Hillary Clinton delivered her impassioned comments about racism in the US at the third Democratic presidential debate on Saturday night. But seconds later, Bernie Sanders followed up with an answer that made Clinton’s comments seem weak and pale in comparison.
The former Secretary of State acknowledged there is “systemic racism” in the nation’s justice system. But she didn’t go deeper, and never actually mentioned any racial groups affected by the very racialized issues she was addressing.
“We have systemic racism and injustice and inequities in our country, and in particular in our justice system, that must be addressed and must be ended,” Clinton said after moderator David Muir asked a question about the current state of race in America.
“I feel very strongly that we have to reform our criminal justice system and we have to find ways to try to bring law enforcement together again with the communities that they are sworn to protect,” Clinton said.
“Trust has been totally lost in a lot of places,” Clinton went on to say. “We need to hear the voices of those men and women and boys and girls who feel like strangers in their own country.”
Neither Clinton nor former governor of Maryland Martin O’Malley mentioned any racial groups in their two-minute answers about racism in the U.S.
Senator Sanders said he agreed with Clinton and O’Malley’s statements, but went on to make a stronger statement.
“But let’s be clear,” Sanders said.
“Today in America we have more people in jail than any other country on Earth—2.2 million people [who are] predominantly African-American and Hispanic,” Sanders said.
“We need major, major reforms of a very broken criminal justice system. Now, what does that mean? Well, for a start it means that police officers should not be shooting unarmed people, predominantly African-Americans,” Sanders said, again articulating who is actually overrepresented in, as he put it, the country’s “broken criminal justice.”
After being interrupted by Black Lives Matter activists several times earlier this year, Sanders invited leaders in the racial justice movement to discuss his policies. In August, the campaign also announced it had hired criminal justice advocate Symone Sanders as its new national press secretary.