August 28th, 2014
03:15 PM ET
3 weeks ago

Hillary Clinton breaks silence on Ferguson

(CNN) - Hillary Clinton broke her silence Thursday on the protests over the death of an unarmed black teenager in Ferguson, Missouri, telling an audience of technology investors that the United States "can do better."

Her statement, which came at the end of her prepared remarks to the Nexenta OpenSDx Summit, was the first time Clinton spoke about the protests since they began earlier this month, and her comments came after civil rights leaders had called on Clinton to weigh in.

"Watching the recent funeral for Michael Brown as a mother, as a human being, my heart just broke for his family because losing a child is every parent's greatest fear and an unimaginable loss," Clinton said. "But I also grieve for that community and many like it across our country. Behind the dramatic terrible pictures on television are deep challenges that will be with them and with us long after the cameras move on."

Brown was shot dead earlier this month by a police officer in the St. Louis suburb. The shooting sparked large protests that were accompanied by looting and a sizable police presence.

Michael Brown's funeral: Hope, tears and a call for social change

The former secretary of state and prohibitive favorite for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2016 has avoided questions about Ferguson since the protests began. At a book signing in Westhampton, New York on Sunday, Clinton did not respond to two reporters’ questions about Brown's killing.

Clinton’s statement on Thursday struck a balance between grieving with Brown's family and highlighting some of the positive police work that occurred in Ferguson around the protests.

"This is what happens when the bonds of trust and respect that hold any community together fray," Clinton said at the event in San Francisco. "Nobody wants to see our streets look like a war zone, not in America. We are better than that."

Rand Paul on Ferguson: Police too militarized

Clinton also applauded President Barack Obama for his response to Ferguson, which included a statement on the killing and the dispatching of Attorney General Eric Holder to the suburb.

"We can do better," Clinton said. "We cannot ignore the inequities that persist in our justice system. Inequities that undermine our most deeply held values of fairness and equality."

She continued: "Imagine what we would feel and what we would do if white drivers were three times as likely to be searched by police during a traffic stop as black drivers instead of the other way around. If white offenders received prison sentences ten percent longer than black offenders for the same crimes. If a third of all white men – just look at this room and take one-third – went to prison during their lifetime. Imagine that. That is the reality in the lives of so many of our fellow Americans in so many of the communities in which they live."

In the weeks after the shooting, civil rights and black thought leaders had called on Clinton to comment on Ferguson. At a rally earlier this month about the killing, Rev. Al Sharpton, a civil rights leader and host on MSNBC, said, "Jeb Bush, Hillary Clinton, don’t get laryngitis on this issue. … Nobody can go to the White House unless they stop by our house and talk about policing."

Marc Lamont Hill, a CNN commentator, said Clinton's decision to "ignore the question and to not proactively and assertively address the issue is shameful."

On Thursday, Clinton cited the life of Martin Luther King Jr. as a guide to how the United States should respond to the protests in Ferguson.

"It was 51 years ago today that Martin Luther King Jr. called us to live out the true meaning of our creed, to make the dream real for all Americans," Clinton said. "And that mission is as fiercely urgent today as when he stood on the steps of the Lincoln memorial and the hot august sun all those years ago."

Clinton supporters, like CNN contributor Donna Brazille, heralded the statement as both timely and needed. "

"She's right, we can do better," said Brazille, who added that she didn't counsel Clinton on the statement. "It's time we start to take the necessary steps to build one America so everyone can enjoy the American Dream."

Not all were satisfied with the timing of Clinton's statement, however.

"Hillary Clinton offers a statement on Michael Brown and Ferguson. 19 days later," Hill tweeted in response to the speech. "Next she'll offer her thoughts on Rodney King and Vietnam."


Filed under: Hillary Clinton • Missouri
soundoff (33 Responses)
  1. Dumbas[R]ocks

    "Something is indeed Wrong" when a 2-bit troll conflates a terrible tragedy initiated by the actions of a low-life criminal in NC with a terrible tragedy in MO that was initiated by a police officer who SHOULDN'T have acted like a low-life criminal.

    Beyond the news of the tragedies themselves, it is NOT news that a criminal acts like a criminal; but it IS news when a policeman acts like a CRIMINAL!!!

    ]R]s are dumber than the mud that fills their skulls.

