Menendez condemns Wisconsin senator over Jan. 6 comments

By Nikita BiryukovMarch 16 2021 

New Jersey Globe

U.S. Sen. Bob Menendez. 

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U.S. Sen. Bob Menendez (D-North Bergen) took to the Senate floor to issue a rare condemnation of Sen. Ron Johnson after the Wisconsin Republican said he wasn’t concerned when supporters of President Donald Trump stormed the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 but would have been were they black.

“I knew those were people who love this country, that truly respect law enforcement, would never do anything to break the law, so I wasn’t concerned,” Johnson said in a radio hit Thursday, adding later, “Had the tables been turned and President Trump won the election and tens of thousands of Black Lives Matter and antifa, I might have been a little concerned.”

Five people, including U.S. Capitol Police officer Brian Sicknick, were killed during the attempt to stop Congress from certifying President Joe Biden’s victory.

At least 138 police officers were injured during the attack, some severely.

“For Senator Johnson to cast those who attacked the Capitol as harmless patriots while stoking fear of Black Americans is like rubbing salt in an open wound,” Menendez said. “Everyone in this body should know that when you perpetuate such racist tropes, you contribute to a culture that gives people permission to treat Black Americans as suspicious and their lives as expendable.”

Menendez said Johnson’s comments leaned into racist tropes depicting Black people as dangerous.

Johnson told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel his comments were spurred by protests in the wake of the death of George Floyd, who died after a Minneapolis Police officer pinned his neck under a knee for nine minutes and 30 seconds.

“The violent picture they paint of this movement could not be more divorced from reality,” Menendez said, referring to the Black Lives Matter Movement. “At this point several reputable studies have confirmed that the protests launched in the wake of George Floyd’s chilling murder were overwhelmingly peaceful. I repeat, the Black Lives Matter movement is overwhelming peaceful.”

In October, Harvard University researchers released data on the 7,305 Black Lives Matter protests, finding that only 3.7% of the protests involved vandalism or property damage, some of which was done by persons unaffiliated with the protest. They found no one was injured in 97.7% of the protests.

Research by the Armed Conflict Location and Event Data Project returned similar results, finding just 3% of protests saw violence or property damage.

“Everyone in this body should know that when you perpetuate such racist tropes, you contribute to a culture that gives people permission to treat Black Americans as suspicious and their lives as expendable,” Menendez said. “We in the United States Senate are supposed to hold ourselves to a higher standard. We are supposed to advance America’s long march toward a more perfect union, not coddle and cater to those who would take us backwards.”

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published this page in News and Politics 2021-03-17 02:28:10 -0700