When a black mother asked Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton on Tuesday what she would do to address the disproportionate amount of police violence against black people, Clinton urged everyone to sympathize with the plight of black families who fear for their children’s safety.
At a town hall outside Philadelphia, the woman, who gave her name as Ernie, told Clinton that she has three sons between the ages of 18 and 26.
“The gun violence is real for me as a mother,” the woman told Clinton, “because they can walk out to the store ― doing their own thing, minding their business, doing quality-of-life things ― and get pulled over by the police.”
In response, Clinton stressed “empathy and understanding and putting ourselves in somebody’s shoes” when thinking about the issue of policing.
“What she is talking about is what black parents live with every day,” Clinton said. “I was in Charlotte on Sunday, and was speaking at a church, and I said: ‘Look, I have these two absolutely wonderful grandchildren. I will never have to sit them down and tell them to be afraid, to be careful.’”
Clinton, who has spoken often this year about the role racism plays in the criminal justice system, reiterated her proposals to require police training on how to minimize conflict and establish better relationships between officers and the communities they serve.
“We need everybody to work on de-escalating situations, understanding what we all face, because remember ― people are scared on both sides of those transactions,” she said. “And it’s important that we work with our communities and work with our police and do everything we can to try to create a bigger zone of safety.”
Clinton’s approach to combating police violence is notably different from that of her opponent, Donald Trump, who ― in keeping with his overall electoral strategy of portraying America as a dystopian hellscape ― bills himself as “the law and order candidate.”
Trump has proposed expanding the practice of stop and frisk, which is widely seen as discriminatory against black and Latino people. A federal judge ruled the use of stop and frisk by the New York City Police Department unconstitutional, calling it a “policy of indirect racial profiling” because police officers were disproportionately pulling over black and Latino people during traffic stops.
“I just think what we ought to do is we ought to stop seizing on these moments of tragedy,” he said, before accusing Clinton and others of painting with “a broad brush to accuse law enforcement of implicit bias or institutional racism, and that really has got to stop.”