We caught up with Democratic State Sens. Rodney Ellis and José Rodríguez at Texas Tribune Fest.

With criminal justice issues like Black Lives Matter making headlines, and the prospect of bipartisan justice reform in D.C., we asked the two to weigh in.

“Recently there was a study that came out that showed that … Hispanics and African-Americans had a disproportionate number of highway tickets by the Department of Public Safety,” Sen. Rodríguez said. “Over the years, the minority community has seen an increase in traffic tickets, and at the same time, there’s been a decrease in the white population. And so, I’ve written a letter to [Department of Public Safety Director Steve McCraw] to explain why is that happening. I haven’t gotten a satisfactory explanation.”

“The problem with law enforcement issues is that … Black lives matter, everybody’s lives matter,” Rodríguez continued. “But especially minority lives, because we bore the brunt of disproportionate incarceration, disproportionate arrest and racial profiling. And that is still a big concern for our communities, both in El Paso and in Houston.”

“We’ve come a long way in this country, but anybody who thinks that we are in a colorblind society just refuses to open their eyes,” Sen. Ellis says. “We’ve gotta put more training into law enforcement ... [We need to do] more to diversify — having more African-Americans, Hispanics, Asian-Americans, women; do a lot in terms of making sure people understand that it takes an effort to overcome those latent biases that we all have.”

Sen. Rodney Ellis, state senator for Texas’ 13th district, will be speaking on the “Unlocking the Hispanic Vote” panel on Saturday, October 17.

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