With less than 45 days until the general election, the former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump met in the first Presidential Debate. Candidates Jill Stein and Gary Johnson were notably blocked from participating in tonight’s debate. Over the course of this election season, many issues have garnered the attention of the electorate and public officials alike.
As people continued to organize and engage around issues about #BlackLivesMatter as well as the overarching movement for black lives, presidential candidates have had to address this important constituency. In recent weeks’ discussions of courting the Black vote and the Black millennial vote, in particular, the candidates have been challenged on their policy approaches and proposals for empowering and improving the chances of our students and families.
During tonight’s debate, the two candidates squared off on the issues. When asked about the state of race relations in America, Secretary Clinton showed the wealth of her knowledge on issues ranging from police violence and brutality to gun control. Secretary Clinton said she would like to see trust restored between our police and communities across the country. She said police should be well prepared to use force only when necessary. She further discussed the need for everyone to be respected by the law and, in turn, people need to respect the law. Secretary Clinton further called for criminal justice reform referring to her early campaign statements addressing remedies to some issues in the system. She said “in addition to challenges that we face with policing” there are good police that equally want reform.
Upon follow up, she emphasized the need for commonsense gun control and community policing. Secretary Clinton noted that property crime and violent crime were down since the 1990s. Not only did Secretary Clinton cheer the ending of private prisons in the federal system, but she noted that we needed to end the private prison industry at the state level as well. Finally, in a discussion re Stop and Frisk, she indicated there needed to be policies which supported the rights of those living in the neighborhoods.
In his remarks, Donald Trump repeated several times that “law and order” were needed. Trump also reported on his travels around the country and saw the need for public policy. He touted endorsements from the Fraternal Order of Police and other related organizations. He harped on Chicago, where he alleged there had been thousands of shootings since January 1st. He compared Chicago to a war-torn country. He continued to repeat unchecked facts including 4,000 people killed in Chicago since POTUS took office. He also stated that there are many cases in which illegal immigrants have guns and shoot people. When asked about how to deal with acts of domestic terrorism he hedged and failed to provide a real response. He also insisted that Stop and Frisk was a good policy that helped decrease the murder rate in New York.
Donald Trump further stated that the case which determined Stop and Frisk was unconstitutional was decided by a “very against police judge.” He seemed to conclude that a different judge would have found Stop and Frisk was permissible. He ultimately found that it was a good policy that helped keep us from these “bad people” who shouldn’t have guns. When asked about bitherism, he stated that he felt that Black people were glad that he pushed POTUS to release his birth certificate. He also laid the blame on Secretary Clinton’s 2008 campaign for releasing photos suggesting POTUS was not American. On the general topic of racial healing, he stated he had superb relationships with Black people. He then called out Secretary Clinton’s use of the term Super predator and she, in turn, dinged him for his discriminatory housing practices in the 1970s. Trump explained the Department of Justice lawsuit as an incident where they did not admit fault and settled. He later pointed to development in Florida where he had not discriminated against anyone.
Regardless of the outcome of this election, it remains clear that people will not back down and will continue to demand accountability and action from elected officials. Before tonight’s debate, representatives from various education organizations have gathered to protest the disparities in public education. Opponents of corporate drive education reform demanded the federal government engage in meaningful education choices and neighborhood schools for our children. They were joined outside of the Debate venue by workers and organizers for #Fightfor15 as well as #BlackLivesMatter supporters.
— Progress Illinois (@progressIL) September 9, 2016
— Jitu Brown (@brothajitu) September 24, 2016
Absent a major upset by one of the third party candidates, one of the two candidates on stage tonight will become the next President. What remains clear, is we the people need to stay on the case and demand meaningful change and sustainable action.