Vice President Mike Pence was repeatedly asked to say the words “Black lives matter” during an interview with 6ABC Action News in Philadelphia.
The vice president declined.
“Let me just say that what happened to George Floyd was a tragedy,” he said, referring to the unarmed black man whose death in police custody last month sparked a wave of protests against racial injustice and police brutality nationwide.
“And in this nation, especially on Juneteenth, we celebrate the fact that from the founding of this nation we’ve cherished the ideal that all, all of us are created equal, and endowed by our creator with certain inalienable rights. And so all lives matter in a very real sense.”
Pence’s remarks, coming on Juneteenth, a day that commemorates the official end of slavery in the United States, received immediate criticism.
I used to do what Pence does here. Respond with “All lives matter.” But I was wrong then, and Pence is wrong now. Saying “Black Lives Matter” is acknowledging that if George Floyd were white, he’d still be alive. Black lives simply want to be on equal footing. Shame on Pence. https://t.co/EI2YiRGOCJ
— Joe Walsh (@WalshFreedom) June 19, 2020
VP Pence refuses to say black lives matter on Juneteenth.
I will say it for him: Black lives matter.
Louder for those in the back?
BLACK. LIVES. MATTER.
— Fred Fletcher (@ChiefFletcher) June 19, 2020
Well Pence is an idiot. The original meaning was "Black Lives Matter….too" in response to police who weren't behaving as such. Pence is such a human cotton swab. https://t.co/bvvxFol4XA
— Health Is Wealth 🖖 (@PrincSandTheP) June 19, 2020
Mike Pence won't say Black Lives Matter because he doesn't believe that they do. He's a bigot. https://t.co/FBDvJ5k9UD
— Matt Walker (@tmattwalker) June 19, 2020
“Forgive me for pressing you on this, sir,” anchor Brian Taff said, “but I will note you did not say those words, ‘Black lives matter,’ and there is an important distinction. People are saying, of course all lives matter, but to say the words is an acknowledgment that Black lives also matter at a time in this country when it appears that there’s a segment of our society that doesn’t agree. So why will you not say those words?”
Pence doubled down, saying: “Well, I don’t accept the fact, Brian, that there’s a segment of American society that disagrees, in the preciousness and importance of every human life. And it’s one of the reasons why as we advance important reforms in law enforcement, as we look for ways to strengthen and improve our public safety in our cities, that we’re not going to stop there.”
“And yet, one final time, you won’t say the words and we understand your explanation,” Taff said after Pence spoke about how the Trump administration is working to improve the lives of African Americans.
“When you watch much of the national news media these days, Brian, it seems like they focus more every day on what divides us in this country,” Pence said. “And I think the President saw an opportunity with a good sense of humor to once again challenge the media narrative.”
Alan is a writer, editor, and news junkie based in New York.