August 28th, 2014
03:15 PM ET
4 months 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. soaked sock puppet

    Now what, I really can't fault anything she said, so rwnj, what am I missing?

    August 28, 2014 03:34 pm at 3:34 pm |
  2. soaked sock puppet

    Awwhh, Hill didn't get his wish of her putting her foot in her mouth, so he complains anyway, remember, she has not said she is running, she really didn't have to say anything, so she didn't let two reporters take over her book signing, hate her for being smart.

    August 28, 2014 03:50 pm at 3:50 pm |
  3. yolanda

    @soaked, probably just a high school diploma......

    August 28, 2014 03:53 pm at 3:53 pm |
  4. Rick McDaniel

    Why is it, that Dems never hold anyone responsible for their own behaviors.........including themselves?

    August 28, 2014 04:05 pm at 4:05 pm |
  5. rs

    A sane, sensible, and accurate statement- made by a politician who has the wisdom to not speak in the moment.

    August 28, 2014 04:05 pm at 4:05 pm |
  6. Sniffit

    "Now what, I really can't fault anything she said, so rwnj, what am I missing?"

    Benghaaaaaaaaaazi!!!!!!!!

    August 28, 2014 04:11 pm at 4:11 pm |
  7. Silence DoGood

    @soaked sock puppet
    Now what, I really can't fault anything she said, so rwnj, what am I missing?
    -------------
    They can always fault what she says even if they have to make it up.
    Just being a smart accomplished leader and a woman is enough to set off most conservatives.

    August 28, 2014 04:13 pm at 4:13 pm |
  8. Marty

    Not a word about the Cop that was assaulted and had to defend himself so as not to be assaulted a second time or the store owner that was assaulted. I guess the other store owners who's stores were pillaged and burned should expect that as a normal part of business. Oh well "what difference does it make , know"

    August 28, 2014 04:13 pm at 4:13 pm |
  9. Silence DoGood

    @Marty "what difference does it make"
    --------------
    I will correct this lie as often as I see it: Ms.Clinton said the "what difference" quote in response to hounding in the hearings over the motivation of the attackers. She was making a point that it was more important that four Americans died and future prevention than what was in the minds of the attackers. She was placing the deaths as top priority as opposed to what her Inquisitors were finding important. The transcripts are easy to find online.

    August 28, 2014 04:18 pm at 4:18 pm |
  10. Sniffit

    ""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.""

    And that mission is as fiercely OPPOSED today as when he stood on the steps of the Lincoln memorial and the hot august sun all those years ago.

    FIFY

    Just spreadin' the truth.

    August 28, 2014 04:19 pm at 4:19 pm |
  11. 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 |
  12. rs

    Rick McDaniel

    Why is it, that Dems never hold anyone responsible for their own behaviors.........including themselves?
    ________________________
    Like the Right polices their own? Right!

    Meanwhile, who died in that transaction in Ferguson? The policeman? What about his behavior? What about the other questionable actions by the FPD?

    Really, I think Ms. Clinton nailed it- what we see in Ferguson, and other places around the nation where unarmed teenagers are fair game- we see that the populace and the authorities no longer see each other as real-live people. Sort of how the GOP acts and talks about their hated "47%".

    August 28, 2014 04:27 pm at 4:27 pm |
  13. it must be said

    rs
    A sane, sensible, and accurate statement- made by a politician who has the wisdom to not speak in the moment.
    -–

    As opposed to Obama you mean.

    August 28, 2014 04:30 pm at 4:30 pm |
  14. rs

    Marty

    Not a word about the Cop that was assaulted and had to defend himself so as not to be assaulted a second time or the store owner that was assaulted. I guess the other store owners who's stores were pillaged and burned should expect that as a normal part of business. Oh well "what difference does it make , know"
    ____________________
    Ahhh, the old out of context Hillary quote trick. Well, good for you. Ponder some cause and effect meanwhile. None of what you posted on would have happened (along with the police death threats to peaceable crowds, or reporters) had no one been shot and killed in Ferguson in the first place. It's sort of like invading Iraq, then wondering why a civil war broke out. Actions have consequences, chum- not always fair or just or legal ones.

    August 28, 2014 04:31 pm at 4:31 pm |
  15. Sue

    I don't think Rev King would approve of stealing

    August 28, 2014 04:32 pm at 4:32 pm |
  16. Democrat Junk

    Out of all the answers to ssp's question.....the winner is ........Yolanda!

    August 28, 2014 04:37 pm at 4:37 pm |
  17. Democrat Junk

    rs...you are so right! Actions do have consequences and not always good results. Case in point.....Michael Brown.

    August 28, 2014 04:41 pm at 4:41 pm |
  18. Sniffin Glue

    Looks like Sniffit is off his/her medication again... Ranting about the US Ambassador Assassination... again.

    Wonder who that Ahmed Abu Khatallah is? You know, the "mastermind" that the Obama Administration was parading around a few months back.

    Hillary has gotten some pretty good shots in on Barry, but Barry hit back... decently. Can't wait until 2016 gets closer and we have Backstab-a-mania!

    August 28, 2014 04:41 pm at 4:41 pm |
  19. J Anthony

    @old yeller: you really are old; aren"t you?

    August 28, 2014 04:46 pm at 4:46 pm |
  20. smith

    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

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

    August 28, 2014 04:50 pm at 4:50 pm |
  21. Something's Wrong

    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.

    August 28, 2014 04:51 pm at 4:51 pm |
  22. Wake Up People! Many Rivers to cross.....

    Sue says:
    August 28, 2014 04:32 pm at 4:32 pm
    I don’t think Rev King would approve of stealing

    If stealing deserves the Death Penalty why is there a man in prison for the rest of his life for killing two teens that broke into his home in MO in 2012??? Could it be those teens looked nothing like Michael Brown?? They were caught red handed.

    Ol Yeller.... 😍😍😍😍

    August 28, 2014 04:56 pm at 4:56 pm |
  23. Lizzie

    rs, every day on the news, we see video surveillance tapes of young people breaking into stores, robbing people in restaurants, stores and on the streets. So if the make up of the city is 40/3020/10 the police is supposed to arrest according to the make up of the population but not the criminals. Do parents ever wonder where their kids(used lightly a 18 year old is not a kid) get the money to buy stuff, if the "kids" don't work, or the parents did not give them the money, or do they have a money tree growing in their yard.

    August 28, 2014 05:00 pm at 5:00 pm |
  24. Dumbas[R]ocks

    I'm going to so enjoy it when Hillary makes her run official.

    She'll then be able to display all the [R] gonads she's sliced off and taken as trophies over the years, like an indian brave displaying the scalps of his enemies outside his tee-pee. God knows, none of the [R]s were using them anyway. A bigger bunch of hypocritical cowards, I've never seen. Hillary will put the next batch of [R] clowns out of their misery too.

    Oh, I'm sorry reader, are you a [R] supporter?......"Sorry squire, I've scratched your record – sorry squire, I've scratched your record – sorry.....

    August 28, 2014 05:00 pm at 5:00 pm |
  25. Democrat Junk

    @ SDG...And what Mother Goose story are you referring to when it comes to the foreign policy of President Obama? Weak as well as questionable evidence cited as successes. In this case, Silence would serve you best.

    August 28, 2014 05:07 pm at 5:07 pm |
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