Skip navigation

'The Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell' for Thursday, March 22, 2012

Read the transcript to the Thursday show

  Most Popular
Most viewed

Guests: Al Sharpton; Ed Schultz; Jonathan Capehart, Jeff Triplett, Eugene O`Donnell, Mark Thompson, Toure, Benjamin Crump; Perry Thurston

LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, MSNBC HOST: We have breaking news tonight.
During a rally of 30,000 people in support of the family of Trayvon Martin,
Florida Governor Rick Scott announced the appointment of a new special
prosecutor in the case and a formation of a task force to examine all of
the elements of the killing of Trayvon Martin.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Dozens of churchgoers packed buses bound for

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We will not allow Trayvon to be undervalued.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Tonight`s rally organized by the Reverend Al

REV. AL SHARPTON, MSNBC HOST: Unimaginable tragedy.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It`s been 25 days since the killing.

JOE SCARBOROUGH, MSNBC ANCHOR: The attorney general of the state of
Florida, and the governor of the state of Florida need to step in.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What is it that they are hiding? I don`t know.

independent investigation.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It seems as though the police department of
Sanford or the city of Sanford is condoning what is taking place here.

BILL LEE, SANFORD POLICE CHIEF: My role is as a leader of this
agency has become a distraction from the investigation.

ANDREA MITCHELL, NBC NEWS: He has become a lightning rod.

LEE: I stand by the Sanford Police Department.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You know, this chief of police has some nerve.

LEE: I have come to the decision that I must temporarily remove
myself from the position as police chief for the city of Sanford.

SYBRINA FULTON, TRAYVON MARTIN`S MOTHER: It`s a temporary relief but
we need a permanent relief. I still say we need an arrest.

Trayvon`s life profiling him.

REP. JOHN LEWIS (D), GEORGIA: It`s a very sad and dark hour.

FULTON: This is not a black and white thing. This is not a right or
wrong thing.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It isn`t a black thing, it isn`t a white thing,
it`s a right and a wrong thing.

FULTON: Our son is your son.

MARTIN: We want an arrest, we want a conviction.

I will not stop justice for Trayvon Martin until I die.


O`DONNELL: There`s breaking news tonight from Florida, where
Governor Rick Scott has now appointed a new prosecutor in the case of
Trayvon Martin`s killing. That`s after the state attorney for the 18th
circuit, Norm Wolfinger, volunteered to recuse himself.

Angela B. Corey, the prosecutor from Jacksonville, Florida, is now
taking over the case.

Governor Scott will also appoint a new task force led by his
lieutenant governor to hold hearings about the shooting and make
recommendations for changing any of the state laws that might have affected
this shooting, including the stand your ground law.

Last night on this program in his first national television
appearance, Norton Bonaparte, the city manager who has the power to fire
Sanford police chief, Bill Lee, was pressed repeatedly by Reverend Al
Sharpton and me on firing the chief.


O`DONNELL: Can you see any reason that he should be continuing in
this job and is there any reason you see tonight why you should not fire
him tonight?

BONAPARTE: I stated that I think it should be reviewed by law
enforcement experts. That`s the point that I think. I need to have facts.


O`DONNELL: And today in Sanford, at 3:39 p.m., Mr. Bonaparte
introduced the police chief at a press conference where the chief made this


LEE: As a former investigator and a father I am keenly aware of the
emotions of this tragic death of a child. I`m also aware that my role as a
leader of this agency has become a distraction from the investigation.
While I stand by the Sanford Police Department, its personnel, and the
investigation that was conducted in regards to the Trayvon Martin case, it
is apparent that my involvement in this matter is overshadowing the

Therefore, I have come to the decision that I must temporarily remove
myself from the position as police chief for the city of Sanford. I do
this in the hopes of restoring some semblance of calm to the city which has
been in turmoil for several weeks.


O`DONNELL: Tonight, just before a rally in Sanford led by Reverend
Al Sharpton, Trayvon Martin`s parents said this.


FULTON: I think since the chief has stepped down, it`s a temporary
relief. But we need a permanent relief. I still say we need our arrest.

MARTIN: We want to know that we love you. We want you all to know
that you are Trayvon. We would like for you -- the temporary step down of
Bill Lee is nothing.

We want an arrest. We want a conviction. And we want him sentenced
for the murder of our son.


