Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton visited Charlotte Sunday. The stop came nearly two weeks after Keith Lamont Scott was shot and killed by police, which brought days of protests. It’s a visit Clinton intended to make LAST weekend, but city officials requested candidates not come because resources were still being devoted to handling the ongoing protests. Clinton joined the congregation at Little Rock AME Zion Church. She addressed the shooting directly and acknowledged her own privilege, saying as a grandmother her fears are not the same as the fears of a black grandmother.
“Black men are far more likely to be stopped, searched by police, charged with crimes and sentenced to longer prison terms than white men for doing the same thing.”
Clinton was careful in her remarks to show respect not just for the black community but police officers as well.
“We can call for reforms to policing while still appreciating the many courageous and admirable officers out there who are doing their jobs with honor and integrity.”
Clinton then laid out some specific goals should she be elected president.
“I believe we need end-to-end reform in our criminal justice system. Not half measure, but full measures, with real follow through. In America, everyone should be respected by the law and have respect for the law.”
“We need to dismantle the so-called ‘school-to-prison pipeline’ and instead invest in education from early-childhood through high school into higher education.”
“And yes we have got to fight for commonsense reforms to stop the epidemic of gun violence in our communities.”
“Gun violence is by far the leading cause of death for young black men, more than the next nine causes combined.”
Clinton said part of her goal would be to continue the progress of the Obama administration. She never mentioned her Republican opponent Donald Trump by name, but she took aim at him still.
“There are some out there who see this as a moment to fan the flames of resentment and division, who want to exploit peoples’ fears, even though it means tearing our nation even further apart.”
“They say that all of our problems would be solved simply by more ‘law and order’ as if the systemic racism plaguing our country doesn’t exist.”
Clinton said of course she believed in the need to respect laws and for safer communities.
“But we also need justice and dignity and equality. And we can have both. This is not an either/or question for America.”
Perhaps the most memorable moment of the speech came towards the end, when she invited nine-year-old Zianna Oliphant onstage. The young black girl’s tearful plea to Charlotte city council members in the wake of the Charlotte protests went viral.
“It’s a shame that our fathers and mothers are killed and we can’t even see them anymore. It’s a shame that we have to go to the graveyard and bury them. And we have tears and we shouldn’t have tears. We need our fathers and mothers to be by our side.”
The two stood embraced as Clinton delivered her closing remarks. Clinton received a warm response from the congregation. Her support from the black community is crucial if she’s to carry North Carolina. The state has been hotly contested, with many visits from both campaigns in recent weeks.