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Van Jones On George Floyd Riots: “I Have Not Seen Black People This Upset In 20 Years”

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JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: Van, the Minneapolis Police Department has been the subject of frequent complaints about excessive force. You heard Laura mention some of the more notorious incidents. Derek Chauvin, the officer who put his knee on Floyd, had 18 complaints against him, only two of which merited disciplinary action. He’s been fired, Chauvin. But how do we prevent this from happening again? You talk about how people are exhausted with the concept of, OK, this law will do it or this law will do it. How do we make sure there are no more incidents like this? VAN JONES, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Well, I tell you what, I don’t have a great answer. I will tell you this. We thought we got an answer. It’s called body cams, that we just put body cams on all these cops and you could see what they were doing, that they would either stop or that the public would be so outraged. These guys knew they had on body cams. There were people standing there with the cell phones out; 18 complaints should trigger a separate review. You know, just because you couldn’t get all the way to disciplining the officer, demoting the officer, or firing the officer doesn’t mean that the aggregation of those complaints should not trigger a separate review in a well-run department. This is not a well-run department. And, unfortunately, there are very few well-run departments. The reality we have now is, we have got to look in the mirror. In order with for that level of contempt for life to take place in broad daylight, with officers and bystanders, and nothing be done, that’s the tip of a very big iceberg of disrespect, of contempt for human life, and a pattern and a practice from coast to coast, where, when someone gets out of a car, they’re African-American, they’re that tall — and, frankly, I’m a little bit tall myself — they are presumed to be a threat. And everybody knows the script. Whatever you do to subdue that person is going to be considered — quote, unquote — “OK.” But in this case, he’s not running. In this case, he doesn’t have a weapon. In this case, he is stopped. If he — whatever he did two minutes ago, three minutes ago, four minutes ago, five minutes ago, six minutes ago, seven minutes ago, he is begging for his mother, and nothing is done. That lets you know that is not — that doesn’t happen just out of the clear blue sky. There have — you build up to that level of contempt. You build up to that level of dehumanization and desensitization. And you’re now witnessing the outcome of that, of all these other little incidents that were gaslit and told, as black people, didn’t really happen, or maybe you could have done this, or maybe she could have done that, but why did she say this, all these little things that we get gaslit over, until you finally have a culture of contempt for black life at the highest levels. And that’s what you’re seeing. And so this is not going to be fixed only by legislation. There needs to be legislation. But there are a lot of our white friends and allies I think are heartbroken, too, in a way that’s surprising to them, because I think that they had hoped that somehow we had been overstating our case. They had hoped that somehow we were exaggerating just a little bit for some kind of advantage for affirmative action or taking things too harshly. And you don’t get to this outcome, if without there being a predicate, a predicate of contempt after contempt after contempt, not being corrected, in that department and in this country. And so I don’t have a legal answer and I’m telling you, I’m talking to people across the country. They don’t want to hear from me anymore. They don’t want to hear from any of us anymore. They’ve heard it from us over and over again and nothing has changed. So if you are white and are you watching this, look in your own life, how are you choking off black dignity? Choking off black opportunity? Choking off black people from having an opportunity to thrive? Because it’s not just that officer. This is a much deeper problem. How are all of us police it in this? And how are all of us allowing this to happen? I don’t have an answer to that. I have not been this upset. I have not seen black people this upset in 20 years, longer. And I’m looking forward to hearing this press conference. I don’t know what we’re going to do.

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