Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani on Sunday stunned audiences when he explained how he is “disappointed” that the focus in Ferguson, Missouri, is on the majority of the police force being white, rather than violence between African-Americans.
The conversation erupted when “Meet the Press” host Chuck Todd began discussing the disproportion of white police forces to the communities they serve in areas across the U.S. aside from Ferguson, including Newark, New Jersey and El Paso, Texas. ”All of those places could become future Fergusons,” Todd said.
Giuliani quickly pivoted the conversation, arguing “the fact is, I find it very disappointing that you’re not discussing the fact that 93% of blacks in America are killed by other blacks. We’re talking about the exception here.”
Georgetown Professor Michael Eric Dyson chimed in, saying “First of all, most black people who commit crimes against other black people go to jail. Number two, they are not sworn by the police department as an agent of the state to uphold the law. So in both cases, that’s a false equivalency that the mayor has drawn, which has exacerbated tensions deeply embedded in American culture.”
“Black people who kill black people go to jail. White people who are policemen who kill black people do not go to jail,” Dyson continued. “If a jury can indict a ham sandwich, why is it taking so long?”
Giuliani responded, saying “it’s hardly insignificant, it is the reason for the heavy policy presence in the black community.” Dyson: “Not at all, not at all.”
“What about the poor black child that is killed by another black child? Why aren’t you protesting that?” Giuliani asked. “Those people go to jail!” Dyson fired back.
“White police officers won’t be there if you weren’t killing each other 70% of the time,” Giuliani added, as Todd attempted to ease the heated volley.
“This is a defense mechanism of white supremacy at work in your mind, sir,” Dyson replied.
“As you can see, this has a lot of tension to it,” Todd said, putting an end to the back and forth.
Tweets surrounding the comments started pouring in, some calling Giuliani’s remarks “racist.” Another tweet, which received 143 retweets and counting, read “Rudy Giuliani just lost his mind on “Meet the Press”.
The racial disparity in Ferguson’s police force has drawn criticism since the shooting of unarmed African-American teen Michael Brown on Aug. 9. Only three out of 53 of the city’s police officers are black, yet Ferguson’s African-American population is 67%.
Some white Ferguson residents were surprised at the racial tensions in the city after protests erupted following Brown’s death. Just last week, Ferguson Mayor James Knowles admitted to a racial divide in the St. Louis suburb. Previously, he told msnbc host Tamron Hall that there wasn’t.
“There’s clearly racial divides all across the country. But I didn’t see the divide in our community so much as race, but a lot of it is socioeconomic. It does disproportionately affect African-Americans. So among that, yes, absolutely. There’s a racial divide there,” Knowles said.
Governor Nixon has preemptively declared a state of emergency in St. Louis County as the community awaits a grand jury decision on whether or not it will indict officer Darren Wilson in Brown’s death.
Giuliani defended Nixon’s order Sunday, saying, “I would have had a state of emergency, but I would have kept it quiet … In other words, I would have kept my police on alert. I’d have kept them in places you couldn’t see them, be ready in a moment’s notice to stop any violence.”