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Interviews

Russell Simmons on racial tensions in the US

This is a RUSH transcript from "The O'Reilly Factor," December 10, 2014. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
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O'REILLY: "Factor Follow-up Segment" tonight, a new poll from CBS News says that race relations between blacks and whites at the lowest level since 1997. The question, do you think race relations in the USA are generally good or generally bad: 45 percent say generally good; 43 percent generally bad. Among whites: 47 percent good; 42 percent bad. Among blacks: 34 percent good; 54 percent bad.

Obviously the Ferguson and Staten Island grand jury is driving some of that opinion.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you know that over 150,000 cases came before the grand jury and that only 11 cases they didn't come back with indictments? It is like lightning striking the black community over and over and over again.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O'REILLY: Here now is Mr. Simmons who made that statement Monday night. He's the co-founder of the hip hop music label Def Jam. You know it is the stat that you cited is federal grand juries.

RUSSELL SIMMONS, DEF JAM: That's right.

O'REILLY: Ok, so it doesn't have anything to do --

SIMMONS: I should have qualified that.

O'REILLY: You should have because it doesn't have anything to do with local street crime. It doesn't have anything to do with local policing or state policing.

I believe the strife between poor blacks and the police is driven by black crime. That's the nexus point. Do you believe that?

SIMMONS: No, I believe that we can create a good relationship between police and community with sensitivity training both for the community and for the police.

O'REILLY: Ok, I believe that's true.

SIMMONS: And I recommended to the mayor today a good person to help him with that, I think he is going to take that advice. Let me say this. I had spoken to the attorney general, the governor and the mayor in the last 12 hours. All of them are in agreement, and the governor I think is prepared to make an executive order to get special prosecutors in cases like these.

O'REILLY: I don't have a problem with that.

SIMMONS: Right, of course. So that's really what I think --

O'REILLY: But let's talk about the wider issue than the New York City issue. I said on this air that I was disturbed by what happened in the Staten Island case. So did Charles Krauthammer. So did Judge Napolitano. All Americans should be disturbed. But the bigger issue that you're not acknowledging is the astronomical crime rate among young black men, violent crime drives suspicion and hostility on the part of the police who have to be confronted with it. You won't acknowledge it, Russell, you won't acknowledge it.

SIMMONS: Let me say this to you, broken glass laws and the way the police approach community is a problem. The police are afraid of the community. It is true. And I think that requires some sensitivity training. And that is where we have to start.

But if we want to start with the core, if there is crime or prison culture that ensues in the black community, or if the fabric of the black community is in some way disrupted has everything to do with your war on drugs. The 95 percent of the people who go to jail for nonviolent first time offenses are people of color.

O'REILLY: Is selling heroin and crack on the street a violent crime?

SIMMONS: What I am saying is that whites and blacks use --

O'REILLY: That's an easy question. Can you answer that question? Russell, wait.

SIMMONS: 95 percent of the people who are incarcerated --

O'REILLY: Am I invisible? Are you not hearing me?

SIMMONS: Not black versus white. I don't think selling drugs is a violent crime.

O'REILLY: No. So you and I have a final disagreement because I think selling hard drugs is a violent crime.

SIMMONS: I think Oxycontin is a hard drug. I think Vicodin is a hard drug.

O'REILLY: This has devastated poor black neighborhoods. In Chicago there's an epidemic of violence driven by drug gangs. I haven't seen you there.

SIMMONS: I'm in Chicago all the time.

O'REILLY: You weren't down the south side --

SIMMONS: I'm in Chicago promoting. I've worked with them, the mayor and everyone I'm putting -- in school in Chicago, and they have a non --

O'REILLY: Educating schools is a different thing.

SIMMONS: In thirty cities including Chicago that I fund.

O'REILLY: Russell, you have not been there, condemning the black drug gangs for gunning down 13 and 14-year-old kids. You haven't done it.

SIMMONS: You know what's interesting, Bill, when you talk about the violence in the black community, 50 or 60, sometimes 70 kids were shot in one week in Chicago.

O'REILLY: By other blacks.

SIMMONS: It comes like this.

O'REILLY: Right.

SIMMONS: You talk about the missing white girl from Brooklyn. It goes on for a month. Every single weekend, it's true, there's violence in those communities. And what we're doing about this is negligible. What we could do, and the reason for that violence in those communities comes from this whole Jim Crow system that is the prison industrial complex. We have not addressed the core, the root.

O'REILLY: If you don't think selling drugs -- you're never going to solve it. The root of the black crime problem is a --

SIMMONS: Drugs are not violent.

O'REILLY: I am going to give you the last word. Here is where you're so desperately wrong. You are a good man, but you are so desperately wrong it pains me to talk to you.

SIMMONS: I feel the same about you, bill. But I like you.

O'REILLY: The crime rate is driven by the dissolution of the family - - no supervision Ok, kids with no fathers. The black neighborhoods are devastated by drug gangs who prey upon their own. That's the problem. Not the industrial prison complex -- all right? Last word.

SIMMONS: The violence in the black community is driven by those innocent, nonviolent drug offenders who are locked up, educated in criminal behavior, and dumped back in the hood.

O'REILLY: All right. But you would let them walk on the street and sell heroin, and I won't. That's the difference.

Russell Simmons, stand up guy though. You are a stand up guy. Can I get a hat like that? I appreciate it.

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