One of the first lessons in Public Speaking 101 is to know your audience.
Apparently, Legislative District 23 Representative Jay Lawrence did not heed that lesson when answering questions before the Arizona Chapter of March for Our Lives, an organization committed to stopping more mass shootings, especially in schools.
Mr. Lawrence (as reported by Andrew Oxford of Az Central,) in response to a question “about crafting gun policy that does not disproportionately target people of color,” said that:
“Black and brown communities, if you look at the weapons that they have, they are not licensed. They are better armed than the police officers who are supposed to be controlling them. They have firearms galore.”
Lawrence went further and said that:
“Black and brown communities, black communities, in particular, have gangs. And the gangs have to be stopped.”
Suffice to say, these offensive comments did go well with the audience, as gasps from the audience, as reported by Az Central’s Andrew Oxford, could be heard.
Unfortunately, despite Mr. Lawrences later attempts to clean up what he said, all his offensive comments did was remind some Arizona political circles that the current incarnation of the Arizona Republican Party, with members like Sylvia Allen, David Stringer, and Paul Gosar, has strong racist and white nationalist tendencies.
Murphy Bannerman of the Arizona Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee issued a statement, writing that:
“From Stringer to Allen, to Jay Lawrence, it’s clear the Arizona Republican Party is deeply prejudice of communities of color and completely incapable of representing all of Arizona. It’s long past time for Republicans to speak out against the dangerous rhetoric of hate being spread within the party. We at the ADLCC will continue our work to elect Dems that represent all of our communities.”
Eric Kurland, the Democratic 2018 (and 2020) Legislative District 23 Candidate looking to defeat Mr. Lawrence relayed that:
“I have spent my entire teaching career in Title 1 schools working with the “black and brown communities” Jay disparaged in front of an audience of youth activists. He and I couldn’t be further apart on how we view the role of Representative. A true public servant fights for all communities and not just those who can vote for him/her. Check the records — it’s time for a change. It’s time to put the “public” back in public service.”
For a person who has voted for allowing concealed weapons in public places (including schools in 2016) and the sale of firearms without background checks, Mr. Lawrence is in no position to comment on what is wrong with Hispanic and African American Communities with regards to firearm possession.
As Az Central Laurie Roberts alluded to in her column chastizing Lawrence for his recent remarks, the recent shootings in El Paso, Dayton, Odessa (or the other mass shootings in recent memory) were not committed by gang members.
They were committed by mostly disturbed and racist white men.
Ms. Roberts also recommended that in order to stop gangs, everyone should adopt policies that provide for:
“…..better access to a quality education in inner cities and the promise of a decent job.”
It would be better for Republicans to drop their decades-old embrace of the viewpoints of the old Racist Dixiecrats and work with Democrats to solve the issues of gun violence by enacting solutions (passage of Red Flag Laws, stronger background checks and waiting periods) that have the support of a great majority of the American People.
It is time to stop playing “The Other” game and do what is right for everyone in the Arizona Community.
Featured Image from Phoenix New Times