Issues between the African American community and law enforcement run deep, so deep in fact that members of Congress are revealing their own encounters with police and by doing so placing emphasis on a longstanding problem.

Sen. Tim Scott, a Black Republican who represents South Carolina stood before the House chamber this week to describe his own interactions with police and to urge reform. “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 just being yourself,” Scott said.

Other lawmakers also recounted times when they were accosted by police and agreed across the aisle that change is necessary.

“I am absolutely convinced that most African-American members of Congress, particularly the men, have encountered some form of a hostile police encounter over the years,” said Rep. Hakeem Jeffries, D-N.Y.

Jeffries, 45, recalled twice when he was younger being pulled over by police and searched along with African-American friends. No reason was given for the stops. Several other black male lawmakers told similar stories.

South Carolina Rep. Jim Clyburn, the No. 3 Democrat in the House and a veteran of 1960s civil rights marches, said he was once being driven in South Carolina in his car with congressional tags. A policeman stopped the car and asked the driver, “Where’s the congressman?” while staring directly at Clyburn sitting in the back seat.

“He doesn’t see a congressman, he sees a black face,” Clyburn said.

Click “play” below to watch Rep. Scott’s speech to Congress.


With Associated Press