State Senator Opines On Which ‘Blacks’ Should Be Celebrated

Iowa State Senator Julian Garrett wrote in a recent opinion piece that the Black Lives Matter movement doesn’t care about black lives because they don’t focus on “black-on-black” crime, and offered up his suggestion of which “blacks” in society should be held up as “role models.”

The Indianola Republican published on Friday an op-ed titled ‘Black Homicide Victims’ in the Indianola Advocate where he highlighted recent crime statistics from Chicago, Baltimore and Des Moines, saying that “most black murder victims are killed by other blacks.” The Senator, who chairs Justice System Appropriations Subcommittee and is the Vice Chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, then suggested that BLM ignores those crime cases.

“If you take their name [Black Lives Matter] literally, you would think that they would be concerned by the hundreds, if not thousands, of black people killed by other blacks. The truth is their goal is not primarily to protect black lives. If that was their goal they would be concentrating on black on black killings because that is where the numbers are,” wrote Garrett.

“Talking about blacks killed by other blacks does not advance their political agenda. It is that simple,” he continued. “If Mr. Floyd had been killed by a black, who was not a law enforcement officer, they would not have been interested.”

Advocates warn that when BLM opponents talk about “blacks killing blacks,” it is to deflect attention away from police brutality. The argument, which often resurfaces amid national cries for racial equity, is concerned more about the topic of homicide during a conversation about violence rendered by law enforcement.

“The statement is almost like a dog whistle. He’s saying things that are really giving insight into what he’s intending. Based on some of the things we’ve heard from [Garrett] at the Statehouse and in articles like this, it makes it hard for me to believe he’s done his research enough,” said Rep. Ras Smith, D-Waterloo.

Most black victims of homicide were killed by other black people, while most white victims were killed by other white people, according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics and FBI Crime data.

“Those of lower socioeconomic status commit crimes against those of lower socioeconomic status. Those who are of higher socioeconomic status typically commit crimes against those of higher socioeconomic status. So crime is not determined by race against race, it’s typically based on proximity between those in which you live,” said Smith. “To make [a statement on black-on-black crime] is ignorant unless he’s going to talk about the numbers that represent white people committing crimes against white people.”

Vicky Brenner, Garrett’s 2018 Democratic challenger for Senate District 13 in a tweet on Monday likened the Senator’s op-ed comments to U.S. Rep. Steve King’s historically racist ones.

“I was more than disappointed to see Senator Garrett’s article pop up on my media feed. At a time when leaders, especially males of white privilege, should be promoting decency, compassion and empathy, he chooses a path of ignorance and party-line rhetoric to stir up more division,” Brenner said in an interview with Iowa Starting Line.

“I grew up in Northwest Iowa, so I’ve heard enough of these kinds of comments from former Congressman Steve King and his kind. I said it when I campaigned against Senator Garrett in 2018 and I’ll say it now, ‘this is not who we are as Iowans.’”

Garrett, a farmer and attorney, has been at the Statehouse since 2013, serving in both the House and Senate. He was one of a few Republican Senators who voted no to an amendment that require felons to fully pay victim restitution before their voting rights would be reinstated. The legislation was also widely opposed by Democrats, who called the bill a “new poll tax,” with its restrictions — Garrett opposed the amendment because he felt it wasn’t strict enough.

The Senator’s op-ed ended by condemning destructive or violent protesters, applauding the “many blacks who are not extremists.”

“Another significant point is their defending of the destruction of property, looting and violence against police that has taken place at some of their events, even in Des Moines,” Garrett wrote.

“It is unfortunate that extremists are the ones who get the publicity. The many blacks who are not extremists are almost ignored. Why not talk about the many blacks who are doctors, nurses, teachers, police officers, businessmen and women, religious leaders and may others. They should be the role models who are celebrated.”


by Isabella Murray
Posted 6/30/20

Iowa Starting Line is an independently-owned progressive news outlet devoted to providing unique, insightful coverage on Iowa news and politics. We need reader support to continue operating — please donate here. Follow us on Twitter and Facebook for more coverage.

6 Comments on "State Senator Opines On Which ‘Blacks’ Should Be Celebrated"

  • All lives matter….however BLM has chosen to focus on unarmed Blacks killed by law enforcement. Truth of the matter is its a rather small number:

    Thirteen unarmed Blacks were shot and killed by law enforcement in 2019 – a drop in the bucket compared to the numbers that are killed via “Black on Black” crime every weekend in Chicago. Thats the dirty little secret that the media doesn’t want to talk about. Chicago is a killing fields. Are there some bad cops? Absolutely!Are there some bad teachers, or dentists, or CPA’s??? Yep, you can find some bad apples in any and each occupation.

  • Frankly, Pat, you’ve missed the point of BLM. While a significant portion of the movement focuses on the disproportionate killings of unarmed minorities, an even more important element is pushing for policing reform, sentencing reform, and an end to mass incarceration. These issues exacerbate problems of wealth inequality, disenfranchisement and more, which have an unequal impact on black and brown communities.

    Yet even if ending the killing of unarmed individuals was the movement’s sole focus, pointing to an alternate problem doesn’t invalidate the first. Both the police killings of unarmed people AND violence in cities (among all communities) are issues in need of address. If you’re horrified by Chicago’s violent crime rates you should look up the violent crime rates of the sixteen cities that are worse per the FBI Uniform Crime Reports. The good news is that’s part of what BLM seeks to address in policing reform.

    Your description of one bad apple is an apt one, but not for the reason you think. The point of the ‘one bad apple’ is that it spoils the bunch. If you don’t remove the bad apple, the entire system becomes compromised.

  • I’ve never seen so many Iowa white people so worried about Chicago’s crime problem…unless used as an element of ‘whatabout-ism’ to escape the moral emptiness of their own fast-eroding position.

  • Who is running against this guy? Does he have a Dem. opponent I can donate to? Cannot find out anything online line.

  • …and he totally missed the point of what “Black Lives Matter” means. But that seems to be de rigeur for people who see things strictly in binary terms.

  • Barbara, state Senators have a four-year term. He won’t come up for re-election until 2022. By then, I’m certain we can find a great candidate.

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