Sunday Commentary: Will Skeptics Listen to Black Republican Senator on Racial Profiling?

Scott-Senator

There are those who have dismissed claims of disparate treatment of blacks by the police, arguing that this is largely an election year ploy to curry favor by Democrats.  That of course ignores the fact that, until the last two years or so, Democrats have largely ignored issues of racial profiling.

That said, it will be much harder for those defenders of the police to dismiss the claims of South Carolina Senator Tim Scott – who currently is the only black Republican Senator.

During a remarkably personal address on Wednesday, he spoke about the fact that, during the course of his first year in office, he had been stopped seven times by police and, during another incident, the Capitol Police demanded he show his ID because his US Senator Pin was not enough.

“This speech is perhaps the most difficult, because it’s the most personal,” Senator Scott said as he addressed the state of law enforcement in the aftermath of the police shootings of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile, and also the shooting of five police officers.

“There is a deep divide between the black community and law enforcement ― a trust gap,” Senator Scott said. “We cannot ignore these issues. Because while so many officers do good ― and we should be very thankful in support of all those officers that do good ― some simply do not. I’ve experienced it myself.”

He spoke out on these encounters, experiences he said which left him humiliated and very scared because he has heard people attempting to paint Philando Castile and Walter Scott as criminals.

“I shuddered when I heard Eric Garner say ‘I cannot breathe.’ I wept when I watched Walter Scott turn and run away and get shot and killed. And I broke when I heard the 4-year-old daughter of Philando Castile’s girlfriend tell her mother, ‘It’s OK, I’m right here with you,’” he said.

This isn’t Al Sharpton, a bleeding heart liberal speaking.  This is a fairly conservative Republican.

He continued, “In the course of one year, I’ve been stopped seven times by law enforcement officers. Not four, not five, not six, but seven times in one year as an elected official. Was I speeding sometimes? Sure. But the vast majority of the times, I was pulled over for nothing more than driving a new car in the wrong neighborhood, or some other reason just as trivial…”

He added, “It’s easy to identify a U.S. Senator by our pin. I recall walking into an office building just last year after being here for five years on the Capitol, and the officer looked at me, with a little attitude, and said: “The pin, I know. You, I don’t. Show me your ID.” I’ll tell you, I was thinking to myself, “Either he thinks I’m committing a crime, impersonating a member of Congress” ― or, or what? Well, I’ll tell you that later that evening I received a phone call from his supervisor apologizing for the behavior. Mr. President, that is at least the third phone call that I’ve received from a supervisor or the chief of police since I’ve been in the Senate.”

Earlier this week, he issued a statement following the shooting of the officers in Baton Rouge.

“My prayers are with the families of the officers killed and injured in Baton Rouge this morning. Our law enforcement officers rush towards danger to protect the rest of us every single day, and it is horrifying to see a tragedy like this occur,” he said.  “This violence must stop; more bloodshed is not the answer – not now, not ever. I will continue, and step up, my efforts to find the path forward.”

He also released a video statement following the week of tragedies.

He said: “It is clear – we must have tough conversations. We must put ourselves in each other’s shoes.

“I first want to address each of the events of the past week individually. In Baton Rouge, Alton Sterling’s children are mourning the loss of their father. Their heartbreaking press conference showed us all the human toll that these shootings truly take.

“In Minnesota, Philando Castile died live…live on Facebook. The firsthand account of this event, and the video thereafter, is truly shocking. Having to hear a 4-year-old girl try to comfort her mother…it is almost impossible to put into words the emotions that image conveys.

“These two deaths are the latest in a troubling trend of disturbing videos involving law enforcement and black men. We experienced this in my hometown of North Charleston last year, and I could not be more proud of the way our community came together. Protests were peaceful, voices were heard and the healing continues.

“Then, last night, after police and protesters peacefully interacted throughout the night, came a devastating ambush in Dallas. Twelve police officers shot, five dead. There is absolutely no rationale for targeting law enforcement, and these actions are truly reprehensible.”

On Wednesday, Senator Scott went on to tell a story of the discrimination he faced when he was invited to an event with two of his staffers and two officers. “All four were white, and me,” he said.

