Posted at 7:39 p.m. on Feb. 26
Ashley Williams, the Charlotte-based activist who confronted Hillary Clinton at a fundraiser Wednesday, released an open letter on Twitter Thursday saying Clinton’s apology was “not accepted.”
— ashley williams (@Ash_Bash23) February 26, 2016
At the fundraiser, which Williams and an unidentified colleague reportedly paid $500 to attend, Williams stepped out of the crowd that was listening to Clinton’s speech, unfurled a banner and turned to Clinton, telling her, “We want you to apologize for mass incarceration… I’m not a superpredator, Hillary Clinton.” The banner read “We have to bring them to heel,” a quote from a speech Clinton gave in 1996 about at-risk youth, whom she also described as “superpredators.”
The 1994 crime bill, signed by then-President Bill Clinton and supported by first lady Hillary Clinton at the time, has been targeted as a driving force behind mass incarceration, particularly of black and Latino Americans. Black activists and academics have criticized Clinton for her role in supporting the bill.
Clinton’s opponent for the Democratic nomination, Sen. Bernard Sanders, also voted for the bill. But at the time he also criticized the “tough on crime” aspects of the bill and said he was mainly motivated by the Violence Against Women Act and 10-year assault weapons ban that were also part of the bill.
On Thursday, Clinton responded to the protest, telling The Washington Post “Looking back, I shouldn’t have used those words, and I wouldn’t use them today,” going on to say “we haven’t done right” by African-American children.
In the letter, Williams makes clear that the words were not the main concern of the protest. “While Clinton’s choice of words in that speech were racist and offensive, it is the impact of the policies that she vigorously championed that should give us all pause.”
While Sanders and Martin O’Malley, who suspended his presidential campaign, both had events interrupted by Black Lives Matter protesters hoping to focus attention on the plight of black Americans targeted by the police and justice system, and faced criticism for how they handled the interruptions, Clinton had so far avoided any such disruptions at her events. Activists disrupting Sanders and O’Malley were able to take over the podium and address the crowds for some time, but Williams was quickly taken from the Clinton event by Secret Service.