“This speech is perhaps the most difficult, because it’s the most personal,” Senator Tim Scott said, describing the emotional suffering he felt watching the deaths of Eric Garner, Walter Scott, and Philando Castile in recent months before sharing his personal experience as a Black man targeted by cops. “There is a deep divide between the Black community and law enforcement ― a trust gap. 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.”
A Republican from South Carolina, Scott gave his remarks as part of a series of Senate speeches discussing criminal justice reform.
“In the course of one year, I’ve been stopped seven times by law enforcement officers. …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…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,” Scott recalled.
Scott went on to tell another story of when he was invited to an event with two of his staffers and two officers, all White except him. When they arrived, the organizers didn’t want to let Scott in, but they allowed everyone else. The officers refused to go in without him.
Scott ended his speech by calling on his colleagues: “This is a situation that happens all across the country, whether we want to recognize it or not. It may not happen 1,000 times a day, but it happens too many times a day…recognize that just because you do not feel the pain, the anguish, of another does not mean it does not exist.”