Former President Bill Clinton defended himself and his wife as protesters interrupted a speech he was giving at the Dorothy Emanual Recreation Center. He spoke in Philadelphia on April 8, 2016, on behalf of Hillary Clinton’s campaign. While he was addressing the audience a group of protesters interrupted demanding he answer their questions. They challenged one of the laws enacted during his presidency and a statement his wife made using the phrase, “super-predator,” years earlier. NRP reported the former president’s answers were out of touch with the message of his wife’s campaign.
The protesters belonged to the Black Lives Matter campaign. NPR reported the group had two points they wanted answers for. The first revolved around the Violent Crime Control Act of 1994, passed while Clinton was in office. Secondly, they wanted to address a statement his wife made calling young gang members superpredators.
The bill in question was, at the time, the largest anti-crime legislation in U.S. history. It cost the nation $30.2 billion, which was distributed to various crime control and social programs. The bill included an $8.8 billion program to add 100,000 police officers around the country. An additional $2.6 billion went to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Drug Enforcement Administration, Immigration and Naturalization Services and Border Patrol. Legal-dictionary.com reported $9.9 billion went to prisons around the nation.
The Black Lives Matter protesters blamed this bill for a massive increase in incarcerated African-Americans. They additionally claimed the bill increased the length of sentences to jails and prisons.
Former President Clinton defended himself against the group of protesters. The Boston Globe reported, having spent over 20 years defending the bill, the former president easily countered disgruntled members of the audience. He told the protesters they were defending people who take innocent black lives.
The group of Black Lives Matter members started commenting about a remark made by Ms. Clinton in a speech she gave in 1996. International Business Times reported, she used the term “superpredators” in reference to young black men, who she claimed, were hopped up on crack cocaine.
Her husband responded to the group. He questioned what protesters would call gang leaders who get young children high on crack cocaine and sent them to kill other African-American children. He added, “Maybe you thought they were good citizens – she didn’t.”
CNN reported the fiery discourse between Clinton and protesters lasted 15 minutes. During this time, he defended his legacy saying his presidency was beneficial to African-Americans.
This is not the first time controversy that has erupted around Clinton while he campaigned for is wife. International Business Times called the former leader a loose cannon on the campaign trail. In 2008, he made the comparison between Jesse Jackson and then-Senator Barack Obama.
NPR reported on All Things Considered, the crime bill, “doesn’t fully jive with the Clinton campaign’s message.” During the broadcast, the guest stated the candidate does not support the bill. In fact, the presidential hopeful spoke about changing it.
Protesters met with former President Bill Clinton and he defended himself and his wife during a speech in Philadelphia. The incident took place on April 8. Black Lives Matter protesters came to speak out against the former president. He responded by defending his presidential legacy and the statements of his wife.
By Harrison Baker
Edited by Cathy Milne & Jeanette Smith
The Boston Globe: Bill Clinton gets heated with Black Lives Matter protesters over his crime bill
CNN: Bill Clinton spars with Black Lives Matter protesters
International Business Times: Protesters Crash Bill Clinton Speech In Philly; Former President Goes Off On Race
Legal-Dictionary: Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994
NPR: Bill Clinton Clashes With Black Lives Matter Protesters
Image Courtesy of Evan Guest’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License