July 14, 2013
Guests: Bill Daley, Michael Skolnik, Maya Wiley, Salamishah Tillet, Jelani
Cobb, Seema Iyer Benjamin Crump
MELISSA HARRIS-PERRY, MSNBC ANCHOR: He is not guilty of manslaughter in
the killing of Trayvon Martin. George Zimmerman is now a free man after
this scene played out late last night in the courtroom.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: In the circuit court of the 18th judicial circuit in
and for Seminole County, Florida, state of Florida versus George Zimmerman.
Verdict, we the jury find George Zimmerman t guilty.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: Good morning. I`m Melissa Harris-Perry.
And we have a lot to get to over the course of the program this morning.
But I want to put one thing on the table first.
As people mobilize, as activists made their voices heard and demanded
action following the legal system inaction in the initial aftermath of the
killing of Trayvon Martin, the goal was to ensure that the system worked
through the proper process. That the killing of an unarmed 17-year-old
black child did not go uninvestigated and unprosecuted.
So now, the first part of that system has played out. The jury has
returned a verdict of not guilty, a verdict we will respect. But now, we
must grapple with what that verdict means. We must grieve the reality that
no one has yet been held accountable for the violent lost of Sybrina Fulton
and Tracy Martin`s child. We must confront as generations have done before
us the stark realities of race, violence and justice.
And in just a few moments we are going to speak with Benjamin Crump, the
attorney for Trayvon Martin`s family.
As we get started in our coverage this morning of the verdict in trial of
George Zimmerman, I want to bring in MSNBC`s Craig Melvin who has been
covering the trial in Sanford, Florida.
Craig, describe for me, if you will, the scene of the courthouse last
CRAIG MELVIN, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT: Last night starkly different from what
we`re seeing now, last night as the verdict was read Melissa Harris-Perry,
as we got word the verdict was about to be read, there was a hush that fell
over the crowd just a few feet behind me. That hush that fell over the
crowd and quickly subsided after the verdict was read.
As you can see there, just moments after the verdict came down, people
begin chanting. There was some singing as well. One of the chants that we
heard most prominently, no justice, no peace.
But I can tell you and I`m proud to report that the demonstrations are
peaceful, they were orderly, they were no harass, you know, a lot of folks
have been predicting that there might be civil unrest. That did not happen
At one point two of the camps were screaming to each other. But besides
that, there was nothing to speak of. I told you Mayor Jeff Triplet. The
mayor triplet of course, the mayor of Sanford, Florida.
I talked to him probably about 30 minutes ago because I wanted to find out
whether that was the case around Sanford as well. He told me yes,
absolutely, no reports of any civil unrest, any civil disobedience. The
folks who did protest, the folks who did demonstrate did so again in an
orderly fashion. All right, is right on the surface right now on the
surface in Sanford in that regard. No demonstrators -- go ahead, Melissa.
HARRIS-PERRY: So, I want to ask you, you know, I guess I had angst about
the idea that they were going to be angry outburst, what I saw, just as I
was kind of looking at the footage, but u want to hear from you, was not so
much anger, although I`m sure that people feel angry, but a kind of
overwhelming grief like what I saw was people`s faces look strained and
pained. And obviously, grief can sometimes lead to anger as well. But,
I`m just wondering sort of how you read like that overall sense of mood
MELVIN: We saw people crying. I saw a few folks crying as well when I
went over last night. And that was something that didn`t surprise us but
it was something that caught our attention because of its all the chanting,
all the screaming, all the singing, all the fist pumping, there were a
number of people where as you said, had their heads bowed. And there were
also some praying going on as well.
One of the things, Melissa Harris-Perry, I do want to note here because you
guys are probably will talk about it at some point during the course of the
show, one of the things that we have found out in the past 12 hours or so
is that these jurors, the six women who decide George Zimmerman`s fate,
they decided last that they would not talk to the media, not collectively,
not individually either.
We have also have been made aware that the media is not, at this point, not
allowed to reach out to them either so, this by order of Judge Nelson.
There is this anonymity order that will be on effect for a while. So,
theoretically, it is possible we may never know precisely how these jurors
reach the decision they reached.
HARRIS-PERRY: Thank you to MSNBC`s Craig Melvin in Sanford, Florida. You
have been there on the ground for us for weeks now. Thank you for your
MELVIN: Thank you.
HARRIS-PERRY: I want to brow the panel with me in the studio this morning.
Attorney Lisa Bloom is our MSNBC legal analyst. She followed the trial, as
you know, step by step. Joy-Ann Reid is an MSNBC contributor, Seema Iyer
is a criminal defense attorney and former prosecutors in the Bronx D.A.
office and Michael Skolnik, editor in chief of globalgrind.com. Michael is
a founding board member of the Trayvon Martin foundation and he is adviser
to the Martin Family.
Folks, Lisa, let me just start with you because I`ve been watching your
reporting of this. You and I were on last night. Did the jury, these six
people, did they make a point that reasonable given the prosecution`s case
and defense case.
LISA BLOOM, MSNBC LEGAL ANALYST: So, when I was brought in by this network
to do this special project of looking at this case, my only assignment was
to follow the evidence and report accurately on the evidence. And I was
prepared to call it like I saw it. If this was a self defense case, I was
prepared to say, look, this is how the evidence turned out. George
Zimmerman is entitled to presumption of innocence, burden of proof. And
there were point in the trial when I would make the claim this is a good
day for the defense. And then, some people would not be happy with things
I was saying.
But then, there came a point about a week ago where I took time over the
July fourth holiday weekend to review the evidence myself that had come in
to the trial, especially George Zimmerman`s re-enactment video where he
described the placement of the gun behind him. And I looked at the holster
which was black and the gun that was black and it was a dark night and it
was inside his pants behind him. And it started to dawn on me that the
evidence and prosecution were diverging. And the evidence was going in one
direction and the prosecution was going in another direction. And I
started talking about that on the air and others started to take notice of
that, too. And by closing argument there was such a surprising number of
choices that were made by the prosecution that I had never seen in another
murder case and I`ve covered hundreds of them in the last dozen or so
There`s almost a script to get followed. Defense predicatively is going to
talk about reasonable doubt and hammer reasonable doubt. That`s what
defense attorneys do. I don`t fault them for that. That`s their job. The
prosecution needs to put the case away, connect the dots, connect the
evidence to the theory of the case. The prosecution didn`t do that here.
JOY-ANN REID, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: They never created a theory of the
BLOOM: They never created a theory of the case. And instead they asked a
lot of questions in closing arguments. They said things like well, you
know, the evidence, you know, essentially, you figure it out. And I was
really astounded at that. I still have no enough explanation for why that
happened. And so, the outcome to me was entirely predictable. But I want
to emphasize, in my opinion not based on the evidence.
HARRIS-PERRY: But based on the case.
HARRIS-PERRY: Trayvon Martin`s parents, Tracy Martin and Sybrina Fulton
were not in the courtroom when the verdict was read. But the father
tweeted this in response.
Even though I`m brokenhearted, my faith is un-shattered. I will always
love my baby Tray. Also, thanks to everyone who are with us and who will
be with us, together we can make sure this doesn`t happen again. Also, God
bless me and Sybrina with Tray. And even in his death, I know my baby is
proud of the fight we, along with all of you, put up for him. God bless.
Joining me now from Sanford, Florida is Benjamin Crump, attorney for
Trayvon Martin`s family.
Mr. Crump, what is the latest you can tell us about the family.
BENJAMIN CRUMP, TRAYVON MARTIN`S FAMILY ATTORNEY: Obviously last night,
Melissa, they were heartbroken as any parent would be. And I just talked
to Sybrina and Tracy, literally moments before I got on air with you. And
actually, they have renewed my energy. Sybrina said something I thought
was so profound. She said even though we got the verdict last night, we`ve
come a long way but yet we`ve got a long way to go. And she says a lot of
people said that was the worst thing that could have happened to us with
this verdict. And she said, no, the worst thing happened February 26th,
Last night was a decision made by six people on a jury but that does not
define their son Trayvon Martin. They are going to define the legacy of
their child. And I thought that was so encouraging because you watch her
and Mr. Martin from the beginning of this, how devastated they were. They
still were dignified and graceful. And they have continued to grow in the
roll of trying to teach people how to grieve appropriately and responsibly
even in the face of just horrific circumstances.
HARRIS-PERRY: Sybrina Fulton and Mr. Martin, Tracy Martin, have been --
the extent to which they have been holding up the rest of us when they are,
in fact, the grieving parents is extraordinary. And it has repeatedly put
me in mind of the Mamie Till, the mother of Emmett Till who in the context
of her own grieving launched a social movement, allowed her son`s death to
have greater meaning for decades. And yet it seems such an unfair role for
a parent to have to play.
