Bernie Sanders on Thursday accused Hillary Clinton’s a “racist term” in a 1996 speech.
NY1 moderator Errol Louis asked Sanders in the Thursday-night Democratic debate why he recently called out former President Bill Clinton – Hillary Clinton’s husband – for defending his wife’s use of the term “super predators” to describe gang members.
Bill defended Hillary’s past language and the controversial 1994 crime bill – the Violent Crime Control Act – in a heated exchange with Black Lives Matter activists last week in Philadelphia.
“Because it was a racist term, and everyone knew it was a racist term,” Sanders said.
Earlier, Hillary Clinton said she supported the crime bill when it passed, but apologized for consequences that she said were unintended. She added that her husband, who signed the legislation, has apologized as well for the portions of the bill that disproportionately negatively affected minority communities. Sanders, too, voted for the bill, a fact he acknowledged during the debate.
“I’ve seen the results of what has happened in families and communities,” she said.
“I want white people to recognize that there is systemic racism … in the criminal-justice system,” she added.
The crime bill and Hillary Clinton’s comment on “super predators” in 1996 have been discussed periodically throughout the campaign. The issues were brought back to the forefront after Bill Clinton’s tough exchange with activists.
“I don’t know how you would characterize the gang leaders who got 13-year-old kids hopped up on crack and sent them out on the street to murder other African-American children,” Bill Clinton said when asked about the “super predators” comment last week. “Maybe you thought they were good citizens – she didn’t. She didn’t!”
“You are defending the people who killed the lives you say matter,” he added. “Tell the truth!”
Bill Clinton gave a lengthy defense of crime and welfare-reform legislation that were passed during his administration. He said the crime bill contained harsher sentencing laws because Republicans wouldn’t have passed it otherwise. And he argued it also included many other benefits, including funding for inner-city educational programs and tighter gun laws.
“You are defending people who caused young people to go out and take guns,” he said.