During a town hall at Prairie View A&M University in Texas, Rep. Robert O’Rourke — who is challenging Texas Republican Sen. Ted Cruz criticized law enforcement, claiming that many continue to target black Americans.
“Talking about criminal justice reform, let’s talk about where this problem started. When contractors needed labor, they would talk to local law enforcement who would arrest African-Americans for idling, for petty crimes, frivolous offenses. Those contractors would describe the number of bodies that they needed and law enforcement would provide those bodies. And when they look at the remains in that graveyard, they see evidence of muscles literally torn from the bone, people being worked to death in these convict chain gangs, people who became convicts solely by dint of the color of their skin, in a system that was radically unjust, following what we thought was the end of that injustice at the end of the Civil War.”
O’Rourke went on to compare police officers to those who implemented racist Jim Crow laws of the post-Civil War South.
“That injustice, to many more people here than I know firsthand, continues to persist today. That system of suspending somebody, solely based on the color of their skin; searching that person solely based on the color of their skin; stopping that person solely based on the color of their skin; shooting that person solely based on the color of their skin; throwing the book at that person and letting them rot behind bars solely based on the color of their skin, is why some have called this, I think it is an apt description, the new Jim Crow.”