CNN commentator Van Jones attempted to make the case that the former Memphis police officers responsible for the death of Tyre Nichols “still might have been driven by racism” despite the fact that all five of them were Black.
In opinion piece published on CNN’s website on Friday, Jones began by recalling the 1991 police brutality case of Rodney King where four White cops were caught on film beating him. He noted that unlike King, Nichols did not survive.
“From the King beating to the murder nearly three years ago of George Floyd, American society has often focused on the race of the officers — so often White — as a factor in their deplorable acts of violence,” Jones wrote. “But the narrative ‘White cop kills unarmed Black man’ should never have been the sole lens through which we attempted to understand police abuse and misconduct. It’s time to move to a more nuanced discussion of the way police violence endangers Black lives.”
TYRE NICHOLS BODYCAM: MEMPHIS AUTHORITIES RELEASE VIDEO IN DEADLY TRAFFIC STOP
The liberal pundit then declared that Black people “are not immune to anti-Black messages,” telling readers that “Self-hatred is a real thing.”
“Black cops are often socialized in police departments that view certain neighborhoods as war zones. In those departments, few officers get disciplined for dishing out ‘street justice’ in certain precincts — often populated by Black, brown or low-income people — where there is a tacit understanding that the “rulebook” simply doesn’t apply,” Jones wrote. “Cops of all colors, including Black police officers, internalize those messages — and sometimes act on them. In fact, in Black neighborhoods, the phenomenon of brutal Black cops singling out young Black men for abuse is nothing new.”
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“At the end of the day, it is the race of the victim who is brutalized — not the race of the violent cop — that is most relevant in determining whether racial bias is a factor in police violence. It’s hard to imagine five cops of any color beating a White person to death under similar circumstances. And it is almost impossible to imagine five Black cops giving a White arrestee the kind of beat-down that Nichols allegedly received,” Jones continued.
Jones called for “stricter oversight and swifter punishment,” saying “we need more” of the actions the Memphis Police Department took in the firing of the five officers involved in Nichols’ death. But he stressed “People often oppress people who look just like them.”
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“Unless there is real oversight, with real consequences for wrongdoing, bad actors will take advantage, lower the practical standards for everyone and put all of us at risk. And without aggressive oversight and swift punishment, we’ll continue to see stomach-churning acts of police violence against Black men — by cops of every color,” he added.
Critics mocked Jones’ opinion piece on social media.
“Knew this take was coming,” Washington Free Beacon reporter Chuck Ross reacted.
“But of course,” Fox News contributor Andy McCarthy wrote.
“Come TF on @VanJones68?!?! Seriously? Can’t people be bad people motivated by their lack of maturity, self-awareness, and inability to discern? Does every incident involving police and black men have to revert back to being an issue in race? I understand this is the rave right,” Substack writer Barrington Martin II told the CNN pundit.
“How can @TheBabylonBee compete with @VanJones68?” Babylon Bee founder Adam Ford joked.
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On Friday evening, Memphis authorities have released police bodycam footage from a Jan. 7 traffic stop that preceded the death of 29-year-old Tyre Nichols, who spent three days in the hospital before succumbing to his injuries, according to authorities.
Demetrius Haley, Tadarrius Bean, Emmitt Martin III, Desmond Mills and Justin Smith were fired on Jan. 18 and later charged with second-degree murder. The former officers could face up to 60 years in prison if convicted.
Fox News’ Michael Ruiz contributed to this report.