Tensions flare at House Judiciary Committee meeting
Louisiana Congressman Cedric Richmond (D) struck a nerve with Florida Congressman Matt Gaetz (R) on Wednesday during a heated House Judiciary Committee hearing on police reform. The committee advanced the historic legislation along party lines after close to 11 hours of debate.
During the hearing, Richmond scolded his Republican colleagues for making a mockery of the bill.
“As a black male who went to the fifth-best public high school in the country, who was a victim of excessive force, who has a black son, who has worries that you all don’t, and to my colleagues, especially the ones that keep introducing amendments that are a tangent and a distraction from what we’re talking about, you all are white males,” said Richmond.
“You’ve never lived in my shoes, and you do not know what it’s like to be an African American male. And all I’m saying is if you are opposed to this legislation, let’s just have the vote, but please do not come in this committee room and make a mockery of the pain that exists in my community,” he said.
Gaetz took issue with Richmond saying that whites could not understand the issue personally.
“I appreciate your passion. Are you suggesting that you’re certain that none of us have non-white children? Because you reflect on your black son, and you said none of us could understand,” Gaetz asked Richmond.
The Louisiana representative quickly fired back at Gaetz, attempting to reclaim the floor.
“Matt, Matt. Stop,” Richmond said. “I’m not about to get sidetracked about the color of our children. … It is not about the color of your kids. It is about black males, black people in the streets that are getting killed, and if one of them happens to be your kid, I’m concerned about him, too, and clearly, I’m more concerned about him than you are.”
Gaetz refused to let the comments go by without response asking Richmond who in the hell he thought he was.
“You’re claiming you have more concern for my family than I do?” an angry Gaetz asked.
Richmond replied: “If the shoe fits.”
“You should take those words down. I know you care about your family and love your family, so do we, damn it,” Gaetz concluded.
The bill is sponsored by California Congresswoman Karen Bass (D) and would ban police chokeholds, mandate body cameras, make lynching a federal crime, prohibit no-knock warrants in drug cases and establish a federal registry of police officers accused of misconduct.
Multiple Republicans on the committee said that they were not asked to play a part in the drafting of the bill and that they were more than willing to work on a compromise. Democrats said they weren’t interested at the moment but would work with Republicans after the bill has passed.
“You all were in charge for a while, we’ve been in charge for a while. Richmond said. “I have been singing the same song since 1991. We are willing to continue to work as we go forward.
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