When they arrived, the organizers would not let Senator Scott in, but they allowed everyone else in. The officers refused to go in without him.

“This is a situation that happens all across the country, whether we want to recognize it or not,” Senator Scott said. “It may not happen 1,000 times a day, but it happens too many times a day.”

Senator Scott closed his comments by calling on his colleagues to “recognize that just because you do not feel the pain, the anguish, of another does not mean it does not exist.”

Senator Scott’s courage to speak out is notable because, in a lot of ways, he is speaking out against a tide on the right that seems not to understand the discrimination that black people feel on a constant basis.

The more people like Senator Scott speak out, the less likely this is to be a partisan issue and the more likely we can solve it.

—David M. Greenwald reporting

About The Author

David Greenwald is the founder, editor, and executive director of the Davis Vanguard. He founded the Vanguard in 2006. David Greenwald moved to Davis in 1996 to attend Graduate School at UC Davis in Political Science. He lives in South Davis with his wife Cecilia Escamilla Greenwald and three children.

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24 Comments

  1. Tia Will

    “recognize that just because you do not feel the pain, the anguish, of another does not mean it does not exist.”

    Here is the heart of the matter, plain and simply spoken. To acknowledge and fully accept the pain of another is as much a part of human nature as is the tendency to dismissal, anger and violence. We have only to choose to listen to that side of our nature.

  2. Jerry Waszczuk

    When James Cleveland “Jesse” Owen as a track and field athlete was winning his four Olympic gold medals in 1936 Berlin (Nazi Germany) he was an American. When he came back to his own country after the Olympic he returned to status of the segregated Negro. Is nothing has been changed in this matter with the exception to different label and officially ended segregation. Black American  outside the country is American .In the  own country black American is labeled   African -American and is suspect regardless of social status as this article shows.  We have long way to go .This  same as the  Dr. Martin Luther Hall in the  UC Davis without black students and faculties. What is the point of such hypocrisy?    The country is living from one riot to the another riot and from one killing to another killing and nobody give a damn about.Billions  of dollars  has been spent for investigations aftermath of riots instead of spending money for education and job creation to change social status of black communities. Welfare and food stamps is the dilution not the solution of the problem.

    1. MAli

      “This  same as the  Dr. Martin Luther Hall in the  UC Davis without black students and faculties. ”

      You obviously don’t know what you are talking about on this point. Under the leadership of Dean Kevin Johnson, King Hall has hired a diverse faculty  whose scholarship and legal work includes many of the pressing issues of the day in addition to the usual law school fair of con law and property. Immigration, race , gender, sexuality, you name it, King Hall has scholars in so many areas at the cutting edge of the great legal issues of the day it would make Dr. King proud. At the latest commencement of King Hall congressman and civil rights icon, the Hon. John Lewis spoke. A simple perusal of the faculty on the law school website would show anyone who would bother to look before they spout off that your insult of the law school is baseless and without merit.

      1. Jerry Waszczuk

        Mali

        You don’t what you are talking about. Check the statistics and surveys in UC system about climate in campuses .   Dr. Martin Luther King would  would flip over seeing Dr.Martin Luther King Hall in UC Davis . Most likely he would have a problem to assemble group of  black faculties to take selfie. Read the Moreno report . Katehi wanted to hire 16 black professors for classes but she is gone and nobody is talking about . I am disputing quality of  the UC  Davis education or UC Davis Law School . This is not the issue here .  The civil rights icons are parts of UC  system  diversity and exclusion politics . Propaganda for outside world  and for feds requirements . I worked 13 years for UC  Davis . Don’t tell me that I don’t know . I know more then  you think and you  imagine .

        1. Eric Gelber

          Believe it or not, Jerry, UCD, including King Hall, is not totally dependent on Katehi to maintain its good reputation. In fact, some may argue her tenure has had the opposite effect. Things you apparently don’t know:

          From the King Hall website:

          A Top Law School for Public Interest: In a welcome recognition of UC Davis School of Law’s status as one of nation’s top public interest law schools, King Hall placed 16th in preLaw magazine’s ranking of “Best Law Schools for Public Interest.”