L. O`DONNELL: Joining me now are Sanford mayor, Jeff Triplett, and
professor of police studies and law at the John Jay College of Criminal
Justice, Eugene O`Donnell, who is also a former New York City police
officer and prosecutor.

Mayor Triplett, you voted today to -- yesterday, I`m sorry -- the
vote of no confidence in the police chief. Why did you cast that vote?

MAYOR JEFF TRIPLETT, SANFORD, FL: Well, like I said last night at
the meeting, I don`t know about the investigation. We`ve heard a lot of
innuendoes, and a lot of rumors, a lot of things out there and that`s why
we`ve called for the investigation of that. Purely, my grounds for that
vote was because of the way it`s been handled since that point in time that
I`ve gotten involved in it.

So, you know, from a managerial position, as I have to look at it,
that was my vote. You know, when I look in my heart, do I think has he
done a good job since then? I have to say that I don`t think so.

L. O`DONNELL: And, Mayor Triplett, who is in charge of the police
department now?

TRIPLETT: The city manager, Mr. Bonaparte, has named the two
captains as kind of co-leaders right now until we can figure out what the
next step is with bringing someone in for the interim.

L. O`DONNELL: Eugene O`Donnell, what would you recommend for a
police department in this kind of troubled situation?

with you, the city manager and I don`t think the mayor is alluding to this,
this idea that you have to have a law enforcement expertise or some sort of
skill set, the vast majority and issues of this case are pretty
straightforward. It doesn`t require any great deliberation.

To be quite blunt, I think police supervisors, sergeants all over the
country within 20 to 30 minutes of getting on the scene here, there would
be an arrest. Trying to create this -- I just don`t understand why this
whole process seems to be so stuck in place and needs so much analysis and
so much.

This is not an issue of who killed this man. The issue is, is there
any justification and there doesn`t appear to be a appear to be a scintilla
of valid evidence and, again, anybody who is the law enforcement, police
sergeants, the newest sergeants make these judgments every night in 40
minutes, 50 minutes. It`s not an ultimate judgment. It`s a preliminary
judgment to make an arrest. Ultimately, it would be a justice system that
works its way through that.

L. O`DONNELL: Mayor Triplett, what is the temporary aspect of the
chief`s status? Do you ever expect him to actually resume his duties as
chief and is he`s being paid while he`s not doing the job?

TRIPLETT: I have not had the opportunity to talk to Mr. Bonaparte
about this. I would imagine him and I will get together tomorrow to
understand exactly what the thought process is between him and Chief Lee.

L. O`DONNELL: And, Eugene O`Donnell, what we know about the
investigation so far, I mean, you suggested that it`s actually a fairly
routine crime scene to come upon and figure out what your first moves are,
they are fascinating elements in the police reports that we`ve been
studying. You as a former police officer know these things as well.

We started digging into these last night. And one of the elements in
one of the police reports that suggests to the police they interpreted this
as a possibility that there was some kind of altercation, is the notion
that Zimmerman`s shirt was wet in the back and maybe had some grass stains
in the back and maybe a bloody nose. But that was not in the first police
report about this.

And so it`s starting to become a suspicious element in the case of
why did this stuff that would be part of the self-defense come into it

E. O`DONNELL: You want to be fair. You don`t want to take cheap
shots. It is entirely possible that the responding officers for whatever
reason, didn`t pick the ultimate issue here, which is going to be self
defense. So, maybe in their defense, there`s no conspiracy.

But obviously, at some point, the confidence that people have in the
justice system is going to be shaken when a case that is very relatively
straightforward. I mean, if you add up some of these issues, both the
affirmative issues of evidence but also the apparent misleading statements
that Mr. Zimmerman made, it`s a clear route to probable cause.

Again, ultimately, he is entitled to presumption of innocence, if it
goes in that direction. But for street level police, first level sergeants
and the like, this doesn`t take a tremendous amount of deliberations maybe
in their defense, that this law muddles things, so they became, maybe they
were, they couldn`t move. They were paralyzed. For whatever the reason,
this is not a spectacularly complex case.

And I would add to that because of the tapes, because of the phone
calls, is actually a lot of evidence in this case, what his state of mind,
the whole concept of these people get away, with expletive deleted. So,
there`s a large amount of evidence that was relatively available early in
this case.

L. O`DONNELL: Mayor Triplett, have you listened to the 911 tapes in
the case?

TRIPLETT: Yes, I have.

