Rep. Demings pushes back on acting DHS secretary's comments about systematic racism

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Rep. Val Demings, D-Fla., shot back at acting Department of Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf's comments about racism on Sunday, saying that “systemic racism is always the ghost in the room.”

The comments from Demings – who's been rumored to be in contention to be Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden’s running mate – come following a statement from Wolf that he hoesn’t think there is a “systemic racism problem” in law enforcement. Debate over racial injustice and police brutality has come to the forefront of American politics following the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis.

“While I heard what the secretary said, we have a lot of work to do,” she said on ABC’s “This Week.” “And systemic racism is always the ghost in the room.”

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Demings, who previously was the chief of police in Orlando, Fla., said she found the hardline tactics used by many police departments across the country to disperse protesters to be “extremely troubling” and called for legislation to back more officer oversight, training and the examination of use-of-force policies, along with efforts to ramp up minority hiring within police departments.

Her comments Sunday follow similar ones she made last week when she said “it is long overdue” for an internal review to be conducted at law enforcement agencies nationwide.

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“I do believe we are long overdue for every law enforcement agency in our nation to review itself and come out better than before,” Demings said during an interview on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”

“As we’ve dealt with misconduct involving police officers, that we’ve always tried to deal with it as an individual department or an individual city or an individual state,” she added. “But I do believe the time has certainly come, we are overdue, for us to look at the problem as a nation.”