          Student and Faculty Diversity: UC Davis School of Law ranks 5th in the nation in the categories of “Best Environment for Minority Students” and “Faculty Diversity” in a recent Princeton Review survey.

          Also, for example: ABA honors UCD School of Law for diversity efforts

        2. Jerry Waszczuk

          Eric Gelber

          As I said , I ma not disputing UC Davis excellence of  UC Davis education and high skilled professors who provides education .  I am talking about black students and black faculties as  the underrepresented group.   I am not talking about minorities  in general . Look the numbers . .

  3. Tia Will

    Jerry

    Welfare and food stamps is the dilution not the solution of the problem.”

    On this point, we are in agreement. However, I have not heard what your solution would be. I have posted my suggestions on a number of occasions. They would include:

    1. A universal based income. This is not to be confused with socialism and has been at various times supported by individuals across the political spectrum. This includes recognition that the real work done in raising families and supporting the ill and family members and many other activities that  have real value even though we do not provide compensation for this value.

    2. Equal public education for all students, not those lucky enough to live in communities with “good schools” funded by wealthy parents. Equal access to graduate education regardless of ability to pay for tuition, fees, and living expenses. Free internship and apprenticeship programs for those whose talents lie in working with their hands or engaging in other productive, but non academic pursuits.

    3. Equal outcomes under the law. No appeals to “known violent tendencies” as the police officer is heard saying to the school teacher just arrested in the tape alluded to on another thread by Delia this am.

    4. Universally available medical care as a right of membership in the society, not dependent on employment.

    I would be much more appreciative of your ideas of what concrete steps we should take to improve outcomes than the usual tactic of labelling and dismissing my ideas as “socialism”.

    1. Jerry Waszczuk

      Tia

      My solution is to bring the jobs back to this country and produce goods here. Welfare and food stamps are for  people who can’t work because they are sick or disabled .  This what is going on today is progressive demoralization of sociability with millions of  citizen  with out any hope that their American dream will be fulfilled. I go sometimes to Stockton downtown .  The surrounded   are are  is a dump. This not what is America about . This is a shame seeing so many people wandering stone , homeless etc .  Prisons are full because no jobs . This what is creates gangs and crime . 50 million or 1/6  population  on food stamps is  speaking for itself . Globalization and  the New World Order is killing this great country .

      Education does not creates jobs . Education is helping to be employable if jobs are available. If we will get people employed than Medical Care will be available  as well . I am living in this country over 30 years without spending one minute on any welfare or food stamps and I had always medical insurance for myself and my family . When was needed I worked 20 days 16 hour a day with out day off .

      I have no four years college  degree . I  am a worker . My kids are educated , one in UC  Santa Cruz one in Long Beach university . Both received Presidential awards . One from Clinton one from Reagan for great achievement in schools .  Parents have to be an example for kids . Welfare and food stamps  are not examples at all .. Food stamps and welfare is a  demoralization of new generation  and expansion of ghettos and the  crime creation .

      1. The Pugilist

        The problem with your view is you have Senator Scott, a well educated man suffering from police discrimination.  Everyone wants to leap forward to the assumption that racial prejudice is of the past -it’s not.

        1. Jerry Waszczuk

          Pug

           The racial prejudice is of the past -it’s not.

          We have long way to go with this problem and it never ever will disappears.  It could be  minimized if  the political system works toward more aggressively.

  4. Miwok

    Senator Scott is the only person who can speak to this issue and get solutions.

    The white people on the VG need to shut up and listen, because your input is invalid.

    I learned this at UC long ago. People of color is all that counts, and their solutions may not be the best, but they are their solutions. People of color are the only people that can state the obvious, develop plans for restitution, and when whites complain, tough. If you want to know what it is like to be Black, do it this way. They have been doing it this way for centuries. If you see problems with it, tough. They will fix it “later”.

    1. South of Davis

      Miwok wrote:

      > Senator Scott is the only person who can speak to this issue and get solutions.

      It is sad that even today Republican senators face discrimination and Republican posters to the Vanguard have to post under fake names since so many people don’t embrace “diversity” in politics (when was the last time you heard or read a person who wants more “diversity” in higher education also working for more “diversity” in the Republican party?)…

      > The white people on the VG need to shut up and listen, because your input is invalid.

