A core complaint among Black Lives Matter protesters and other anti-police activists in recent years is the perceived mistreatment of minorities by law enforcement. While the two Democrats seeking their party’s presidential nomination have turned the angst of these racially motivated demonstrators into campaign themes, there has been little similar outreach by leading Republicans in the race.
With much of the GOP field taking a critical stance toward the Black Lives Matter movement, Marco Rubio has been hesitant to speak out against it. This week, the Florida senator seemed to side with the minorities who feel targeted by police officers.
During a town hall debate Wednesday, Rubio cited personal anecdotes meant to validate the frustration expressed by protesters nationwide.
Saying he has “seen this happen,” Rubio lamented the “significant number, particularly of young African-American males, who feel as if they are treated differently than the rest of society.”
Mending the relationship between law enforcement and minority communities, he argued, is not only a vital endeavor, but one that might require police to change the way they engage with suspects.
“If a significant percentage … believes that they are being treated differently than everyone else,” Rubio said, “we have a problem, and we have to address it as a society and as a country.”
Despite evidence suggesting there is no predictable racial bias to be found in traffic stop patterns, he punctuated his point with a story told to him by his black friend.
“I personally know someone who happens to be a police officer and a young African-American male who told me that he’s been pulled over seven, eight times in the last few years and never gets a ticket,” Rubio proclaimed. “What is he supposed to think? He gets pulled over, for no reason, never gets a ticket. No one has any explanation for why he’s being pulled over. What is he supposed to think?”
First reported by