Vice President Mike Pence appeared on a Philadelphia newscast Friday to discuss racial unrest in America and refused to say or acknowledge that Black lives matter.
WPVI-TV‘s Brian Taff in an interview pressed Pence to utter “Black lives matter,” going as far as to break down the meaning of the phrase and why the rebuttal “all lives matter” is problematic.
Pence declined after given multiple opportunities to say the words and declared “all lives matter” instead. The comments come as demonstrations in the wake of multiple police killings of Black men and women across the country continued on Juneteenth.
“Black lives matter,” a slogan that emerged as a hashtag alongside the decentralized Black Lives Matter movement that was sparked by the killing of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin in 2012, is a rallying call to address police brutality against Black communities in America.
In his lead up to the question, Taff explained that there are just a “handful of elected Republican leaders in Washington who have uttered those words: ‘Black lives matter.'” before asking “Can you say those words?”
“Well, Brian, let me just say that what happened to George Floyd was a tragedy. And in this nation, especially on Juneteenth, we celebrate the fact that from the founding of this nation, we cherish the ideal that all of us are created equal and endowed by our creator with certain inalienable rights,” Pence replied. “And so all lives matter in a very real sense.”
U.S. Senator Mitt Romney of Utah is one of those Republicans who has publicly stated “Black lives matter,” even taking to the streets to join protesters earlier this month in Washington, D.C. The former Republican presidential nominee also highlighted that his father, former Michigan Gov. George Romney, was a supporter of Civil Rights demonstrations in the 1960s.
Pence proceeded to discuss efforts to ease tensions and improve communications between the police departments and the public. He shut down the idea that defunding the police was an option to address police violence in America.
— Brandon Longo (@brandonlongo) June 20, 2020
Taff was quick to inform the Vice President that there was a distinction between the phrases “Black lives matter” and “all lives matter.”
“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,” Taff continued.
Pence then responded, “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.”
“It’s one of the reasons why as we advance important reforms in law enforcement, as we look for ways to strengthen and improve public safety in our cities, we’re not going to stop there,” he continued before patting the administration on the back for the fact that the Black unemployment rate was at a record low prior to the coronavirus pandemic.
The U.S. unemployment rate dropped from 14.7% in April to 13.3% in May, but the Black unemployment rate rose to 16.8% last month compared to 12.4% for white people, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Taff pointed out one last time that Pence wouldn’t say “Black lives matter” before moving on.