On Tuesday, MSNBC’s Mike Barnicle claimed on “Morning Joe” that black men live in “combat zones” because they no longer respect police, prompting pushback from New York Republican Rep. Anthony D’Esposito, a former NYPD Detective.
The panel was discussing the death of Tyre Nichols, who was severely beaten by five police officers after fleeing a traffic stop and later died of his injuries. Barnicle made the claim that black men in America are living in “combat zones.”
“So, Congressman, I don’t think you’ll get any argument here that the job of being a police officer in specific districts, specific cities, has never been tougher,” Barnicle said. “But at the the end of all that, we do live in a nation where there is a lost legion of young men and boys who are living in combat zones, and they are largely African-American, and they have lost all respect, as well as their parents have, for policing, how difficult the job of policing is.
“What do we do about trying to convince young African-Americans and people of color in city after city that the police are there to help, not hurt or hinder?” he concluded.
D’Esposito acknowledged that community policing is an important tool but disagreed with Barnicle on this other claims.
“I would have to disagree that there’s not every community, every African-American or minority community across this nation, [that] there are people there who dislike the police,” D’Esposito said. “I worked in Brownsville, Brooklyn, which is probably one of the most violent square miles in New York City, and I will tell you that, as we’ve seen … when the Democrats and the New York State legislature passed criminal justice reform, they said that the purpose of that was to protect those minority communities. And those communities are the ones that have suffered most.”
“Body bag after body bag being removed from communities like that. They want police on the street. They want to see men and women in uniform on their corners because there are people, good people, who live in those communities, who want to go out and get a gallon of milk and not have to be worried about getting struck with a stray bullet,” he continued.
The Washington Post columnist Eugene Robinson thanked D’Esposito for making the point, agreeing that “people want good policing.”
On Jan. 7, Nichols was pulled over by Memphis police for an alleged traffic violation and subsequently fled the scene on foot. Five police officers have since been fired and charged after a “confrontation occurred,” leaving Nichols with deadly injuries. Nichols died three days after the traffic stop at St. Francis Hospital.
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