Amid online criticism, outgoing Missouri House Speaker dodges questions on racial disparity in justice system

 – On the day a St. Louis grand jury was set to announce the findings of its investigation into the fatal shooting of Michael Brown, a young black man, by a white police officer, Missouri House Speaker Tim Jones said he agreed with former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani that the real focus following Ferguson should be “black on black” crime.

Speaking on NBC’s Meet the Press on Sunday, Giuliani said, “I find it very disappointing that you’re not discussing the fact that 93 percent of blacks in America are killed by other blacks. We’re talking about the exception here.”

That, Giuliani added, “is the reason for the heavy police presence in the black community… White police officers won’t be there if you weren’t killing each other 70 percent of the time.”

Jones, a Republican from the St. Louis suburb Eureka, Mo., said he agreed with Giuliani. In a post on Twitter, he added that it was his opinion that the “major problem” is “not white cops.”

When asked about the broader concern that police are more likely to target African Americans than whites, Jones deflected.

Each year, the office of the Missouri attorney general studies whether the any  given race or ethnic group is disproportionately represented in traffic stop statistics. It is called the “Disparity Index.”

“Values greater than 1 indicate over-representation and values less that 1 indicate under-representation in traffic stops,” the website states.

Since 2000, the “Disparity Index” for African Americans driving in Jones’ own hometown has fallen three points from 7.24 percent, but is still well above the expected value. Meanwhile, white people traveling through Jones’ hometown are significantly less likely to be pulled over than minorities.

Still, Jones accused a reporter of trying to “push a narrative” in asking about equity in the criminal justice system.

Jones announced earlier this month that he would not be seeking statewide elected office in 2016. Instead, he has taken a new role as a policy fellow at Lindenwold University and is in talks with the conservative website Breitbart to do commentaries. 

Earlier in the day, Jones reposted on his Twitter a quote that said the “black elite” was more dangerous to Black Americans than the Klu Klux Klan.

In response to online criticism of his post, Jones said he was only stating “facts.”

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