Op-ed views and opinions expressed are solely those of the author.
With victimhood being celebrated in post-Obama America, and demonizing law enforcement all the rage, one must wonder what took Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., so long to recount his tale of a cop drawing a gun on him as a college student in Palo Alto, California.
In an interview with Politico, Booker said his college years in the wealthy and mostly white Northern California enclave was a time when “the fear was at its highest in my life,” as he recalled the time when he was allegedly stopped by police and accused of stealing his own car.
“It seemed like half the police force came out and they kept me, sitting in my car, screaming at me commands,” he said. “And ultimately the only excuse they gave me was that I fit the description of somebody that they were looking for.”
Booker spoke of how the “incidents just started racking up” for him as a student at Stanford University after his parents bought him a car.
“You have these humiliating experiences, where you just feel helpless, and like a razor edge of the wrong move could get you shot,” the Democratic lawmaker said.
He attended Stanford in the early 90s, for what it’s worth.
Politico billed Booker as “a budding dealmaker in the mode of the sitting president” in the article — praise him any more effusively and reporter Marianne Levine would have to be excused for a cigarette break.
Readers are told that Booker helps lead negotiations with Sen. Tim Scott, R-S.C., on police reform, and that he has the memory of that experience in college in mind.
Last year, right after the death of George Floyd, Booker took to the floor of the Senate to talk about “being followed by mall security guards, being accused or stopped, being looked at with suspicion, and experience after experience after experience with police,” according to The Hill.
He would also recount his experience in Palo Alto, reading from a column he wrote in the Stanford student newspaper describing the encounter.
Booker said that officers told him, “Turn off the engine! Put your keys, driver’s license, registration and insurance on the hood now! Put your hands on the steering wheel and don’t even think of moving.”
(It’s not clear how he could put the requested items on the hood of the vehicle while keeping his hands on the steering wheel — he told Politico police “kept me, sitting in my car.”)
“Five police cars. Six officers surrounded my car, guns ready,” he continued. “Thirty minutes I sat praying and shaking, only interrupted by the command, ‘I said, don’t move!’”
There is no context offered on the alleged incident, only Booker’s take, which seems contradictory, as he said police suspected him of stealing his own car, but also said he was told they stopped him because he “fit the description of somebody that they were looking for.”
As for the police reform effort, Booker put a time line on it that suggests the White House may be shooting for a June 19 announcement — the date being Juneteenth, a day black Americans celebrate to mark the end of slavery in the U.S.
“I think it’s June or bust,” he said. “I think we have three weeks in June to get this done.”
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