Andrew Gillum: When police reach for a weapon, they've already had to go too far

I don’t like him, particularly his habit of using race to deflect from legitimate questions about his ethical behavior, but this smells to me more like a banal point that came out awkwardly than some batty suggestion that any use of a weapon by a cop is illegitimate. Not even progressives believe that.

I think? Ideological orthodoxy changes quickly in politics nowadays, and they’re pretty far gone on some subjects. One night a few months ago I went to sleep and when I woke up “abolish ICE” was their talking point du jour.

If we haven’t yet arrived at the Democratic belief that all force used by cops amounts to police brutality, give ’em time.

“All this stuff that they say, I’ve got to let them know, anti-police? No. I’m for police accountability, but law enforcement society cannot work and, quite frankly, law enforcement cannot do its job if it does not have a trusting relationship with the community,” Gillum said.

“At the time that a law enforcement official has to go to a weapon, to a gun, to a baton, to a taser, then they have already [had] to go too far by their very presence,” he continued. “By the very trust that they inspire in community and in society, they are supposed to be able to bring most situations to heel.”

Gillum went on to say that he is in favor of law enforcement “repairing the breach” and making sure that there is a good community relationship.

If he’s saying that distrust between cops and the communities they patrol too often leads to confrontations that might have been avoided if relations were better, fine. I don’t know how you quantify that but it’s straightforward. I think that’s what he does mean; when he complains that cops have “had to go too far” by producing a weapon, it’s not their judgment in the moment when facing a threat that I take him to be criticizing, it’s their judgment before that moment in failing to earn the trust of citizens. He’s saying that some threatening situations might have been defused before they turned threatening if people had less reason to fear being confronted by police, not that it’s never right for a cop to defend himself.

Although if he is saying that, he’s destined to have an interesting relationship with Florida law enforcement as governor.

If you’re looking for insights into Gillum’s character based on choice quotes, I’d offer you this instead:

Gillum, who also debated DeSantis Sunday on CNN, mockingly pointed out that his opponent, a former congressman, continued to call him “Andrew” on stage in both events — a decision that some politicos found to be poor form. Gillum generally referred to DeSantis, a congressman who resigned his post shortly after winning the GOP nomination for governor, as either Mr. DeSantis or congressman.

“I met him for the first time the other night and then all of a sudden, without invitation, he was calling me only as Andrew. Between the two of us, he quit his job in Congress, I’m a sitting mayor, and he had the nerve to address me only as Andrew?” Gillum said. “I wanted to correct him, y’all, but I didn’t want to be petty. So, we just we pushed all the way through.”

The implication is clear: It’s a racial slight, as apparently all forms of political antagonism towards Gillum are. DeSantis was probably self-conscious about the fact that he no longer holds public office while Gillum does and was trying not to remind the audience of that by calling him “Mayor.” Gillum could have just called him “Ron,” but then he wouldn’t have had this new talking point about DeSantis’s alleged racism to brandish.

Meanwhile, the White House is watching all of this and worrying:

It’s the governor’s race that most concerns the White House. Governors traditionally play a key role in raising money, hiring staff and marshaling resources ahead of presidential elections. So aides fear that a loss could undermine their efforts to capture the state’s all-important 29 electoral votes in 2020.

A victory by Democrat Andrew Gillum, on the other hand, could buoy Trump’s general election opponent. Gillum, an African-American mayor of Tallahassee, has excited liberals across the state — and presumably, he would work to gin up support for the eventual Democratic nominee…

The optics of losing two high-profile races in Trump’s adopted state also concern White House aides. Trump has staked an extraordinary amount of political capital on DeSantis, intervening in the GOP primary to give him his strong endorsement. A DeSantis loss would inevitably be perceived as a repudiation of the president, some Republicans say.

In 2016 Trump had Rick Scott working hard on his behalf as governor and he ended up winning the state by 1.2 points. In 2020 it’s likely the Democratic nominee will have Gov. Gillum in their corner plus a whole lot of Puerto Rican voters displaced from the island after Hurricane Maria. That’s 29 electoral votes hanging by a thread. And that thread might fray if Gillum himself ends up the VP nominee, with Democrats counting on him to deliver his home state. It’s not an exaggeration to say that the Florida gubernatorial may be the single most consequential election in the country next month.

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