'Inaccurate and harmful': Texas Senators Cruz, Cornyn dismiss notions of systemic racism in police and society
WASHINGTON - Texas Republican Senators, John Cornyn and Ted Cruz, rejected Tuesday's idea of systemic racism within the police force and beyond in the United States and beyond.
During a hearing by the Senate judiciary on police violence, both senators rejected the idea of systemic racism against witnesses, including S. Lee Merritt, a lawyer who represents George Floyd's family.
More: Trump signs an order to combat police misconduct, but some experts say this is not enough
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"I want the witnesses to tell us whether they believe that the police department and the police in America are systematically racist," Cornyn asked the panel. "Does anyone want to raise his hand to agree with this statement?"
Some of the witnesses who testified appeared to raise their hands. Cornyn replied, "And that means all 18,000 police stations, all 800,000 law enforcement officers? Is that true?"
Cornyn said that police officers may play too many roles and that de-escalation training needs to be emphasized, but quickly returned to "lack of trust in the police" and systemic racism within society.
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Merritt replied to Cornyn.
"If we over-concentrate our communities - especially the black and brown communities - with militarized policing, you will use excessive force and detain black and brown people," he said.
The senator tried to distinguish between class and race, while witnesses testified that they often go hand in hand and are "unraveled" within American institutions.
"You think systemic or structural racism can exist in a system that ... requires individual responsibility?" Cornyn asked. "Or do you think it's one or the other?"
Vanita Gupta, President of the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, replied: "I think every American institution has been shaped by these forces in some way."
"Do you think basically all Americans are racist?" Cornyn followed.
"I think we all have implicit and racist prejudices, yes I do," replied Gupta.
"Wow," Cornyn replied, asking Gupta to say that she thinks America is striving to get better. But the senator replied, "You lost me if you take over the actions of some misguided, possibly malicious, people and want to attribute this to all Americans," and not just police officers.
More: Ahmaud Arbery's relatives, other families have a "controversial" meeting with Trump about the police
WATCH: Senator John Cornyn: "Do you think basically all Americans are racist?"
Former DOJ official Vanita Gupta: "I think we all have implicit and racist prejudices ..."
Gupta: "And I think we are an amazing country that strives to get better every day."
10:38 p.m. - June 16, 2020
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The hearings focused on discussing reforms and laws that Congress could pass to address police brutality.
They follow weeks and thousands of protesters who take to the streets after Floyd's death and call for an end to police brutality and racism.
More: What is Systemic Racism? Here's what it means and how you can help break it down
What is systemic racism?
NAACP President Derrick Johnson defined systemic racism, also known as structural racism or institutional racism, as "systems and structures with procedures or processes that disadvantage African Americans".
Glenn Harris, President of Race Forward and editor of the Colorlines website, said systemic racism causes differences in many "indicators of success", including wealth, criminal justice, employment, housing, healthcare, politics and education.
He said that although the concept goes back to the work of the scholar and civil rights pioneer W.E.B. Du Bois, the concept was first named during the civil rights movement in the 1960s and further refined in the 1980s.
More: Medical Bias: From Pain Relievers to COVID-19, Racial Discrimination in Health Care
Cruz also dropped the idea of systemic racism in policing during the Tuesday hearing.
"I think some of the rhetoric that was used after Mr. Floyd's murder was inaccurate and harmful," Cruz said, continuing to focus on Democrats. "Many of our colleagues use the term" systemic racism "to indicate that the entire criminal justice system is pervaded by racism. I don't think this is correct."
He went on to say that it is wrong to "question the integrity of all law enforcement personnel is bad service for this nation."
More: What does "disappoint the police" mean and why some say that "reform" is not enough
Cruz struck the thought of "disappointing the police," citing an academic study and saying that if other members "agreed that black lives matter, demonize the police and cause them to withdraw from protecting people's lives, predictably more black lives will be taken. " . "
"So I urge you to be careful, with an obligation to justice and an obligation to truth," he concluded.
Contributors: N'dea Yancey-Bragg
This article originally appeared in the US TODAY: Cruz, Cornyn reject ideas of systemic racism in the police and society
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