Fumbling through a question on whether he would be meet with representatives of the Black Lives Matter movement, Republican presidential candidate and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker dismissed the possibility, saying, “Who knows who that is?”
The Daily Mail posed the question, “If organizers for the Black Lives Matter movement came to you and said, ‘We want to sit down [with you],’ would you do it?” In response, Walker said Friday, “I meet with voters. Who knows who that is?”
The Black Lives Matter movement is comprised of a broad coalition of organizers actively trying to engage politicians to respond to police brutality against the African-American community. The movement has picked up steam in response to a spate of fatal shootings of black people across the country.
When asked to clarify his response, Walker explained that he would “talk to American voters, adding, “It’s the same way as saying we meet with the Tea Party. Who is the Tea Party? There’s hundreds of thousands of people.” He also stated, “I’m here to talk to voters in New Hampshire about things that matter.”
Walker later elaborated, “In Wisconsin, we’re the first and I believe the only state that has a law that requires an independent review anytime there’s an officer-related shooting that leads to a death. And that’s something that I think would certainly help in terms of both protecting those that have concerns about episodes like that as well as law enforcement.”
Walker did in fact sign a bill in his state last year requiring investigations of officer-related deaths by investigators from outside police agencies. The bill provides a framework to establish confidence and trust between law enforcement and the community.
Still, Republican primary candidates are having a difficult time doing outreach with Black Lives Matter grievances. Earlier this month, Donald Trump threatened to fight Black Lives Matter protesters if they attempted to speak at one of his events. Ben Carson told ThinkProgress‘s Kira Lerner, “We need to talk about what the real issues are and not get caught up in silliness like this matters or that matters.” And Sen. Marco Rubio (FL) said that racial disparities are a “serious problem” that should be confronted, “but it may not necessarily have a federal bill that we can pass that can fix all this.”