Rev. Jesse Jackson refused Thursday to condemn the violent protests that have devastated Charlotte, North Carolina over the past two days during a contentious interview with Fox News’ Neil Cavuto.
Their conversation came after a night of violence in Charlotte where one person was put on life support after being shot and city police came out in riot gear firing tear gas and flash bangs trying to disperse the crowd. Protests began Wednesday night following the shooting death of a black man by police the prior day and turned into riots as the night went on.
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Jackson would not say at one point during the interview if the rioting was fair to the victims who were affected.
"Do you find that what happened last night got out of control when so many, when so many started attacking structures, attacking police vehicles, breaking into stores, many of them black owned businesses. Is that fair?" Cavuto asked.
"It’s not fun," Jackson said before referencing a quote from Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.: "I think that we’ve got to see that a riot is the language of the unheard."
"But when the police literally, and the camera becomes the conduit of justice, shoots them with their hands up in the air, again, that’s wrong, and those who do it should face the full weight of quick justice," Jackson said.
"But you seem to be saying that all 680 cases that we’ve seen in the past year and a half where blacks were shot by police were all that way," Cavuto said. "Were there not some that were legitimate, where a gun was involved?"
"Shooting people in the back is not legitimate," Jackson responded.
"Careful, careful. Because you always say don’t generalize," Cavuto said.
Jackson later said that not many police officers are being shot, although the press widely covered the five Dallas police officers who were fatally shot in July.
The reverend then said the police in Charlotte are covering up Tuesday’s incident.
"Would you say you went one step too far there?" Cavuto asked.
Jackson did not answer the question and began quoting King again.
"So, you condone their losing and justify what they did?" Cavuto asked.
Jackson again did not answer and instead tried to propose a reverse scenario in which police officers were shooting white individuals.
"You are justifying what happened last night," Cavuto said.
Jackson responded that he advocates for peaceful protests.