L. O`DONNELL: And when you listen to it, did you hear the racial
slur that many of us have been hearing and listening to those tapes?

TRIPLETT: No. I listened to the raw tapes. So I have not had the
benefit of listening to a tape that has been enhanced as of yet.

L. O`DONNELL: And do you see that is now impossible for the people
of Sanford to accept any of the elements that the police have advanced in
their statements, especially Chief Lee`s statements, suggest that this is a
self-defense case, especially if it turns on the condition of Zimmerman`s
shirt which the police do not have possession of. They don`t have a
photograph of it. No one took a picture. There is nothing, nothing at all
in police possession to back up the assertion of the condition of that
shirt or the bloody nose, which are absolutely now critical pieces of
evidence that we need and do not have.

TRIPLETT: And this is the exact reason, sir, why I`ve said that
we`re an open book. Please, I went up in Washington, D.C., and talked with
several delegates from Congress. You know, we`ve called and sat down to
the Department of Justice to come in and tell us what we`ve -- if we`ve
done something wrong. We`re going to work as hard as we can to correct

I was not at the scene, you know -- but I`m going down the only path
that I can go down right now and I try to find out exactly what happened.
And not only with the shooting, but if we`ve done something wrong, how do
we correct it and how do get to what`s right.

L. O`DONNELL: Mayor Triplett, you`ve had to correct it there before.
This police chief has only been in office for 10 months because he had to
replace another police chief who went out in scandal because the police did
not adequately or in any way seriously investigate an incident a police
lieutenant`s son who beat a homeless man. I want to show the audience some
video of that now.


REPORTER: Twenty-one-year-old Justin Collison is a son of a Sanford
police officer and was never charged. The man he struck first who was
homeless had to be hospitalized.


L. O`DONNELL: Mayor, there he is. We saw him beating the man and we
hear him saying, I will kill that mother. We hear that on audiotape. And
your police department was on the way to doing absolutely nothing about it.

TRIPLETT: That is actually right after I was elected in November the
year after that happened. I took office as that whole thing was going

So, I understand the ramifications of that. We looked at that. That
went to the state`s prosecutor and it went down.

I understand the trust level that right now is with our Sanford
police department. I`m going down every path. I`ve worked hand in hand
with the president of the NAACP for three days now. He`s given me some
ideas as to who we can bring in as a police chief.

This is going to be a top-down investigation. This isn`t just going
to be another one where we take a look at trying to get a new chief. We
are going to try to take a look the whole thing from the top down.

L. O`DONNELL: Mayor Triplett, quickly before you, you`ve had a busy
week, going to Washington to meet with the Justice Department, now back in
Florida. What were you doing for the couple weeks leading up to this? Did
you just start taking action on this, this week?

TRIPLETT: It`s been -- it`s been about a week and a half. I learned
about this when I was at Tampa at my boy`s football game, it was a couple
weeks afterwards as to what was going on. And ever since then I`ve stepped
away from my daytime job in banking and I`m working on this full time to
make sure it happens correctly.

I`ve made a lot of promises to a lot of people that I`m not going to
let this one going on, as long as I`m standing here as mayor. That`s the
way it`s going to happen.

L. O`DONNELL: Mayor Jeff Triplett, thank you very much for joining
us tonight. And I hope you`ll please come back on the show as this case

TRIPLETT: Anytime, sir. Thank you for having me.

L. O`DONNELL: And thanks also to former New York City prosecutor and
police officer, Eugene O`Donnell.

Thank you both for joining me tonight.

Coming up, we will go to the rally site tonight with Sirius XM
Radio`s Mark Thompson who is there today. He spoke at the rally.

Toure will also join me.

And, later, the Reverend Al Sharpton who led that rally, and the
attorney for the Martin family, Benjamin Crump, who spoke to the rally
tonight. They will join us, too.

And in the "Rewrite", a remarkable story. The remarkable end of a
hate crimes investigation in Mississippi. The sister of a black man who
was viciously murdered by a white man asks the court to spare the life of
her brother`s murderer. You have to hear her and what she says to this
court. Ask yourself if you could do this yourself.

That`s coming up.


O`DONNELL: With the police chief stepping aside today, the governor
appointing a new special prosecutor tonight, the case of the killing of
Trayvon Martin is literally changing by the hour tonight. Reverend Al
Sharpton, Toure, Mark Thompson, Jonathan Capehart will all join me later.

