Sen. Tim Scott on the killing of George Floyd and whether violence is a legitimate form of political action

Sen. Tim Scott, R-SC, is the only black Republican in the U.S. Senate. When he was elected in 2012, he was only the 7th African-American senator in the nation’s history.

Scott has been quite vocal on many sides of the George Floyd killing. He’s called on Minneapolis to charge all four officers, he’s called the killing of Floyd a murder, and he’s spoken out publicly about systemic racism in the past and on the floor of the U.S. Senate. He’s also been outspoken in his condemnation of violence, even as he has criticized President Trump for his actions during this crisis. Scott said Trump’s tweets about “when the looting starts, the shooting starts” and other inflammatory things posted on Twitter by the president were “not constructive” and he has spoken directly to the president about this. Scott has also criticized the president’s use of federal officers to attack peaceful protesters so he could stage a photo op at a church across Lafayette Park from the White House.

We discuss a number of things about Floyd's killing, including the argument that violence is an appropriate response. .“Many people are asking if violence is a valid means of producing social change. The hard and historical answer is yes,” wrote Kellie Carter Jackson, an assistant professor of Africana studies at Wellesley College, in The Atlantic. “Violence compels a response. Violence disrupts the status quo and the possibility of returning to business as usual. So often the watershed moments of historical record are stamped by violence—it is the engine that propels society along from funerals to fury and from moments to movements."

Scott disagrees.

“Gandhi, Martin Luther King Jr., John Lewis: pick one,” Scott said. “I think they would all say that without any question of the country, the arc of the universe, it bent because of the nonviolent resistance. … Whether it was sit-ins at Woolworth counters, Rock Hill, South Carolina. We've seen silent nonviolent protests, Rosa Parks, lead to community transformation when everything else seemed to not work.”


Scott also said that Rep. John Lewis, D-Ga., a pioneer of the civil rights movement who was beaten nearly to death in 1965 by Alabama police after crossing Edmund Pettis Bridge at the head of a protest march, warned him about the dangers of violence.

“He was so crystal clear that aggression and bitterness are the enemies of your soul. It will rot you out faster than anything else. And for those who believe that violence is a way, it seems very much like a hatred. The person who suffers the most is the person that holds onto it,” Scott said.


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Outro music: "Have a Little Faith" by Mavis Staples


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