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CNN Host: If You're Black, You Need to Be Polite to Police If You Want to 'Stay Alive

"I’m an American, I shouldn’t have to do that."

If you're black, you need to stay calm and repeatedly say, "Yes, sir," to police officers if you want to "stay alive." That is, according to CNN host Don Lemon.

"I’m an American, I shouldn’t have to do that. I shouldn’t have to be ‘yes, sir’-ing anybody, ... but I do it because I want to stay alive," Lemon said Thursday afternoon. "That’s why I do it. Now my friends — my white counterparts — don’t do that."

"They speak to police officers in a way that I would never in a million years do, and that is the reality of it," he added emphatically.

Lemon's comments arose out of a conversation about the police-related deaths of Alton Sterling in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and Philando Castile in Falcon Heights, Minnesota.

He discussed the shootings with civil rights attorney Charles Coleman, Jr., and David Katz, the founder and CEO of Global Security Group, Inc., and a former senior special agent with the Drug Enforcement Administration.

Katz, a white man, pushed back against Lemon's assertions about how he, as a black man, should speak to police officers, telling the CNN anchor, "I speak to them just like you do."

"I say the same thing, and I tell my kids to say the same thing," he added.

Lemon stood by his comments. Earlier in the segment, the "Newsroom" host said "it looks bad for the officers" involved in the Baton Rouge shooting because it appears they acted "too aggressively."

The Department of Justice announced Wednesday it would lead a civil rights investigation into the death of Sterling, who was shot multiple times by police during a confrontation at a convenience store.

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