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Hillary Clinton is running for president in 2016, but remarks in a 1996 speech are coming back to haunt her. During a private fundraising event Wednesday evening in Charleston, South Carolina, three days before the state’s primary, two Black Lives Matter protesters interjected to remind her of these remarks and demand she reconcile them with her current stance on racial justice. It’s left some voters on Twitter wondering #WhichHillary is really running for office.
The speech from 20 years ago was made by the then-First Lady on the campaign trail for her husband President Bill Clinton’s second term. Hillary was discussing Bill’s 1994 crime bill, which brought forth initiatives like community policing and the “three strikes and you’re out” policy (which he later said he regretted). At the time, though, Hillary shared strong feelings in support of it, using language that some see as racially charged.
In a video from last night’s event in South Carolina, protester Ashley Williams can be seen holding up a sign that says “We have to bring them to heel.” This a quote from the ’96 speech: The “them” are young criminals, whom Hillary referred to as “super-predators” with “no conscience, no empathy.” The Nation recently called this language “racially coded rhetoric to cast black children as animals.”
Williams was there with another activist; the two contributed $500 to the Clinton campaign to gain access to the event of around 100 guests. During Hillary’s remarks to the small crowd, Williams unfurls her sign and then interrupts her, saying “We want you to apologize for mass incarceration. I’m not a super-predator, Hillary Clinton.”
After a brief back-and-forth, Williams was eventually removed from the event and booed by the other attendees. She later told the Huffington Post: “I wanted to bring her to confront her own words… 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.”
After word of the protest got out, the #WhichHillary hashtag emerged. This appears to be the first use of it in connection to the South Carolina event:
Others—including Republicans and Bernie Sanders supporters—soon began chiming in en masse, questioning Hillary’s commitment to racial justice and equality.
Eventually, it evolved past just her views on racial justice and included accusations of flip flops on other issues.
Clinton’s campaign did not respond to the Daily Dot’s request for comment.
Screengrab via #NotASuperPredator/YouTube
Marisa Kabas is a lifestyle reporter and activist. Her work has been published by Fusion, Fast Company, and Today. She’s also served as an editorial campaigns director for Purpose PBC, a social movement incubator.