What is the next step for this family as they again do this amazing work of
making meaning out of their son`s life and death?
CRUMP: Melissa, it`s interesting you ask me that, because I know Joy Reid
had talked to Sybrina a lot. And just moments ago she said attorney Crump,
we have to now just roll up our sleeves and we have got a call to action to
move forward. And she talked about how we can peacefully protest to make
sure this doesn`t happen to anybody else`s child. And we talked about
Reverend Sharpton and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.`s son, Martin III,
celebrating the 50th anniversary of the great march on Washington and the
notion that they are going to focus a lot on Trayvon Martin and the
criminal justice system as it relates to our young people and how Tracy and
Sybrina are going to be there with them and want to get as many people
there as possible so the department of justice will see that we are still
screaming out for justice for Trayvon an unknown Trayvons.
HARRIS-PERRY: Benjamin crump, attorney for Trayvon Martin`s family.
Thanks so much for reminding us that grief may be reasonable but despair is
unacceptable when this family refuses to be in despair. Thank you.
CRUMP: Thank you.
HARRIS-PERRY: And up next a closer look at this case and also the role of
race in this case. I`m going to bring my panel in. What if George
Zimmerman was an African-American man? That was his attorney actually
asked that question last night.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MARK O`MARA, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: I think that things would have been
different if George Zimmerman was black for this reason, he never would
have been charged with a crime. For those that condemn Mr. Zimmerman as
quickly and as viciously as they did would have taken just a little bit of
time to find out whom it was they were condemning, it would never have
happened. It certainly wouldn`t have happened if he was black, because
those people who decided that they were going to make him the scapegoat
would not have.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: Yes, you heard that correctly. That was defense attorney
Mark O`Mara after a not guilty verdict was handed down in the trial of his
client, George Zimmerman, the client who if he was black, O`Mara claim
would not have been charged with the crime after being shot and killed
unarmed 17-year-old Trayvon Martin.
Joining our discussion is Adam Serwer, a reporter from MSNBC.com.
Thanks for being here, Adam.
ADAM SERWER, REPORTER, MSNBC.COM: Thank you for having me.
HARRIS-PERRY: Let me (INAUDIBLE) the table first. I want -- whatever one
can say about this case, a vigorous defense was put on by Mark O`Mara and
SEEMA IYER, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: That`s correct. But your defense
depends on your prosecution. Now, here is the cross of the case that I was
question from the beginning. In real life I`ve been doing this for 20
years so, that`s my basis for making this statement. In prosecutors do not
put into too evidence exculpatory statement, meaning statements where the
defendant says I`m not guilty in their case in chief. This prosecution in
total put about seven statements where George Zimmerman while there were
inconsistencies between the statements essentially was saying I didn`t do
it and I was defending myself.
Now, to get the self-defense instruction to the jury there has to be a
foundation in evidence to support that. That was the support. What the
prosecution should have done and what most prosecutors in this country do,
you force the defendant`s hand. You don`t put the statements into
evidence. If he wanted the self-defense charge, he would have had to
testify. If he testified that one statement on the stand would have
somehow contradicted the other seven, he would have been confronted with
those statements, the video, the interview, the re-enactment, confronted
with those inconsistencies, impeached by those. Additionally, I just
really want to hone in on those. They would have made him get on the
HARRIS-PERRY: Not those dummies but him.
IYER: And it could have made him scream. That was a crucial issue. And
they would have confronted him with this, didn`t you take a class and get
an A and you knew what stand your ground was. So I knew, Melissa, I knew
at that point this could happen.
HARRIS-PERRY: And Adam, I want to come to you because you, too, you have
been following this for MSNBC.com. I have been reading your report on it
as much as I was watching Lisa in terms of her on air reporting.
As we look at this defense versus the prosecution, and then, of course, the
decision made by the six jurors, I want to be so careful because I keep
feeling like the easy thing is to say these six jurors are horrible people.
They don`t care if Trayvon Martin was killed or not. And instead, what I
want to do is back up to this case itself and ask about these failures in
the prosecution or at least what seemed like to those of us who are lay
people, what seemed like prosecution, vigorousness of the defense and
willingness of the defense in multiple points to play the race card.
So, I want to ask you quite specifically about Rachel Jeantel and about the
role you think that played in the ultimate decision of this jury.
SERWER: Well, look. I don`t know -- I would like to emphasize that the
jury didn`t have to necessarily believe George Zimmerman`s version of the
events. All they have to believe is the state did not sufficiently prove
what happened in the four minutes between the end of the police
dispatcher`s call and the moment that Trayvon Martin was shot.
And Rachel Jeantel was meant to fill in that four minutes, you know, by
saying when her phone call concluded with Trayvon Martin and he was saying,
get off, and someone was attacking him. And for whatever reason, the jury
did not or appears to not have believed her testimony.
But I just want to emphasize that the issue is not that the jury
necessarily believed George Zimmerman, it`s that they did not feel the
prosecution sufficiently proved their version of events is what occurred.
HARRIS-PERRY: Joy, what do you make of Mark O`Mara`s statement that if
Trayvon Martin`s killer were black, he would not have been charged?
REID: Yes, but you know, when he said that, I was actually really shocked.
I had a visceral reaction to it. Because let`s just play out that scenario
and let`s go along with his claim. A black man, 28-years-old, spots a
white teenager walking through a gated community and starts following him
in his SUV.
HARRIS-PERRY: Let`s leave Trayvon Martin black because they didn`t ask if
Trayvon Martin had been white.
HARRIS-PERRY: So, he is saying, and on this, I`m not -- this is not
completely inaccurate, that when a black man kills another black man that
the public discourse around that is often silent because of our sense of
acceptance of that. That`s not what I heard O`Mara saying, but in that one
sense, that seems not wrong.
REID: Well, you are more generous than I am because I`m cynical. Because
my thought is -- OK, let`s say they are both black. Now, they are both
black and this 28-year-old man shoots dead this black teenager. The only
difference here, it`s not that he wouldn`t have been arrested. He would
stem be arrested, tried, adjudicated to the system. Black men who should
people go to prison. They get arrested that night and get drug tested when
the police get there. They get their handcuffed behind their back. They
don`t walk into a police station un-cuffed, how are you doing, as if they
are colleagues of the police officers rather than the defendant. They
actually will bag and tag the person on the ground. They will tag their
hands; they will do a complete forensic investigation.
In this case the only person who had a drug test done on them was the dead
victim, it was not George Zimmerman. George Zimmerman eventually sat in
the back of the police car waiting for a second officer to come, was taken
to the police office, walked freely do the station. This someone who
admitted to discharging his firearm and killing someone, he was essentially
immediately treated as the victim. If all the defendant black, detective
Serino, would not have gone house to house saying to people, you heard
George Zimmerman screaming, right? Now black George Zimmerman. That was
George Zimmerman you heard. He imposed that upon the people he supposedly
questioned. He questioned George Zimmerman and said I want to help you
out. How can I help you? You got to help me. Make me understand this.
HARRIS-PERRY: And that`s not what black George Zimmerman would have
HARRIS-PERRY: I`m going to get you as soon as we come back, I promise.
And coming up, more on the defense`s reaction to the verdict -- talk with
Reverend Al Sharpton and bring in Michael Skolnik when we come back.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DON WEST, ZIMMERMAN DEFENSE ATTORNEY: I think the prosecution of George
Zimmerman was disgraceful. I am gratified by the jury`s verdict as happy
as I am for George Zimmerman. I`m thrilled that this jury kept this
tragedy from becoming a travesty, but it makes me sad, too, that it took
this long under these circumstances to finally get justice.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: That was defense attorney Don West last night after the jury
handed down a not guilty verdict for his client George Zimmerman, a verdict
in the trial it seems he believes should never have taken place.
Joining me now by phone is Reverend Al Sharpton of the national action
network and host of "Politics Nation" here on MSNBC.
Reverend Sharpton, what is your response to the idea that it was shameful
or somehow problematic that George Zimmerman was tried in the killing of
REVEREND AL SHARPTON, MSNBC ANCHOR, POLITICS NATION (via phone): You know,
Melissa, I think more than anything I heard since the verdict, that is the
most troubling. Because what you`re really saying is that you have a young
male who committed no crime, had no weapon, and he was killed and how dare
you even question us.
