By Bronte Price, PoliticKING
Former president Bill Clinton got into a heated exchange with Black Lives Matter protesters on Thursday afternoon at a rally for his wife, Hillary Clinton. The former president was defending his 1994 crime bill, which opponents argue increased mass incarceration and put an unfairly high numbers of black Americans in prison for nonviolent offenses.
Clinton argued that the bill lowered the country's crime rate, which he claimed benefited the African American community by achieved bipartisan support and diversifying the police force.
"I don't know how you would characterize the gang leaders who got 13-year-old kids hopped up on crack and sent them out onto the street to murder other African-American children," Clinton said. Seeming to speak directly to one protester who kept interrupting him, Clinton added, "Maybe you thought they were good citizens .... You are defending the people who kill the lives you say matter. Tell the truth. You are defending the people who cause young people to go out and take guns."
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After continuous berating from protesters, Clinton continued to defend the bill."Here's what happened," he said. "Let's just tell the whole story."
"I had an assault weapons ban in it. I had money for inner-city kids, for out of school activities. We had 110,000 police officers so we could keep people on the street, not in these military vehicles, and the police would look like the people they were policing."
"I talked to a lot of African-American groups," Clinton continued. "They thought black lives matter. They said take this bill, because our kids are being shot in the street by gangs. We have 13-year-old kids planning their own funerals."
Although Clinton continued to be interrupted, he kept going, continuing to single out one protester in the crowd. "She doesn't wanna hear any of that," Clinton said to the protester. "You know what else she doesn't want to hear? Because of that bill, we have a 25-year low in crime, a 33-year low in murder rate. And because of that and the background check law, we had a 46-year low in the deaths of people by gun violence, and who do you think those lives were? That mattered? Whose lives were saved that mattered?"
Bill Clinton finally managed to address Hillary, as he was supposed to be introducing her at her rally. "Hillary didn't vote for that bill, because she wasn't in the Senate," Clinton said. "She was spending her time trying to get health care for poor kids. Who were they? And their lives mattered. And Bernie Sanders did vote for it. But I don't blame him either ... There were enough Republicans in the Senate to kill this bill, and nobody wanted it to die. That's what happened."
"But she [Hillary Clinton] was the first candidate, the first one to say let's get these people who did nonviolent offenses out of prison," Clinton continued. "And guess what? A lot of Republicans agreed. They know they made a mistake."
Here’s what Tracee Ellis Ross has to say about the Black Lives Matter movement:
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