CNN’s Van Jones argued Friday during an analysis on racial tensions that a “white, liberal Hillary Clinton supporter walking her dog in Central Park” can pose a more insidious threat to African Americans and be more racist than such groups as the Ku Klux Klan.
Jones was referring to a video of Amy Cooper, a white woman who called the police on a black man in New York’s Central Park on Monday after he asked that she put her dog on a leash.
The exchange and subsequent call to police went viral, with Cooper repeatedly referring to the man’s race while falsely saying she was being threatened.
Jones’s perspective comes after days of violent protests in Minneapolis following the police killing of George Floyd earlier this week.
At least 170 businesses in the Twin Cities have been damaged or looted, with dozens of fires set, according to local police.
Here’s what Jones had to say:
VAN JONES: As painful as this is, what we saw was a lynching. That’s what a lynching is. We saw a white man deprive a black man of his life in public, with the entire community staring — horror struck. Now the world witnessed a lynching. But there have been lynchings happening in America for hundreds of years. This is what we have lived with.
When you see the police arrest our colleagues in broad daylight, daylight, but right there, when they weren’t doing anything wrong, that happens every day in America, to black people all the time. The arbitrary and capricious abuse of authority. Now, because it was on television, it was handled quickly. But that is — there is another reality here which you’re starting to see. You thought maybe the world worked one way because police are nice to you, because these things don’t happen to people you know, but the whole time there is a whole other America and the reason that you see people now doing the things they’re doing. We have no idea who set those fires. It could have been provocateurs, anybody, the reason you see people willing to risk their lives in the middle of a plague and a pandemic and to go out and literally risk their lives to protest is because people are now fed up.
People are telling me they’re tired of hashtags, they’re tired of Van Jones saying to have a bipartisan solution, they are tired of people like me, they’re tired of people saying over and over again that, you know, we’re just basically one bill away, one election away from some progress.
It’s not the racist white person who is in the Ku Klux Klan that we have to worry about. It’s the white liberal Hillary Clinton supporter walking her dog in Central Park who would tell you right now, you know, people like that, ‘I don’t see race, race is no big deal to me, I see us all as the same, I give to charities,’ but the minute she sees a black man who she does not respect or who she has a slight thought against, she weaponized race like she had been trained by the Aryan nation. A Klansmember could not have been better trained to pick up her phone and tell the police a black man, African-American man, come get him.
So even the most liberal well-intentioned white person has a virus in his or her brain that can be activated at an instant. And so what you’re seeing now is a curtain falling away. And those of us who have been burdened by this every minute, every second of our entire lives are fragile right now. We are fragile right now. We are tired. And so I appreciate people who have been reaching out, I’ve had people reaching out to me for two days now, expressing their empathy and sympathy.
My only prayer, look in the mirror at how you choke off black opportunity. How you choke off black dignity. How you behave in ways that make it harder for African-Americans to rise in your profession, in your place of work, on your campus, in your house of worship, and start working on that. Because this is the last domino of a whole series of dominos that have been falling for a long time. And black people have been getting gas lit every time we point this out. And people tell us, well, maybe it was this, and maybe it was that, are you sure it was this, are you sure it was that? You don’t get to this outcome. You don’t get to the point where police officers can stand around, don’t tell me about the one who has the knee in his neck. Sometimes we have psychopaths and sociopaths with power. But when that happens, you call the police.
The police were there watching it. And defending it. And now there is still no charges. That is the problem. That we have allowed this contempt for black life to build and to build and James Baldwin said it best, white people in these situations are always innocent, oh, my God, I can’t believe this, teach me, educate me, help me understand, I can’t let this happen, talk to me, tell me something, tell me what to do, white people are always innocent and their innocence constitutes their crime.
It is too late to be innocent. it is too late. We’ve had too many funerals. We’ve had too many funerals for white people to be still this innocent and this shocked. I’m not saying that witnessing a lynching shouldn’t flatten you. It has flattened all of us. But it has been flattening us for years and decades and centuries. So now we’re all in it together.
There is not an easy legal answer, there is not an easy political answer. There is a personal and spiritual accounting that all of us are now called to. How can civil rights people like me get on TV every day and promise a better outcome and fail every day and still have a job? What the heck is wrong with people like me, what the heck is wrong with all of us, we got to this place.
Now, isn’t that what many of us on the Right have been saying for years? #WalkAway Van Jones.