'Up with Steve Kornacki' for Sunday, July 14th, 2013
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UP with STEVE KORNACKI
July 14, 2013
Guests: Mychal Denzel Smith, Seema Iyer, Maya Wiley, Joy Reid, Benjamin
Crump, Daryl Parks, Charniele Herring, Doug Wilder, Marc Morial
STEVE KORNACKI, MSNBC ANCHOR: George Zimmerman not guilty of the murder of
Trayvon Martin. Now what?
The verdict came in late last night. George Zimmerman not guilty of second
degree murder, not guilty of manslaughter and now a free man. In Sanford,
Florida, people demonstrated against the verdict. And the city remained
peaceful overnight after days and weeks of speculation about potentially
violent responses to the verdict. Protesters peacefully assembled
overnight in cities across the country. Hundreds marched in San Francisco,
Washington D.C.., L.A. and Atlanta. The issue of race, Zimmerman`s
attorneys had suggested, during the trial was one that motivated the victim
Trayvon Martin because he referred to Zimmerman as a cracker, but did not
motivate their client, who, of course, as Martin`s killer.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MARK O`MARA, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: This verdict still has nothing to do with
civil rights. Civil rights needs to be talked about, but not in the
context of the George Zimmerman verdict.
(END VIDEO CLIP
KORNACKI: Martin`s family was not present in the courtroom for the reading
of the verdict last night. Their attorney is saying, they advised against
putting themselves through that experience and telling reporters their son
belongs to history now.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BENJAMIN CRUMP, MARTIN FAMILY ATTORNEY: Trayvon Martin will forever remain
in the annals of history next to Medgar Evers and Emmett Till as symbols
for the fight for equal justice for all. Tracy and Sybrina are thankful
for all those prayers over the past 17 months since the death of their son.
This is a very trying time for their family and we ask that you respect
their privacy. In conclusion, for Trayvon to rest in peace, we must all be
peaceful. Thank you.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: Lawyers for Trayvon Martin`s family have indicated they may sue
George Zimmerman in civil court. And the NAACP pledged to pursue federal
civil rights charges with Department of Justice and collected tens of
thousands of petition signatures over night for that. For its part, the
Justice Department issued a statement after the verdict saying that it will
continue to evaluate the evidence generated by an earlier investigation.
Twelve (ph) evidence and testimony from the state trial. We`re going to
bring in Maya Wiley, civil right attorney and founder and president of the
Center for Social Inclusion, MSNBC contributor Joy Reid, she is a managing
editor of our sister Web site, the Grio.com. Mychal Denzel Smith, Knobler
fellow with the Nation Institute and contributor to "The Nation" magazine.
Seema Iyer, former prosecutor and criminal defense attorney and a legal
contributor to Arise News.
So, this is one of those situations, I think, where we could have the
technical discussion, and we will have the whole - and we will have a
technical discussion about what the exact charges were and what the jury
was sort of instructed to do and whether the jury given what it was
presented with, and given the confines of this - you know, reached a
reasonable conclusion or not. But I want to start sort of more broadly
speaking. Because I think this is just one of those situations where if
you just take, you know, one step back or half a step back and you play
through the events of February 2012 and you look at - this is sort of the
end result of taking those events and filtering them through our legal
system and this is what it comes out with? The man who indisputably killed
Trayvon Martin, loses the ankle bracelets, loses the handcuffs, and gets
his gun back and he`s told he has no further business with the court. I
mean it just seems at a very basic level outrageous.
MAYA WILEY, CENTER FOR SOCIAL INCLUSION: The most devastating part of
processing the verdict last night was the role that parents like Joy and I
have to play with our children. When we have to explain to our children,
why a boy who was followed walking in his own neighborhood to his parents`
house after buying candy is dead.
KORNACKI: What do you say? What did you say?
WILEY: You know, what I said is, that it isn`t right. That the most
important thing we can do is understand that we have to thank the jury. I
mean, the jury did its job. It took the evidence into account and had to
make a decision. We have to respect that. And that the issue here is
whether or not we in America are going to have an honest and truthful
conversation about whether race is still relevant in our lives. And the
answer for my children is unquestioned. It`s yes. And that`s part of why
they`re stunned. So it`s not to your point, Steve, just about, the legal
finding and the legal ramifications of the finding. It`s really about what
it symbolizes in terms of whether we`re going to address race in America
and the fact that black people are not safe even when they are innocent.
SEEMA IYER, FMR. PROSECUTOR & DEFENSE ATTY: May I?
KORNACKI: Yes, go ahead.
IYER: I`m actually stunned that you`re saying, just from knowing you, that
you do respect the jury`s findings. I do not respect the jury`s findings.
This is what I do for a living. This is what I`ve been doing for the last
20 years. I`ve been doing this longer than Trayvon Martin was alive. And
I`m disgusted with our system of justice and better for you that you can
tell your children you respect these six women and what they found.
WILEY: Well, I think this is a really important conversation. Because I
think our rule of law is extremely important. I think that there are many
things wrong with the justice system. So saying that we have to recognize
that six human beings in a very difficult case, right, emotionally
difficult, huge amounts of public pressure, they were going to be
denigrated no matter the verdict, because there was going to be some side
of the American public that were going to say, they were absolutely wrong.
So, that`s why. I mean more because -- I`m taking a more human approach to
this and saying, I think it is important to humanize those jurors and say,
we need to let them go on and live their lives. The issue here is what we
have to fix about the system? We have to fix the fact that Florida has six
jurors on a murder case. We have to fix the fact that six jurors means
we`re not going to have fair racial representation and that because race
still matters in America, it does matter what the racial makeup is of
jurors. That`s the conversation I`m totally outraged about. I don`t want
to personalize it to those individual jurors.
KORNACKI: Yeah, go ahead, Joy.
JOY REID, THEGRIO.COM: But at the same time, I think that we never - we
always talked about the verdict in the context of how African-Americans
would view it and absorb it. But we completely forgot there was this whole
other context - I mean there are white women living in a majority white
town, one of them Hispanic, but, you know, mostly white women living in a
town that is conservative, that is pro-Zimmerman, at least among the white
residents in Sanford. The home they were going back to, the community that
they were getting absorbed back into, this is the verdict that was more
comfortable for that community. So, they - you know, the social pressures
on them were the opposite of the social pressures that we are all talking
about. You`re talking about a town where people by and large are pro-gun,
or gun owners. All of the prosecutors and - Republicans conservatives,
Angela Corey, a conservative Republican. So, this was an issue where most
of their community, the peers, their peers, were on the side that they
landed on. It`s the shock of African-American and people who were
sympathetic to the notion of a young black man being out of place, no
matter where he is that are shocked and angry. But, you know, there were
people who were on the other side of this. I don`t know why I was
surprised. I think what surprised me the most, to be honest with you, was
the reaction of the defense attorneys. And I was a little taken aback. It
was a little breathtaking for me, the kind of spiking the football
reaction, particularly of Don West, but of both of the defense attorneys.
WILEY: That they were happy.
REID: Yeah. Well, I mean I think it`s fine to be happy for your client,
but I just think that their presentation struck me as very insensitive.
There is still a dead boy here. And I felt like there was just a cavalier
- a real - you know, I can only describe it as spiking the football.
Especially, Don West, doubling down on the joke. This attitude that this
is - that this is justice, it`s not justice for the family of the dead kid.
REID: And I think they should have been more sensitive. I think public
presentation might .
MYCHAL DENZEL SMITH, THENATION.COM: But - they had no respect for Trayvon
Martin to begin with. And I think .
IYER: He is right.
SMITH: The thing that disgusted me, was, you know, you mentioned that the
jury was made up of six women, five white women. The defense literally
invoked the same justification for the killing of Trayvon Martin - and
(inaudible) during lynching. They showed a picture of George Zimmerman`s
white woman neighbor and show to her as the picture of fear and said, this
is what the neighborhood was up against and put a picture of Trayvon Martin
with his shirt off .
WILEY: That`s right.
SMITH: And looking like, you know the most thugged out version of Trayvon
Martin that you could get and basically said, George Zimmerman was
protecting not just himself, but white womanhood, his neighborhood from
this vicious, black thug.
KORNACKI: I wanted to just play - we were talking about some other
reactions from the defense team last night. It was interesting -- to me,
again, I don`t understand all the legal procedures, I guess this was very
unusual after, excuse me, after the verdict was announced that Don West
refused to shake hands with the prosecution team, which is sort of .
IYER: Yes, please ask me about that.
KORNACKI: We`ll get back - I want to play a couple of sentences -- this
was Mark O`Mara after the verdict last night. And this is some of what he
had to say, basically putting the blame on Trayvon Martin.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MARK O`MARA DEFENSE ATTORNEY: I`m not going to shy away from the fact that
I think that the evidence supported that George Zimmerman did nothing wrong
and that he was battered and beaten by a 17-year-old, who for whatever
reason, and we won`t know, thought that he had to lash out and attack
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: And I just -- we`ll play Don West as well because he was talking
about how this -- he felt a travesty had been avoided here. This is his
reaction last night.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DON WEST: This is something no one gets over. There`s no winners here.
