In a packed Clark Atlanta University basketball arena, thousands of Atlanta residents, educators, community activists, and celebrities gathered as former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton launched the “African Americans for Hillary” extension of her campaign and lay out the criminal justice portion of her expanding platform.
During the highly anticipated rollout, the Democratic frontrunner endorsed legislation that would ban the use of racial profiling by law enforcement and remove the legal difference between powder cocaine and crack in drug sentencing.
“We have to work together to make sure we keep more non-violent drug offenders out of prison, and we need put and end to private prisons as we know it,” she said during her first campaign stop in Georgia since announcing her bid for the White House. “As we fix our criminal justice system, we must ensure that people who have paid their debt to society can get a job and contribute to our economy. We must ban the box and start to believe in second chances again.”
The Secretary’s proposal, if put into place, would end law enforcement’s ability to rely on a person’s race when making routine traffic stops, unless there is clear and present evidence linking the person to a crime. In addition, the plan would end the sale of military grade weapons from the Department of Defense to local police departments. The plan would also require all police departments receiving federal funds to ensure the every uniformed officer is equipped with body cameras.
The plan would fortify the law President Obama signed 2010 that helped close the sentencing disparity of 100-to-1 that exists between crack and powder cocaine. What remains to be seen is if Clinton’s plan would reverse the steep penalties that still exist for current crack-cocaine users.
Hilary Clinton also called for investments in communities of color, greater funding for HCBUs, and mandatory pre-kindergarten education.
During the nearly 40-minute speech, Clinton was interrupted by a group of Black Lives Matter activists. In response to their singing and chanting, she made it clear that she stands with them by emphatically proclaiming, “Yes, indeed black lives matter. Now, now my friend I am going to get to some very important points that actually prove that Black lives do matter, and we have to take action together.” The activists were shouted down by the crowd and were finally taken backstage by the collaboration of secret service, local uniformed law enforcement, and Hillary supporters in the audience.
Hilary Clinton was joined at the event by Civil Rights icon and US. Congressman John Lewis who introduced her. Lewis told the crowd: “When things get tough, Hillary doesn’t back down. She is a fighter for America’s criminal justice system. She is a fighter for America’s families. And she is a fighter for America’s students.”
Later Friday, she was scheduled to address an NAACP banquet in Charleston, South Carolina. It is the organization’s first annual banquet since the April killing of Walter Scott, a black man shot by a white North Charleston police officer who was later fired and charged with murder, and the June massacre at Charleston’s Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church, where a white gunman killed a pastor and eight others.
“It may be a bit unusual for somebody running for president to say we need more love and kindness, but that’s exactly what I believe,” Clinton said. “We need to be too busy to hate and too loving to ignore, too loving ever to turn our backs on each other and our country.”
— With AP