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Do Black Lives Matter to GOP? Christie Slams Obama for Backing Movement Against Police Bias

StoryOctober 29, 2015
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At Wednesday’s Republican presidential debate, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie seized on comments by FBI Director James Comey that added scrutiny and criticism of police officers has fueled an increase in crime. Christie also criticized President Obama for his comments last week in support of Black Lives Matter. “We need to make it so that this country — Americans, police, the government — values black lives but also realizes that black people aren’t saying that only our lives matter, but that our lives matter, as well,” says Imani Gandy, senior legal analyst at RH Reality Check and co-host of the podcast This Week in Blackness.

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This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

AMY GOODMAN: Getting back to the debate, Chris Christie, who we haven’t talked very much about, the New Jersey governor, seized on comments by FBI Director James Comey over this past weekend that added scrutiny and criticism of police officers have fueled an increase in crime.

GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE: You want to talk about moral authority, let’s talk about something that’s happened this week in the news. You know, the FBI director, the president’s appointed FBI director, has said this week that because of a lack of support from politicians like the president of the United States, that police officers are afraid to get out of their cars, that they’re afraid to enforce the law. And he says, the president’s appointee, that crime is going up because of this.

And when the president of the United States gets out to speak about it, does he support police officers? Does he stand up for law enforcement? No, he doesn’t. I’ll tell you this: The number one job of the president of the United States is to protect the safety and security of the American people. This president has failed. And when I’m in the Oval Office, police officers will know that they will have the support of the president of the Untied States. That’s real moral authority that we need in the Oval Office.

AMY GOODMAN: That’s Republican contender Chris Christie, the New Jersey governor. Imani Gandy, respond, please.

IMANI GANDY: Well, first of all, I think that the crime has been going down remarkably over the last several years. And secondly, I think that there’s this fundamental fallacy about Black Lives Matter, about police brutality and about agitating for police to be held accountable when they are—when they actually kill a black person, or when they kill anyone, really. But this notion that saying that black lives matter automatically means that cop lives don’t matter, or that white lives or Asian lives or any other lives don’t matter, I think is a fallacy that we really need to—we need to smash that, because what the point is, is that black people are being killed by police at an alarming rate. And whether or not it is more of a rate than in it has been in the past, certainly the attention to it, due to things like citizen journalism, cellphones and that sort of thing—certainly the conversation has been changed so that we are focusing on this police brutality.

And the notion that the president speaking out for Black Lives Matter automatically means he’s against the police—or the same thing happen with Bill de Blasio, with you had—you had New York City police officers turning their backs on the mayor because he has a black son and dared to speak about things that he knows are going to affect his son and affect his family. I think that we need to do—I don’t know what can be done about that, but we need to stop that thinking. We need to make it so that this country—Americans, the police, the government—values black lives but also realizes that black people aren’t saying that only our lives matter, but that our lives matter, as well.

AMY GOODMAN: We’re going to have to leave it there, and I want to thank you very much for all being with us. Again, in our headline today, we said an African-American U.S. citizen has applied for asylum in Canada, saying he fears he’ll be killed by police in the United States because, simply, he is black. You can go back to our headlines to check that news story. Thank you so much to David Cay Johnston, Imani Gandy, as well, Jamil Smith and John Nichols.

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