WASHINGTON -- Republican candidates were not asked to address Black Lives Matter or the state of policing in the U.S. during the second GOP debate on Wednesday.
This is disgraceful, given that Black Lives Matter is arguably the most powerful social justice movement to emerge in the last 50 years. Debate co-host and CNN reporter Jake Tapper reportedly said he regrets not addressing the issue:
It's hard to believe there was no time to ask about Black Lives Matter considering that the debate lasted (an exhausting) three hours. Although Sen. Rand Paul and businesswoman Carly Fiorina addressed criminal justice reform it was a short-lived topic of discussion. Tapper then passed the spotlight to debate co-host Hugh Hewitt, who asked about the 11th Amendment.
“It is disappointing that issues related to criminal justice were wholly ignored in CNN's GOP debate, especially given the exceptional length of the debates and the centrality that these issues have had over the past year,” DeRay Mckesson, who has become one of the most prominent voices of the Black Lives Matter movement, told The Huffington Post.
Fox News' Megyn Kelly, who hosted the first debate, asked about “the biggest civil rights issue of our time.” Granted, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker dodged the question, but at least it was on the agenda. CNN dropped the ball here.
The Black Lives Matter movement has accomplished a lot in the past year: It uprooted St. Louis County’s racist municipal court system after the officer who shot and killed unarmed black teen Michael Brown wasn’t indicted, has pressured the news media to ensure more nuanced coverage of police violence against black people, and got the wealth gap disparity between black families and other Americans to become a Democratic campaign issue.
Activists within the movement also launched Campaign Zero last month, which is a comprehensive set of policy demands at the federal and state level. The policy platform aims to reform existing structural issues within law enforcement agencies and put in place new systems to end police violence against black Americans.
Failing to address these systemic issues shows just how disconnected the GOP is from Black Lives Matter, what the movement is asking for and the reality of having black skin in America.