All In With Chris Hayes, Monday, July 15th, 2013
Read the transcript from the Monday show
ALL IN with CHRIS HAYES
July 15, 2013
Guests: Maya Wiley, Hakeem Jeffries, Khary Lazarre-White, Nicholas Peart,
Corrine Brown, Barry Scheck, Jelani Cobb>
CHRIS HAYES, HOST: Good evening from New York. I`m Chris Hayes.
Friday night on this program, as we awaited the verdict in the trial
of George Zimmerman, for the killing of Trayvon Martin, my guest, Jelani
Cobb of the University of Connecticut, said something that stuck with me
and haunted me throughout the weekend. He said in cases like this, he
didn`t think black people in America expect justice, that they`ve just been
here too many times before.
And tonight, in the wake of a not guilty verdict, we`ll spend the hour
examining how we got to this place and where we go from here.
We begin in Sanford, Florida, 505 days ago.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: New tonight, a deadly shooting in Sanford. Police
have the gun. They`ve got the shooter. But they have not arrested him.
As FOX 35`s Keith Landry tells us, the dead man`s grieving family
wants to know why not.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Is that a friend of yours?
TRACY MARTIN, TRAYVON MARTIN`S FATHER: My son.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This afternoon, we met Tracy Martin at the crime
scene. He says his 17-year-old son, Trayvon Martin, was shot to death.
MARTIN: He walked out of the house to go to the store. He was going
to the store.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The guy on the bottom who I believed had a red
sweater on was yelling to me, "Help, help." I told him top and I was
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The family of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin is
asking the state attorney`s office, attorney general, and Sanford police to
prosecute the Miami teenager`s killer.
BILL LEE, SANFORD POLICE DEPARTMENT: In this case, Mr. Zimmerman has
made the statement of self-defense. Until we can establish probable cause
to dispute that, we don`t have the grounds to arrest him.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Outraged residents asked the Sanford Police
Department to show accountability.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If this young man would have shot this man,
wouldn`t he have been arrested? He definitely would have been arrested.
SYBRINA FULTON, TRAYVON MARTIN`S MOTHER: My heart hurts for my son.
Trayvon Martin is my son. Trayvon is your son.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Justice equals peace.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Which means no justice --
CROWD: No peace.
BRIAN WILLIAMS, NBC NEWS: Crowds gather in Florida, and for that
matter in cities and towns across the country brought together in their
outrage over the killing of an unarmed teenager in Florida.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hundreds of students walked out of more than a
dozen schools in Trayvon Martin`s hometown of Miami.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: From 30th street station, peaceful protesters
marched about 15 blocks, hoping their price for justice reach hundreds of
miles away in Sanford, Florida.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Massive support continues to spread across the
country. From Atlanta, to New York, and Chicago, thousands donned hoodies
in church in solidarity with Trayvon Martin.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The Miami Heat where many town Friday night sure
to beat the Pistons, but also used the game to make a statement about how
they feel about a teen from their area, Trayvon Martin.
LEBRON JAMES, MIAMI HEAT: A lot of us are fathers, a lot of us have
DWAYNE WADE, MIAMI HEAT: You know, if our boys can help in any kind
of way, that`s what we`re going to do.
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: When I think about this
boy, I think about my own kids, and I think every parent in America should
be able to understand why it is absolutely imperative that we investigate
every aspect of this.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And the online groundswell continues to build, 1.2
million people have signed the Martin family`s Internet petition demanding
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The special prosecutor has charged George
Zimmerman with second-degree murder. George Zimmerman, 28 years old, was
taken into custody.
ANGELA COREY, FLORIDA SPECIAL PROSECUTOR: Today, we filed an
information charging George Zimmerman with murder in the second degree. A
capias has been issued for his arrest.
SEAN HANNITY, FOX NEWS: Do you feel you wouldn`t be here for this
interview if you didn`t have that gun?
GEORGE ZIMMERMAN: No, sir.
HANNITY: You feel you would not be here?
ZIMMERMAN: I feel that it was all god`s plan and for me to second
guess it, or judge it --
HAYES: On April 11th, 2012, special prosecutor Angela Corey filed a
charge of murder in the second degree against George Zimmerman. He pleaded
not guilty claiming self-defense. More than a year later, after 12 days of
testimony and two days of deliberation, the jury reached its verdict.
CHRIS JANSING, MSNBC ANCHOR: We`re going to go to Craig Melvin right
now. Craig, what do you got?
CRAIG MELVIN, MSNBC ANCHOR: We have a verdict, Chris Jansing. The
PIO for courthouse indicated a verdict has been reached in the murder trial
of George Zimmerman.
UNIDENTIED FEMALE: In the Circuit Court of 18th Judicial Circuit in
and for Seminole County, Florida, State of Florida versus George Zimmerman,
verdict -- we, the jury, find George Zimmerman not guilty. So say we all,
COREY: To the living, we owe respect. To the dead, we owe the truth.
We have been respectful to the living. We have done our best to assure due
process to all involved. And we believe that we brought out the truth on
behalf of Trayvon Martin.
