What does Bernie Sanders think about the police? It’s a question that was posed to Law Enforcement Today after a satire article about the lawmaker made its rounds. Part of the piece read:
In a recent speech on the campus of U.C. Berkeley (the sweet spot for socialist sensitivities) Sanders passionately said, “The way criminals have been treated by law enforcement when they break the law is nothing short of a national disgrace. How are criminals supposed to show they can behave better if they are locked inside cages [jails] like animals by law enforcement?” He continued, “Just because someone car-jacked someone on a Tuesday doesn’t mean they can’t be a changed person Thursday and perhaps if the cops weren’t creating a culture of fear, criminals wouldn’t feel the pressure to commit these crimes; it’s like a self-fulfilling prophecy and it’s time for a change.”
Now I make no bones about it – I’m often ashamed to be a millennial by definition, mainly because of the stereotypes associated with my generation (and the number of Sanders fans that fall under this demographic).
But I’m a believer that the best way to combat “leadership” from socialism is not to take the approach of “fake news”, but rather to let real news do the talking.
And so today I bring you a series of quotes from Bernie Sanders himself on how he feels about police and the judicial system in America. What you’re about to read is all sourced from debates Sanders was taking part in or directly from his book, Our Revolution.
You can come to your own conclusion on exactly how this socialist feels about police.
Bernie Sanders: The Way The Justice System Treats Black Men and Women Is A National Disgrace
The African-American situation with regard to criminal justice was a national disgrace. Jails from coast to coast were filled with African-Americans, many of whom lacked decent education or job skills appropriate for the twenty-first century. Unbelievably, if present trends continued, one out of four black males born today would end up in jail.
During the campaign, I met frequently with members of the Black Lives Matter movement. This loosely knit organization was successfully educating the nation that in many black communities the police were not there protecting the people, but intimidating them. And time and time again, tragically, cell phone video cameras were recording horrific examples of extreme police brutality, the taking of innocent lives by overly aggressive police action.
There was no question that, as a nation, we had made great advances in civil rights. But there was also no doubt in my mind that much, much more needed to be done.
Bernie Sanders: Black Lives Matter Nails It On Police Brutality
[It’s time to] end the absurdity of the US having more people in jail than any other country on earth. As the Black Lives Matter movement was pointing out, there were too many victims.
Many American, and not just African-Americans and Latinos, are becoming increasingly outraged by police brutality. They are rightfully tired of turning on the television and seeing videos of unarmed blacks being shot & killed by police officers. They want criminal justice reform. They want police department reform. And I agree.
The vast majority of police officers are honest and hardworking. But when a police officer breaks the law, that officer must be held accountable. Further, police officers must be trained to understand that lethal force is the last response, not, as is too often the case, the first response. I promised that I would make sure that all killings that took place when people were in police custody or being arrested would prompt a Department of Justice investigation.
Bernie Sanders: Fix The Police And You Fight Racism
In the U.S. today we have more people in jail than any other country on earth. We are spending $80 billion a year to lock up 2.2 million Americans, disproportionately African-American, Latino, and Native American. To my mind, it makes a lot more sense to invest in education and jobs than in jails and incarceration. It’s time for real criminal justice reform.
Among many other struggles we must engage in to combat racism in this country, we must stop police brutality and the killing of unarmed African-Americans. This has emerged as one of the great civil rights issue of the early twenty-first century.
Too many African-Americans and other minorities find themselves subjected to a system that treats citizens who have not committed crimes like criminals. Because of over-policing in minority communities and racial profiling, African-Americans are twice as likely to be arrested and almost four times as likely to experience the use of force during encounters with the police than whites.
Bernie Sanders: Train Police To De-escalate Lethal Force
We must come together with a sense of shared purpose and demand policies to transform this country into a nation that affirms the value of all our people, regardless of race, income, or national origin. We need a criminal justice system that not only protects our people from crime, but is based on justice for all, nondiscriminatory policies, and the understanding that the prevention of crime is a much worthier approach than punishment.
We must reexamine honestly how we police America, and the federal government can play an important role in establishing a new model police training program that reorients us in the way we do law enforcement. First and foremost, we must develop new rules on the allowable use of force. Police officers need to be trained to de-escalate confrontations and to humanely interact with people, especially people who have mental illnesses. Lethal force should be the last response, not the first.
Bernie Sanders: Get Rid Of The Death Penalty
It is long past time for the United States of America to join almost every other advanced country on earth in abolishing the death penalty.
The death penalty is cruel and unusual punishment. It is applied disproportionately to people of color. It has been proven to not deter violent crime.
The inevitable endless judicial appeals tie up the courts for years, at the taxpayer’s expense. And far too many people are now thought, after they were put to death by the state, to have been innocent.
Bernie Sanders Buddies Up With Hillary Clinton On Police Reform
Hillary Clinton: We have to restore policing that will actually protect the communities that police officers are sworn to protect. But, I would also add this. There are other racial discrepancies. Really systemic racism in this state, as in others, education, in employment, in the kinds of factors that too often lead from a position where young people, particularly young men, are pushed out of school early, are denied employment opportunities. So, when we talk about criminal justice reform and ending the era of mass incarceration, we also have to talk about jobs, education, housing, and other ways of helping communities.
Bernie Sanders: We need fundamental police reform. I would hope that we could all agree that we are sick and tired of seeing videos on television of unarmed people, often African-Americans, shot by police officers.
Bernie Sanders: Police Bust More Black Men And Women
What we have to do is end over-policing in African- American neighborhoods. The African-American community and the white community do marijuana at about equal rates.
The reality is four times as many blacks get arrested for marijuana. Far more blacks get stopped for traffic violations.
We need fundamental police reform when we talk about a criminal justice system. What we have got to do is make it clear that any police officer who breaks the law will be held accountable.
Bernie Sanders: De-militarize Police And Investigate Them
Question: I believe there’s a huge conflict of interest when local prosecutors investigate cases of police violence within their communities. Most recently, we saw this with a non-indictment of the officers involved in the case of 12-year-old Tamir Rice. How would you presidency ensure incidents of police violence are investigated and prosecuted fairly?
Bernie Sanders: This is a responsibility for the U.S. Justice Department to get involved:
- Whenever anybody in this country is killed while in police custody, it should automatically trigger a U.S. attorney general’s investigation.
- Second of all, if a police officer breaks the law, like any public official, that officer must be held accountable.
- And thirdly, we have got to de-militarize our police departments so they don’t look like occupying armies. We’ve got to move toward community policing.
- And fourthly, we have got to make our police departments look like the communities they serve in their diversity.
Bernie Sanders: Police Are Part Of Institutional Racism
Today we have more people in jail than any other country on earth, 2.2 million people. Predominantly African-American and Hispanic. We are spending $80 billion a year locking up Americans. I think we need a major effort to come together and end institutional racism. We need major reforms of a broken criminal justice system. What does that mean? Well, for a start it means that police officers should not be shooting unarmed people, predominantly African-Americans.
Bernie Sanders: Police Are Jailing And Killing Blacks
Black Americans are disproportionately overrepresented and overcharged in our current justice system. According to a 2013 report by the Sentencing Project, a research and advocacy group, one out of three black men can expect to go to prison in their lifetime, as compared to only one out of 17 whites.
Isn’t the justice system meant to protect all citizens? It should. But while black people make up only 13% of the population, they account for 31% of all victims killed by police. Blacks make up nearly 40% of unarmed individuals killed by police with a gun and 42% of unarmed individuals that are killed by police by means other than a gun. (And remember: statistics on police shootings are self-reported, so this data probably underestimates this depressing state of affairs.)