By Richard Valdmanis
BOSTON (Reuters) - Potential Democratic presidential contender Hillary Clinton said on Thursday she was pleased the U.S. Department of Justice was investigating the recent deaths of unarmed black men in incidents with police.
U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder said on Wednesday the Department of Justice would launch a civil rights investigation into the chokehold death of Eric Garner in the New York City borough of Staten Island in July.
There is also a federal probe into the fatal shooting of Michael Brown by a white policeman in Ferguson, Missouri, in August. Grand juries in both cases decided not to indict the officers involved, sparking protests.
"Our hearts are breaking, and we are asking ourselves: 'Aren’t these our sons, aren’t these our brothers?'" Clinton told the Massachusetts Conference for Women in Boston.
"I’m very pleased the Department of Justice will be investigating what happened in Ferguson, what happened in Staten Island. Those families, those communities, and the country, deserve a full and fair accounting as well as whatever substantive reforms are necessary to ensure equality, justice and respect for every citizen."
She said the events in Ferguson and Staten Island highlighted "some hard truths about race and justice in America."
“Despite all the progress that we have made together, African-Americans, particularly African-American men, are still more likely to be stopped and searched by police, charged with a crime, and serve longer prison terms.”
"I personally hope these tragedies give us an opportunity to come together to find balance again," she said.
Clinton, who lost the Democratic presidential nomination in 2008 to Barack Obama and served as his secretary of state from 2009 to 2013, is considered her party's front-runner if she runs again for the White House. She has said she will make up her mind early next year.
(Writing by Richard Valdmanis; Editing by Peter Cooney)