MARK O`MARA, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: I think the evidence supported that
George Zimmerman did nothing wrong and he was battered and beaten by a 17-
year-old, for whatever reason, we won`t know, thought that he had to lash
out and attack violently.
BENJAMIN CRUMP, MARTIN FAMILY ATTORNEY: To everybody who put their
hoodies up and to everybody who said, "I am Trayvon," his family expressed
their heartfelt gratitude for helping them these past 17 months.
HAYES: So far, the paranoid predictions of mass race riots have not
come true. That does not mean there is not fury and anger. There have
been peaceful demonstrations and prayer services across the country, and
the anger and deep disappointment has as much to do with the context of
this verdict as the verdict, itself. A perception that in America, justice
is not blind.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PROTESTERS: Home, we`re just walking home! We`re just walking home!
We`re just walking home!
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: There are now questions of a possible civil trial and
continuing Justice Department investigation as well as some astounding
post-verdict remarks by Zimmerman`s defense attorneys about the prosecution
of George Zimmerman being a disgrace.
We`ll also look at why the "Stand Your Ground" law was somehow not
available to Marissa Alexander, a 31-year-old black woman who felt
threatened by an estranged husband in the same state and under the
jurisdiction of the same state attorney, Angela Corey, who oversaw the
We`ll get to all of that.
But, first, we are all still processing what this verdict says about
equal justice under law.
Joining me on satellite is Melissa Harris-Perry, host of the eponymous
show that airs right here on MSNBC, on Saturday and Sunday mornings at
And joining me here at the table is MSNBC political analyst Michael
Eric Dyson, professor of sociology at Georgetown University. And Maya
Wiley, civil rights attorney and founder and president of the Center Social
Inclusion, a non -- a social justice non-profit.
Melissa, I want to begin with you. You were incredibly compelling and
eloquent and emotional in what you said on Saturday night, and on Sunday.
How are you feeling about the fallout from the verdict now, today on
MELISSA HARRIS-PERRY, HOST, "MELISSA HARRIS-PERRY": Well, you know,
Chris, I think you and I have talked before, when we`ve -- you got,
initially had your weekend show about a year before I got the "MHP" show
and sort of how odd it felt as people who weren`t initially journalists to
suddenly have a TV show in this way.
And I have to say this weekend was maybe one of the first times when I
felt really not up to the task, that a lot of the personal rawness of the
emotional experience was potentially overcoming anything that I had to say.
And I don`t say that because anybody should have sort of feelings for me
about it, but rather that I think I`m not completely an outlier in that and
many of us are going through multiple stages of grief and fury and
resignation and also trying to analyze it.
It`s not as though we believe that any verdict, of course, would bring
back young Trayvon. I mean, that was never on the table as a possibility,
but there is this sense of alienation from the state that compounds the
sense of agony in this case.
HAYES: Do you feel like, Michael? Like -- I think that`s a
fascinating way of putting it, just alienation from the state, that somehow
we`re not playing by the same rules, we`re not covered by the same system
that we have been pushed outside the tent by this verdict.
MICHAEL ERIC DYSON, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Absolutely right. And
Melissa is absolutely right there. Verdict. Truth. But it`s not our
And the alienation from the state, especially ironic, in light of the
fact that the ostensible or federal (ph) head of that state is a black man
and the head of the justice system is another black man.
Yet, we know now that symbolic representation of our enormous progress
undeniable is also juxtaposed to the reality, that the system -- Robin
Kelly (ph) makes this argument in a brilliant piece in "Counterpunch." He
said it`s not that the system failed us, the system worked as it`s supposed
to work, because the system has been rigged against us from the very
beginning. We`ve never been able to stand our ground because the system
has protected white people-hood, white property and white privilege and
that`s the bottom line.
MAYA WILEY, CENTER FOR SOCIAL INCLUSION: I -- I was a little undone
by your opening clips. I thought I had gotten to a point where the raw
emotion of that -- seeing Sybrina say, "This is my son, this is your son."
It`s very much still present.
What I think is most important, which, and I agree with both Melissa
and Michael, the justice system is not a just system. And one of the most
damaging, damaging to the fabric of the nation and damaging to the reform
is that we now have people saying, Trayvon Martin was convicted. Not
George Zimmerman was acquitted because there was not sufficient proof, but
that Trayvon Martin was convicted of a crime.
There was this incredible -- I have to say that I have -- I have
actually tried very hard throughout the trial to kind of give the defense
the benefit of the doubt, as human beings because they are -- I have a lot
of respect for defense attorneys. And it`s a hard job and they are doing
their constitutional duty to defend their client and with as much zeal and
vigor as they can.
I thought the press, the post-verdict press conference was an
abomination, was just an absolute -- because you don`t have to do that.
There`s nothing you have to do about that press conference.
I want to play this one clip, because this was the one that really,
like, really made me angry. This is Don West and Mark O`Mara. Take a
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIPS)
DON WEST, ZIMMERMAN DEFENSE ATTORNEY: I think the prosecution of
George Zimmerman was disgraceful. As happy as I am for George Zimmerman,
I`m thrilled that this jury kept this tragedy from becoming a travesty.