There`s no monsters here. That`s the tragedy. The travesty, it would have
been a travesty of justice had George Zimmerman been convicted. That`s the
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: We need some reactions to that, after (inaudible), but after
this we`ll get some reaction to that.
KORNACKI: So, we just played some clips here a moment ago from Mark O`Mara
and from Don West and in sort of the inflammatory, I guess, is the way to
describe how they kind of conducted themselves after the verdict last
night. And Seema, I just want a sort of from a legal standpoint, what do
you make of what you saw after the verdict from the defense team?
IYER: Just so I`m clear, you said that Don West would not shake the hands
of the prosecutors?
KORNACKI: Of the prosecutors, right.
IYER: That is just astounding to me, especially because he won. And
usually, what I do, lose or win, and what I`ve seen other attorneys do, is
that you - as a professional courtesy, of course, you shake the hands. And
let`s say in this case when the defense was successful, you shake the hand
of the prosecutor and you say, I`m sorry. Leave it at that. And just, you
know, going forward with that point, all these statements to the press, why
do you have to talk to the press? I don`t understand it. And if you are,
I`m sorry for the loss of Trayvon Martin, sit down, it`s done.
IYER: I just want to point out that Mark O`Mara - I`m sorry, Joy, I just
want to point out that Mark O`Mara throughout this trial especially, you
know, there`s been so much talk about how busy they are, they are in court
till 11 o`clock at night, they are working 24 hours a day. How do you find
the time to go on CNN and give a press statement every single night? You
should be working. You should not be using this young person`s death as .
KORNACKI: My quick question is from a legal standpoint, is there some kind
- because we`re talking about now the potential of civil suit, the
potential of the federal civil rights charges. Is there some kind of legal
strategy there of being, especially in for a civil suit of being in the
media and trying to, you know .
KORNACKI: As horrible as it is, smear Trayvon Martin and --
IYER: Right. That is a great question. Because the civil suit also would
be in state court. Wrongful death action. Again, this is what O`Mara has
been doing for the last year and a half. And what he`s continuing to do is
taint the potential jury pool. Because even in the civil suit we`re
talking about a jury pool.
WILEY: So, Every single case does have an element of being tried in the
court of public opinion for the very reason you`ve just pointed out and
Seema has just said. This is not over. This is not over by a longshot.
This one criminal case is over. There will - so yes, the Department of
Justice is going to examine whether or not it can or should bring an action
against George Zimmerman of some kind. But it also - it`s pretty clear and
the family has been pretty clear that they`re probably going to go after
him in civil suit. So I would actually guess, and it is a guess, that
these are the attorneys who are continuing, you know, to Mychal`s point, a
narrative that is extremely destructive to the fabric of our nation in
order to protect an individual.
REID: And not only that, but, you know, Mark O`Mara has said on the one
hand, you know, that they`re sensitive to the racial issues and that we
have to have this discussion about black man, about civil rights. And he
says that a lot. But last night, he said, if George Zimmerman was black,
he would have never been charged. Which to everybody who is black is the
most - it`s just - that is -- that just is confounding. That is simply not
true. Look at the criminal justice system. And it sort of suggests that
there was some sort of racial conspiracy against George Zimmerman to paint
him as a racist. And that`s been the theme, too. And I think that that is
about the base of people who support George Zimmerman, who are by and large
on the right, gun owners, conservatives, and this is about sort of
messaging to them. Because there`s a lot of considerations going on. I
mean those are the people from whom they raised almost $300,000, you know,
those are the people who provided the base of support. Those are people in
the potential jury pool. This jury was conservative, you know, gun owners
included, et cetera. And there`s also one other case that`s out there is
the Shelly Zimmerman perjury case, which would also be tried in Sanford.
But I just thought that statement was so jarring I didn`t understand it.
KORNACKI: We`re talking about what the next step might be. And to help me
answer that, I want to bring in two attorneys for Trayvon Martin`s family,
Benjamin Crump in Lake Mary Florida and Daryl Parks who`s live from
Sanford, Florida. Thank you to both for joining us. And, you know,
Benjamin, maybe I`ll just start with you. I mean can you just tell us -
you know, I`m sure you`ve been in communication with the family since last
night. What is their mood like? What have they been telling you? What
are you hearing from them right now?
BENJAMIN CRUMP, MARTIN FAMILY ATTORNEY: Well, initially when the verdict
came out, they were heart broken. They`re still trying to make sense of it
all. It is very painful. They lost their son, and the killer of their
unarmed son was not held accountable, so they`re trying to make sense of it
all and trying to think about positive stuff. They have a foundation and
they`re going to work on that and try to figure how to preserve Trayvon`s
legacy because his death was not in vein. And as they have said, they will
continue to vow to fight for him.
KORNACKI: And the question, the immediate questions from a legal
standpoint, that everybody`s asking, whether - there`s two, and one, I
guess, directly involves you. And that is a decision to pursue civil
charges. Where does that stand right now?
CRUMP: Well, right now they are dealing with this very difficult time.
I`m sure we`ll spend some time talking with them and make the appropriate
decisions. But right now they are going to church this morning,
(inaudible) the harder I thought it because they are very confused about
the Justice System and how all of this has transpired, so we`re trying to,
as (inaudible), so as Ms. Fulton And Mr. Martin said, they can try to
answer the questions of their children and that`s what many parents around
America are doing this morning.
KORNACKI: Well, we - I mean a lot of the discussion, and we`ll into this
more on this show, you know, in the wake of verdict has been that, you
know, the jury had sort of a very sort of limited, narrow world that it was
forced to live in, by the laws of Florida, by the instructions that were
given to them, by what was in municipal (ph) court and all of that. I
understand that if you go to a civil trial, if you have a civil suit, the
rules in that world kind of expand a lot. Does that offer you
possibilities if you pursue the civil court - does that offer you
possibilities that were not available here in terms of making - making a
case, if it can go to a civil trial, what would that look like?
CRUMP: Well, certainly, there`s a different standard in the civil court,
and so reasonable, (inaudible) standard based on the preponderance of the
evidence, and so that is less than beyond a reasonable doubt. However, we
think that the facts and the evidence in this case were clear to us. That
he never should have followed Trayvon Martin. Never should have profiled
him. And, you know, the family`s just heartbroken about it all.
KORNACKI: All right. I want to pick this up with - with our panel, with
the lawyers for the Martin family after this.
KORNACKI: I understand we`re going to be losing Benjamin Crump in a
minute. And Benjamin, I just want to ask you and play a clip for you
before - before you have to go. Because I really wanted to get your
response to this. As Mark O`Mara, I think it was - I think it was on
Friday night gave an interview where he singled out you, he singled out, he
talked about, you know, the lawyers around the Martin family and basically,
basically saying in his view that you and others had -- were responsible
for this horrible thing that happened to his client. I want to play what
he said and I want to get your response to it. Let`s play it first.
CRUMP: Yes, sir.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MARK O`MARA, GEORGE ZIMMERMAN DEFENSE ATTORNEY: It was a wonderfully
created and crafted public relations campaign by the people who were
assisting the Martin family. That`s Ben Crump and other people. I don`t
discredit what he did as long as he acknowledges that`s exactly what
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you think that George Zimmerman would have even been
charged had Ben Crump not been pulled into this?
O`MARA: No. Ben Crump or someone like him, because had Ben Crump not
gotten involved in the case, maybe for some good reasons to begin with. If
he believed that there was something here that was being swept under the
rug, then get on into it. I`m very OK with that.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But you didn`t quite say it that way. You made it
sound like if it weren`t for Ben Crump, George Zimmerman would be free at
this time, and we would not be in that trial.
O`MARA: That`s correct. I think that it was a made-up story for purposes
that had nothing to do with George Zimmerman. And that they victimized him
- that they complained about Trayvon Martin being victimized. George
Zimmerman was victimized by a publicity campaign to smear him, to call him
a racist when he wasn`t and to call him a murderer when he wasn`t.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: There`s a lot there. I just want to -- I`m really curious what
your response to that is.
CRUMP: Well, very simply, it`s almost as if people don`t want to look at
the fact that you had a dead, unarmed teenager on the ground killed by a
neighborhood watch volunteer. And I remember distinctly when Tracy Martin
called me with that sense of hopelessness in his voice where he said, they
are not going to arrest him. They are not going to do anything. And how I
tried to encourage him to believe in the system because I`m a lawyer. And
I said, certainly they`re going to arrest him. You know, we have seen
people in our communities arrested on nothing, a hypothesis, no evidence at
all, and yet they told this father, this family they were not going to
arrest the killer of their unarmed child. And so we said, you know, we are
lawyers. We do this type of work. And it would have been so easy to say,
we can`t make a difference. I remember talking to my law partner Daryl
Parks and how he said that, you know, we`re going to spend a lot of money,
we`re going to spend a lot of time and a lot of resources and at the end of
the day there`s no guarantee whatsoever they`re ever going to arrest this
guy. And we agreed that his statements were probably correct, but we went
to law school to try to make a difference in our community, to try to make
everybody get equal justice. Not just people from one side of town, but
people from everywhere, especially in our community.