I mean, we`re talking like we`re not in the `50s, we`re talking like we`re
in the 19th century. Because what he`s saying is you should just take our
word for it. He`s dead. The guy told you the story. So what there`s five
or six inconsistencies, don`t question us. Because what else are you
saying when you say don`t have a trial.
For people to have a trial is to examine what was said. When we examined
what was said, we found out that the things the police accepted in Sanford
were wrong. They were absolutely wrong. There were no injuries that were
life threatening or threatening bodily harm. There was no reaching for and
grabbing the gun because there was no DNA evidence. So, what they had let
George Zimmerman go on was wrong. And rather than them saying that my
client gives condolences to the family. He was wrong about Trayvon`s
character, he`s going to reprimand us for question in how did I kill him.
It was the most elegant display I`ve seen of don`t question me.
HARRIS-PERRY: So, speaking of which, you still have the opportunities to -
- there is still in the system, two more opportunities for questioning
HARRIS-PERRY: Reverend Sharpton, are you still with us?
Reverend Sharpton, are you still with us? We may have lost that
Thank you to Reverend Sharpton.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He said he`s there. Hello?
HARRIS-PERRY: Hi, I`m sorry. We seem to be having trouble getting
Reverend Sharpton on here. OK.
So, what I want to do is come to you, Michael. That notion that there was
no right -- when I say we here, the family, I mean, the population at
large, I mean, the media having a right to ask how did this child end up
MICHAEL SKOLNIK, EDITOR IN-CHIEF, GLOBALGRIND.COM: Here is a civil rights
issue, OK? George Zimmerman killed Trayvon Martin February 2012.
HARRIS-PERRY: there is no question about that.
SKOLNIK: No question, OK? They believed him. The police believed George
Zimmerman. Trayvon Martin was six houses away from where he was staying,
and he was put in the morgue as a John Doe (ph). No one in the police
department -- a 12-year-old child was playing video games in the home of
the girlfriend of his father`s fiance and no one -- no police officer even
thought to knock door to door to say did this child live here.
So, George Zimmerman has rights, so as Trayvon Martin and that`s the civil
rights issue. It`s not the issue of whether he gets arrested, the issue
protecting the rights of Trayvon Martin. So, questioning this, I saw one
of my heroes on television just 10 minutes ago, Ben Crump, another hero,
Reverend Sharpton, there was no ambulance February 26th, 2012. These men
came to Sanford, Florida, to protect the rights of an American child and we
followed in their suit and marched with them and protested with them and
stood with them with Sybrina and Tracy because Trayvon Martin has rights
protected by our U.S. constitution. Sorry to -- I know I said that.
HARRIS-PERRY: No, no. In one of his fights -- this is the piece that I
kept not understanding why the prosecution didn`t make this case. Doesn`t
Trayvon Martin have the right -- he is walking with his bag of skittles.
He is walking home. It is raining. It is dark. He is being followed by
an armed stranger. This is an armed stranger who we have absolute
empirical evidence is willing to use lethal force against him. If in these
four minutes that are unaccounted for, if in those four minutes unaccounted
for Trayvon Martin was, in fact, having fisticuffs with George Zimmerman,
why is that not his absolute right to self-defense as an American citizen.
He is being followed by a stranger who is not a law enforcement officer who
is armed, who is willing to kill them.
REID: And by the way, can I say the castle doctrine where stand your
ground emanates from states if you`re in your castle, which they said to
your car or on your property, remember, he is 60 yards from his castle, so
according to castle doctrine if he shot George Zimmerman in theory he would
have stand your ground case because he is now in a place he is allowed to
be, that`s for stand your ground law, some place he does not have any duty
to flee from. And that he didn`t have a duty to flee from George
Zimmerman. So, if he shot him and killed him and it was his words against
the dead George Zimmerman, theoretically he would have a stand your ground
HARRIS-PERRY: It doesn`t work for black defendants.
I`m sorry. We have breaking news that we have to bring to you. Members of
Trayvon Martin family are speaking outside in the Antioch Missionary
Baptist church in Miami gardens, Florida right now. Let`s listen.
My heart is heavy. Also feel I`m very proud of the Trayvon Martin
movement. All tragedies are converted to a good and positive nature.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE REPORTER: What`s your name and relationship to the
MILTON FELTON, TRAYVON MARTIN`S RELATIVE: Milton Felton. I`m a cousin of
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: F-e-l-t-o-n.
ROBERTA FELTON, TRAYVON MARTIN`S RELATIVE: Good morning, I`m Roberta
Felton. Actually, we`re the Felton family, OK? And we are very concerned
and very hurt and very disappointed at this point, but we know in the end
God will prevail and he will -- justice will be served. And we just keep
everybody in their prayers.
Just remember, Trayvon, as Sybrina always said, could have been your son,
could have been my baby, could have been anyone in America`s baby, just
walking to the store and coming back with skittles and iced tea. Things do
happen in life but sometimes it`s not fair. It`s just not.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE REPORTER: Have you lost your faith in the justice
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No comment.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE REPORTER: Can I ask a question -- (INAUDIBLE)
ROBERTA FELTON: A lot. That`s why we`re able to stand here and speak
because we know that somehow and some way God is going -- everything is
going to be taken care of.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE REPORTER: At this point you`re speaking about peace.
What would you like to see? You`re proud of this Trayvon support, what
would you like to see come of it from this point forward?
MILTON FELTON: Well, to make sure that the tragedy has happened this time
to not happen again. They are not the first time this has happened. This
trigger that did the movement to come forth.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE REPORTER: Do you want awareness spread?
MILTON FELTON: Awareness. Anything in which we can help our children in a
family to not go through this.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE REPORTER: Where is Sybrina this morning?
ROBERTA FELTON: No comment.
MILTON FELTON: No comment.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: How is she doing?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: How would you expect her to be doing? Put it like
IESHA FELTON, TRAYVON MARTIN`S RELATIVE: Hi, my name is Iesha Felton. And
it is I-E-S-H-A F-E-L-T-O-N. As my family has said, this has definitely
been a tragedy. But coming from you this tragedy has been the movement,
which we are and we would love there to be more awareness. And now, it is
not just a few people in Sanford that know about it but it`s everyone, you
So, we are proud of that and we just keep our faith. That`s what`s going
to keep us strong and keep us peaceful. So we have peace in our spirit and
peace in our mind so we can just continue on. But, we don`t want this to
happen to anyone else again. There`s no reason for this to happen to any
other families. No one should have to go through this. Thank you.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE REPORTER: Do you have any comment or advice for young
people in your community, especially the young people who might find
themselves in this situation as Trayvon did? Do you want to say anything
IESHA FELTON: Well, I think a lot of the young people at this moment may
be feeling very burdened like we all are. But they have to stand strong on
their faith and know god has it. No matter what, he has it. We give it to
him. We give our burdens to him. So just stand strong and be peaceful and
stand strong and hold one another up.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE REPORTER: What relationship?
IESHA FELTON: Cousin.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE REPORTER: How old are you, Miss Felton?
IESHA FELTON: 35.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE REPORTER: Talk to me about what -- (INAUDIBLE) what
Trayvon meant to you.
IESHA FELTON: Say that again.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE REPORTER: What did it feel like inside (INAUDIBLE)
IESHA FELTON: It`s sadness. Everybody -- there is truly a burden. It`s
been a tragedy. So, you can feel the sadness of people, but you can also
feel the strength of the community coming together to hold one another up.
So it`s -- but it`s a burden. It`s sadness. You feel the strength. You
feel their faith and our faith.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE REPORTER: Can I ask you a question?
MILTON FELTON: Sure.
HARRIS-PERRY: We have been listening to members of the Trayvon Martin`s
family who were speaking outside of their church. Clearly some sort of
community activity going on there, everyone in their Miami heat jerseys. I
want to bring back in Adam. We`ve been discussing the not guilty verdict
handed down last night in the George Zimmerman trial in the killing of
Adam, I want to ask you, there was a particularly painful and revealing
moment there. I think it`s the aunt. We don`t have all the information
who was asked do you believe in the justice system. She became silent and
then said no comment. Then the next aunt stood up and said our faith rests
in god, in the belief there`s a higher power that will make things better
here. I just -- I felt -- I`ve heard this so often, the sense I cannot
trust my nation, the best I can do is trust my God, and yet it feels so
insufficient on this day.
SERWER: Yes. When -- I noticed that when she said that as well. I mean,
we can talk about reasonable doubt. We can talk about justifiable use of
force in the context as legal concepts. All due respect to attorney Mark
O`Mara, you know, the history of the criminal justice system in the United
States is not one that`s shown a lot of leniency towards African-American
men. And when you go back there`s not a lot reasonable and justifiable
HARRIS-PERRY: Thank you.
