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Woman who disrupted Bernie Sanders rally stands by white supremacy remarks

Johnson, left, took over the mic at the rally and refused to let Sanders or event organizers to speak. (AP)
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She made headlines when she shut down a Bernie Sanders rally in Seattle, calling a large crowd of Seattleites “white supremacist liberals.” But the woman who took over the mic has since remained somewhat of a mystery.

Until now.

After a Seattle Times profile and an interview on the This Week in Blackness podcast, we’re getting a deeper understanding of what motivated Marissa Johnson to take the stage.

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For example, Johnson addressed the fact that she used to sport a Sarah Palin button in high school; something that was discovered as media scoured her social media and online presence.

“My parents are both Tea Partiers,” she said on the podcast. “That was how I was raised. Clearly, that is not where I am because people leave high school and they go to college.”

As for the Sanders incident, Johnson said she was motivated, as with other aspects of her life, by her Christian faith.

“I am a very devout evangelical Christian,” she said. “I did run up there and confront Bernie Sanders because of my religious convictions. Absolutely.”

“Are they right-wing religious convictions? No. But they are religious in the fact that my religion says you lay down your life for other people and the most marginalized,” she said. “So I guess I am a Christian extremist.”

As The Seattle Times profile reports, her Christian faith took on new meaning as she attended Seattle Pacific University. She recently earned a degree in theology from the college. When that faith met frequent reports of police encounters with unarmed black citizens, she was led to activism to combat racism.

She calls her tactics “agitation work,” a means of shocking people to question the system that she claims is broken.

“…anything [that] gets people asking more questions and gets us closer to actually dismantling the system that has never, ever, ever, ever done anything for black people and never will,” Johnson said in the podcast. “I’m really trying to see my people get free by any means possible.”

Johnson also spoke to the accusations that she, herself, was racist as she addressed the largely white crowd in Seattle, calling them white supremacists. In fact, she maintained her statement and expanded upon it.

“The reason why I’m crying when I say ‘my life matters,’ is because the crowd … were white supremacist, I stand by that,” Johnson said in the podcast.

“They are white supremacist liberals, I’ll say it a thousand times … I would say that anybody that hears me say that and thinks about their feelings first, is a white supremacist,” she said.

Johnson noted that she does not hate white people. In fact, her mother is white. Her father is black. She has white relatives and, as The Seattle Times profile notes, her church is primarily white. She thinks that putting the issue in that context is misleading.

“Even if I did hate people, I don’t have the political or social power to oppress white people,” Johnson said.

“Flip that, the question is actually, ‘do you love black people?’ To the extent that you are literally willing to sacrifice your life,” she said.

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