Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) decided to meet with and hear out leaders from the Black Lives Matter movement over the weekend. He and Black Lives Matter Utah President Lex Scott had a lengthy discussion on criminal justice reform that, according to both sides, was both cordial and productive. They were also joined by Utah State Representative Sandra Hollins.
"It's a huge deal; it means that people are listening on both sides of the aisle,” Scott said in gratitude after meeting with whom she called "the biggest Republican."
The feeling was mutual, as Sen. Lee found their conversation "thoughtful" and "respectful." He suspected it would not be their last.
I enjoyed meeting today with @SHollinsD23 and a group of activists pursuing police and criminal-justice reform. Our exchange was thoughtful, respectful, and productive. I look forward to having an ongoing dialogue with them. pic.twitter.com/KhqkZbbIN7— Mike Lee (@SenMikeLee) July 18, 2020
I enjoyed meeting yesterday with a group of activists pursuing police and criminal justice reform. Our exchange was thoughtful, respectful, and productive. I look forward to having an ongoing dialogue with them. https://t.co/Kej7x0K2nl— Mike Lee (@SenMikeLee) July 18, 2020
Black Lives Matter has had a resurgence in recent weeks after the Minneapolis police killing of George Floyd, which most everyone agrees was a shocking tragedy. But while some activists have been organizing peaceful protests in cities all over the country, agitators have chosen to wreak havoc, riot, burn businesses to the ground, and run over police officers. Scott has no patience for these violent instigators, telling the Deseret News that she's "not having it" and is fed up with doing "damage control."
As the Deseret News explained, Scott has been routinely meeting with Salt Lake Police Department for years to talk reform. Congress has tried to intervene and present pieces of legislation they believe will help reform our police departments.
Scott sounded hopeful that Sen. Lee would come around on the Democrat-led Justice in Policing Act.
“I feel like his word carries a lot of weight, and I feel like if he asks fellow Republicans to support the Justice in Policing Act, they might,” Scott said.
Yet, Republicans have introduced their own police reform legislation, Sen. Tim Scott's (R-SC) JUSTICE Act. Scott, the lone Republican African-American in the Senate, passionately explained how he's faced his own police prejudice and he's been working on police reform for years, and yet the Democrats didn't even consider debating it.
But, looking at the constructive talks between Sen. Lee and Lex Scott, it's clear that there is common ground on this issue.
Sen. Lee has a history of working on criminal justice reform. In 2018, he helped co-author successful legislation to reduce mandatory minimum drug sentences, expand job training and increase early-release opportunities.