I don’t know how many skeptics still doubt that the phenomenon of being pulled over by a police officer for “driving while black” is a real thing. Any skepticism I had was wiped out long ago by the testimony of friends and neighbors who experienced it, frequently, and when they were doing nothing wrong. The report that Philando Castile had been stopped 52 times since 2002 is consistent with the pattern.
Perhaps some skeptics wonder about the frequency of such stops, especially since – even if no citation is issued – what is the evidence that a particular driver may have been driving in ways that would justify the stop. (And, of course, not every such stop is racially motivated.)
But skeptics might be impressed with the recent testimony, on the floor of the U.S. Senate, by South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott. Scott is one of two black members of the current Senate. And, in case this makes him more credible on a such a matter, he is a Republican.
Scott took to the Senate floor Wednesday and, in an 18-minute statement, disclosed that he has been pulled over by police seven times in the past year. Twice, he said, he was driving too fast (although plenty of people get away with that without being stopped). The other five times he was doing nothing other than driving while black.
Scott asked his fellow senators to “imagine the frustration, the irritation the sense of a loss of dignity that accompanies each of those stops.”
In the majority of the cases, Scott said, “I was doing nothing more than driving a new car, in the wrong neighborhood, or some other reason just as trivial.”
“I have felt the anger, the frustration, the sadness and the humiliation that comes with feeling that you’re being targeted for nothing more than just being yourself,” he said.
This link will get you video of 10 minutes of excerpts from Scott’s floor statement, as published by the liberal Think Progress organization. It’s impressive.