Two Black Lives Matter protestors were able to cause quite some commotion at a Hillary Clinton rally, hosted by Bill Clinton in Philadelphia. Amidst the former president's speech, two Black Lives Matter protesters held up signs, condemning previous decisions made by the Clinton's. Much of their concern was regarding the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994. This bill is one of the most infamous decisions made throughout Bill's presidency and a bill that Hillary supported.
If you are not familiar with this bill, it was the largest crime bill in the history of the United States. One of the most notable aspects of this bill is the notorious "three strikes" provision. One which sentenced repeat offenders with life sentences without possibility of release for at least 25 years, tearing apart many African American families. Some facets of this bill were, increased police officers on the streets, specifically in African American communities, $9.7 billion dollars in funding for new prisons, increased capital punishment and reduced educational programs within prisons. It is evident how this bill affected the African American community. Breaking apart many families and damaging their community systemically for generations. Following the bill, prison populations grew exponentially. While addressing the black lives matter protestors, Mr. Clinton stated:
“I don’t know how you would characterize the gang leaders who got 13-year-old kids hopped up on crack and sent them out into the street to murder other African American children. Maybe you thought they were good citizens. She didn’t.”
At the same token, although this bill was extremely damaging to many minority communities, this bill was widely supported by both democrats and republicans within congress. Presidential candidate Bernie Sanders recently admitted to his mistake in supporting this bill. Timing for this bill was momentous, following the late 1980's and early 90's, also known as the "crack era," when crack cocaine was running rampant in black communities. Politicians felt that this bill would be a solution to this issue. While defending the bill, Bill Clinton expressed:
"Because of this bill, we have a 25 year low in crime, a 33 year low in murder rate and because of the and the background check law, we had 46 year low in the death of people by gun violence. And who do you think those lives were that mattered? Who's lives were saved that mattered?"
It is indisputable how this bill affected the black community in retrospect. However, at this time did Bill Clinton have the best interest of these low income communities in mind? Or was he trying his best to systemically keep African Americans at a disadvantage? Thoughts?