Senator John Neely Kennedy (R-LA) has apparently lost what was left of his mind. The 70-year-old incumbent told his constituents to “call a crackhead” instead of the police, in what is probably one of the most cringe-worthy campaign videos from a GOP candidate so far this year – and believe us, the competition is stiff.
“Look, if you hate cops just because they’re cops, the next time you get in trouble, call a crackhead,” Kennedy says in the video.
I don’t think so.
In just thirty seconds, Sen. Kennedy manages to squeeze in race-baiting, fear-mongering, and dog-whistling. The 21st-century Willie Hortonesque-style video panders to deeply rooted biases that have subjected the state’s Black community to disproportionate maltreatment by Louisiana law enforcement.
“Violent crime is surging in Louisiana. Woke leaders blame the police, I blame the criminals. A mom should not have to look over her shoulder when she’s pumping gas,” Kennedy said.
I know the difference between criminals and their innocent victims. pic.twitter.com/RKhHJEefpv
— John Neely Kennedy (@JohnKennedyLA) September 30, 2022
And an unarmed Black Louisianan shouldn’t have to fear for their life and safety when encountering those who swore an oath to protect them.
While it’s true, crime has been on the rise in The Boot, context matters. While Louisiana has a decades-long history of crime and violence – with New Orleans frequently landing in the top spot statistically – police corruption plays a huge factor in that.
“Basic elements of effective policing — clear policies, training, accountability, and confidence of the citizenry — have been absent for years. Far too often, officers show a lack of respect for the civil rights and dignity of the people of New Orleans.” — Department of Justice 2011 report
For over a decade, the state’s most violent city, New Orleans, has been under Department of Justice oversight stemming from a 2011 report that alleges the department committed substantial civil rights abuses that have contributed to the increase in crime, calling the NOPD a “troubled agency, ” and writing, “As systematic violations of civil rights erode public confidence, policing becomes more difficult, less safe, and less effective, and crime increases.”
The DOJ draws parallels between the impact of police corruption and brutality and the crime rate. When public trust in police departments is eroded due to harassment, excessive force and rights violations, law enforcement loses the support and cooperation needed to solve those crimes.
“NOPD’s failure to ensure that its officers routinely respect the Constitution and the rule of law undermines trust within the very communities whose cooperation the Department most needs to enforce the law and prevent crime.” — DOJ report
That coupled with contradictory actions by Republican legislators like Sen. Kennedy, who say one thing and do another – like voting against legislation that will give local law enforcement agencies the funding needed. Kennedy’s Democratic opponent, Luke Mixon told Nola.com that violent crime did need to be addressed.
“We do that by funding our police departments. Senator Kennedy voted against $350bn in funding for local police departments,” Mixon said, according to blogger B. Scott.
Police apathy is also a factor, as detailed in the blog Love B. Scott:
“On 26 July, a woman called 911 after seeing another woman being raped on the street in the French Quarter of the city.”
“’Actually, there’s a police officer in front of me now,’ the woman said on the call, according to The Washington Post. ‘I mean, this police officer isn’t even moving, he’s still just parked here.’”
“’He’s gone. This … cop is still a block away … and this girl got raped in the street corner. There is a cop a block away,’ the caller added.”
Gary Chambers Jr., another Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate from the state, was less than diplomatic in his criticism of Kennedy’s ad, calling it “racist as hell.” In a video posted on social media, Chambers calls out the current Senator’s racist dog-whistling by using the buzz word “crackhead” – unevenly applied to the Black community – rather than referring to methamphetamines or opioids – which substantially plague the White community.
“He was trying to talk to a specific subset of people that he doesn’t give a damn about serving,” Chambers said.
Gary Chambers Jr. responds to Senator John Kennedy’s “if you hate cops, call a crackhead” slogan. pic.twitter.com/DqTW1OeKs0
— Daily Loud (@DailyLoud) October 1, 2022
With just 35 days to go before the general election, it’s important to call out politicians who would rather share narratives than solutions. GOP politicans like Senator Kennedy are relying on deeply held stereotypes, instead of providing an honest dialogue on how to reduce crime. Since Senator Kennedy took office in 2017, the murder rate in New Orleans has nearly doubled – from 119 in 2019, to 218 in 2021, per City Journal.
Perhaps if Kennedy is as concerned with crime as he says he is, he would have done something while his dear leader was in office. After the violent attack on the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2021, the Republican lawmaker still voted to overturn the 2020 election results.
So much for law and order.
Original reporting by B. Scott at Love B. Scott.
Follow Ty Ross on Twitter @cooltxchick