CHICAGO (CNN) — Hillary Clinton met Monday with a collection of parents whose African-American children have died in shootings at a local Chicago cafe, discussing their loss and outlining her criminal justice reform and gun control plans.
The two-hour gathering included the mothers of Trayvon Martin, Jordan Davis, Michael Brown and Tamir Rice. All African-American women who lost their young children in shootings, the group formed a “motherhood” in the wake of their losses.
Martin was the 17-year-old Floridian who was killed in 2012 by former neighborhood watch captain George Zimmerman. Zimmerman’s acquittal sparked protests across the country. Davis was a 17-year-old African-American high school student killed in a 2014 shooting that started with a complaint about loud music. Brown was the 18-year-old African-American killed in 2014 by a white police officer in Ferguson, Missouri. And Rice was the 12-year-old African-American killed by police in Cleveland, Ohio.
According to the women, Clinton did not make any explicit promises to them, but did pledge to stay engaged in their causes and work on criminal justice reform. All of them women described the meeting as productive and said Clinton appeared earnest and trustworthy.
“She is a mother and she is a woman and I felt she understood where we were coming from,” said Samaria Rice, mother of Tamir Rice. “It doesn’t matter what color we are, I felt that she really understand where we are coming from.”
Fulton, Martin’s mother, said the meeting with Clinton was “powerful” and “productive.”
“It was a very powerful meeting, it was very powerful,” she said.
Clinton tweeted about the meeting afterward, saying that she was “grateful to spend time today with mothers who have lost a child to violence and turned their grief into a national call to action.”
Also in attendance was Maria Hamilton, the mother of Dontre Hamilton, a mentally ill man who died after being shot more than a dozen times in Milwaukee in 2014.
“I think that it was very productive,” Hamilton said after the gathering. “I think that all the work that the mothers are doing on behalf of our loved ones, it is working. People are asking to hear our stories. People are asking to find out what kind of legislation and policies we are changing.”
She added: “We are hoping that her being a mother, being a grandmother that once she gets in office (she) can be effective to help all people, not just the black people, Hispanic people, everybody.”
Lesley McSpadden, Brown’s mother, said Clinton heard what the group had to say and that they listened to her, too.
“I look forward to what is underway,” she said.
The meeting — which comes during Clinton’s push for criminal justice reform — was held at Sweet Maple Cafe, a small breakfast and lunch establishment in Chicago’s University Village.
Sybrina Fulton, Trayvon Martin’s mother, said the meeting with Clinton was productive.
“It was a very powerful meeting, it was powerful,” she said on camera before heading to the airport.
Rep. Bobby Rush, a longtime Chicago congressman, was seen leaving the cafe shortly after the meeting got underway.
Clinton is in the Windy City on Monday for three fundraisers.
A series shootings involving African-American men have spurred a string of protests over the last three years, largely starting with the Martin’s killing in 2012. Those protests have evolved into the Black Lives Matter movement, a coalition of organizations that look to hold politicians accountable for the killings of African-Americans at the hands of law enforcement.
Clinton has been protested by the group twice during her presidential campaign, most recently at the kick off event for African-Americans for Hillary late last month in Atlanta.
The protesters began chanting “black lives matter” a few minutes into her speech. At first, the former secretary of state acknowledged them.
“Yes, they do and I’m gonna talk a lot about that in a minute,” she said. She then tried ignoring the protesters, shouting her remarks over the chants.
During the speech, Clinton said — as president — she would ban racial profiling and make it easier for people who have served their jail sentences to get work.
“It’s important to say out loud what I am saying because I believe all Americans, especially those of us with privilege and power have a responsibility to face these facts and we need to do a better job not assuming that our experiences are everyone else’s,” Clinton said. “And we need all of us to try walking into one another’s shoes.”
Clinton has also been outspoken on gun control, pledging earlier this year to close background check loopholes and allow victims to sue gun manufacturers, and racial disparities in policing.
“There is something profoundly wrong,” Clinton said in April during her first speech as a candidate. “When African-American men are still far more likely to be stopped and searched by police, charged with crimes and sentenced to longer prison terms than are meted out to their white counterparts.”