AG Barr: Black males wrongly ‘treated with extra suspicion’

ABC News’ Pierre Thomas speaks with Attorney General William Barr on Black Lives Matter, if the U.S. is in a culture war and the fate of confederate statues and symbols.
7:45 | 07/09/20

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Transcript for AG Barr: Black males wrongly ‘treated with extra suspicion’
Not ABC's one on one with attorney general William Barr with racial unrest gripping the country for weeks and as the Department of Justice faces criticism that it's become too political ABC's Pierre Thomas conducted a wide ranging conversation on bar on black lives matter whether they're systemic racism in policing and if or in a culture war as the president said today here's ABC's Chief Justice correspondent Pierre Thomas with the attorney general. What's your view of placards matter. And are you willing to say black parchment. I make a distinction I'd make a distinction between the organization. Which I don't agree wouldn't they have. Broader agenda but in terms of those the proposition that put Clark climbs matter obviously to our clients matter I think. All lines all human life is as sacred. I also think that it's being use now. It is sort of distorting the debate to some extent because its use. Really refer exclusively. To black lives that are lost to police misconduct which have been going down statistically. Five years ago there were forty such incidents. This last year was ten so at least it's a positive trajectory here continued compare it to. 8000 homicides in Kenya African American community those are blue our clients who matter to. You think it's a sooner than it's a symbol of hate president Carl as a symbol of hate black ops matter. Current situation in our peaks critics head but I also think you know it's not just protecting life. It's me it's also part climbs matter in the sense of ensuring that African Americans. Fully participate. He and the benefits of this society in their lives flourish and I think she goes beyond. I just physical safety pinned and I think that's as Condi Rice and the civil rights issue of our time so I think the black who lives matter. You know this has focused on a particular problem and it is a problem and it's problem that at least to trajectory has been improving. And there ignoring I think these broader issues. You know many African Americans we talk about how. There are treated as suspects person citizen's second that they talk about being pulled over constantly by police has happened to me. In the circumstance where I didn't feel like it was clear does that speak to sit the systemic. Bias in policing you said you don't think that exist are you changing your month. No I mean mow the words systemic I'm not sure whether people means it's built into the system so the system. Inherently has this or whether they mean it's widespread. Issue. You know I do think that it is a up to widespread. Of phenomenon. That that. African American. I'm males particularly are treated to its culture suspicion and maybe not given the benefit of the doubt. Is that wrong I get well I think it is wrong if if if people are not respected appropriately intriguing given their due. Is there are some value in the notion of defund and police even a human like not like how that works Allen's. Not because I don't think the money should come out of the police I mean we've been spending a lot of money trillions of dollars over the past few decades. On things like education and social program started as you say is is a police are being called on to do more and more. Deal with mental illness deal with homelessness to deal with a drug addiction where they don't have the training. And the and the expertise sometimes to deal with proved to be true you're against the funding police but you're. For enhancing some other projects yet. What do you think we are right now in terms of race relations at this model. I think before the is that George Floyd. In Sudan are there are a fellow we were in. Good place. I thought that economic opportunities. Were expanding and the African American community was able to participate than ever before in those opportunities. Shank that. This episode in many in Minneapolis. Showed that we still have some work to do. In addressing. The distrust that exists in the African American in American community toward law enforcement. Today. The president made some news in the senate that he thinks that we're in a culture war. Do you share that belief you think we're in a culture war. To me just doesn't really really relate to the race issue I think there has been a culture war in the United States for a long time using war in the metaphorical sense. But I don't view that is connected to the race issue I think it has more to do his. Things like religion and traditional religious values things like that she was saying things like. Removing the flags from NASCAR events hurt a lot of people heed this week. Reach weeded. Something were someone's wish yelling white power. You're down here today in Europe making up communion reached this kind of rhetoric from the president is it helpful to what you're trying to do I think. When he was likely referring to her art. Some of the things that people would feel work and I'm not talking about to NASCAR thing. From my standpoint has car was a business decision by NASCAR's. But you know there's some people who feel that some of our history is being erased you know when news. To George Washington and start defacing George Washington or Christopher Columbus or others and you know that's upsetting to people and I would like to see us. Confront our history in this sense of you know not is not. Tearing it down but acknowledging her history and adding to our history. At that basically you're saying on George Washington Christopher what Columbus but. Again coming at this from the African American perspective for many people. Confederate. Statues honoring Li. Jefferson Davis people like that. Epitomize or symbolize. Oppression. Slavery. People being treated like cattle are you comfortable with or when do you support. The confederate statues being removed from some these landscapes but I actually think. That way he's handled it here in south cutter Carolinas the appropriate way to do it think these decisions that should be made through communities discussion. And appropriately deal is meant to reflect the will of the community but I don't think. Mobs should go around tearing down statues. You know if I were king and making up to some bases there are some people that I probably wouldn't. Owner. Jeered Thomas joins us now from South Carolina here is certainly a wide ranging conversation there on this moment our country is facing you also as far. About some significant headlines including the president's claims that mail in voting will lead to fraud what's the attorney general's view on that. Well he believes that there's a real potential that there could be. Fraud he pushed on that but we pushed back and said that we talked at every secretary of state in the nation that we could. Buying another them but this was a big issue. Nonetheless he maintains it is something to he's concerned about Lindsay. And also trump ally writer Sony's of course its report to prison next week what farce say to the notion that the president potentially would. Pardon or commute that's an has been forced don't even serves any jail time at all. Well in our earlier interview with him a few months ago he said it was a righteous prosecution. I asked the attorney general again today if he still felt that way he said yes it was a righteous prosecution and that stone deserves prison time. But he acknowledged it's going to be the president's call. All right Pierre Thomas for us in South Carolina tonight thanks so much fear.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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