GOP lawmaker: Systemic racism doesn't exist and there's 'more to the story' of Floyd's death

GOP lawmaker: Systemic racism doesn't exist and there's 'more to the story' of Floyd's death
© Greg Nash

Rep. Scott PerryScott Gordon PerryCawthorn introduces bill banning enforcement of federal vaccine mandate for businesses Anti-Trump Republicans target McCarthy, Scalise, other high-profile conservatives Three key behind-the-scenes figures in Jan. 6 probe MORE (R-Pa.) said Wednesday that systemic racism doesn’t exist and there’s “more to the story” of George Floyd’s death in Minneapolis police custody in late May.

"What is systemic? That means there's a system of. If there's a system, someone had to create that system," Perry said at a local Rotary Club event, according to the York Dispatch. "Someone is operating and nurturing the system to keep it going. I don't know who in our country is doing that."

"That belies the fact we had a war among the United States over that issue to cleanse our country of that issue," Perry added, referring to the Civil War.

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Floyd, a 46-year-old Black man, who died on May 25 after a white Minneapolis police officer knelt on his neck for nearly nine minutes. His death, captured on video, led to nationwide protests against racial injustice and police brutality.

"Apparently, there is more to the story, if you look at the pathologist report," Perry said at Wednesday's event. 

An autopsy conducted by Hennepin County found that Floyd had fentanyl and methamphetamine in his system at the time of his death but said the cause of death was from cardiopulmonary arrest and neck compression.

Perry’s Democratic challenger, state Auditor General Eugene DePasquale, seized on his opponent's remarks, saying they “show just how out of touch he is with our community, and why he is no longer fit to lead.”

The competitive race in Pennsylvania’s 10th Congressional District is listed as a “Republican toss up" by the nonpartisan Cook Political Report. Perry was first elected to Congress in 2012.

“Instead of denying that racism exists, we need to come together to stop it,” DePasquale added in a tweet.

When reached for comment, a spokesperson for Perry told The Hill that the congressman believes “that racism, and discrimination more broadly, is wrong in all its forms.”

“And recent events are reminders that we need to continue moving toward a more perfect union,” the spokesperson added. “However, we cannot respond to these tragedies with more violence and we cannot equate every heroic police officer with the few rogue perpetrators.”

Updated at 4:52 p.m.