Bernie Sanders Says Bill Clinton Needs To Apologize After Black Lives Matter Encounter

Bernie Sanders told a group in Harlem that Bill Clinton owes the country an apology for defending the use of the word “super-predator.” The comments unraveled a rocky issue for the Clinton campaign, and African American voters – the former president’s anti-crime record that some say helped destroy black neighborhoods. The Clintons have faced down two confrontations with Black Lives Matters protesters, but show no signs of an apologizing.

According to the Washington Post, Sanders said the former president owes the nation an apology during a panel discussion at the Apollo Theater in Harlem.

“I think the president owes the American people an apology for trying to defend what’s indefensible.”

Bernie Sanders was joined on stage by civil rights leader and entertainer Harry Belafonte, Ohio State Senator Nina Turner, and Erica Garner, the daughter of Eric Garner whose death at the hands of New York police caused large-scale protests. All three have endorsed Sanders in his bid to become president.

The panel went on to discuss a recent comment from Bill Clinton, who defended his wife record to a black lives protester holding a sign saying “black youth are not super predators.”

“I don’t know how you would characterize the gang leaders who got 13-year-olds hopped up on crack and sent them out onto the street to murder other African American children. Maybe you thought they were good citizens. She didn’t!”

Sanders first reaction to the comment, “unacceptable.”

He added, “We all know what the term meant in the context that it was said years ago. We know who they were talking about.”

When the audience responded “black people,” Bernie Sanders confirmed that was “exactly right.”

The word super-predator was invented in the 1990s by criminologist and political scientist John DiLulio, who predicted that juvenile crime was soon going to spill out of the inner cities and travel as far as the rural heartland. He described these young people in an article in the Weekly Standard called The Coming of the Super-Predators.

“They kill or maim on impulse, without any intelligible motive… The buzz of impulsive violence, the vacant stares and smiles, and the remorseless eyes… they quite literally have no concept of the future.”

DiIulio’s theories were later debunked, and juvenile crime diminished side-by-side with decreases in the number of lead poisoning cases for inner city youth according to Mother Jones. Still, at the time, it was real enough for the President. Bill Clinton enacted tough anti-crime legislation in 1994 to tackle the problem, which led to prison overcrowding. Hillary defended it using the specter of super-predators a couple years later.

Now, in 2016, those policies have become a political liability.

The Washington Post reports that Hillary Clinton was accosted by a Ashley Williams, a young-looking African American activist, at a $500 dollar minimum event on February 24th.

“I’m not a ‘super-predator,’ Hillary Clinton. Can you apologize to black people for mass incarceration?”

The activist was hushed, and Clinton said that no one had ever asked her that before, then continued on with the fundraiser. Then on Thursday, a similar encounter happened to Bill Clinton, prompting the quote above.

The former president talked about the protest on Friday, explaining that he is almost sorry for what he said — not quite what Bernie Sanders had in mind.

“So I did something yesterday in Philadelphia I almost want to apologize for but I want to use it as an example of the danger threatening our country. I know those young people yesterday were just trying to get good television, and they did, but that doesn’t mean I was most effective in answering it.”

Hillary Clinton has also said that they need to stop the current system of incarceration, saying “We need to end the school to prison pipeline and replace it with a cradle-to-college pipeline,” according to the Washington Post.

What was Bernie Sanders doing when Bill and Hillary Clinton were pushing through the crime bill in 1994? Here’s a video of him fighting it in Congress.

[Photo by William Thomas Cain/Getty Images]

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