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DePasquale: Systemic racism is real, 'unacceptable'

Logan Hullinger
York Dispatch

Eugene DePasquale on Wednesday said systemic racism is a persistent problem in the U.S., drawing a stark distinction between himself and U.S. Rep. Scott Perry.

Speaking at a 10th Congressional District candidate forum hosted by the Rotary Club of York, Democratic challenger DePasquale emphasized the magnitude of systemic racism amid nationwide racial unrest in response to Black people dying at the hands of police.

"First of all, there is systemic racism, in my view, in the United States," DePasquale, the state's auditor general, said. "All you have to do is look at our unfair education system across the United States, where your education outcomes are almost entirely dictated by zip code. That's wrong. It's unacceptable."

More:Perry: Systemic racism isn't real, Black deaths sensationalized

This past month, while also appearing at a York Rotary forum, Perry, R-Carroll Township, claimed that systemic racism doesn't exist. Perry said there was "more to the story" regarding the circumstances surrounding to the death of George Floyd, who was killed earlier this year during an encounter with police officers in Minneapolis, Minnesota. 

In addition, Perry claimed that police killings of Black people has been sensationalized. 

"What is systemic? That means there's a system of. If there's a system, someone had to create that system," Perry said, adding that racism is still horrific. "Someone is operating and nurturing the system to keep it going. I don't know who in our country is doing that."

Pennsylvania Auditor General Eugene DePasquale speaks with Rotary Club of York past-president Mike Summers and club members, Wednesday, Oct. 7, 2020, during the club's program featuring the candidates for the 10th Congressional District at the Country Club of York. Congressman Scott Perry, DePasquale's opponent, appeared in the program last month. Bill Kalina photo

Those comments drew widespread criticism and made headlines nationwide, bringing more attention to an already competitive House race. 

Protests  have become commonplace after a string of events where Black individuals  died at the hands of police. Floyd's death in particular triggered widespread unrest in cities throughout the country. 

On Wednesday, DePasquale pushed back calls to defund police departments, a regular talking point among his party's left flank. 

However, he did emphasize that police violence against minorities is a major issue.

“We have seen way too many instances of people of color being killed by law enforcement,” DePasquale said. “What happened with George Floyd is unacceptable. It should be unacceptable to every American.”

The 10th Congressional District race has been rated a toss-up by The Cook Political Report, Politico and Sabato's Crystal Ball. 

Recent internal polling by DePasquale's campaign, however, has shown him with a slim lead.

— Logan Hullinger can be reached at lhullinger@yorkdispatch.com or via Twitter at @LoganHullYD.