In a 30-minute-long suite of remarks devoted to the need for criminal justice reform at last night’s Democratic convention, one speaker after another demonstrated how expertly the Clinton operation has honed its messaging on both guns and police brutality, says Slate. President Obama’s former attorney general, Eric Holder, took pains to emphasize that even people convinced there is something rotten in law enforcement must hold police officers in the highest esteem and take seriously their contribution to society. The levelheadedness continued with Pittsburgh Police Chief Cameron McLay, who unequivocally asserted the existence of a “crisis of trust” between police and citizens while testifying to the sense of siege that many in the law enforcement community are feeling after the shootings in Dallas and Baton Rouge.
The main event was the appearance of seven women who have lost children to police and gun violence. It was here that the political strategy informing Clinton’s platform on criminal justice seemed most apparent, Slate says. Giving such a high-profile speaking slot to the so-called “Mothers of the Movement” was a clear signal to the party faithful that the Democratic establishment is concerned about police and gun violence, and it drew a contrast with the Republicans’ law-and-order-heavy proceedings in Cleveland. Of the three women who spoke—the mothers of Sandra Bland, Trayvon Martin, and Jordan Davis—none told of murderous police officers: In Bland’s case, the cause of death was suicide; Martin was the victim of a vigilante; Davis of a civilian at a gas station. Women onstage whose children had been killed by police remained in the background. As a result, Clinton’s support for the Black Lives Matter movement was plainly communicated but no police officers were explicitly criticized, and no one incident was saddled with the burden of being a “perfect” parable for the issue at hand. Perhaps the savviest aspect of the segment was that the Clinton campaign combined—and blurred together—the issues of police violence and gun control.