Hillary Clinton, who is running for US president in the 2016 election, met with some Black Lives Matter (BLM) protesters in Keene, New Hampshire on August 11th 2015. That was just three days after BLM protesters shut down a speech by Bernie Sanders in Seattle. Clinton made both BLM and Sanders look like rank amateurs.
Clinton, as a former First Lady, has Secret Service bodyguards. To rush her stage is to court death. In this case, BLM was not even allowed into the town hall meeting she was holding. They put them in an “overflow” room where they could watch her on a television screen.
Clinton did, however, meet them afterwards. The video of it came out this week. She knew she was being recorded. It shows her talking to Daunasia Yancey, the founder of Boston BLM, and Julius Jones, of the Worcester BLM. Both were from the neighbouring state of Massachusetts.
Yancey and Jones wanted to know what was in her “heart”, why they should expect she would be any different as president than she was as First Lady – when she helped her husband, President Bill Clinton, pass the 1994 Crime Bill. That bill is a big part of what has led to the mass incarceration of Black men.
Clinton avoided talking about her heart. But she did not give the non-answer you would expect either. Instead she said (just like a high school teacher talking to students):
“Look I don’t believe you change hearts. I believe you change laws, you change allocation of resources, you change the way systems operate. … You can keep the movement going, which you have started, and through it you may actually change some hearts. But if that’s all that happens, we’ll be back here in ten years having the same conversation.”
What she wanted from them were proposed changes to government policies:
“Because in politics, if you can’t explain it and you can’t sell it, it stays on its shelf. And this is now a time – a moment in time, just like the Civil Rights Movement or the women’s movement or the gay rights movement or a lot of other movements reached a point in time – the people behind that consciousness raising and advocacy, they had a plan ready to go.”
They were caught flat-footed.
So was Alicia Garza, a BLM founder, when MSNBC on that same day asked her about proposed policy changes.
I hate Hillary Clinton and I am all for Black Lives Matter, but in this case I am afraid she was right. BLM so far has been driven by the steady, horrifying drip of police brutality and overreach. The names of unarmed Black people killed by police have become a chilling litany: Michael Brown, Eric Garner, Walter Scott, Freddie Gray, Sandra Bland, Sam Dubose and on and on – with more still to come. But if BLM is to succeed it needs at least a set of demands, ones that voters can judge politicians by, ones that can be made into into laws.
– Abagond, 2015.
Update (August 27th): Shortly after this post went up, BLM did come out with a set of policy demands on the Campaign Zero website.
- The meeting: video, transcript
- The Garza interview on MSNBC
- Black Lives Matter
- Marissa Johnson – of Seattle BLM who shut down Bernie Sanders
- Hillary Clinton
- Obama and the N-word – in which the current US president shows the same technocratic understanding of government as Clinton does.
- The litany
- The mass incarceration of Black men
- Protests with concrete demands: