Initially a bit startled when Owen Shroyer ran up on him in the streets of Cleveland during the Republican National Convention, Van Jones eagerly accepted a challenge to have a debate with the young Info Wars correspondent. The lesson began almost immediately as Jones parried Shroyer’s confrontational blows by setting a tone of peaceful discourse.
“The only thing you see in Ferguson, and this is where my heart breaks, the only thing you see in Ferguson is that there was a protest about a case that later turned out to be a false situation,” Jones said in response to Shroyer’s assertion that Mike Brown didn’t have his hands up when he was shot in Ferguson, Missouri, contrary to reports at the time. “And yet the same department also — who you already said was credible — came out and said that there was massive, widespread abuse of the Black population, which is part of why they believed what was going on. And yet with that, I don’t see the same level of concern. It is much worse to me to hear that a whole police department has been giving extra tickets to a community — that’s terrible — than if somebody was wrong about some protest.”
Jones continued to set a collaborative tone as he insisted that support for the Black Lives Matter movement is not synonymous with being anti-police, and passionately called for people to stop choosing which deaths to grieve. Despite occasional heckling from the gathering crowd, which Jones handled masterfully, it was clear that Shroyer realized he was being given valuable gems and pearls of wisdom.
By the end of the discussion, Shroyer gave Jones free rein to put forth his idea of what we all should agree upon as top priorities for our country at this time. Jones obliged with details of three proposed initiatives.
“Let’s help us have better cops. No sense in talking about the bad ones. Help the good ones. … Don’t leave our veterans out here with nothing. … And fix the infrastructure,” Jones eventually summarized. “If you and I can’t agree on that, I think this country is through. I think it’s finished. But I believe we can agree on that.”
The half-hour conversation obviously left Shroyer very impressed with Jones.
“I’ve been one of the biggest haters of Vans Jones, probably, on the internet and I’m going to go ahead and walk back some of my hate for Van Jones,” he said. “I’ve got a lot of respect for the fact that he just stopped and had a conversation with me.”