Former President Bill Clinton went off on a group of Black Lives Matter protesters who interrupted a Thursday speech he was giving on behalf of his wife.
“I like protesters, but the ones who won’t let you answer are afraid of the truth,” he fired back when they initially spoke up.
Clinton made the comments while campaigning in Philadelphia for former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, the Democratic presidential frontrunner.
He offered a particularly passionate defense of his tough-on-crime approach during the 1990s. Both Clintons have softened some of their stances on police issues.
“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,” Clinton said. “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!”
The tirade was captured by multiple news outlets and posted online shortly after. Clinton gave a lengthy defense of crime and welfare-reform legislation that were passed during his administration. He said that the crime bill contained harsher sentencing laws because Republicans wouldn’t have passed it otherwise, and 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.
He also insisted that the country needs a president who won’t “be intimidated by people on the far right or far left.”
“They know it’s true is they won’t hush,” he added later. “When someone won’t hush and listen to you, that ain’t democracy. They’re afraid of the truth. Don’t you be afraid of the truth. Don’t you be afraid of the truth.”
“I’ll tell you another story about a place where black lives matter: Africa,” Clinton said before telling a story of a young man in Tanzania who named his store after the ex-president’s wife.
Clinton said that he named the store after her because of her efforts to make AIDS drugs more easily accessible throughout Africa.