Evangelical leader Pat Robertson gave a damning critique of American police for an “onslaught” of violence against Black Americans, blaming a “low-paid” force consisting of “not the best and brightest”.
In the latest edition of CBN’s700 Club, Mr Robertson was incredulous at the claim by former police officer Kim Potter that she mistook her handgun for her Taser in the fatal shooting of Daunte Wright.
Employing prop weapons to make the point, Mr Robertson and co-host Terry Meeuwsen agreed there was no comparison in the weight of the two items.
Ms Meeuwsen reminded viewers the two weapons are also sited on different sides of an officer’s body, with the gun on the dominant side.
“There’s just no comparison,” said Mr Robertson. “Now how she made the difference, when she shot that poor guy to death, saying this is what I thought was my Taser. And if you can’t tell the difference in the feel of those things, it’s crazy.”
Mr Robertson then used the segment, which had followed a news report about the arrest of Ms Potter for the killing of Mr Wright, to rail against the police, much to the surprise of viewers.
“You know I am pro-police folks, I think we need the police, we need their service, and they do a good job, but if they don’t stop this onslaught, they cannot do this,” said Mr Robertson.
The evangelist, known for his ultraconservative views, then brought up the traffic stop in Virginia that led to Army Lt Caron Nazario being pepper-sprayed by officers. He also referred to the trial of Derek Chauvin for the murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis.
“You know, the police in Virginia picked up a lieutenant in the Army and began to give him trouble, and our state police are highly trained, but why they don’t stop this?” said Mr Robertson. “And this thing that’s going on in Minnesota with Derek Chauvin. I mean they ought to put him under the jail.”
The televangelist continued: “He has caused so much trouble by kneeling on the death of George Floyd, I mean his neck, it’s just terrible what’s happening.”
He added: “The police, why don’t they open their eyes to what the public relations are, they’ve got to stop this stuff.”
Ms Meeuwsen suggested that they needed more and “consistent” training to which Mr Robertson replied with a form “no”, instead saying that they need to be paid better to attract a higher quality of candidate.
“We don’t have the finest in the police department. They’re low-paid people, Terry, they don’t get adequate… It’s not a question of training, it’s a question of hiring a more superior workforce, and we aren’t doing it,” he said.
“But we need police, we need them, and we need to honour them, and I’m all for it, but at the same time, we cannot have a bunch of clowns running around who are underpaid and who really are not the best and brightest. We’ve got to have the best in there.”
Viewers and commentators were taken by surprise at the harsh criticism levelled at law enforcement officers by the famously right-wing evangelist.
Comedian Walter Kamau Bell, host of CNN’s United Shades of America, tweeted: “Who had ‘Woke Pat Robertson’ on their 2021 bingo card?”
Other Twitter users asked if Mr Robertson had “had a true ‘come to Jesus’ moment” and pointed out that if even he could call out police brutality, then so can pretty much anyone else.
Filmmaker and activist Bree Newsome was less impressed, tweeting: “I don’t see someone condemning racism, I see someone condemning cops for acting so outrageously that they’ve caused destabilisation for the racist system.”
She added: “Pat Robertson is not the first person to tell the boys they’re going just a bit too far with it & to reel it back in a little bit.”
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