The Rev. Jesse Lee Peterson, president of the Brotherhood Organization of A New Destiny (BOND), a conservative nonprofit, made some contentious statements on CNN's "Piers Morgan Tonight" on Thursday. In addition to lambasting Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson for inserting race into Trayvon Martin's death and George Zimmerman's subsequent trial, he called the 17-year-old shooting victim a "thug."
The exchange began with Peterson claiming that race played no role in the highly-publicized tragedy.
"This case was not about race at all and what happened - you have the race-hustlers and poverty pimps like Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton and others who turned it into a race issue in order to gain power and wealth," he charged.
Peterson also targeted President Barack Obama, calling his past comment about Martin ("You know, if I had a son, he'd look like Trayvon") "insane."
These statements, he said, were intended to "incite the anger of black Americans and others."
Morgan, clearly in disagreement with Peterson throughout the interview, asked if Zimmerman would have taken the same deadly action had Martin been, say, a white individual in a hoodie -- someone like Facebook billionaire Mark Zuckerberg. Peterson, not willing to back down, said that he believes the situation would have ended in the same manner.
"If the situation that happened with Trayvin and George had been the same, yes ... I imagine that the same outcome would have been the same," he said. "George Zimmerman would have done whatever it took to protect himself. It didn't matter to George Zimmerman the color of the man."
The interview became contentious when Peterson proclaimed that "Trayvon Martin was a thug." Morgan fervently disagreed and took exception to the fact that the faith leader said that everyone, including the television host and Martin's parents, knew this assertion to be true.
Morgan said, "Don't you speak for me," noting that "there's very little evidence that Trayvon Martin was a thug."
Watch the heated exchange, below:
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