HBO Host Bill Maher has stirred controversy by suggesting that Michael Brown was "acting like a thug" but did not deserve to be shot by officer Darren Wilson in August, who in turn Maher described as a "plain murderer." Maher's comments have prompted some fans to call for a boycott of his show.
"You know what else I find disturbing is that everybody in America just sides with their own people and doesn't look at the facts. … The cops I saw on the news a couple of weeks ago were wearing bracelets or something that said, 'I am Darren Wilson.' Why do you want to throw your lot in with this plain murderer?" The "Real Time with Bill Maher" host said.
"And Michael Brown's people. I'm sorry, but Michael Brown's people say he is a gentle giant. Well, we saw that video when he was in that 7-11. No, he wasn't gentle. He was committing a robbery and he pushed that guy. He was acting like a thug, not a gentle giant. He certainly didn't deserve to be shot for it."
Maher's comments refer to the shooting incident on Aug. 9 in Ferguson, Missouri, where Brown was shot dead by Wilson following a physical confrontation. The killing sparked several weeks of protests throughout Ferguson, while figures such as Texas megachurch pastor T.D. Jakes blamed racial profiling for what happened.
Some social networking users have slammed Maher's description of Brown as a "thug," however, with one user writing on Twitter that "If you're not ready to say people should boycott his show, then what more would it take?"
Maher is no stranger to a variety of controversies, and earlier in October got into a heated debate with actor and director Ben Affleck over his criticism of Islam. Maher had accused Islam of violating human rights in connection to terror group ISIS, while Affleck called his views on the religion "gross, racist, disgusting."
While police statements regarding Brown's shooting have suggested that Wilson acted in self-defense, human rights groups like Amnesty International have argued that regardless of the specific conditions, international standards dictate that police officers should only use force proportionate to the threat encountered.
"Irrespective of whether there was some sort of physical confrontation between Michael Brown and the police officer, Michael Brown was unarmed and thus unlikely to have presented a serious threat to the life of the police officer. As such, this calls into question whether the use of lethal force was justified, and the circumstances of the killing must be urgently clarified," Amnesty stated in a report last week.
Brown has been described as a gentle giant by civil rights activist Al Sharpton, who has campaigned for Brown's family to see justice done for their son.
"To become violent in Michael Brown's name is to betray the gentle giant that he was. Don't be a traitor to Michael Brown," Sharpton said back in August, urging demonstrators not to resort to violence against police.
The grand jury in St. Louis County is still debating whether to charge Wilson with Brown's death.