Attorney General Bill Barr made an astonishing comparison between lockdowns prompted by COVID-19, which is known to be disproportionately deadly to Black communities, to chattel slavery on Wednesday night.
“You know, putting a national lockdown, stay-at-home orders, is like house arrest,” Barr said during an event at Hillsdale College, per CNN.
“Other than slavery, which was a different kind of restraint, this is the greatest intrusion on civil liberties in American history,” he continued.
Multiple public health experts and data analysts, including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), have found that people of color are more likely to be affected by the pandemic than white Americans due to wealth gaps, unequal access to health care and discrimination. Per the CDC, Black Americans are twice as likely to die from COVID-19 than white Americans, and the case rates for Black Americans are double that of their white counterparts.
Barr’s remarks track with his efforts to help dismantle states’ lockdowns. Under the attorney general’s leadership, the Justice Department has thrown its support behind lawsuits against state governments’ stay-at-home orders.