Two protestors who say policing in America needs fundamental change cut short an appearance on "MidPoint" Friday after accusing host Ed Berliner and panelist Larry Elder of "ambush journalism" during a heated exchange about Ferguson, Missouri.
Ferguson resident David Whitt, joined by Jacob Crawford of a national group called Copwatch, appeared on Newsmax TV's
"MidPoint" to discuss equipping residents and protesters with small video cameras in order to film police officers on duty.
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The conversation turned testy, with Crawford in particular objecting to questions about his attitudes toward police and violent protest. After much crosstalk, and interruptions on both sides, Crawford denounced Berliner and Elder as "garbage talking heads" and disconnected his video feed.
"I'd love to see if he'd like to live in a city without cops," Elder said afterward.
Unrest has flared again in Ferguson, with a manhunt underway
for whoever shot and wounded two city police officers outside headquarters early Thursday in what authorities are calling an ambush.
The violence follows a scathing Justice Department report on the troubled St. Louis suburb prompted by the death of Michael Brown — which Canfield and Whitt both repeatedly described as a "murder."
The Justice report cleared then-Officer Darren Wilson of violating Brown's civil rights when he shot and killed the unarmed 18-year-old in August, but it faulted police and city officials for widespread racial bias against Ferguson's majority-black population.
Several officials including Police Chief Thomas Jackson have resigned in response.
Crawford said that's not enough.
"The first step would be to compensate the community for the decades and decades of targeted harassment, citation, abuse and arrest," he said.
"If you want to start talking about how do you make a police department better, we've got to go to the core — and it's not just about flushing out a police chief or disarming [police]," said Crawford. "They need to be held accountable for their actions. The conditions that made the Mike Brown murder inevitable need to be addressed."
Crawford opened the segment with a critique of policing in general, and he bristled at a question about a photograph that shows him raising a middle finger toward police officers he is filming.
"Okay, so what you're doing is you're taking one photo … and trying to determine my whole idea of police officers," he said.
Crawford went on to say, "I'm definitely anti-cop as they are today: We need institutions of justice that are both restorative, transformative, and don't involve the state."
Ferguson resident Whitt, who lives in the Canfield Green apartment complex near the site of Brown's death, and heads a citizen police-monitoring group called the Canfield Watchmen, said, "I don't hate the police, okay?"
He continued: "I have no trust in the police department — or that system in general, for that matter — because the police have not been doing their job."
After Whitt referred to "Mike Brown's murder," Elder, a Los Angeles radio talk show host, asked: "Did you read the Ferguson report? They said his hands were not up, he was charging the officer, and the officer justifiably killed him. But you still called it murder."
Crawford interjected and addressed himself directly to viewers before the sudden exit, saying: "So my advice to everybody that's watching this: Don't listen to these people that are talking to you; they're just garbage talking heads.
"Get out on the streets, know your rights, and do the best you can," he said. "Try to de-escalate situations, document what you see, and then if somebody gets hurt, try to get that video to them."
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