July 15, 2013
Guests: Shaka King, Joshua DuBois, Jasmine Rand
CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HOST: Aftermath.
Let`s play HARDBALL.
Good evening. I`m Chris Matthews out in San Francisco.
"Let Me Start" tonight with this. According to the U.S. Centers for
Disease Control and Prevention, a white person in this country is five
times as likely to commit suicide with a gun as to be shot with one. You
are more likely to deliberately kill yourself, in other words, with a
firearm than to have someone else deliberately shoot and kill you.
Now, pause for this. If you`re an African-American in this country, you`re
five times as likely to be shot and killed by someone as to do it to
yourself. Well, this explains -- if you think about this amazing number,
and I will admit it`s only part of the differing attitudes out there on the
Trayvon Martin tragedy -- it does explain a vital life and death difference
in how we look at and feel about guns in this country.
If you are black in America, you see the horror of gun violence up close.
You see how guns kill your kids. It`s why you may be wondering why your
country refuses to take even a minimal step to protect them, your kids,
from people having guns who shouldn`t.
Well, tonight, we`re going to talk about the overall reaction to the
verdict in the Zimmerman murder case. I want to get what I think are the
layers to the case, and there are layers, all of which matter to what`s
happening right now today in this country. I`m talking about the emotional
First -- and this is a fact -- the historic injustice to blacks in this
country as the hands of whites. Slavery was a 250-year fact of life on
this continent. Jim Crow was a 100-year fact of life. And what`s come
since the 1960s is a mix of bad and good that fails to offset all that came
before, the results of which continue in the relations between white and
black right up through the trial and its aftermath. It`s all part of the
context in which we live.
Second is the combination of facts that create the context of the actual
tragedy down there in Sanford, Florida, this killing of an African-American
teenager. This fact that he pursued -- Mr. Zimmerman, a young man acting
like he was a police officer, armed as if he was one, deciding on the guilt
of that young man as if he had the rights and duty of a police officer, and
very well perhaps because he was carrying that gun, felt like a police
officer. Who knows? Who knows?
Well, this combination of history and context are the box in which this
case came in. Though the jurors were asked to rule on what happened when
those two men met up with each other, I don`t think it`s easily possible to
ignore the circumstances of history and George Zimmerman`s behavior up
until they met that evening -- I don`t think you can ignore that. I don`t
think it`s possible to view the public reaction right now to the trial`s
aftermath apart from those two factors of history and Zimmerman kept
bringing a gun into the situation.
White America may have been surprised at the jury`s decision way back in
that other celebrated murder case, the O.J. case, but they did not see it
as part of a historic wrong, some pattern of historic injustice. It`s
plain now, as we watch the reaction, that African-Americans, and not only
them, see the verdict of Saturday night very much in the light of history.
Let`s talk to two great people. Joy Reid`s an MSNBC contributor and Eugene
Robinson is a Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist for "The Washington Post"
and an MSNBC political analyst.
Before I hear from you two sane people of reasonable judgment, I want to
show us the context of what`s going on in this country. And it is a
disgrace. Take a look at how -- well, this isn`t a disgrace. Here`s an
editorial in this morning`s "USA Today" -- you can agree with it or not,
but it characterized the frustration and anger that many feel.
Quote -- this is from an unsigned editorial -- "The fact remains that
Zimmerman, a neighborhood watch volunteer and cop wannabe, instantly
identified Martin as a blanking punk who looks like he`s up to no good.
Well, the fact remains that Martin was doing nothing wrong. He was
returning from a snack run at a convenience store, heading for the house of
his father`s girlfriend. African-Americans saw the case in the way that
the jury of six women, many of them white, and the other of uncertain
ethnicity, probably could not. Despite all the nation`s progress in
burying its racist past, minorities are commonly stopped by authorities or
viewed by strangers as up to no good for no other reason than the color of
And that`s the "USA Today" editorial. And that comes down somewhere in the
Let me start with you folks right now. I want to get to some of the
crazier stuff, but you`re -- in the next segment. But let`s talk about
Is it possible, Joy, my friend -- is it possible to unlayer this situation
from historic injustice, going back to the first slave to get here, all the
way through Jim Crow, all the way through the latest police profiling, and
separate out the fact that Zimmerman walked into a situation with a gun and
perhaps with an attitude, who knows, that he was some kind of pseudo-police
officer and he was somehow catching people he thought were the criminals,
profiling or not, from the actual question the jury was asked to answer,
what happened when these two people met.
Who was the aggressor? Who -- did the defendant feel justified fear of
loss of life or serious bodily harm? Can you separate the history, the
behavior of Mr. Zimmerman before the incident came about, when they met
with each other, from the actual question of guilt or innocence which the
jury was asked to describe -- to decide?
