Bill Cosby, the latest in a string of celebrities asked to publicly weigh in on the Trayvon Martin case, said the biggest issue in the 17-year-old's killing at the hands of 28-year-old neighborhood watchman George Zimmerman is not race--it's guns.
"I believe that when you tell me that you're going to protect the neighborhood that I live in, I don't want you to have a gun," Cosby, 74, said in an interview with CNN's "State of the Union" broadcast on Sunday. "I want you to be able to see something, report it, and get out of the way, because you happen to be a part of the neighborhood. I don't want you to get hurt. And I don't want you to hurt anyone."
Via CNN's transcript:
Candy Crowley: So you saw more a gun issue than a race issue?
Cosby: How are you going to solve a race issue when it becomes he said, she said or he said, he said? And the other question is, what is solved by saying he's a racist that's why he shot the boy? What solves that? This. [Makes gun symbol with hand] And what is he doing with it? And who taught him and told him how to behave with this? It doesn't make any difference if he's a racist or not racist. If he's scared to death and not a racist, it's still a confrontational provoking of something.
I don't know what happened, but I know that this -- I used to have a gun. The policeman who okayed it said to me, "Mr. Cosby, when you pull this trigger, you can't call it back." And so I had the gun in my pocket. And the reason why I had it was to protect my family. But I also knew that anything that went on outside--and it appeared to be something that wasn't on the OK, I went out with my gun. And the thought was if this person is not right or if that doesn't move when I say move, I'm going to show that I have a gun.
Cosby's comments about the case were just a bit more nuanced than those of fellow comedian Bill Maher, who used the shooting as fodder for his "Real Time" monologue on Friday.
"Can tell it's a crazy crowd tonight because it's raining out there and also it's Friday the 13th," Maher said. "Remember: If a black cat crosses your path, it is bad luck--except in Florida where you're allowed to shoot it."
Last week, Mike Tyson told Yahoo News that he would be in favor of vigilante justice against Zimmerman.
"That's the only kind of retribution that people like that understand," Tyson said. "Forget about him being arrested, the fact that he hasn't been shot yet is a disgrace."
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