Bernie Sanders didn’t exactly answer when he was asked what he would do about white nationalist violence in his first term if he were elected U.S. president.
Instead, he talked about how he had marched with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. — and was booed for it.
WATCH: March 10 — Bernie Sanders says ‘democracy under attack’ under Trump
Sanders was at Texas Southern University for She the People, a forum that brought women from 28 states to hear candidates for the Democratic nomination for president talk about issues that matter to women of colour.
He was among eight candidates who attended, alongside U.S. senators Kamala Harris, Elizabeth Warren, Amy Klobuchar and Cory Booker, as well as U.S. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, ex-congressman Beto O’Rourke and former Housing Secretary Julian Castro.
Sayu Bhojwani, the former New York City commissioner of immigrant affairs, asked Sanders the following question:
“What do you believe is the federal government’s role to fight against the rise of white nationalism and white terrorist attacks, and how do you plan to lead on that in your first year as president?”
Sanders responded as follows:
“First of all, we have to make it very clear that the type of demagoguery we are seeing from the Trump Administration is not what this country is about, and I will do everything that I can to help lead this country in a direction that ends all forms of discrimination.”
A host sitting on the stage then followed up with Sanders, saying, “the core of the question is about, as president, what would you do with the rise of white supremacist violence to protect our communities?”
“Absolutely,” Sanders responded. Then he expanded.
“I know I date myself a little bit here, but I actually was at the March on Washington with Dr. King back in 1963.”
Boos and a murmur emerged from the audience.
Sanders continued, “As somebody who actively supported Jesse Jackson’s campaign, as one of the few white elected officials to do so, in ’88, I have dedicated my life to the fight against racism and sexism and discrimination of all forms.”
Interviewed on CNN, Bhojwani said she “certainly wasn’t satisfied with the first part of his answer.”
“I came to that question because my work with immigrant communities and with people of colour,” she said.
“There is just this incredible sadness and fear that has developed over the last few years, as we have watched our churches being burned, as we have watched our young people being killed by police, as we watched our young people being caged, and I brought to that question the weight and the feeling of so many of those conversations.
“I didn’t feel that we were being seen or heard in that answer.”
Bhojwani wasn’t talking about events that happened far in the past, either.
Earlier this month, The New York Times reported that three historically black churches had been burned in a Louisiana parish in 10 days.
Holden Matthews, the suspect in the burnings, is the son of a parish sheriff’s deputy, The Washington Post reported.
In March, CBS News reported on growing violence by white supremacists in the U.S., with 50 murders linked to right-wing extremists in 2018, representing a 35-per cent increase over the previous year.
And that was months after CNN’s Don Lemon called white men the “biggest terror threat” in the United States, backing up his assertion with extensive data.
WATCH: Nov. 2 — CNN host Don Lemon calls white men ‘the biggest terror threat’ in America
Lemon noted a Government Accountability Office (GAO) report showing that far-right extremists had killed 106 people in 62 incidents between Sept. 12, 2001 and Dec. 31, 2016.
Meanwhile, 119 people were killed by Islamic extremists in 23 incidents — over 40 per cent of them in 2016’s Orlando nightclub shooting.
There were no fatalities from far-left violent extremist groups in that time frame.