For months, Black Lives Matter has been criticized by liberals and pundits for shutting down Bernie Sanders speeches with calls to “say her name” and “save our men.” But it turns out interrupting America's most liberal candidate worked.
At Tuesday's Democratic debate, Bernie Sanders said her name.
“The African American community knows that on any given day some innocent person like Sandra Bland can get into a car, and then three days later she’s going to end up dead in jail, or their kids are going to get shot,” Sanders said, referring to the 28-year-old woman who was found dead in a jail cell this summer three days after she was arrested.
Google searches for Bland immediately spiked:
Sanders has been interrupted by Black Lives Matter groups more than once. He was first called out at a conference in Phoenix in July, two minutes after he took the stage.
And then the group did it again in Seattle.
“It’s not like we like shutting shit down, but we have to,” said Black Lives Matter co-founder Patrisse Cullors ahead of Sanders taking the stage at the Netroots Conference in Phoenix. The group also spoke up when Martin O’Malley was on stage.
“We are in a state of emergency. If you don’t know that emergency, you are not human,” Cullors said. “I want to hear concrete actions,” Cullors went on to say, “and I want to hear an action plan.”
“Wow, way to alienate the only candidate who has any record of fighting for your cause. Fucking retards,” reads the top comment on a YouTube video of the incident. That comment has been up-voted 566 times.
The strategy was dissected in think pieces, on cable news, and everywhere else people could chime in. Sanders himself said he was disappointed by the actions.
“I am a strong supporter of #BlackLivesMatter, but the stunt that some of their activists pulled here was amateurish, rude, and extremely counter-productive,” read another comment on YouTube.
In a USA Today op-ed, GOP presidential hopeful Ben Carson wrote “the idea that disrupting and protesting Bernie Sanders speeches will change what is wrong in America is lunacy.”
At a campaign stop in New Hampshire in August, Hillary Clinton told local Black Lives Matter leaders they should rethink their strategy.
“You're going to have to come together as a movement and say, 'Here's what we want done about it,'" Clinton said, according to video released by Black Lives Matter.
But in the end, the strategy appears to have worked. Sanders said her name in response to a Black Lives Matter question asked via a video uploaded to Facebook.
“We need to combat institutional racism from top to bottom, and we need major, major reforms in a broken criminal justice system in which we have more people in jail than China,” Sanders said during the debate, adding he wants to make sure “our people have education and jobs rather than jail cells.”
Moments later at 6:56pm local time in Las Vegas, Sandra Bland was trending in Google searches across the country. Some 10% of Google searches in the United States were looking for information about Bland.
Black Lives Matter co-founder Patrisse Cullors tagged Bernie Sanders in a tweet and wrote “good job.”