Sunday, February 12, 2017

Bernie Sanders Tries To Meet The People In West Virginia And Is Blocked

I lived in West Virginia for 11 years so this is no surprise for me. When I lived there it seemed common for the power structure to block and take away civil liberties and for everyone to recognize that the coal companies and reactionaries and corrupt politicians called the shots. Corruption and authoritarian rule were art forms in the state, in fact. Here are some paragraphs from The Washington Post story:

“If anyone in West Virginia government thinks that I will be intimidated from going to McDowell County, West Virginia, to hold a town meeting, they are dead wrong,” Sanders said in a statement. “If they don’t allow us to use the local armory, we’ll find another building. If we can’t find another building, we’ll hold the meeting out in the streets. That town meeting will be held. Poverty in America will be discussed. Solutions will be found.”

The town hall meeting was set to be held in McDowell County, the poorest part of West Virginia, with the highest rate of drug overdose in the state and the lowest life expectancy of any county in the United States — 64 years. In November, Donald Trump won 74.1 percent of the vote in the county, but in the Democratic primary six months earlier, Sanders won 55.2 percent of the vote.

On Friday night, as first reported by the Charleston Gazette-Mail, MSNBC and Sanders learned that the armory would not be available for the town hall, which was to be moderated by host Chris Hayes. While the state National Guard and new Gov. Jim Justice (D-W.Va.) have not talked about the cancellation, people with knowledge of the event say it had been planned for weeks, and belatedly, they were told the venue could not host a political event.

Sanders said that “hundreds” of locals had signed up to attend the town hall.

“I want people to see, first hand, how poverty leads to terrible despair and that, in reality, how it is a death sentence for many,” he said. “In McDowell County, one of the poorest areas in one of our poorest states, people are now living shorter lives than their parents. Unemployment is sky high, drug addiction is at an epidemic rate and the schools lack adequate funding. It is high time that we, as a nation, heard from the people who are impacted by this crisis and determined the best ways forward.”

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