What Police Brutality? Rudy Giuliani Says Black-on-Black Crime Is the Real Problem

On ‘Meet the Press,’ the former New York City mayor told professor Michael Eric Dyson that protesters in Ferguson, Mo., are seriously misguided.

(Photo: Courtesy NBC News)

Nov 24, 2014· 2 MIN READ
Culture and education editor Liz Dwyer has written about race, parenting, and social justice for several national publications. She was previously education editor at Good.

Sparks flew on Sunday during the usually placid political talk show Meet the Press thanks to controversial comments from Rudy Giuliani. The former New York City mayor questioned the continued outrage over the August shooting of unarmed teenager Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo., by asking why people don’t take to the streets and protest what he believes is the real problem: “black-on-black” crime.

Meet the Press host Chuck Todd kicked off the conversation among Giuliani, Georgetown professor Michael Eric Dyson, and attorney Anthony Gray, who represents Brown’s family, by noting the “disproportionality of white police forces” in several American cities with large black populations.

After stating a few generalities about law enforcement in New York City—he managed to avoid mention of the long history of stop-and-frisk policing in the Big Apple or the July death of black Staten Island resident Eric Garner at the hands of NYPD officers—Giuliani heated up the conversation.

“The fact is that I find it very disappointing that you’re not discussing the fact that 93 percent of blacks in America are killed by other blacks,” Giuliani said. “We are talking about the significant exception here [the Michael Brown shooting]. I’d like to see the attention paid to that that you are paying to this.”

“Black people who kill black people go to jail,” Dyson replied. “White people who are policemen who kill black people do not go to jail.”

“White police officers won’t be there if you weren’t killing each other 70 percent of the time," Giuliani went on to tell Dyson.

What Giuliani conveniently ignored is that Brown did not have a weapon, and he wasn’t threatening anyone. He was simply walking down the street and was stopped by police. Giuliani also failed to mention that white people are also more likely to kill each other. According to 2010 data from the Bureau of Justice Statistics, 84 percent of white Americans were killed by their white peers.

What’s behind all the intraracial crime in America? It’s a matter of proximity and segregation. A recent survey by the Public Religion Research Institute found that our social networks are so segregated that 75 percent of white Americans don’t have any friends who are not white. That means a white person living in a predominantly white community is more likely to kill someone who is white. Similarly, a black person living in a highly segregated neighborhood on the South Side of Chicago, for example, is more likely to commit homicide against someone of the same race.

Despite Giuliani’s desire to steer the conversation away from the problems between law enforcement and communities of color, police are more likely to kill a black person, according to the FBI.

A recent analysis by ProPublica of data between 2010 and 2012 from the FBI’s Supplementary Homicide Report found that white police officers are 21 times more likely to kill young black men than their white peers.

When ProPublica looked at the data going back to 1980, it found that 41 teenagers who were 14 years old or younger were killed by police. Of those youths, 27 of them were black, eight were white, four were Hispanic, and one was Asian.

Indeed, on Sunday morning news broke that a black 12-year-old boy, Tamir Rice, had died from wounds he sustained after being shot by police in Cleveland on Saturday afternoon. Rice was playing with a BB gun in a local park—it was missing the orange cap that would enable someone to distinguish it from a real weapon. Although Ohio is an open-carry state, which means residents have the right to walk into a grocery store or a Starbucks with an assault weapon slung over their shoulders, a passerby called 911. That individual told the dispatcher that the weapon was probably fake, but that information was not relayed to the responding officers.

You can watch the whole exchange between Giuliani and Dyson in the video below. As for what will happen in Ferguson, the grand jury in the Michael Brown case reached its decision on Monday.