Merrick Garland gets emotional describing family’s flight from anti-Semitism, says America ‘protected them’

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Attorney General Merrick Garland said Monday that his family’s experience fleeing anti-Semitism informed his view of how the Justice Department should function in the United States.

In an interview with ABC News during his trip to Tulsa, Oklahoma, Garland grew visibly emotional when describing how his grandparents fled to the United States to escape persecution.

“One of them left the same village that Marc Chagall painted the “Fiddler on the Roof” from. It’s called Vitebsk. It’s now in Belarus,” Garland said. “And the country took them in. It protected them at a time when other countries wouldn’t.”

“So all of us in our family feel an obligation to public service and try to protect other people the way the country protected us. That’s the job of the Justice Department – to ensure equal justice under the law for all American citizens.”


Garland became emotional while recounting a similar anecdote of his family’s history during his Senate confirmation hearing in February. He was later confirmed by a 70-30 vote.

Garland assumed the key role as head of the Justice Department following months of nationwide protests against racial injustice following the death of George Floyd. The Biden administration has pledged to combat racial inequality during the president’s first term in office.

“I think all Americans should listen deeper,” the attorney general added. “We’re one country. We’re obligated to each other. We’re obligated to protect each other.”

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