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US Elections 2016: Bill Clinton defends Hillary, confronts protesters who claim his crime reforms hurt blacks

Washington: Former President Bill Clinton on Thursday confronted protesters who claimed that his 1994 crime reforms hurt black Americans.

The former president also defended the record of his wife, Hillary Clinton, who is hoping to get good support from black voters in her race for the president's post.

Clinton spent over 10 minutes confronting the protesters at a campaign rally in Philadelphia for his wife over criticisms that the crime bill approved by him led to a surge in the imprisonment of black people.

The Democratic race for the upcoming election in November has become quite intense as Hillary Clinton has slammed her rival for the party's nomination, U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders, over who is better prepared for the White House.

In Philadelphia, Clinton was heckled by several protesters while he was delivering his speech. The protesters held up signs, including one that read: "CLINTON Crime Bill Destroyed Our Communities."

The video footage of Hillary Clinton defending the reforms when it was passed in 1994 has been widely circulated during the campaign by activists in the Black Lives Matter protest movement. In the footage, she calls young people in gangs "super-predators" who need to "be brought to heel." The 68-year-old former first lady has also faced angry protests for her remarks and she said in February she regretted her language.

Bill Clinton, 69, was president from 1993 to 2001. On Thursday, he defended Hillary's 1994 remarks and said: "I don't know how you would characterize the gang leaders who got 13-year-old kids hopped on crack and sent them out on the street to murder other African-American children. Maybe you thought they were good citizens. She (Hillary Clinton) didn't."

"You are defending the people who kill the lives you say matter," he told a protester. "Tell the truth."