Speaking with CNN’s Don Lemon, Pharrell Williams offered his thoughts on the shooting of Mike Brown and ongoing protests and unrest in Ferguson, Missouri. First claiming that he’s “not into politics” but has opinions, Pharrell said he’s disappointed.
“What did I think of Ferguson? I’m disappointed,” Pharrell said in his CNN interview. “I’m disappointed in the way it was handled from the government side. I think that officer should be punished because that was excessive force. That was excessive force. All those shots, where those shots were. The idea that that child laid on the ground, he’s a child. I know he’s 6’2”, 6’3”, something like that, but he’s a child. Okay? He was laying on the ground for hours. That kid didn’t ask to get killed and so I feel like that officer should be punished. At the same time, we gotta start looking at ourselves too because we are feeling hunted and we need to be able to avoid these things. Sometimes it’s unavoidable.”
When asked about a social media campaign urging young men to wear their pants above waist-level so as to avoid scrutiny from “the man,” Pharrell took issue with the appeal.
“That ain’t the man,” he said. “Who is the man? Who is the man that can tell me how to wear my pants? Can’t nobody tell me how I can wear my pants. I’m a human being. That’s the thing, there’s so many issues that’s are being lump-summed in the same issues. Wearing your jeans on your butt or below your waistline has nothing to do with being Black. You know how many white kids do that? So then that’s not a Black or white thing. Hoodies are not a Black or white thing. It’s an excuse. In certain places, yeah, we’re being hunted. But there are good policemen and there are bad policemen and there are good kids and there are bad kids. Regardless of what that child was, he did not deserve to be shot down like that.
“When they told him to get out of the road he probably should have gotten out of the road,” he added. “I wouldn’t have been in the road to begin with though. But look, let me make it very clear ‘cause people like to soundbyte in this day and age, this is the day and age of soundbyting. I love my culture, but I don’t want my culture to want nothing from nobody else. I think we need to do ourselves. The only thing is, I was disappointed that while we had so much peaceful protesting going on, what the media chose to cover most of all, and highlight, was the random few people that threw molotov cocktails, random people that had guns on them, random incidents where—not random really, motivated—but some of the rioting that was going on and some of the looting of the stores. The looting of our stores in our own neighborhood, I’m not telling you to do it nowhere else, but damn. Why you doing it in your own neighborhood? I didn’t get that neither.”
While on the show Pharrell was also critical of media coverage of the events, pointing out an unbalanced skew towards capturing the more violent elements of the protests.
“We gotta spend more time on the people that was non violent protesting which is allowed in this country,” he said. “We didn’t spend enough time on that. That’s why I feel like the President needs to come down there. I think he needs to come down there, ‘cause when your parents come in the room, whether it’s your or cousin that knocked the vase down, both of ya’ll sit up at attention and everybody, as my dad would say, tighten up.”
Finally, Pharrell warned that the ongoing protests and dialogue that has resulted from the shooting won’t disappear soon.
“This is a deeper laceration in this country,” he said. “If you think this is gonna blow over, this is gonna be the longest hangover in race relations ever. Wanna know why? ‘Cause we thought we had gotten so far, but now there are certain people that are like, ‘Man they shouldn’t put the tape out of him being in the store, that ain’t got nothing to do with the crime.’ You absolutely right. But, I come from a Black family, my Grandma would have said, ‘Let me see that other tape too.’ And you would get a beating from that.”