Former President Bill Clinton, campaigning for his wife in a final push before Election Day, was greeted by protesters at UNCG, who unfurled a banner and chanted, “You have blood on your hands,” “Black lives matter,” and, “Shame.”
The chants began about a minute into the speech as soon as the former president concluded obligatory remarks thanking local officials. As a handful of protesters with the anti-capitalist, anti-racist campus organization Defund Racism chanted, Clinton forged ahead with his speech, making a point about Republican Sen. Richard Burr’s pledge to ensure that the ninth Supreme Court seat remains vacant if Hillary Clinton wins tomorrow’s election. The protesters were eventually removed from the area after about a minute and a half.
The protesters’ banner expressed support for the Standing Rock Sioux and allies who are attempting to block the Dakota Access Pipeline. Lucia Sedda, a UNCG sophomore who participated in the protest, said the protesters’ other aim was “to hold Bill Clinton accountable for the crime bill that ties in with the problem of mass incarceration of black and brown people today.”
Sedda added, “We think Hillary, who supported the crime bill, her husband, and has called black people “super predators, should be held accountable just like any other politician.”
Clinton framed the election as a moment of national peril, but also an opportunity for the United States to enter a period of new growth.
“America is the best positioned country in the world for the 21st Century,” he said. “We can lead the whole world away from all this madness, this religious hatred, this racial hatred, this killing people who disagree with us, to a new era of prosperity — shared prosperity!”
Without acknowledging the protesters, the former president portrayed his wife as an anti-poverty worker and racial justice activist, saying that she has proven her ability to serve as president.
“I think Hillary has proven by enduring what she has endured that she’s strong enough to be president,” he said. “I think she has proved by achieving what she has achieved in every single role of life, when she walked out of law school and walked away from the big money and walked into South Carolina to get African-American teenagers out of prison as adults, walked to south Texas to give long-excluded Mexican Americans the right to vote, walked into Alabama to shut down those illegal private academies falsely claiming tax credits to run segregated schools, walked up into the mountains in the Ozarks to give poor working people the first access to legal services they ever had. From that day to this, every single job she ever had she tried to find a way for us all to rise together.”
Clinton concluded his 10-minute speech by saying, “North Carolina represents the future of America, and, God willing, the future of the world. North Carolina will not give into anger, it will choose answers. It will not give into resentment; it will choose empowerment, and it will choose stronger together. God bless you. Go get those votes out.”
Warming up for Clinton, former US Sen. Kay Hagan got loud cheers when she emphasized the importance of electing Hillary Clinton to appointing Supreme Court justices who up will protect “women’s reproductive rights.”
Riham Ahmed, a freshman at UNCG, said she was casting her ballot for Clinton in her first election because “she’s intelligent and well experienced.”
She added that she fears the consequences if Republican nominee Donald Trump is elected instead.
“I think it’s really sad about how misleading he is about the Muslim community,” she said.