Weird political ads from Republicans are sort of par for the course this close to the midterm elections. So there was no reason to think Louisiana Republican Senator John Kennedy’s ad would depart from the sort of racist absurdity we’re used to seeing. But based on the fact that we’re all still talking about an ad that ran last Friday, it’s probably worth getting into what was said.
Let’s start with the unsurprising parts. Kennedy spends most of the video talking about violent crime and denouncing wokeness. Images of Black Americans peacefully protesting are intermixed with videos of faceless “violent criminals” to really drive home the video’s “the woke Black mob is coming to get you” ethos.
Nothing about this would be surprising, but then out of nowhere, Kennedy stares straight at the camera with a deadpan expression and gives us this bizarre piece of advice.
“Look, if you hate cops just because they’re cops, the next time you get in trouble, call a crackhead,” says Kennedy without a lick of humor.
Obvious disdain for people suffering from addiction issues aside (although that’s its own conversation), what kind of response is this to people who have genuine concerns about police brutality? The premise, if I’m understanding it correctly, is that if you’re mad about police brutality, you’re on your own.
Oh and not only are you on your own, but a sitting U.S. Senator is also going to mock you. But if Kennedy really wants to talk about policing, let’s talk about it.
As of September 29th, police have shot and killed 1,049 people in 2022, according to the Washington Post’s police shootings database. It’s worth noting that those are just the people we know about.
Black Americans are killed by police at more than twice the rate of white Americans, according to the Washington Post. And 7 in 10 Black Americans say they have experienced incidents of discrimination or police mistreatment in their lifetime, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation.
In Louisiana, the AP discovered at least a dozen cases over the past decade where Louisiana State police troopers or their superiors concealed “evidence of beatings, deflected blame, and impeded efforts to root out misconduct.”
In one of the uncovered videos, a white state trooper is shown slamming a Black man against a police car and repeatedly throwing him to the ground and punching him while he is handcuffed, according to the AP. The beaten man’s crime, allegedly having some weed on him.
All of this to say, people in the state of Louisiana, which is 33 percent, Black, having an issue with the way police go about their business isn’t shocking. And to essentially say, “screw you for being ungrateful” is serious B.S.
So while the whole thing is so absurd it’s almost funny, it’s also a deadly serious indication of whose safety actually matters in this country. (Spoiler alert: it’s not Black peoples’).