Republicans Belatedly Realize Protests Aren't Going Away - 2020-06-10
In the first two weeks following the police killing of George Floyd, Republican leaders responded by encouraging the shooting of protesters; calling for the military to deploy to American cities to crack down on "nihilist criminals"; and describing violence at demonstrations initiated by police as "provocation that was created deliberately for national television."
But as the country enters its third week of indignation, Republican lawmakers and President Trump have responded with delayed vows of reform — or at least lip service that shows they've realized that the mass unrest is a new political reality.
Arkansas senator Tom Cotton's comment on Tuesday is a bold example of the latter phenomenon. On Tuesday, Cotton reportedly told fellow Republican senators that "young black men have a very different experience with law enforcement in this nation than white people and that's their impression and experience and we need to be sensitive to that and do all we can to change it." Cotton's understanding of the black "impression" of police brutality in a country where African-American men are 2.5 times more likely to be killed by police than white men has transformed in the past week. On Sunday, he was quoted in Politico saying that he does "not think you can paint with a broad brush and say there's systemic racism in the criminal justice system in America." Days before, he urged President Trump to invoke the Insurrection Act to stamp out protests in an op-ed in the New York Times, while misrepresenting the strength of "cadres of left-wing radicals like antifa infiltrating protest marches." But the senator's near-acknowledgement of racial inequalities in the criminal justice system may not be as important as his financial interest in the past week: According to the Washington Post, Cotton has quintupled his usual fundraising numbers since his contribution to the Times, despite running unopposed in November.