By Brandan Rogowski
Baltimore Watchdog Staff Writer
Baltimore City Councilman Brandon Scott told an audience at CCBC Wednesday that Americans must fight for the rights of all its citizens as the United States faces grave challenges from extremist groups that seek to undermine some of the country’s core principles.
“America is in a very fragile state with our core and values being threatened every day,” Scott said during a speech at CCBC’s Essex campus.
“Are we saying because many are uncomfortable with the conversations started by people like Colin Kaepernick that we should just ignore the issue,” Scott said, referring to the former San Francisco 49ers quarterback who caused controversy last season when he kneeled during the national anthem. “America is built on people like Mr. Kaepernick who are willing to make these statements.”
“Kneeling is known as a great sign of respect or praying,” Scott added. “Yet Mr. Kaepernick is being white-washed out of the National Football League for kneeling. But wife beaters and dog killers are allowed to play.”
Scott said some Americans are trying to shut out and oppress minorities, much like African Americans and other non-White segments of the population were oppressed in previous generations. He said that people who stand up to oppression are often attacked themselves.
“I wore a Colin Kaepernick jersey to a City Council meeting in support of Kaepernick and after the meeting I had hundreds of messages and emails saying that I was a racist, unpatriotic, un-American, and called the N-word,” Scott said.
“We will always have differences, but it is un-American to let that grow and divide us,” Scott said. “We have to stand up when anyone’s domestic tranquility and free speech is being threatened. We have to protect the Constitution.”
Some of the students who attended the speech at the college’s administrative building said they thought Scott made some interesting points.
“His advice on being courageous and how you can react in a peaceful way and still make your point and not back down was really eye opening and makes me want to do something about it,” said Sky Moroz, a CCBC sophomore who is majoring in psychology.
Scott said he was prompted to call for the immediate removal of all confederate statues in Baltimore following the neo-Nazi protests in Charlottesville, Virginia, last August.
“Do we really expect a group of people to live peacefully in a country when its own government is the ones who erected these statues,” Scott said. “It can’t happen and it won’t. We should erect statues of true local heroes, such as [19th century abolitionist] Harriet Tubman and [former Supreme Court Justice] Thurgood Marshall.”
Scott read an email sent to him by someone using the email address email@example.com. In the email, Scott said he and Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh were called “liberal, racist niggers.”
Scott countered the argument that the confederate statues are part of American history and should remain in public spaces so that the country can learn from past mistakes.
“By that logic we should get statues erected of blacks being lynched, because that’s history and we can learn from that,” Scott said. “And it would be the same as going to Jewish communities and erecting statues of Hitler. It isn’t right.”
Scott also railed against violence in the city and the country.
“Every day young black men are being killed, Americans are being killed by other Americans and it is an epidemic,” Scott said. “Life is supposed to be protected by the Constitution. Or are we all just going to forget about that?”
In response to a question, Scott said if he were mayor he would declare gun violence the No. 1 public health issue in Baltimore. Scott said that throughout his lifetime, the city has dealt with gun violence as a police matter. That strategy has not worked, he said.
Scott said he voted against the one-year-minimum prison sentence for illegal gun possession because measures like this have not proven successful and are being repealed across the country.
People in Baltimore don’t care about a year in prison, he said. He said city residents care that if they don’t have their gun, they might get killed and their children won’t have a dad any more.
“I like the points he made about people not being scared of jail, because in those areas it is really tough and jail isn’t the biggest problem to them,” said Shane Copsey, a CCBC sophomore.
“It was refreshing to see someone who is politically young, express that kind of passion to the community he represents,” said Brian Gronberg, a CCBC sophomore chemistry student.
Scott, who has been on the council for six years, said that if he runs for mayor, he would lessen the mayor’s powers and give more to the council. He also said he would change the police commissioner from a single person to a board of commissioners, build and renovate recreation centers, and raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour.
Scott spoke for 22 minutes in the administration building on the CCBC Essex campus and answered questions for another 20 minutes. Approximately 35 people, including CCBC faculty and students, attended.