Merrick Garland says ‘racism is an American problem’ ahead of Chauvin verdict

Attorney general and grandson of Jewish immigrants adds that he feels an ‘obligation’ to protect others from discrimination

Gino Spocchia
Tuesday 20 April 2021 20:09 BST
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US Attorney General Merrick Garland called racism “an American problem" as a jury in Minneapolis deliberates on a verdict in Derek Chauvin’s murder trial.

On Monday, Mr Garland was at a service for the anniversary of the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing as the fate of the former officer for the May 2020 murder of George Floyd rested with jurors. Mr Garland oversaw the Department of Justice’s investigation and prosecution of the deadly bombing.

The 68-year-old, who was recently confirmed as Joe Biden’s attorney general, told ABC News that he would not comment on the outcome of the Chauvin trial before the jury delivered its verdict. But he spoke on the broader issues plaguing the country.

"Look, racism is an American problem," said Mr Garland. "It's plain to me that there has been and remains discrimination against African Americans and other communities of colour, and other ethnic minorities,”

“I think it's reflected in discrimination in housing and employment and the justice system,” Mr Garland added. “We do not yet have equal justice under law."

Admitting that he was “shocked” by the incident that ignited demonstrations last year against racial injustice, Mr Garland told ABC News that “many Black Americans were not shocked, because they have known of this kind of treatment before”.

“I felt that beginning last summer, at least, there was a chance to bring this to the fore of the national consciousness, to create a moment in which we could change,” said Mr Garland of the demands for justice.

“And part of the reason that I wanted to be attorney general was I wanted to help bring that change,” Mr Garland added.

Referencing both the Tulsa race massacre of 1921 and the anti-government Oklahoma City bombing, Mr Garland described the incidents as being of “the same kind of hatred” for American minorities.

The 68-year-old also become emotional as he described the journey of his Jewish grandparents from what is today Belarus, to the US, fleeing anti-Semitism.

“So all of us in our family feel an obligation to public service and try to protect other people the way the way the country [the US] protected us,” said Mr Garland.

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