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 last year.
“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,” said Scott. “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, one of just two black members of the U.S. Senate, recounted a recent incident where he was denied entry by Capitol Police despite wearing a pin identifying him as a senator and being “one of the easier senators to recognize.” From Politico:
“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.”
“Today, I simply ask of you this: recognize that just because you do not feel the pain, the anguish of another, does not mean it does not exist,” said Scott. “To ignore their struggles does not make them disappear, it simply leaves you blind, and the American family very vulnerable.”