Sen. Tim Scott (R-S.C.) holds a rather unique position on Capitol Hill. The lawmaker, appointed and then elected to his seat, is the only African-American Republican in the chamber, and the only black senator of either party to get elected in the South since Reconstruction.
This background took on added salience last night, when Scott addressed one of the nation's most pressing and more important national debates. Vox had a good piece on the senator's striking remarks.
A common response to the outcry over police misconduct is to almost immediately blame the victim -- he had a criminal record, he didn't listen to the police, and so on. But what happens when the victim to such misconduct is a United States senator with a clean record?
On Wednesday, Republican Sen. Tim Scott of South Carolina gave a heartfelt speech in which he spoke about some of the abuses by police that he, as a black man, had dealt with. The speech, Scott said, was meant to show that in some instances -- he insisted that most cops mean well -- police officers are in the wrong, targeting someone solely because of his skin color.
The GOP lawmaker talked about having been pulled over seven times in one year, and in most of the instances, "I was pulled over for nothing more than driving a new car in the wrong neighborhood or some other reason just as trivial."
Scott shared the details of a case in which an officer stopped him -- a sitting U.S. senator -- 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?'" he said. "I was looking for some rational reason that may have prompted him to stop me on the side of the road."
Scott added, "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.... Imagine the frustration, the irritation, the sense of a loss of dignity that accompanies each of those stops."
He went on to acknowledge having "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.... [T]here 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."