Hillary Clinton on Ferguson: 'We Are Better Than That'

Image: Hillary Clinton on Ferguson: 'We Are Better Than That' (Maurizio Gambarini/DPA/Landov)

Thursday, 28 Aug 2014 05:47 PM

By Cathy Burke

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Hillary Clinton on Thursday broke her long silence about the racially charged shooting of an unarmed teenager in Ferguson, Missouri, decrying the tumultuous protests and asserting, "we are better than that."

Speaking at a technology conference in San Francisco, Clinton – a likely 2016 Democratic presidential candidate – said her "heart just broke" for the family of 18-year-old Michael Brown, who was slain by police officer Darren Wilson on Aug. 9, Time reported.

Calling televised images of heavily armed police clashing with protesters "terrible," she declared: "Nobody wants to see our streets look like a war zone. Not in America, we are better than that."

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Her first public comments on the shooting and protests came on the 51st anniversary of Martin Luther King's "I have a Dream" Speech.

"That mission is as fiercely urgent today as when he stood on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in the hot August sun all those years ago," she said.  "So we have a lot of work to do together."

Of the tensions in Ferguson in the aftermath of the police shooting, Clinton remarked "this is what happens when the bonds of trust and respect that hold any community together fray." Though she also praised "decent and respectful law enforcement officers, who showed what quality law enforcement looked like," The Hill reported.

She then called for a "thorough and speedy investigation" of the deadly clash in Missouri – and a drive to reform the criminal justice system nationwide.

"We can’t ignore the inequities that persist in our justice system that undermine our most deeply held values of fairness and equality," she said, Time reported. "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 10 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 and so many of the communities in which they live."

Democratic leaders have been criticized for remaining silent in the wake of the deadly shooting, even as Kentucky Republican Sen. Rand Paul blasted the military-like response of police just days afterward.

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