As Ferguson, Missouri, imploded after the Aug. 9 shooting death of unarmed teen Michael Brown, much of the nation wondered when likely presidential candidate Hillary Clinton would weigh in on the tragedy and the police over-response. They got their answer Thursday, as the former secretary of state gave her first remarks on Ferguson, saying “we cannot ignore the inequities that persist in our justice system — inequities that undermine our most deeply held values of fairness and equality.”
Clinton said as she watched Brown’s funeral earlier this week, “as a mother, as a human being, my heart just broke for his family.”
“Because losing a child is every parent’s greatest fear and unimaginable loss,” she said. “But I also grieve for that community and many others just like it across our country. Behind the dramatic, terrible pictures on television are deep challenges that will be with them and with us long after the cameras move on. This is what happens when the bonds of trust and respect that hold any community together fray. Nobody wants to see our streets look like a war zone. Not in America. We are better than that.”
While Clinton withheld judgment on the specific act committed by Ferguson Police Officer Darren Wilson, she did praise President Barack Obama for sending Attorney General Eric Holder to Ferguson. She made her comments during a speech at a technology summit in San Francisco held by the software storage company Nexenta. The speech was covered on CNN.
“I applaud President Obama for sending the attorney general to Ferguson and demanding a thorough and speedy investigation,” she said. “That’s both appropriate and necessary to find out what happened, to see that justice is done to help this community begin healing itself. And we should all add our voices to those who have come together in recent days to work for peace, justice and reconciliation in Ferguson and beyond. To stand against violence and for the values we cherish. We can do better.”
Clinton clearly will be counting on overwhelming support from the African-American community if she does decide to mount a presidential run. She did not shy away from the racial context of the incident.
“Imagine what we would feel and what we would do if white drivers were three times as likely to be searched by police during a traffic stop as Black drivers, instead of the other way around,” she said. “If white offenders received prison sentences 10 percent longer than Black offenders for the same crime. If a third of all white men — just look at this room and take one third — went to prison during their lifetime. Imagine that. This is the reality in the lives of our fellow Americans and so many of the communities in which they live.”