During a visit to the St. Louis area earlier this month, just miles outside of Ferguson, Carson told CBS News he thinks Ferguson “conjures up an image of people being unwilling to actually face the facts. I think the community is unwilling to face the fact that Michael Brown was a bad actor.”
It was unclear exactly what part of Brown’s life made him a “bad actor,” and Carson did not expand on his thought. Brown, 18, was gunned down by former officer Darren Wilson last August. Brown was unarmed and shot at least six times. Despite this, Wilson was cleared of all wrongdoing.
And the “facts” that have emerged since Brown’s killing have only affirmed a clear problem with racism in Ferguson’s police and justice departments, which the city is only now working to eradicate. An investigation by the U.S. Justice Department into Ferguson’s justice system showed a clear bias against Black people, with Blacks receiving significantly more tickets, fines, and jail time — often for very minor offenses. The investigation also concluded that nearly 90 percent of excessive force by police cases were against Black civilians. Blacks were also twice as likely as whites to be subjected to searches when pulled over in traffic stops.
Later, Carson went on to share his unfavorable opinion of the Black Lives Matter movement, which he explained as “foisting yourself on people — rather than engaging in dialogue — and bullying people. I never liked the idea of bullying on behalf of anybody.”
Despite this negative assessment, Carson also described the protests in Ferguson as “a good example of what can happen when people actually care, and when they do begin that dialogue.” While the protests and the Black Lives Matter movement are not exclusively linked, it seems contradictory to support one and slam the other.
When discussing the movement, Carson also cited the backlash Democratic presidential hopeful Martin O’Malley faced following his insistence that “all lives matter,” not just Black lives. Carson appears to be in agreement with O’Malley.
“My beef with the Black Lives Matter movement has been, I think they need to add a word. And that word is ‘All.’ All Black Lives Matter,” he said, adding, “of course all lives matter. When we get off into a little thing that says, ‘No, this is the only thing you can say,’ that’s sickening to me.”
Carson, like O’Malley, has branded himself as another candidate who seems to be missing the point of the Black Lives Matter movement. The movement does not aim to elevate any lives higher than any other lives; an implied “too” comes at the end of the name, emphasizing that Black lives matter as well as all other lives.
Mike Huckabee, another Republican hopeful, recently found himself in hot water for his comments about the movement as well — particularly for taking it a step further and invoking what he interpreted as the “message” of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.: “It’s not that any life matters more than another. That’s the whole message I think that Dr. King tried to present, and I think he’d be appalled by the notion that we’re elevating some lives above others.”
In response to Huckabee’s comments, MSNBC Host Janet Mock provided some insight — and textual examples — of how Dr. King likely would have felt about the movement, which could also be applied to Carson’s comments.
“In addition to dismissing Black Lives Matter, you also misrepresented one of the greatest champions of Civil Rights to assist in your attempt to silence the very people and ideas that he fought to protect, and died to protect,” Mock said, “because yes, Martin Luther King Jr. was appalled by the notion that we are elevating some lives above others — but you’re a little confused about the we he was talking about.”
By dismissing the Black Lives Movement or insisting it shouldn’t be named as such only takes away from the whole meaning of the movement — which has been missed by Carson, O’Malley, and Huckabee. The movement, like the riots (which Carson claimed to support) that occurred in Ferguson as well as Baltimore, serve as, as described by Dr. King, “the language of the unheard.”