Black leaders of the Working Families Party report that they have been under attack by supporters of Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont ever since the party endorsed Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren on Monday.
Maurice Mitchell, the National Director of the Working Families Party and an organizer with the Movement for Black Lives, has received taunts calling him a “half man” and “Uncle Tom,” and urging him to “go back to his slave masters,” according to Time. Time posted the content of the messages, some of which contained vulgar language, on its website.
Party organizer Ember Ollom, who has tweeted about her rape and its aftermath, received a message that said: “We were raped by this process, so I’m happy it happened to you.”
“We think it’s counterproductive for supporters in two camps to engage like this,” Mitchell said. “Some people are disappointed with the outcome, so they’re raising questions about the process.”
In response, the Working Families Party drafted a letter to the Sanders campaign. Parts of the letter were posted on Splinter.
The party is under new leadership, according to the letter.
“For the first time in its history, Maurice Mitchell, a Black man with decades of experience building movements and strengthening our democracy, alongside Nelini Stamp, a working class, woman of color and a gifted organizer with a long list of accomplishments, are now at the helm of the Party, where they should be. And apparently, some folks aren’t happy about it.”
The letter said that the party’s leaders “are being threatened on a daily basis, by self-identified Sanders supporters, with hateful, violent and racist threats.”
“These kinds of threats have no place in our movements, and are reminiscent of the threats Black people would receive when daring to vote even though the white supremacists would try and discourage Black people from doing so.”
The letter used the words “white terror” to describe what Sanders supporters were doing.
“We refuse to concede to white terror from the Left as well as the Right. We can argue about the differences between Sanders and Warren, but not if we can’t be distinguished from our real opposition.
“We demand that the Sanders campaign unequivocally denounce the racism in its ranks, and issue a public statement separating themselves from these abhorrent attacks.”
On Thursday, Sanders issued a tweet addressing the issues the Working Families Party had written about.
This campaign condemns racist bullying and harassment of any kind, in any space. We are building a multiracial movement for justice — that’s how we win the White House.
— Bernie Sanders (@BernieSanders) September 19, 2019
“This campaign condemns racist bullying and harassment of any kind, in any space. We are building a multiracial movement for justice — that’s how we win the White House,” Sanders tweeted.
Ollom did not blame the senator for the attacks.
“I do not personally think that Bernie Sanders would condone this behavior,” she said, according to Time.
“It’s not all Bernie supporters, but people are doing this in his name. A lot of people have their picture as his profile picture. When it seems to come from a collection of people speaking on behalf of this candidate, it definitely looks bad.”
Ollom said Sanders supporters who attack the party are really just attacking its people.
“I think it’s important for people to realize that when they send these messages, the Working Families Party is not answering them, the people who work there are answering them. We’re people with feelings. This kind of division is only harming us. It’s not furthering any of our candidates. This kind of behavior doesn’t make me want to help them. They’re going to end up alienating undecided voters.”
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