In an interview with The Washington Examiner published on Saturday, Vice President Mike Pence said that George Floyd's death "shocked the conscience of the nation" and dismissed calls to defund the police.
Floyd, a 46-year-old African-American man, died on Mary 25 after police officer Derek Chauvin pinned him to the ground and knelt on his neck for nearly nine minutes. The incident -- which was caught on camera -- sparked nationwide protests against police brutality, with thousands taking to the streets to demand justice.
Pence said that what happened to Floyd was "a disgrace" that "shocked the conscience of the nation" and added that "the rioting and the looting and the violence against innocent civilians and law enforcement that took place afterwards was also totally unacceptable."
In response, President Donald Trump and other leaders deployed security forces to crack down on the demonstrations. According to Pence, the president did so in order to put an end to violence and "make room for peaceful protesters to give voice to their sentiment."
Pence also discussed law enforcement reform, suggesting that introducing new rules for police won't be enough. The vice president said that lawmakers and the Trump administration need to "work to bring jobs, opportunity, educational excellence, school choice, and improved health outcomes to our inner-city communities."
Activists and protesters have called for more aggressive measures. Notably, some have suggested that police departments across the nation need to be defunded.
Pence made it clear that he does not support defunding the police, saying that the Trump administration will, in fact, try to increase funding in order to improve police training and "support enhanced standards on the use of force."
Polling suggests that most Americans are in agreement with Pence. A HuffPost/YouGov survey released earlier this week found that only 27 percent of Americans think defunding the police would be a good idea. However, only seven percent of respondents said that the police system requires essentially no changes.The poll also showed that most Americans support creating a federal registry for complaints against police officers and ending qualified immunity. Similarly, the vast majority of Americans are in favor of banning chokeholds and support establishing a national standard on the use of force.
Both Democrats and Republicans are working on law enforcement reform bill. Trump has vowed to issue a special executive order.
According to Pence, the Democratic Party is to blame for what the African-American community is going through. The vice president told The Washington Examiner that "African American families in this country have lived for generations under failed liberal Democrat policies and leadership in our major cities."