Mothers Of The Movement Highlight The Vast Difference Between Clinton And Trump On Police Brutality
The second night of the Democratic convention took a deeply emotional turn when the Mothers of the Movement, whose black American children were killed by police, came on stage to a crowd cheering “Black lives matter!” to open up about why their experiences guided them to support Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton. Their support for Clinton highlights one of Donald Trump and Clinton’s biggest differences: their police brutality and criminal justice reform stances.
“I am here with Hillary Clinton tonight because she is a leader and a mother who will say our children’s names,” said Geneva Reed-Vead, the mother of Sandra Bland, who died under mysterious circumstances in police custody roughly a year ago. “She knows that when a young black life is cut short, its not just a loss — its a personal loss, its a national loss, its a loss that diminishes all of us.”
“Hillary Clinton isn’t afraid to say black lives matter,” said Lucia McBath, mother of Jordan Davis, who was 17 years old when he was killed by police in 2012. “She isn’t afraid to sit at a table with grieving mothers and bear the full force of our anguish. She doesn’t build walls around her heart. Not only did she listen to our problems, she invited us to become part of the solution.”
Sybrina Fulton, Trayvon Martin’s mother, told the audience she didn’t want “this spotlight,” but was there supporting Clinton, seeking “a path out of the darkness.”
Also on stage that evening were Michael Brown’s mother, Lezley McSpadden, Eric Garner’s mother, Gwen, Dontré Hamilton’s mother, Maria Hamilton, and Hadiya Pendleton’s mother, Cleopatra Pendleton-Cowley.
Notably missing was Gloria Darden, the mother of Freddie Gray, who died of a broken spine after riding in the back of a police van last year. On Wednesday, the remaining Baltimore police officers who faced charges in Gray’s death saw their charges dropped. Not one person was held responsible for the death of the 25-year-old African-American man, leaving Darden, who accused the officers of “lying” and “killing” her son, rightfully outraged. The lack of justice for Gray highlights how far-reaching police brutality is — it’s not just the systemic discrimination and murder of black people by law enforcement, but fixing a broken justice system that too often gives law enforcement a pass for heinous deeds. By giving the Mothers of the Movement the opportunity to speak, they were allowed a platform to show the lasting effects of police brutality.
Every now and then throughout the primary race, Clinton was faced with criticism of her past support for crime reform laws that disproportionately targeted African-American youth, as well as comments likening black youth to “super predators,” and accepting hundreds of thousands of dollars from private prison lobbyists.
But behind the scenes, Clinton has personally met with each of the mothers in their grief, and according to Davis, not only listened to them, but implored them to join her in working toward sustainable solutions. Since, Clinton has unabashedly acknowledged “implicit bias” lingering in the U.S. and among law enforcement and outlined plans to address police brutality and reestablish trust between communities and police officers.
Earlier in July, Clinton promised that as president, she would ask Congress for $1 billion solely to fund police training programs that would emphasize making violence or use of guns a last resort, and to develop national guidelines on the use of force by law enforcement. Such changes would not be easily executed, but giving those most affected a platform and acknowledging their experiences is a solid starting point, especially when you look at the shitstorm going on across the aisle.
Republican nominee Trump is not only complicit, but actively involved in advancing the whole “Black Lives Matter vs. Blue Lives Matter” narrative while literally blaming police deaths on Black Lives Matter activists and sharing racist and completely false statistics on black crime. He literally refuses to say “Black Lives Matter” instead of the true but irrelevant slogan “All Lives Matter,” and he will probably never say any of the names of victims of police brutality.
Police brutality — from how it’s enabled to how time and time again justice evades victims and their families — shouldn’t merely be a partisan talking point that aligns conservatives with police and pits them against progressives advocating for black Americans’ rights. It’s now a national issue, a matter of life or death to many Americans, and there is only one candidate who is actually treating it as such. That candidate is Hillary Clinton, and whatever your qualms with her, never forget the depths of the divide between her and Trump on the issue of black people being killed in the streets.