    August 28, 2014 05:07 pm at 5:07 pm |
  2. O'drama ya Mama

    Ol' Yeller

    I'll get them started.... this divisive and incendiary race baiting is exactly what 'Merica doesn't need. We elected a black President and have supported that boy just like we would one of our own. His failures are because of his lack of leadership, his leading from behind, and his acting like a dictator. Because he has rooned 'Merica with his golf playing and vacationing; not just because he is colored (but we told you so).
    Now that 'Merica has elected a colored, it is a proven fact there is no racism left... not until this librul race baiter communist freedom hater made these divisive statements! She's tryun to get them blackies riled up so they will vote for her and ignore the fact we freed them from when they was slaves... don't you remember Lincoln?
    Seprit but equal?
    August 28, 2014 04:21 pm at 4:21 pm |
    _________________________________________________________________________________________________

    Congratulations! You win most ignorant comment of the day. My favorite part is where you said "Now that 'Merica has elected a colored, it is a proven fact there is no racism left." If that was the truth which it clearly isnt since you refer to him as colored, then 100% of the American people would have voted for him. Clearly not everyone voted for him. Im not saying that every single person who voted against him is racist because that would make my comment as ignorant as yours but it shows that there are still elements of racism in America. Heck there is racism in every corner of the world.

    August 28, 2014 05:09 pm at 5:09 pm |
  3. Wake Up People! Many Rivers to cross.....

    Something's Wrong says:
    August 28, 2014 04:51 pm at 4:51 pm
    Sure did not hear the outcry when a couple weeks ago 2 police officers and a 10 year old girl were shot by a suspect in NC. We thank God they all survived.

    Terrible. But is the shooter walking free and being treated like a hero? Or are they moving heaven and earth to find him and prosecute him. See that's the part you people don't get. False equivalence.

    August 28, 2014 05:10 pm at 5:10 pm |
  4. Wake Up People! Many Rivers to cross.....

    Oh Drama you misunderstood Ol Yeller. He was being facetious. He was saying all the things that the GOPT believe. Ol Yeller is one of President Obama's biggest supporters on this board. His post was right on the money. Many on the right call this POTUS boy and say colored. It was completely tongue in cheek.

    August 28, 2014 05:18 pm at 5:18 pm |
  5. Ol' Yeller

    @smith
    "A great example of the thoughts of an extreme left-wing zealot not a Democrat."

    Yes, smith... I remember all the time you and your righty buddies on here have praised President Obama and marvelled at his overcoming insurmountable obstacles in his rise from a young black son of a single mother to win the highest office in this land giving hope to millions of poor children, who got to witness an event proving the American Dream was still alive for those who work hard and persevere, even when the deck is completely stacked against one; while we on the left criticized his every move and didn't even try to hide our abject racism.
    You guys (and gals) on the right are just pillars of the civil rights movement and that is why the minorities are clamoring to vote for your rich white christian candidates (despite our efforts on the left to block them from voting in the name of some imaginary, self- created fraud).

    Projection becomes you... I'm sure no one noticed.

    August 28, 2014 05:21 pm at 5:21 pm |
  6. Ol' Yeller

    @Mama... you apparently took that post to be MY thoughts? No... as it starts out, "I'll get them started...." was in response to sock's call for the rwnj's to tee up on Hillary (very first post). Read it again with the perspective of the tongue in cheek manner in which I wrote it (the mindset of righties).
    I was actually very, very surprised it was not moderated... which tells me a little bit about the moderators on here (they apparently let racist rants such as that slide right in, however they sh* t can a lot of mine where I go off on the rwnj's.
    Surely you know me better than that...

    August 28, 2014 05:29 pm at 5:29 pm |
  7. Ol' Yeller

    Dumbas[R]ocks

    "Something is indeed Wrong" when a 2-bit troll conflates a terrible tragedy initiated by the actions of a low-life criminal in NC with a terrible tragedy in MO that was initiated by a police officer who SHOULDN'T have acted like a low-life criminal.

    Beyond the news of the tragedies themselves, it is NOT news that a criminal acts like a criminal; but it IS news when a policeman acts like a CRIMINAL!!!

    ]R]s are dumber than the mud that fills their skulls.

    [co-sign]

    August 28, 2014 05:31 pm at 5:31 pm |
  8. Dumbas[R]ocks

    Did I just see a 2-time voter for G. Bush, who was the very definition of the Deflector-in-Charge, post this: "Why is it, that Dems never hold anyone responsible for their own behaviors.........including themselves?".

    Dude, just where we you for the 8-year reign of the hairy doo-dad who claimed his administration did nothing wrong, while he took America into a never-ending war-of-choice, played patty-cake with the terrorists who killed 3000 American citizens, and spiraled the economy into the worst recession since the last [R]-caused Depression?

    If you were to be called an idiot, it would be an intellectual promotion.

    August 28, 2014 05:34 pm at 5:34 pm |
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