December 3, 2014 9:13 AM EST Charles Barkley isn’t retreating from recent comments in which he called people rioting in Ferguson, Mo., “scumbags,” defending the police in a new interview and dismissing as “ridiculous” the notion that they’re “just killing black people.”
“The cops are awesome,” Barkley told CNN on Tuesday. “They’re the only thing in the ghetto between this place being the wild wild West.
“We’ve always had a racial issue in this country, and the biggest problem with it is we never discuss race until something bad happens,” Barkley added. “We never have meaningful dialogue over a cold beer when things are going good.”
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Barkley recently called people who torched buildings in Ferguson “scumbags,” after a grand jury’s decision not to indict a white police officer in the shooting death of an unarmed black teenager sparked renewed unrest in the St. Louis suburb.
“There are some black people out there who are crooks, and when the police come to your neighborhood, it’s a tense situation,” Barkley told CNN. “There’s a reason they racially profile us at times. Sometimes it’s wrong, sometimes it’s right. To act like we have no responsibility for some of this stuff is disingenuous.”
See 23 Key Moments From Ferguson On Aug. 9, 2014, unarmed teenager Michael Brown was fatally shot by Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson. This image provided by KMOV-TV shows investigators inspecting Brown's body. Tiffany Mitchell—AP Lesley McSpadden, Brown's mother, is comforted by her husband, Louis Head, on Aug. 9, 2014, after her son's death Huy Mach—St. Louis Post-Dispatch/AP A fire burns at a QuikTrip store in Ferguson on Aug. 10, 2014, as protests turned violent one day after Brown's death. The night marked the first violent turn for the protests. David Carson—St. Louis Post-Dispatch/AP Heavily-armed police advance on a protester on Aug. 11, 2014. Law enforcement's tactical response, which included military-grade weapons, tanks and SWAT teams, touched off a debate over the militarization of local police forces. Whitney Curtis—The New York Times/Redux A protester takes shelter from billowing smoke during demonstrations in Ferguson on Aug. 13, 2014. Such scenes were relatively common during the first week of protests. David Carson—St. Louis Post-Dispatch/AP A demonstrator throws back a tear gas container after tactical officers worked to break up a group of bystanders on Chambers Road near West Florissant in Ferguson on Aug. 13, 2014. Robert Cohen—St. Louis Post-Dispatch/MCT/Zuma Press Captain Ron Johnson of the Missouri Highway Patrol addresses the media in Ferguson on Aug. 15, 2014. Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon appointed NIxon to coordinate law enforcement's response after local departments were criticized for fanning the flames. Lucas Jackson—Reuters Darren Wilson at a Ferguson city council meeting on Feb. 11, 2014. The image was the first widely-circulated photo of Wilson after the shooting. City of Ferguson/AP Tear gas rains down on a woman kneeling in the street with her hands in the air during a demonstration in Ferguson on Aug. 17, 2014. The "hands up, don't shoot" pose became the defining gesture of the protests. Scott Olson—Getty Images Police in Ferguson fire tear gas in the direction of bottle-throwing crowds on Aug. 18, 2014. David Carson—St Louis Post-Dispatch / Polaris Law enforcement officers look on during a protest on West Florissant Avenue in Ferguson on Aug. 18, 2014. Michael B. Thomas—AFP/Getty Images U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder appeared with Capt. Ron Johnson at Drake's Place Restaurant in Ferguson on Aug. 20, 2014. Holder's visit was meant to calm tensions after almost 10 days of protests. Pablo Martinez Monsivais—Pool/Getty Images An anguished Michael Brown, Sr. yells as his son's casket is lowered into the ground at St. Peter's Cemetery in St. Louis, Mo., on Aug. 25, 2014. Richard Perry—Reuters Members of the Ferguson Police Department wear body cameras during a rally on Aug. 30, 2014, in Ferguson. Like a number of departments around the U.S., Ferguson police began using the wearable cameras after Michael Brown was killed. There are no video recordings of the incident involving Brown and officer Darren Wilson. Aaron P. Bernstein—Getty Images A fire on Sept. 23, 2014 burned a memorial for Michael Brown on the site where he was killed. The memorial was later rebuilt. Jacob Crawford—AP Ferguson Police Chief Tom Jackson, left, addresses protesters in front of the Ferguson Police Department, on Sept. 25, 2014. Protesters have called for Jackson to resign. Robert Cohen—St. Louis Post-Dispatch/AP Demonstrators participate at a rally on the campus of St. Louis University on Oct. 13, 2014. Citizens around St. Louis continued to demonstrate throughout October, including during a performance by the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra and at a St. Louis Cardinals baseball game. Scott Olson—Getty Images Academic Cornel West is taken into custody after performing an act of civil disobedience at the Ferguson, Mo., police station on Oct. 13, 2014. Charles Rex Arbogast—AP Lesley McSpadden, Michael Brown's mother, attends a press conference addressing the U.N. Committee Against Torture, in Geneva, Switzerland, on Nov. 12, 2014. Brown's parents testified in front of the committee about their son's death. Martial Trezzini—EPA After the announcement that the grand jury brought no charges against Darren Wilson, police officers and protesters faced off on a tense night in which cars and buildings were burned by protesters and tear gas thrown by police, in Ferguson, Mo. on Nov. 24, 2014. Jim Young—Reuters On March 4, 2015, the U.S. Department of Justice released two reports clearing Officer Wilson of any civil rights violations when he shot and killed Brown but found a pattern of explicit racism and unfair treatment of minorities by Ferguson police officers and local officials. Carolyn Kaster—AP Ferguson Police Chief Tom Jackson stepped down March 11, 2015, after a federal report harshly criticized the police department, becoming the sixth Ferguson official to resign since the investigation.
Scott Olson—Getty Images Two police officers were shot outside the Ferguson Police Department March 12, 2015, during a demonstration that followed the resignation of the agency’s embattled police chief. The two officers—one from Webster Groves, Mo., the other from St. Louis County—were seriously injured. Lawrence Bryant—St. Louis American/Reuters Read more at CNN More Must-Reads From TIME Meet the 2024 Women of the Year Greta Gerwig's Next Big Swing East Palestine, One Year After Train Derailment In the Belly of MrBeast The Closers: 18 People Working to End the Racial Wealth Gap How Long Should You Isolate With COVID-19? The Best Romantic Comedies to Watch on Netflix Want Weekly Recs on What to Watch, Read, and More? Sign Up for Worth Your Time