Former President Bill ClintonWilliam (Bill) Jefferson ClintonWhat did the Founders most fear about impeachment? The Hill's Morning Report - Tempers boil over at the White House Chelsea Clinton says she's not considering a bid for New York House seat MORE repeatedly defended himself from criticism about his support of his controversial crime bill from a series of protestors during a rally for his wife’s presidential campaign. 

The protestors interrupted the president’s stump speech, shouting criticism of his support of the 1994 crime bill that raised mandatory minimum sentences, with one holding up a sign that said “Clinton crime bill destroyed our communities.” 

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Clinton pivoted away from his typical stump speech and launched into a series of arguments about ways the crime bill did help the black community.

"You are defending the people who killed the lives you say matter," a visibly heated Clinton exclaimed. "Tell the truth."

In 1994, he said, “I talked to a bunch of African-American groups -- they think black lives matter. [The groups said] to take this bill because people are being shot in the street by gangs. We had 13-year-old kids planning their own funerals,”  Clinton said. 

“Whose lives were saved that mattered?” 

He went on to highlight other provisions of the crime bill — the assault weapons ban, money for after-school programs for inner-city children and funding for additional police officers that Clinton said reduced the need for police to bring in "militarized" equipment.

Clinton also criticized the protestors by accusing them of overlooking the positives that came from the crime bill.  

"See these other signs? I don't know how you would characterize the gang leaders who got 13-year olds-hopped on crack and sent them out in the street to murder other African-American children. Maybe you thought they were good citizens. She didn't," Clinton said to the protestors. 
 
 
President Clinton at times noteed when Hillary Clinton worked on civil rights reform, such as her work with disadvantaged children and on cataloging discrimination in an Alabama school.  

Clinton paused at times to let the protestors speak, but they did not relent and continued shouting in the background as the former president continued. 

“I listened to them. They don’t want to listen to me. You never learn anything when you are talking,” he said of the protestors. 

“You can trust them, or you can trust Congressman John Lewis, one of the last remaining heroes of the civil rights movement.”