WASHINGTON – Amy Coney Barrett said the death of George Floyd was “very personal” for her family, telling senators on Tuesday she “wept” with her 17-year-old daughter over the Minneapolis man’s death in May.
Barrett’s voice started to crack as she discussed the footage of a Minneapolis officer kneeling on Floyd’s neck and the ripple effect it had on her seven children, including the two she adopted from Haiti.
Barrett, President Donald Trump’s nominee to the Supreme Court, had been asked whether she saw the video during her Senate confirmation hearing Tuesday.
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In response to Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., Barrett described sitting with her teenage daughter, who is Black, and crying.
“As you might imagine, given that I have two Black children, that was very, very personal for my family,” Barrett said about the footage.
Floyd, a Black man, died after an officer knelt on his neck for nearly 9 minutes in May. The footage of his death sparked massive protests in cities across the U.S. and discussions about racism in America.
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Barrett said when the video was publicized her husband was camping with their sons and she was home with her 17-year-old daughter, who was born in Haiti.
“All of this was erupting. It was very difficult for her,” Barrett said. “We wept together in my room.”
She noted that her family has had continued discussions about racism and how she tried to explain it to her young children.
“I mean, my children, to this point in their lives, have had the benefit of growing up in a cocoon where they have not experienced hatred or violence,” she said.
Durbin then asked whether there is racism still in the U.S. and whether it is systemic in America.
“I think it is an entirely uncontroversial and obvious statement, given that we just discussed the George Floyd video, that racism persists in our country,” Barrett said.
She added that while racism still is a problem, she could not say whether it is systemic or how to fix it.
“Those things are policy questions. They are hotly contested policy questions,” she said, noting that diagnosing the issue of racism was “beyond what I am capable of doing as a judge.”