And in the "Rewrite," a remarkable woman pleads for the life of the
man who murdered her brother in a racist hate crime in Mississippi. You
have to hear what she said in court to believe this. I have never heard
anything like this in a courtroom. That`s coming up.



MARK THOMPSON, SIRIUS XM RADIO: We stand today to reclaim our
adulthood, our parenthood, our manhood. What good is it to elect the first
African-American president if we can`t protect our own children? As we say
we are Trayvon Martin, everybody should have learned a valuable lesson by
now that when you kill a lamb, we will do nothing less than utter his name

I am --

CROWD: Trayvon Martin.


CROWD: Trayvon Martin.


O`DONNELL: Joining me now, s the man you just heard speaking at the
rally in Sanford, Florida, Mark Thompson, host of "Make It Plain" on Sirius
XM Radio.

And Toure, author of "Who`s Afraid of Post-Blackness" and a
contributor to

Mark, tell us how the rally went tonight.

THOMPSON: It was incredible, Lawrence. It was breathtaking. You
gave the number, 30,000. We are trying to get account, the mayor just
saying this as he was, that parks and reaction, their official was between
25,000 and 30,000.

It was absolutely breathtaking, a lot of love, a lot of togetherness.
And even in the very end, everybody lit up their cell phones into the night
sky and said, I am Trayvon Martin.

This was truly a moving experience and it speaks to the sheer power
of this movement. They had no idea what they were doing, the police I
should say, by not responding in the way that people wanted to, and -- you
know, people here are saying that as much as Bill Lee has obviously messed
up, this is still about arresting Zimmerman.

It`s almost an insult to the intelligence for them to say he is
temporarily stepping aside. Nobody can figure out what that means. You
know, everybody knows you get fired, you quit. Temporarily stepping aside
is not a term we can figure out in H.R. slang or H.R.-ese, whatever you
want to call it, whatever that means.

So, it`s an insult to the intelligence. To me, it`s really a thumb
up the nose from him. That all that needs to happen is that there needs to
be an arrest made.

Now, I interviewed -- I can report to you tonight, you might have
breaking news earlier in the week. On my show tonight, we broadcast from
here. I interviewed the chair of the Florida Congressional Black Caucus,
Florida state legislation Congressional Black Caucus, Representative Mia
Jones, also Representative Thompson (ph), here in Florida, in the state
legislature, leader of -- one of the Democratic leaders.

They said they are meeting with the Senate president, and the speaker
of the House and there is likely that the legislative branch here in the
state next week is going to announce their own investigations on the House
and the Senate side.

So this is a gathering storm.

O`DONNELL: Let`s listen to what some of -- what the Reverend Al
Sharpton said tonight at the rally. He is, of course, the leader of the
rally tonight.


SHARPTON: Trayvon could have been any one of our sons. Trayvon
could have been any one of us. Trayvon represents a reckless disregard for
our lives that we`ve seen too long. And we come to tell you tonight:
enough is enough. We are tired of going to jail for nothing and others
going home for something.


O`DONNELL: Toure, a week ago we could wonder how big this protest
was going to get, even Monday night of this week we could wonder how much
was going to happen, when was this going to curve downward perhaps in media
attention, when might it start to peter out. I think we know tonight, this
thing is still getting bigger.

TOURE, TIME.COM: Yes. I mean, I felt the energy that this was going
to go on for a while from the beginning for many reasons. I mean, people
are uncommonly angry. And partly because we`ve seen this before and it
happens again and again and, you know, Eugene O`Donnell said before me that
there`s a lot of evidence, evincing his state of mind, other networks
asking the question of his neighbors, is he racist? As if there`s some
racial resume we are supposed to be checking. Has he told racist jokes?
Does he have black friends?

These are irrelevant questions. All we need to know by listening to
the tape where he accesses multiple stereotypes and prejudices of a black
person who sees at a distance. Doing nothing but talking on a phone and
decides he must be on drugs, he must be dangerous, all of these sorts of

The Bill Lee change in the situation doesn`t make me feel better
because the pain that I feel from this taking so long with nothing
happening is so deeply ingrained and opens up the wound of so many other
things that happened before that I don`t feel better. I don`t feel
mollified by Bill Lee temporarily, how was he -- as Mark said, how was he
temporarily removing himself? Is there a date that he will return? I
don`t understand that part at all.

