Former US president Bill Clinton has confronted angry protesters of the ‘Black Lives Matter’ movement over a controversial bill he signed into law in the 90s.
Clinton on Thursday bickered with protesters in Philadelphia, defending his 1994 crime bill which African Americans condemned as a measure that led to a surge in the imprisonment of people of color.
Some protesters in the rally heckled the former leader holding up signs such as one reading, “Clinton Crime Bill Destroyed Our Communities.”
The ex-president was addressing the rally in support of his wife Hillary Clinton who is fighting for ballots in the upcoming presidential primaries in New York State.
The Democratic race for the November 8 election has seen heated debates against Hillary Clinton as video footage of her defending the 1994 crime bill was circulated by ‘Black Lives Matter’ activists.
In the footage, she calls young people in gangs “super-predators” who need to “be brought to heel,” according to Reuters.
Bill Clinton on Thursday told the protesters, “I don’t know how you would characterize the gang leaders who got 13-year-old kids hopped on crack and sent them out on the street to murder other African-American children.”
“You are defending the people who kill the lives you say matter,” he said, adding “Tell the truth.”
The United States has more people in prison than any other country. According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, 1.05 million prisoners were held in federal or state facilities in 1994. By 2014, it was 1.56 million. That year, six percent of all black men in their 30s were in prison, a rate six times higher than that of white men of the same age.