CNN contributor Soledad O’Brien tried to explain to CBS host Bob Schieffer on Sunday that the protests over law enforcement “criminalizing” black communities were about much more than the recent deaths of black men in Missouri and New York.
“Anybody who thinks that what is happening right now [with the protests across the country] is only about Eric Garner, is only about Michael Brown is really missing what is happening in black America,” she pointed out. “African-Americans feel that they are treated differently in the criminal justice system, they are treated differently under the law.”
“There is this aggressive targeting of black people,” O’Brien added. “That doesn’t happen in white communities, and it’s that anger over so many years that is really percolating up now.”
“Do you think that’s a valid feeling, that they are being treated differently?” Schieffer asked.
O’Brien encouraged the CBS host to “look at the statistics.”
In her recent CNN documentary Black in America: Black and Blue, she found that 90 percent of the 5 million stop-and-frisk stops in New York City never resulted in arrests.
“Those people had done nothing,” she explained. “So 90 percent of the blacks and Latinos that were stopped in stop-and-frisks in New York City didn’t do anything. Imagine what that does psychically to a culture if you ‘fit the description,’ which means you’re black, male, 19 to 25.”
Schieffer, however, wondered if the stop-and-frisks were justified because blacks lived in “high-crime areas.”
“I think the challenge is that it’s not being applied proportionally,” O’Brien declared. “For example, if you are arresting and stopping people where many of them haven’t done anything, you create a culture in that community — even a high-crime community — where people feel like they are being criminalized, even those — as we saw in our documentary — who haven’t done anything.”
The CNN contributor recalled that one man said that he had been stopped more than 100 times.
“At some point, I think it becomes very damaging to these individuals, but also to a community that understands this is unfair,” she continued. “White people would say to me, ‘Well, I tell my children they should be respectful of police.’ And black people would say, ‘I teach my son how to survive an interaction with the police,’ regardless of socio-economic status.”
“That is problematic, and that, I think, is at the core of all these marches and anger that we’ve seen.”