And so when they say that I did all of this, I think they overlook the
facts, they overlooked the grassroots community, all those 2 million people
that signed that petition that said you at least have to arrest the person
who killed an unarmed teenager, because if you don`t, what message does
that send to society? What is the precedent set if we let people kill
unarmed teenagers and go home and sleep in their beds at night? I just
think that we have to remember what the prosecutor said at the very end.
If Trayvon Martin and the facts were reversed would have profiled and
followed and pursued and killed unarmed George Zimmerman, what would the
verdict have been? And I think the problem that a lot of us are having
with accepting this verdict, is we know in our heart of hearts that Trayvon
Martin would have been convicted.
And so where we go from here, whether we progress or regress is going to be
what we learn as a society to make sure that this does not happen again and
we have to continue to try as much as possible to say, you can`t profile
people. You can`t make assumptions about people because on February 26,
2012, assumptions were made about Trayvon Martin and they were incorrect
and he paid with his life.
KORNACKI: All right, Benjamin Crump, I want to thank you for joining us.
I appreciate the time this morning, I want to pick up the question you just
raised about - what would have happened if the roles have been reversed
with you and with your lawn partner, with Daryl Parks, after this.
KORNACKI: So, we`ve been talking a little bit about that question that`s
been raised and the question that was put to the defense team after the
verdict last night about what if the roles have been reversed, what if the
race has been reversed, Trayvon Martin and George Zimmerman. That question
was put to the defense team last night. This was how Mark O`Mara answered
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
O`MARA: Well I think that the things would have been different if George
Zimmerman was black for this reason -- he never would have been charged
with a crime. It seems as though what happened was, an event that was
being looked into by Sanford police department, and (inaudible), as we now
know, looked into quite well. I had taken advantage of police departments
who have not done a good investigation of crimes because that`s what I do
for a living. When I looked at the Sanford police department
investigation, they had done quite a good job. And you can compare what
they did across the country to see who does good or bad jobs with their
investigation. But they were doing quite a lot.
What happened was, this became a focus for a civil rights event, which
again, is a wonderful event to have, but they decided that George Zimmerman
would be the person who they were to blame and sort of use as the creation
of a civil rights violation. None of which was brawn out by the facts.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: And we have Daryl Parks back with us, attorney for the Trayvon
Martin`s family. What do you make of hearing that - that claim that if
Zimmerman had been black, he would never even have been charged?
DARYL PARKS, MARTIN FAMILY ATTORNEY: Well, I don`t believe anyone else in
American police that except for Mark O`Mara. And he knows that. Without
question, everyone in America sitting at home this morning knows that if a
28-year-old black man shot and killed a young, white boy anywhere in
America, that person would be arrested and face the trial without question.
So, I don`t - I don`t buy that at all. And I just wonder - in that .
KORNACKI: The term sort of jumps out at me. Listening to Mark O`Mara,
there, he talks about sort of trying to make this "a civil rights event."
And it does - in the press conference last night, you know, Benjamin Crump,
your partner, said that Trayvon Martin will go down in history with Emmett
Till and with Medgar Evers. And I just want to - if you could - expand
that a little bit about what that connection means.
PARKS: Well, I think what Mr. O`Mara attempts to do is not to put the
whole situation in context as to what happened. Remember, this - this was
not just something that just happened on the coming of the protest. This
was something that built up over time when they refused to arrest George
Zimmerman at all. And so, first, it started off with Ben and Natalie
having those very small press conferences locally, talking about the fact
that this young man had been killed and that nothing had been done about
it. And so people - that story began to grow for that reason because the
system hadn`t responded. And so there are some people in this country,
some people in this country, who may not understand that when people are
not happy with what the system is doing, that nonviolent protests through
the civil rights movement is what you do. That they may not understand it
because they`ve never participated in it or don`t respect the fact that
other people can have power. That`s fine, right. But however, it is the
law of our land and it`s one mechanism in this country that people can
KORNACKI: Mychal, I know you`ve had some thoughts. And so I`m curious to
hear what you are speaking.
SMITH: Yeah, the presumption in O`Mara`s statement is that if George
Zimmerman as a black man would have killed a black child this wouldn`t have
been an issue because essentially, you know, this wouldn`t have been a
point for people to make a point about racism. But what happened to
Trayvon Martin is emblematic of what happens in the justice system that`s
built on - turning a blind eye to the suffering of black children. What
infuriates me is when people bring this up, and they bring up like places
like Chicago and Detroit and why don`t people care about what`s happening
with black-on-black crime. The people in those communities do care, but
what happens to this system doesn`t care.
KORNACKI: And George Zimmerman`s brother, I believe, gave an interview to
a different network last night, and he explicitly made that, that coming
about of the comparison to Chicago. I think he evoked it in his interview.
REID: But, you know, but in cases in Chicago if a black person kills
another black person, they`re not allowed to go home. They`re arrested,
right? So, I mean, that the justice system grinds through African-American
men just at a pace that`s breathtaking. There have been plenty of books
written about it. We don`t need to go into depth on it. But the idea that
a black person - I mean, look, to believe that it was an injustice to even
arrest, let alone charge Mr. Zimmerman for shooting Trayvon Martin, you
have to believe that when you see a dead, black child or dead black
teenager on the ground, you can presume on the word alone of the shooter,
that that person on the ground was a criminal. That person on the ground
was a killer.
REID: And therefore, you shouldn`t even question that. I have a bloody
nose. That guy is the killer. That black kid was the criminal. I`m the
victim. Just believe that. The idea that it isn`t in justice .
SMITH: No matter how ridiculous his story.
REID: Even if he lies to you about certain things, you`re saying that it
was an injustice against the shooter to disbelieve his story wherein where
he is the only witness to what happened.
WILEY: And let`s be frank. Black people are presumed guilty. White
people are presumed innocent. That`s .
REID: That`s the truth.
WILEY: That`s exactly what happened here. And the one thing .
IYER: It`s really .
WILEY: It just even in this particular case, that was completely
counterfactual that Mr. O`Mara said, was the police did not go through all
protocol in securing that crime scene because they believed George
Zimmerman`s version without the forensic science being conducted at the
crime scene. That is an example of white people being presumed innocent
and a dead black boy laying on the sidewalk is presumed guilty with no
ability to give his own statement.
KORNACKI: We have - I think we can get this up on the screen. This is a
really revealing graphic, I think that shows the racial disparity in
killings that are deemed - that are found to be - here it is, that are
found to be justifiable. So, the way to explain this is the baseline is
white-on-white crime. So, you see if it`s white-on-black crime, we put
this in the states that have stand your ground laws, states that don`t have
stand your ground laws and then blue is all states. But I mean you can see
there`s a huge - you know, 200, 300, nearly 400 percent difference when
you`re talking about white-on-black crime. The idea of a justifiable kill,
the idea of a justifiable homicide is vastly more likely - and you see,
it`s negative there when it becomes a black-on-white issue.
SMITH: Because you can get away with it.
SMITH: Because you can get away with it. Because black life is not valued
in this country the same way that white lives are.
REID: And Cynthia Tucker did a great piece for the Grio that we posted
this morning, in which she went back and reminded us that "The Tampa Bay
Times," the "Tampa Bay Times" in Florida did a study of the "Stand your
ground law", which was passed in 2005 that found that in - when defendants
claim stand your ground, if the victim was black and the - you know, the
person who shot them was white, 73 percent of the time their stand your
ground claim was effective. It was only 53 percent of the time effective
when the victim was white. Am I getting that right?
REID: So when you claim stand your ground and you kill a black person,
you`re much more likely - you know, 20 percentage points more likely to be
successful in claiming stand your ground. So, I think the racial disparity
is clear on its face.
KORNACKI: I want to pick up on stand your ground and also just look back
at sort of the roots of, you know, when the crime was - when, you know, the
killing took place, you had -- you took weeks to get George Zimmerman, you
know, even charged with anything. I want to talk about - go back and into
that period of time and see how that might have affected the outcome. I
want to ask Daryl Parks about that after this.
KORNACKI: We just started to talk a little bit about Florida`s stand your
ground law. And, you know, when this all initially happened a year and a
half ago, that provision got - you know, that law got a lot of attention.
It didn`t come up, I guess, as explicitly as people thought in the court
proceedings, but I want to ask, you know, Daryl Parks about the role of
stand your ground. Do you think that was a factor, that law? You know,
what role do you think it played in the result that ended up being reached
in the trial?
