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Vice President Mike Pence in a new interview repeatedly refused to say the words “Black lives matter,” instead saying that, “all lives matter in a very real sense.”

In an interview with Philadelphia outlet 6ABCAction News, Pence was asked if he would say “Black lives matter” in the wake of nationwide protests over the death of George Floyd, a Black man who died last month after a former Minneapolis police officer knelt on his neck during an arrest for several minutes.

Protests have called for widespread police reforms, as well as other racial justice issues.

“Let me just say that what happened to George Floyd was a tragedy,” Pence said Friday. “And in this nation, especially on Juneteenth, we celebrate the fact that from the founding of this nation, we cherish the ideal that all of us are created equal and endowed by our creator with certain inalienable rights. And so all lives matter in a very real sense.”

Juneteenth is an annual holiday celebrated on June 19 commemorating the abolishment of slavery in the U.S. On June 19, 1865, Union Gen. Gordon Granger read the Emancipation Proclamation to former slaves in Galveston, Texas. Texas was the final state where the order was read and slaves were freed after first being issued by Lincoln two years earlier.

Pence added that the Trump administration is “supporting law enforcement” and will not “defund the police.” The protests across the country have called for defunding police departments and reallocating city and state funds to social programs, specifically those focused on alternative forms of public safety and crime prevention.

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