Bernie Sanders tells student to respect police officer "so that you don't get shot in the back of the head"
Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders found himself in a social media storm Saturday night after video surfaced of a statement he made at the Second Step Presidential Justice Forum earlier in the day. When a black student asked Sanders how he should handle getting pulled over by a police officer, Sanders responded "respect what they are doing so that you don't get shot in the back of the head."
Sanders made the statement during a question-and-answer session at the forum at Benedict College, a historically black college. The student asked Sanders, "If I'm your son, what advice would you give me next time I'm pulled over by a police officer?"
Sanders advised the student do his best to identify the police officer "in a polite way."
"I would respect what they are doing so that you don't get shot in the back of the head, but I would also be very mindful of the fact that as a nation, we have got to hold police officers accountable for the actions that they commit," he said. "I would be very cautious if you were my son in terms of dealing with that police officer, but I would also defend my rights and know my rights and make sure if possible that police officer's camera is on what goes on."
CBS News campaign reporter LaCrai Mitchell reported that the question appeared to "stump" Sanders and the presidential candidate struggled to answer. Sanders did not get much applause or crowd approval, she said.
The question was later asked to former Vice President Joe Biden by a black female student.
"If you were my daughter, you'd be a Caucasian girl and you wouldn't be pulled over," Biden said. "That's what's wrong."
Biden tweeted out a clip of his answer. "Institutional racism should no longer exist. As president, I'll put forward change to help put an end to it," he said in the clip.
Sanders received backlash on Twitter for his response.
Morehouse College adjunct professor David Dennis Jr. wrote "Bernie Sanders does not understand race in America."
Sanders did not post his response on Twitter, instead posting a clip of him commenting on the criminal justice system. "If you are wealthy and powerful, or maybe the president, you are above the law. But if you are poor, if you're black, if you're Hispanic, it's a different story," he said in the clip.
The justice forum, held by the 20/20 Bipartisan Justice Center, will run through Sunday. Senator Elizabeth Warren, former Obama Housing Secretary Julián Castro and Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard are expected to speak Sunday.
Senator Kamala Harris canceled her planned appearance at Saturday's Second Step Presidential Justice Forum at Benedict College in objection to the group awarding President Trump its Bipartisan Justice Award. She received the award in 2016. Harris attended a different event Saturday at Benedict College.
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