PARKS: I really don`t believe it played any role. Though it was the topic
of discussion early on in the case. You may recall earlier this year in
one of the hearings, Mark O`Mara came and announced that he would not be
having a stand your ground hearing. So, at least at that particular stand
your ground law, it was not an issue in this case.
IYER: Mr. Parks, attorney Seema Iyer here. I have a question. Do you
think that the delay in the arrest, that 45 days was in anyway a subtext to
the jury`s decision in finding a not guilty verdict?
PARKS: Well, it`s funny you would say that. Various times through these
proceedings you heard Mark O`Mara take little stabs at the fact that the
prosecutors in this case are from Jacksonville and various times he would
attack them about them being -- that`s inappropriate, as you know. It has
no bearing on the decision that they would have made. All it was intended
to do was to draw a wedge between this jury and these prosecutors and to
make their job that much harder and to inflame them. And so, that`s an
issue that someone came into the proceedings. I saw it several times and
it was totally wrong.
IYER: But do you feel that George Zimmerman in some way looked less
culpable because if the police believed him, if the police decided let me
wait 45 days until, frankly, you and your associates, you are the ones who
got this arrest, if not for that, we wouldn`t be here. But my point is,
Zimmerman was presented to the jury as, frankly, someone who was innocent
for 45 days. And what effect do you think that had? You saw these jurors.
You were there, you saw their faces. Do you think it was relevant?
PARKS: It has a big effect. You know, and I don`t want to call Mark
O`Mara a racist, but I will say this, I really believe that he made it - he
made it his point to portray this young black man as a young, black thug,
right? And there`s a picture in there that shows Trayvon Martin from an
upward position, the camera is pointed upward, right? As if he`s some -
shirtless thug on the streets, right? And so, that was the image that they
wanted to portray. They slid that picture in over the state`s objection at
the last minute, right? And the court let it in. I think that was totally
wrong, totally wrong because it started to create the wrong image. That in
their minds they probably could never identify with that man that they saw
in the picture in this case.
KORNACKI: I wonder though, too, Daryl, how much of an obstacle, do you
think it was an obstacle for the prosecution, that the limit on - the
prohibition, really, on making racial profiling, I could use the term
profiling, I couldn`t say racial profiling, how much of a factor was that?
Not being able to - is that something you think the prosecution would have
run with more as a legal strategy?
PARKS: No. I mean why would you do that with an all-white jury? That
would make no sense. I think any time you start to make race an issue in a
case like this, it tends to divide people for whatever reason and it
doesn`t give the case a chance to really stand on its merits. I think they
charged it correctly. They - George Zimmerman believed that Trayvon was
part of the element who had been burglarizing this complex and that`s why
he chose to follow him. And so, that type -- the criminal profiling was
the issue in this case.
KORNACKI: You know, Joy Reid earlier was making an interesting point, just
about the sort of the culture, the demographics of the area of Florida
where this took place. This is a less - the more Republican, more
conservative, more white area of Florida. When you saw the jury that was
chosen for this trial, was your reaction this is going to be an uphill
climb just because of some of those factors Joy was talking about?
PARKS: Well, let me say this in a nice way. I think that you have to
always remember that your jury matters. It would almost be as if the four
of y`all sitting there in New York -- five of y`all sitting there in New
York, we add one other person, and you all are my jury. I would feel
pretty comfortable with you all. And so, who your jury is, you know, makes
- is a huge issue. I think what happens is most people won`t talk about
that as much. You all took a stab at it today. And I`ve listened to what
you all said. You all made some very, very great points about this case.
WILEY: Mr. Parks, this is Maya Wiley from the Center for Social Inclusion.
I wonder if you would tell us what you -- Florida`s unique because you only
have six people on a murder trial, which is - you know, makes it -- I would
think, much, much harder to get the kind of jury that understands what it`s
like to walk around in black skin. What`s your take on the impact of
having a six-member jury as opposed to, say, a 12-member jury in a case
PARKS: Well, in the capital cases you do have 12 people. So and I said,
just so you are clear, the capital cases and imminent domain cases both
require 12-person juries. And so, you know, again, you all who tried cases
know, that when you try a case, the jury is whoever you get. And in any
case, you try to get a jury that you believe best fits your case. And
that`s just life. And you would hope that you would get some people who
can identify with the salient issues that will be a part of your case.
Obviously, we didn`t connect with that jury. And they found differently,
based upon evidence that they had. And we have to live with that for now.
That`s their decision. We accept their decision. It doesn`t mean we have
to agree with it, though. And it`s rather clear this morning in America, I
don`t think the country agrees with the decision, but we accept it.
KORNACKI: Joy Reid wants to ask one question, and actually we will get to
that right after this.
KORNACKI: And now I want to bring in Marc Morial, president of the
National Urban League, Charniele Herring, a member of the Virginia State
House of Delegates who`s serving Virginia State Crime Commission and she`s
also a chairwoman of the Virginia State Democratic Party and in Richmond,
Virginia, we have former Virginia Governor Doug Wilder, in 1989 he became
the first African-American ever elected to a governor`s office. He ran for
president in 1992 and he was later elected mayor of Richmond in 2004.
And Governor Wilder, I just - I want to start with you. And I guess just -
at a basic level, it`s curious, what your reaction is to the verdict of
last night and to what you`ve sort of seen in the aftermath of that
FMR. GOV. DOUG WILDER, (D) VIRGINIA: Well, I was surprised by the verdict,
first off, and somewhat disappointed, and yet I`ve been listening to the
questions and answers that have been coming forth relative to your pre-
pounding them. And some of them surprised me. First of all, start off
with this, you had an all - white courtroom, for all practical purposes,
other than the defendant`s presence and some of the witnesses after the
victim, and some of the witnesses, an all-white jury, all of the
prosecutors were white, the defense people were white. If race didn`t play
a part, then you ask this very simple question, if the Florida stand your
ground law is not a part of what people considered, then why could you come
to this verdict? The other thing that I would say is to follow some bit of
what you`ve suggested, you`ve got a young man who has done nothing wrong
criminally. He`s been killed. No one debates that. So what caused his
death? So the action that involved him being killed was the action of the
defendant. And to the extent he goes unpunished for someone who`s done
nothing doesn`t make any sense. If the law has to be changed in Florida,
then you should change it. Or if this could happen again under the same
set of circumstances, that`s not what we have fought for in terms of
bringing justice to all, making certain that these precepts would be
available for all, and it`s not just a shame on what happened in Florida.
America can`t stand this kind of justice and people around the world would
look at us and say, what are you talking about when you tell us how to
behave. So, I`m very shocked with it. I`m very disappointed in it. I
don`t know all of the facts. I was not there. I don`t know whether the
prosecutors presented the case as best they could. I do think pretty
clearly that race did play a part.
KORNACKI: I also want to ask you because you obviously, you know, you sort
of came of age, I guess, during and then before the civil rights movement.
And there was an interesting moment in the press conference after the
verdict last night where Benjamin Crump, lawyer for Trayvon Martin`s
family, likened -- he said Trayvon Martin will go down in history. He will
be remembered in history with Medgar Evers and Emmett Till. And I wonder -
I wonder what you make of that comparison.
WILDER: Well, that`s probably true, but it doesn`t bring him back. It
doesn`t bring his life back. How many Emmett Tills and Medgar Evers and
Trayvon Martins must be sacrificed before the wheels of justice, which
grind so slowly, grind at extent of meeting out justice for all in partial
as it relates to the dispensation. I would have been very concerned when
that jury was set to see six white people. I would have been very, very
concerned. And I don`t know how or why the prosecutor would allow that to
take place without some degree of closed session to say, hey, wait a
minute, let`s go talk to the judge. And you know where the strikes came
from. From the defense. You can`t tell me there were not people of color,
black people in the (inaudible), that the jury would have been selected
from. Somebody had to strike certain people. It would be interesting to
see if there was people who were stricken - were black. And if they were
not included in the (inaudible), why not?
KORNACKI: And Seema, we`re just - we`re short on time for this piece, as a
lawyer, I wonder if you can - if you can answer that quickly. Do you look
at this and say .
IYER: It wasn`t just .
KORNACKI: . that again, the prosecution could have done better in the .
IYER: The problem here is that - Sanford is 80 percent white, so the jury
pool is representative of that. So, when you`re picking a jury, there may
not have been many blacks and minorities in that pool. So it really ends
up being a numbers game. Another problem, is that when you are picking a
jury, you are picking person by person by person, so at the end I realize,
wow, I have six white people sitting here. But you - I also do have to
criticize their strategy, the prosecution`s strategy in picking a jury.
They`ve been doing this a long time. They should know better. They should
know how to play the numbers in picking a jury and to set it up.
WILDER: That`s exactly.
IYER: . that you would have more minorities on that. So, I absolutely do
agree with the gentleman that that was their deficiency.