Seema, let me bring you here in part because the justice system has a big
story to tell here, part of it is about the prosecutors and from the
defense and the juries. The other part is the American legislative
exchange council, ALEC, that is responsible in part responsible for Stand
Your Ground laws.
Now, let`s be clear, George Zimmerman did not present a stand your ground
defense. But that certainly seems to be part of why, as you point out,
Michael, the police believed and were able to let him go. How do we begin
to think of the justice tem in the broadest sense so that it is not just
about having faith in it but actually shaping, changing the laws themselves
that lead to these tragedies.
IYER: Well, I do want to just take off on the point of the earlier
statement we`re going to leave it in God`s hands. And this is something
that every day you hear from clients and from people who have lost resolve.
And my response is, unless God has a law degree, he`s not going to help you
because now, you have to just trust me and let me do my job.
And I`m so saddened that these relatives are just -- they have just let it
go. They are just putting it in God`s hands. We shouldn`t respect the
jury`s verdict. And to your point you`re saying, OK, now, what can be
done? It`s not just Stand Your Ground law that has given us this tragic
verdict. It`s also the rule of the six jurors. That`s an essential
problem that happened in Florida.
HARRIS-PERRY: Instead of having 12.
IYER: Right. So, just to be clear, in Florida it is a 12-person jury but
only for capital cases. In most states, we have 12-person juries for all
felonies, whether it is a robbery or burglary. And again, this other
component that needs to be changed is the racial makeup. There needs to be
more parameters on how we can get a racially representative jury, because
the way that you pick a jury, you pick one by one by one. So now all of a
sudden I have six white people.
HARRIS-PERRY: And of course, that`s part of the ALEC piece too is that
their voting restriction packages that go around, keep people out of the
voter pool and out of the voter pool, you end about.
I promise we have got so much more.
Thank you to Seema Iyer. The rest are all back a little bit later.
Up next, do not believe the hype. The reaction has been peaceful and it is
not a shock or surprise. We have more on all of this as soon as we`re
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I`m sad and disappointed. And I think it speaks to the
value we place on young black men in our country. And it`s a very sad, sad
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: Yesterday on this program we talked about fear mongering we
were hearing from some corners about the possibility of race riots in the
wake of a verdict. This time so far as we know, there are only peaceful
protests outside the court in Sanford, Florida and the streets of San
Francisco, California and other cities across the country.
But, what action should we see as a nation in order for us to move forward?
At the table now, Toure, co-host of "the Cycle," Joy-Ann Reid, MSNBC
contributor, Father Bill Dailey, lecturer in law in Notre Dame law school,
and Michael Skolnik, an advisor to Trayvon Martin`s family, also Adam
Serwer, a reporter for MSNBC.com.
Father, I want to start with you because you were initially booked to be on
the show because we were going to have a conversation about Texas and about
abortion and about right to life. And I want to have a respectful
conversation with somebody with deep convictions on the question of life.
Now this conversation has turned so different but is still about whether or
not we have in this country any actual deep conviction to the question of
life. Like I kept hearing it all week around women`s reproductive life but
I feel like where is the outrage on the death of this child?
BILL DAILEY, LECTURER OF LAW, NOTRE DAME: Well, as we were speaking before
the break or during the break, one of the things you have to feel on a day
like today is the inadequacy of the criminal legal system to come to a
satisfactory result. I can understand as a lawyer and a person who teaches
the law of evidence how a jury came to a verdict of not guilty. As we were
saying, my guess is in that jury room, they probably felt something other
than George Zimmerman isn`t guilty. They may have felt the prosecution
didn`t prove I case and those are different -- quite different statements.
There`s a deep dissatisfaction if you think as a legal matter, sterile
matter maybe the jury did its job but not a satisfactory result given what
happened that night. Of course a trial that began with an ill considered
knock knock joke is being very kind to don west, as the attorney. When you
begin a profound trial about profound matters making a joke about the
jurors and at the jurors` expense, but even setting that aside, to begin a
murder trial over the death of a 17-year-old with a joke tells you just how
profoundly unsatisfying from start to finish this trial was going to be.
HARRIS-PERRY: Right. When there`s no question there is a dead unarmed 17-
year-old and your client did, in fact, shoot him. Now, there may be a
question about whether or not that constitutes murder or a killing, but
there is no doubt that is not in dispute.
Toure, as we try to move forward, as the people took to the streets in San
Francisco and Philadelphia and other places last night, how do you read
that taking to the streets? Is it an expression of sadness, we will keep
moving forward, I can`t stand to be alone in my apartment while this is
happening, I must be with other people? How to you read that
TOURE, MSNBC HOST, THE CYCLE: I think all of those suggestions are
probably right for different people. I think different people are marching
for different reasons. It`s valuable obviously they were marching
peacefully in a disciplined way. I had zero expectation they would be
rioting, I mean. What a ridiculous right wing mean that we were animals
that would take to the street and loot in response to this. I mean, talk
That is race-baiting and using this sort of myth of our animal nature
against us. We`re not shocked here. We are hurt. We are damaged and we
are taken back to Emmett Till and taken back to (INAUDIBLE), and on and on,
but we`re not shocked. We knew this was possible from the beginning. We
waited 45 days for an arrest. So surely, we knew the not guilty verdict
was possible. And it is the bitterest of pills. I`m numb and hurt and
crying inside but I`m not surprised. I am not surprised that my people,
white and black and Asian marched peacefully and demonstrated peacefully.
That`s what we had to do. You know what I imagine will happen, this hyper
partisan divide we have to do. But you know what, I imagine what happened
if this hyper part of the needy divide we have. They we find some incident
that has nothing to do with this and say, look, the store got broken into,
that was related to the Trayvon Martin verdict.
HARRIS-PERRY: Joy, I want to pick out those victorious singer that I think
is really important ad that is the lack of shock, that one of the
disprivileges of blackness in America is that you simply don`t even expect
to be on the winning -- that the riot, which would have only been a
positive outpouring would have been over the shock of it being how the
outpouring of emotion in November of 2008 when President Obama was elected
because no matter what the polls said, we were a little surprised that our
country had managed to do that.
REID: Yes. I mean, a lot of people were for Hillary in part that I know
because there`s no way this country will ever elect a black president. We
do have this expectation of being on the outside, this sort of expectation
of getting less, which is sad in a country African-Americans truly helped
to build. But you do have a sense of having to raise your children,
particularly your son as a black mother, saying you know those police
officers, you`re going to want to not move your hands. You`re going to
want to keep yourself a low profile. You`re going to want to be small and
unthreatening. The idea walking down the street people cross the street or
clutch their purse away from you when you`re being yourself. You`re sort
of reminded over and over and over again that you`re almost a visitor to
So, I think the outpouring for Barack Obama was finally feeling like not a
visitor but maybe we`re home. And now, you get reminded again, in sort of
a cold splash of water over your head. But no, you`re not. You really
have no right when a person is pursuing you with a gun. You have no right
to resist them. And they are no right to resist.
HARRIS-PERRY: And this is exactly -- I want to talk a little more about
this moment with the president coming up. The definitive moment when the
Trayvon Martin story became a national story. And I also want to ask the
father what do we pray on this day? That`s next.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It`s truly a tragedy. A 17-year-old boy is dead. Both
sides had a chance to present their case and the jury decided. And that`s
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: On March 23rd of last year, President Obama weighed in
publicly on the killing of Trayvon Martin for the first time. If there was
any question of just how big this story was, given that it was an isolated
incident in Florida, the question made clear that this was a national
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: My main message is to the
parents of Trayvon Martin. You know, if I had a son, he`d look like
Trayvon. You know, I think they are right to expect that all of us as
Americans are going to take this with the seriousness it deserves and that
we`re going to get to the bottom of exactly what happened.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: You`re wearing your shirt that says I am Trayvon Martin.
The president said if I had a son, he said he would look like Trayvon
SKOLNIK: That was one of the most powerful moments the president has had
in his almost six years in office, five years in office. During that time
we were marching, gorge still wasn`t arrested at that time, on March 23rd
when the president said that in the Rose Garden. We were marching,
exercising our first amendment rights to petition our government
However, I would say this. As we continue to be peaceful, let us not roll
over and not continue to fight against injustices and against inequalities
in this country. Just because we are peaceful does not mean we give up.
