Pence on Black Lives Matter: “I really believe all lives matter”

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Washington — Vice President Mike Pence defended his refusal to say “black lives matter” amid the surge of momentum for police reforms following the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis last month, saying he disagrees with the political agenda being pushed by leaders of the Black Lives Matter movement.

“I really believe that all lives matter,” Pence said on “Face the Nation” when pressed on why he won’t say “black lives matter.” “And that’s where the heart of the American people lies.”

Floyd’s death after a Minneapolis police officer kneeled on his neck for nearly nine minutes sparked protests nationwide against police brutality and reignited calls for police reforms at the local and national levels, with “black lives matter” becoming the rallying cry against racism. While the vice president and President Trump have said Floyd’s death is a tragedy, Pence declined to say “black lives matter” in an interview June 19, known as Juneteenth, which commemorates the end of slavery in the U.S.

When asked why he wouldn’t say “black lives matter,” Pence said that he cherishes “the progress that we have made toward a more perfect union for African Americans throughout our history.”

“But what I see in the leaders of the Black Lives Matter movement is a political agenda of the radical left that would defund the police, that would tear down monuments, that would press a radical left agenda and support calls for the kind of violence that has beset the very communities that they say that they’re advocating for,” he said.

Pence said African American leaders have made clear to the Trump administration “they want law and order” and “peace in our streets.”

“What I hear is while the radical left says we need to defund the police, what the American people want is for us to fund the police with additional training and support and also improve the lives of the people in our African American community, which I’m proud to say, under President Trump’s leadership, we were doing over the last three years,” he said.

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