KORNACKI: OK, we are -- we`re up against that one hard break for this
hour. But we`ll be right back. I`ll pick this right after we are in a
KORNACKI: We`re talking about the acquittal last night of George Zimmerman
for the killing of Trayvon Martin here with Maya Wiley of the Center for
Social Inclusion, Marc Morial, former mayor of New Orleans, now president
of the National Urban League, Charniele Herring, a member of the Virginia
State House of delegates, Seema Iyer, former prosecutor, criminal defense
attorney and a legal contributor to Arise News, and in Richmond, Virginia,
we have former Virginia Governor Doug Wilder. But first, I want to go to
MSNBC`s Craig Melvin with the latest on the reaction to last night`s
verdict. Craig, can you just get us up to date?
CRAIG MELVIN, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT: Well, first of all, see what a
difference a few hours makes here in Sanford, Florida. The scene outside
the courthouse much of yesterday, as you saw, about 200 demonstrators at
its height, about 200 demonstrators. No demonstrators right now,
obviously. Law enforcement that had been camped outside of that courthouse
for the better part of two or three days during deliberations, and quite
frankly, throughout the entire trial and jury selection as well, that law
enforcement presence is also gone here in Sanford. At least outside the
I can also tell you that the protests and the demonstrations that they were
prepared for here in Sanford, at least, they happened on a very small
scale. And the ones that did happen were peaceful, they were orderly.
There was - there was no civil unrest to speak of here in Sanford or the
surrounding area. The video that you`re looking at is some video from last
night as that verdict was being read outside the courthouse, there was a
hush that fell over the crowd. Shortly after the verdict was read, a few
moments after the verdict was read, the crowd that you see there erupted.
There was some chanting, there was also some singing as well. But the
chants that we heard more often than the others, no justice for Trayvon was
one of the chants. "No justice, no peace, another one of the chants. But
again, no arrests last night. And they stuck around for about 90 minutes,
Steve. And shortly thereafter they dispersed. The news choppers also
The city of Sanford, as I`ve talked to a number of folks here over the past
few weeks, they said to me that they want it to get back to normal, they
want it to return to normalcy, and it appears as if at least on the
surface, there`s an important distinction, obviously, to be made here, but
at least on the surface logistically that is starting to happen.
KORNACKI: You know, Craig, I would love, and I think a lot of people out
there would really love to hear what exactly it was that led these jurors
to the conclusion that they should acquit Zimmerman. Is there any
indication, any reason to believe that we`re going to hear from any of
these jurors at any point?
MELVIN: That`s - that`s a million dollar question. It`s funny you should
ask me that. I was having that same question about two minutes ago, with
one of the producers here, because that`s really, the big piece of the
story that we`re missing. That jury of six women. And to just kind of
bring you up to speed on how this works, at least in the state of Florida,
about a week or so ago members of the media were allowed to submit requests
that were then handed to the jurors. All six of those jurors, as you might
imagine, got a folder, requests about that thick from, you know, just about
every media outlet in this country. And we`re told that, you know, a
spokesperson last night, a spokesperson with the court here in Sanford,
Florida, went to the jurors and basically said, are any of you interested
either collectively or individually, are you at all interested in answering
any of the questions about deliberations? And all of them said no, not
tonight. And not only did they not do it last night, by order of Judge
Nelson, Steve, their identities will be shielded. The media has been
instructed to basically - no attempts to reach out to the six jurors who
are a little - who came to this decision, now allowed to try and track them
down at their house. And that order - that order of anonymity at this
point we don`t know when it is going to be lifted. There will be a
separate hearing scheduled. And at that time Judge Nelson will decide if
and whether to make the names of these jurors public.
So, it`s going to be a while, if ever, we hear from these jurors about when
they are -- or how they decided on the verdict that they reached.
KORNACKI: Yeah, that could be mystery hovering over this, you know, for
all time. And that`s we may never really understand it or never really
know. Anyway, thanks to MSNBC`s Craig Melvin from Sanford, Florida. I
really appreciate the update. Marc Morial, I`m just - I`m just curious
what you think .
MARC MORIAL, NATIONAL URBAN LEAGUE: Well, this is the most important
thing. This is not over. This is what`s important. We`re talking about
yesterday`s trial and it was a travesty and a miscarriage of justice. But
this is not over. Several of us, civil rights leaders had to call midnight
last night: myself, Al Sharpton, Ben Jealous, Melanie Campbell, and our
focus now is on the Department of Justice and for there to be a federal
criminal civil rights investigation. I also think that this may be a hate
crime and that the hate crimes law, the Matthew Shepherd, James Byrd hate
crimes law may apply. So, there are two important aspects of federal law,
which may have been violated by George Zimmerman, which should be
investigated, which could and should lead to an additional indictment in
another trial. Secondly, there is the wrongful death case, which is a
civil proceeding, which the Trayvon Martin family, they have competent
counsel in Daryl Parks and Ben Crump to bring that. This is not over. And
those who are activists, those who are concerned that justice has not been
met, should absolutely continue disciplined and directed advocacy on behalf
of justice for this family.
The third thing I`ve got to say, is I was offended by Mark O`Mara`s
statements. Absolutely offended by his statements. They were not only
unprofessional and unbecoming a lawyer, who just succeeded in a case. They
are insensitive and they further drive a wedge. And I think spur us to say
that we`re going to insist that justice be done in this case. We have as a
father, a young boy. This is a boy who lost his life. Not a grown man who
lost his life at the hands, not of another teenager, not of another boy,
but of a man. An unarmed teenager. And I think from the very beginning,
but for Ben Crump and the fact that the local community invited the civil
rights leadership into this case, this matter would have been swept under
the rug. And that`s exactly what Zimmerman and his forces and the people
around him wanted to do.
We stop that from occurring and I think we want to send a very strong
message today of solidarity with the parents and with the family, but we
also want to send the message, this is not over and we`re going to
KORNACKI: And Charniele, I guess the other piece of this looking forward
to is sort of - is legislative. There`s talk about what laws can be
changed in Florida. I wonder - you know, you`re familiar with, you know,
what`s sort of on the books in Virginia.
CHARNIELE HERRING, (D) VIRGINIA STATE DELEGATE: Right.
KORNACKI: I`m curious if you can compare what the sort of situation is in
Florida, how out of line that is with other states and what needs to be
HERRING: Right. Well, Florida is certainly not alone. There are several
states with that stand your ground law. I can say in Virginia we - our
state law is basically for personality. If you`re faced with deadly force,
you can use deadly force to defend yourself. But I will say this, in the
Virginia legislature there is always a bill put in, similar to what`s in
Florida. And it`s defeated each year. The thing is that we get very close
to getting it passed. And it`s leadership that`s basically tucks that bill
away and sends it back to committee. So, this is a message, so, for
everybody - every citizen who cares about our children from Sandy Hook to
Trayvon Martin. We have a serious problem here when we are watching our
children die. It is painful to watch. I remember my mother telling me
about Emmett Till and how she felt during that time. And I never in my
life would I think that I would have to relive her pain, but I am in pain
right now. And it`s not because of my race. I am looking at children
dying in this country and with violence, so state legislators are certainly
going to take a look at laws, but then we must be vigilant, because we must
realize that these types of the laws that allow an unarmed teenager to die,
after - and I will call him a perpetrator, because I understand you sound
innocent. But think about this: he was instructed to stay in his car,
Zimmerman. Why are we allowing somebody to disregard instructions by our
law enforcement? This is very serious.
WILEY: You mention .
KORNACKI: . the stand your ground laws seem to be gaining ground in the
KORNACKI: I`m just curious. We - you know, in Florida a big part of the
story was ALEC, the American Legislative Exchange Council, which, you know,
prepares a model legislation .
KORNACKI: For conservative legislation across the country. It`s a
national group. It`s like sort of a cookie cutter thing. Is that what`s
behind the movement in Virginia?
HERRING: I mean, it could be ALEC. You know, there are - at least,
unfortunately there`s a confusion about Virginia law. Some legislators
file the bill thinking that it`s not the law that you can protect yourself,
as you`re met with deadly force. And it has to be explained to them. And,
you know, unfortunately, I think people just don`t understand the law.
ALEC is a group that has forced this, certainly, the stand your ground
legislation, but there are other groups, too. Because people - there are
just rumors starting to circulate because - that you can`t protected
yourself in your own home against deadly force.
MORIAL: But it`s important, Steve, to recognize that a year ago when there
was some sunlight on ALEC, many of us called for - many of ALEC`s major
supporters to withdraw. And I want to renew that call this morning.
Because the poison of the stand your ground law was from ALEC. They went
to the state - some of former state legislator and - and have watched them
operate. And there needs to be sunlight on what they are doing, which is
what they`re doing is, creating model legislation and they spread the
poison of stand your ground all over the nation. And those who support
ALEC, should withdraw from ALEC, because this kind of thing and the use of
stand your ground is why at the very instance the law enforcement there in
Sanford, Florida, did not arrest George Zimmerman as they should have, at
the very inception.
