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Susan Collins says systemic racism isn't 'a problem' in Maine

Susan Collins says systemic racism isn't 'a problem' in Maine
© Screenshot/ WMTW

Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) said Wednesday night that she does not think systemic racism is an issue in her state. 

During the final debate between Collins and her Democratic challenger Sara Gideon, the moderator asked if the candidates thought there was a systemic racism problem in Maine. 

"Is the phrase 'Black lives matter' controversial and is there a systemic racism problem here in Maine?" asked debate moderator Steve Bottari. 

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Bottari also noted that close to 95 percent of Mainers identify as white. 

"I do not believe systemic racism is a problem in the state of Maine," the Republican incumbent responded. 

She added: "I don't think the phrase Black Lives Matter should be controversial." 

Collins noted that she has been endorsed by the fraternal order of police and applauded the work of first responders and law enforcement officials in her state. She also stated that she believes that systemic racism does exist in other parts of the United States.

"I think we are very fortunate in the state of Maine because we have terrific members of law enforcement," Collins said. "It's clear that in some parts of our country there is systemic racism or problems in police departments." 

Collins's comments come after the shootings and deaths of several Black Americans that have reinvigorated the Black Lives Matter movement such as George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and Jacob Blake. 

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Nationwide protests broke out over the summer after Floyd, a 46-year-old Black man was killed by Minneapolis police. Bystander footage showed former police officer Derek Chauvin kneeling on Floyd's neck until he became unresponsive, and was eventually pronounced dead at the hospital. 

Taylor was shot and killed in her bed in her apartment after officers executed a "no-knock" warrant in Louisville, Ky. Blake was shot several times in the back in Kenosha, Wisc., and was taken to the hospital earlier this year. He is now in stable condition. 

The senator also expressed her opinion on the recent death of Floyd, stating, "The horrific death of George Floyd should horrify all of us and those responsible should be held accountable."

Gideon countered Collins, saying that systemic racism exists everywhere, regardless of the state. 

"Black lives do matter and the reason we have to say it is because there is a legacy of bigotry in this country that results in systemic racism," Gideon said in response to the question. "It doesn't matter how white our state is — it still exists.

The race for the senate is currently rated a toss-up in Maine, according to RealClearPolitics.