Discussion became heated on CNN today when a former New York City detective suggested that the black American community must look inwardly to resolve numerous pressing issues. Retired NYPD detective Harry Houck said on the panel, "Facts have got to matter," while the panel discussed the rate of police shootings and arrests of black Americans. "The police have already recognized the fact that we've got issues that we need to deal with. Now, the black community has to also know that they have issues they need to deal with. This isn't a one-way street here."
He went on to speak about the rate of crime found in black communities in the context of a larger discussion on the protests all over the United States against police brutality, especially in black neighborhoods. Numerous black leaders and politicians have called for prosecutions of offending police officers and for reform of police departments.
"In New York City alone, blacks are 23 percent [of the population]; they make up 75 percent of all shootings, 70 percent of all robberies, 60 percent of all violent crimes. White only 3 percent. That is why there are more blacks in jail than there are whites," Houck said while citing New York City Police Department statistics.
Houck's counterpart on the panel was Huffington Post and CNN contributor Marc Lamont Hill, who also teaches at Morehouse College. Hill is black. Hill took issue with Houck’s assertions. "If Harry [Houck] stood on national TV and just said that black people are prone to criminality, I wouldn't even respond to that, okay?" he said.
Houck responded simply, "Well, they are."
"You think black people are prone to criminality? You didn't mean to say that. I'm going give you a chance to correct yourself," Hill said.
Houck insisted that Hill examine the facts as calculated by the NYPD crime statistics. He asked, "What does this say?" Hill was dismissive when Houck again turned to the source of the crime statistics. When Houck said, "These are NYPD numbers!," Hill retorted, "Oh, well they must be true!"
On the same program, Hill was also dismissive of former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani’s claim that the Black Lives Matter movement is “inherently racist.” For Hill, black Americans by definition cannot be racists because they lack the “institutional power” to enact racism.