In the wake of last week’s deadly shootings in Dallas, Minnesota and Baton Rouge, Louisiana, South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott delivered a powerful speech about the “deep divide between the black community and law enforcement” on the Senate floor in Washington, D.C., on Wednesday.
Scott, one of two current black members of the U.S. Senate and the only black Republican senator, told his colleagues that he had been pulled over seven times in one year as an elected official.
“Was I speeding sometimes? Sure. But the vast majority of the time I was pulled over for driving a new car in the wrong neighborhood or something else just as trivial,” he said.
Scott, 50, also opened up about one incident in which an officer stopped him on suspicion of his car being stolen. “I started asking myself, because I was smart enough to not ask him, ‘Is the license plate coming in as stolen? Does the license plate match the car?’ ” Scott recalled. “I was looking for some rational reason that may have prompted him to stop me on the side of the road.”
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He added, “While I thank God I have not endured bodily harm, I have, however, felt the pressure applied by the scales of justice when they are slanted. 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 There is absolutely nothing more frustrating, more damaging to your soul than when you know you’re following the rules and being treated like you’re not.”
“I do not know many African-American men who do not have a very similar story to tell no matter the profession, no matter their income, no matter their disposition in life,” he continued. “Imagine the frustration, the irritation, the sense of a loss of dignity that accompanies each of those stops.”
Scott closed his speech by urging his colleagues to “recognize that just because you do not feel the pain, the anguish of another, does not mean that it does not exist. To ignore their struggles, our struggles, does not make them disappear. It simply leaves you blind and the American family very vulnerable.”