Rep. Cummings issues warning on political speak post-Dallas
Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Maryland) expressed his sadness Sunday about the recent tensions between police and the African American community, but cautioned political leaders and elected officials from quickly jumping to conclusions or using inflammatory language in the aftermath.
“I think we have to be careful about whatever we say these days that goes from our leaders to what people put on Facebook … because I do think people have a tendency to act on certain things,” he said on CBS’ “Face the Nation.”
Still, Cummings noted that the fears of African American men are real, and that white Americans have a hard time understanding just how terrifying that feeling can be.
“A lot of people don’t understand what it’s like for African American men and boys to know that at any moment you’re going to be pulled over and that your life could end,” he said.
If Cummings were giving advice to a young black man for how to live his life, he said he would tell him to study, work hard–and “be careful.”
“I would tell him that he’s going to have a lot of barriers to get to where he has to go, but that he can make it,” he said. “And I would tell him to do everything in his power to get a good education, but I would also tell him to be careful in everything he does.”
The tragedy of the shooting of Philando Castile in Minnesota, Cummings said, is that he “was a man who was doing everything right.”
“He said look, you know, I’ve got a gun, he was authorized to carry it, and the next thing you know he’s dead,” Cummings said.
African Americans mourn when a black man is killed by police, he added, but they also mourn for the innocent police officers who were killed. “They don’t understand that there’s pain when these things happen in the African American community,” he said. “But there’s also pain by African Americans when police are murdered like they were in Dallas.
Cummings, who represents the Baltimore-area district that saw protests and violence after the death of Freddie Gray last year, said that even though several of the officers involved in the incident have been acquitted, the fact that the men were put on trial is proof of “justice.”
“You know what? People saw justice being carried out,” he said of the court cases. “And we did not have the loud protests, there were peaceful protests but they were small.”