O`MARA: I think that the things would have been different if George
Zimmerman was black for this reason. He never would have been charged with
(END VIDEO CLIPS)
HAYES: Melissa, did that scandal (ph) you?
HARRIS-PERRY: Well, so what I appreciate about what you just said is
something I think we have to keep in mind here that is critical going
forward, and that is -- you know, that`s right, George Zimmerman was
absolutely, constitutionally had the right to a vigorous defense. These
defense attorneys put on a vigorous defense. I think there`s a lot of
reasons to ask about how vigorous the prosecution was.
That said, what we are now looking at is sort of the social and
political and economic construction that comes around this case and that`s
the thing that`s bigger than the actual trial, itself.
HAYES: You know, someone said this thing on twitter, I think it was a
guy named Jim Henley (ph) who I really like and follow. He said, you know,
I hope -- I have one thought, I hope George Zimmerman goes home tonight and
thinks about what he did and what happened, but there is this world
awaiting him that wants to embrace him as a hero.
There`s an entire universe to whom he has become --
DYSON: He`s been made on icon. I ran into my hotel and that evening
ran into George Zimmerman`s best friend. We had a vigorous, non-hostile
conversation for 20 minutes. I said to him, sir, your friend just murdered
an unarmed young man.
He said, but there was no probable cause for him to be arrested. I
said, we`re not only speaking different languages we`re living in different
universes. There is a world awaiting George Zimmerman that will support
him economically, that will make him an icon.
He`s become a kind of patron saint of the right wing in a very serious
HAYES: And seeing the reaction to the verdict, this crazy, you know,
way the verdict was processed through the American lens of both racial
polarization and partisan polarization, was just, like --
DYSON: They converged. Yes.
WILEY: On the one hand for the defense attorneys to say this was not
about race, and then on the other hand to come out and say if George
Zimmerman was a black man, he wouldn`t be charged, is to say we`re actually
trying to say it is about race and we`re trying to flip the script.
HAYES: The other thing I found so fascinating is this conservative
obsession with Zimmerman`s race, the fact that he is -- that he is a
Peruvian I believe in his mother side that he is not white. The thing I
keep saying is, it is about Trayvon Martin`s race, this case.
I mean, when Sean Bell was shot by New York cops, some of which who
happened to be African-American, the people I know, the activists in New
York were not like, it`s OK because some of the cops were black. It`s
about this --
HARRIS-PERRY: Chris, this is such an important point. I`ve been
hearing in the days sense since, this language, we`re all racist in some
ways. To be really clear: sure, we are. We`re all racist against African-
Americans. It`s not that we`re all racists and black folks are racist
There is a constant group for whom there is this sense of criminality,
a sense of, you know, being takers, not makers. And that is shared even
among often members of that group because of how our media operates and
because of how a deep history of segregation and the continuing realities
of that segregation operate to reinforce those beliefs about blackness and
HAYES: Melissa, I want you to speak around. We`re going to bring in
Congressman Hakeem Jeffries to talk about what could happen at the federal
level going forward after we take this break.
HAYES: More with our panel coming up, including our very own Melissa
Harris-Perry, who`s written a person account about a conversation with her
daughter about the race and Zimmerman trial. It`s posted at MSNBC.com.
We`re asking viewers to shares their stories online. You can send
them to mhpmail@MSNBC.com. Send a tweet at @MHPShow, use
We`ll be right back.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REV. AL SHARPTON, MSNBC HOST: When the defense say that Mr. Zimmerman
won`t see a courthouse again, that is not true. Zimmerman will have to
testify in a civil suit. You cannot avoid that. And his testimony could
lead to some very interesting new evidence.
The federal government, the Justice Department, suspended an
investigation. They did not end it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: That was my colleague, the Reverend Al Sharpton, commenting on
the contention of George Zimmerman`s defense attorney, Mark O`Mara.
Zimmerman would not see another day in court.
Joining me now is Congressman Hakeem Jeffries. He`s from New York.
Still with me, Michael Eric Dyson, Maya Wiley and Melissa Harris-
Congressman, you did a press event to talk about what possible
investigation might be pursued at the federal level. What avenues of
redress are there for people that feel that justice was not done in that
courtroom or even if the verdict was right and proper based on the evidence
that jury saw, that the larger sense that something wrong here that should
be held to account has gone unaddressed?
REP. HAKEEM JEFFRIES (D), NEW YORK: Well, Congressman Rangel,
Congressman Meeks, myself, several members of the New York delegation, one,
wanted to support the continuation of the Justice Department investigation
as it relates to the civil rights violations that we believe took place in
the killing of Trayvon Martin.
But we also wanted to make sure that it was a comprehensive
investigation that ultimately led to the presentation of evidence to a
grand jury so that the grand jury can decide whether the civil rights of
Trayvon Martin were violated. That a Justice Department that ultimately
yields no prosecution will only result in a further continuation of the
frustration and dismay we have with the system at this point.
HAYES: Yes, Maya?
