Ben Carson slams "sickening" Black Lives Matter movement for "bullying people"

The surging presidential hopeful links the movement to a favorite bugaboo -- "political correctness"

By Sophia Tesfaye

Senior Politics Editor

Published September 14, 2015 8:13PM (EDT)

  (Reuters/Mike Theiler)
(Reuters/Mike Theiler)

In a move sure to catapult him to the top of Bill O'Reilly's most favored list, Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson blasted Black Lives Matter for "bullying people" and slammed the movement's motto as "sickening."

When the conservative former neurosurgeon traveled to Ferguson, Missouri this past Friday, September 11, CBS's Major Garret rode along with the rising Republican on Carson's first visit to the city. Seated besides embattled Ferguson Mayor James Knowler, Carson took the opportunity to lash out at the Black Lives Matter that was borne out of the August 2014 shooting death of black teenager Michael Brown by white police officer Darren Wilson.

"The Black Lives Matter movement, where it's foisting yourself on people - rather than engaging in dialogue - and bullying people," Carson described, adding, "I never liked the idea of bullying on behalf of anybody."

When asked directly by Garret if he believed there was "an undercurrent of bullying to Black Lives Matter," Carson replied, "Sure. Absolutely."

Referring to the backlash against the use of the phrase “All lives matter” by Democratic presidential hopeful Martin O’Malley, Carson told Carson, “of course all lives matter. ... When we get off into a little thing that says, ‘No, this is the only thing you can say,’ that’s sickening to me.”

“He got so much grief he came back and apologized,” Carson told CBS News. “That’s bullying."

“I detest political correctness. People died — they paid with their lives so we could have freedom of speech. And freedom of expression. And political correctness is the antithesis of that,” Carson told Garret on Friday morning before telling the Associated Press on Friday afternoon that he believed the movement should omit the word "black" from its title.

“I would prefer it be taken out,” Carson said. “I obviously prefer that we focus on everybody. At the same time, I recognize that they’re trying to say that they feel that they’ve been treated unfairly — in many cases they have — I’m not going to take that away from them.”

Carson, who as Garret noted is the first presidential candidate to take up the Mayor's call for a tour and meeting with community leaders, blamed Ferguson residents for being unable to come to grips with the fact that Brown was justifiably killed but agreed that the 2014 protestors were rooted in deep-seated injustices, if not racial ones:

For me it conjured up an image of the people feeling that they have been unjustly treated by the police and that justifies civil disturbance. It also conjures up an image of the people being unwilling to actually face the facts. I think the community is unwilling to face the fact that Michael Brown was a bad actor.

Carson, the lone African-American candidate seeking to replace President Obama, said he believed America should "de-emphasize race and emphasize respect for each other" during his tour of the small Missouri town that had only three black police officers on the force at the time of Brown's death despite having a population that was 60 percent African-American. Carson's meeting with city leaders was closed off to press.

Watch Major Garrett's interview with Ben Carson, via CBS News:

By Sophia Tesfaye

Sophia Tesfaye is Salon's senior editor for news and politics, and resides in Washington, D.C. You can find her on Twitter at @SophiaTesfaye.

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2016 Republican Primary Ben Carson Black Lives Matter Bullying Ferguson Michael Brown Mike Brown Race Video