BALTIMORE (WJZ) — He served in Congress from 1987 to 1996. Little did Kweisi Mfume know that 24 years later he would again return to Washington to occupy the very seat he left in Maryland’s 7th congressional district.
Mfume won a special election to replace the unexpired term of the late Rep. Elijah Cummings, who died in October at age 68.
That term, though, ends in January 2021, meaning Mfume is again running for Congress — this time as the incumbent.
In an exclusive interview with WJZ’s Vic Carter, the 71-year-old shared his priorities for his office and got personal talking about his experience with police brutality.
The sounds of protest are nothing new for Mfume; in fact, he has been on the front lines before. Now, he, like millions of other African American men in America, want to see serious change in policing.
Vic Carter: Can you describe a time when you feared for your life?
Kweisi Mfume: I got pulled over on East North Avenue where the municipal court is. It used to be the old Sears building at the time, a real bustling community, in the middle of the day, around 1:30 in the afternoon… (I) got pulled over, got snatched out of my car, got thrown up against the wall. I was told to spread eagle, got patted down and while the guy was patting me down the other one just came up to me and whispered all sorts of racial epithets in my ear, saying ‘I dare you to do anything. I dare you. Go ahead and make a move you monkey, you this, you that.’
As a powerful member of Congress, Mfume is a sponsor of the Justice in Policing Act of 2020.
The legislation bans racial and religious profiling, chokeholds and no-knock warrants. It also mandates the use of dash camera and body-worn camera video and would create a national registry of police officers charged with wrongdoing.
Mfume is not sure if President Donald Trump is on board with the legislation.
“This president is sort of slow to the party sometimes on major issues that affect people, and this issue of police brutality is at the top of the list of things that good, average, decent people are concerned about,” he said.
The congressman welcomed the newly-elected officials in Baltimore and said he hopes they will seek the advice of those who have been there.
“Just don’t walk into office because you got elected and know everything there is to know,” he said, “That’s a lot of blood, sweat and tears, it’s hard work, it’s failure, it’s success. And so to that extent, I’m hoping at least that many of the new elected officials will look at some of the older elected officials and say, ‘By the way, do you think I should be going right or going left?”
If he wins, Mfume has a long list of priorities, but at the top is controlling COVID-19.
“The first order of business is tackling this pandemic,” he said. “It has just devastated us. Four months ago, there were 60 Americans dead; today there are more than 116,000.”
Mfume will square off with Republican Kimberly Klacik in the November election.
WJZ also spoke with Kimberly Klacik on Tuesday. Read more here.