WILEY: What`s really point here, we need an evidentiary change of law
because the Justice Department is facing the problem that it has to show
generally some form of smoking gun. George Zimmerman saying F-ing punch,
which we all read as the code about him being black, and therefore, a
criminal, is not generally enough even though that`s the code.
HAYES: Right. Melissa -- I mean, when I think about the politics of
this also, I mean, we have seen the president issued a statement that was
fairly, fairly neutral, I would say. It was kind of thoughtful about the
loss of the life, but it certainly didn`t say take sides or, you know, say
this verdict was unjust. It called for peace and reflection.
You can only -- I mean, seeing what was on Drudge in the run-up to
this, seeing the way the right wing has stirred themselves up on this, the
fact Hannity got the first interview with George Zimmerman -- you can only
imagine, Melissa, what would happen if President Obama and Eric Holder`s
Justice Department were to indict George Zimmerman on federal civil rights
HARRIS-PERRY: I mean, yes, but I can also only imagine sort of what
would happen if they don`t, in terms of their base of support.
DYSON: Amen, amen.
HARRIS-PERRY: So I just want to be really careful. I think the
challenge here is when the Department of Justice brings these kinds of
charges, they typically do it, with, as Maya was saying, sort of a smoking
gun piece of evidence. The problem is, Maya and I have been talking about
this for days now, is what racism is, is not necessarily reflected in our
The notion that racism requires you to sort of spout for these
particular kinds of words, rather than an understanding that it is a racial
context in which people are operating.
DYSON: Right. I think in terms of the -- to piggyback on that, in
terms of what the politicians do, this is a moment that the president, I
think, can seize to assert a bully pulpit authority to suggest that beyond
the law, let`s have an open, honest engagement with the context that
Melissa is speaking about, because we`re talking about implicit
assumptions. We`re talking about explicit assumption. We`re talking about
the jumble of stereotypes that circulate, that justifies stop and frisk.
This is implicated in a range of practices that have to be
acknowledged and addressed.
JEFFRIES: We have had several incidents where there have been high-
profile cases that have failed, in the beating of Rodney King, acquittal,
all-white jury, Simi Valley, subsequent federal prosecution --
WILEY: With videotape.
JEFFRIES: With videotape, but not necessarily a smoking gun in terms
of racial animus.
JEFFRIES: Same situation with the choking death of Anthony Baez by
police officer Francis Livoti. Acquittal in the Bronx. Subsequent
prosecution by Manhattan federal prosecutors that was successful.
And in an instance where an African-American stabbed an orthodox
Jewish man, Yakel Rosenbaum, in New York, was acquitted by a Brooklyn jury
and subsequently prosecuted for a hate crime violation by the Justice
Department in the absence of a smoking gun of racial animus.
So, precedence does exist to move forward.
HAYES: That`s a really important point.
WILEY: It`s a critically important point. Precedent matters. My
point, if we telescope out and take a broader frame, at the end of the day,
we have got to reform our laws so that we`re not -- because right now the
attack is on all evidentiary standards and any race case. Not just this
one. The right is taking on what we call disparate impact which is whether
or not we can look at the impacts of our decision-making on a whole group
HAYES: And, in fact, the Voting Rights Act, Section 5, Section 4 was
essentially -- I mean, not on the same legal logic, but on same essentially
structural and historic understanding of some kind of era in which racial
bias, because it no longer announces itself facially as racial bias has now
sort of left the playing field.
DYSON: What we`re doing is congratulating racism for having enough
sense to hide.
DYSON: So, now, we`re trying to out it, to make sure --
HAYES: Let me say this and go to you, Melissa. I also think it`s
really important to distinguish that between this, a judgment that George
Zimmerman as a human being is a racist. That word attached to him is an
essential feature of his character.
I have no idea. I know that -- what I`ve seen, I`m pretty damn sure
of is that the race of Trayvon Martin played a huge role in what happened
that night because of a suspicion that attached to him as a young black
man, that was going through George Zimmerman`s head, whatever is George
Zimmerman`s heart of hearts, because I feel like what ends up happening is
the right wants us to litigate a discussion about what is in the heart,
what is in the soul, what is the thing we can`t can`t see? Talk to the
people that know him.
We`re not going to -- that is not the point, right, Melissa?
HARRIS-PERRY: And, Chris, this is why communities are reacting with
terror, grief, and sadness. It`s not because we think our child is going
to walk down the street and meet up with George Zimmerman. It`s not
because we think there is some one individual bad actor out there. It is,
to underline the point that Mike said earlier, and Robin Kelly, brilliant
historian and social critic wrote about, it is because this is the law
We can actually see this jury probably made so-called the right
decision based on the evidence presented to them under Florida law. The
thing that is terrifying is the very idea these sets of laws are set up to
allow and encourage the circumstances that will lead to the death of
African-American people, young people, children.
And, by the way, let me also make very clear, women, because the other
group of people who are deeply impacted by this are folks in circumstances
of domestic violence. We know it about Marissa Alexander which you will
talk about later. But basically vulnerable populations are made more
vulnerable by a set of policies that say this is a system in which you will
not be protected, even after you`re dead.