O`DONNELL: Well, you know, guys, I think the temporarily thing is
one of those indicators that throughout this process, what`s happening in
Sanford, what the government is doing for the city manager or Bill Lee, is
that they are doing a small step too late? Every step is being taken is
taken too late.

Mark, is that the feeling there that if they had a couple weeks ago
taken some action of some kind on Bill Lee, it might have been more
satisfactory this far into this.

THOMPSON: No, you`re absolutely right. This is not doing anything
to make anybody feel any better. The city manager is behind step. The
chief of police is behind step. I spoke to the mayor, just as he was
living, and we know who it was. No, they don`t get it at all.

And again, this is gathering even more of a momentum. There`s going
to be another major demonstration on Monday, and I don`t expect to stop
there. As long as you and I talk last night, and I was speaking with Ron
Allen who`s here with NBC News, and several other reporters, we just kind
of gathered in circle and we all disagreed that all of the stories we`ve
seen, you know, again, stories, come and go and we move on to other things,
this story is getting so big and bigger every day, it`s going to be with us
for quite some time.

And it`s important that that happens because Trayvon`s life and what
he went through and his death and what his parents are going through are an
example of what so many other people are going through. There are so many
names that we don`t know, so many children that have been through this.
And they have so many other incidents and examples of police brutality and
even civilian brutality but Trayvon Martin represents all of them.

O`DONNELL: Toure and Mark Thompson, thank you for joining me. We
have to go on so we can go to Reverend Al Sharpton. He`s in Florida in a
studio waiting to get in here.

Thank you both very much for joining me tonight.

THOMPSON: Thank you, Lawrence, for what you`re doing.

TOURE: Thank you.

O`DONNELL: Coming up, the leader of tonight`s rally, Reverend Al
Sharpton will join us. And later in the "Rewrite", a life sentence of an
admitted killer in a hate crime in Mississippi. He was spared the death
penalty because the sister of the black man that he murdered actually asked
the court to save his life. You have to hear what she tells the court.
That`s coming up.


LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, MSNBC HOST: Thousands gather in Sanford, Florida,
tonight, to demand justice in the killing of Trayvon Martin. The leader of
the rally, the Reverend Al Sharpton will join me next with Benjamin Crump,
the lawyer representing Trayvon Martin`s family.



BENJAMIN CRUMP, MARTIN FAMILY LAWYER: Because of you all, the fourth
largest state in the United States of America, the state of Florida, our
governor, Rick Scott, attorney Parks, attorney Jackson, and Trayvon`s
parents, Miss Sybrina Fulton and Tracy Martin has said that the prosecutor,
Norman Wolfinger, has voluntarily removed himself from the case.


O`DONNELL: Joining me now from Sanford, Florida, the Reverend Al Sharpton,
the host of MSNBC`s "Politics Nation" and Benjamin Crump, the head attorney
for Trayvon Martin`s family.

Reverend Al, I just want to begin tonight with something personal that you
shared with everyone watching your show tonight and then everyone at the
rally. Let`s listen to that.


morning leaving New York that my mother had passed. One side of me said to
don`t go. But the other side my mother raised me to stand up for justice.
My mother would have been ashamed of me if I wasn`t here tonight. My
mother raised me to stand with mothers and daddies like that and in her
name I`m going to fight until Zimmerman meets justice in the courtroom.


O`DONNELL: Reverend Al, I have to tell you. I heard about the passing of
your mother this morning and I thought for sure you wouldn`t be going to
Florida and when I heard that you were still going to Florida, I was just
amazed. Because speaking of someone who lost his mother recently, I can
tell you, I couldn`t have done anything on the day that she died. And when
I heard you explain it tonight on your show and then when I heard you say
that at the rally, I completely understood how you could go and why you
were there and I just want to say to you I`m very sorry for your loss and
for your family`s loss. And we all know that your mother would be very,
very proud of you tonight.

SHARPTON: Well, thank you for saying that, Lawrence. I appreciate your
condolences. It is very difficult. I don`t want to act like it`s not. My
brother is with me also, Kenny, Ken, Whitney, and we just have a family
that grew up in the movement and we just feel like this is what she would
have wanted us to do.

