In a broadside that was inflammatory but complicated by stats, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) accused President Barack Obama of encouraging lawlessness, said the Black Lives Matter movement didn’t deserve legitimization, and argued that police officers around the country were under siege.
The presidential candidate made the comments while appearing on CBS’ “Face the Nation” on Sunday. Below is a transcript of his interview with host John Dickerson.
CHRISTIE: … There is lawlessness in this country. The president encourages this lawlessness. He encourages it.
DICKERSON: Encourages it how?
CHRISTIE: By his own rhetoric. He does not support the police. He doesn’t back up the police. He justifies Black Lives Matter. I mean.
DICKERSON: Black Lives Matter shouldn’t be justified at all?
CHRISTIE: Listen, I don’t believe that that movement should be justified when they are calling for the murdering of police officers. No.
DICKERSON: But they aren’t calling for the murdering of police officers.
CHRISTIE: Sure they are. Sure they are. They’ve been chanting in the streets for the murdering of police officers.
DICKERSON: Well, individuals have. But the Black Lives Matter movement is about —
CHRISTIE: Listen, John, that’s what the movement is creating. And the president of the United States is justifying that. But not only that, he hasn’t backed up police officers from the minute he has gotten into office. We can cite instance after instance.
Christie has been highly critical of the Obama administration’s approach to policing before, though he’s usually stopped short of saying that the rhetoric coming from the Black Lives Matter movement encourages cop killing.
With him now making that leap, it’s important to note that the movement has repeatedly stressed that it is targeting systematic policing practices and not individual cops.
As for the idea that cops are under siege — an idea perpetuated by local police units warning about a “war on cops” — that does not appear to be substantiated by the numbers.
As the Washington Post’s Radley Balko pointed out in September: “So far, 2015 is on pace to see 35 felonious killings of police officers. If that pace holds, this year would end with the second lowest number of murdered cops in decades.”