In a direct line of questioning this week, South Carolina Republican Rep. Trey Gowdy held professor and community policing advocate Deborah Ramirez accountable for her assertion that black crime victims are treated differently than whites in America. He began by listing some of the “more than 340 officers killed in the line of duty in South Carolina” followed by several victims of “intraracial homicides in South Carolina,” asking the witness if she was familiar with any of the cases.
She confirmed that she was not, leading Gowdy to explain that there were “not protests either with any of those police officer killings or any of the intraracial killings.”
Gowdy then touched on an issue that frustrated him as a prosecutor and continues to impede the judicial process today.
“You have a victim of color and we had trouble getting witnesses to cooperate with law enforcement and prosecutors,” he said, “which then, as you know, diminishes the quality of that case and your ability to prosecute it – which may result in a lesser plea bargain, because you don’t have the facts.”
He suggested that it is this testimonial disparity “which may then result in what you said in your opening statement, which is people have a tendency to treat black lives differently than white, when the reality was that the case wasn’t as good.”
During his days as a prosecutor, Gowdy recalled a black chief of police with whom he worked on many cases.
“He lamented the exact same thing you and I are talking about,” he said, which “is the loss of life in his community and the refusal of people to cooperate – even in the drive-by shooting of an 8-year-old at a birthday party.”
Gowdy concluded with his hope that “this 21st century policing strategies conversation that we’re having includes getting people to cooperate with law enforcement so you can hold people to an exact same standard regardless of the race of the victim.”
In addition to reaching that goal, Gowdy also said he hopes to reach a point “where we lament the death, the murder of a black female … as much if it’s at the hands of an abusive husband … as we would if it were at the hand of a white cop.”
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BCN editor’s note: This article first appeared at Western Journalism.