July 23, 2024

AG Barr calls unfair policing of Black people a ‘widespread phenomenon’

(Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Attorney General William Barr rejects the idea of systemic racism in policing.

In an interview with ABC News, Barr acknowledged, however, that Black communities are often policed unfairly and that Black males specifically “are treated with extra suspicion and maybe not given the benefit of the doubt,” he said, calling it “a widespread phenomenon.”

“I think it is wrong if people are not respected appropriately and given their due,” he explained to ABC News Chief Justice Correspondent Pierre Thomas, “and I think it’s something we have to address.”

Read More: New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo is leading the vanguard on police reform

AG Barr’s comments come amid ongoing calls to defend law enforcement in wake of the high-profile police killings of unarmed Black Americans – including George Floyd in Minneapolis and Breonna Taylor in Louisville, Kentucky. 

While Barr hopes Floyd’s death “is a catalyst for the kinds of changes that are needed,” he does not support the push to overhaul police departments via cutting/redirecting funds. 

“Before the George Floyd incident I thought we were in a good place,” he said. “I think that this episode in Minneapolis showed that we still have some work to do in addressing the distrust that exists in the African American community toward law enforcement.”

Barr believes there is no “value in defunding the police.”

In fact, he calls for “more investment in the police” as step forward toward healing relations between law enforcement and urban communities.

Read More: Congressmen clash over police reform, race: ‘Was that a nerve?’

“We have to think about more investment in the police. So one of the things we’ve been talking about is trying to direct some of the [Health and Human Services] money and grant programs and sync it up with law enforcement spending so we can enable the departments to have co-responders,” he explained.

“That is, social workers and mental health experts who can go on certain kinds of calls to help,” Barr added. 

When it comes to the Black Lives Matter movement, Barr said it’s being used to push “a broader agenda.”

“It’s used really to refer exclusively to black lives that are lost to police misconduct,” he said. 

“But in terms of the proposition that black lives matter, obviously black lives matter. I think all lives all human life is is sacred and entitled to respect. And obviously, black lives matter.

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