By Ashlee Banks
Attorney General Bill Barr is not only dangerous to minorities around the nation, but he’s dangerous to the Black people living in the city of Baltimore. Instead of bombarding you with all of the things AG Barr has said or done in his past, I want to highlight a short list of things he’s stated publicly this month.
Last week, the Attorney General compared the pandemic lockdown to slavery. Apparently people being enslaved and treated like animals against their will, only for the benefit of the oppressor, is no different from slightly pausing one’s life to save their life and the lives of those around them due to a deadly virus. Clearly, being a slave and someone who’s being stopped from having caviar at their favorite restaurant is one in the same. Yeah, no! Newsflash: no one’s freedom has been stripped away during this pandemic. These social distancing rules have made it clear which people have never heard the word “no” growing up.
AG Barr also said during a speech at Hillsdale College that Black Lives Matter isn’t interested in Black lives “they’re interested in props. A small number of Blacks who are killed by police during conflicts with police, usually less than a dozen a year, who they can use as props to achieve a much broader political agenda.” Hmm, put a pin in this for now. I’ll address this fabricated statistic later.
Lastly, there was that cringey, jaw dropping interview AG Barr did with CNN’s Wolf Blitzer earlier this month. During the interview the two discussed police brutality and systemic racism. AG Barr said police brutality is “a false narrative. It’s very rare for an unarmed African American to be shot by a White officer. There were 10 cases last Year. These are rare things.” But, then when Wolf asked him if he thought Black people were treated differently by law enforcement than their White counterparts AG Barr responded with “I think there’s some situations where statistics suggest they are treated differently, but I don’t think that that’s necessarily racism.”
I can’t help but shake my head every time I see a clip of AG Barr during an interview or giving a speech. Not only does he contradict himself but he’s also incorrect. According to the Washington Post’s database, 14 Black unarmed Americans were shot and killed by police in 2019, not 10 as AG Barr stated. Fourteen is a pretty high number given the fact Black people make up 13 percent of the U.S. population. It’s important to note that number doesn’t include Black people who died by taser, vehicle, who were armed but not threatening law enforcement, who died while in custody or those who were strangled like in high profile cases including Freddie Gray, Eric Garner, George Floyd and Philando Castile.
AG Barr is either clueless possibly because of his upbringing, reckless like Trump in his rhetoric or just a racist who wants to ignore basic facts. Heck, maybe he’s all of the above. That would be fine if he wasn’t the U.S. Deputy Attorney General, but that’s not the case and many of our lives are in danger because of his negligence. He holds a high position which means people find him credible and will believe whatever he says, whether it’s factual or not. AG Barr fails to realize or understand police brutality is much bigger than being shot or killed by law enforcement, it also has to do with being unlawfully targeted and harassed, physically, verbally, mentally or emotionally.
AG Barr must’ve missed the August 2016 Department of Justice investigation into the Baltimore City Police Department which revealed the department “makes stops, searches, and arrests without the required justification; uses enforcement strategies that unlawfully subject African Americans to disproportionate rates of stops, searches and arrests; uses excessive force; and retaliates against individuals for their constitutionally-protected expression.”
According to reports, instead of reform taking place, members of the department decided to undermine new policies put in place that were meant to hold them accountable. Some officers decided if Baltimore wouldn’t have their back they’d stop working and allow chaos to ensue, plain clothes officers took to harassing citizens and other cops decided to rob and steal in order to create disorder.
It’s a shame that this investigation was done by the very department that AG Barr works for yet nothing is being enforced, leaving African Americans in the city to be six times more likely to die at the hands of law enforcement than their White counterparts and to be harassed because of the lack of accountability being set by leadership.
The sad fact is, we are in 2020 and we have an Attorney General who doesn’t see race as an issue, even though the department he’s a member of conducted an investigation and proved otherwise. If an investigation and facts can’t sway AG Barr to reshape his way of thinking, and if Trump is re-elected and AG Barr doesn’t resign, the city of Baltimore or any city for that matter is in trouble. No one should expect to see drastic change as it pertains to police brutality or social justice. According to him, race isn’t an issue but instead just a false narrative being pushed by the liberals.
Ashlee Banks is a freelance journalist based in Baltimore.