Clinton denounces racism in visit to flashpoint city

US Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton speaking during a campaign rally on Sept 30, 2016, in Coral Springs, Florida.
US Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton speaking during a campaign rally on Sept 30, 2016, in Coral Springs, Florida. PHOTO: AFP

CHARLOTTE (AFP) - Mrs Hillary Clinton denounced racism as she waded on Sunday (Oct 2) into one of the latest flashpoints of anger over fatal police shootings of blacks in America.

The Democratic presidential candidate's gesture came at a rally in Charlotte, North Carolina, where protests erupted over the Sept 20 killing of Mr Keith Lamont Scott by police trying to serve an arrest warrant on someone else.

Mrs Clinton noted that she is a grandmother of two and worries about the safety of those kids amid America's epidemic of gun violence.

But she added: "My worries are not the same as black grandmothers'. Because my grandchildren are white, because they are the grandchildren of a former president and secretary of state, let's be honest. They won't face the kind of fear we heard from the young children testifying before the city council." 

She was eluding to comments by a nine-year-old named Zianna Oliphant, who told the local authorities last week that she felt she was treated differently than other people because she is black.

Mrs Clinton addressed the death of Mr Scott, who was 43, in circumstances that are still not entirely clear. Police say he had a gun, but the Scott family denies this.


A curfew was imposed after three nights of violent protests over his death. Mrs Clinton had been due to visit Charlotte last Sunday but she postponed it at the request of the city's mayor.

"It has been 12 days since Mr Scott was shot and killed," Mrs Clinton said. "We don't yet know all the details about the shooting, but we do know this community and this family is in pain."

Over the course of the campaign for the Nov 8 presidential election pitting her against Mr Donald Trump, Mrs Clinton has frequently acknowledged the complaints of black Americans who accuse mainly white police departments of racism, brutality and disproportionate use of force.

Mr Trump has tried to reach out to African Americans, but has also pressed his drive to depict himself as a tough law-and-order candidate, often paying tribute to police officers.

"We can acknowledge that implicit bias still exists," Mrs Clinton said, "without vilifying police officers."

Without naming Mr Trump, Mrs Clinton criticised those "who want to exploit people's fears, even if it means tearing our nation even further apart".

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