The executive director of the Missouri Republican Party said Sen. Rand Paul was “unhelpful” when he said that black Americans have every right to feel that they are being specifically targeted by their government and police.
Matt Wills told The Hill that he feels for the community, but Paul’s comments were closer to those made by Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-MO), who also called for the police to be demilitarized. Willis said he lives “about 4.5-miles outside of Ferguson” and the “political response from Paul and McCaskill to what happened is a little premature” and “unhelpful.”
“This is a tragedy for all communities – not just African-American communities,” Wills said, according to The Hill. “I think this all just too much, too soon from these politicians. We’re still learning new details. I can’t fault the police for wanting to protect themselves and the community, and I also have a deep place in my heart for the civil liberties we have as Americans.”
In his op-ed, Paul said that “it is almost impossible for many Americans not to feel like their government is targeting them,” and “given the racial disparities in our criminal justice system, it is impossible for African-Americans not to feel like their government is particularly targeting them.”
“Anyone who thinks that race does not still, even if inadvertently, skew the application of criminal justice in this country is just not paying close enough attention,” he argued. “Our prisons are full of black and brown men and women who are serving inappropriately long and harsh sentences for non-violent mistakes in their youth.”
Paul also wrote that “Americans must never sacrifice their liberty for an illusive and dangerous, or false, security.”
“The outrage in Ferguson is understandable – though there is never an excuse for rioting or looting. There is a legitimate role for the police to keep the peace, but there should be a difference between a police response and a military response,” he said. “The images and scenes we continue to see in Ferguson resemble war more than traditional police action.”
Paul blamed big-government policies together with the militarization of police forces during the last decade in his Thursday op-ed.
“When you couple this militarization of law enforcement with an erosion of civil liberties and due process that allows the police to become judge and jury – national security letters, no-knock searches, broad general warrants, pre-conviction forfeiture – we begin to have a very serious problem on our hands,” he wrote. “The militarization of our law enforcement is due to an unprecedented expansion of government power in this realm. It is one thing for federal officials to work in conjunction with local authorities to reduce or solve crime. It is quite another for them to subsidize it.”