Sen. Tim Scott (R-SC) has been leading the effort on police reform in Congress, recently introducing the JUSTICE Act with dozens of Republican co-sponsors. While the effort was sped up after the tragic police killing of George Floyd, it's an issue that Sen. Scott has been working on since 2015, when another unarmed black man, Walter Scott, was shot in the back by an officer in North Charleston, South Carolina.
This issue is a personal one for Sen. Scott too. He's been candid about how he's been stopped several times in one year by police simply for "driving while black." He's also been stopped trying to walk into a Senate building.
But he's not bitter. Instead, he's trying to enact some real change in the nation's police departments, focusing on de-escalation and intervention training for officers.
And instead of respect from his Democratic colleagues, Scott's campaign has been met with invective. Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) dismissed Sen. Scott's introduction of the JUSTICE Act as a "token" speech, a poor choice of words considering Scott has been insulted as the "token" black member of the Republican party. Not to be outdone, Sen. Mazie Hirono (D-HI) called Sen. Scott's yearslong effort a "half-ass bill."
But those insults turned out to be tame compared to what Sen. Scott's staff has been hearing on their office voicemail. The senator shared two of those shocking messages for his colleagues.
Scott, who is leading the GOP efforts on police reform, played two of many hateful voicemails left for him to his Republican colleagues. One of the voicemails called Scott “Uncle Tim” and described him as the “lowest piece of sh--t this country ever produced.” Another was a profane voicemail left for a Scott staff assistant, after she asked the caller to stop cursing at her and hung up. (Politico)
But for every nasty voicemail there is a word of encouragement from his friends. Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-NY) shared the following warm note for him and his staff.
The 60 votes Scott needs for the JUSTICE Act don't appear to be there. But not all hope is lost. He wants to get this done. And he wants to get it done with Democrats.
Now is the time to stop with the partisan games. We are ready to work with Democrats - they must take this chance to proceed to debate on the #JUSTICEAct. Americans are counting on us to get something done. pic.twitter.com/12sAPssUWF— Tim Scott (@SenatorTimScott) June 23, 2020