Unchecked MSNBC guests rail against police, suggest capitalism encourages deaths of Black people

Media top headlines May 17

The Associated Press facing scrutiny for claims it didn’t know it shared a building with Hamas and more round out today’s top media headlines.

A Saturday MSNBC segment focused on police reform quickly devolved into a bashing of police and capitalism, with guests seemingly calling for the abolishment of both to combat what one described as an “untenable” system.

Left-wing host Tiffany Cross allowed the guests to go unchecked as they made claims that police reform wasn’t possible, leaving abolition as the only option, and that “oppression” by law enforcement was linked to capitalism, which one guest claimed encouraged the deaths of Black people.

The segment began with Cross detailing the January death of Jamal Sutherland, a Black South Carolina man who died while in police custody. After playing a video clip of the altercation leading to Sutherland’s death, Cross asked MSNBC contributor Brittany Packnett Cunningham if policing could be reformed. 

“In short, Tiffany, no. You can’t reform a system that was created to protect some people, and to protect those people, supposedly, from the rest of us. A system that was created to control can’t actually be changed. It can only be replaced with a true vision for public safety,” Cunningham said.

Cunningham then stated Sutherland was mentally disabled and that “nearly half the people killed by police every single year have a disability.” She added her astonishment that people are still justifying the police shooting of black teen Ma’Khia Bryant, who was seen on a police bodycam attempting to stab a woman.

“At some point we have to strip away the veneer and recognize this was never about serving and protecting us. It was about serving and protecting certain people and certain groups and classes from the rest of us,” she continued, before claiming that people who see police and prisons as the line between their neighborhood and Black and brown neighborhoods, find events such as the deaths of Black people by police and the Jan. 6 storming of the U.S. Capitol to be “acceptable” things.

“None of these things should be acceptable in a democracy and yet here we are. If the state can pick and choose who lives and dies that is not a system that can be reformed,” she said. 

Cross failed to challenge Cunningham on any of her points, and instead expressed her agreement before turning to guest Gyasi Ross, a Native American attorney and writer who frequently mocks and criticizes White people in his writings and on social media, and asked him about the idea that a bill on police reform might not include changes to qualified immunity for police officers. 

“I think that unfortunately, Brittany kind of laid the broad picture very, very eloquently, and that’s exactly right. This system is untenable and we’re going to continue to see these casualties happen in a very, very systematic, very, very consistent and predictable way, and unfortunately, in this country things work in a really incremental way, particularly legislatively,” Ross said.

He went on to claim the country would continue to see videos of Black and brown people being “executed by law enforcement.” He added the country could also expect to see an “appropriate and reasonable” response from ordinary people who are threatened by oppression from law enforcement until there’s more incremental change. 

“But unfortunately, the way … capitalism, the way our system is set up, that is what we are going to continue to get is these little crumbs on the table that will encourage and indeed, will require these casualties of brown and black lives,” Ross said.

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Cross again failed to follow up with Ross’ claims and instead moved to the next topic in the segment.

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