JOY REID, THEGRIO.COM, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: Well, Chris, I would suggest
not. And the reason for that is because since the only account that fully
explains what happened on that night comes from George Zimmerman, and he
told a lot of untruths in other areas, a lot of untruths about what he was
doing that night even down to whether he was following Trayvon Martin, his
account alone is unreliable, OK?
So while there may have been reasonable doubt, believing George Zimmerman`s
story that Trayvon Martin leapt out from the bushes instead of just going
home and decided to slam his head into the concrete, you have to believe
that Trayvon Martin would have been scary to you, if you were a jury, that
he would have been frightening to you.
And the defense directly played on that when they showed that picture of
Trayvon Martin with the shirt off, the Facebook picture, where he`s got the
gold grill in, and said, This is the person that my client saw, and that
whole history and that whole idea of him being not just a regular teenager
but a scary black menace.
And then the second part of that is --
MATTHEWS: So you don`t accept the testimony or the evidence from the
forensic scientist that he did have evidence of serious injury on his back
of his head that may have been caused by cement?
REID: Well, his own physician, the person who examined him, said they were
exaggerated. The medical examiner said that there were two small cuts that
may have bled a lot, but that they were exaggerated. Chris Serino, the
lead detective, said that he believed George Zimmerman --
MATTHEWS: So what caused them?
REID: -- exaggerated his injuries. Even -- even if they got into a
fight because here`s the question, Chris --
MATTHEWS: Well, what happened to the -- where did the injuries come from
on the back of his head? I`m trying to separate this case out --
REID: I still have no idea. I mean --
MATTHEWS: -- the way the jury did it.
REID: They could have been rolling around on the grass. They could have
been rolling around on the concrete. Who knows. Clearly, there was some
sort of a fight. But George Zimmerman`s total account of it, of having his
head slammed to the concrete when they wound up in the grass, his own
lawyer admitted that, Well, maybe he did exaggerate his injuries, and they
wound up on the grass.
So in the end, his story was contingent upon the fact that Trayvon Martin
saw the gun --
MATTHEWS: OK --
REID: -- and reached for the gun --
REID: But putting that aside --
MATTHEWS: Just to finish up, you believe that he was guilty of second
degree murder beyond a reasonable doubt? If you were a juror, you would
have decided that based on the trial?
REID: I think that they had enough for manslaughter if the prosecutors had
done a halfway decent job. I think the prosecutors did a poor job, never
established a theory of the case of their own. The same question you`re
asking, the prosecutors should have answered that. They should have
provided a theory.
And I`ll provide you with one -- at least one possible theory. This is it.
We never could get people to understand the fear somebody would feel, if
they are a young black teenage male, when they have someone following them.
I heard a lot of people who were white looking at the case and saying,
Well, he was just following him. What`s wrong with that?
Well, you know what? It`s frightening to be followed. And if he turned
around decided to fight someone, an armed man following had him --
MATTHEWS: Well, he didn`t know he was armed, did he? Or did he?
REID: Well, to fight someone White House`s following him. The idea of
somebody following you and then having the right to ask you where you are
and what you`re doing --
MATTHEWS: Yes. What`s your theory --
REID: There`s a history of that in this country.
MATTHEWS: -- of what happened? What`s your theory? In your mind`s eye,
when you think about what happened, do you have a theory, a visual theory
of them somehow getting into a fight but -- and this guy not really being
justified in the sense of fear of bodily harm or death? I mean, do you
have a sense that that didn`t meet the condition? How do you see it?
REID: Well, I mean, getting back to your original question of the idea of
African-Americans being out of place -- I think that, obviously, George
Zimmerman decided this kid didn`t belong here, there was something wrong
with him, as he said, and he decided to follow him and he caught up to him.
And once this person who`s following you gets out of their car and is now
really following you on foot and catches up to you, does this kid have now
a right to maybe fight him? Did he fight him? Did he hit him? That`s
But it gets back to the question of this history in this country. There
used to be a time when not only police could ask any black person on the
street, What are you doing here, and you had to answer. But when any
civilian could to do it, too, right?
REID: Isn`t that the Emmett Till story? Some civilian decides you don`t
belong here, Now, you tell me what you`re doing here, and then I, because
I`m an African-American, young black teenager, I have an obligation to
Zimmerman had absolutely no authority to ask that kid what he was doing
MATTHEWS: I know.
REID: -- and never even mentioned he was neighborhood watch.
MATTHEWS: I`m just trying to recognize -- I`m trying to get to -- let me
ask Gene`s take on this. Gene, you know how to write about these things.
How do you put it all together? Is there a way to disaggregate the
history, the profiling aspect of this, the gun fact of it from what may
have the happened or not happened once these two met each other?
EUGENE ROBINSON, "WASHINGTON POST," MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, that`s
essentially what the jury was asked to do. The jury was asked to
disaggregate the history from what actually happened.