HAYES: Melissa Harris-Perry, host of the show "MELISSA HARRIS-PERRY,"
which airs Saturday and Sunday mornings, at 10:00 on MSNBC; Congressman
Hakeem Jeffries; MSNBC political analyst Michael Eric Dyson and Maya Wiley
from the Center of Social Inclusion -- thank you, all.
JEFFRIES: Thank you.
HAYES: If you are young and black in this country, the verdict
communicates something very specific. You are suspicious until proven
otherwise. I`ll talk with a young black man who`s experienced that
firsthand, coming up.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do I look suspicious?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do I look suspicious?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Contrary to what America has led many to believe,
all young black males are not suspicious. We don`t deserve to be harassed,
murdered, prosecuted, not protected by the justice system all because
America believes we are suspicious.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do I look suspicious?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do I look suspicious?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Unfortunately, for Trayvon, who would never know
what was in store for him, all because America believed this innocent child
My name is Howard Conday, proud alum of the Howard School University
of Law and Howard University School of Business. We all are not
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: It`s a great video made by some alums and students at Howard
University about suspicion, and the suspicion that attaches to black men in
Joining me now is Khary Lazarre-White, co-founder and executive of
Brotherhood-SisterSol, a not profit organization, working with young people
in poor communities.
And Nicholas Peart, a former client of the Brotherhood-SisterSol, now
an after-school program facilitator there and a plaintiff in a class-action
lawsuit against the controversial stop-and-tactic New York City Police
Khary, you have to work with young folks that are constantly having
interactions, particularly, in New York City with police, but not just the
police in which they are the objects of suspicion. What do you -- what are
you going to tell them, what were you telling them today after this kind of
verdict. What message does that send?
KHARY LAZARRE-WHITE, BROTHERHOOD/SISTER SOL: Well, as soon as the
verdict came down on Saturday my phone standard, you know, ringing,
vibrating, every message that was possible. People were dealing with the
trauma of the verdict. People were dealing with the pain of the verdict.
The feeling like their lives did not matter, were not equal. I think we
can sometimes lose sight of the fact that a black boy was killed. This is
not verbal sparring. This is not just a political issue. A black boy was
killed, and he was killed in the space of a long line of black boys and
young men who have been killed in this country.
And so, when you look at that video and people say, "We`re not
suspicious. We are not all a threat." The problem and what our young
people face is that they feel that they are seen as threats, and that`s
part of the historical context of being seen as threats, black men and boys
in this country.
HAYES: Nicholas, you wrote this Op-Ed for this times about the
lawsuit from stop-and-frisk and about the experience of being stopped and
frisked numerous times. I just want to read a section of it. I remember
reading it in the Times. It sort of brought up short.
"I was stunned and I was scared. There I was on the ground with a gun
pointed at me. I couldn`t see what was happening, but I could feel a
policeman`s hand reach into my pocket and remove my wallet. Essentially, I
incorporate it into my daily life the sense that I might find myself up
against a wall or on the ground with an officer`s gun at my head. For a
black man in his 20s like me, it`s just a fact of life in New York."
Do you feel like you are suspicious? Do you feel when you walk
through the streets of New York that you have to be thinking about other`s
perception of you in that moment so that you are allaying their fears about
what you might be.
NICHOLAS PEART, STOP-AND-FRISK PLAINTIFF: Well, that`s a reality that
we have, you know, that, you know, you have to worry about, you know, what
a police officer is thinking and what an authority figure is thinking. You
know, being stopped on 96th Street, on my 18th birthday, I felt that I
didn`t belong there. You know, that was the only conclusion that I could
come up with for me being stopped ...
HAYES: That was a message from the police that you should stick to
where you do belong and not be somewhere you aren`t.
PEART: Yes, that`s what I thought. Yeah. So, you know, this happens
several hundred thousands of times, 94 percent of those stops are innocent.
So it`s extremely alarming.
HAYES: And it also creates the societal message that you do have
something to hide. I mean, it gets incorporated into your psychology,
PEART: Yes, it certainly does. The psychological consequences of it.
You know, feeling like this is a normal thing after a certain amount of
stops. You know, these are people who work for the city, the state of New
York, and you have them stopping young people. And I think it`s extremely
alarming when you have a young person who has been stopped and, you know,
the only conclusion that they could come up with is, "Oh, I was hanging out
late at night."
HAYES: This is something that the mayor said about stop-and-frisk.
And obviously, in the case of George Zimmerman, we`re dealing with someone
who is a former neighborhood watch person, was not an official arm of the
law, but the suspicion that attached to Trayvon Martin is very similar, I
think, in many respects, to the suspicion that, young men of color,
particularly in New York City carry around.
This is Mayor Bloomberg defending stop-and-frisk. Take a listen:
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
There`s a couple, one newspaper and one news service. They just keep
saying, "Oh, it`s a disproportionate percentage of a particular ethnic
group. That may be, but it`s not a disproportionate percentage of those
who witnesses and victims describe as committing the murder. In that case,
incidentally, I think we disproportionately stop whites too much and
minorities too little.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: What do you make of that comment?
