“Inside the NBA” analyst Charles Barkley unleashed a wave of resentment among Baltimore residents after questioning their non-support of police.
The Undefeated reported Barkley stopped in the Maryland city Nov. 21 to film an episode of his upcoming program, “The Race Card.” The series is due to air on TNT and will focus on American race relations.
Barkley’s 48-hour visit to the town followed its many racial incidents involving citizens and police. Atlanta Black Star reported those cases, including the 2015 death of Freddie Gray and a Department of Justice report citing the city’s unlawful police practices against Blacks.
Because of that, Barkley’s criticism of residents’ lack of sympathy towards police was ill-received.
During a meeting at Southern Baptist Church, Barkley questioned why the Nov. 20 deaths of officers on the job 20 in four different cases nationwide didn’t garner compassion. One case led to the arrest of Otis McKane, who is Black, in San Antonio, Texas. He is accused of killing white Detective Benjamin Marconi during a traffic stop.
“Did anybody say, ‘Man, I feel bad for their family’? ” the retired basketball player said. “There was no love [for police] in this room.”
In response, Diane Butler proclaimed, “I don’t know you, I don’t like you.” Her son, Tyrone West, died due to police gunfire after he was pulled over in 2013.
After expressing his condolences, Barkley remained unshaken.
“As far as you not liking me, it really doesn’t bother me,” he said. “I’m used to it. I’m like the homecoming queen. All the ugly girls hate you. That’s part of my life. I never take anything personally.”
But as Barkley remained steadfast, the audience stood by their community.
“How simple and arrogant are you?” another attendee said. “There are so many Black men that care about our community that for us to dwell on one man that just won’t get it is a waste of everybody’s time.”
Maryland State Delegate Jill P. Carter deemed Barkley’s meeting “nonproductive” and noted he should research Baltimore’s history.
Ultimately, the crowd would not back down from their denunciation of the Auburn University alum. Barkley exited the stage with staff and security after activists yelled at him.