The Dean of Columbia’s School of Journalism made the claim on PBS that the five Black police officers involved in the killing of Tyre Nichols could have been motivated by “white supremacy.”
In an interview last week on “Amanpour & Co.,” Jelani Cobb, dean of Columbia University’s Journalism School and a New Yorker staff writer suggested that the police officers responsible for killing Nichols were driven by racism, arguing that Black “white supremacists” could be responsible for killing a black citizen.
“There is always so much discussion about the systemic racism that persists in the United States. And yet, the perpetrators of this death were five Black police officers. So, people say, oh, well then clearly it’s not about racism,” host Christine Amanpour said.
“That’s not necessarily true,” Cobb responded. “….You know, there’s always been in the long tradition of people making critiques of racism, there’s always been a recognition that racism is not only purveyed by White people or White supremacy is not only purveyed by White people, that there are Black people who are exposed to these kinds of ideas and adopt the same sort of mindset….but the fact that they’re all Black people involved does not, in and of itself, mean that there is no possible theme of racism accelerating what we saw happen,” he argued.
Amanpour noted that police officers were “brought up in that system that has been created mostly by the White establishment,” before claiming that the concept of self-hating Black people dates back to the slavery era.
“I mean — you know, like the system of slavery was, in many instances, administered by black overseers,” Cobb said in agreement. “That was not an uncommon dynamic in the United States.”
Cobb, who created PBS’ 2016 “Policing the Police” documentary on police in Newark, NJ, invoked the desegregation ruling in the 1954 case of Brown vs. Board of Education to illustrate how “white supremacy” could also be internalized by Black people.
“The psychologists pointed to the kind of self-hating dynamic that racism and White supremacy tended to instill in the minds of people who were subjected to it,” he said. “So there’s a very long history here, and it’s impossible to understand what happened to Tyre Nichols without taking that into account.”
Memphis authorities have released police bodycam footage from a Jan. 7 traffic stop that preceded the death of 29-year-old Tyre Nichols, who spent three days in the hospital before succumbing to his injuries, according to authorities.
Demetrius Haley, Tadarrius Bean, Emmitt Martin III, Desmond Mills and Justin Smith were fired on Jan. 18 and later charged with second-degree murder. The former officers could face up to 60 years in prison if convicted.
Fox News’ Joseph A. Wulfsohn contributed to this report.