New York Times
March 4, 2000

Mrs. Clinton Speaks Out Against Police Misconduct


In remarks leading up to what her aides say will be a major policy statement on police conduct and the Diallo case tomorrow, Hillary Rodham Clinton said yesterday that New York City "obviously has a problem when an innocent, unarmed man is gunned down."

Mrs. Clinton said she had been in contact with several members of the clergy, business executives and political leaders in the city in recent days "who share my concern about creating a better climate where we can all feel both protected and respected."

"I am very confident we can decrease the crime rate and increase the trust rate," she said. Without referring directly to either the police shooting of Amadou Diallo last year or that of Malcolm Ferguson on Wednesday, she said, "We must take steps to assure that this sort of incident never happens again." She said she would speak in greater detail about police brutality tomorrow at Riverside Church.

Mrs. Clinton's remarks to reporters at a sidewalk press conference in Manhattan, following a meeting she held privately with the founders of a gun control advocacy group, appeared calculated to convey a more critical stance on police brutality than that taken by Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani, her opponent in the race for the United States Senate.

"How can I say it won't happen again?" the mayor said on Thursday in the aftermath of the Ferguson shooting. He added: "When we cure drug dealing, significant violent crime, then this won't happen again."

Mrs. Clinton said yesterday that she was an enthusiastic supporter of the gun control advocacy group called Pax, which was founded two years ago, after a shooting atop the Empire State Building left one man dead and six other people injured. Matthew Gross, who was injured in the shooting, and his brother, Daniel, are among Pax's founders.

Mrs. Clinton praised the group for its campaign urging adults to ask their neighbors, and children to ask their parents, if they own guns, as the first step in keeping them out of the hands of children.

Mrs. Clinton took the same message to elementary school students in Rockland County on Wednesday, and Daniel Gross said after yesterday's meeting that she had offered her own services, as well as those of President Clinton, in making public service announcements to advance the Pax campaign.

Mrs. Clinton also responded briefly to what turned out to be a short-lived public relations flare-up for Police Commissioner Howard Safir, who was quoted in yesterday's Newsday as referring to the "murder" of Amadou Diallo. However, a police recording of his comments, made available yesterday, showed that he said "verdict," not "murder."

In January, Mrs. Clinton was roundly criticized when she referred to the "murder of Amadou Diallo" at a Martin Luther King's Birthday celebration, long before the four police officers were acquitted in his death. Whether she was aware of the corrected record was unclear, but Mrs. Clinton said yesterday that the incident "just goes to show how any of us can make a misstatement."

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