On Wednesday, Republican Senator Tim Scott gave a moving floor speech describing his personal history of being targeted by law enforcement as a black man, from the first time he was pulled over by police to an encounter with an officer on Capitol Hill just past year.
Scott, a U.S. Senator from SC, described being stopped by officers seven times in one year as an elected official. He chose to speak out after the violent shootings of two black men by white police officers in Baton Rouge, La. and St. Paul, Minn., were followed by a retaliatory ambush that left five officers dead in Dallas.
Video footage of that second speech has gone viral, with fellow lawmakers taking to social media to praise Scott for his candid remarks and thanking him for drawing a different perspective to their attention.
Before sharing his relationship and experiences to law enforcement as a black man, as well as the experiences of other black men in his life, Scott talked about some of the black men who have been killed by police.
He’s given a series of speeches this week about how to bridge the gap between black communities and law enforcement, stressing that he’s hopeful the country can overcome current tensions.
“I think Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., said it so well: “Returning violence with violence only leads to more violence and to even darker nights” – nights (to paraphrase) without stars”. He also recalled a story of how a staffer opted to sell his new auto because he was frustrated with the number of times he was getting pulled over. “And I broke, when I heard the four-year-old daughter of Philando Castile’s girlfriend tell her mother ‘It’s ok, I’m right here with you, ‘” he said.
Scott said that one of his black staffers in Washington, D.C., got so exhausted of being pulled over in his nice auto that he sold it. “You, I don’t”, the officer said at the time. “The officer approached the vehicle and said that I did not – I did not use my turn signal on the fourth turn”, Scott said.
After detailing another driving incident where he was accused of driving a stolen vehicle, Scott shared the story of an officer who did not believe he was a congressman, even with his identifiable pin. “My grandfather’s grandson, and yours truly as a United States senator, my brother, another grandson, rose to the rank of command sergeant major in the United States Army”.
Ultimately, Scott said healing in our nation starts at a human level.
That was at least the third phone call Scott has received from a supervisor or chief of police since becoming a senator, he noted.
“There’s never, ever an acceptable reason to harm a member of our law enforcement”, he said in his floor speech.
A day after his frank speech about the frustrations of being targeted by police as an African American man made national headlines, Sen.
“Recognize that just because you do not feel the pain, the anguish of another does not mean it does not exist”. To ignore their struggles, our struggles, does not make them disappear.