Though the first GOP debate took place in Cleveland, a city rocked by police violence against its African American residents, only one candidate had to speak to the problem: Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker.
The Fox News moderators asked Walker how to address the problem of “overly aggressive police officers targeting young African Americans,” noting that some call it “the civil rights issue of our time.”
Yet Walker’s only response was advocating for proper training for law enforcement, particularly when it comes to use of force. He then called for showing those who step over the line that “there are consequences to show that we treat everyone the same in America,” but did not specify if he means police officers who shoot unarmed civilians should be indicted.
In a case that hits closer to home for the debate’s host city, 12-year-old Tamir Rice was killed by Cleveland police eight months ago, and the officers who shot him have yet to face consequences as the investigation drags on.
Walker’s record on discriminatory policing raises questions about his dedication to tackling the problem.
Wisconsin already had the some of the worst racial disparities in the country when he took office, but it has gotten much worse under his tenure. Soon after taking office, he defunded a program that tracked the race of people stopped by police, even though black residents of Madison’s Dane County were found to be 97 times more likely to go to jail for a drug crime than a white resident.
The number of parolees has also plummeted under his Administration, with the Parole Board Members appointed by Walker denying the vast majority of petitions from prisoners.
Under Walker’s governorship, spending on prisons eclipsed the dollars allocated for higher education for the first time in state history.
Though the moderator’s question in Thursday’s debate referenced the Black Lives Matter movement, neither Walker nor any other candidate acknowledged it. To date, no Republican candidate has referenced the movement in their campaigns, except to dismiss and criticize it.