Carson calls for 'mutual respect' between police, minorities
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Carson explained his views on trying to balance criminal justice and race relations during an event at a historically black college, as he seeks inroads with minority voters in 2016.
“We have to stop allowing the purveyors of division to succeed,” he said at this year’s Presidential Justice Forum at Allen University in Columbia, S.C.
“The purveyors of hatred have come and convinced us that there is a war on women, a war on religion, a war on poor people, a war on race and war on virtually everything,” Carson told BET host Jeff Johnson.
“That’s what’s happening between African Americans and police. It’s getting people in their respective corners and hating on each other rather than talking to one another intelligently. It’s not getting us anywhere.”
Carson said the relationship between law enforcement officials and the communities they serve is at the heart of true criminal justice. He called for cooperation between police and minority populations at the grassroots level nationwide.
“There is so much malice now that they are no longer friends anymore,” Carson said. “The police have to respect the community and the community has to respect the police. That’s the thing that’s lacking – mutual respect.
“I think it makes a huge difference when people know each other,” the retired neurosurgeon added. "That’s really going to be the solution – those relationships.”
Carson said media coverage of police abuses had cast the profession in a negative light, taking away from the sacrifices most law officers make for civilians.
“I believe that police are way underappreciated. There are people who put their lives on the line every day,” he said.
“We need to take care of police officers because they take care of us. It’s a very stressful job,” Carson continued. “For those who don’t like police officers, I’d like you to think about what your life would be like if they weren’t around for 24 hours. It would be awful.
“I’m not aware of a lot of cases where police officers come up to someone like you and say, ‘I’m going to shoot you.’ ”
Johnson immediately took issue with that remark, challenging Carson with evidence to the contrary.
“I’ll show you the Tamir Rice video,” he said, referencing footage of a 12-year-old shot and killed by police in Cleveland earlier this year over a toy gun.
Carson also derided mandatory minimum sentencing and called for ex-felons to get back their voting rights upon completion of their sentences.
And he ripped the Black Lives Matter movement for ignoring some of the biggest struggles in the African-American community.
“I believe we ought to be talking about all black lives, not just a few,” Carson said, disputing the notion the movement should only focus on alleged police brutality.
“The greatest number of black lives are eliminated in abortion clinics,” he said. "That bothers me.
“In our cities, the number one cause of death in our black communities is homicide. That is a very severe problem to me. I’d like [Black Lives Matter] to mix all those things into the conversation.”