Black Lives Matter activists confront Hillary Clinton on mass incarceration

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Newly released video shows the encounter that Hillary Clinton had earlier this month in New Hampshire with Black Lives Matter activists, who demanded the Democratic presidential hopeful address issues of systemic racism.

During the August 11 exchange, Black Lives Matter Worcester organizer Julius Jones began by questioning Clinton’s current stance on mass incarceration, considering she has once been a proponent of stronger sentences and more prisons in the 90’s.

Clinton started by saying his “thoughtful question” deserved a “thoughtful answer. She then defended her record, saying, “I’ve spent most of my adult life focused on kids, through the Children’s Defense Fund and other efforts to try to give kids — particularly poor kids, particularly, you know, black kids and Hispanic kids — the same chance to live up to their own God-given potential as any other kid.”

Then, when Clinton challenged the activists to come up with policy solutions that they wanted from her, Jones, one of the activists, shot back with, “If you don’t tell black people what we need to do, then we won’t tell you all what to do. What I mean to say is, this is and has always been a white problem of violence. there’s not much that we can do to stop the violence against us.”

“Respectfully, if that is your position, then I will only talk to white people about how we are going to deal with these very real problems,” Clinton said as things began heating up.

“That’s not what I mean,” Jones quickly responded. “But, what you just said was a form of victim blaming. You were saying what the Black Lives Matter movement needs to do to is change white hearts…”

Clinton jumped back in and emphasized the point that changing laws and policies is the best and only solution: “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.”

The activists came away from the conversation feeling like they didn’t get what they wanted. Jones, joined by Black Lives Matter Boston organizer Daunasia Yancey, appeared on The Rachel Maddow Show to discuss their conversation with Clinton.

“What we were looking for from Secretary Clinton was a personal reflection on her responsibility for being part of the cause of this problem that we have today in mass incarceration, and so her response really targeting on policy wasn’t sufficient for us,” Daunasia Yancey told MSNBC host Melissa Harris-Perry.