Sen. Tim Scott on George Floyd protests: ‘We’re having an American-family response to a crisis’

Sen. Tim Scott, R-S.C., joins Yahoo News Senior Political Correspondent Jon Ward on “The Long Game” podcast to discuss the latest in the nationwide protests following the death of George Floyd. Scott says he feels hopeful that the movement may succeed where others have failed, because “for the first time in a very long time the response from the white community is very consistent with the response from the black community, generically speaking.”

Video Transcript


JON WARD: Do you worry about this being swept under the rug and just becoming another incident?

TIM SCOTT: I don't. I don't worry about that at all at this point because I think for the first time in a very long time, the response from the white community is very consistent with the response of the black community, generically speaking. That means that we're having an American family response to a crisis in our family, and that's what it should be. White lives do matter. Black lives do matter.

The question is, if you take a look at the situation in the New York City part where the affluent white woman simply says, I'm going to call the police and say that an African-American male is threatening my life, what does that say of an equivalent value between the two lives in the eyes of authority? And that's really important. It's not in the eyes of God. I think in eyes of God we all have equal intrinsic value.

The question is, if you have a system that leads to an unjust outcome and that system is a system of authority, that means you're breaking the back and breaking the spirit of millions of people in your country who see that unjust system and says it will rain down upon me guilty or not guilty. That does not lead to a society of order. It leads towards a society of chaos. So the burden we should feel, should be on all of our shoulders to have the most just society that we could have, and if we do not have that, then we should ask ourselves, what part are we playing to make it unjust, and what part are we playing to make it more just?

JON WARD: Let's talk about order, then. You have been outspoken about George Floyd and the tragedy of that and the injustice of that. You've made comments about the president's response. You've criticized that at times.

But you've also been pretty outspoken about violence during the protests and looting. You tweeted about a former police chief in St. Louis, David Dorn, who was shot and killed early Tuesday, black man. And I've seen about a half dozen videos of people being beaten very badly during these protests. But I wanted to read you a portion of an essay in The Atlantic by a woman named Kellie Carter Jackson who's a professor at Wellesley College, which is the clearest example I've seen of arguing in favor of violence as a way of achieving political ends.

She says, "since the beginning of this country, riots and violent rhetoric have been markers of patriotism. When our founding fathers fought for independence, violence was the clarion call." And she says this, "how do the oppressed procure power? Throughout history, black people have employed violence, nonviolence, marches, and boycotts. Only one thing is clear. There is no form of black protest that white supremacy will sanction.

Still, black people understand the utility of riotous rebellion. 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. Many people are asking if violence is a valid means of producing social change. The hard and historical answer is yes." How do you respond to that?

TIM SCOTT: Well, I think if you were to ask Terrence Floyd, the brother of George, how the violence in the streets are helping to bring justice and draw attention to the challenge we have between race and justice, he would say, it ain't helping at all. As a matter of fact, it's exactly what he said. He says, "if I'm not out there wilding out--" his words-- "then why are y'all?"

So there's no question that when you look at the issue at hand, the brother of the slain suspect murdered at the hands of that law enforcement officer and saying, stop it, it is not helpful. It is actually destructive, not constructive. And I don't know, Gandhi, Martin Luther King Jr, John Lewis-- pick one, and I think they would all say that, without any question, the country, the arc of the universe, it bent because of the nonviolent resistance. And in South Carolina, rather, it was the boycott of the nurses in the late '60s early '70s where there was sit-ins at Woolworth counters, Rock Hill, South Carolina. We've seen silent, non-violent protest-- Rosa Parks-- lead to community transformation when everything else seemed to not work.

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