In Nevada, Jeb Bush rally interrupted by Black Lives Matter demonstrators
A Jeb Bush town hall meeting Wednesday ended on a testy note, as Black Lives Matter protesters clashed with the presidential candidate's supporters after he faced a series of challenging questions.
Bush, responding to a woman's query about the disproportionate number of minorities killed by police and their treatment in the criminal justice system, said there was no question that racism still existed in the United States and that leaders needed to engage in communities that felt disenfranchised. He then turned to his education record as Florida's governor, saying that achievement scores among minority youths rose during his tenure.
“I have a record of empowering people in communities that” were told “they had no chance,” Bush said, ending the town hall. He did not deliver a closing statement, as he typically does, and quickly made his way to an exit, greeting supporters along the way.
Behind him, a few dozen protesters raised their fists and began chanting, “Black Lives Matter!” A few Bush supporters turned toward them and chanted, “All Lives Matter!” and “White Lives Matter!” Two women -- a protester and a Bush supporter -- stood a few feet from the candidate with their middle fingers extended in each other's faces.
In recent weeks, Black Lives Matter protesters have interrupted Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), who is seeking the Democratic presidential nomination.
At the start of Wednesday's town hall, two protesters interrupted Bush, began chanting, “Black Lives Matter” and were escorted out of the community center gymnasium where the event was taking place.
Bush's campaign said the candidate met with Black Lives Matter advocates earlier in the day and discussed criminal justice reform and barriers to upward mobility.
At the town hall, Bush also faced questions on immigration policy, and was booed when he said he favored a pathway to legality but not to citizenship for those who are in the country illegally, with the exception of people who were brought to the U.S. as children.
Richard Carreon, 35, of Las Vegas, told the candidate that as a young child he immigrated to the U.S. from the Philippines with his family. His adult sister was separated from the family for a decade because of delays in the family reunification system, he said.
Bush responded that he supported family reunification for spouses and minor children, but thought the nation's policy of including adult siblings and adult parents was too broad.
“I was very disappointed,” said Carreon, a retired member of the military and registered Republican.
But he was also frustrated by the protesters' acts, telling several after the event that he thought they were disrespectful.
“We may have our gripes, but there are other ways to deal with them,” he said. “I'm not a fan of the president, but he is the president. I would never do to him what these folks did to Jeb. There are better ways to effect change than yell at a town hall.”