"Selma" director Ava DuVernay says Republicans are to blame for a 1994 crime bill blamed for driving mass incarceration.
DuVernay, who just wrapped up "The 13th," a documentary about systemic racism and the oppression of African Americans in the United States, spoke at length in an interview published Tuesday by The Cut about the reasons a disproportionate amount of black males end up in prison. The director said the 1994 Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act, which many have argued accelerated mass incarceration, was the fault of a pro-law and order political climate pushed by the GOP.
"That crime bill was a direct result of the Republican administrations before it," DuVernay said. "It was overreach triggered by other, previous overreaching. Many of the analysts that we talked to for the documentary pointed out that you couldn’t run without running on crime. And you had to be tougher than the next guy, so you get this bill that the president apologizes for a couple decades later."
DuVernay, who will be the first African American woman to helm a $100 million movie with her upcoming adaptation of Madeleine L'Engle's fantasy novel "A Wrinkle In Time," did not let Democratic President Bill Clinton, who signed the 1994 crime bill, off the hook. She said the bill has affected his legacy.
"[I thought that] he was a cool dude. I was in college and saw him playing the sax on 'Arsenio' and that was about it at that point," DuVernay said when asked her opinion of Clinton when he was first elected. "So much in presidential politics is about the pop-culture presentation of who you are. And Clinton was sold to me as the 'first black president.'
Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has faced alleged guilt by association from critics as a result of her husband's crime bill. At the time, she campaigned on behalf of the bill's passing and made a now controversial reference to African-American "super predators" in the drug trade. Donald Trump's campaign plans to use the bill as an attack line against Clinton and as an opportunity to peel some African-American support away from Democratic party.
DuVernay said she cannot be swayed that Trump would be a better alternative for black Americans. When asked about what her goals were for the upcoming election, DuVernay was unequivocal: "Making sure Trump’s not elected, by any means necessary."