Between Police And Black Lives Matter, Hillary Clinton Walking A Fine Line

Aug 19, 2016
Originally published on August 19, 2016 2:07 pm

As Hillary Clinton began a meeting with police chiefs from departments around the country, she expressed gratitude to those on the force.

"They represent officers who get up every day, put on their uniforms, kiss their families goodbye and risk their lives on behalf of our communities," the Democratic nominee said at the Thursday gathering in New York City.

During the brief part of the meeting that was open to reporters, Clinton referenced Dallas, where five police officers were shot and killed in July. She also talked about Baton Rouge, La., where police fatally shot Alton Sterling, a 37-year-old black man, while he was on the ground.

Clinton said there's a lot of work to do to repair trust between communities and police.

"We need to work together to bridge our divides, not stoke even more divisiveness," she said.

Clinton struck a similar theme earlier this week in the battleground state of Pennsylvania. While campaigning before a largely white audience in Scranton on Monday, Clinton mentioned the protests in Milwaukee, which broke out after police shot and killed a black man there last weekend.

"Look at what's happening in Milwaukee right now," Clinton said. "We've got urgent work to do to rebuild trust between police and communities and get back to the fundamental principle: Everyone should have respect for the law and be respected by the law."

Clinton's Republican rival, Donald Trump, also talked about Milwaukee this week. During a campaign stop in the nearby suburb of West Bend, Trump accused Clinton of being anti-police because of her calls for reform of the criminal justice system.

"She is against the police, believe me. You know it and I know it, and guess what: She knows it," Trump told the crowd.

Critics on the left, including groups like Black Lives Matter, have accused Clinton of being too slow to address concerns from African-Americans and their allies — a key part of the Democratic base — about aggressive policing. Clinton herself has acknowledged that tension.

"I know that just by saying all these things together, I may upset some people," she said.

Speaking to the African Methodist Episcopal Church General Conference on the day after the Dallas police shootings, Clinton called for national guidelines on the use of deadly force and better training for police.

"I'm talking about criminal justice reform the day after a horrific attack on police officers," Clinton said. "I'm talking about courageous honorable police officers just a few days after officer-involved killings in Louisiana and Minnesota."

While Hillary Clinton tries to navigate those conversations, Donald Trump is walking another line.

This week, he's been praising police while promising to bring "law and order" to African-American neighborhoods. So far, though, he's been making that case in front of mostly white audiences.

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