Senator Elizabeth Warren offered a full-throated endorsement of the Black Lives Matter movement at a speech today at the Edward M. Kennedy Institute.
Warren called the activists protesting police brutality around the country the “new generation of civil rights leaders.” She painted them as a direct extension of civil rights heros like Martin Luther King Jr. and John Lewis.
She dismissed critics who claim Black Lives Matter activists are responsible for instigating violence. “Watch them march through the streets, ‘hands up don’t shoot’ – not to incite a riot, but to fight for their lives. To fight for their lives,” she said.
She also laid out a vision for a new era of policing in America:
Policing must become a truly community endeavor-not in just a few cities, but everywhere. Police forces should look like, and come from, the neighborhoods they serve. They should reach out to support and defend the community – working with people in neighborhoods before problems arise. All police forces-not just some-must be trained to de-escalate and to avoid the likelihood of violence. Body cameras can help us know what happens when someone is hurt.
We honor the bravery and sacrifice that our law enforcement officers show every day on the job – and the noble intentions of the vast majority of those who take up the difficult job of keeping us safe. But police are not occupying armies. This is America, not a war-zone and policing practices in all cities-not just some-need to reflect that.
Warren sought to extend the issues beyond simply police brutality. She connected that fight to issues of economic and social justice, including voter suppression, stagnating wages, housing discrimination and predatory banking practices.
Early reviews of her speech by leaders of the Black Lives Matter movement were positive. “Senator Warren’s speech clearly and powerfully calls into question America’s commitment to black lives by highlighting the role that structural racism has played and continues to play,” DeRay Mckesson, a prominent activist, told the Washington Post.
Black Lives Matter has emerged as a major political force with all major Democratic candidates — Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders and Martin O’Malley — meeting with leaders of the movement.
You can read the full text of Warren’s speech here.