Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush is back on the campaign trail in the early primary state of South Carolina, after canceling planned events in the wake of the deadly shooting at a historic black church in Charleston.
During a Q & A with employees of the pharmaceutical company Nephron, his response to a question about teachers’ unions veered into his thoughts on the origins of the mass protests in Ferguson and Baltimore.
“Kids in this country are aimlessly wandering around in their lives because they’ve never been told they were capable of learning,” Bush said. “They’ve never been challenged to achieve far better. They’ve never really had the kind of mentoring and nurturing that gives them the sense their lives could be better. You see what happens in Baltimore and Ferguson. You see the tragedies play out. You see people becoming so despondent they take actions that are horrific.”
Completely absent from his analysis was any mention of what triggered the mass protests in both cities: police officers killing people of color. Officers in Baltimore have been charged with murdering Freddie Gray, and investigations have uncovered a pattern of abuse and lethal force against unarmed residents in the city.
Following the killing of 18-year-old Mike Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, a Justice Department investigation found systemic racial bias in local policing and the courts system. One example of many in the report was a Ferguson officer telling an African-American man: “N*****, I can find something to lock you up on,” then slamming his face into a wall.
While entrenched poverty and segregation were contributing factors to the protests that rocked both cities over the last year, Bush not did propose any action to raise wages, crack down on housing discrimination or banks’ illegal mortgage practices, or provide more resources for struggling families. Like his fellow Republican presidential candidate Rand Paul, he preferred to attribute the problem to individual young people lacking “mentorship” and the proper “family structure.”