On Tuesday, America got to hear from the nation’s 2016 vice presidential nominees. The debate was interesting and full of the usual political promises of a better tomorrow.
What was also very apparent was Indiana Gov. Mike Pence’s ignorance regarding the ongoing discrimination against people of color that lives within the criminal justice system.
During the debate portion on policing in America, The Republican vice presidential candidate made one particularly misguided claim based on the police-involved shooting death of Keith Lamont Scott in Charlotte, North Carolina. His claim? That a Black cop killing a Black man invalidates any claim that law enforcement is racist.
“I mean, when an African-American police officer in Charlotte named Brentley Vinson, all-star football player, went to Liberty University, here in the state, came home [and] followed his dad into law enforcement, joined the force in Charlotte in 2014, was involved in a police action shooting that claimed the life of Keith Lamont Scott, it was a tragedy,” Pence said. “We mourn with those who mourn. We grieve with those who grieve, we’re saddened at the loss of life, but Hillary Clinton actually referred to that moment as an example of implicit bias in the police force. […] What we outta do is stop ceasing on these moments of tragedy and assure the public that we will have a full and complete and transparent investigation whenever there’s a loss of life when there’s police action…but please, enough of this seeking every opportunity to demean law enforcement broadly by making every accusation of implicit bias every time tragedy occurs.”
Pence didn’t stop there. In addition to disregarding the well-documented evidence that African-Americans make up 50 percent of those incarcerated for low-level drug crimes, Pence took the time to advocate for Trump’s commitment to members of law enforcement.
“That’s probably why the 330,000 members of the Fraternal Order of Police endorsed Donald Trump as the next president of the United States of America because they see his commitment to them,” Pence said. “They see his commitment to law and order. But they also hear the badmouthing…the badmouthing that come from people that sees upon tragedy in the wake of police shootings as a reason to uh to use a broad brush to accuse law enforcement of implicit bias or an institutional racism and that really has got to stop.”
Perhaps Mr. Pence needs his memory refreshed. Perhaps Mr. Pence needs to be reminded of the recent ruling by a Massachusetts court that says Black men who try to avoid encounters with Boston police by fleeing may have a legitimate reason to do so. Or maybe Mr. Pence needs to read the Stanford University study that reveals that teachers are more likely to punish Black kids than their White counterparts.
Or perhaps he should take a peek at last week’s findings that revealed that Black preschoolers—particularly Black boys—are repeated victims of implicit bias.
It’s clear that Mr. Pence has a lot to learn when it comes to the nation’s criminal justice system, and the struggle endured by Black men to maintain their freedom.