You know the left is on the verge when someone who's a progressive activist, a Bernie Sanders supporter, and an outspoken opponent of "white privilege" has to apologize for not being "woke" enough to approve the prospect of civilians attacking police! Yet that's precisely what happened on MSNBC this morning.
The George Floyd case has sparked a debate in some quarters over the right of onlookers to "intervene" if they believe a police officer is "murdering" someone. In essence, the question is whether people can attack a cop if they believe the cop is unjustly harming someone else.
At least one prominent African-American has argued that people have not just the right, but the duty, to intervene in such instances. Interviewed by CNN's Don Lemon this past Thursday, Cornel West said:
"We’re going to have to intervene in some way. We – they aren’t going to kill us like that . . . We got to self-respect. We got to self-defense. And we intervene when you start killing us like that."
On her MSNBC show today, Tiffany Cross expressed the desire in such circumstances to "knock" the police officer off the suspect, regretting that the law apparently wouldn't permit it. Cross asked her guest, Gyasi Ross, a Native American lawyer, whether there was something that could be done.
As a layperson, I wonder, I’m witnessing a murder before me, if I’m standing there. Legally, if I’m a bystander and I want to go and knock this police officer off Mr. Floyd and save this man’s life, but legally, I’m not allowed to do that. So what is the recourse? . . . Are we supposed to . . . stand back and watch this man die? . . . Legally, is there something people can do when these incidents happen?
Ross replied that as a lawyer, he cannot encourage people to do something that is "patently" illegal, and then added this: "That's an unfortunate truth, Tiffany. I really would like to say something more woke."
Ross prefaced his remarks by saying he had been "terrified" of being asked the question that Cross raised. In other words, Ross was afraid of having his lack of sufficient wokeness exposed on live, liberal TV!
The very way that Cross framed the issue exposed how untenable it would be to let civilians "intervene" in police matters. She twice wondered what people can and should do if they see a police officer "murdering" someone. But that puts civilians, in circumstances in which they cannot possibly know all the facts, in the position of judge, jury, and potentially, executioner of police.
Ross used an interesting term for people of color, calling them "melanated." At the end of the segment, in a nod to Ross, Cross thanked her "melanated" panel.
Here's the transcript.
The Cross Connection
10:10 am EDT
TIFFANY CROSS: Gyasi, I want to turn to you on this, because there is something about watching this. Again, as layperson, I look at this, and I saw the video, of people standing around. As a layperson, I wonder, I’m witnessing a murder before me, if I’m standing there.
Legally, if I’m a bystander and I want to go and knock this police officer off Mr. Floyd, and save this man’s life, but legally, I’m not allowed to do that. So what is the recourse? If you’re standing there as a civilian, watching a police officer murder someone, you outnumber him, what’s the recourse? What are we supposed to do when witnesswing something like this? Stand back and watch this man die? We’re mortal beings. Obviously we fear death. But legally, is there something that people can do when these incidents happen?
GYASI ROSS: You know, I’m glad you asked me that, and I’m also — I was terrified of that question. I saw an impassioned interview with Professor Cornell West --
ROSS: Where he talked about a willingness to intervene. And as a defense attorney, I can’t advise anybody to do something that’s against the law.
ROSS: And that is something that’s patently against the law. Moreover, it’s dangerous. They have the power of guns. And I hate to paint this as an us versus them thing, but melanated people understand that that’s largely been what it's been historically.
So I would advise anybody: record. Try to intervene verbally. Call 911. Please don’t physically intervene. Please don’t physically intervene. I say that with all due respect to Professor West. I understand where he's coming from. But I would say that's a very dangerous position. And we might be looking at two dead people and not one.
And so, you know, and that’s a very unfortunate truth, Tiffany. I really would like to say something more woke, and more, more — but that’s, honestly, it's a dangerous position. And I think that those bystanders, as traumatizing as it was, did the right thing. It was just, unfortunately, something that happened and happens way too often to black and brown folks.
CROSS: Yeah, I’m so happy you answered that for us, Gyasi. Because so many people have been DMing me, tweeting me, texting me, asking me that same question. So thank you for putting that in some perpective. And this is why the system itself is on the trial. So thank you to my melanated panel, as Gyasi calls us.