Halfway through his address, Erica Mines, a Hunting Park native, started yelling at Clinton over several issues, including his 1994 crime bill. Mines argued that the Clintons’ record has been one of detriment to the black community.
She and another man held up alternating signs, one reading: “Clinton crime bill destroyed our communities!” The former commander-in-chief responded to the sign saying, “Let’s talk about that,” as Mines continued yelling over his responses.
“I like protesters but the ones that won’t let you answer are afraid of the truth,” Clinton said, prompting loud cheers. He went on to say how he thinks the bill, and his wife, helped the black community.
“Because of that bill we had a 25-year low in crime, a 30-year low in the murder rate and because of that and the background check law, a 46-year low in deaths of lives by gun violence and who do you think those lives were that mattered? Whose lives were saved that mattered?” Clinton asked.
He noted his wife, a former senator from New York, wasn’t in the Senate at the time the bill was passed, “she was spending her time trying to get healthcare for poor kids – who were they? And their lives matter,” he said.
In one of the more controversial moments of his address, Clinton responded to a second sign, “Black youth are not super predators” — a reference to a comment his wife made in the 1990s.
“I don’t know how you would describe the gang leaders who got 13-year-olds hopped up on crack and sent them out in the streets to murder other African-American children. Maybe you thought they were good citizens, she didn’t,” he said of Hillary. “You are defending the people who kill the lives you say matter. Tell the truth!”
Clinton also pointed to his wife’s work with Marian Wright Edelman at the Children’s Defense Fund and work she had done to fight AIDS in Africa, to try and illustrate her resume helping minorities.
“I’ll tell you another story about a place where black lives matter: Africa,” Clinton said.
Mines, 38, a student at the Community College of Philadelphia, said following the rally that nothing the former president said changed her opinion. Mines said she’s a registered Independent who doesn’t plan on voting. She said she didn’t come representing any group.
“I’m here because Hillary Clinton doesn’t deserve the black vote,” she told reporters after the rally, as Clinton shook hands and posed for photos nearby. “She is married to Bill Clinton, their policies are the same. You can’t separate them. They think the same.”