City for over eighteen years and represented activist, police misconduct victims and others. He has been a leading member of several grassroots groups and worked on various issues including youth development, police misconduct, and creating sustainable urban communities. Kamau has helped develop community cop-watch programs, freedom school programs for youth and electoral work. He traveled to Palestine as part of a delegation monitoring Israeli human rights abuses. He is now based in the south and is the political editor for Atlanta Black Star. . He also blogs at and can be followed on twitter @kamaufranklin. - See more at:


SHARMINI PERIES, EXEC. PRODUCER, TRNN: Welcome to the Real News Network. I'm Sharmini Peries coming to you from Baltimore.

I'm in conversation with Kamau Franklin. Kamau is an attorney and activist focused on youth, police misconduct, and creating sustainable communities. And at this moment we're going to talk about Erica Garner's endorsement of Bernie Sanders. Let's have a look.

ERICA GARNER: My dad's name is Eric Garner. No one gets to see their parents' last moments, and I was able to see my dad die on national TV. They don't know what they took from us. I'm behind anyone who's going to listen and speak up for us. And I think we need to believe in a leader like Bernie Sanders.

PERIES: All right. Kamau, what do you make of this endorsement?

KAMAU FRANKLIN: I mean, quite frankly, I was stunned. It's probably the best political ad I've ever seen on this issue or any, many issues. I think the fact that his daughter came out, talked about, sort of, the activist or organizing history, and was really playing with it, talked about heroes and icons, obviously, of the black movement, and then switched to Bernie Sanders who actually talked about fighting against police brutality, and talking about the, sort of the understanding that black people can get killed any time by police activities, and those police need to be punished, I think has gone a lot further than most mainstream, any mainstream candidate has gone in the last 20-30 years.

I think coupled with that, to my knowledge, Bernie Sanders has actually adopted many sort of large portions of the Black Lives Matter movement on police brutality. Their platform and program is up on his website. So I think he's making sort of a strong case for why he should be a legitimate candidate and looked at by larger members of the black community.

PERIES: And now, heading south in terms of the primaries and caucuses, the support of the black community is critically important. And of course the endorsement of Erica Garner, Eric Garner's daughter, has a lot of legs, and could have a lot of support in this, in the black community. Give us a sense of how something like this could play out in terms of social media, garnering the grassroots support for Bernie Sanders.

FRANKLIN: Well, I think that's partly what's going to be key for Sanders, is he has to make sure that his social media apparatus is getting into young, black folks in the South. Particularly young college students. I would say young people who may be, be thinking about voting for the first time in their lives. Folks who will look at that stuff and see that there's someone who potentially is speaking to the issues that they are really concerned about.

I think on this and on other economic issues, Bernie Sanders has a case to make to the larger black community. I think then he has to rely on somewhat these people convincing their parents or older siblings to come out and support him in the polls. I think where, the latest polls that I've seen, Hillary Clinton still has a commanding lead when it comes to South Carolina and other Southern states. And a lot of that is led by her support within the larger black community. In particular, black women in their 30s and older, who represent Hillary in a large number.

So I think the folks that Bernie Sanders has on the ground will have to sort of make an effort to reach that vote. And I think this is a starting point for him, if he's going to do it. He has to reach young people, he has to do it through social media. Obviously he has to go to black churches and do ads, and have surrogates who make sense for that population.

So I think, I think this ad is incredible, again. I think it's something that starts a conversation that maybe he was not able to have before. And I think it's something that may propel him to larger numbers, and it's just a question of whether or not it's going to be done fast enough to make any kind of a turnaround and support that he currently is lacking.

PERIES: Now, clearly the Black Congressional Caucus PAC's endorsement of Hillary Clinton here is counterproductive to many black folks in the sense that this endorsement is not in the interest of their own well being. Now, how do you think this kind of an ad that Erica Garner has put out is going to assist people in terms of seeing through the forest and seeing clearly in terms of what is in their own interest?

FRANKLIN: I think that Sanders, through this ad, and again through other activities, is laying a basis for saying I'm going to talk about the difficult issues in America that other candidates won't, or that other candidates will sort of pay lip service to, but don't want to dig too deep. I think the goal of, you know, most mainstream candidates is to win your support without telling you too much, and so they don't owe you anything.

I think in this particular issue, or instance, Bernie Sanders with this ad has done the exact opposite. He's dug in deep talking to the daughter or interviewing the daughter of someone who was killed by the police, someone who is basically assassinated by the police. And she stands up strong in her own organizing and activism, trying to make sure that this case is not forgotten, that justice is had. And then she comes up at the end of the and supports Bernie Sanders as someone who's standing by her work. So I think this is an incredible opportunity for him to have this larger conversation. This is not just someone who is an organizer or activist, but someone who's experienced the pain of having a family member killed by the police, who has been turned into an organizer and activist because of that, and so therefore now is endorsing Bernie Sanders.

Again, I think it's a matter of the momentum in a time that's had to make, to make that this, make sure this ad gets into the consciousness of people for them to have a discussion. For them to see whether or not Bernie Sanders again is worth the support. I think if they look closer, when you compare the two candidates, it might be an easier decision. But it's whether or not the ad digs in deep and other efforts that they're going to have dig in deep in the short time period that they have to really bring themselves to the forefront of what's happening in the black community.

PERIES: All right, Kamau. We'll be watching, and thank you so much for joining us today.

FRANKLIN: Thank you.

PERIES: And thank you for joining us on the Real News Network.


DISCLAIMER: Please note that transcripts for The Real News Network are typed from a recording of the program. TRNN cannot guarantee their complete accuracy.


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