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

Aug 28, 2014

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton made her first public comments Thursday on the shooting of unarmed teenager Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo., calling for the country to address "inequities" in the criminal-justice system.

The likely 2016 Democratic presidential candidate addressed both the shooting and the days of often violent protests that followed, saying, "This is what happens when the bonds of trust and respect that hold any community together fray."

Clinton's comments came at the end of a paid speaking appearance in San Francisco. She said her "heart just broke" for Brown's family after the unarmed 18-year old was shot by police officer Darren Wilson more than two weeks ago. She also condemned the "terrible" images on television of heavily armed police facing off with largely peaceful protesters. "Nobody wants to see our streets look like a war zone," she said. "Not in America, we are better than that." And Clinton called for a renewed focus on reforming the nation's criminal justice system, saying the country must confront lingering unfairness.

"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.

"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," Clinton said, "if white offenders received prison sentences 10% 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."

Clinton noted that her remarks fell on the 51st anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr.'s "I Have A Dream" speech during the 1963 March on Washington. "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."

Witness Tension Between Police and Protestors in Ferguson, Mo.

A man backs away as law enforcement officials close in on him and eventually detain him during protests over the death of Michael Brown, an unarmed black teenager killed by a police officer, in Ferguson, Mo.
A man backs away as law enforcement officials close in on him and eventually detain him during protests over the death of Michael Brown, an unarmed black teenager killed by a police officer, in Ferguson, Mo., Aug. 11, 2014.Whitney Curtis—The New York Times/Redux
A man backs away as law enforcement officials close in on him and eventually detain him during protests over the death of Michael Brown, an unarmed black teenager killed by a police officer, in Ferguson, Mo.
Ferguson St. Louis Missouri Police Shooting Riots Protests
Ferguson St. Louis Missouri Police Shooting Riots Protests
Ferguson St. Louis Missouri Police Shooting Riots Protests
Ferguson St. Louis Missouri Police Shooting Riots Protests
Ferguson St. Louis Missouri Police Shooting Riots Protests
Ferguson St. Louis Missouri Police Shooting Riots Protests
Ferguson St. Louis Missouri Police Shooting Riots Protests
Outrage In Missouri Town After Police Shooting Of 18-Yr-Old Man
Outrage In Missouri Town After Police Shooting Of 18-Yr-Old Man
Outrage In Missouri Town After Police Shooting Of 18-Yr-Old Man
Outrage In Missouri Town After Police Shooting Of 18-Yr-Old Man
Outrage In Missouri Town After Police Shooting Of 18-Yr-Old Man
Outrage In Missouri Town After Police Shooting Of 18-Yr-Old Man
TEAR GAS SHOT AT PROTESTORS
Police Shooting Missouri
Outrage In Missouri Town After Police Shooting Of 18-Yr-Old Man
Police Shooting Missouri
APTOPIX Police Shooting Missouri
Police Shooting Missouri
Police Shooting Missouri
Outrage In Missouri Town After Police Shooting Of 18-Yr-Old Man
Demonstrators protest outside of Greater St. Marks Family Church in Ferguson, Missouri
Protesters take part in a peaceful demonstration against shooting of Michael Brown, in Ferguson, Missouri
Missouri State Highway Patrol Captain Ron Johnson speaks to protesters as he walks through a peaceful demonstration as communities continue to react to the shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson
Outrage In Missouri Town After Police Shooting Of 18-Yr-Old Man
Outrage In Missouri Town After Police Shooting Of 18-Yr-Old Man
Ferguson Lowenstein
Ferguson Lowenstein
Ferguson Lowenstein
Ferguson Jon Lowenstein Teargas
Ferguson Lowenstein
Ferguson Lowenstein
Ferguson Lowenstein
Ferguson Lowenstein
Police Shooting Missouri
Ferguson Lowenstein
Police Shooting Missouri
Outrage In Missouri Town After Police Shooting Of 18-Yr-Old Man
Protesters react to the effects of tear gas which was fired at demonstrators reacting to the shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri
Demonstrators march down West Florissant during a peaceful march in reaction to the shooting of Michael Brown near Ferguson, Missouri
REUTERS PICTURE HIGHLIGHT
Police arrest two in front of McDonalds
US-CRIME-RACE-POLICE-SHOOTING
National Guard Called In As Unrest Continues In Ferguson
Violence between police and protestors erupts in Ferguson - again
Police fire tear gas in the direction of where bottles were thrown from crowds gathered near the QuikTrip on W. Florissant Avenue on Aug. 18, 2014.
Demonstrators stand in the middle of West Florissant as they react to tear gas fired by police during ongoing protests in reaction to the shooting of Brown, near Ferguson
Demonstrators protest against the fatal shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo. Aug. 19, 2014.
A police officer in riot gear detains a demonstrator protesting against the shooting of Michael Brown, in Ferguson
Police officers in riot gear watch demonstrators protesting against the shooting of Michael Brown from the side of a building in Ferguson
TOPSHOTS-US-CRIME-RACE-POLICE-SHOOTING
A man is doused with milk and sprayed with mist after being hit by an eye irritant from security forces trying to disperse demonstrators protesting against the shooting of Brown in Ferguson
APTOPIX Police Shooting Missouri
A man backs away as law enforcement officials close in on him and eventually detain him during protests over the death o
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Whitney Curtis—The New York Times/Redux
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