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Dem Lawmaker Spars With Rep. Matt Gaetz at Police Reform Hearing

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Reps. Cedric Richmond (D-La.) and Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) became embroiled in a heated debate on race relations and police brutality amid discussions about a bill for police reform.

During a hearing on Wednesday, the Lousiana lawmaker called out some of his colleagues for their repeated attempts to introduce “amendments that are a tangent and a distraction from what we’re talking about.”

“As a black male who went to the fifth-best public high school in the country, who was a victim of excessive force, who has a black son, who has worries that you all don’t,” Richmond said, adding, “And to my colleagues, especially the ones that keep introducing amendments that are a tangent and a distraction from what we’re talking about, you all are white males.”

Richmond expressed disapproval of his colleagues’ focus on “side issues,” including a Republican-backed amendment calling for investigations into Antifa as he urged them to deal with the main issue plaguing states nationwide.

“You’ve never lived in my shoes, and you do not know what it’s like to be an African American male,” he continued, “And all I’m saying, is if you are opposed to this legislation, let’s just have the vote, but please do not come in this committee room and make a mockery of the pain that exists in my community.”

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Richmond later added, “Either man up and say you don’t believe in it or let’s talk about the real issue. And yes, we’re not interested in a watered-down version of this bill.”

“This is a crisis. People are losing their lives,” Richmond said.

He also noted that people are currently dying and side issues should be addressed at a different time.

See their heated exchange below:

However, Gaetz objected to Richmond’s claims insisting he and their colleagues could not relate to the struggles he faces.

“I appreciate your passion,” Gaetz told the Democratic lawmaker. “Are you suggesting that you’re certain that none of us have non-white children? Because you reflect on your black son, and you said none of us could understand.”

Following Gaetz’s remarks, Richmond immediately fired back to defend his previous remarks,

“Matt, Matt. Stop,” Richmond said as he cut Gaetz off. “I’m not about to get sidetracked about the color of our children. … It is not about the color of your kids. It is about black males, black people in the streets that are getting killed, and if one of them happens to be your kid, I’m concerned about him, too, and clearly, I’m more concerned about him than you are.”

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Gaetz charged back saying, “You’re claiming you have more concern for my family than I do?” Gaetz shot back. “Who in the hell do you think you are?”

To which Richmond responded, “If the shoe fits.”

Gaetz admitted that Richmond’s remarks struck a nerve.

Richmond and Gaetz’s heated exchange came as the Democrats on the House Judiciary Committee advanced a sweeping, historic bill on police reform following the death of George Floyd.

Statistics show that black people have been killed by police at disproportionate rates, “both in terms of overall shootings and the shootings of unarmed Americans,” according to The Washington Post.

Investigative findings also signal that there is an accountability issue within the United States’ law enforcement systems.

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