In a scathing speech Wednesday, South Carolina Senator Tim Scott – the only Black Republican in the Senate – revealed that he has had several racist run-ins with cops. The remarks were made in the second of three speeches that follow last week’s tragedies.
Atlanta Black Star reported Alton Sterling was shot and killed by police in Baton Rouge, Louisiana July 5 for selling CDs outside a convenience store. Within the next 24 hours, Philando Castile was shot and killed by a cop in Falcon Heights, Minnesota during a traffic stop. The tragedies led to a protest in Dallas July 7 that ended in gunfire, killing five officers.
In Scott’s July 13 speech on the Senate floor, he shared his experiences with law enforcement, which extended to his early days as a driver through his time as a government official.
The senator had previously backed All Lives Matter, a statement that members of the Black Lives Matter movement believes diminishes the importance of innocent Black people who are brutalized in America and around the world. Scott told CNN last year, “If that is somehow offensive to someone, that’s their issue, not mine.”
After addressing Monday’s speech on police and their primary goals to protect and serve, the senator got earnest about his interactions with authorities as a Black man.
“There is a deep divide between the Black community and law enforcement — a trust gap, a tension that has been growing for decades,” Scott said. “As a family, one American family, we cannot ignore these issues. Because while so many officers do good, and we should be thankful as I said on Monday, we should be very thankful in support of all those officers that do good. Some, simply, do not. I’ve experienced it myself.”
Scott said he has been stopped seven times as an elected official. His website states the North Charleston native was sworn into the Senate in January 2013 after serving in the U.S. House of Representatives from 2011 to 2013. He has also served on Charleston County Council for 13 years.
“Was I speeding sometimes? Sure,” he said in his speech. “But the vast majority of the time, I was pulled over for nothing more than driving a new car in the wrong neighborhood or some other reason just as trivial.”
One story involved an officer who followed Scott on his way from the mall to his apartment. It took four turns for the senator to get home. He was finally stopped for failing to signal on the last turn.
“Do you really think that somehow I forgot to use my turn signal on that fourth turn? Well, according to him I did,” Scott said.
After detailing another driving incident where he was accused of driving a stolen vehicle, Scott shared the story of an officer who did not believe he was a congressman, even with his identifiable pin.
“I recall walking into an office building just last year after being here for five years on the Capitol,” he said. “And the officer looked at me with a little attitude and said, ‘The pin I know, you I don’t, show me your ID.’ ”
He later received a call from the officer’s supervisor apologizing for the mistake. Scott said it was the third time he got such an apology.