Candidate Bernie Sanders Debuts In Ohio, Talks Police Reform, Racial Inequality

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By ideastream’s Brian Bull

Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders fired up a crowd of thousands last night in Cleveland State University’s Wolstein Center. 

The 74-year-old Democratic presidential hopeful particularly resonated with many local audience members when he discussed racial disparities and justice issues.

For nearly 90 minutes, Sanders covered his familiar national talking points, including cutting student loan debt, shoring up the middle class, and bringing health care to all Americans if elected.  The largely college-age crowd gave Sanders an especially loud ovation when he brought up an issue that hit close to home.

“We have seen….much too often….too many African-Americans…unarmed, killed by the police, when in custody…”

Sanders referred to the fatal shooting of Tamir Rice by Cleveland police nearly a year ago…and the “137 shots” case of 2012, when officers fired dozens of rounds into the car of two unarmed suspects.  

Sanders said police officers are largely good, with tough jobs and crazy schedules.  But he said any officer that breaks the law must be accountable, and he said there needs to be greater diversity in America’s police departments.

“So my pledge to you, is that no president will work harder than I in ending institutional racism in this country and in reforming a very, very broken criminal justice system.”

That pledge won over Oberlin college freshman Sadie Keller.

“A lot of candidates have been shoving it under the carpet and not talking about it, and not only did Bernie Sanders acknowledge it, but he came up with ways that he wants to address systematic racial inequality within our country.”

Sanders also shared his international agenda, after paying homage to the victims of last Friday’s attacks in Paris.  He pledged to help crack down on ISIS and other terrorist factions, and do away with the Trans-Pacific Partnership…which he said hurts working families by shipping American jobs overseas.

While Keller liked Sanders’ take on many issues, she said there’s room to grow….

“I think Hillary Clinton has some good foreign policy standpoints,” continued Keller. “I think Bernie Sanders is truly a president for our people and middle class people, but I would like to see him get a little bit more developed in his foreign policy, especially his relation to Syria and to Middle East.”

This was Sanders' first campaign stop in Ohio. 

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