It was the message heard throughout Cincinnati on Monday, from activists on Fountain Square to the crowded hall of the NAACP Annual Convention where presumptive Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton spoke to an audience who held signs that said, “A man was lynched yesterday,” in their laps.
— Libby Cunningham (@WCPOLibby) July 18, 2016
Clinton spoke to some 3,000 people at the Duke Energy Convention Center just a day after the latest violence in Baton Rouge that left three law enforcement officers shot dead and three others wounded.
“At times like these we need a president who will pull us together and not split us apart,” Clinton said. “The Republican nominee for president will do the exact opposite. He might say otherwise if he were here, but of course he declined your invitation.”
Clinton took many swipes at Republican presumptive presidential nominee Donald Trump, who was invited to speak at the NAACP, but declined. She accused him of demeaning women, playing coy with white supremacists, insulting Hispanics and forbidding the rental of his New York apartments to blacks in 1973.
“Donald Trump cannot become the president of the United States,” Clinton said. “It’s not just a huge loss for our democracy, it is a threat to our democracy … That’s why we have to work to get the vote out this fall.”
She announced a nationwide drive to register 3 million people. Her campaign is hosting more than 500 registration events this week across the country, from minor league baseball games to barbershops.
The crowd gave several standing ovations to Clinton, especially when she spoke about massive criminal justice reform. But she also spoke passionately about the police officers who have been killed in recent shootings.
“Empathy works both ways,” Clinton said. “We’ve got to try to see the world through their eyes too.”
Before she took the stage, Cornell William Brooks, president and CEO of the NAACP, urged the crowd to remember that people had died for the right to vote. He lamented, “One out of every four eligible voters has not yet registered to vote.”
He urged Clinton and Trump to sign a pledge for criminal justice reform within the first 100 days in office.
“We are in the midst of a lynching crisis,” Brooks said.
The NAACP is asking for five changes, including the creation of a federal independent review board to investigate the shooting of unarmed civilians and a federal code of conduct for local law enforcement on use of force.
Clinton said she would start working on criminal justice reform “on day one and every day after that.”
After speaking at the NAACP, Clinton traveled to the University of Cincinnati, where she met with campaign volunteers at the Dieterle Vocal Arts Center.
Meanwhile voting was also a topic on Fountain Square, where Clinton’s speech was shown by simulcast.
“The millennials have the capacity to outvote baby boomers, but only if they get excited and turn out to vote,” said David Miller, spokesman for NextGen Climate Ohio, which sponsored the simulcast.
The group plans to make 60 to 70 visits at college campuses across Ohio until November. They are using Pokemon Go lures as way to reach millennials and register them to vote.
“Millennials care very deeply about climate issues and we want to capture that. … we want to ensure that millennial voters have their voices heard,” Miller said.