And as you`re talking about ALEC, for the first time, a tribute to Trayvon
Martin, for the first time in eight years, in 2012, not one new Stand Your
Ground law passed in any state after 25 states passed stand your ground
laws in the past years, 2012, not one new law was passed. If anyone was to
do something, don`t want to take to the streets, they don`t want to march,
please, George Zimmerman raised over $450,000 for his defense. The Trayvon
Martin foundation left $150,000, send them $5, TrayvonMartinFoundation.org.
Send them a dollar. If you want to march, we are going to march across
this country today. Bring your families. Bring your -- I`m going to bring
my four-month-old child. Bring your kids, bring you husband, bring your
wife, bring your girlfriends or your boyfriends, bring you parents. This
is not about young people who are angry, who are upset. We are going to
take to the streets and violently protest, this is about the future of this
REID: And you know, why it is important sort of is that the danger of this
law is to everyone, not just young black men, is it what ALEC has done with
the Stand Your Ground law, it that first they want -- the NRA first wants
to proliferate guns. They want everyone to own one, because they can sell
one. That`s what they client wants. Then the second step to that is to
create more places you can carry your gun. Having all this can fell carry
one, take it in the bar, take in the church, take in the school. Step
three of that is reducing the penalties for discharging your gun. One of
the reasons not to have a gun is this fear what if I drop it and it goes
off and I kill somebody. What if I pirate and I think this person is a
burglar but it is really not. What if I go to jail for that?
Well, ALEC has now created a cure for that. We will create this liability
eraser, you can you can now discharge your gun. And now, we have created a
big space, and use it in this one and this one and you won`t go to jail.
That`s step three of your plan.
HARRIS-PERRY: As we march and organize and donate, work to change the law,
father, Sunday morning, not all people are people of faith, and not all
people of faith would worship on Sunday morning. But in this moment when
our country desperately needs healing and work in order move forward,
what`s the prayer we can pray together?
DAILEY: If the church is any good at being church, if it`s good at it,
it`s building communion and community. The prosecution`s closing argument
in the case made at least one powerful point when they said why did George
Zimmerman get out of the car? But if we go back even further, why did
George Zimmerman have a concealed weapon? Why do you wake up in the
morning and hide a gun behind your back the way you`re thinking about
communion and community, that`s where this story began took you broken.
And what we want to pray for is we call this the greatest country on earth.
Presumably a gun toting George Zimmerman thought that his gun rights were
part of a great country. OK. That`s a kind of story about American
history that had a very real concrete and disastrous consequence on a day
where presumably whatever you think of his justification, everyone has to
agree Trayvon Martin did not need to die whatever was happening between
those two people. We need to pray for communion and community.
HARRIS-PERRY: Father Bill Daley and Toure, thank you.
And Father Bill, I`m going to take this with me, broader sense of communion
constituting community, and what does it mean if you feel you must arm
yourself to be in a community.
Much more at the top of the hour.
MELISSA HARRIS-PERRY, HOST: Good morning. Once again, I`m Melissa
Last night after 16 hours and 20 minutes deliberation, a six-member
jury acquitted George Zimmerman in the shooting death of Trayvon Martin.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: In the Circuit Court of the 18th Judicial
Circuit in and for Seminole County, Florida, State of Florida versus George
Zimmerman, verdict -- we the jury find George Zimmerman not guilty.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: The jury found them not guilty of second degree murder
and a lesser charge of manslaughter. In issuing the verdict, the jury
agreed with George Zimmerman`s argument that he was acting in self defense,
when he shot Trayvon Martin last February.
Trayvon Martin`s parents, Tracy Martin and Sybrina Fulton, were not
in the court room when the verdict was read.
His father tweeted this in response, "Even though I`m brokenhearted
my faith is unshattered. I will always love my baby Tray. Also, thanks to
everyone with us and who will be with us. Together we can make sure this
doesn`t happen again. God bless me and Sybrina with Tray. And even in his
death I know my baby is proud of the fight we all put up for him. God
Earlier this morning, I spoke with Benjamin Crump, an attorney for
the Martin family and a chance to ask him about the parents of Trayvon
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BENJAMIN CRUMP, MARTIN FAMILY ATTORNEY: Obviously last night,
Melissa, they were heartbroken, as any parent would be. I just talked to
Sybrina and Tracy literally moments before I got on air with you.
Actually, they have renewed my energy.
Sybrina said something I thought was so profound. She said even
though we got the verdict last night, we`ve come a long way, yet we`ve got
a long way to go. She said a lot of people said that that was the worst
thing that could have happened to us with this verdict. And she said, no,
the worst thing happened on February 26th, 2012. Last night was a decision
made by six people on the jury but that does not define her son Trayvon
Martin. They are going to define the legacy of their child.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: I want to turn now to Craig Melvin on the ground in
Sanford, Florida, where he`s been covering the trial and verdict and now
the reaction to the verdict.
Craig, what`s the latest?
CRAIG MELVIN, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT: You know what, Melissa Harris-
Perry, I talked to Ben shortly after the interview and he said -- I found
this interesting. He said that Sybrina Fulton and Tracy Martin`s next
step, in addition to looking at pursuing civil rights charges through the
Justice Department, in addition to looking at a civil suit as well, he said
that Trayvon Martin`s parents are looking to be able to use their son as a
new symbol for civil rights in this country, to be able to provide this
current generation with a symbol that perhaps arguably heretofore they had
not had. I found that very interesting. We`ll talk a little more about
that this afternoon.
In terms of reaction, not much has changed in Sanford, Florida, the
law enforcement presence camped out behind me over the past few weeks, they
are gone entirely. There are no demonstrators here.
There were a few college students who stopped by earlier and held an
impromptu press conference and they talked a little about what they called
the injustice of the verdict. But besides that no one else has been here.
I spent some time talking to folks on the ground. None of what some
folks were expecting would happen happened with regards to the response.
There`s no civil unrest. People did not take to the streets in a violent
I spent some time talking to the mayor of Sanford, Florida, this
morning. Mayor Triplett told me the same thing -- zero reports, not one
report of civil unrest in the city of Sanford last night or early this
morning related to this.
HARRIS-PERRY: Craig Melvin live for us in Sanford, Florida. Again,
thank you for your reporting.
MELVIN: Thank you.
HARRIS-PERRY: I`m joined now by Maya Wiley, founder and president
for the Center for Social Inclusion.
Attorney Raul Reyes, NBC Latino contributor and columnist for "USA
MSNBC legal analyst, attorney Lisa Bloom, who followed the trial step
Michael Skolnik, editor in chief of GlobalGrind.com. Michael is also
founding board meeting member of Trayvon Martin Foundation and adviser to
And MSNBC.com reporter Adam Serwer.
Lisa, I want to turn to you because I want to talk about this notion
that Trayvon Martin was armed with concrete, armed with the sidewalk. I
want to show you the closing argument where this claim was made.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MARK O`MARA, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Now, I`ll be held in contempt if I
drop this, so I`m not going to do some drama and drop it on the floor and
watch it roll around. But that`s cement. That is sidewalk.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: That`s the claim here is he said, I`m not going to
bring drama as though that`s what Trayvon Martin was walking around the
LISA BLOOM, MSNBC LEGAL ANALYST: I would be OK with this if the
fight ended on the concrete. But the fight actually ended on the grass.
And, sure, if your head was banged on the concrete, that can be very
damaging, even kill you. But it would leave more than two tiny little cuts
on the back of the head. That`s what George Zimmerman had, the sum total
of his medical treatment, being two band-aids.
So, that`s another problem the prosecution had. They felt to point
out where Trayvon Martin`s body was found, which is obviously where it
ended was 25 to 30 feet from -- a grass. So, George Zimmerman`s story that
Trayvon was on top of him and he said he shimmied 25 or 30 feet across the
grass while still getting his head banged on concrete somehow, even though
the concrete was a good distance away from him. So many pieces of the
story don`t fit together.
HARRIS-PERRY: Lisa, Michael earlier said the issue of the arresting
officer simply believed George Zimmerman, the man who discharged his
firearm, killed this child who was standing there, they simply believed
I wonder when you bring that up, is it even the prosecution seemed to
simply accept George Zimmerman`s account of the story?
BLOOM: Well, I think there`s no doubt about that, honestly. The
last witness -- one of the last witnesses in the case was a white woman
whose home had been burglarized by an African-American teenager. The
prosecution failed to ask the obvious question, was that Trayvon Martin?
The answer would have been no.
Therefore, what does this have to do with the case? Are we to assume
then -- the defense really came out and said this in closing, that they
didn`t want the jury to assume that therefore it was reasonable to assume
Trayvon Martin was a criminal because he was, quote, "a match" took that
burglar. Of course he was a match only in race.
