Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) said she doesn’t believe systemic racism is an issue in her state during a debate Wednesday against Democratic challenger Sara Gideon, drawing backlash from Black Lives Matter activists.
Collins was asked whether the phrase “Black Lives Matter” is controversial and if systemic racism is a problem in Maine, where 95% of people identify as white.
“I don’t think the phrase Black Lives Matter should be controversial,” Collins said. “And I think that we are very fortunate in the state of Maine because we have terrific members of law enforcement.”
“At the same time, it’s clear that in some parts of our country, there is systemic racism or problems in police departments,” she continued, adding: “Certainly, the horrific death of George Floyd should horrify all of us, and those responsible should be held accountable.”
Collins was then given an additional 30 seconds to answer the system racism portion of the question, but the Republican senator took just five seconds to respond: “I do not believe systemic racism is a problem in the state of Maine.”
Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME), in the final Maine Senate debate with Sara Gideon, is given 30 seconds to discuss whether systemic racism exists in her state.
Collins gives a five-second answer: "I do not believe systemic racism is a problem in the state of Maine." pic.twitter.com/UPnCAIuAHd
— The Recount (@therecount) October 29, 2020
Twitter users and anti-racism activists tore into Collins for her remarks, with some calling on her to issue a public apology.
“We do have systemic and institutional racism here,” said Hamdia Ahmed, an activist with Black Lives Matter Maine who delivered a closing statement on behalf of independent Lisa Savage during a Senate debate earlier this month.
“In the city of Portland, Black people are more likely to be arrested by police than any other race,” she told HuffPost. “We have people up north who literally have...