KORNACKI: You mentioned a minute ago, you know, one of the next steps here
now is the question of what`s going to happen at the federal level. And
there is sort of, you know, a historical pattern there, I guess, of cases
where there are failures, there are sort of civil rights failure at the
local and the state level and then, you know, sort of - there`s this
historical pattern, but that it defaults the federal government. I want to
ask you about that as we come back.
KORNACKI: So, when I heard that the possibility of sort of federal
intervention now, the Justice Department looking at this, I thought back to
the Rodney King case from the early 1990s, that the black L.A. motorist who
was beaten by the cops. You had -- initially a jury acquitted the cops,
that`s what sparked the L.A. riots of 1992. But then there were federal
charges brought and two of the police officers were eventually convicted
and did time for that. I wonder, and I`ll bring Doug Wilder back. And I`m
curious, governor, if - do you see sort of -- is this a continuation of a
pattern? You know, I teased at the end of last segment about when there
are sort of civil rights failures at the local level, at the state level.
I know this was the story decades ago, generations ago, but again as it
sort of - what we see the federal - the federal government is sort of the -
- it`s the last bit of defense there when it comes to civil rights.
WILDER: Well, I heard my good friend Marc Morial gave his explanation as
to what`s going on. And I do agree with him that people should not give up
and should have hope. And yet he being a lawyer himself recognizes that
even asking the Justice Department to come in, there`s no guarantee of
anything to take place. They have this law in Florida also that in order
to maintain certain civil actions, you have got to have been proven to have
not been wrong yourself. And it`s going to be very, very difficult in many
instances. And yet that`s what the Justice Department is there for. One
of the things that Charniele was speaking about relative to Virginia, even
though - and I don`t disagree with her, even though there may have been
some attempts by some people in the House to get this legislation through,
it never has gotten through, I would be very surprised if it got through
into the senate and I would be very surprised if any governor of Virginia
who would want to carry us back so far as to sign that bill. I know that
there would be hue and cry from a lot of people. I would hope that when
the Justice Department does look into it, it looks to the totality of
what`s going on. Was that grounds for Zimmerman to do anything because of
this stand your ground law? Why was he feeling that he was - he was not a
policeman. He has no license. He has no authority. What gives him the
authority to take a life and go unpunished? That`s what`s before the
Justice Department. Was it civil rights violation? Yes. Was it also the
loss of his opportunity to live? Yes. How can that and should that be
WILEY: So, there are -- there`s something that police officers and college
students and George Zimmerman all have in common and that is that they are
more likely to shoot a black man with a wallet than they are to shoot a
white man with a gun. It`s called shooter bias. The law has not kept pace
with the science, with the brain science, because what brain science tells
us is, these things are happening at nanoseconds at subliminal levels, not
a conscious levels. Civil rights laws were written at a time when in this
country racism happened at a conscious level. So, we don`t even understand
our brains on race now. We have made so much progress in this country on
whether it is appropriate or OK or legal to be overtly, racially
discriminatory. We have not dealt with the fact that most people are still
carrying unconscious bias, that is racially motivated, but not at a
conscious level. And so when the Department of Justice has to look at a
hate crime case, it has to find that conscious - evidence of that conscious
level of racial animas, or racism. This is an area where the science tells
us, it`s much different from that, and the evidentiary standards do not
match the science.
KORNACKI: And it`s sort - it sort of - it`s sort of like we talk about the
effect versus intensity. We`ll be talking about the Voting Rights Act a
lot now. And effect versus intent. And I wonder in the case of, you know,
George Zimmerman, it strikes me this did not get a lot of play in the
trial, but I know the prosecutors introduced as part of the evidence five
previous 911 calls that he had made.
WILEY: 46. 46 calls in a six-year period from George Zimmerman claiming a
scary black person .
KORNACKI: This is right. And it was .
KORNACKI: Only five were admitted as evidence in the trial.
MORIAL: We`ve seen .
WILEY: But my point is for brain science .
WILEY: 46 calls. I`m not talking about the evidence. I`m talking about
George Zimmerman`s implicit bias. 46 calls is a lot of evidence on a
social science level.
MORIAL: Oh, sure.
IYER: But those calls can be used as, you know, a foundation for the DOJ
suit and the other .
KORNACKI: The other thing is, I was asking Ben Crump about this earlier,
but the civil - the rules of evidence, if this goes to a civil trial, are
more expansive. Right, so .
MORIAL: The standard of proof, which is different, which is the
significant thing. Not only the rules of evidence, but the standard of
proof in a criminal case is obviously much -- all elements of the crime
must be proven beyond a reasonable doubt. In a civil case it`s by
preponderance of the evidence. It`s a very different proceeding. And the
thing you mentioned, the 911 calls, certainly in a civil case, and I think
with an intensive competent investigation by the Department of Justice, I
feel that George Zimmerman can be brought up on federal criminal civil
rights charges and potentially hate crimes charges.
This law that we`re talking about, the federal criminal civil rights laws,
have been used around the nation particularly in police misconduct and
police brutality cases. What you have in Zimmerman is a classic wanna-be
law enforcement officer. Who, number one, sought to become a law
enforcement officer. Number two, acted like a law enforcement officer.
And number three, pursued like a law enforcement officer Trayvon Martin.
These are not things that a reasonable citizen would do.
KORNACKI: And the charges you were just outlining, is that what you`re
asking that the Department of Justice .
MORIAL: We`re asking the Department of Justice to conduct a thorough
investigation as to whether any federal laws were violated by George
Zimmerman in connection with the death of Trayvon Martin. And we have
certainly -- will make a formal request. I think the NAACP will hold a
press conference today. The NAACP, the National Urban League, the National
Action Network, the Black Women`s Roundtable. All four of us and many
others are going to join collectively in asking the Justice Department.
Now, they started at the very beginning with an investigation. They put it
on hold. This is standard procedure by them. To allow the local
authorities to pursue their investigation, their prosecution to a
conclusion. Now it`s appropriate for the Justice Department to pick this
up and to proceed.
KORNACKI: And Maya, I want to get you back in here in a second, but first,
I just - I want to say thanks to former Virginia Governor Doug Wilder for
joining us. I appreciate you time this morning. We`ll pick it up right
with Maya after this.
KORNACKI: Maya, I know you want to jump in. Go ahead.
WILEY: So, Trayvon Martin`s parents worked so hard with Mr. Crump and Mr.
Parks to bring -- to get these criminal charges made. And I suspect will
bring a civil case because they wanted that their son not die in vain.
What that means, is justice is not just for Trayvon Martin. Justice here
is to make sure black people can walk down the streets of America,
innocent, non-armed, and not be afraid that they`re going to be killed.
And that means that in addition -- I agree with Marc that, one, it`s not
over. Two, that the Department of Justice had - that there`s an
opportunity to prosecute this case more effectively. But if we miss the
real message here, which is that we need to restructure .
WILEY: . our laws, we need to understand that our current legal structure
does not work for how we do race in America right now, which means it
doesn`t work for anyone, because we all have a race. That means that we
will miss the opportunity, not just to try to get justice for Trayvon
Martin. We will miss the opportunity to assure us that innocent black
people can live safe, long, healthy lives.
KORNACKI: I want to talk for a minute about the reaction we`ve seen
nationwide to this. I know there was a lot of conversation - that this is
about - oh, is there going to be violence? And should we even be asking,
if that`s going to be violence, and there were lots, lots of issues with
that. But what we`ve seen we had, you know, Craig Melvin, the report from
Sanford, Florida, basically said overnight, you know, there were protests.
They broke up. You know, life seems to be kind of going back to the way it
was. There were, you know, rallies or marches. I think we documented ten
cities across the country. We are seeing some scenes from last night. I
think that`s San Fran. There were report - I guess, of property damage
somewhere in California, but nothing in the way that in these dire
predictions we were hearing. Interestingly, there is - there was a concert
last night in Hayward, California, Lester Chambers had a concert last night
and he dedicated a song to Trayvon Martin. I believe this was actually
before, you know, the verdict was announced. But he dedicated a song and a
white woman came up on the stage and, I guess, started shoving him and was
taken into custody. That`s what the Hayward police told us this morning.
We put in a call out there. So, interesting. That`s maybe the most
MORIAL: Yeah, and I encourage people, we encourage people, you know, as
the civil rights leadership of the 21st century, and I think we encourage
people to express themselves with discipline and responsibility consistent
with our rights under the First Amendment and consistent with the
traditions of Dr. Martin Luther King, now on the 50th anniversary of that
historic march. We also encourage people to join us on August 24th, for
what we`re calling the Civil Rights Continuation March, which is 50 years
after the historic 1963 effort.
