“We are ready, we are ready, we are ready for Hillary,” the audience sung as they awaited Hillary Clinton’s appearance on stage. On Thursday evening, Clinton held a town hall event at the Royal Baptist Church Family Life Center in North Charleston, hosted by Sen. Marlon Kimpson. The Democratic primary will be held on Saturday, Feb. 27.
Clinton had an awkward interaction with a Black Lives Matter activist at a fundraising dinner in Charleston on Wednesday. Activist Ashley Williams confronted Clinton for comments she made during Bill Clinton’s 1996 presidential campaign. At the time, Clinton was praising her husband’s tough-on-crime agenda. She characterized at-risk youth as “super-predators,” with “no conscience, no empathy.” Williams demanded that Clinton apologize to all black people for mass incarceration, stating “I am not a super-predator.” She was then escorted out by Secret Service.
On Thursday, Clinton stressed the need for “incarceration reform” and honesty about “systemic racism.” She expressed that although her husband’s 1994 crime bill did have some positive aspects, most of the “consequences are serious” and “we have to take action as quickly and broadly as possible to reverse those.” The blame is to be shared though, Clinton said, with actions taken on the state and local level. She stated that she would tackle the issue of criminal justice reform and racism at every level of government, with policies like abolishing mandatory minimum sentence. Other proposals Clinton made include eliminating the private prison industry and increasing federal government support of second-chance programs.
The Black Lives Matter incident occurred on Wednesday, the same day that the story broke about Joyce Curnell, a 50 year old black woman who was found dead in her Charleston County jail cell last summer. Curnell’s family is currently filing to sue Cannon Detention Center’s medical contractors. The family is claiming that she died from dehydration, as a result of negligence.
The story is already garnering national attention and sparking outrage in the Charleston community. Some are comparing Curnell to Sandra Bland, a black woman from Texas who was found hanged in her jail cell last summer.
The lawsuit stemming from Joyce Curnell’s death and the appearance of Black Lives Matter activists at a Clinton fundraiser raise fresh questions about mass incarceration and the treatment of African Americans behind bars.
Clinton and Sanders have been battling for the African American vote in South Carolina, where more than 50 percent of Democratic voters are black. Clinton is currently projected to win the primary on Saturday. Based on his travel schedule, many have deduced that Bernie Sanders has given up on South Carolina. Instead, the campaign has turned its energy toward Super Tuesday states like Massachusetts, Oklahoma and Virginia.