Independent Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont spoke at Liberty University's convocation this morning in Lynchburg, Virginia (video below).
During a question and answer session at the conservative Christian college, the presidential candidate was asked what he would to do to heal racism in America, reports Talking Points Memo.
I would and I believe that every person in this room today understands that it is unacceptable to judge people, to discriminate against people on the based on the color of their skin.
And I would also say that as a nation, the truth is, that a nation which in many ways was created, and I’m sorry to have to say this, from way back on racist principles, that’s a fact. We have come a long way as a nation.
Sanders later added, “But let us be clear, that when you have unarmed African-Americans shot by police officers, something which has been going on for years, that is also institutional racism and cries out for reform,” reports RawStory.com.
Sanders told Nasser and the students that he would call for changing minimal sentencing laws, scale back police militarization and prosecute police officers who violate the law. He also said Americans need to stand up and speak out against racism.
However, Liberty University's senior vice president for spiritual development David Nasser had a different take on police shootings of black people:
We couldn't agree with you more on that thought, but just we would say, I think I speak for many of our students, that it’s not so much a skin issue as much as it is a sin issue. That we can change the behavior of police, we could put cameras on them all day long, but behavior modification can only stop so short as identity change. And so I think we want what you want.
Sanders agreed that hearts needed to change, but reminded the students how it took the U.S. Supreme Court, Martin Luther King Jr. and millions of people who demanded an end to segregation for the law to change.