Beto Tells Sharpton It’s Time To Take A Hard Look At Reparations

Kerry Picket Political Reporter
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NEW YORK CITY — Democratic presidential candidate Beto O’Rourke helped kick off the National Action Network Convention on Wednesday by telling Rev. Al Sharpton he would sign off on a commission to study reparations for descendants of black slaves in the U.S.

“I had a chance to speak with and just listen to and learn from Brian Stevenson in Montgomery, Alabama and learn from his work on working with the community to build a memorial to justice and to peace and he said ‘foundational to reparations is the word repair. Foundational to repair is the truth,'” O’Rourke said when asked by Sharpton about the proposal put forth by Democratic Texas Rep. Sheila Jackson. (RELATED: Does Anyone In Dc Know Anything About Beto O’Rourke?)

Democratic 2020 U.S. presidential candidate O'Rourke speaks in Keene

Democratic 2020 U.S. presidential candidate and former U.S. Representative Beto O’Rourke speaks at a campaign stop at Keene State College in Keene, New Hampshire, U.S., March 19, 2019. REUTERS/Brian Snyder.

“And until all Americans understand that civil rights are not just those victories I began with the outset of my comments but the injustices that have been visited and continue to be visited and will never get the change that we need to live up to the promise of this country,” the former congressman continued. “So absolutely I would sign that into law.”

O’Rourke held a different position on the issue, however. He previously said while campaigning in Iowa last month he was not in favor of reparations but noted it was important for the country to discuss how blacks in America have been treated and systematic racism that is still present in the country.

While campaigning in New Hampshire several days later he said, “I don’t believe… that [reparations] should be the primary or initial focus of the conversation.”

O’Rourke also agreed that as president, he would bring back Department of Justice consent decrees the Obama administration used often to punish and regulate police departments as a vehicle to abide by the administration’s policies. (RELATED: DOJ Police Probes And Consent Decrees Spike Under Obama)

The Texas Democratic presidential hopeful began his remarks by discussing his stance with the war on drugs as well as calling for accountability against law enforcement.

“Show me through your work here in New York City that though all Americans use marijuana at the same rate over race, only some Americans likely to be of color would be stopped and frisked to be found for possession go behind bars and endure the consequences the other Americans would not,” he said.

O’Rourke continued, “So, yes, there must be accountability for the enforcement of the law. There must be accountability for the illegal use of force. And federal funds to local police departments and sheriff’s departments must be tied to accountability.”

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