Sanders: Many whites 'not sensitive' to the abuse black people face
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Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersJoe Biden faces an uncertain path Bernie Sanders vows to go to 'war with white nationalism and racism' as president Biden: 'There's an awful lot of really good Republicans out there' MORE (I-Vt.) on Monday said white Americans are often blind to the injustices that black people face when dealing with police.

“Many white people are not sensitive to the kind of abuse that African Americans, especially younger African Americans, receive at the hands of police officers and police departments,” Sanders said, according to Ebony.

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“I think for most whites their experience with the police has been good or neutral because they don’t interact with the police as much as those in the black community,” he said.

“One of the ongoing crises in America is institutional racism,” the 2016 Democratic presidential candidate added. "We have a very broken criminal justice system. Clearly these are issues that must be dealt with and changed.”

Sanders argued that law enforcement officials need to improve their outreach when engaging minority populations.

“We need to demilitarize local police departments so that they do not look like occupying armies,” he said. 

“We want police departments that look like the communities they are serving,” Sanders continued. "If the community is a minority one, the police department should reflect that reality.”

Sanders has surged to second in the race for the Democratic presidential nomination, and now leads Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonLewandowski on potential NH Senate run: If I run, 'I'm going to win' Fighter pilot vs. astronaut match-up in Arizona could determine control of Senate Progressive Democrats' turnout plans simply don't add up MORE in polls of New Hampshire, an early-voting state.

But while Sanders has seen an upswing in support, there are lingering doubts about whether he can expand his appeal beyond white liberals to other voting blocs within the Democratic Party, including African-Americans.

Sanders told Ebony he recognizes the challenges he faces.

“Yes, it’s true — I’m from a state that is overwhelmingly white,” he said.

“I am also aware that I am running against someone whose husband is very popular in the African American community,” Sanders added, referring to former President Bill ClintonWilliam (Bill) Jefferson ClintonThe magic of majority rule in elections The return of Ken Starr Assault weapons ban picks up steam in Congress MORE.

“The proposals that I talk about are actually more relevant to the black community,” he said, citing his calls for criminal justice reform and better youth education.

Black Lives Matter activists have repeatedly targeted Sanders this year, disrupting several of his stops along the 2016 campaign trail. Sanders has since met privately with the activists to discuss his agenda.

“We met on several occasions and those meetings have all been very productive,” he said. “I have found those meetings to be very useful.”