Hoping to energize the voter coalition that elected and re-elected Barack Obama, Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton returned to Charlotte Sunday to offer support and a listening ear to an African-American community that’s hurting and angry following the police shooting death of Keith Lamont Scott.
Clinton’s first stop was Little Rock AME Zion, a historic black church where nearly 400 congregants at the 11 a.m. service appeared surprised and buoyed by the appearance – unannounced ahead of time – of their “special guest,” as Pastor Dwayne Walker described her.
Standing at the pulpit, Clinton mixed Bible verses with headlines about black men who have been shot by police and others in recent years – including Scott, whose death sparked days of nationally televised protest, some of it violent, in uptown Charlotte.
“It has been 12 days since Mr. Scott was shot and killed. Twelve days since his wife, Rakeyia Scott, watched her husband die, and seven children lost their father,” Clinton said. “We don’t yet know all the details about the shooting, but we do know this community and this family is in pain.”
Clinton also spoke about the killings of police in Dallas and Baton Rouge and Philadelphia. “The families of fallen officers have been dealt a great blow, and they deserve our prayers as well,” she said, drawing murmurs of approval from the pews.
The day’s emotional peak came when Clinton talked about the toll on children and invited Zianna Oliphant to join her up front. Zianna, 9, is a fourth-grader who spoke tearfully at last week’s City Council meeting about black children losing their fathers and mothers.
Clinton put her arm around the girl and held her close as she spoke. Zianna “should be thinking about happy adventures,” Clinton said, but “instead, she’s talking about graveyards.”
Clinton had planned to be in Charlotte a week ago but postponed her visit after Mayor Jennifer Roberts asked that she delay the trip in the aftermath of the Scott police shooting on Sept. 20.