LAZARRE-WHITE: You know, I think it is an extremely distressing
comment by the mayor. First off, it is disingenuous. And secondly, it`s
not based in factual evidence. The mayor conflates murder suspects with
530,000 stops last year. There were not 530,000 stops in New York City
last year because of murder suspects. There were less than 500 murders,
but the mayor is putting two numbers together that do not correlate. And
instead, what`s stopping frisk is, is a desire to police certain
communities, black and brown men, and as the mayor has said at other times,
to make them fearful to walk down the street, to make them fearful of the
police, and that is the result of this practice. It has nothing to do with
homicide. And so when he says that and he`s not called to task on it, he`s
able to put ...
HAYES: (inaudible) Has that been successful, Nicholas, in the way
that you think about walking down the streets in New York? Has it made you
PEART: Certainly. When I know that I`m more likely to be stopped at
night in my own neighborhood, that`s a problem.
LAZARRE-WHITE: And let me ask you, I mean, one question around this,
when you conflate this issue with what`s happened with George Zimmerman, is
that, when black children are talked to by their parents, they`re often
told, you know, to deal with the police in a very particular way. Not to
LAZARRE-WHITE: ... to talk to them, to look them in the eye.
HAYES: Keep your hands out of the (inaudible).
LAZARRE-WHITE: Absolutely. This is the talk you get.
LAZARRE-WHITE: Well now let`s look at the Zimmerman case. Here you
have a situation where a man who`s not a police officer pulls up in a dark
car with a gun and says he wants to talk to you. Any parent would say,
"Don`t stop and talk to (inaudible) ...
LAZARRE-WHITE: ... run at all costs. So what are our children
supposed to be told when walking down the street. What is the lesson for
young black men to survive these types of ...
HAYES: If everyone could be the freelance arm of the law ...
HAYES: ... and (armed).
LAZARRE-WHITE: ... and what is the freedom. Do you black young men
not have the right to pursue happiness and life and liberty? Does federal
law and the constitution and the Declaration of Independence not supercede
Florida and a stand-your-ground law. They have a right to be free. The
ground was Trayvon`s just like it was George Zimmerman`s.
HAYES: Khary Lazarre-White, from the Brotherhood/Sister Sol, and
youth activist, Nicholas Peart.
Thank you, gentlemen.
LAZARRE-WHITE: Thank you for having us.
PEART: Thank you.
HAYES: The nation grapples over what the outcome of the Trayvon
Martin murder case means for the role that race plays in our justice
system. Another Florida case that`s getting new attention. Just wait
until hear why this Florida mother was sentenced to 20 years in prison and
who successfully prosecuted her.
HAYES: It`s been less than 48 hours since the verdict was read in the
trial of the state of Florida versus George Zimmerman. But tonight, we
have signs of life moving on for some of the players involved. Attorneys
for George Zimmerman confirm that Zimmerman will recover all evidence used
in the case including the Kel Tec 9 pistol used to kill Trayvon Martin.
Defense Attorney Mark O`Mara was asked by ABC News if Zimmerman will
retain the firearm. "Yes," O`Mara said. "There`s even more reason now,
isn`t there? There are a lot of people out there who actually hate him,
though, they shouldn`t."
In the meantime, we have our first official post-trial cash-in. One
of the six trial jurors has signed with a literary agent to co-write along
with her attorney husband a book detailing the jury`s decision. The agent
says the book will explain the jury had, "no option but to find Zimmerman
not guilty." The juror has already conducted a television interview during
which her identity was concealed. It`s not clear if she will extend her
anonymity to the dust jacket of this upcoming tell-on.
Coming up, there`s another case in Florida that didn`t work out like
George Zimmerman`s did. It involves a black woman who got 20 years in
prison for firing what she calls, "a warning shot," at her estranged
husband after a physical altercation. That story is coming up.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ANGELA COREY, FLORIDA STATE ATTORNEY: We have done our best to assure
due process to all involved, and we believe that we brought out the truth
on behalf of Trayvon Martin. Our heart, as always, go out to our victim`s
family and to all victims of crime, but as long as they know that there
will always be prosecutors fighting the truth, I think the victims will
continue to rely on this justice system.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: Well Florida state attorney, Angela Corey, who oversaw the
failed prosecution of George Zimmerman, in what can only be described, at
best, as a pretty tone-deaf appearance. That was not Angela Corey`s first
time in front of the cameras in a high-profile case. Here`s another case
that Angela Corey prosecuted albeit far more successfully.
In 2010, Corey`s office charged Marissa Alexander, a 31-year-old black
woman and mother of three, with aggravated assault with a deadly weapon,
after she fired a bullet at a wall in 2010, what she described as a warning
shot to scare off her abusive husband during an altercation. Two children
were in the house, but no-one was hurt. Alexander argued she fired the
weapon in self-defense against her estranged husband who has twice been
arrested for domestic battery.
She tried to invoke Florida`s now famous, stand your ground law, but
state`s attorney Angela Corey argued that the stand your ground law did not
apply because Alexander acted in anger. The judge agreed saying that the
returning to the house after she had gone to the garage and come back with
a gun, she showed she was not in fear for her life.
