Pressed Repeatedly To Say ‘Black Lives Matter,’ Mike Pence Says ‘All Lives Matter’
Although Vice President Mike Pence was repeatedly pressured to say the words "Black Lives Matter" during an interview, a phrase that served as a group call for demonstrators against police brutality and systemic racism, he refused to utter the phrase - saying instead: All life is important. "
Anchor Brian Taff of WPVI-TV, an ABC partner in Philadelphia, asked Pence directly on Friday if he was ready to use the sentence.
TODAY on @ 6abc at 4: My exclusive conversation with VP Mike Pence on this historic June 19th. We're discussing Black Lives Matter - and I ask him - will he say those words?
10:26 p.m. - June 19, 2020
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Taff noted that the words "fueled" the anti-racism demonstrations that have broken out across the country since the death of George Floyd, a black man in Minneapolis who died from a white policeman. Still, Taff said that few elected Republican officials in Washington have publicly said the words "Black life is important."
"I wonder, sir, if those are the words you would say here today," Taff said to Pence. "Black life is important." Can you say these words? "
"Let me just say that what happened to George Floyd was a tragedy," replied Pence. "And in this nation, especially on June 19th, we celebrate the fact that since the founding of this nation, we have cherished the ideal, that we are all created equal and given certain inalienable rights by our Creator. And so it is Life in a very real sense is important. "
June 19, which was celebrated on Friday, marks the end of slavery in America. It commemorates the day in 1865 when enslaved African Americans in Texas had finally learned about their emancipation two years earlier.
Taff noticed that Pence had refused to use the words "Black Lives Matter" and asked the Vice President again if he would say the sentence.
"Forgive me for urging you, sir, but I will find that you did not say these words:" Black lives are important, "and there is an important difference," said Taff.
"Of course people say that all life is important, but saying the words is confirmation that the lives of black people are important even in a time in this country when it appears that there is part of our society who doesn't match. Why don't you want to say these words? "
"Well, I don't accept the fact, Brian, that there is a part of American society that doesn't agree on the value and importance of every human life," Pence replied.
He then described the Trump administration's efforts to “improve” the lives of African Americans, such as developing economic “opportunity zones” and restoring funding for historically black colleges.
Taff agreed that Pence hadn't used the phrase "Black Lives Matter" again.
"And yet, one last time, you won't say the words and we understand your explanation," he said.
On Friday, demonstrators in at least 45 countries took to the streets to mark June 19 and repeat their calls for an end to racism and police violence.
"All lives matter, but it doesn't matter until black lives matter," said Gwen Woods, the mother of a black man who was shot by the police in 2015, at a rally in San Francisco. "This white privilege - please check your privilege."
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