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Black Lives Matter Activists Interrupt Hillary Clinton At Private Event In South Carolina

The Huffington Post The Huffington Post 25/02/2016 Tyler Tynes

Two Black Lives Matter activists interrupted a private Hillary Clinton fundraising event Wednesday night in Charleston, South Carolina.

Youth activist Ashley Williams protested Clinton, demanding that the Democratic presidential candidate account for inconsistencies on her record on race, specifically around her comments made about crime in 1996.

Williams and her colleague, whom she did not identify, contributed $500 to attend the Clinton event, which was held at a private residence with around 100 people, she estimated. 

Williams said she and her colleague strategically placed themselves at the front of the crowd and waited until Clinton appeared. Speakers introducing Clinton around 9:30 p.m. Wednesday night spoke of Walter Scott, the Charleston A.M.E. shootings and how Clinton had a strong record of racial justice.

As Clinton spoke to the crowd, Williams stood to her side and held a sign quoting controversial statements made in 1996 when she said "we have to bring them to heel" in reference to at-risk youth. 

Williams said when Clinton paused and looked at her sign, she then asked the former secretary of state to apologize to black people for mass incarceration. The mostly white audience yelled at Williams and told her she was being rude. 

"I wanted to bring her to confront her own words," Williams told The Huffington Post after the protest, adding, "We did this because we wanted to make sure that black people are paying attention to her record, and we want to know what Hillary we are getting."

Williams told The Huffington Post that the Secret Service threw her out out of the event.

The demonstration comes three days before the South Carolina primary where turnout from black voters will be key to clinching the Democratic nomination. 

Williams, who is from Charlotte, North Carolina, said she was motivated to protest because policies during President Bill Clinton's administration led to an increase in mass incarceration that mostly struck black communities. She pointed to the three-strike federal laws, the elimination of rehabilitative programs and an emphasis on prison construction that were part of the Clinton legacy on crime.

Clinton has distanced herself from these policies and recently issued a detailed agenda on racial justice. But Williams wants more. 

“Hillary Clinton has a pattern of throwing the Black community under the bus when it serves her politically," Williams said in a statement before the event. "She called our boys ‘super-predators’ in ’96, then she race-baited when running against Obama in ‘08, now she’s a lifelong civil rights activist. I just want to know which Hillary is running for President, the one from ’96, ’08, or the new Hillary?”

The Clinton campaign didn't immediately return a request for comment.

And this isn't the first time Clinton has met opposition by activist groups during her campaign. In October 2015, protestors interrupted Clinton in Atlanta while she tried to roll out a plan for criminal justice reform. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) has also faced faced protests from Black Lives Matters activists at his events

HuffPost Pollster gives Clinton a 58.3 percent lead heading into the South Carolina Democratic primary. 

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