Beto O’Rourke to black leaders: We need to protect ‘people from their country’ – Washington Examiner

NORTH CHARLESTON, S.C. — Beto O’Rourke said black Americans need to be shielded from their own country.

Appearing before a gathering of 10 black community leaders and activists at Park Circle Creamery, the 2020 presidential candidate addressed the lack of trust in the law enforcement community that has arisen from incidents of police brutality.

“I don’t know the right word to describe what we need to do as a country, but it’s not just leveling the playing field. It is protecting people from their country and those who hold positions of trust, including in law enforcement right now,” the former Texas congressman told the group. “And it’s protecting from a criminal justice system, it’s protecting from a kindergarten classroom, it’s also protecting from who’s polluting the air that we breathe and the water we drink,” he said, making an apparent reference to the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting.

O’Rourke is participating in a 10-stop, three-day swing of South Carolina, an early-voting state where candidates are investing time and resources courting the black vote. His remarks were made in response to a question probing the contender for his “opinion on what black people can do as individuals or as a collective in order to catch up.”

“We have these very specific proposals about ensuring there’s more capital in the community, capital in society, making sure everyone has access to it,” O’Rourke said. “I understand that it’s much larger than any given policy proposal or any part of the system because it is systemic. And I will in all humility admit I don’t have the answer.”

Earlier Charleston’s Jerez Mitchell, 32, and Columbia’s Warrenetta Mann, 52, told the ex-congressman about their nonprofit organization, Cuts and Conversations, founded to boost black male college and university retention rates, including by creating open, nonjudgmental spaces for them to talk about their different experiences.

O’Rourke is one of a few White House hopefuls visiting the greater Charleston area this weekend to address Saturday’s Black Economic Alliance Presidential Forum. Sens. Cory Booker of New Jersey and Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts are also in town to attend the business leaders coalition’s inaugural presidential event, where they were asked to speak to how they would provide more black economic opportunities.

O’Rourke ranks sixth, with 3.5% support, in the latest RealClearPolitics average of polls for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination.

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