Thursday on CBS’s “The Late Show,” Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) got emotional while discussing his fear of law enforcement, offering childhood experiences as part of his story.
On President Donald Trump’s Monday speech, Booker said, “For him to in one side of his mouth to be speaking in front of the White House how he supports peaceful protesters then behind him, to unleash tear gas, rubber bullets, men on horseback charging or marching into that crowd, it was horrific, and tramples some of the most, to me, sacrosanct ideals of America, the right to petition your government, the right to protest, the right to free speech and the right to protest. There were journalists there. I talked with classmates whose son was hit with one of the bullets in the park. The assault on the Americans peacefully protesting in their capital, that was an assault on all of us.”
When Colbert asked about the show of force in Washington, D.C., Booker got emotional as he said, “What it is is sad, what it is is hurtful, what it is is scary. I’m a United States Senator, and I left here late last night, and I literally thought twice about putting on my shorts and a T-shirt to walk home because the painful thing that—and the conversation I’ve had with many other black men this last week—is to know you have this fear, you’ve had it all your life.”
He continued, “When I was 12, 13 years old, I was already about 6′ tall, and to have a nation where the elders, the men in my family felt the need to begin to educate me that I would make people feel scared or uncomfortable. They had this chilling sort of —it was a time I was feeling strong and playing football, to try to help me understand that, when I was getting my license, this is not a joke, you need to listen to us because a misunderstanding or an interaction could mean your death. And then to have experiences in my late teens and early 20s with police officers, with weapons drawn on me, with my car surrounded, accused of stealing my car, followed in malls years upon years, to being confronted by security guards. And the feeling of a United States Senator— Tim Scott, Republican from South Carolina, has talked on the floor about how many times he was stopped on the way into the senate in ways his colleague Lindsey Graham says never happens to me.”
Holding back tears, Booker said, “I think that what has made this moment in American history so difficult for all of us after Ahmaud Arbery, after Breonna Taylor, after a black man in Central Park birdwatching, having the police called on him, and then seeing the death of George Floyd in front of us—this horrific, violent pornography of a killing -I think the thing that’s made a lot of my friends just break down in tears this week is, 30 years ago, Rodney King, when we were marching at Stanford, we felt we could change this and that we wouldn’t have to have these same conversations with our kids, with my nephews.”
He added, “Decades have passed, and we haven’t put this nation to a point where you have kids in our streets again like I was in my 20s who are really questioning this nation and wondering if a country that has spent generations in search of itself, the values I would die for, liberty and justice for all, equality under the law, we are still in search of making those real.”
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