O`DONNELL: And attorney Crump, I want to get to the issue of what the
governor -- the action of governor took tonight. A lot of things happened
actually during the rally, as far as we could tell. A new prosecutor has
been appointed. The governor says he wants to have a task force look into
this after the investigation has been complete.

Tell us about this new prosecutor Angela Corey? What`s your reaction to

CRUMP: Well, we think it`s a step in the right direction, Lawrence. And
we think it never would have happened with you or your viewers talking
about it, especially now with Reverend Al`s leadership and devotion to this
cause for justice.

But it`s a situation, a step in the right direction but we still don`t have
an arrest yet. It`s more investigating and, you know, you kind of ask,
what do we have to investigate? It`s a step in the right direction when a
leader in the state says the whole world is looking at our state and we
need to get this right. So we are cautiously optimistic tonight. We got
to keep the pressure on until we get an arrest.

O`DONNELL: Reverend Al, we both on this show last night talked to Mr.
Bonaparte, the city manager. You did an amazing interview with him
tonight. I want to play a little piece of that, beginning with where he
explained why Chief Lee has stepped aside.


SHARPTON: You once said this was a complete and fair investigation, did

said it.

SHARPTON: Do you know believe this has been a fair investigation?

BONAPARTE: I believe the Sanford department has done what it could.

SHARPTON: I`ve phrased contradictions where you have blatant
contradictions with what was said by a police officer and what is actually
said on tape and what was actually put in police reports. How could that
be fair?

BONAPARTE: It`s questionable. Absolutely. It`s questionable.


O`DONNELL: Reverend Al, you asked him if it was fair and he could not
bring himself to use the fair. He says it`s questionable. It goes to the
sense I had of him last night. I felt that we were talking to a decent man
who understands how bad this is and is trying to work the city`s way out of

SHARPTON: No, I think there`s no question that your judgment there is
correct, in my opinion. And I think that that is why I agree with attorney
Crump, that what the governor did was a step in the right direction, but we
must monitor and stay on it all the way. Because if you have the people at
the city level that cannot in a direct way say that this is contradictory,
this is false statements, and go ahead and make this arrest, this man
should be charged. Then you need to take a special prosecutor because
clearly the regular prosecutor here has lost the confidence of the people
and should because they seem to be afraid to off hold the bar of what is
fair and just in the law.

O`DONNELL: I want to play one more thing that Mr. Bonaparte said in your
interview, Reverend al, which truly revealed a lot about the way he thinks
about this. He talked about he thinks chief Lee recognizes that for the
well being of the city, you have to step aside. Let`s listen to that piece
of the interview.


BONAPARTE: I think the chief Lee recognizes that for the well being and
for what we all want, for the justice that have been taking place, for the
murder of Trayvon Martin, he was becoming more of a distraction and that`s
why he decided to step aside.


O`DONNELL: Benjamin Crump, what struck me in there, in the middle of that
answer, is what he called the murder of Trayvon Martin. Murder is a legal
term. It means something very different from the death or the killing.
It`s interesting to me that Mr. Bonaparte would use that term.

CRUMP: It certainly is, Lawrence. And it`s such a contradiction for what
they put on the initial police report. The initial police report had
Trayvon Martin as the subject which would lead you to suggest that
Zimmerman was the victim. And so, I think it`s because we keep calling
them out, keep calling to the carpet, he, now is finally getting that this
is murder. He killed this kid based on nothing more than his stereotype of
him. And that`s what is so hard to his parents.

O`DONNELL: And attorney Crump, are you worried about what were going to be
able to re-construct given the amount of evidence that`s been lost, we do
not have immediate access after of the crime to the gun, to ballistic tests
on that gun. We don`t have immediate access to the clothing of Zimmerman
which is relevant because they say there is evidence in those clothing of
blood and grass stains indication of altercations. I`m just looking at
things in the police report that we do not have access to that make - that
are made reference to in the report?

CRUMP: You know, Lawrence, you`re absolutely right. It is challenging
because when you look at what the police did, they came and they took
Zimmerman`s word for the gospel of what happened and they didn`t look at
anything objectively to look at maybe, just maybe, Trayvon Martin might be
innocent. Just maybe his life might be worth taking a background check on
the shooter, taking a drug and alcohol analysis, not letting him walk away
with physical evidence on his body after talking to him for a couple of
hours, even though he just shot this unarmed boy who had a bag of skittles.

