Bernie’s Brooklyn Heights Round Table Focuses On Criminal Justice


Vermont Senator and presidential candidate Bernie Sanders returned to the City from his meeting with the Pope at the Vatican and hit the ground running, traveling to the First Unitarian Congregational Society in Brooklyn Heights for a faith and social justice roundtable.

The event featured three panelists, including Bay Ridge Palestinian-American activist Linda Sarsour, executive director of the Arab American Association of New York, Rabbi Sara Luria, and intellectual Cornel West.

The panelists represented the three major faiths of Brooklyn. Reverend Al Sharpton was also scheduled to attend, but canceled at the last minute due to a scheduling conflict.

Bernie Sanders in profile

Sanders is seeking to erode Clinton’s support in her adopted home state, where she served as senator for eight years. Clinton held a 13-point lead over Sanders in an opinion poll by Quinnipiac University released last week, a lead bolstered by black voters’ support. This support, however, has been diminished in the last few weeks, as Sanders has been closing in on the former Secretary of State. Just last week, Sanders drew in a crowd of 27,000 individuals at one of his signature outdoor rallies, which was in Washington Square Park in Greenwich Village.

During the faith roundtable, Sanders touched on his usual tenants of income inequality and money in politics, but focused largely on aspects  of criminal justice reform, which included prison reform, and the war on drugs.

“We need to start to invest in jobs and education, not jails and incarceration,” he said, and added later, “We need to train police officers so that lethal force is the last response, and not the first response”

While the panelists and Sanders strayed from knocking the Clinton campaign, there were a few moments when the panelists and Sanders himself criticized his opponent. They knocked Clinton for taking $133,000 from the private prison lobby earlier this year, but the panelists weren’t placated by her giving back the money.

The church crowd listen to the panelists.

Sanders spent a great deal of time knocking his opposition who claim that his policies are unrealistic, or overly ideological. “There’s nothing radical about Bernie Sanders,” exclaimed one panelist, to widespread cheers and applause.

“You know what’s radical? Radical is that over the last 30 years, trillions of dollars have gone from your pockets into the pockets of the one tenth of one percent. Radical is that based on a series of lies, we invaded a country and lost thousands of lives. Radical is that I live 50 miles away from the Canadian border who guarantees health care to all. You want to hear radical? You’re the only major country that doesn’t guarantee health care” shouted Sanders.

New York will vote in the primary tomorrow, and could very well decide who the next president is. The polls are open from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m.