Black Lives Matter activist Hawk Newsome, co-founder of BLM for the greater New York City area, abruptly left an interview on Fox News Saturday after "Unfiltered" host Dan Bongino confronted him for allegedly threatening violence.
What is the background?
After a reportedly heated meeting with New York City Mayor-elect Eric Adams (D), Newsome foreshadowed what would happen if the New York Police Department resurrects its controversial plainclothes anti-crime units, which were disbanded last year.
"If they think they are going back to the old ways of policing, then we're going to take to the streets again," Newsome said Wednesday after the meeting. "There will be riots, there will be fire, and there will be bloodshed."
Adams, in fact, has promised to resurrect the units. "I'm going to put in place a plainclothes gun unit. We must zero in on gun violence in our community," he said on Thursday.
What happened on Fox News?
The 10-minute interview was mostly cordial. But the exchange went off the rails when Bongino offered Newsome the opportunity to disavow responding to Adams' plan with violence.
"You don't want riots, right? You don't want riots, correct? And violence? I just want to get you on the record," Bongino said.
"I'm going on the record right now. As Dr. [Martin Luther] King said, riots are the voice of the unheard," Newsome responded. "It's a natural occurrence that if people continue to be traumatized and oppressed they will lash out."
Newsome then invoked the Boston Tea Party, and described it as a "riot."
"I'm not asking about the Boston Tea Party, Hawk," Bongino shot back. "I'm asking you a simple question: Do you condemn violence or not?"
Still not responding to the question directly, Newsome said he would not condemn violence per se because he believes in self-defense.
Bongino then asked once again.
"Do you condemn riots and burning down buildings after a police use-of-force incident you don't like?" he asked.
"No. What I'll say is: I understand when a police officer unjustifiably kills someone, why people lash out. I understand that completely," Newsome responded. "I'm not going to condemn, nor am I going to condone it."
"Isn't that cowardly?" Bongino fired back. "'I'm not going to condemn it, but I'm not going to condone it — so I don't want to take a stand'? … You seem to talk a lot of junk and then when I put you on the spot you won't answer a damn question. Do you condone violence or you condemn violence? You're all over the place. Just condemn violence and burning of buildings down. How hard is this?"
In response, Newsome invoked 9/11, and asked Bongino whether he supported responding to those terrorist attacks peacefully.
"OK, I'll give you this," Newsome said. "I don't condone it, I don't promote it, but I will not condemn it."
"Man, that's just cowardly, man. That's just cowardly," Bongino responded.
Newsome then abruptly left the interview, removing his ear piece and standing up from his chair.
"No, you're a coward!" Newsome said. "You're trying to bait me. I'm outta here. God Bless."