Clinton Unveils Criminal Justice Platform Amid Protest By Black Lives Matter Activists

by BEENISH AHMED –

Hilary Clinton unveiled her platform on criminal justice reform at a rally on Friday that was briefly interrupted by demonstrators from the Black Lives Matter movement. The Democratic presidential front-runner called for an end to racial profiling in law enforcement and said that she would prevent the federal government from asking job applicants about their criminal history.

“Race still plays a significant role in determining who gets ahead in America and who gets left behind,” Clinton said. “Racial profiling is wrong, demanding, doesn’t keep us safe or help solve crimes. It’s time to put that practice behind us.”

Clinton spoke at a packed gym at Clark Atlanta University, a historically black institution. She was interrupted by demonstrators from the Black Lives Matter movement.

In response to their cries of “Black lives matter,” Clinton said, “Yes, yes they do.”

Speaking over the group, she attempted to continue with her speech.

“Now, ladies and gentlemen, I have some — I have some issues to discuss and some proposals to make,” she said. “If our friends will allow me to do it, they may actually find them to their liking.”

The demonstrators were removed from the rally after the crowd began to chant, “Hillary!” and “Let her talk.”

Clinton, who met with Black Lives Matter leaders earlier this month, continued her remarks after the 10 minute interruption.

Decrying the “box” applicants are often asked to check if they have a criminal history as something that “creates a culture of hopelessness,” she promised to end the practice for federal government jobs by executive order if elected president.

“People who have paid their debt to society need to be able to find jobs, not just closed doors and closed hearts,” Clinton said.

She also called for an end to the sentencing disparity between crack and cocaine, which tends to fall along racial lines. In 2009, nearly 80 percent of those convicted of crack-related offenses were black, according to the Sentencing Project, a criminal justice reform organization. Those who use cocaine, which is more expensive than crack but carries lighter sentences, are generally white.

“We’re talking about two forms of the same drug,” she said. “It makes no sense to treat them differently.”

Clinton stopped short of calling for the decriminalization of marijuana as fellow presidential candidate Bernie Sanders did earlier this week.

In a statement, the Vermont senator said Clinton’s proposals on criminal justice reform didn’t go far enough.

“When we talk about criminal justice reform, we also need to understand that millions of people have been arrested for using marijuana,” Sanders said. “Any serious criminal justice reform must include removing marijuana from the Controlled Substances Act.”

 

Reprinted with permission from Think Progress, a branch of The Center for American Progress