BLACK LIVES MATTER activists spoke with Hillary Clinton that can be seen in a video that was played on MSNBC on Monday night (see below). Clinton reportedly asked for the meeting. Daunasia Yancey and Julius Jones, Black Lives Matter organizers, spoke with Melissa Harris-Perry who is sitting in for Rachel Maddow.
What I found very interesting is that Ms. Yancey stated that Clinton’s response that you can’t change all hearts but you can change policy wasn’t “sufficient” for BLM. What they sought was “personal reflection” from her. Yancey went further to say that Hillary Clinton needed to answer for “her family’s” part in creating the mass incarceration problem in the ’90s.
But should any first lady be held responsible for her presidential husband’s policies? It happened to Hillary Clinton on NAFTA, with her words supporting her husband’s “tough on crime” legislation in the ’90s now being used as evidence that she’s part of the problem. It’s being implied on Glass-Steagall that Clinton is like her husband. There is nothing so sexist as applying a woman’s husband’s views as her own. Still, as senator and secretary of state she had a lot of power so the question BLM is asking is to reflect how she has used it.
Mashable has a series of tweets from BLM activists on Clinton targeting her on policy. Quote from Clinton’s response to BLM activists
“Look, I don’t believe you change hearts. I believe you change laws, you change allocation of resources, you change the way systems operate. You’re not gonna change every heart. You’re not. But at the end of the day we can do a whole lot to change some hearts and change some systems and create more opportunities for people who deserve to have them to live up to their own God-given potential, to live safely without fear of violence in their own communities, to have a decent school, to have a decent house, to have a decent future … You can keep the movement going, which you have started, and through it you may actually change some hearts. But if that’s all that happens, we’ll be back here in ten years having the same conversation because we will not have all of the changes that you deserve to see happen in your lifetime.” – Hillary Clinton
BLM and Clinton didn’t discuss her most recent speech that addressed criminal justice reform, which must include mandatory minimums that have been a scourge for people of color, with a lot still to be done to make the scales come close to balance.
In response to Harris-Perry on Bernie Sanders and that Democrats have championed African American progress, Mr. Jones said there was a “covert anti-blackness that exists in the Democratic Party.” Jones went on to say that the two women who interrupted Sanders, which got this conversation to the top of social media, were thrown under the bus for a white candidate, ignoring that the event was put together by Sanders in the first place, which means his presence and prowess gave BLM their audience that particular day.
Black Lives Matter is a movement that intends to thrive outside the political parties. Yancey said Monday that “all the presidential candidates this year can definitely expect to be challenged on this issue.”
One can only imagine what would happen if BLM confronted Donald Trump on the stump. I have to wonder if Trump’s team is prepared for this kind of political theater.
At the center of the most tense moments in the New Hampshire meeting is the assertion by #BlackLivesMatter representatives that Clinton must accept some responsibility for supporting policies and legislation that have led to mass incarceration in the United States, particularly the Violent Crime and Law Enforcement Act, passed during President Bill Clinton’s first term.
The act was the largest crime bill in U.S. history, and as the Clinton White House worked to build support for it in 1994, Hillary joined the effort lobbying lawmakers for support. “We need more police. We need more and tougher prison sentences for repeat offenders,” she proclaimed at a Women in Policing conference in August of that year. “We need more prisons to keep violent offenders for as long as it takes to keep them off the streets.”