Pharrell Williams compares Michael Brown's 'bullyish behaviour' to Bill Cosby's view of young black men

The singer yesterday tweeted that he was “devastated’ by the Ferguson indictment decision

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The Independent Online

Pharrell Williams is seemingly conflicted about how he feels concerning the death of Michael Brown in Ferguson – and has used the words of Bill Cosby as a point of reference.

Yesterday, he tweeted that he was “heartbroken” over the grand jury’s decision not to indict Darren Wilson, the white police officer who fatally shot the black, unarmed teenager in August.

The ruling has sparked widespread protests across the US, some violent and some peaceful.

Yet, in an interview with Ebony magazine published on 13 November, Williams said that footage of Brown allegedly stealing from a convenience store minutes before his shooting looked “bullyish” and that the 18-year-old should have listened to Wilson’s instructions.


“It looked very bully-ish; that in itself I had a problem with,” said Williams. “Not with the kid, but with whatever happened in his life for him to arrive at a place where that behaviour is OK. Why aren’t we talking about that?”

The singer then went on to reference the ‘wisdom’ of Bill Cosby’s 2004 ‘Pound Cake Speech’, in which the actor was critical of certain subsets of African Americans.

He said the black community should no longer blame discrimination and racism as the root of their problems, but rather their own culture of poverty. He said that parenting needed to be improved and responsibility and a better attitude instilled in young black people.

Williams quite agrees, and says the actor should be “respected”. An interesting viewpoint considering Cosby has recently been in the news for numerous sexual assault allegations made against him.

His lawyers have firmly denied the claims.

“When Cosby said it back then, I understood; I got it,” said Williams.

“Listen, we have to look at ourselves and take action for ourselves. Cosby can talk that talk because he created Fat Albert, he tried to buy NBC, he portrayed a doctor on The Cosby Show and had all of us wearing Coogi sweaters.

“You’ve got to respect him. I believe that Ferguson officer should be punished and serve time. He used excessive force on a human being who was merely a child. He was a baby, man. The boy was walking in the middle of the street when the police supposedly told him to 'get the f**k on the sidewalk.'

Police officers react to violent protesters during a second night of protests in Ferguson

“If you don’t listen to that, after just having pushed a storeowner, you’re asking for trouble. But you’re not asking to be killed. Some of these youth feel hunted and preyed upon, and that’s why that officer needs to be punished.”

He compared the disproportionate force applied to Michael Brown to “the militarisation of the police in inner cities”.

“I heard the government has spent billions on mine-resistant, ambush-protected vehicles, which are used over in the Middle East and can withstand machine guns and grenades,” he said. “Why do you need that equipment in the inner city? There was a lot of excessive force used, and that’s why I felt President Obama needed to be there. We have a huge laceration in our country right now.

“It’s not a cut, it’s not a bruise. It’s a laceration because of all the black people who haven’t forgotten Emmett Till or the Civil Rights Movement - you just put batteries in their backs. The hangover from Ferguson is going to be a long one, worse than Trayvon Martin.”

Martin was shot, aged 17, by neighbourhood watch coordinator George Zimmerman. The black teenager was unarmed at the time, but Zimmerman claims his actions were made in self-defence after the pair had an altercation.

He was found not guilty of second-degree murder in July 2013 and his acquittal led to nationwide protests and sparked angry debate about racial profiling.

Williams asserted that he didn’t think violence protests were the solution, rather “love and unity” is.

“We’ve got to find some real water to put out that fire, and for me, the answer is love and unity,” he said.

“For every individual who gets killed, someone should build a school or teach a child. We really need to balance things with positivity. Look, I could be completely wrong. People may read this and think, ‘What is he talking about?’ All I can tell you is that I mean this from the bottom of my heart, and I hope that people know I’m coming from a good place.”