During an interview on CBS’ “Face The Nation” Sunday, former New Jersey governor and 2016 GOP presidential candidate Chris Christie told host John Dickerson that President Obama has encouraged “lawlessness” with his support of civil rights movements like Black Lives Matter.
After noting that murder rates have gone up in cities like Chicago and New York, Christie said that “the problem is this — there is lawlessness in this country.”
“The president encourages this lawlessness,” Christie added. “He encourages it.”
When asked how Obama encourages this lawlessness, Christie pointed to the president’s support of Black Lives Matter — an activist movement that has been peacefully protesting the death of black men and women at the hands of law enforcement.
“He does not support the police, doesn’t back up the police, he justifies Black Lives Matter,” Christie said.
Dickerson then asked if Black Lives Matter should not be justified.
“I don’t believe that that movement should be justified when they’re calling for the murder of police officers, no,” Christie said.
Dickerson countered that the Black Lives Movement is not actually calling for the murder of police officers, but Christie doubled-down on his statement, claiming that the movement has been calling for violence against law enforcement.
“They’ve been chanting in the streets for the murder of police officers,” Christie said.
When Dickerson pointed out that single individuals might make such comments but the movement does not support that rhetoric, Christie still did not back down.
“That’s what the movement is creating,” Christie said. “And the president of the United States is justifying that.”
Christie adds his voice to a slew of prominent Republicans who have recently attempted to discredit the Black Lives Matter movement by casting it as an extremist group meant to incite violence against law enforcement. On Thursday night, Bill O’Reilly compared Black Lives Matter to Stormfront, a white supremacist group.
“Would you be comfortable with the Republican party bringing in the Stormfront, the Nazi people, and saying we’d like our candidates to talk to you guys?” O’Reilly asked two guests on his show. “They’re an extreme group, the Nazi party. #BlackLivesMatter is also an extreme group.”
Republican presidential candidate and Texas senator Ted Cruz has also argued that Black Lives Matter has embraced and encouraged violence against law enforcement.
“If you look at the Black Lives Matter movement, one of the most disturbing things is more than one of their protests have embraced rabid rhetoric, rabid anti-police language, literally suggesting and embracing and celebrating the murder of police officers,” Cruz told ThinkProgress last week during a campaign stop in Iowa. “That is disgraceful.”
Contrary to Republican arguments, 2015 is actually on pace to have second-lowest number of police deaths in decades, according to the Washington Post. Police officer deaths have been declining in recent years — in 2014, 51 police officers died in the line of duty, while 1,108 people were killed by police officers over the same period of time.
“It’s amazing to me that black people and their allies affirming that Black Lives Matter is somehow celebrating murder,” Black Lives Matter leader Johnetta “Netta” Elzie, told ThinkProgress. “Nothing about us affirming our own lives has anything to do with ’embracing and celebrating the murder of police officers.’”