A Black Lives Matter activist disrupted a fundraiser for former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton last night in South Carolina, calling into question the candidate's rhetoric on race and criminal justice.
Ashley Williams began her demonstration at the $500 a plate event, revealing a sign to guests that read, "we have to bring them to heel." The quote is from the speech Hillary Clinton delivered in New Hampshire in January 1996 when she told an audience at Keene State College that, "these are not just gangs of kids anymore, they are often the kinds of kids that are called super predators. No conscience, no empathy. We can talk about why they ended up that way but first we have to bring them to heel."
“I am not a super predator, Hillary Clinton. Can you apologize to black people for mass incarceration?” Williams told the candidate on Wednesday.
The video quickly went viral and by Thursday morning, the hashtag #WhichHillary was the top trend on Twitter.
The tense exchange is a continuation of the backlash Clinton has faced by some members of the Black Lives Matter movement who argue that her stances are contradictory. They also say efforts by her husband, former President Bill Clinton, during his time in office to curb crime added to increased tensions between minority communities and law enforcement.
Two years before, the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act was signed into law by her husband, President Clinton during a time when drug-related violent crime was a huge problem in America's cities due to gang wars primarily over cocaine.
The Clinton Crime Bill of 1994 was the largest crime related legislation in U.S. history. The legislation included the “three strikes you’re out” penalty, 60 new death penalties, and over $9 billion in money for prisons and funding that added 100,000 police officers to communities. The bill also expanded the death penalty to over 60 new crimes.
Clinton has tried to make clear that she is serious about criminal justice reform.
Her first major speech as a presidential candidate was an address focused on police brutality and justice reform at Columbia University in April 2015, where she spoke the names of Trayvon Martin, Eric Garner and Michael Brown and addressed racism in the justice system.
“You called black people super predators," continued Williams. "Please explain your record.”
"We will talk about it," Clinton replied. "Do you want to hear the facts or do you just want to talk?" the former Secretary of State told Williams.
"I tell you what, if you give me a chance to talk, I'll approach your subject," Clinton continued.
Clinton also said "no one has ever asked her" about what the protester interrupted her to address. Williams was reportedly removed from the event by the Secret Service.
"Back to the issues," Clinton said as Williams was escorted out.