      Since the people that are harassing Senator Scott are probably not other Black Republicans everyone else needs to shut up and listen since their input is invalid.

      P.S. It is too bad people don’t take Miwok’s advice since if I had a nickle for every time I heard or read about rich liberal white people complaining about racism I could buy a new car where if I got a nickle the times I have heard blacks complaining about racism I could buy a pack of gum…

    2. Jerry Waszczuk

      Miwok

      I learned this at UC long ago. UC and UC Davis  is not the place to learn about  the black people  You are right that it is their solution but I believe that you don’t like to see the violent riots ,  burned down cities , lot of deaths of the innocent people and  prions full of black inmates . This is the everybody problems which should be solved before will be to late . As you see today the situation is quite volatile and any additional even incidental shooting or killing black person could outrage masses and spark  wave of violent riots and  uncontrolled violence . 

      Maybe I in Lodi and you in Davis should not be worry about  because the Davis and Lodi is the places where we have such problems.  If the white people on the VG need to shut up than such subjects should no be posted for discussion .

    3. Eric Gelber

      Miwok:

      The white people on the VG need to shut up and listen, because your input is invalid.

      Seriously? Racism is a problem primarily among whites; therefore, it’s not a problem for only non-whites to address. There’s a name for whites who want to avoid discussions of race and claim that it’s up to the black community to find solutions. We call them Republicans.

      South of Davis:

      If I got a nickel the times I’ve heard blacks complaining about racism I could by a pack of gum.

      Perhaps you should spend more time listening to the black community.

      1. South of Davis

        Eric wrote:

        > Perhaps you should spend more time listening to the black community.

        My parents both grew up poor with black friends so as a kid I spent a lot of time with other black kids (before we moved south of San Francisco to a town with almost no black kids). I also tutored mostly black kids in Hunters Point for almost 10 years and worked with mostly black kids in the First Tee program.  Never once in those settings did I hear anyone complain about “racism”.  Most poor black kids are smart enough to realize that they have a lot in common with poor white kids and the system is rigged in favor of the rich and connected not in favor of “white kids” (I’m betting my white niece with an almost perfect SAT score and a 4.6GPA did better than the black girl that lives at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue yet she didn’t get in to Harvard when the black girl with “connections” got in).

         

        1. hpierce

          Will affirm,with a twist, what you said… I grew up “lower middle class”, and had many Asian, Black friends… where I grew up, the Latino/Hispanic population was very low… maybe 5% tops…  it was more about economics that divided folk (particularly the higher middle class kids who ‘flaunted’ it) than it was about race… ~ 45 years ago… suspect that hasn’t changed…  in Jr High, we were ~ 1/3 white, 1/3 black, 1/3 asian… no problems between races… there were black/black fights, asian/asian fights, white/white fights, but except for the week after MLK was killed, rare that there was any sign of racial fights… most involved testosterone levels kicking in (‘yo momma’, or over a girl’, or a “slight), or the “bitch-fights” over a boy.

        2. Misanthrop

          Did your niece have relatives who went to Harvard? Many of the people who go to Harvard get in on something called legacy and most are white. Did you complain when G.W. Bush got in to Harvard?  Of course he got in on connections too not just to Harvard but also to Yale. Or did you complain that one of Bush’s daughters got in while the other got into University of Texas famous for getting sued for its admissions policies. But the unfairness of it all is “the black girl” who got in because she is the Presidents daughter.

          Do you think passing to your niece the same white resentment you feel is productive?

          I have a friend who’s kid didn’t get into Yale and he told me it was his own fault because he didn’t give enough to the alumni association. Does that bother you?

        3. Eric Gelber

          South of Davis and hpierce:

          So, you both base your opinions on whether institutional racism, including racial profiling, is a significant societal problem in the U.S. based on your personal experiences growing up (I assume as non-black individuals)? Do you not see a problem with that?

  5. Dave Hart

    I wonder how many of the white people who have their undies in a bundle over the mean liberals’ politically correct tyranny would put up with being pulled over seven times in a year?  I have no doubt they would develop an “attitude” about their beloved law enforcement.  I only get pulled over once every four or five years for going 80 on I-80.

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