Van Jones Condemns 57 Buffalo Cops Who Resigned from Riot Team to Protest Suspension of Colleagues: ‘A Shame on the Profession’
CNN’s Van Jones unleashed a stinging indictment of the dozens of Buffalo police officers who chose to show solidarity with two other cops who were videotaped knocking an elderly man to the ground, giving him a serious head wound.
During a discussion with Situation Room host Wolf Blitzer, Jones address the news that, on Friday, 57 members of the Buffalo Emergency Response Team – its entire complement — resigned to protest the suspension without pay of two of their fellow officers, who were caught on camera knocking down a 75-year-old man and sending him to the hospital. The footage, taken by Buffalos’ NPR station, WBFO, quickly went viral igniting widespread outrage.
“They’ve taken a small stain by two officers who did the wrong thing and should face discipline, and they’ve spread it across the entire department and across the entire profession of law enforcement,” a sober Jones said. “This is the problem. Right now you are seeing both the best of U.S. Law enforcement and the worst of U.S. Law enforcement. Those of you who don’t deal with the police often, pay attention. Some people who assume the worst about law enforcement, you’ve got cops out there kneeling with folks, you’ve got cops out there helping protesters. And love is rising from the ashes. On the other hand you have police officers who are brutalizing people in broad daylight, in front of protesters and TV cameras, and are surprised when they have to pay any cost at all. And that’s where we are as a country.”
A recent Monmouth poll found that a majority of Americans — 57% — say “police officers facing a difficult or dangerous situation are more likely to use excessive force if the culprit is black.” But the numbers are starkly divided when broken down by race, with 87% of African-Americans saying they are more likely to be subject to police violence, compared to 49% of white Americans who say blacks are more often targeted for excessive force.
“As promising as those good images are, the idea that you have this herd mentality, this sort of blue wall of silence, that you’ll support officers even when they do the wrong thing, that is lawlessness,” Jones added. “We have lawlessness that’s taken root in law enforcement. And you see, the idea that you can knock a man down, of that age, and leave him there and then lie about it, and then you’re going to band together to support the cops that did that, against the police chief who is trying to impose some order?”
“Again, you have so many officers who are doing a good job, who are showing their strength under real stress. And even going above and beyond the call of duty to reach out to the protesters. So it’s going well in some places,” Jones pointed out. “The problem is, when somebody does something wrong, and of course in any large group of people you’re going to have people who do stuff wrong. Can there be discipline? Can officers be disciplined, demoted, and fired for doing the wrong thing? Can they be prosecuted, can they be sued? All too often the answer is no. What does that mean? In any human system, if there are no adequate checks and balances, then it’s going to tend toward abuse. The government has to be on the lookout for bad actors.”
“It’s not that you hate police, but you know if nobody can be disciplined, demoted, fired, incarcerated, or sued, then even a small number of bad actors are going to commit tremendous harm,” Jones explained. “And you’re seeing it play out. I feel so bad for those officers who are showing restraint and who are reaching out to continue to have their efforts completely marginalized by these folks who act badly. But those officers who are standing with the cops, who pushed that man down, should be ashamed of themselves. I’m from a law enforcement family, they are a shame on the profession.”
Watch the video above, via CNN.
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