Protesters shut down Bernie Sanders rally

 
Protesters who claimed affiliation with the Black Lives Matter movement stormed the stage during a rally for Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersClinton links Trump debt to student loan fight Katy Perry fundraises for Clinton on convention stage FULL SPEECH: Hillary Clinton closes out Democratic convention MORE (I-Vt.) in Seattle on Saturday, taking over the microphone and forcing Sanders to leave without ever speaking.
 
Moments after Sanders took the stage at Westlake Park, two women and one man climbed the stage and confronted the Democratic presidential candidate, demanding a chance to speak. 
 
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After several moments of confusion and confrontation, an event organizer took the microphone and said the protesters would be allowed to speak before Sanders. Some in the crowd booed. 
 
One protester, who identified herself as Marissa Johnson, began by saying, “I was going to tell Bernie how racist this city is — with all of its progressives — but you’ve already done that for me. Thank you.”
 
Johnson spoke, among other things, about police violence in Seattle, mentioning a federal investigation into the city's law enforcement that resulted in the appointment of a monitor to make sure Seattle police were complying with the terms set forth by the Justice Department.
 
“Bernie says that he’s all about the people and about grassroots. The biggest grassroots movement in this country right now is Black Lives Matter,” she added.
 
She then mentioned the anniversary event that sparked the Black Lives Matter movement — the shooting of an unarmed black teenager named Michael Brown by a white police officer in Ferguson, Mo., last year.
 
Johnson requested four-and-a-half minutes of silence from the crowd, to honor the four-and-a-half hours Brown allegedly laid dead in the street after being killed.
 
Some in the crowd jeered the protesters and yelled “get off the stage,” but others replied “let her talk.”
 
At times, shouts of “arrest her” were audible.
 
After the four-and-a-half minutes, protesters did not relinquish the stage. 
 
"If you care about Black Lives Matter, as you say you do, you will hold Bernie Sanders specifically accountable for his actions," Johnson continued. 
 
She mentioned a similar interruption by Black Lives Matter activists during the annual progressive NetRoots Nation gathering. Protestors flooded the stage early on in the event and shouted down Democratic presidential hopeful Martin O'Malley as well as Sanders.
 
"Bernie, you were confronted at NetRoots by black women," Johnson said before adding, "you have yet to put out a criminal justice reform package like O’Malley did."
 
After the protesters and organizers continued the confrontation on stage, Sanders waved to the crowd and walked off the stage.
 
He entered the crowd to greet supporters, who chanted his name as he shook hands.
 
The event, titled "Social Security Works," was organized to celebrate the 80th anniversary of Social Security and the 50th anniversary of Medicare. Rep. Adam Smith (D-Wash.) and Seattle councilwoman Kshama Sawant spoke earlier at the event.
 
During the NetRoots Nation interruption, Sanders still attempted to speak to the crowd and mentioned the issues facing the criminal justice system.
 
"Black lives, of course, matter. I spent 50 years of my life fighting for civil rights and for dignity," he said. "But if you don't want me to be here, that's OK. I don't want to out-scream people." 
 
He has also talked about policing issues on other occasions during his bid for the White House.
 
The event supporting Social Security and Medicare is one of a sweep of campaign stops Sanders has on the calendar for his swing through Seattle. 
 
Only two hours after the event in Westlake Park was scheduled to end, Sanders is due at an event at the Comet Tavern, a bar close to Seattle's Capitol Hill. Top donors to the meet-and-greet event are shelling out $1,000 each to be considered a host, though tickets to enter are $200.
 
Later, he'll be having another rally at the University of Washington’s Hec Edmundson Pavilion, which has a maximum capacity of 10,000 people. Local reports say he is due to speak about issues related to money in politics, income inequality, climate change and affordable higher education.
 

 Updated at 6:55 p.m.

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