With investigations underway and riots continuing in Ferguson, Missouri without an apparent end in sight, members of the National Center’s Project 21 black leadership network are all over television — providing commentary for a media that is fascinated with the story of racial unrest that Project 21 members say is due to a lack of facts and exacerbated by the intense media attention the riots are receiving.
Project 21 member Joe Hicks disputed the portrayal of Ferguson police as “inherently racist.” On CNN on 8/19/14, he pointing out that any “illegal police behavior has to be stopped,” but also noted that FBI statistics show there are a disproportionate amount of crimes committed by black Americans — and that gang and drug-related activities that are unfortunately more prevalent in black communities do draw police interest.
Joe said an overall problem in Ferguson (and everywhere) right now is that “we need to have the facts,” and there are too many people pronouncing judgment in the matter “without the benefit of any real facts.” This, he added, applies to those who would assert a racial conspiracy existing within the Ferguson Police Department without knowing facts such as how many minorities did apply to become officers and how many qualified.
Over at the Fox News Channel, Project 21 member Wayne Dupree critiqued the media performance regarding Ferguson coverage on “Fox and Friends” on 8/19/14.
In particular, Wayne was asked about a Don Lemon interview on CNN in which Lemon told the parents of Michael Brown that the entire world was behind them and they should come to him personally “if either of you need anything.” Wayne said this was an example of Lemon “playing to the emotion of the viewers” and “becoming a part of the story.” This, he pointed out, “is not helping the situation.”
Project 21 member Alveda King, the niece of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., appeared earlier in the Fox News Channel programming day on the “Fox and Friends First” program.
Talking about President Obama’s apparent willingness to not chose sides in this police-community crisis and to call for calm, Alveda said what Obama said on this occasion was “saying what needs to be said… for justice to prevail.” On the 8/19/14 edition of the program, Alevda said the “no justice, no peace” sloganeering so prevalent in Ferguson should be abandoned in favor of “pray[ing] for peace.” She added that “we must have peace in the process.”
Responding to a reported claim by Al Sharpton that the public reaction to the death of Michael Brown is a “defining moment” in American history, Wayne Dupree told host Rick Amato it might be a “defining moment in his history” but that Sharpton needs to be called out for his “lack of working for a solution.” Sharpton, Wayne said, is simply going for an “emotional response” that can only serve to enhance Sharpton’s own reputation rather than bring about any positive outcome for Ferguson, Missouri in particular or black America in general.
On the 8/18/14 edition of “The Rick Amato Show” on the One America News Network, Wayne said the police “need to protect themselves” in the face of violence that may be directed against them during nightly rioting in Ferguson. He added that he was always taught to respect authority figures such as police officers — being told that respect would be shown toward him as a result. “If the police tells me to move to the side,” he noted, “I’m moving to the side.”
Wayne also said there is an inherent problem in the Ferguson standoff in that the media is helping to make problems fester as “false stories… incite and make people crazy.” He suggested the community would be well-served by getting most or all of the media out of town.