Robert “Beto” O’Rourke, who is running as a Democrat to unseat Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), told an audience that police are “the New Jim Crow.” Speaking at an event at Prairie View A&M University, a historically black institution of higher education, on Wednesday, O’Rourke agreed with an assertion by a member of the audience.
The progressive Democrat began his presentation by recalling a history of racism and injustices committed against black Americans by law enforcement and the criminal justice system. He spoke about the days when local businesses in Texas colluded with law enforcement and the prisons to arrest blacks who were forced to work on chain gangs on road projects and private projects.
“That injustice, to many more people here than I know firsthand, continues to persist today,” O’Rourke said. “That system of suspending somebody, solely based on the color of their skin, searching that person solely based on the color of their skin, stopping that person solely based on the color of their skin, shooting that person solely based on the color of their skin, throwing the book at that person and letting them rot behind bars solely based on the color of their skin, is why some have called this — I think it is an apt description — the new Jim Crow.”
O’Rourke grew up in the El Paso area, which has a predominantly Hispanic culture. He gained the “Beto” sobriquet there. Beto is the Spanish nickname for “Roberto.”