Election 2020

Hillary to NAACP: Shootings Say 'Very Powerfully That We Have to Change'

Hillary Clinton speaks at the 107th NAACP annual convention at the Duke Energy Convention Center in Cincinatti on July 18, 2016. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

Declaring “this madness has to stop,” Hillary Clinton told the NAACP today that “we need police officers to help us make progress,” and those who have killed officers in Dallas and Baton Rouge “threaten all of that.”

“We’ve come a long way, but you know and I know that we have so much further to go,” Clinton said at the group’s annual conference in Cincinnati. “We were cruelly reminded of that with the recent deaths of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile, two more black man killed in police incidents, this time in Louisiana and Minnesota.”

“And then in Dallas, five police officers killed while serving and protecting peaceful protesters targeted because they were police. And then, of course, yesterday, three police officers murdered in an apparent premeditated ambush in Baton Rouge.”

The presumptive Democratic Party nominee said that while watching the news from Baton Rouge “my heart broke.”

“Not just for those officers and their grieving families, but for all of us. We have difficult, painful, essential work ahead of us to repair the bonds between our police and our communities and between and among each other. We need one another to do this work and we need leaders, like the NAACP,” Clinton said.

“We need police officers to help us make progress. These murderers threaten all of that. Killing police officers is a terrible crime. That’s why our laws treat the murderers of police so seriously, because they represent the rule of law itself. If you take aim at that and at them, you take aim at all of us. Anyone who kills a police officer and anyone who helps must be held accountable.”

Clinton declared that if elected president, “I will bring the full weight of the law to bear and making sure those who kill police officers are brought to justice.”

“There can be no justification, no looking the other way. We all have to make sure and pray it ends,” she added. “The officers killed yesterday in Baton Rouge were named Montrell Jackson, Matthew Gerald, Brad Garafola. When they died, they were responding to a call about a man with a gun.”

“How many families — how many more families would be paying the price if we did not have brave men and women answering those calls? That’s why I’m haunted by the image of what the officers in Dallas were doing when they died, protecting a peaceful march, talking with the protesters. Where would our democracy be without courageous people willing to do that?”

Clinton told the NAACP “we all need to be partners in making law enforcement as secure and effective as it needs to be.”

“That means investing in our police in training on the proper use of force, especially lethal force, how to avoid using force to resolve incidents,” she said, receiving applause from the audience. “Officer safety and wellness — everything they need to do their jobs right and rebuild trust with their communities.”

She stressed that the deaths of Sterling and Castille “drove home how urgently we need to make reforms to policing and criminal justice, how we cannot rest until we root out implicit bias and stop the killings of African-Americans.”

“And today, there are people all across America sick over what happened in Baton Rouge and in Dallas, but also fearful that the murders of police officers means that vital questions about police-community relations will go unanswered. Now that is a reasonable fear, isn’t it?” Clinton continued.

“And all of this tells us very powerfully that we have to change. Many police officers across the country agree with that. But it can only happen if we build trust and accountability. And let’s admit it, that gets harder every time someone else is killed,” she said.

“So now is the time for all good people, who agree that these senseless killings must end, to stand up, speak out loudly and clearly. I know that the NAACP and so many of you, individually, will do all you can to help our nation heal and start the work together to meet these challenges.”

Donald Trump was invited to speak at the NAACP conference.

“Mr. Trump has declined our invitation,” NAACP president and CEO Cornell William Brooks told CNN last week.

“Namely, the explanation given was that (the Republicans) are holding their convention at the same time. We are, of course, in Cincinnati, they are in Cleveland,” Brooks said. “We were hoping he would make the short trip from Cleveland to Cincinnati.”