TOM JOYNER: You talk a lot about free education. How will that affect HBCU’s?
It’s not free education. It is making sure that public colleges and universities are tuition-free. Today in many respects, a college degree is the equivalent of what a high school diploma was many years ago. I think anyone in this country who wants to get a higher education should be able to regardless of the income of his or her families. We are going to be very supportive of the HBCU’s and those that are public will be tuition-free.
REV. AL SHARPTON: Senator Sanders, you have talked, when you met with civil rights leadership, about mandatory minimums and in the campaign about criminal justice, particularly about non-violent offenders and mandatory time and about police abuses and the need for police reform. In light of that, what type of Attorney General would you appoint, based on your announced platform in those areas, what would you require of an Attorney General you would appoint? And if you were elected and had one or two openings on the Supreme Court, would any of that be part of your consideration about what you would want to hear from a Justice that you would nominate?
Thank you very much for that excellent question. An Attorney General of mine would be extraordinarily aggressive in attacking a broken criminal justice system. It’s absolutely insane that today we have more people in jail than in any other country on Earth – 2.2 million people. Among many other things, I want to take marijuana out of the Federal Controlled Substance Act. Too many people’s lives are destroyed because they get police records. We’re going to hold police officers accountable if they break the law. Anytime an individual is killed, whether being apprehended by the police or in police custody, that would call for a Department of justice investigation.
We will have model programs which make police departments look like the communities they serve, in terms of diversity. Your point is a good point about mandatory sentencing. Too many people have been sent away for too long. What we also want to do is deal with this horrific rate of recidivism. People are coming out of jail and getting back into the same environment that got them into jail in the first place. We need people to have the job training and the education they need, so they can create strong and constructive lives once they are on the outside. In terms of the Supreme Court, I regard our broken criminal justice system and the need to reform that as one of the major, major issues facing this country and my appointee to the Supreme Court would have to be prepared to address those issues.
JACQUE REID: The Detroit News and others are blaming the Environmental Protection Agency for having a huge role in the Flint Water crisis, specifically for knowing how dangerous the water was for an incredibly long time, but not saying anything to the public.
You’ve been playing close attention to what’s going on in Flint, you’ve even asked for Gov. Snyder’s resignation. But some people are saying the EPA is useless and others are calling it corrupt. Do you think it’s corrupt or as President, would you revamp it or eliminate it altogether?
Obviously, I would not eliminate it. The people there are calling it corrupt are right-wing people who want the opportunity to pollute our environment and to obtain fossil fuels in this country. Could the EPA be doing much, much more? Look, I was in Flint. What I heard, I have to tell you Jacque, was beyond belief. I could not believe that they were living in the United States of America in 2016. Their children are being poisoned. The intellectual capabilities of their children are in decline.
We have to strengthen the EPA and we have to make sure that as a country, we control the pollution. We don’t allow corporations to put pollution into our water, our air, and our land. In terms of Flint, if the local government there doesn’t have the resources and if the state government – and I have asked for the governor’s resignation – is unprepared or uninterested in helping the people of Flint, then the federal government has to move in very, very aggressively. These people need to have new water pipes, they need to make sure that their kids and the adults there are checked out for potential lead poisoning. There is an enormous of work that needs to be done.
How long do you think it should be until the federal government moves in?
Jacque, I wold say very, very quickly. I was just there a few days ago. It is a disaster. The state government does not have the inclination or the desire to help, I don’t think, the local government doesn’t have the resources. The federal government should move in aggressively.
SYBIL WILKES, TJMS: I’d like to know about the role of Black women in your administration, especially as it relates to some of these issues. How are you going to work on this pay gap? We know women generally make .78 on the dollar compared to men and Black women even less. How are you gong to go about bridging this gap?
We are gong to make a Cabinet look like America. There are a lot of Black women in America and they are going to be on the Cabinet. The issue you raise is a very important issue. Nationally, the pay rate is about $.78 cents on the dollar compared to men. For African-American women, that gap is much, much wider. I believe absolutely that we need pay equity in this country. There’s no need, except sexism and racism, that an African-American woman is making .30, .40 cents less than the white guy sitting next to her. So pay equity for women is a very important goal of a Sanders administration. On top of that, having a Cabinet that is diverse, that looks like America, which certainly includes Black women –
A Black female running mate?
It’s a little early to talk about that right now. Right now, I gotta win the Democratic nomination. But after that, we can talk about that. But first things first.
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EXCLUSIVE: Bernie Sanders Defends Ties to Obamacare; Talks HBCUS, Flint Water Crisis & More was originally published on blackamericaweb.com
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