FERGUSON, Missouri—Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson returned to Ferguson, Missouri, yesterday, met with civic leaders, and escalated his ongoing verbal skirmishes with the Black Lives Matter movement.
Mr. Carson made his first visit here—the only presidential candidate of any party so far—on September 12, when he vowed to return and keep the issues of Ferguson alive in his campaign.
Keeping with his agenda from September, Mr. Carson held a private roundtable meeting at the Hilton Garden Inn attended by Ferguson Mayor James Knowles, local activists, preachers, politicians, and business leaders. But he refused to allow members of the Black Lives Matter movement to attend.
Black Lives Matter leaders held a rally in the front of the Hilton Garden Inn, protesting Mr. Carson’s visit.
Members of the press were not allowed to attend the meeting, but Mr. Carson held a press conference afterward.
At the press conference, Mr. Carson said Ferguson is the “canary in the coal mine” for what happens when “so much emphasis” is placed on race in America.
“We need to de-emphasize race,” he said. “We’re talking about it a lot more, and that just makes people more agitated and upset and make them act crazy, talk crazy, and do crazy things.”
The retired Johns Hopkins University neurosurgeon said the messages of his campaign are respect for everyone.
He added: “A lot of people perceive everything through racial eyes. But my point is, we don’t have to do that. What we have to do instead is begin to see people as people. I think we need to be emphasizing respect and what opportunities there are.”
Responding to a question, Mr. Carson said most of the blame for the “growing toxic racial climate” in America is “traceable in a straight line” to the actions of the Black Lives Movement.
“It’s amazing, you know, they took the tragic death of a young man and turned it around to satisfy their own self-aggrandizing, self-promoting, hate-filled, racist, LGBT agenda.”
He vowed never to meet with members of the group until they changed their name to “All Lives Matter.”
“I will continue returning here throughout my campaign so America never forget it was here that they launched their poisonous assault on America.”
At a press conference held after their protest rally, Black Lives Matters cofounder Alicia Garza dismissed Mr. Carson as having a “Mickey Mouse view of race in America.”
He may be a very skilled and famous neuroscientist and all that, but he’s skin-tone deaf on race issues,” Ms. Garza said.
…he’s skin-tone deaf on race issues
“He’s just one of the thousands, if not millions, of so-called black conservatives in America who have been sicken with historical and cultural amnesia.”
She said the group would never change its name and would continue to “disrupt the political process” even if it makes “some black people and plenty white folks nervous.”
“I supposed he thinks he’s invisible,” she added, referring to the 1952 novel Invisible Man written by Ralph Ellison that explored the plight of blacks in America.
Holleran N. Yellen II reports on dynamics of 2016 presidential election campaigns.
Photo: CPAC/The American Conservative Union.