With 'Mothers of Murdered Children,' Clinton pledges police reform, gun control in battle scarred city
Flanked by the "mothers of murdered children," killed in police custody or high-profile police shootings, Hillary Clinton sat in front of a Philadelphia audience on Wednesday and called for more police accountability, tougher gun control laws and sweeping criminal justice reform.
In the packed nave of Philadelphia's St. Paul's Baptist Church, Clinton was flanked by the mothers of Sandra Bland, Brandon Tate-Brown and Dontre Hamilton. Former attorney general Eric Holder was also by her side, along with Nicole Bell, the fiancée of Sean Bell whose death at the hands of New York Police enflamed tensions in that city nearly 10 years ago.
The mothers gave gripping and often graphic accounts of their children's deaths and the aftermath, and the room stayed pin-drop quiet throughout.
Clinton was also silent, listening intently and periodically shaking her head in signals of empathy.
"We had heard about people being killed by the police but never thought it would come to our front door," Bell said.
After repeatedly failed attempts to spur legal action in her case, Bell said her phone rang one day, on the other end was Clinton, then a New York Senator.
"We got a phone call from Senator Clinton at the time expressing her concern for what we had just gone through," Bell said.
Those initial overtures, repeated by Clinton with other survivors in the group, have drawn her deep loyalty among them, and new inroads with the African American community for which these mothers remain seated at the front of a new movement and ambassadors to those in the nation's halls of power.
Geneva Reed-Veal, mother of Sandra Bland whose hanging death in a Texas jail cell last year drew international attention, said of Clinton, "You don't have to endorse her, she has already endorsed you ... She is trying to unite. Don't follow your friends, follow the facts. Make history, her-story."
In response, Clinton promised to work to rebuild bridges between inner-city communities and the police that patrol them. She also advocated for the demilitarization of police forces, an enduring legacy of 9/11 as she called it, and said police stops should be evidence-based, this after criticism of stop-and-frisk tactics as discriminatory and in the grand scheme of falling overall crime rates, unnecessary.
Clinton called for an end to the era of mass incarceration as well, one she said has disproportionately impacted minority and inner-city communities like this one.
And in a city with 12 shootings in the last weekend alone, including one of a police officer, Clinton called for a new look at gun control laws with an emphasis on keeping illegal guns off the street.
Clinton acknowledged the Second Amendment and "responsible" gun owners, a crucial nod in a state with high rates of gun ownership, and said there is no interest in targeting them.
"But we have got to do more to save more lives," she added, vowing to take on the NRA and gun lobby which she called among the nation's most influential.
"The epidemic of gun violence is stalking our country from small towns to large cities, no place is immune," she added. "There are an average of 90 people per day and 33,000 per year killed by guns."
The mothers and audience, predominantly black and Latino, were with her throughout.
Dubbed the "Mothers of the movement" by Clinton's campaign, these women and others, including Trayvon Martin's mother Sybrina Fulton, have featured heavily in her campaign thus far. They've proven a valuable asset as both Clinton and her Democratic opponent, Bernie Sanders, work to consolidate black support with the primary election now headed into the home stretch.
The mothers were with Clinton, too, as she campaigned in New York ahead of Tuesday's resounding win over Sanders there. Attendees said the win has all but cemented Clinton as the party's nominee, believing her fully capable of beating a Republican challenger come November.
But they vowed to also hold her to her promises to take action, even after the fervor of the campaign had gone.
"I can only guarantee that I will do everything that I can imagine," Clinton assured them.
Read more at: PennLive.com
Take Action & Get Involved! Support the Pro-Gun - Pro-Freedom candidates of your choice this election season. Volunteer if you can.....spend some time with the candidate to ensure they know you are involved to keep/retain or reclaim your freedoms!
Working together....We will prevail!
Keep up the great work everyone....Joe