Former President Bill Clinton was addressing a group of supporters of his wife Hillary’s run for the presidency on Thursay when, according to the Hill Newspaper, a group of Black Lives Matter protestors started to heckle him. At issue was the 1994 crime bill than some of the protestors blame for the mass incarceration of African American men. Finally, Mr. Clinton lost patience and diverted from his stump speech, declaring, “You are defending the people who killed the lives you say matter. Tell the truth.”
The Bill Clinton who erupted at the protestors was the old, 1990s, triangulating version who was not afraid to take on gangsta rappers and hiphop artists such as Sister Souljah who glorified crime and murder in their music. His 1994 crime bill, called Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act, contained a variety of provisions, including the hiring of new police officers, the building of new prisons, an assault weapons ban, an expansion of the federal death penalty, the creation of new crimes defined by federal law, and funding for crime prevention programs. The bill also contained the controversial three strikes provision that mandated long prison terms for criminals convicted of three felonies.
While Bill Clinton has expressed regret for the increase in the prison population, particularly of African American men, the three strikes provision has also been credited with a long term decrease in crime rates, the theory being that repeat offenders who committed the majority of crimes were taken off the streets. Others have criticized the provision as falling most heavily on African American men, some of who were convicted for non-violent drug offenses.
However, Clinton seemed to be reacting to the dirty little secret surrounding the Black Lives Matter movement, which arose due to the half profile killing of a number of African American criminals by white police officers. Most black murder victims in the United States are killed by other African Americans. This bit of hypocrisy seems to have set Bill Clinton off.
Bill Clinton likely did not make many friends among the Black Lives Matter movement by painting the searing picture of 13 year olds being hooked on crack cocaine by gang leaders and being forced to become child soldiers in the urban wars that still flares into too many big city neighborhoods. He also likely caused some heartburn for his wife who has been pandering to the Black Lives Matter movement. But he also spoke the truth, a rarity in modern politics.