Jeff Lewis has sparked "huge backlash" with his recent comments about the Black Lives Matter demonstrations protesting racism and police brutality after the death of George Floyd on May 25. The former Flipping Out star received a number of comments calling him "ignorant, spoiled and privileged" after discussing incidents of looting and property damage during his SiriusXM show last week.
Saying he was feeling "very unsafe living in Los Angeles" amid the protests, the former Bravo star said, "I guess we can throw rocks at police, we can burn buildings down, we can loot and there's no consequences. There's no arrest, there's no nothing." Expressing shock that protests were occurring in "the wealthy areas" of Los Angeles, like Beverly Hills, Lewis said he was thinking of buying a gun to "protect" himself from protesters. "I'm not going to shoot with rubber bullets," he added.
Tuesday, Lewis acknowledged ruffling "some feathers" the day before but said he wouldn't "backpedal" from his comments, despite the "huge backlash" he had received. "I was accused of being ignorant and spoiled and privileged and I will agree I've led a very privileged life," he said. "I've had opportunities that other people have not. That doesn't mean I don’t have empathy. Where I think I failed yesterday is I didn't really discuss the George Floyd incident in detail and how I feel about it."
Lewis then said he did feel Floyd's death was the result of murder at the hands of the Minneapolis police and thought all the officers involved should be convicted. "I don't tolerate police brutality, discrimination or racism of any kind," he added. He then doubled down on his comments about any kind of property damage and violence. "I still believe that these protests are dangerous. You can tell me all day long that they’re peaceful protests — I spent what I figured 11 hours watching the news coverage and it made me so upset and angry," he said.
"I felt fearful. Just because I’m white and I’m privileged doesn't mean I can't be scared," he continued. "I support the movement, but I can't get behind this particular strategy and I think it's being grossly mishandled." Lewis said after a week of protests, he felt the message about ending systemic racism in the country had been "received" and that protests needed to stop.
Wednesday, Lewis addressed his comments again, expressing shock at the number of black listeners he has and thanking them for educating him about what he had said. "There were a lot of people that reached out and a large amount of African Americans reached out and they were very thoughtfully constructed, unemotional, devoid of anger and just giving me their perspective, their position, personal experiences," he said. "I wanna say that if you do take the time to write to me about your personal experiences, your viewpoints, your opinions I am reading it with an open mind."