Bill O’Reilly returned to the topic of Trayvon Martin on Friday, with both himself and former Rep. Allen West (R-FL) rationalizing why he was killed by former neighborhood watch captain George Zimmerman in 2012 while deflecting the issue of racial profiling.
“The reason Trayvon Martin died is because he looked a certain way, and it wasn’t based on skin color,” O’Reilly told West on Friday. “If Trayvon Martin had been wearing a jacket like you are and a tie, Mr. West, this evening, I don’t think George Zimmerman would’ve had any problem. But he was wearing a hoodie, and he looked a certain way, and that way is how gangstas look. And therefore he got attention.”
O’Reilly did not explain why he told Columbia University professor Marc Lamont Hill he looked like a cocaine dealer in 2010, even though Hill was wearing a suit and tie at the time. Nor did he account for Zimmerman being told by emergency dispatchers not to pursue Martin before shooting him dead in February 2012.
The reason Martin’s “look” drew attention, O’Reilly argued, was the rise of violent gang culture, which is commonly associated with his hooded sweater, even though Martin didn’t do anything wrong, connecting it once again to a deterioration in the Black family structure.
“You’re absolutely right,” West concurred. “There is that gangsta culture out there that is being promoted, and promulgated, and what we have to understand is, Trayvon Martin was up there to be with his father because he had been suspended and kicked out of school when he was living with his mother.”
West then attempted to draw a link between Martin’s suspension and the teenagers accused of shooting and killing 22-year-old Australian baseball player Chris Lane on Aug. 16
“They were part of a gangster culture, they were part of the Crips gang,” West said of suspects James Francis Edwards and Chancey Allen Luna, both charged with first-degree murder. “They really did not have [a] parental environment.”
Watch the exchange between O’Reilly and West, posted online by MediaMatters on Friday, below.