Mothers of slain black Americans — including several young people killed in police-involved violence — made an emotional appeal Tuesday night to voters to elect Hillary Clinton, who they said would disrupt the pattern of senseless death and heal the divide between police and community.
The nine women, dubbed the “Mothers of the Movement,” took and left the stage at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia to chants of “Black Lives Matter” from the audience of delegates and party members.
They included Gwen Carr, the mother of Eric Garner, 43, of Staten Island, killed by a police officer two years ago in what the medical examiner said was a prohibited chokehold; and Lezley McSpadden, the mother of Michael Brown, 18, of Ferguson, Missouri, who was fatally shot by a police officer also two years ago.
Clinton is “a leader and a mother who will say our children’s names,” said Geneva Reed-Veal, the mother of Sandra Bland, a 28-year-old woman who died last year in police custody in Texas. “Hillary knows that when a young black life is cut short, it’s not just a personal loss. It is a national loss. It is a loss that diminishes all of us.”
Their appearance came amid a night focused on social justice.
Sybrina Fulton, the mother of Trayvon Martin, an unarmed 17-year-old shot and killed in 2012 by a Florida neighborhood watch member, said Clinton has her support because she would push “common-sense” gun control legislation.
“This isn’t about being politically correct, this is about saving our children,” Fulton said.
Lucia McBath, the mother of Jordan Davis, who was fatally shot in 2012 during a dispute in Florida over his loud music, said she had warned her 17-year-old son that he would “meet people who didn’t value him or his life” because he was black. But McBath stressed in her remarks that she does not fault the nation’s police officers.
“The majority of police officers are good people doing a good job,” McBath said, adding that mothers will use their voices and their votes to ensure leaders such as Clinton are elected so “that this club of heartbroken mothers stops growing.”
The mothers’ remarks were preceded by a video that showed their November meeting with Clinton, in which the Democratic presidential nominee said she would band with them to create a “constant drumbeat” for justice.
Philadelphia’s police union had taken issue with the inclusion of the “Mothers of the Movement” in the convention lineup without the scheduling of speakers who are widows and relatives of slain police officers.
“It is sad that to win an election Mrs. Clinton must pander to the interests of people who do not know all the facts, while the men and women they seek to destroy are outside protecting the political institutions of this country,” the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 5 wrote in a statement last week.