O`DONNELL: And Reverend, I want to play one more piece of your interview
with Mr. Bonaparte where he talks about his own experience of problems with
the police, what he calls walking while black.


BONAPARTE: I have been found guilty of walking while black. I have been
stopped by the police officers. I believe simply because I am black. I
realize that. I have sons and grandsons. We want to work so it doesn`t
happen again and that the Martin family gets justice.


O`DONNELL: Reverend Al, that`s the sensibility I think you want at the
center of managing things in that city at this time. but do you think Mr.
Bonaparte has been moving too slowly?

SHARPTON: I think that the feeling is that he has been moving too slowly
and too cautiously and when he says he`s been found guilty of walking while
black or being profiled as a black. The question I raise is what are you
willing to do about it? Because clearly you`re not just talking about a
culture. You`re talking about a crime. People do have the right to treat
you differently in a criminal manner where they pulling you over of police
man and they illegally ticketing or whether it goes as far as killing you
as in this case. They do not have that right and let`s not act like people
that profile and stereotype just have bad habits. Some of them are

O`DONNELL: Benjamin Crump, thank you for joining me. And Reverend Al,
thank you very much for joining me tonight. Thank you for everything that
you have done today. It`s been a very, very long day for you and your
family. Again Al, thank you for being here.

SHARPTON: Thank you. Thank you, Lawrence.

O`DONNELL: Coming up, next, in the "Rewrite," the plea to spare the life
of an admitted killer. A white teenager who drove his car over a black man
deliberately to kill him. His life was saved in a Mississippi court
yesterday by the sister of the black man who pled for the life of the
killer of her brother.


O`DONNELL: A hate crime murder case in Mississippi ends not with another
death but with life as the family of the black murder victim rewrites our
concept of justice. You have to hear what was said in this courtroom to
save the life of a murderer.


O`DONNELL: In tonight`s "Rewrite," with the federal hate crime
investigation underway in the case of Trayvon Martin in Florida today. In
Mississippi, a federal hate crime investigation ended with guilty pleas of
three young men who admitted to harassing and beating African-Americans for
months culminating in the murder of James Craig Anderson. When one of them
Deryl, ran over him with his ford f-250 truck.

You`re about to see a motel surveillance camera video of that incident. We
have circled James Craig Anderson on the right side of your screen.


O`DONNELL: The assistant attorney general for the simple rights division
of the justice department said, this is really a case about a group of
racist thugs who made a sport of targeting vulnerable African-Americans in
Jackson and attacking them without provocation simply because of the color
of their skin.

Daryl Dedmon and his friends, who were from a small town outside of
Jackson, actually referred to Jackson as Jafrica. Yesterday, Dedmon was
sentenced to two concurrent life terms in state court after pleading guilty
to murder and the sentencing judge, Jeff Weill of Hinds county, said "this
craven act isn`t who we are."

Deryl Dedmon addressed the court saying, "I wish I could take it all back.
I was young and dumb, ignorant, and full of hatred. I chose to go down the
wrong path." Dedmon did not face the death penalty because the family of
James Craig Anderson asked state and federal prosecutors to spare his life.

In a letter to the prosecutors, they wrote, "our opposition to the death
penalty is deeply rooted in our religious faith, a faith that was central
in James` life as well. But we also oppose the death penalty because it
historically has been used in Mississippi and the south primarily against
people of color for killing whites. Executing James` killers will not help
to balance the scales. But sparing them may help to spark a dialogue that
one day will lead to the elimination of capital punishment."

As I`ve said here before, the only way to completely prevent the
possibility of executing the innocent is to oppose the death penalty in all
cases. If you oppose the death penalty just for the innocent, that means
you`re willing to leave the death penalty in place and if you leave it in
place, mistakes will be made.

The real test of your opposition to the death penalty is the hard case.
The real test of your opposition to the death penalty is a case like this.
The family of James Craig Anderson faced it most horrible test they could
imagine in their opposition to the death penalty. This is how they met
that test.


have been very difficult for my family. We`ve cried, we`ve laughed, we`ve
reminisced about our beloved brother Craig. It was a loss that I cannot
even explain. Craig was a big-hearted person. One who loved his fellow
men. Caring, family-oriented, and a big sense of humor.

