In an effort to support Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign, former president Bill Clinton spoke at a rally in Philadelphia that led to a debate with Black Lives Matter protesters over his controversial 1994 crime reform bill.
Reuters reports the former president from 1993 to 2001 slammed protesters who believed the bill he approved disproportionately affected African-Americans. The Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act has been the topic of discussion during Clinton’s campaign trail after a 1994 video of the candidate calling young people in gangs “super-predators” who need to “be brought to heel” was brought to light by BLM supporters.
While Clinton has since apologized for her language in the video, her husband decided to discuss his crime reforms with protestors after they chanted, “blacks are not super-predators.”
“I don’t know how you would characterize the gang leaders who got 13-year-old kids hopped on crack and sent them out on the street to murder other African-American children,” he said while dropping numbers on lower crime rates in African-American communities due to the bill. “Maybe you thought they were good citizens. She (Hillary Clinton) didn’t.”
The painstaking moment that shook the room was Clinton’s claim that protestors were defending or ignoring “black on black crime.” “You are defending the people who kill the lives you say matter,” he said while shaking his finger. “Tell the truth.”
Clinton has made a promise to end mass incarceration and other issues in the black community during her race to the primaries against Vermont senator Bernie Sanders. Her husband has also regretted signing the bill into law.
The argument lasted for roughly 15 minutes as Clinton explained that the bill was strictly meant for those who were damaging their own communities and the youth. “I talked to a lot of African-American groups. They thought black lives mattered. They said take this bill because our kids are being shot in the street by gangs. We had 13-year-old kids planning their own funerals,” Clinton said.
Activists and commentators from both sides of the fence shared their thoughts via Twitter, including Russell Simmons who called for Clinton to apologize for his comments.
The small drug users who were diseased and locked away deserve it? Bill Clinton u owe the black community and black lives matter an apology
— Russell Simmons (@UncleRUSH) April 8, 2016
Racist white trolls are agreeing with what Bill had to say today … Welp.
— Johnetta Elzie (@Nettaaaaaaaa) April 7, 2016
Bill Clinton dismissed both the impact of the crime bill & doubled down on defending language that even Hillary has distanced herself from.
— deray (@deray) April 7, 2016
Clinton also discussed his 1996 welfare reform bill, which many claimed raised poverty for African-Americans.
Check out the video of Clinton’s comments below.