The Libertarian presidential ticket appeared to offer its unambiguous support to the notion that black lives matter during a Libertarian Forum hosted by Fusion’s Jorge Ramos and Alicia Menendez in Miami on Wednesday.
“An opportunity we have here is to say ‘black lives do matter’,” presidential candidate Gary Johnson, the former governor of New Mexico, enthusiastically exclaimed when asked by Fusion’s Kim Brooks about the high rate of unarmed black men who are killed by police, and whether he has a policy to address the crisis.
“And when it’s responded to by ‘all lives matter,” he continued, “Yes, all lives matter, but all lives, white, are not being shot six times the rate of blacks and that’s what we need to be aware of.”
Johnson’s running mate, former Massachusetts governor William Weld, chimed in, saying: “So the answer to the question ‘Do black lives matter?’ is ‘Yes.’ It’s not all lives matter. All lives matter is a dog whistle.”
However, when Brooks pressed for specifics, both Johnson and Weld appeared decidedly less resolute in how best to respond to police violence against black men.
Weld replied, “Well, this may seem a little bit off to the side, but I think part of the roots of the problem is in the educational system, and so many black males are getting social promotion, and graduating from high school when they’re not prepared to go to college. Or, they’re stuck in some inner-city school system that has terrible statistics, and there’s no charter schools, there’s no school choice so their parents can’t help them out.”
He went on to insist on the need for “a comprehensive solution and action by government,” regarding education, incarceration, and unemployment rates for young black men, calling it “a national emergency,’ on both moral and prudential grounds.
“Don’t discount the bully pulpit,” Johnson added. “Don’t discount having a president and a vice president that are not tone-deaf to this issue.”
When pushed to provide further details about actual police tactics, Weld answered simply, “cameras, all that sort of things.”
In response, Brooks pointed out that body cameras frequently offer no guarantee that an offending officer will be prosecuted and convicted. Weld then offered an anecdote about his time as governor, during which he sent judges who had blamed victims of domestic abuse for their injuries away for training.
According to Weld, Johnson’s plan is to study and replicate state and local best practices when it comes to law enforcement. Partnership between all levels of law enforcement—from the Justice Department, down to state and local levels—would be important as well, they said.
The latest FiveThirtyEight projections based on national polls put Johnson carrying 9.4% of the vote nationally in a three-way race with Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump.