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Hillary Clinton Campaign Press Release - Hillary Clinton Sat Down With Women Whose Children Have Been Killed, Including the Mothers of Eric Garner and Dontre Hamilton

November 06, 2015

Here's what they talked about, mother to mother.

For Gwen Carr and Maria Hamilton, reforming our criminal justice system is deeply personal.

Carr's son, Eric Garner, suffocated in police custody. Hamilton's son, Dontre, was shot 14 times. Both men were unarmed.

Carr and Hamilton have united with other mothers whose children have been killed, and together, they've turned their grief into a sweeping effort to reform our criminal justice system. Hillary traveled to Chicago to sit down with a group of these mothers to hear about their experiences and ideas. Afterward, Hillary and the mothers learned that a young child had been shot and killed just miles away—further underscoring the urgent need to take on the epidemic of violence that is devastating communities across the country.

We spoke with Carr and Hamilton after their meeting with Hillary.

Q. What was Dontre like?

Maria Hamilton: Dontre had the most beautiful smile. He loved his family. Fifteen minutes before he died, he called his brother, checking on me, to make sure that I was OK, to see if I had cooked. So I miss his presence, but I feel his spirit.

Q. If Eric was here today, what would you want him to know?

Gwen Carr: I will always be with him and for him until justice is served.

Q. Why is criminal justice reform so important to you?

GC: It became important to me since my son [Eric] died, because I have seen nothing yet. No accountability. They didn't indict the man who killed my son. It never even got to court. That day he was not committing any crime; he did not have a weapon. He was targeted.

I was at work when I started to hear about it, and when I got home and found out that my son had been murdered by police, it just took everything out of me. It went deep. They stole my heart; they ripped it out. I mean, my soul was crushed. He was my firstborn, and he didn't deserve that. And that day, I will never ever forget as long as I live.

Q. Maria, can you tell me your story?

MH: Dontre was 31 years old. Dontre went to go and rest in a park on a beautiful, sunny day, and his life was taken for being in that park. He made a manager at Starbucks uncomfortable with his presence, and she called the police to have him removed from the park. And he was beaten and shot 14 times. Broad daylight. We had 60 witnesses.

The district attorney decided not to indict. The Justice Department picked it up the same day at 3 p.m., December 23, two days before Christmas, and I still haven't gotten a response back.

It's been 22 months since I buried my son for just going to a park.

Q. How does it feel that you still have no answer?

MH: No mom should ever have to bury her son in this kind of tragedy. So we're going to continue to fight. We're going to continue to change laws. We're going to continue to challenge the people that take the offices and the seats to protect and serve this community.

Q. Why is criminal justice reform so urgent?

GC: These police officers that are getting away with murder, literally, have to stand accountable for their misconduct. And the only way that's going to happen is if their superiors make them stand accountable. Because it has to start from the top.

MH: Everybody needs to be accountable for their actions.


Q. A lot of the mothers [at today's meeting] spoke about how they didn't choose to be in this fight.

GC: No, we didn't.

But you're in it.

GC: If we let it go to the backburner, it will die and get swept under the rug like so many other cases. And we can't let it.

We have to keep our sons' legacies alive and keep reminding people that they died, and why they died, and that this should not happen again.

Q. What does it mean to you that Hillary is addressing these issues?

MH: When I first met Hillary, I felt her sympathy, and that's more than what I got from my governor. So it was warming to know that she wasn't just one of our leaders, she wasn't just a candidate running for president. She showed up as woman who's in a position to make real change, and she's taking an effort to see what's needed.

GC:?To me, it means that we now have a candidate that's paying attention. Because none of the other candidates have reached out to us in any way. And we need someone who's going to look at what we need. We need someone that's going to bring something to the table that's going to benefit us as a people. Because we don't just want someone in the White House that's gonna have a title. We need to resolve issues.


Q. What's one thing you want people to know about you and your family?

GC: That we are going to stand for justice. As long as we live, we are going to be out there, not only for our family and Eric, but for everyone. The nameless. The hopeless. The voiceless. We're going to be out there on the forefront. I was thrown into this, but I'm going to stay the course.

MH: We're fighters. And we're going to fight until we get some real change. I'm already working with my grandkids, I'm telling them, I'm allowing them to see what we're going through. So when they get to be adults, they'll know the justice system.

Q. How do you feel coming away from the meeting?

GC: I feel confident that if Hillary gets into office, we will have a fairer playing ground. And we'll try to make it happen for her. So, the meeting was positive.

MH: We're hoping that we can partner with Hillary to get some true change for all people. It's needed.

Grateful to spend time today with mothers who have lost a child to violence and turned their grief into a national call to action. -H— Hillary Clinton (@HillaryClinton) November 3, 2015

Hillary Clinton, Hillary Clinton Campaign Press Release - Hillary Clinton Sat Down With Women Whose Children Have Been Killed, Including the Mothers of Eric Garner and Dontre Hamilton Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/316966

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