Appearing on CNN’s “State of the Union” with Jake Tapper, Vermont senator Bernie Sanders told the host that “unarmed black people” getting ”dragged out of cars” or getting shot “is happening too often.”
Sanders said this after Tapper showed him video of Ron Hickman, the sheriff of Harris County, Texas, responding to the murder of a deputy sheriff at a gas station, declaring, “This rhetoric has gotten out of control. We have heard black lives matter, all lives matter. Well, cops’ lives matter, too. So why don’t we just drop the qualifier and just say lives matter and take that to the bank?”
TAPPER: Has the rhetoric gotten too hot?
SANDERS: Well, this is what I think. Obviously, it is an outrage that this police officer was basically assassinated. Other police officers have been killed. I worked with police officers when I was mayor of the city of Burlington. They have a very, very difficult job. And we need to make sure that we have the best-trained, best-paid police departments in the world. And, as president, I would help bring that about, community policing and so forth.
On the other hand, what we also have to understand, it is not acceptable in this country when unarmed black people get dragged out of cars or get shot. That is happening too often. So, in my view, we need major reforms of our criminal justice system, which, by the way, Jake, means that our police officers are better paid, are better trained, and we end this absurdity in America of having more people in jail than any other major country on earth, including China.
The Washington Post compiled data on police shootings and determined that 652 people have been shot dead by police so far this year; 24 were black and unarmed.
According to the Officer Down Memorial Page, 82 police officers have died in the line of duty this year, although that figure includes three from “9/11 related illness”, 13 heart attacks, one fall and several characterized as “accident.”