Hillary Clinton was in Charleston, S.C., yesterday on a campaign stop — but had left for Vegas before the shots rang out at the Emanuel AME Church last night.
Addressing the National Association of Latino Elected Officials conference in Sin City today, the 2016 Democratic presidential front-runner noted her visit to the technical school in Charleston was “such a positive, upbeat, optimistic event.”
“So many of those young people were for the first time seeing what they could do and being paid for doing it,” Clinton said. “The administration and faculty of the school was so proud. The businesses that were employing the diverse group of apprentices were getting their money’s worth. And I left feeling not only great about Charleston, but great about America.”
“When I got to Las Vegas, I learned about the horrific massacre in the church. You know the shock and pain of this crime of hate strikes deep. Nine people — women and men — cut down at prayer. Murdered in a house of God. It just broke my heart. That of course is the last place we should ever see violence. We shouldn’t see it anywhere.”
Clinton said “in the days ahead we will once again ask what led to this terrible tragedy and where we as a nation need to go.”
“In order to make sense of it, we have to be honest. We have to face hard truths about race, violence, guns, and division,” she said. “Today, we join our hearts with the people of Charleston and South Carolina—people everywhere—who pray for the victims, who pray for the families, who pray for a community that knows too much sorrow. And we pray for justice. That the people of Charleston find peace and that our country finds unity.”
“The church where these killings took place is known as Mother Emanuel. And like any mother, it holds its flock close. Today is a day to hold each other even closer. More than 50 years ago, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. told the families of the girls killed in the bombing of the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama, ‘You do not walk alone.’ Today we say to the families of Mother Emanuel and to all the people of Charleston, ‘You do not walk alone.’”
Clinton added that “millions of Americans — regardless of race or creed or ethnicity or religion — are walking with you.”
“In grief. In solidarity. In determination. We are with you. And we stand with you as we seek answers and take action. How many innocent people in our country—from little children, to church members, to movie theater attendees—how many people do we need to see cut down before we act?” she said.
“So as we mourn and as our hearts break a little more, and as we send this message of solidarity, we will not forsake those who have been victimized by gun violence. This time we have to find answers together. I pledge to you, I will work with you—those of you who are local officials, those of you who are thinking hard about your own communities. Let’s unite in partnership, not just to talk, but to act.”