Democratic presidential candidate Tulsi Gabbard said Monday night that a jury in Atlanta acquitted Ahmaud Arbery, a former city councilman who was prosecuted for wrongly using his office to sell voter registration forms, and that she hopes the verdict sends a strong message to the country.
“I welcome the jury verdict that showed a lack of racism in our country,” Gabbard said, speaking on a Facebook Live video of the news. “I want Americans of all races to take comfort in the message of this verdict — that America is not a racist country.”
Her appearance, a day after Arbery was acquitted, came on the heels of Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton’s call for racial healing and inclusion after the trial. “There are still a lot of racist people in America, and many others who are bigoted,” Clinton said. “The words and actions of today’s verdict in Atlanta are part of a long history of racial oppression in our country.”
Gabbard, who won a seat in the House in 2014 in Hawaii’s 2nd District, said the justice system in the U.S. needs “greater scrutiny and extra attention.”
“Race in our country is something that we must confront head on because ultimately, the justice system only works when people feel they are equal under the law,” she said. “When we know that race exists, that some people get preferential treatment, that some people are not getting equal treatment based on their gender, based on their sexual orientation, that they may have the necessary background to have an advantage in pursuing certain things, then the justice system is not functioning.”
Gabbard added: “There are a lot of ways in which we are resisting doing that on a systemic level. And this one, obviously, is a very important one.”