Bernie Sanders has said it. Hillary Clinton has said it. Tonight, Martin O’Malley said it on the debate stage: Black Lives Matter.
That means that three out of three Democratic candidates say they believe that black lives matter. Compare this to yesterday’s GOP debate, where the only reference made to Black Lives Matter was when Ted Cruz dismissed it by saying “all lives matter.” In the GOP debate last August, candidates spent less than a minute discussing the issue. This is simply unacceptable when you consider how many black people died at the hands of police last year and how frequently this occurs. But the GOP is doubling down, painting the movement as anti-cop.
Still, the Democratic candidates have had struggles with this issue. At the Netroots Nation conference in Phoenix last July, Martin O’Malley apologized for saying “All Lives Matter” in response to a question about police violence against black people. And, of course, his tenure as mayor of Baltimore was called into question. Baltimore was the site of protests and unrest last April after the death of Freddie Gray, a 25-year-old black man, who sustained lethal injuries to his neck and spine while in police custody.
But this much is certain: You won’t hear “black lives matter” from any of the GOP contenders. Or, at the very least, not without the addendum “all lives matter,” a saying that is typically only used when trying to discredit a movement focused on stopping a problem that disproportionately affects black people.