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Stacey Abrams on VP potential: It's Joe Biden's choice
01:47 - Source: CNN
CNN  — 

Georgia Democrat Stacey Abrams said she has not physically joined in the protests over the death of George Floyd, but is being supportive in other ways, believing that young people should lead and her participation would only “distract” from the demonstrators’ message.

“I appreciate the instinct of leaders to join in these protests, but too often our presence distracts from their message,” Abrams, the former top Democrat in the Georgia House, told CNN’s Don Lemon on Thursday.

Instead, Abrams said, she’s been supporting protesters with bail funds and lawyers and helping get the message out.

“I want to be very clear that this is about the demonstrators who are facing this issue every single day. My responsibility is to fix the systems I can to promote the change we need, and to do what I can to support their message, but not to distract from their efforts,” said Abrams, who runs Fair Fight, the organization she founded in 2019 that advocates for fair US elections.

Abrams said her decision not to physically march with the protesters is informed by her past experience as a student helping lead a 1992 protest in response to Rodney King’s brutal beating by Los Angeles police.

“Having been an activist and a protester, I have a very visceral reaction and my conscience tells me, I need to stay out of the way and let the attention focus on the demonstrators,” she said.

Abrams also criticized the decision for law enforcement on Monday to clear the area around the White House of peaceful protesters using tear gas and rubber bullets so President Donald Trump could walk to the St. John’s Church for a photo-op. The US Park Police and White House claimed protesters were allegedly throwing projectiles, including bricks and frozen water bottles.

She said that had protesters been throwing water bottles, it “still wouldn’t have justified the actions taken.”

“The fact that the President of the United States is such a moral coward and such a physical coward, that he required the decimation of our civil liberties so he could cross the street to do performative art in front of a burned church, that is a condemnation of who he is but it should never be seen as an example of who we are,” Abrams said.