My brother Craig would give you the shirt off his back. Because of my
brother, James Craig Anderson, our lives are richer with love, respect, and
the love of God. We, the Anderson family, are praying for racial
conciliation, not only in Mississippi but all over this land and country.
We are praying for the defendant and his family that they find peace.


O`DONNELL: That was Barbara Anderson, who is now praying for the man who
murdered her brother. Praying for the family of the man who murdered her

After she and her family intervened with the court to save the life of the
man who murdered her brother, and, yes, she said that yesterday in America.



JEB BUSH (R), FORMER FLORIDA GOVERNOR: It`s commonsense allow people to
defend themselves and to have to -- when you`re in a position where you are
being threatened and there`s a life-threatening situation to have to
retreat and put yourself at a very precarious position, it defies


O`DONNELL: That was former governor Jeb Bush after signing the Stand Your
Ground law.

Joining me now, Jonathan Capehart, MSNBC contributor and opinion write for
the Washington Post, and House Democratic leader designated Florida,
assembly Florida representative E. Perry Thurston.

Representative Thurston, with Rick Scott, governor tonight, announcing the
formation of a task force to look into all aspects of the killing of
Trayvon Martin and what laws might need to be changed including the stand
your ground law. What do you think the prospects are in Florida of some

STATE REP. PERRY THURSTON (D), FLORIDA: Well, Lawrence, I think the
prospects are looking better but as your previous guests have indicated, we
need to move with deliberate and without delay in this regard. The
vagueness of some of the terms and the fact that law enforcement and my
colleagues in 2005 predicted that these would be the problems that the
state of Florida would see and now they are coming to fruition leads me to
believe that we need to move without delay.

O`DONNELL: Jonathan, Tamron Hall yesterday interviewed the sponsor of this
bill, one is moving in Florida, Dennis Baxley. She asked him, do you stand
by the law? And he said I do stand by it but I do think there needs to be
new legislation that addresses like how crime watches and how things like
this are addressed.

So there`s the sponsor of the law saying, this was not at all -- the
Zimmerman defense is not what this was designed for.

JONATHAN CAPEHART, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: The legislator who drafted that bill
and said that to Tamron Hall, I think is showing a whole lot more
leadership and forethought than the city manager that you guys interviewed
last night and has been on television MSNBC during the day. The legislator
saw the bill, saw the holes in the bills, saw the problems with the bill
and is moving as quickly as he can to come up with ways to fix it but
still, as I`ve said before, it`s an insane law and I`m not sure that sewing
up some of the holes is going to do the trick.

O`DONNELL: And Jonathan, quickly on Marco Rubio, he was a supporter of his
in the legislature at that time too. How does this affect him? Can we
tell at this point how this is affects him in national politics?

CAPEHART: No, I don`t think we can tell at this point. I think things are
moving so quickly in this story and with everything surrounding it that
we`ll have to wait down the road. I think it will only come up at Marco
Rubio ends up on the ticket.

O`DONNELL: Perry Thurston, the members of the task force won`t be chosen
for sometime in the future. Who do you want to see, what kind of member do
you want to see on that task force?

THURSTON: Lawrence, we want to see some of the law enforcement personnel
who addressed these problems earlier. We want to see some of the people
who opposed it, who indicated that we would have these types of problems.
We want to see individuals who knew that this would come to fruition.

It`s one thing to say there are unintended consequences. But when you`re
told at the time of the passing of the law that these would be the
problems, that`s why we need your show. We need the ACLU, we need the
NAACP and soccer moms, Lawrence. We need the soccer moms in Florida who
felt the pain of this child`s mother to stay with us and be vigilant for
justice here in Florida.

O`DONNELL: Representative Perry Thurston, that`s got to be the last word.
Thank you very much for joining me.

Jonathan Cape hart and Florida Representative, Perry Thurston, again, thank
you both for joining me tonight.

CAPEHART: Thanks, Lawrence.

THURSTON: Thank you, Lawrence.

"The Ed Show" is up next.


<Copy: Content and programming copyright 2012 MSNBC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.
Copyright 2012 CQ-Roll Call, Inc. All materials herein are protected by
United States copyright law and may not be reproduced, distributed,
transmitted, displayed, published or broadcast without the prior written
permission of CQ-Roll Call. You may not alter or remove any trademark,
copyright or other notice from copies of the content.>

Watch The Last Word With Lawrence O'Donnell each weeknight at 10 p.m. ET

Sponsored links

Resource guide