Vermont senator and presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders told NBC’s “Meet the Press” on Sunday that he did not authorize an apology sent to Black Lives Matter leaders by a senior campaign staffer.
The email, published by BuzzFeed, apologized to members of the movement on behalf of Sanders’ campaign for not reaching out sooner.
“I apologize it took our campaign so long to officially reach out,” wrote Marcus Ferrell, the campaign’s African American outreach director. “We are hoping to establish a REAL space for REAL dialog between the folks on this email and our campaign.”
The email came after Sanders was twice interrupted by Black Lives Matter protesters – once during a rally in Seattle on August 8 where Sanders decided to leave without speaking rather than respond to two heated protesters who took over the stage at Westlake Park.
On Sunday, “Meet the Press” anchor Chuck Todd asked Sanders about the email.
“Well, that was sent out by a staffer not by me,” Sanders responded. “Look, we are reaching out to all kinds of groups. Absolutely, I met with folks at Black Lives Matter. We’re reaching out to Latino groups. We’re reaching out to the unions. We’re fighting to expand Social Security and we’re reaching out to senior groups. We’re reaching out to health care groups because we believe that everybody in America is entitled to health care. We’re reaching out to everybody.”
Todd pressed Sanders over whether he thought an apology was owed.
“No. I don’t. I think we’re going to be working with all groups. This was sent out without my knowledge,” Sanders said.
On Monday, The Bernie Sanders campaign agreed via Twitter to meet with DeRay McKesson, a civil rights activist and high-profile face of the national Black Lives Matter movement. McKesson previously met with members of the Hillary Clinton campaign, according to the Huffington Post.