The fight for the black vote is on.
This time it is a bit different, however, in just four years later, the issue of race is being discussed differently.
It is being discussed through the lens of mass incarceration and police brutality.
Van Jones, a CNN contributor and former Obama advisor and Michael Nutter, the former mayor of Philadelphia discussed this on my show last night.
Mayor Nutter: “The Black Lives matter movement has raised a number of issues and certainly mass incarceration is a significant issue in their agenda and it should be in the agenda of all of us. But I mean Van it’s not the only issue, certainly having a job, having economic opportunity even re-entry opportunities, making sure our kids are getting the education and that we’re safe on our streets are certainly significant issues to the Black Lives matter movement and all Americans.”
Framed in this manner, the issue has impassioned artists like Beyoncé who takes on the issue in a new video and in her recent half-time performance at the Super Bowl where she conjured images of the 1960’s militant Black Panther movement and Malcolm X.
But it’s also sparking passion from politicians like Rudy Giuliani who say Beyoncé and the Black Lives movement are misinformed about police and who, he says, is actually causing the problems.
“At a time in which police officers have a target on their back, when you only emphasize the few small number of situations in which police officers kill people as opposed to the enormous number of times in which people are killed by other people and in the African American community it’s African Americans killing African Americans. I think this is not just any time, this is a time in which police officer feel they have a target on their back.”
Giuliani says that if Beyoncé and others dare to take up the issue of police brutality at all, especially on such a big stage with a huge audience, that even as artists they have to be responsible and show both sides.
“I’ve seen too many cops die saving the lives of people and maybe some emphasis should be given to that. And at a moment like that with 90 million people watching you, to not at least give the other side of the story when that’s the side of the story that’s really saving the lives. Not a bunch of political rhetoric. Look, the reality is the way in which most people are killed in this country are by other people, not by cops. Cops save a lot more lives than they cost.”
When challenged about his sensitivity to the issue, Giuliani stood behind his record as New York Mayor.
Lemon- “It sounds like you’re saying that there isn’t a problem with police officers and African Americans.”
Giuliani- “Don, I am not. Don, you’re looking at somebody who put 70 police officers in jail. A lot more than Beyoncé did. I’ve prosecuted police officers, I’ve put them in jail. I’ve put them in jail for long periods of time when they were corrupt, when they were brutal. When 1 police officer was engaged in an act of brutality, when I was Mayor. He went to jail for 25 years. There’s nobody tougher on police than I am. I expect them to act above and beyond what other people act. But I happen to know that most of them do that, and at a time like this maybe it might not be a bad idea for people who have the kind of fame and celebrity that she has to teach everyone in every community to respect the police. To respect the uniform. Not to make it appear as if they’re the enemy.”
Giuliani says he’s saved more black lives than most, telling me that when he took office there were 1,900 murders in New York City and when he left it was down to 500.
He says 70- 75% of those murders were of black people.
He also told me he’d like to sit down with Beyoncé and members of the Black Lives Matter movement to come to a consensus on perception versus reality.
A meeting may sound like a good idea, but is it really, and would it even help?