Now, Steve, with the Supreme Court decision in the voting rights case, now
with the Trayvon Martin case, this civil rights continuation effort has a
renewed vigor and purpose. So, we`re asking people of all backgrounds to
join us in Washington, D.C. on August 24th when there`s going to be an
historic effort. We do need to express ourselves through social media,
through appropriate means, but we have to remember that this is not over
and that the cause and the quest for justice and civil rights in the 21st
century continues. But we, I think, do not want to discourage expression.
We want to encourage responsible and disciplined expression.
KORNACKI: And the other thing - there was Jelani Cobb writing in "The New
Yorker," talking about this idea of are there - you know, could be violent
protests or anything, and he said you`ll see, you know, riots or anything
like that, if maybe, you know, if you`re expecting one thing and you get
MORIAL: That is part of the - but you see, that`s part of the .
HERRING: That it is part of the problem.
MORIAL: Stereotyping. That it is part of the problem.
HERRING: Stereotyping. We do not think the best of ourselves as
Americans. And for the most part, it was nonviolent last night. Look at
us as Americans and how beautiful we are, and that we believe in healing,
that we believe in getting to the highest potential, we believe in
continuing the civil rights movement. We have to. This is a wake-up call.
What happened to Trayvon, yes, it is similar to Emmett Till .
MORIAL: The civil rights movement in this country historically has been
the hallmark of peaceful protest and expression. And to suggest that and
to continue to harp on that is an effort to discredit the very issues at
WILEY: This goes back to the narrative point you made at the top of the
hour. It should not be news that black people are not rioting.
WILEY: That should not be news.
HERRING: OK. Right.
WILEY: Because OK - Amadou Diallo. White officer is acquitted of shooting
him 19 times, he was unarmed, she was going for his wallet. No riot. Sean
Bell, 23 years old, shot and killed right before his wedding, unarmed. No
riot. We can - death, Rekia Boyd in Chicago, two months after Trayvon
Martin, shot and killed by an off-duty detective, no riot. We have so many
more incidents of not rioting that it should not be news that we`re not
rioting. And it plays into the same narrative that Mr. O`Mara gave us
after this verdict, which is tearing the social fabric of this country
which is that black people are to be feared.
KORNACKI: And the question that I was actually trying to get at with
Jelani - what Jelani Cobb had written, though, was, not so much about, you
know, should we expect violence, but he was basically saying it sounds like
in his mind he was not expecting a positive result.
WILEY: He wasn`t. Yes.
KORNACKI: And then I`m wondering how pervasive - just, in general, how
pervasive that .
WILEY: Jelani and I were on "All In" with Chris and he made this point and
it was - I think it was a very poignant point and it`s worth restating. We
see black people killed who are innocent all the time. I mean, so the idea
that there`s something -- unfortunately and wrongly, that there`s something
new here and, that therefore, there`s going to be eruption by virtue of the
effect of the acquittal alone, ignores that this is a norm for our
community. And this is why I say, do we live in one America? Because I
think the answer is no. We live in two different Americas. Because the
reality for people who are black in this country, and this is why the jury
pool mattered, is very different than the reality for people who are white.
IYER: Right. When you`re talking about, which we`ve all been talking
about is changing the laws. It`s not just stand your ground.
IYER: And since this show started, I believe we`ve decided that we need to
change stand your ground, we need to change that six-juror number in
Florida if it`s not a capital case. Because in most states we all know we
get 12-person juries.
WILEY: Yeah. And when Daryl Parks was on he said to us, well, if it`s a
capital case, it`s 12 people, but every single other case, if it`s a
robbery, if it`s a burglary - I want 12 jurors. And the racial makeup.
KORNACKI: I want to thank Marc Morial, president of National Urban League.
Thanks for coming in today. And Charniele Herring, a member of the
Virginia State House of Delegates and the chair of the Virginia Democratic
We`ll be right back.
HERRING: Thank you.
KORNACKI: Now, I want to bring in MSNBC`s Toure, also a co-host of "The
Cycle," I think you might have heard of that show. Mychal Denzel Smith,
contributor at "The Nation", he`s back with us at the table. I want to
talk a little bit about the reaction from Trayvon Martin. But first, we
were just talking about the idea of, you know, if the jury had been bigger,
if we had 12 instead of six. And Maya, I know, you said during the break a
really interesting point about some research about what happens with just
one -- if you take an all-white jury, if you just add one African-American
to the mix, what happens?
WILEY: Steve, I thought everything I said was really interesting.
TOURE, MSNBC: I agree, I agree. Absolutely.
WILEY: No, seriously, Seema is absolutely right. And I want to reinforce
Seema`s point with science. Because jury matters who is the race of who is
on the jury matters in the outcome. And here`s why. Sarasota and Seminole
Counties, ten years` worth of jury data, over 700 juries, what that
research found is when one black person, one is on a six-member jury, the
number of acquittals of black defendants drops over ten percentage points
and the number of convictions of white defendants increases by 10
percentage points and makes the number of conviction equal by race. In
other words, you don`t see racial differences in convictions and
KORNACKI: Which makes it all -- we were talking about, you know, could the
prosecution have done more to get a more .
KORNACKI: It makes it all the more amazing that .
WILEY: And this is where I`ve seen this also Seema`s point on the number
of jurors is so important and why I asked Mr. Parks that question about the
six-jury member. Because we live in segregated communities, we don`t have
-- the geographic area we`re pulling juries from do not reflect our nation,
do not even reflect our states. And what happens is, if you don`t have
more seats on that jury, you have fewer opportunities to make sure even one
black juror is on that jury. And we know that that influences how people
understand -- because it`s all about how you understand what may have
happened that night.
IYER: And you have that juror in that room explaining to the other jurors,
hey, I`m a black woman. This is my experience.
IYER: This is what it`s like for a young black man walking home alone at
night with candy. You need that. That`s the part of the deliberation
process, I mean, bringing this down to .
WILEY: Credibility of witnesses.
KORNACKI: And it was so interesting to hear Daryl Parks, we had him on
earlier today, and I asked him about, you know, whether there is
limitations, do you think, with the prosecution to do, did it hurt their
case that they couldn`t explicitly making racial profiling a part of this.
And he said, no, not at all, not with an all-white jury.
TOURE: Right. Well, I mean as Maya has been pointing out, that race
doesn`t always function in these overt ways, often it functions in these
covert ways and one of the ways, in which race is all a part of this, we`ve
talked to over and over about the prosecution got out-lawyered. Well, part
of - why did that happen? Because George Zimmerman had an extraordinarily
expensive defense team. It was not the dream team that O.J. had. But he
was represented far above his means, and part of what you get in the
justice system is the amount of justice that you can afford. That sort of
lawyering that you can afford.
And when this became a political football right back in the beginning of
all this, all these people, most of whom, I think, we can assume are on the
right, decided to give him hundreds of thousands of dollars. We don`t know
if it was one or two donors or thousands of donors, but they gave him
hundreds of thousands of dollars, allowing him to afford a Mark O`Mara and
within that, he is able to get representation far greater than he could
IYER: But to be clear - and I have two points to that. You know Mark
O`Mara was working for free. Did you know that? Yeah. I thought that was
out there. So, at some point .
KORNACKI: Mark O`Mara was - did not get money for this?
IYER: Right. This is what happened.
KORNACKI: Was this a publicity? What was the .
IYER: That`s right. That`s what I - that was my second point. And I
thought this was out there, but perhaps, it`s not - yes, at some point Mark
O`Mara wasn`t getting paid. And the problem was - and this is on a
practical level. If you have a private case and you`re getting paid, the
client can no longer afford you, you ask the judge to appoint you and have
the court pay you. But because George Zimmerman had that legal defense
fund with the hundreds of thousands of dollars you`re talking about, the
court couldn`t claim that George Zimmerman was indigent and, therefore, had
that available, that option available to get appointed counsel. So, from
my understanding, O`Mara and, perhaps, Don West, they haven`t been paid for
a very long time. And to your point, yes, of course, it`s for the
WILEY: And he still spent all his money to Toure`s point, though, because
all the bells and whistles, all the -- finding experts, we all know it .
IYER: I think, right. That`s very expensive and that came from the
defense fund, the hundreds of thousands of dollars you`re referring to.
KORNACKI: I`ve been meaning to - I want to get these on the screen and I
want to talk about them a little bit. Because it was last night after the
verdict, there was some tweets from Trayvon Martin`s family that I think
were really kind of moving. This is the first one. There were two from
his father. This is the first one his father did last night. Excuse me,
"God bless me and Sybrina with Tray and even in his death I know my baby
proud of the fight we along with all of you put up for him. God bless."
And the second one, just after that, "Thanks to everyone who are with us
and who will be with us so we together can make sure this doesn`t happen
again." And then (inaudible) was also, I got, this is also from his
father. It was not - also from his father. "Even though I am
brokenhearted, my faith is unshattered. I will always love my baby Tray."