And is it anything other than racial profiling to say a member of one
race must be a criminal because the same racial group was involved in a
burglary? I mean, you could just as easily say Trayvon Martin might be a
future president because our president is African-American. We don`t
BLOOM: Or he could be a great golfer like Tiger Woods. But, no, an
African-American walking down the street is inherently a criminal.
Ands I believe 10 or 12 blunders by the prosecution, their real
discomfort, their squeamishness in talking about race, their refusal to
talk about race, even though they had the evidence. They had the evidence
that 100 percent of the calls George Zimmerman made about suspicious people
in the neighborhood were about African-Americans, even though 20 percent of
the residents of that community was African-American, not that that should
But they were suspicious people in his view. That was never
addressed head on at trial.
MAYA WILEY, CIVIL RIGHTS ATTORNEY: And how many white people walk
into that community he doesn`t know?
WILEY: Does he follow them? Does he call the police on them?
RAUL REYES, ATTORNEY: That was in my opinion the fatal flaw
throughout the case was from the beginning Trayvon Martin was treated to a
certain extent as the suspect, not George Zimmerman. Even the prosecution
went along with this, because to me they seem to be very reactionary
through the whole trial. They were offering up things in dispute.
But they never offered the coherent story, a coherent narrative. You
have to give that to a jury. You can`t say, no, it didn`t happen that way.
It didn`t happen that way. You must say it happened this way. Their
failure to be willing to confront the racial issues which permeated every
aspect of this trial --
BLOOM: They got the evidence in of the entire trial. They got it in
and were silent on it throughout the trial -- as though a decision was made
halfway through, you know what, this jury can`t handle it. We don`t want
to go there.
HARRIS-PERRY: Adam, I want to ask you about that. Lisa said that a
couple of times. You were following is so closely for MSNBC.com. Did you
feel a shift that occurred maybe about a week and a half ago?
You know, I have mothers and mother-in-laws who are in their 60s and
70s who talk about this trial all the time. We`re constantly coming up
with 1,000 theories. Both of them were saying, gosh, it feels like
something changed, all of a sudden there was an aggressiveness of the
prosecution that didn`t feel like it was there.
ADAM SERWER, MSNBC.COM: Yes, I think Jelani Cobb, a writer for `The
New Yorker", put it, this is about a defendant who`s presumed innocent and
a victim presumed guilty. And I think a lot of people watching the trial
felt that way.
But I also think, when you read the jury instructions, what it
fundamentally comes down to, from the jury`s perspective, they were told if
you have any doubt about whether or not George Zimmerman acted in self-
defense he`s still not guilty, because you have to be beyond a reasonable
doubt that he didn`t act in self-defense.
I mean, there was a high burden of proof for the prosecution. And I
think just the way the law is, the way the jury instruction was, it`s not
surprising that the jury reached that verdict.
HARRIS-PERRY: Thank you to MSNBC.com reporter, Adam Serwer.
Everybody is going to stay right here. We have much more on this.
But I`ll make a little turn next, particularly with one of my guests
here, Maya Wiley, because we`re going to ask the question is it possible
you could be motivated by race even if you don`t know it? There is, in
fact, an actual test for that. We`ll talk about it when we get back.
HARRIS-PERRY: We`re back and talking about George Zimmerman not
guilty verdict. Look, race has been at the core of this case from the very
beginning. Not in the ways we think.
Often in the American context, when we talk about race and racism and
racial bias, we think it has to be top of mind. That you`re a person who
walks around thinking I don`t like people in that group. I wish the people
in that group wouldn`t go to school with my children and live next door to
me. That`s what we call explicit bias -- bias at the top of your mind you
know you have.
But researchers in recent decades have made clear some of the most
powerful racial bias that many of us share across racial boundaries is, in
fact, implicit racial bias. Researchers at Harvard University have shown
us, you can go and actually take this test on implicit.harvard.edu, tests
that demonstrate we have in our own mind, sometimes without our knowledge,
bias denies African-Americans.
WILEY: Most without our knowledge. What happens is you see an
unarmed black man with a wallet, your brain, when it has constantly seen
images of black men as criminals immediately and unconsciously without
going through a step by step rational process says, gun, and then you
shoot, or then you run or then you cross the street instead of walking on
the same side of the street as a black person.
You`re not conscious that is what you just did.
HARRIS-PERRY: Literally shoot. A lot are shooting studies where you
basically have a video game to play. What we know, college students,
police officers, that black and white folks, will overwhelmingly shoot with
their video game a black men with a wallet over a white man with a gun when
they are seeing these simulations.
WILEY: One of the things that`s so important to this body of
research is that 70 percent of people who are white, at this point the test
you just referred to at Harvard, over 10,000 people have taken this test,
70 percent of people who are white show implicit bias towards people who
are black, 42 percent of people who are black show implicit bias.
And that is because of -- why is that? That is because we are
constantly -- our brains are constantly being bombarded with images that
suggest black people commit crimes. So, while the vast majority of black
people do not -- hello, I don`t -- do not commit crimes, that`s not the
unconscious association that has been made for us by media portrayal after
media portrayal after media portrayal.
HARRIS-PERRY: For me the deepest of the implicits, you can actually
take this test where you have to match positive words, happy, joy, flower,
with black faces and white faces, people have trouble matching positive
words with black and brown faces.
BLOOM: This reminds me of a couple of things. One in the Zimmerman
trial he was asked by the lead detective at one point if Trayvon had been
white, would you have shot him? He said, oh, absolutely. The detective
said, see, no racial -- that was the beginning, middle and end of the
racial discussion between the detective. He immediately said OK, so that
issue was resolved.
That`s me back to Brown versus Board of Education and the famous doll
study where African-American children rated black dolls as ugly, as stupid,
as lazy. You know, we hoped we would have come so far in the last 60 or 70
HARRIS-PERRY: I appreciate this about Trayvon -- one point, he may
not have been lying when he said I would have shot Trayvon Martin if he
were white. When George Zimmerman represents himself that way, maybe he`s
lying, but he also -- it is consistent with this research he could have
been telling the truth, he believes that, and it`s not true.
BLOOM: And this is an important contribution to the discussion.
We`ve also heard he`s Hispanic. He is Hispanic.
BLOOM: And he has African-American friends. None of that negates
the potential for implicit bias I want to say in him or me or any of us.
If we are to move on, we need to have these discussions of race in a
respectful way where people can really examine their own implicit racism.
REYES: That was going to be my point going back to the beginning of
the arrest where there was this whole note of white Hispanic. What was the
underlying message about that?
There was a big dispute if that was a category. Hispanics are not a
race, Hispanics can be white, black, biracial. The underlying assumption
there is because he`s Hispanic, he cannot be racist.
Although like this test shows all people can be racist. We all have
something in us. I keep coming back to images we saw on television and in
the paper throughout this trial, how we see Trayvon Martin says a lot about
When we see, many of us see pictures of Trayvon Martin, as a young
man in his hoodie, we see a child. We see a son, someone who was a victim.
But there are many people in America who see these same pictures and see a
thug, a gangster, and a dangerous person.
SKOLNIK: It was no surprise Mark O`Mara`s comments because he played
into that in his closing remarks.
SKOLNIK: Intentionally, saying he didn`t belong in the neighborhood.
HARRIS-PERRY: The importance of that, and you said this, Melissa.
If, in fact, implicit to us because we`re bombarded with these images, if
that makes l of us more likely to commit violence against people of color
and less likely to hire them and less likely to pick them up in a cab, then
that defense has social and political ramifications across -- beyond these
WILEY: So, two very important points that I want to lift up that you
just made, Melissa. One is it`s what we`re bombarded with images, it`s
also we don`t really know each other because we actually live in a hyper-
segregated society. We are still in Brown v. Board land in the sense we
are still greatly socially isolated from one another.
The reason this is important, I don`t know that George Zimmerman had
black friends. I -- it`s impossible not to know someone who is black.
That`s not actually the same thing as having black friends. One of the
things implicit bias research shows, the more contact we have with one
another across race, the more the brain breaks down those overly simplistic
And it`s very important issue because we do not have to live this
HARRIS-PERRY: Michael, we are, in fact, living with public schools
more segregated than Brown v. Board. We don`t live near each other. Part
of what has been killing me about this case, this was an integrated
community. This was supposed to be safe neighborhood.
This is black middle class striving to be in a community where our
children will be safe because we like everyone else understand violence is
associated with hyper segregated African-American urban communities. The
baby was shot dead there.
