Rep. Charlie Rangel (D-N.Y.) said he hopes people are taking advantage of the holiday protest lull in Ferguson, Mo., to consider how they can come together “in a nonviolent way and improve the quality of life in this community.”
“I always try to find something good that comes out of conflicts like this, and perhaps people realize that this is not a Ferguson problem at all; it’s a problem around the country,” Rangel told MSNBC today.
“And as long as people feel awkward and embarrassed in talking about the racism that exists, we can never, never, never attack it.”
The 22-term congressman said “the indifference of the patrol officer’s an indication that good people ought to say that you should be sorry when you take anybody’s life.”
“It’s not just the question of what you thought of whether you were afraid,” Rangel said, referring to Officer Darren Wilson’s interview with ABC’s George Stephanopoulos.
“But his total indifference just polarized that community, and I only wish that — that they had not vented themselves in a violent way and taken advantage of people coming together, white and black, and saying that you should at least be able to say you made a hell of a big mistake at least,” the congressman added.
Rangel stressed that the community and the police need to have a good relationship “to be able to be pointed out the wrongdoers, to get information that’s necessary, to form a type of relationship that is not the police and us, it’s a community, and the police are a part of it.”
“Just saying, ‘Good morning,’ to policemen — I know. I’m 84 years old. I’ve seen this go up and down in the city of New York. You can scare the hell out of a white policeman in a black community saying, ‘Good morning. How you feeling today’? They look around, they tell people this, they give it back to you,” he said. “And the whole idea of coming to the job thinking that you’re going to control people means you don’t have the same feeling about them as you do your own family and your own community, and I don’t care what color you are.”
“I’ve been overseas in combat, and when you’re trained that people are different, they can be on your side or not on your side, if you’re not an American, you can feel that they’re inferior. It is bad how the mind can do it.”
In the end, Rangel said, “mutual respect is stronger than any camera” implemented on a police officer to either catch wrongful conduct or exonerate officers.