In May 2012, Marissa Alexander was sentenced to 20 years in prison.
That 20-year sentence is required under Florida`s mandatory minimum gun
law. After Alexander`s family urged leniency in the sentencing, Judge
James Daniel described the issue as, "Out of my hands," saying the
legislature has not given me the discretion to do what the family and many
other have asked me to do."
Congresswoman Corrine Brown represents Jacksonville where Marissa
Alexander is from. Here`s how she reacted to the outcome of the case.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. CORRINE BROWN, D-FLORIDA: This is the beginning, not the end.
This is the beginning. Clearly, there is institutional racism. There is
no way. She was overcharged by the prosecutor. Period. Overcharged. She
never should have been charged.
FEMALE: She sure shouldn`t have.
BROWN: And how in Jacksonville, you shoot in the air and no-one gets
hurt, and you get 20 years.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: Marissa Alexander`s jury was out just 12 minutes before they
convicted her, and it`s hard, in the wake of the Zimmerman verdict, not to
put these two cases up for comparison and come to some pretty awful
conclusions about the state of justice in Florida.
Joining now at the table is Jelani Cobb, associate professor of
history, director of the Institute for African-American Studies at the
University of Connecticut. Barry Scheck, Civil Rights Attorney, who is co-
founder and co-director of The Innocent Project, and joining me from
Jacksonville is Congresswoman Corrine Brown, democrat from Florida.
Congresswoman, I`ll begin with you and ask why you have paid such
careful attention to this case. What about this case has captured your
imagination and precipitated your advocacy?
BROWN: Well first of all, let me just tell you that Sanford, Florida,
is also in my district, and my heart is just so heavy for the Martin
family. You need to know that. And I contacted the Justice Department as
soon as this incident happened along with the Congressional Black Caucus
and asked them to investigate.
Now the case in Jacksonville. Marissa Alexander has a Master`s
degree. Never had any trouble with the law, and the case shows that she
was abused, beaten, put in the hospital, pregnant with a baby of her
husband at the time. She shot a warning shot. She was overcharged and got
20 years. The week before, someone convicted of murder got 15 years.
Let me just say that the criminal justice system is not working for
the people that I represent. It`s not working -- not just blacks, but poor
people. Something needs to happen. And you can`t not just expect the
president or the Congress person, but you`ve got to arm yourself. You`ve
got to be registered. You`ve got to vote that ballot. You`ve got to vote
for the attorney general, the judges. I mean, everybody has to do their
part, because this is unacceptable.
HAYES: Barry, let me ask you about mandatory minimums because that`s
a huge part of this case, and it seemed like this was one of those cases,
and you see them occasionally, where judges will just say, essentially,
without saying it, this is ridiculous. This is a ridiculous sentence. I
wish I didn`t have to. Mandatory minimums have been a huge trend in
American criminal justice and they do lead to a lot of unjust outcomes.
BARRY SCHECK, CIVIL RIGHTS ATTORNEY: Well that`s the number 1 reason
that we`ve had this skyrocketing increase in incarceration,
overcriminalization. It`s destroying our misdemeanor courts. It`s
destroying our felony courts. The disproportion number of people in prison
in this country, particularly, by race is unimaginable. And that should be
the one great thing that comes out of this Trayvon Martin case, that, you
know, Congressman Jeffries is actually having an overcriminalization
hearing in the House. And they had five republicans and five democrats
appointed to this commission.
Now, you have the right on crime people. Mark Levin and others who
are taking very seriously this whole issue of overcriminalization. So the
first thing is the Congresswoman said is that the judge had no choice, but
this case was overcharged, and I want to say, I wonder if the Congresswoman
agrees, that Angela Corey`s predecessor, Harry Shorstein (ph), would have
never, ever ...
SCHECK: ... charged this case.
BROWN: Never. He never would have charged her like this. Never.
HAYES: And Congresswoman, what ...
BROWN: And you`re talking about someone that had no priors, a person
had a Master`s degree, had a job, and it was an incident ...
BROWN: ... one incident, and the week before, a person got convicted
of murder and got 15 years, and the next week, she got sentenced to 20
years. And I want you to know when I talk to my colleagues, and I talk to
different groups and organizations around the country, it`s hard for them
to believe that a person could actually get 20 years for firing a warning
shot and no-one got hurt, but yet, in Sanford, you kill a youth, and yet,
you know, not guilty.
I`m not comparing, but there`s something wrong with the system, and we
need to double-down and change the law, that`s the state legislators. We
need judges to give them more discretion. I mean, we need -- we need to
deal with the criminal justice system. And let me just say one thing, as a
mother, we tell our children, do not talk to strangers. And we work with
them to talk with the police force, but George Zimmerman was not a police
officer. He had no business saying anything to that young man. None
HAYES: I think everyone agrees, they wish that he had stayed in the
car that night. Congresswoman Corrine Brown, thank you so much. I really
appreciate it. We`ll be right back.
