In a rally for Hillary Clinton Thursday, Bill Clinton told Black Lives Matter protesters who spoke up during his speech that they were "defending the people who kill the lives you say matter."
Bill Clinton was in the midst of talking about Hillary Clinton's prison reform policies in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, when a protester began yelling.
The words weren't clearly audible in recordings — it sounded like one person said "black youth are not superpredators" — and two people can be seen in the front of the rally holding signs reading "Welfare reform increased poverty," and, "Clinton crime bill destroyed our community," and another reading "Hillary Clinton is a murderer."
"Here's the thing. I like protesters, but the ones that won't let you answer are afraid of the truth," Clinton said, directly addressing the protesters. "You never learn anything while you're talking."
One protester made reference to Hillary Clinton using the term "superpredators" in 1994 to describe a "new class" of young black criminals who "lacked all conscience and empathy." Hillary Clinton apologized for using this term in February.
Bill Clinton on Thursday said his wife understood of how much "black lives matter."
"Hillary spent her time trying to get healthcare for poor kids—and who were they?" The former president said. "Their lives matter."
When the protester continued, Clinton said, "I don't know how you would characterize the gang leaders who got 13-year-old kids hopped up on crack and sent them out into the street to murder other African American children," he said as the crowd tried to drown out the protesters with cheers.
"Maybe you thought they were good citizens—she didn't," he added. "You are defending the people who killed the lives you say matter. Tell the truth."
"You are defending the people who caused young people to go out and take guns," he continued.
He turned from pointing directly at the protester to the rest of the crowd, which was chanting "Hillary, Hillary!"
"You can trust them," he said, motioning to the protester, "or you can trust Congressman John Lewis, the last remaining hero of the Civil Rights movement," a known supporter of the Clintons.
"I'll tell you another story about a place where black lives matter: Africa," Clinton said in the conclusion of his speech.
As he walked out, two of the protesters were manhandled by security. The Philadelphia Police told BuzzFeed News no one was arrested.
In an interview following the rally, one protester, Erica Miles, talked to rally attendees recording on their iPhones, as another stood in the background holding his sign.
"We expressed ourselves as the first amendment allows us to but what happens? We become the thugs," Miles said, saying that security was now "standing over her."
"They asked me to put down my sign because they didn't like the fact that I didn't say that Hillary is God."
The Clinton campaign did not immediately respond to BuzzFeed News' request for comment.
Ema O'Connor is a politics reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in Washington, DC.
Contact Ema O'Connor at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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