Pence says leaders of Black Lives Matter movement have 'radical left' agenda

Vice President Pence said he thinks the leaders of the Black Lives Matter movement are pushing what he called a “political agenda of the radical left” when pressed in a recent interview about why he still refuses to say the phrase “Black lives matter.”

During an appearance on CBS News on Sunday, reporter John Dickerson asked the vice president why he refused to say the phrase as demonstrators have called on him to do.

“All my life, I've been inspired by the example of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. When I was in Congress, I traveled to his home church in Montgomery with Congressman John LewisJohn LewisCongresswoman accidentally tweets of death of Rep. John Lewis, who's still alive IRS, taxpayers face obstacles ahead of July 15 filing deadline We must move beyond 'the rank of a mere citizen' MORE. I walked across the Edmund Pettus Bridge on the anniversary of Bloody Sunday,” Pence started to say in response. “I cherish the progress that we have made toward a more perfect union for African Americans throughout our history.”

“And I've aspired throughout my career to be a part of that ongoing work. It's really a heart issue for me,” he continued. “And as a pro-life American, I also believe that all life matters, born and unborn. But what I see in the leaders of the Black Lives Matter movement is a political agenda of the radical left that would defund the police.”

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"Leave that out of it. Just the phrase," Dickerson cut in.

"That would tear down monuments, that would press a radical left agenda and support calls for the kind of violence that has beset the very communities that they say that they're advocating for,” Pence continued.

"So you won't say Black lives matter?” Dickerson went on to ask Pence.

“John, I really believe that all lives matter. And that's where the heart of the American people lies,” Pence responded. 

The Hill has reached out to the Black Lives Matter Global Network, a nonprofit global organization formed by founders of the movement, for comment.

The group, which was formed after the death of Trayvon Martin in 2012, has expanded to a network of more than 40 chapters in recent years and has continuously worked to combat police brutality and racism. Among some of the political actions it has called for over the years to address police brutality are defunding the police and redirecting those funds to local communities, changing the police use-of-force standard, and ensuring more police accountability. 

Pence’s interview on Sunday comes about a week after he refused to say the words during an interview with Philadelphia outlet 6ABC Action News. He instead said that “all lives matter," a phrase that has been used, in many cases by non-Black people, in response to “Black lives matter.”