I want to talk about this overcriminalization right after this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ANGELA COREY, FLORIDA STATE ATTORNEY: We offered her three years and
kept that open. No ma`am. Three years in the prison which is down 17
years off of the 20 years, and we offered that to her and kept the offer
open until right before she chose to go to a jury. You asked did we show
her mercy. We offered her a plea bargain. That`s what we offer in cases
where we weigh.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: That`s state attorney, Angela Corey, who was the prosecutor in
the George Zimmerman case, explaining her decision to offer a plea to
Marissa Alexander. She did not take that plea. She is now doing 20 years
in prison. Still with me are Jelani Cobb, the University of Connecticut,
and civil rights attorney, Barry Scheck.
Jelani, when you see these two cases side by side and, again, there`s
different facts to each, there`s different circumstances, obviously, but
stand them side by side in the same jurisdiction, what do you see?
JELANI COBB, UNIVERSITY OF CONNECTICUT, PROFESSOR OF HISTORY AND
AFRICAN-AMERICAN STUDIES: The thing that I find most striking about this
is that, she brought charges. She brought these charges against Ms.
Alexander, voluntary, she didn`t have to. But they were forced,
essentially, by political pressures, and ongoing mass demonstrations to
bring the charges against Mr. Zimmerman. And so, what it says to me is
that she found this case more palatable despite the fact that there`s
exculpatory evidence here, there is a track record of domestic violence.
The estranged husband did say that he had been violent toward her and
two previous women describing punching his ex-wife in the mouth. There are
the incidences of the restraining orders, and so, this gives you a reason
to say this person`s life is in jeopardy.
HAYES: And I think what part of what made the verdict so hard to
swallow on Saturday night in the broad context, is the fact that the way
the criminal justice system works is that, we all got to see this trial
which is great and the system working and a reasonable doubt and a very
vigorous defense, so I think a very well-done defense in the context of
putting on a defense right.
But most of the American criminal justice system looks absolutely
nothing like that right. I mean, you work in this (inaudible), it looks
nothing like that.
SCHECK: Nothing like it. And the overcharging, though, by Angela
Corey in this Marissa Alexander case, is so troubling. Given the fact that
the abusive husband, admittedly abusive husband, at one point, recants his
testimony, then flips back at the time of the trial. The son had recanted.
You know, she`s given these statements that, oh, she went into the garage
and came back and, therefore, she`s not entitled to the stand your ground.
When she went into the garage, she couldn`t get out. She was looking for
her keys, and that`s why she brought the gun back.
I mean, it just is the kind of case that screams out for the exercise
of prosecutorial discretion. She should have never been put into that
position in the first place, where she`s running the risk of 20 years.
HAYES: And I thought it was interesting, this idea that well we
offered the plea and she didn`t take it. That, you know, pleading is, what
the criminal justice system does, and that`s actually what these officers
are prepared to do. Here`s -- the share of criminal cases going to trial
has dropped sharply in the 1980s with tougher sentences laws. In 1980,
over 20 percent of criminal cases went to trial. In 2010, it`s less than 5
percent. So what we`re seeing is a system that has (inaudible) much
harsher possible penalties for people, the much harsher penalty is the
thing that scares people in the pleading.
And we have a system that is only equipped to plea people out. If
everyone went to trial, the entire thing, right. The entire thing would
collapse in on itself.
COBB: And we effectively do is curtail the right to a jury -- a trial
by jury of your peers because you have two options, a Draconian sentence or
a possibly terrible plea bargain. And so, this is what we have, we wind up
with situations like Marissa Alexander, which we should say, (inaudible),
but what happens to the next person who`s innocent and knows about this
case. They take a plea bargain that they really shouldn`t have ever been
HAYES: People will say, about the criminal justice system, they`ll be
like, well all these people are guilty, you know, you know, you find the
odd person who`s innocent with your innocence project and you find the DNA.
But does the system do a good job of essentially exercising any discretion?
I mean, is it mindful? Is it just in who it prosecutes and who it doesn`t?
SCHECK: Well, it`s become almost mindless because we have such an
expansion. Just take misdemeanors. People go to criminal court all the
time on cases where they can`t afford lawyers. The lawyers are over-
burdened themselves. They don`t have enough resources. If you want to
come back to court, five, six, seven times and lose your job, well you have
that option, or you can ...
HAYES: Or you just plea out.
SCHECK: ... a misdemeanor plea with all the collateral consequences.
There are more people pleading guilty to misdemeanors who are innocent.
It`s beyond imagination.
HAYES: And once you plea on misdemeanor, you are marked by the
system. You are now sorted into the pile of people that are suspicious
from there on. Jelani Cobb, from the University of Connecticut, Civil
Rights Attorney, Barry Scheck. Thank you, gentlemen, both.
That is All In for this evening. The Rachel Maddow show starts right
Good evening, Rachel.
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY
<Copy: Content and programming copyright 2013 NBC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.
Copyright 2013 CQ-Roll Call, Inc. All materials herein are protected by
United States copyright law and may not be reproduced, distributed,
transmitted, displayed, published or broadcast without the prior written
permission of CQ-Roll Call. You may not alter or remove any trademark,
copyright or other notice from copies of the content.>