Tim Scott delivered a powerful and deeply personal speech from the Senate floor on Wednesday in which he detailed how, even inside the Capitol building, the relationship between law enforcement and the black community can be strained.
The South Carolina senator spoke of multiple instances in which he felt he had been unfairly targeted by police because of the color of his skin, including one encounter with the U.S. Capitol Police. Scott, who is black, said that as recently as last year he was stopped by a Capitol Police officer who did not recognize him as a senator even though he was wearing his member’s pin.
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“The pin, I know. You, I don’t,” Scott recalled the officer saying with “a little attitude.” Scott said the tone of the encounter suggested that the officer believed he was impersonating a senator.
The South Carolina Republican said he received a call later that evening from a Capitol Police supervisor apologizing for the officer’s behavior. It was the third such call he has received from either the chief of the Capitol Police or a supervisor since joining the Senate in 2013, he said.
Scott said that in the course of one year as an elected official, he was stopped seven times by law enforcement. And while in some of those instances he was speeding, Scott said the “vast majority” of those encounters were the result of “nothing more than driving a new car in the wrong neighborhood or some other reason just as trivial.”
Scott’s remarks punctuate a particularly raw period in the nation, after two black men were fatally shot by police in separate incidents in Louisiana and Minnesota last week. Also last week, during a peaceful protest in Dallas, a gunman opened fire on police, killing five officers and wounding nine others.
During his speech, Scott also shared the story of a former staffer of his who drove a Chrysler 300, “a nice car without any question, but not a Ferrari.” The staffer wound up selling that car out of frustration after being pulled over too often in Washington, D.C., “for absolutely no reason other than for driving a nice car.” He told a similar story of his brother, a command sergeant major in the U.S. Army, who was pulled over by an officer suspicious that the car Scott’s brother was driving was stolen because it was a Volvo.
“I have felt the anger, the frustration, the sadness and the humiliation that comes with feeling like you’re being targeted for nothing more than being just yourself,” Scott said.
None of the encounters, Scott said, or others like them, should lead anyone to feel it necessary to break the law. Nor should it cloud the respect the public should rightly feel for law enforcement officers “who go beyond the call of duty.” But Scott pleaded in his remarks that the issues African-Americans face in dealing with law enforcement not be ignored.
“I simply ask you this: Recognize that just because you do not feel the pain, the anguish of another, does not mean it does not exist,” he said. “To ignore their struggles, our struggles, does not make them disappear. It will simply leave you blind and the American family very vulnerable.”
Read more: http://www.politico.com/story/2016/07/tim-scott-capitol-racism-senate-225507#ixzz4HWCb3jOg