SKOLNIK: I think Zimmerman proved Maya`s point. He said he knew
every neighbor. Why didn`t you know Tracy`s fiancee?
HARRIS-PERRY: And that his son was visiting.
SKOLNIK: Why didn`t you that?
REYES: When they say -- I still laugh when you hear the argument,
well, I have black friends or he knew black people. I felt they missed an
opportunity to say these black people that you know, Mr. Zimmerman, have
they been in your home?
I mean, everyone knows a diverse group of people. That doesn`t mean
you are real friends. I mean, it goes beyond that.
HARRIS-PERRY: More on this. I want to take us back in time a little
bit. I want to ask what the murder of Emmett Till teaches us about the
killing of Trayvon Martin.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOHN GUY, PROSECUTOR: Don`t misunderstand me. Your verdict is not
going to bring Trayvon Benjamin Martin back to life. Your verdict is not
going to change the past, but it will forever define it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CRUMP: 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.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: That was Benjamin Crump, attorney for Trayvon Martin`s
family after George Zimmerman was found not guilty last night.
I want to remind folks when he says Emmett Till and Medgar Evers, not
because they were African-American men who were killed but also whose
killers had jury trials and were found not guilty.
Raul, I want to preserve a sense that there is justice in the justice
system because I don`t know how to go on if I don`t preserve that. Is
either the civil courts or the Justice Department coming down and
potentially bringing federal charges around civil rights? Are those
possibilities for avenues here?
REYES: Yes. It`s something I`ve been wanting to say since we began
the discussion to this point, was justice served? There were so many
problems with this case and the presentation all the way through it. We
have to remember before we judge the jury and the system, there can be
legally justifiable verdicts that are not socially acceptable, that are not
morally acceptable. There is a difference.
Justice looks at the case. Justice is not fair. That`s --
HARRIS-PERRY: This is the lawyer in you that can do that. That can
REYES: Now I`m about to cry but that`s the truth.
HARRIS-PERRY: That`s the thing, but you take your head and go into
the bar, right, it is this recognition that it is possible those six people
made the legally appropriate decision.
REYES: Made the right choice.
WILEY: We should not vilify the jurors, we should not.
HARRIS-PERRY: I agree.
WILEY: What we should vilify is the fact we have not built the
justice system to be a just system, because it is not a naturally occurring
phenomenon. This is not a plant growing between some cracks in the
This is a system we constructed through a body of laws. The
Department of Justice is going to face the same challenges with this case
because of how we have structured our laws. Conscious level racial
discrimination is still at the root of how we understand race in a civil
But the social science tells us we`re in a different paradigm. We
have made progress since Brown v. Board and it being OK to be overtly
racist and we have made tremendous strides.
We are now in a new paradigm of getting to the next level of working
on how race works.
HARRIS-PERRY: Lisa, I want to ask you to respond, last night on CNN,
George Zimmerman`s brother said something about a broader justice system
has I`d love for you to respond to.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ROBERT ZIMMERMAN, JR., GEORGE ZIMMERMAN`S BROTHER: That happens in
Chicago every day. There are many people who go out and shoot other people
who are black and they shoot other people who are black and they are not
charged for whatever reason.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: So his claim here is, look, there`s lots of folks who
aren`t charged when there`s murder, a killing.
BLOOM: OK. First of all, he`s right in the sense we should always
talk about the horrendous killing in Chicago and the inner cities. I mean,
that`s a very important thing to talk about. I think the bigger point he`s
trying to make, this wouldn`t have gotten a lot of media attention --
people on the right say this -- this wouldn`t have gotten media attention
in the races were reversed.
You know, it wouldn`t have gotten media attention if it wasn`t this
case. It was fairly clear case of racial profiling and this was the police
failed to investigate. Now, it`s concluded with the prosecutors failed to
prosecute aggressively in the way murder cases went down. There`s a lot of
strange things that happened in the courtroom, a dozen of them I`ve talked
about in the last week.
So, that`s made it newsworthy and significant. This was a case that
engendered a groundswell of public support, especially in the African-
American community. It touched a nerve among so many people that it hit
home, so personal the way you have talked about it in your own life,
mothers talking about their sons can`t walk down the street, being
targeted, being concerned, suspicious for walking while black. That`s why
it got so much attention.
HARRIS-PERRY: That it reached everything.
That you`re going to stick with us. Stay with us one second here,
I`m going to say good-bye to you, Maya Wiley, to Raul Reyes, and to
Lisa Bloom. I appreciate all your contributions this morning.
We are back with more on the verdict in the trial of George Zimmerman
when we get back.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We`d like to express our outrage. It`s
devastating and sends the wrong message to people in this country that
young black men are constantly the victims of violence and that we do not
have a justice system that recognizes this is a crisis.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: George Zimmerman`s defense team successful in
convincing the jury he used self-defense in the shooting death of Trayvon
Martin. But Marissa Alexander, A 30-year-old African-American woman who
claimed she was protecting herself from her abusive husband and fired a
warning shot into her own home received a 20-year sentence after using the
same defense last year. However, unlike Zimmerman, Marissa Alexander did
use "Stand Your Ground" law in defense.
Joining the panel is Salamishah Tillet, assistant professor of
English and African studies at the University of Pennsylvania.
Jelani Cobb, associate professor of history and institute of African-
American studies at University of Connecticut.
And Joy-Ann Reid, MSNBC contributor.
Marissa Alexander shoots a ceiling, gets 20 years and prosecuted by
Angela Corey aggressively and personally, but Corey couldn`t even bother to
prosecute this case against Zimmerman. So when the defense says what would
have happened if George Zimmerman was black -- this is the answer. She
shot a ceiling and got 20 years.
SALAMISHAH TILLET, UNIVERSITY OF PENNSYLVANIA: So, one thing you`re
pointing to is the fact the answer is already out there. We see that black
victims or black women in this case are disproportionately incarcerated,
disproportionately sentenced. All these things are true, right?
But also, I think this speaks to how violence against women in
particular isn`t seen as an issue that can be something that motivates us.
But also that women who stand their ground against perpetrators are
oftentimes put in the judicial system, criminal system.
The thing I want to point out, George Zimmerman and the way his
pattern of violence wasn`t allowed. The 2005 arrest, domestic charges
against George Zimmerman -- his defense was very similar to his defense
When his ex-wife said she pushed him -- I`m sorry, he pushed her.
His response was she pushed me, hurt me. She counter-sued her.
So if there was an arrest there, if he were prosecuted as vigorously
as Marissa Alexander was prosecuted, we wouldn`t have Trayvon Martin.
Violence against women for the taken as seriously, this is what happens.
The ripple effects of violence against women leads to more and more
JOY-ANN REID, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: One of the many ironies of the case
against Marissa Alexander, one of her rationales for prosecuting was there
were two children in the home. The idea that violence, a gunshot that
could have hit a child, that was her rationale, offered a plea bargain,
didn`t take it. So, she charged her to the full extent of the law and
stand your ground case fell apart.
I was surprised after the jury selection took place, that Angela
Corey didn`t see a jury of six women maybe I should be on that instead of
my underlings. Maybe I ought to stand up there, because she is a vigorous,
as she puts it, advocate for children.
HARRIS-PERRY: I want to show her. We`re seeing her now. I have to
say, Joy, give me insight into what happened with Corey`s disposition. I
was late, tired, emotional.
I actually for a moment got confused and thought, was she on the
defense? I mean, I`m not even being funny. Her coming out and saying --
lets listen for a moment to her initially.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ANGELA COREY, FLORIDA STATE ATTORNEY: Good evening. We are so proud
to stand before you and to tell you that when we announced the charges 15
months ago, we also promised that we would seek the truth for Trayvon
Martin and due process for George Zimmerman.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: So the smile, the I`m proud, it was -- I`m sorry, am I
the only one that thinks this is strange?
REID: No, the whole thing has been a strange thing. You have to
keep in mind, Angela Corey is not the prosecutor for Seminole County, she
prosecutes in Duval County. She was appointed by Governor Rick Scott, Tea
Party Republican. She herself a conservative Republican, after the outcry
of the non-arrest.
She makes these charges, which a lot of attorneys in Florida felt was
an overcharge and she should have gone manslaughter. That`s what detective
Serino initially put on his paper. He thought it should be manslaughter.
So, she charges second degree and doesn`t argue the case. One could
argue, sort of an uncharitable reading, a Republican elected official in a
very conservative county whose result of her prosecution was what the
majority of the people in Seminole County want. This will not impact her
election, no video of her standing arguing with George Zimmerman. That
video doesn`t exist. She`s sitting in the gallery with everyone else.
