ANKENY, IA - AUGUST 26: Democratic presidential candidate and former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton speaks to guests gathered for a campaign event on the campus of Des Moines Area Community College on August 26, 2015 in Ankeny, Iowa. A recent poll has Clinton leading all other Democratic contenders in Iowa by about 30 percentage points. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
Photo: Scott Olson
Photo: Scott Olson

Clinton draws ire for response to protests at Trump's Chicago rally

Hillary Clinton's recent condemnation of violence at a rally held by GOP rival Donald Trump in Chicago has drawn criticism from detractors who claim her statement fell far short of its mark.

Fights broke out ahead of the planned rally Friday, forcing Trump to cancel the event. The violence appeared to be racially charged. Video from the event showed mobs of people throwing items and punches while waiting for the rally to start.

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In response, Clinton released a statement Friday calling on Americans to "say loudly and clearly that violence has no place in politics."

"We should use our words and deeds to bring Americans together," the former secretary of state said. "The divisive rhetoric we are seeing should be of grave concern to us all. We all have our differences, and we know many people across the country feel angry. We need to address that anger together."

She went on to invoke Charleston, South Carolina, where Dylann Roof, a white man, killed nine people in a shooting at Emanual African Methodist Episcopal Church in June 2015.

"The families of those victims came together and melted hearts in the statehouse and the confederate flag came down," she said. "That should be the model we strive for to overcome painful divisions in our country."

The statement -- and Clinton's unexpected link to the Charleston shooting -- drew ire on social media.

"Problematic use of Charleston," wrote Chad Williams, associate professor and chair of African and Afro-American Studies at Brandeis University. "Why is racial healing always dependent on black forgiveness?"

Others argued that her statement had a hypocritical edge to it or said nothing at all.

Despite the violence, Trump has appeared generally unfazed by recent events, which he's blamed on Democratic presidential hopeful Sen. Bernie Sanders.

At a rally in Illinois, Trump claimed the media was also to blame for covering the violent disruptions and those injured were violent themselves.

"Guess what happened?" he said. "Our people started swinging back."

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