Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders and Martin O’Malley, the three top candidates running for the Democratic nomination in 2016, called for police reform and more conversation about race in light of the newly released video of Sandra Bland’s arrest in Texas.
“My heart breaks at seeing another young African American life lost too soon,” Clinton said in a statement on Wednesday. “Sandra Bland had a bright future ahead of her and it is particularly tragic that she lost her life just as she was to start her new career.”
Clinton added, “From what I’ve seen, the circumstances of this case are incredibly disturbing. I hope and expect that there will be a full investigation into this situation. It is also a tragic reminder of the ongoing systemic issues of race and justice in America that we must address with urgency, and we have to do more than talk—we have to take action.”
Bernie Sanders and Martin O’Malley, two 2016 Democrats who were confronted by Black Lives Matters protestors on Saturday, called for police reform in light of newly released video of Sandra Bland’s arrest in Texas.
Bland, who was pulled over on July 10 for allegedly failing to use her turn signal, died three days later in jail. Authorities said she committed suicide, but family and friends doubt the claim and the video is raising further questions about Bland’s death.
Sanders called to police reform in light of Bland’s arrest and subsequent death.
“This video of the arrest of Sandra Bland shows totally outrageous police behavior,” Sanders said in a statement released late on Tuesday night. “No one should be yanked from her car, thrown to the ground, assaulted and arrested for a minor traffic stop. The result is that three days later she is dead in her jail cell.”
He added, “This video highlights once again why we need real police reform. People should not die for a minor traffic infraction. This type of police abuse has become an all-too-common occurrence for people of color and it must stop.”
O’Malley, in a statement issued on Wednesday, called for a full investigation into Bland’s death.
“My heart breaks for Sandra Bland and her family,” O’Malley said. “This is a horrible loss of life that demands a full, thorough and independent investigation of the traffic stop, the arrest and Ms. Bland’s tragic death in custody.”
Both the former Maryland governor and Vermont senator were interrupted by dozens of demonstrators on Saturday at Netroots Nation who shouted down the candidates and demanded they address criminal justice issues and police brutality.
The protestors repeatedly shouted “Black lives matter! Black lives matter” and used the call-and-repeat cry that has become the response to Bland’s death: “If I die in police in custody! Burn everything down! That’s the only way motherf—– like you listen!”
In response to protestors, Sanders said “Black lives, of course, matter,” but added, “If you don’t want me to be here, that’s OK. I don’t want to out scream people.”
O’Malley responded by outlining how he would deal with police brutality, but later said, “Black lives matter. White lives matter. All lives matter.” He later had to apologize for adding “white lives matter, all lives matter” to his comment.
Two days after O’Malley and Sanders were met by protestors, Clinton used a Facebook question and answer to clearly say “Black lives matter.”
“We need to acknowledge some hard truths about race and justice in this country, and one of those hard truths is that that racial inequality is not merely a symptom of economic inequality,” Clinton wrote. “Black people across America still experience racism every day.”
Not all 2016 Democrats weighed in on the controversy, though.
Craig Crawford, spokesman for Jim Webb, said the senator had not watched the video and did not have a statement on it.
A spokeswoman for Lincoln Chafee did not respond to questions about the former Rhode Island governor’s reaction.