CNN’s Marc Lamont Hill: Police Officers Are Bad Apples Acting as ‘an Occupying Force in the Hood’

Late Wednesday on CNN Tonight, CNN commentator Marc Lamont Hill verbally attacked police officers once again as he decried the notion that there are only a few “bad apples” in law enforcement and that they instead serve as “an occupying force in the hood.”

Two nights after he hailed the violence on the streets of Baltimore as “uprisings” against “police terrorism” instead of riots, Hill was asked by host Don Lemon to respond to comments made by a loved one belonging to one of the six Baltimore police officers suspended due to the investigation into the death of Freddie Gray. 

In an interview conducted earlier Wednesday, Lemon asked the woman at one point if Gray’s arrest, injuries, and subsequent death were “racist.” The unidentified woman replied that it was “a fair question” to ask and that: “Are there some bad apples? Yes, but you can have racism and be black.”

With his head visibly shaking in disagreement with the woman’s statements, Hill responded that he’s “saying no to the bad apple part” because “[w]e can't continue to frame law enforcement and the police forces in America as simply a bunch of good natured people and there happen to be a few bad apples among them.”

>> Find all of NewsBusters‘ coverage of the unrest in Baltimore here <<

Hill then tried to rationalize his views by maintaining that he knows some “great police officers” that exist “at the individual level” who he “play[s] basketball” and drinks with before making his final point: “[I]t's something about the job itself and the structure of law enforcement in America itself that becomes an occupying force and – they’re an occupying force in the hood. That’s my issue.”

Before the segment came to an end, former Baltimore police officer Rob Weinhold stepped in to briefly refute Hill’s arguments: 

I don't share that perspective as a whole. I’ve got to tell you there’s some fantastic men and women and a few bad apples argument – listen, we're dealing with human beings and everyone is accountable for their actions when it comes down to the individual level. 

The relevant portion of the transcript from CNN Tonight on April 29 is transcribed below.

CNN Tonight
April 29, 2015
11:54 p.m. Eastern

[ON-SCREEN HEADLINE: Breaking News; Baltimore Curfew in Effect]

DON LEMON: I have to jump in here cause I want to play this. I want to play an interview – part of an interview I did with a loved one, somebody who's very close to one of the police officers who assisted in the apprehension of Freddy Gray. Listen to this. [TO WOMAN] Do you think this was racist? 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE LOVED ONE OF BALTIMORE POLICE OFFICER: That's a fair question. Are there some bad apples? Yes, but you can have racism and be black. 

LEMON: Meaning that even the officers of color are co-opted by the system is what she's basically saying. Marc? 

MARC LAMONT HILL: Alright. So, the first part, I'm saying no to the bad apple part. We can't continue to frame law enforcement and the police forces in America as simply a bunch of good natured people and there happen to be a few bad apples among them. That's not the right analysis. That’s not to say that police officers, at the individual level, aren’t great people. I know some people who are great police officers. I play basketball with them. I might drink with them, but it's something about the job itself and the structure of law enforcement in America itself that becomes an occupying force and – they’re an occupying force in the hood. That’s my issue.

LEMON: Ok, quickly. I got to get to something else. Go ahead. What were you going to say.

ROB WEINHOLD: I don't share that perspective as a whole. I’ve got to tell you there’s some fantastic men and women and a few bad apples argument – listen, we're dealing with human beings and everyone is accountable for their actions when it comes down to the individual level. 

LEMON: Thanks to all of you. I appreciate it.

NBDaily Crime Race Issues Racism CNN CNN Tonight Video Don Lemon Marc Lamont Hill
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