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Kamala Harris: 'Two systems of justice' for Black, white Americans

Kamala Harris, the Democratic vice presidential candidate, speaks

Kamala Harris, the Democratic vice presidential candidate, speaks in Washington, D.C., in August. Credit: AFP via Getty Images/AFP via Getty Images / Eric Baradat

Democratic vice presidential nominee Kamala Harris said there were "two systems of justice" in the United States for white and Black Americans, rebuking Attorney General William Barr and President Donald Trump for failing to more forcefully call out racial disparities in law enforcement.

Harris, in remarks that aired Sunday on CNN, said, "I think that Donald Trump and Bill Barr are spending full time in a different reality. The reality of America today is what we have seen over generations and, frankly, since our inception, which is, we do have two systems of justice in America."

Harris was asked to respond to comments that Barr had made Wednesday on CNN. While Barr acknowledged that "there were some situations where statistics would suggest that they [Black Americans] are treated differently," he said, "But I don't think that that's necessarily racism."

"I don't think there are two justice systems," he had told CNN's Wolf Blitzer. "I think the narrative that the police are [on some] epidemic of shooting unarmed Black men is simply a false narrative and also the narrative that that's based on race."

Barr said "it's very rare for an unarmed African American to be shot by a white police officer."

But Harris told CNN's Dana Bash in the Sunday interview: "It does us no good if we want to solve those disparities to pretend they don't exist." Harris told Bash there was "no question that we have seen an unacceptable incidence for generations of unarmed Black men being killed. Nobody can deny that."

Barr had also said in the Wednesday interview with Wolf Blitzer, "I do think that there appears to be a phenomenon in the country where African Americans feel that they're treated when they're stopped by police frequently as suspects before they're treated as citizens. I don't think that that necessarily reflects some deep-seated racism in police departments or in most police officers. I think the same kind of behavior is done by African American police officers." 

Harris also declined to weigh in on whether police officers in Rochester, New York, should be charged in the death of Daniel Prude, a Black man who died on March 30, a week after losing consciousness after police held him down with a hood over his head.

Harris deferred to State Attorney General Letitia James, who announced that her office will impanel a grand jury to probe Prude's death. Harris said she was "going to give the benefit of the doubt to the prosecutors who are involved in that case. And, in particular, I know that the attorney general of New York is reviewing the case, and I expect that they will review all of the evidence and make the appropriate decision.”

Also Sunday, Harris said that a Biden-Harris administration would adopt a national mask "standard," when asked if she and her running mate support a "mandate" or "standard." Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden has expressed support for a "national mask mandate."

She said, "It's about a national standard. Everyone should wear a mask." Asked if it would be a federal mandate, Harris said "it would be a standard."

With The Associated Press

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