Sen. Tim Scott took to the Senate floor on Monday evening to call for unity and speak in support of law enforcement after five police officers in Dallas were killed last week by a gunman who said he wanted to kill white officers as payback for police shootings of black men.
“In what appears to be one man's warped mind, retribution became his answer to frustration,” the South Carolina Republican said. “We must not become a society where revenge is the rule of the day.”
Last Friday, deep in the heart of Texas, we saw both the best and the worst of humanity.
Sen. Tim Scott, R-S.C.
Scott will be giving a series of three speeches over the course of the week. While a speech scheduled for Wednesday will focus on issues with law enforcement and his perspective as an African American male, according to his office, on Monday he just had one message.
“Let’s focus on the fact that our law enforcement officers are true American heroes, period,” he said.
The ambush in downtown Dallas occurred at a demonstration in response to the deaths of two black men, Alton Sterling and Philando Castile, who were fatally shot by police earlier in the week. Their deaths were captured on video and caused 25-year-old Micah Johnson, a U.S. military veteran of the Afghan war, to fast track his plan to target law enforcement.
“I believe our nation is in desperate need of a family conversation,” Scott said on Monday. “Our nation is experiencing turmoil we haven't seen in generations (…) My heart breaks for all of us.”
Scott emphasized that the actions of some police officers do not represent law enforcement as a whole.
“Law enforcement officers simply want to do two things: protect and serve,” he said. “For the overwhelming majority of cops is a calling, it's not a job. We cannot allow the actions of a few to overwhelm the good of the majority.”
What are we going to do if they stop policing? Who are you going to call?
Sen. Tim Scott, R-S.C.
At times, Scott’s speech sounded more like a sermon as he implored Americans to come together to prevent further tragedies.
“We must come together. We must find solutions,” he said. “We must get to a point where the American family, our family, has a real conversation about the things that divide us.”
Scott told the story of a mother and son who had gone to the Dallas protest and found themselves covered by police officers during the gunfire.
“What a picture. The best of America, very clear. The sniper, the worst of America, just as clear,” he said, slowly enunciating every word. “These are the stories that should give us faith in law enforcement.”
He described the scene at the Black Lives Matter march before it turned into an ambush, with a friendly atmosphere between police officers and protestors, many of them taking pictures together and smiling.
“Only in America would you see police officers alongside protesters who were protesting police brutality,” he said.
After Scott yielded the floor, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell thanked him for an “extraordinary speech.”
“No one better expresses in stronger and more persuasive terms what needs to be said in the wake of these tragedies than the senator from South Carolina,” he said.