Carmelo Anthony: 'You Can’t Put White Police in the Hood'

By Brian Lonergan | November 4, 2016 | 9:11am EDT

“You can’t put white police in the ‘hood. You just can’t do that. They don’t know how to react.”

Those were the words of pro basketball player Carmelo Anthony in a wide-ranging interview with ESPN The Magazine that addressed race, law enforcement and other social issues. 

Carmelo Anthony (AP Photo)

“The system is broken,” he said in the magazine’s Oct. 31 issue. “It trickles down. It’s the education. You’ve got to be educated to know how to deal with the police. You’ve got to be educated to know how to deal with people. The system has to put the right police in the right situation. Like, you can’t put white police in the ‘hood. You just can’t do that. They don’t know how to react. They don’t know how to respond to those different situations. They’ve never been around that, you know?”

Anthony is a native of Baltimore, Md., and has been outspoken on relations between police and the African-American community since riots erupted in the city following the death of Freddie Gray while in police custody earlier this year. 

While detailing the problems affecting urban neighborhoods, Anthony said he has empathy for police and the challenges they face. He said the relationship between police and the inner city neighborhoods has changed dramatically since his youth. 

“When I was growing up, we knew police by their first name,” he said. “We gave them the nicknames. But that’s only because we related. And when the white police came into our neighborhood, the black police said, ‘Yo, we got this.’ That doesn’t happen anymore. You got black police afraid to go into black communities now, and the white police are like, ‘S---, I’ll come. It’s a job. I’ll go in there and do it.’ Not knowing what’s going to happen.” 

Asked how he feels about being called unpatriotic for criticism of the police in highly-publicized incidents, Anthony cited his participation with USA basketball as evidence of his national pride. 

“You’re representing something that’s bigger than yourself, bigger than the New York Knicks or any other team,” he said. “You’re representing the whole country. You’ve got the USA on your chest, and when you hear that national anthem, regardless of how you feel about it, you get a sensation inside you.” 

Anthony has represented the United States in four Olympics and was on the gold medal-winning team in Rio this year. He won a college national championship with Syracuse and has played in the NBA since 2003. Currently a member of the New York Knicks, he has been an all-star nine times. 

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