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WATCH: High-Ranking Dem Senator Calls Black Sen. Tim Scott’s Bill ‘Token’ Approach; Scott Fires Back
Sen. Richard Durbin (D-IL) makes an opening statement during the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing examining risks of Covid-19 in jails at the Dirksen Building of the U.S. Capitol June 2, 2020 in Washington, D.C. (Photo By Tom Williams-Pool/Getty Images)
Tom Williams-Pool/Getty Images

Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL), the second-ranking Democrat in the U.S. Senate, took the Senate floor on Wednesday to dismiss the JUSTICE Act police reform bill presented by Republican Sen. Tim Scott, who is African-American, as a “token” bill.

“[T]hese younger people are telling us, ‘Once and for all, change it, grownups. You’re supposed to be in charge; you’re supposed to have the authority,” said the Senate Minority Whip, referencing Black Lives Matter and Defund the Police protesters.

“So what we say on the Democratic side is we cannot waste this historic moment, this singular opportunity,” Durbin continued. “Let’s not do something that is a token, half-hearted approach.”

After pausing a moment to cough, the Illinois Democrat added, “Let’s focus instead on making a change that will make a difference in the future of America.”

The “token” comment prompted immediate backlash online, including from Townhall editor and Fox News contributor Guy Benson, who tweeted: “Dick Durbin — the second ranking Senate Democrat — just referred to [Sen. Tim Scott’s] bill as a ‘token’ approach, in a floor speech. Subtle!”

Responding to Benson’s tweet, Sen. Scott directed a message to his Democratic colleague.

“Y’all still wearing those kente cloths over there [Sen. Durbin],” wrote Scott, a reference to the Democrats’ much-criticized decision to wear the traditional African cloth around their necks while kneeling in solidarity with Black Lives Matter protesters. 

According to Sen. Scott, Durbin’s “token” comment follows a pattern of similar racist “dog-whistle” digs directed at the Republican senator.

“Not surprising the last 24 hours have seen a lot of ‘token’ ‘boy’ or ‘you’re being used’ in my mentions,” Scott tweeted last week. “Let me get this straight…you DON’T want the person who has faced racial profiling by police, been pulled over dozens of times, or been speaking out for YEARS drafting this?”

“And don’t throw ‘you’re the only black guy they know’ at me either,” he added in a follow-up post. “There are only two black Democratic Senators, stop pretending there’s some huge racial diversity gap in the Senate. Ask my [Democratic] colleagues what their staffs look like…I guarantee you won’t like the answer.”

Before swiping back at Durbin, Scott posted video of his introduction to the JUSTICE Act, which he announced as intended “to restore the broken trust between communities and color and law enforcement through three essential pieces: reform, accountability, and transparency.”

“The time to act is now!” said Scott in his announcement online of the initiative he spearheaded. “We hear you America, and the JUSTICE Act provides solutions!”

Scott’s legislation would establish an “enhanced use-of-force database, pursue restrictions on chokeholds and create new commissions to study law enforcement and race.”

Related: Senate Republicans Unveil ‘Justice Act’ In Bid To Beat House Democrats To Police Reform

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The Daily Wire   >  Read   >  WATCH: High-Ranking Dem Senator Calls Black Sen. Tim Scott’s Bill ‘Token’ Approach; Scott Fires Back