Sanders: Many whites 'not sensitive' to the abuse black people face
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Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersOmar: Biden not the candidate to 'tackle a lot of the systematic challenges that we have' Seven takeaways from a busy Democratic presidential campaign weekend in Iowa Democrats go all out to court young voters for 2020 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 ClintonDemocrats go all out to court young voters for 2020 Pelosi: Whistleblower complaint 'must be addressed immediately' Election meddling has become the new normal of US diplomacy 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 ClintonTrump sues to block NY prosecutors' subpoena for his tax returns Most voters say there is too much turnover in Trump administration RNC spokeswoman on 2020 GOP primary cancellations: 'This is not abnormal' 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.”