- The Washington Times - Thursday, December 11, 2014

Hip-hop star Russell Simmons said to Fox News’ Bill O’Reilly during a nationally televised segment that the best way to combat the crime rate in black communities around the nation was to mandate that police undergo “sensitivity training,” he said.

Mr. O’Reilly — while agreeing that sensitivity training was a good start and important facet of smoothing police-community relations — tried several times to get Mr. Simmons to address what he said was the larger issue: the soaring crime rate in black communities. Mr. Simmons, however, kept sidestepping the issue, to the point where Mr. O’Reilly said he was flatly ignoring “the astronomical crime rate among black men” in the nation, the video clip showed.

“The bigger issue that you are not acknowledging is that 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,” Mr. O’Reilly said on the segment. “You won’t acknowledge it, Russell, you won’t acknowledge it.”

Mr. Simmons did agree that police are “afraid” to come into black communities — but that “sensitivity training” could combat that fear.

He also said, Fox News reported: “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, it has everything to do with your war on drugs.”

Mr. Simmons also said that 95 percent of those in jail are nonviolent, first-time offenders and “people of color,” the Fox News video showed.

He then admitted to Mr. O’Reilly that he didn’t believe selling heroin and crack on the streets constituted a violent crime.

“Whites and blacks use and sell drugs at the same rate,” Mr. Simmons said. “I don’t think selling drugs is a violent crime.”

Mr. Simmons co-founded the hip-hop label Def Jam.

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