We want to talk about sort of this with the more personal - what the
Martin`s family has been through, and how a family that goes through
something like this, where do they go, what they`ll do - we`ll pick it up
KORNACKI: So, we just - we put the tweets up from Trayvon Martin`s father
last night. And Mychal, it`s just - when I saw those, it just - it just
kind of made me stop and think for a second, just, you know, what that
family has been through for the past year and a half. We`re talking about
maybe pursuing a civil suit now, a civil case. That`s going to take you
indefinitely into the future. There`s still the federal issue overhanging
this and then after that there`s just a whole life and your son`s been
killed and you`ve gone through this, and you`ve watched how he`s been
portrayed by the defense. I just wonder how any family -- I`m just
thinking of this more on a human level, about how any family goes through
this, and how you sort of pick up your life and move on at all.
SMITH: Yeah, and that`s why I want to go back to the point about the
jurors being all white. I would like to get to a point where that all-
white jury could understand the pain of a Tracy Martin and then Sybrina
Fulton and they wouldn`t have to have a black person in the room to explain
to them what it is that they`re going through right now. That is an
unimaginable pain to have your son taken from you in circumstances beyond
his control because someone looked at him and decided that he was a threat
and decided to follow him, to stalk him, and to murder him. And whether,
you know, the courts say that he didn`t murder him, fine, but he killed
that child. And that`s the that`s the pain that those parents are living
with now. And that jury couldn`t relate to.
TOURE: But that`s the racial empathy gap, right, that people have written
about. That we see others who are like us and we feel their pain and
others who are not like us. We don`t feel their pain. And I respect
brother Tracy for wanting this to never happen again, but he knows, we know
this will happen again. I mean, the roll call only grows, Oscar Grant,
Amadou Diallo, Sean Bell, Jordan Davis, Kimani Gray, Iana jones (ph) and we
could all add other names .
SMITH: Rekia Boyd.
TOURE: Yeah, I mean the roll call grows and it will continue to grow.
This cannot be stopped as long as we have the police brutality level we
have, the empathy gap we have, the inherent shooter bias that we have and
so many people in this country who are armed as we talk about on "The
Cycle," so many people who take the law into their own hands because they
are armed. And not just where there is stand your ground, but just, you
know, other places where they have similar statutes that they don`t call
that, but at the same - same effects.
WILEY: There`s something that`s really important to say. If you watch
other stations, not MSNBC, but other stations, the conversation is about
race baiting. The conversation is, and you ask the questions to Mr. Crump
and Mr. Parks. It`s being challenged. We saw Mr. O`Mara do it yesterday.
It`s saying, race baiters. So when our children die .
SMITH: . race baiter.
WILEY: Yeah, it`s who are the race baiters? The race baiters .
IYER: What does that mean?
WILEY: So it`s -- because what`s happening is we`re saying race no longer
matters, that black kid was violent.
KORNACKI: Right. And let`s --
TOURE: And let`s - but that`s actually .
WILEY: But that`s, I mean .
TOURE: Or that, well, George Zimmerman had race, right, because - to have
- to be white is - not to have race, so George Zimmerman was raced, so ergo
that cancels each -- I find that race a lot of times is like the weather.
That people think about it when the weather events are extreme, but the
weather is constant and race is constantly part of almost everything .
KORNACKI: You mentioned Daryl Parks and we interviewed him earlier. And
actually, I do want to go back to something he said on the show. This is -
in-show flashback here. But let`s just play, this was Daryl Parks talking
about how the defense portrayed Trayvon Martin.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PARKS: I don`t want to call Mark O`Mara a racist, but I will say this, I
really believe that he made it - he made it his point to portray this young
black man as a young, black thug, right? And there`s a picture in there
that shows Trayvon Martin from an upward position. The camera`s pointed
upward, right, as if he`s some shirtless thug on the streets, right? And
so that was the image that they wanted to portray. They slid that picture
in over the state`s objection at the last minute, right? And the court let
it in. I think that was totally wrong. Totally wrong because it started
to create the wrong image. That in their minds, they probably could never
identify with that man that they saw in the picture in this case.
KORNACKI: And Maya, it really seems like -- you talked earlier about, you
know, sort of the way profiling happens .
KORNACKI: That`s from the brain science of it. And the defense was trying
to get the white jury to profile Trayvon Martin the same way that .
WILEY: There is a social, psychological term for this in the research.
And it`s called priming. When you -- you can prime an image of a black
person as a criminal that will increase the implicit bias of the viewer.
You can prime in a way that reduces the implicit bias. This is my point.
Is we don`t have to live this way. There are actually - are ways to solve
this, but we don`t solve this unless we recognize, one, it exists and that
it`s not as simple as saying, oh, you`re a racist, you are not a racist.
It`s actually understanding that we are all victims of a media that is
constantly priming us with images of dangerous black kids.
IYER: And let`s not forget that -- I think we`ve all forgotten about
IYER: I think the defense was doing this - absolute jump of this trial.
When Rachel Jeantel got on the stand, Don West was talking to her like she
was an alien.
IYER: And that young lady was consistently authentic, consistently honest.
And she stood her ground under a very brutal and long cross-examination.
SMITH: You know, all credit to M. Parks for not calling O`Mara a racist,
but he trafficked in the exact racist ideology that renders blackness a
threat in this country. He did it consistently. He and his team did it
consistently. And that`s what got George Zimmerman off.
KORNACKI: And so, Toure, first word after the break.
KORNACKI: Just like old times in "The Cycle," Toure was trying to talk and
I cut him off.
TOURE: That will happen, but I want to underline Mychal`s point, which is
excellent, the test that we get nowadays, are you racist, which means are
you racist all day long, is a totally false test that anybody can knock
down. But in this moment are you doing things to perpetuate white
supremacy and utilize white privilege? That test is much more effective in
determining what`s going on, are you working with the tools of racism, but
when I look at Trayvon, who lived 16 years and a couple of weeks, right, he
was a child. And talking to people about he was a child, so many people
are saying to me, stop it. He wasn`t a child. He was bad. He was this.
He was that. And that`s the way that we don`t get to be children, right?
That we get to be man children, right, man-child in the promised land,
right, that we are old before our years, right. And even his innocence was
taken and his family had to work so hard to restore his innocence .
TOURE: . after George Zimmerman took it away, the police took it away, and
now the justice system .
KORNACKI: And the prosecutor - so much was made of the rebuttal from the
prosecution after the defense made its final arguments, and it was John
Guy, and the rebuttal who was playing up, you know, the idea of Trayvon was
a child. And using that term over and over again, and it didn`t - it
didn`t break through with the jury.
WILEY: Oh, but - there`s something problematic, though, about this, even
though we`ve all done it, which is if he was 50 years old why would this be
TOURE: Well, of course.
WILEY: I mean if he was 50 - there`s a 50-year old 51-year-old black man
killed in Washington State. Once again, no riot. He was innocent. He was
unarmed. He didn`t do anything wrong. He was shot dead. He was 51. So,
it`s not just age.
TOURE: If a man - if a man started following me, I would feel enough
efficacy to face him and say, why are you following me? A 16, 17-year-old
would perhaps freak out, and I`m running.
WILEY: But my point is, I don`t - I agree with you in terms of he`s the 28
- I tell my kids if someone is messing with you on the playground. They
live in Brooklyn, in public school.
WILEY: And if someone is messing with you on the playground you will not
get in trouble with me if you defend yourself .
WILEY: . but defending yourself does not mean you get to stand your
ground. You have to do everything in your power -- but if it`s a 15-year-
old against my nine-year-old, she`s in a different situation, which is I
think what you`re saying. George Zimmerman is the 28-year-old .
WILEY: . had more of an obligation. But the one thing I want to come back
to this point. A, if black people of all ages should be presumed innocent,
it shouldn`t just be about age. And this is part of - part of why we keep
- I think and part of why the prosecution kept trying to reinforce the
issue of his age, it`s because they had to undermine that implicit bias of
scariness. And they were - and they were using age to try to say how can
you - but what does it say .
TOURE: Because we .
Because we`re implicitly, frightening, right, the black body emanates fear
and then we have to live with that, we have to deal with that. And so
people want to kill us, to cage us, because the fear, the anxiety that
flows out of our bodies.
KORNACKI: I hate to say it, but I have got to cut it off. I want to thank
Maya Wiley, the Center for Social Inclusion, MSNBC`s Toure, co-host of "The
Cycle, Mychal Denzel Smith, contributor at "The Nation" and Seema Iyer, a
legal contributor to Arise News. Sorry for getting that wrong. Thanks for
getting up, and thank you all for joining us at home. We will be back next
weekend, Saturday and Sunday at 8:00 A.M. Eastern time.
Coming up next, is Melissa Harris-Perry with more analysis and coverage of
the continuing reaction to the Zimmerman verdict. That`s Melissa Harris-
Perry, she is coming up next. And MSNBC will have continuing coverage of
the verdict, the aftermath and more throughout the day.
We`ll see you next week here on "UP."
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY
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