One could argue she feels she did enough for the family to say,
listen, I got you a trial. But the conviction actually doesn`t hurt her
HARRIS-PERRY: Jelani, you wrote that it was Trayvon Martin that was
JELANI COBB, UNIVERSITY OF CONNECTICUT: Right. From the outset, one
of the things crucial to remember here, these laws did not malfunction. We
have this idea this was a miscarriage of justice. It may have been in the
theoretical sense. But in the jurisprudential sense, this is exactly what
was supposed to happen.
So, when we talk about what happened to this point, what was in the
minds of the lawmakers who were aligned with ALEC when they were conceiving
of these laws? What was in the minds of the prosecutor as they were
realizing they were bringing these charges? It`s a short-term loss but
long-term victory for them.
I agree with you also, when I saw the murder two charge it reminded
me of the situation with Amado Diallo, where I believe they went for murder
one in that instance and everyone knew you couldn`t make a murder one
charge stick. So, doing, you have -- you can cynically placate African-
Americans say we went for the strongest charge and wink and nod say to your
constituency, this is not going to stick.
REID: Even what Rick Scott did was creating this commission to look
at "Stand Your Ground," which would up giving no recommendation for any
changes. So, they had this cosmetic impact of addressing the needs and
concerns but with actually doing nothing.
HARRIS-PERRY: Michael, doesn`t this lead -- in my neighborhood we
have the mayor, and police chief saying, when something bad happens, call
us, tell us, you know, snitch. Isn`t this part of the reason people don`t?
The language of hip-hop is the reason people don`t communicate with
the police. Part of it feels like people don`t communicate with the police
because there`s no justice in this.
SKOLNIK: I think that was the cultural difference between Don West
and Rachel Jeantel. He asking her, why didn`t you go to the police? Why
didn`t you go to the police?
The police didn`t arrest her friend --
SKOLNIK: The police department who believed the guy who killed her
friend. He could not understand that a young black woman does not trust
the police to do justice to her friend. Right?
Then, Broward County puts out a video saying we got your back. No,
REID: Trayvon Martin didn`t call 911. Why didn`t he call 911?
Because he was afraid.
HARRIS-PERRY: Every person sitting at this table is a parent. When
we come back I`m going to ask. what should we say to our children?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Young black man can`t walk freely from the store
without being murdered. But it`s a sad thing. It makes you really think
about, sort of it makes you really think about sort of the dynamic in our
country, race relations, a number of things.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: As adults, we will talk among ourselves about last
night`s verdict in the George Zimmerman trial. As we look forward, we`re
also going to have to grapple with what we say to our children, because
what we must not forget, Trayvon Martin was not an adult, was the child of
Tracy Martin and Sybrina Fulton. He has just celebrated his 17th birthday.
Never forget the relief I felt -- I`m a sexual assault survivor --
never forget the relief I felt at my 20-week ultrasound revealed it was a
And last night, I thought I live in a country that makes me wish my
son away, wish that they don`t exist because it`s not safe.
REID: Yes, when I had a girl, I actually was hoping initially for a
boy, because I`m afraid for a girl. I`m thinking black girl in this world,
I`d rather have a boy. Now I find as they are teenagers I`m more afraid
for my boys than my daughter, because everywhere they go, everything they
are wearing, their demeanor, the way they walk, are they looking too funny.
Everything about them is supposed to be suspicious.
And they are tiny, skinny, little kids that to me are babies. All
three of my kids are babies. The world doesn`t see them that way. As soon
as they are out of my custody, out of their dad and my care, they are
basically walking suspects, just waiting to be arrested by police, followed
around a store, made to feel uncomfortable in a store like they`re not
shopping. They are stealing. Questioned about where they are, why are
So, you always have to teach them these horrible lessons in 2013 that
you need to be really careful about who is around you. And, you know what,
their dad has always had this conversation about black taxes. You can`t
get away with what white kids do. You can`t get away with it, so be
And about demeanor around police, never have we thought we had to
have this case around demeanor around civilians. And that`s what`s really
SKOLNIK: I`m a new dad.
HARRIS-PERRY: Brand new baby.
SKOLNIK: Brand new, 4 months old. My child has had the privilege to
be held by his auntie Sabrina Fulton. I told him this morning that you
have an auntie who is an angel, on this earth as an angel.
I would love to, at this -- give a heartfelt thank you to Sybrina and
to Tracy for allowing all of us to follow in your footsteps, in your
courage and commitment to justice. You`re remarkable human beings.
TILLET: I`m brand-new parent of a girl. And this morning, I was
talking to her dad about the case and about the future that we`re leaving
to her. And he said something profound. He probably wouldn`t want me to
be talking about this, he`s an introvert. He said, you know, I was talking
to her un-safety, the world she lives, that world she`s going to grow up
in. He said, I don`t feel safe.
To me what does it mean to raise children in a country where their
parents don`t feel safe? We can`t instruct them properly about how to
behave, how to live, how to succeed when we`re under siege and we`re under
So I guess that`s the other thing I want to say. This is the moment
black people are the most free in the United States, given our long, long
history of subjugation. And if this is what it looks like, I don`t know
what else to say, I don`t really know what else to teach them. This the
50th anniversary of the bombing in Birmingham, right? March in Washington.
These four little girls who died under similar situations, similar
duress, I want to recognize them as well in this conversation.
COBB: My daughter is grown. She`s 21. She`s not grown to me. But
she`s 21 years old. We go out places now.
I think back to one of the earliest things we did that was political
was taking her to rallies around Amadou Diallo, explaining how this can
work, how we can wind up with a situation like it. We were living in the
Bronx, maybe less than a mile from where this took place.
Now, she`s 21, I talk to her about how a young man should treat her.
When you go out with someone, it`s his responsibility to make sure you get
home safely. Now I`m recognizing she worries not only about the young man
who is responsible for getting her home safely, she worries about her
father, she worries about me as I`m out in the public as well.
So what I talk to her about is your father knows what he`s doing.
He`ll be OK. It`s another kind of parental reinsurance that no one should
have to make. But that`s the reality we have here.
HARRIS-PERRY: It`s interesting both of you have laid the finger on
as we think about Trayvon Martin, the danger of the love we have for our
sons and our nephews. It`s more than that it`s when you love black men,
even adult men, that sense of vulnerability and whether you love them in an
intimate, romantic way or as your brothers, as your friends, and I will
also say this, as much as race has been a key part of this, I do not want
to miss that in Sanford, Florida, last night the people who were rallying,
those interracial groups of people.
If there`s anything se we can say, for all the danger still,
Salamishah, I appreciate this, there`s still this possibility, still this
possibility of building coalitions that are broad.
Thank you to Salamishah, to Jelani, to Joy-Ann and to Michael.
Up next, a century-old question from one of the most important
philosophers in African-American life. It`s a question we`re still asking
HARRIS-PERRY: In his turn of the century treatise, "The Souls of
Black Folk", W.E.B. DuBois wrote, "Between me and the other world there is
ever an unasked question, unasked by some through feelings of delicacy, by
others through the difficulty of rightly framing it. All nevertheless,
flutter round it, how does it feel to be a problem?"
Everyone has problems. That`s the human condition. No amount of
wealth, no racial privilege, no righteousness of purpose and action leads
to a life without problems. Everyone has them.
But DuBois was pointing to something different. Not just having
problems, but being a problem.
How does it feel to be a problem, to have your very body and the
bodies of your children to be assumed to be criminal, violent, malignant?
How does it feel to be trapped on the roof of your home as the
floodwaters rise and be called a refugee?
How does it feel to wear the symbol of your faith and be assumed to
be a terrorist threat to your own nation?
How does it feel to have the president, who looks like you, demanded
to produce proof of his citizenship?
How does it feel to know that when you speak the language of your
parents, will be assumed to be illegal?
How does it feel to know that if you marry the person you love, some
will say that you are destroying the very fabric of the country?
How does it feel to fear sending your son to the 7-Eleven for a bag
of Skittles on a rainy night?
DuBois wrote of black men, "He simply wishes to make it possible for
a man to be both a Negro and an American without being cursed and spit upon
by his fellows, without having the doors of opportunity closed roughly in
his face. This then is the end of his striving, to be a coworker in the
kingdom of culture, to escape both death and isolation, to husband and use
his best powers and his latent genius."
This is the dream that will continue to guide us as we continue the
That is our show today. Thanks to you at home for watching. See you
next Saturday at 10 a.m. Eastern. Coverage of the verdict of the trial of
George Zimmerman continues here on MSNBC.
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