Clinton to Black Lives Matter activists: Go beyond 'changing hearts'

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton met privately with members of the Black Lives Matter movement, after a campaign event in New Hampshire, last week. 

Charlie Neibergall / AP
Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton met privately with members of the Black Lives Matter movement.

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton held a closed-door meeting with members of the "Black Lives Matter" movement last week, during which she urged protesters to promote specific policy changes rather than only focusing on "changing hearts."

"Look, I don’t believe you change hearts. I believe you change laws, you change allocation of resources, you change the way systems operate. You’re not going to change every heart, you’re not. But, at the end of the day, we can do a whole lot to change some hearts and change some systems and create more opportunities for people who deserve to have them." Mrs. Clinton told members of the group in a newly released video.

One of the activists, Julius Jones, takes issue with her comments and described her comments as "victim blaming." Clinton stuck to her position, adding that any chance of rooting out systemic racism has to coincide with changes in the criminal justice, housing and education policies.

"You can keep the movement going, which you have stated, and through it you may actually change some hearts. But if that's all that happens we'll be back here in 10 years having the same conversation because we will not have all the changes that you deserve to see happen in your lifetime," she said.

Clinton met with the protesters, who are part of Boston and Worcester, Mass., chapters of the nationwide movement, after a town hall event on drugs and addiction in Keene, N.H.

"You're going to have to come together as a movement and say 'Here's what we want done about it,' because you can get lip service from as many white people as you can pack in Yankee Stadium," she said. "That's not enough, at least in my book."

Like Clinton, other presidential candidates, have all struggled over the course of their campaigns with how to address the Black Lives Matter movement.

This past weekend, Bernie Sanders was in Iowa trying to repair relations with the African-American protest groups who recently interrupted his campaign appearances with accusations that he wasn’t working to address their concerns about institutional racism.

Last week, a Jeb Bush campaign rally in North Las Vegas was cut short after Mr. Bush faced a series of questions about race and inequality in the criminal justice system from members of the anti-racist group.

This report includes material from Reuters.

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