Hillary Clinton met with Black Lives Matter activists on Aug. 11 in a private meeting after they were refused entry to a campaign event in Keene, N.H. Five representatives of the Boston chapter met with the presidential candidate and video of the conversation was released on Monday night on GOOD magazine.
In the short talk, Clinton pressed the activists for a concrete plan from the Black Lives Matter movement, which she argues is the only way there can be long-lasting change.
"I say this as respectfully as I can, but you don't tell Black people what we need to do. And we won't tell you all what you need to do," Jones said. "This is and has always been a white problem of violence, there’s not much that we can do to stop the violence against us."
“Respectfully, if that is your position, then I will talk only to white people about how we are going to deal with very real problems,” Clinton shot back.
“What you just said was a form of victim blaming," Jones continued. "What the Black Lives Matter movement needs to do to change white hearts…”
And here's where Clinton gave her sound-bite worthy, campaign-ready response.
"Look, I don't believe you change hearts," Clinton said. "I believe you change laws, you change allocation of resources, you change the way systems operate. You're not going to change every heart. You're not. But at the end of the day, we could do a whole lot to change some hearts and change some systems and create more opportunities for people who deserve to have them, to live up to their own God-given potential."
In the video, activists also pressed the 2016 candidate about her support of policies and legislation that led to mass incarceration in America during her husband's presidency. During Bill Clinton's presidency, the Violent Crime and Law Enforcement Act was enacted in 1994 and is marked as the largest crime bill in history. During that same period, the number of inmates in federal prisons doubled.
“We need more police. We need more and tougher prison sentences for repeat offenders," she proclaimed at a Women in Policing conference in August of that year, GOOD magazine reports. "We need more prisons to keep violent offenders for as long as it takes to keep them off the streets."
But she did acknowledge that laws enacted under her husband’s presidency did not have the effects on crime that they thought it would.
"I do think that there was a different set of concerns back in the '80s and the early '90s. And now I believe that we have to look at the world as it is today and try and figure out what will work now," she said. "And that's what I'm trying to figure out and that's what I intend to do as president."
Social justice advocates have been at the center of campaign news in recent weeks.
Activist Deray McKesson tweeted on Monday that he would meet with Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders later this week. Two of Sanders’s campaign events had been disrupted by Black Lives Matter representatives in the past couple weeks.
Black Lives Matter activists intend on holding all presidential candidates accountable to racial and social justice in the next election.
“Historically, all political parties have participated in the systematic disenfranchisement of Black people. Anti-Black racism, especially that sanctioned by the state, has resulted in the loss of healthy and thriving Black life and well-being,” the organization said in a press release on Aug. 9. “Given that, we will continue to hold politicians and political parties accountable for their policies and platforms."
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(Photo: Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)