WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton said Tuesday that violence and looting in the city of Baltimore following the funeral of a young black man who died after suffering injuries while in police custody are evidence of a broken system.
“It is heartbreaking ... the tragic death of another young, African-American man, the injuries to police officers, the burning of people’s homes and small businesses,” Clinton told supporters at a New York fundraiser.
“We have to restore order and security, but then we have to take a hard look as to what we need to do to reform our system,” Clinton said, according to a Wall Street Journal reporter’s account circulated to the media.
Clinton said she will discuss how the United States should reform the criminal justice system during a scheduled appearance at Columbia University on Wednesday.
Clinton, a former secretary of state, U.S. senator and first lady, launched her presidential campaign earlier this month. She is currently the only declared Democratic candidate and considered the strong favorite for her party’s nomination.
Republicans eyeing the White House in November 2016 also weighed in on the violence that erupted in Baltimore, which is located less than an hour’s drive from Washington, D.C., after 25-year-old Freddie Gray died last week from a spinal injury sustained while in police custody.
Both former Florida Governor Jeb Bush, who is openly considering a presidential run, and Senator Ted Cruz of Texas, who has launched his presidential campaign, called for investigations into Gray’s death.
Bush, speaking at a town hall in Puerto Rico, said state and local officials should investigate the circumstances of Gray’s death as quickly as possible.
“In the meantime the governor and the mayor need to protect law-abiding citizens,” Bush said.
Cruz said in a statement that Gray’s death should be “thoroughly and impartially investigated.”
Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky, a libertarian who launched his bid for the Republican nomination by condemning the “Washington machine that gobbles up our freedoms,” said answers to the violence in Baltimore have to be found locally.
He called the Baltimore violence a symbol of the “breakdown of the family structure, the lack of fathers, the lack of sort of a moral code.”
Speaking on a conservative radio program on the violence prompted by Gray’s death, he said: “I don’t know if there is an answer from the federal government. It’s obviously a local problem, primarily.”
Paul had called for the demilitarizationm of local police forces after the fatal shooting of an unarmed black man, 18-year-old Michael Brown, by a white police officer in Ferguson, Missouri, last year.
Reporting by Amanda Becker; Additional reporting by Steve Holland; Editing by Leslie Adler