US Elections 2016

Clinton acknowledges police bias in visit to flashpoint city

Zianna Oliphant, nine, joining Mrs Clinton at the pulpit in Little Rock AME Zion Church in Charlotte, North Carolina, on Sunday. Zianna had testified before the Charlotte City Council about violence in her community.
Zianna Oliphant, nine, joining Mrs Clinton at the pulpit in Little Rock AME Zion Church in Charlotte, North Carolina, on Sunday. Zianna had testified before the Charlotte City Council about violence in her community.PHOTO: REUTERS

CHARLOTTE (North Carolina) • Mrs Hillary Clinton has told a majority-black church in North Carolina that she knows her grandchildren are growing up in a different world than many black youth in the United States, who are concerned about police shootings and gun violence in their communities.

The Democratic presidential nominee's remarks at the Little Rock AME Zion Church in Charlotte were a frank acknowledgement of the impact on black communities of what she called "implicit bias" in policing.

Mrs Clinton cited the death of 43-year-old Keith Scott, a black man who was shot by the police in front of a Charlotte apartment complex on Sept 20.

She also lamented the death of 40-year-old Terence Crutcher, who was shot days before at a Tulsa traffic stop.

Both shootings led to community protests. The Tulsa police officer has pleaded not guilty to a manslaughter charge.

"I'm a grandmother, and like every grandmother, I worry about the safety and security of my grandchildren. But my worries are not the same as black grandmothers, who have different and deeper fears about the world that their grandchildren face," Mrs Clinton said.

The Democratic nominee described the testimony that Taje Gaddy, 10, and Zianna Oliphant, nine, gave last week before the Charlotte City Council about violence in their community. Mrs Clinton later summoned Zianna to join her on stage.

"I wouldn't be able to stand it if my grandchildren had to be scared and worried the way too many children across our country feel right now. But because my grandchildren are white, because they are the grandchildren of a former president and secretary of state, let's be honest here, they won't face the kind of fear that we heard from the children testifying before the city council," Mrs Clinton said.

She has made gun violence a focus of her presidential campaign and mothers who have lost children in shootings have joined her on the campaign trail.

Mrs Clinton has said police officers should be trained to recognise implicit bias, while calling for unity and action to bridge the divide between minority communities and those who police them.

"There are some out there who see this as a moment to fan the flames of resentment and division, who want to exploit people's fears even though it means tearing our nation even further apart," she said.

"They say that all of our problems would be solved simply by more law and order as if the systemic racism plaguing our country doesn't exist."

It was a clear reference to her opponent in the election, even though she did not mention Republican nominee Donald Trump in her speech.

Mr Trump said at a rally after Mr Crutcher's shooting that it looked like he had done "everything he was supposed to do". On Twitter, he criticised Mrs Clinton's trip to Charlotte, which was postponed one week at the behest of the city's mayor, as a chance to "grandstand".

REUTERS, BLOOMBERG

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 04, 2016, with the headline 'Clinton acknowledges police bias in visit to flashpoint city'. Print Edition | Subscribe