Attorney General William Barr said Wednesday that police shootings of Black Americans often aren’t racially motivated and are much less common than portrayed by recent nationwide protests that have called for an end to police violence.
“I don’t think there are two justice systems,” Barr told CNN in an interview where he largely defended President Donald Trump’s law and order campaign message and gushing praise of law enforcement who have employed aggressive tactics to quell social unrest in the aftermath of recent police killings of Black people. “I think the narrative that the police are in some epidemic of shooting unarmed black men is simply a false narrative and also the narrative that’s based on race.”
The comments come as President Donald Trump on Monday compared the Kenosha police shooting of Jacob Blake, a Black man, to a golfer missing a three-foot putt at a tournament, saying, among the “10,000 great acts” by the police, sometimes an officer can “choke” during an arrest. Blake was shot seven times in the back by police.
While Trump has made race-baiting a key feature of his campaign for re-election, Barr has pushed to undermine the message of racial justice demanded by protesters. On Monday, acting Department of Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf told Fox News’ Tucker Carlson that he had been in talks with Barr who apparently confirmed that the Justice Department was “working on” efforts to arrest leaders of the Black Lives Matter movement.
In July, Barr told members of the House Judiciary Committee in testimony that the death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police was “a shocking event,” and that the police killing of “unarmed” black men is “fortunately quite rare.”
Barr appeared to acknowledge on Wednesday that there are “some situations” where statistics “would suggest” that Black people are treated differently, but he quickly added the caveat that he doesn’t think the distinction is “necessarily racism.”
Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden has positioned himself in direct opposition with both Barr and Trump, calling on Americans during the Democratic National Convention last month to support him in a fight to wipe out the “stain” of racism that has plagued the country.
When asked about the recent police violence that resulted in the severe injury of Jacob Blake and death of Breonna Taylor, Biden told reporters at an event in Wilmington, Delaware on Wednesday, that the officers involved in both of those shootings should be charged.
“I do think there’s a minimum need to be charged,” Biden said, later adding: “let’s make sure justice is done.”
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