I think the Justice Department -- the justice system failed Trayvon Martin
the night he was killed by -- the police did not conduct a proper
investigation that night. They didn`t arrest Zimmerman. You know, a grown
man acknowledges, I just killed an unarmed 17-year-old kid. They didn`t do
an investigation. They didn`t arrest him. They didn`t test him for drug
or alcohol use. They did a sort of cursory examination for forensic
evidence, and they barely bothered to look for witnesses. So none of that
was really done until six weeks later. So I can`t blame prosecutors that
much for trying to work with what they had.
Now, the reason the system failed Trayvon Martin that night and
continually, I believe, is the sort of dehumanization of black young men,
of black boys. I mean, he was a 17-year-old, a teenager three weeks past
his 17th birthday.
ROBINSON: I`ve had a couple of those in my house, and whatever they might
think they are, they`re boys. They`re -- they`re -- they`re not --
MATTHEWS: I this you`re right.
ROBINSON: -- mature. They`re not adults.
MATTHEWS: That`s where I agree. And I completely agree --
ROBINSON: And -- and -- but --
MATTHEWS: -- with the context of this because they let it drop. The
initial reaction, we have to keep reminding ourselves of -- and I don`t
like the way the governor down -- I don`t like that governor anyway down
there, Scott Walker -- Scott -- what`s his name?
REID: Rick Scott.
ROBINSON: Rick Scott.
MATTHEWS: But the fact is, the way he jumped in it, and obviously
political purpose there. But what I -- I did think it was kind of cold, to
put it lightly, to have the -- Zimmerman talk to the police and then just
drop the matter as if this kid wasn`t a human being.
ROBINSON: Right. And black boys are not allowed to be boys. They`re not
allowed to be at the cusp of manhood and to make the sort of questionable
but not fatal -- shouldn`t be fatal -- decisions that kids make at that
age. Yet it just seemed OK to the police and the prosecutors initially
until there was a national outcry, and then people looked more closely at
So if we`re going to have a conversation, let`s talk about that. Let`s
talk about black boys and how they are seen as men, as full of menace --
MATTHEWS: OK. Gene, I`m putting you --
MATTHEWS: I`m putting you on the spot here because when you watched the
trial, like I watched it, maybe two thirds, half the time -- I had other
things to do, like in the news, but I was watching a lot of this with
interest. I thought the jury was on its way to an acquittal. I wasn`t
sure about the manslaughter because I thought that might have been a hung
jury. I think I`m with Joy on that. I don`t know where that would have
But I didn`t think the prosecution was very competent. I didn`t think they
had the evidence. Maybe they could have had it. Maybe a genius prosecutor
could have done it. But they weren`t geniuses and --
ROBINSON: I think --
MATTHEWS: Go ahead. Your thoughts.
ROBINSON: I think the chance of the state developing a sort of
dispassionate account of what happened that night, different from
Zimmerman`s account, an account that would stand up to Zimmerman`s account,
frankly, was probably lost in the weeks between --
MATTHEWS: I agree.
ROBINSON: -- when the killing took place and when the investigation
started. And I think the prosecution was left with a bunch of facts. And
they poked a lot of holes into Zimmerman`s story. So it`s not as if they
didn`t impeach his story.
ROBINSON: But I`m not sure it was possible for them to develop a much more
coherent narrative --
MATTHEWS: Why -- why --
ROBINSON: -- because the information simply wasn`t there --
MATTHEWS: That`s my question.
ROBINSON: -- after that lapse of time.
MATTHEWS: Joy, last to you, last thought to you. Quickly, why didn`t they
try to present a movie in our minds of what happened favorable to the
REID: And I think that that`s the point because you were asking all of
those questions at the beginning, and I think those are the questions a lot
of jurors were probably asking, too. And even down to conceding who was on
top -- it seems like the prosecutors maybe didn`t have a theory of what
could have happened.
But also, culturally, they had to be able to imagine what John Guy said at
the very end, that this was a kid who was trying to get home who might have
been afraid. I never heard that developed until the very end. It seemed
like they found their momentum on the last day. But up until then, they
never presented a narrative that could have compelled these six women, none
of whom had the life experiences or the cultural experiences --
REID: -- that an African-American teenager or his parents would have
had. None of that. And rather than develop that over the course of the
trial, they try to rush it in at the end. So it really isn`t surprising
that they lost.
MATTHEWS: Do you think it`s surprising that the prosecution allowed an
all-white jury or five out of six jurors --
ROBINSON: Surprised me.
MATTHEWS: -- being white?
ROBINSON: Surprised me.
MATTHEWS: How they did they let that -- why did the prosecution --
prosecution let that happen? Why didn`t they challenge enough to get a
ROBINSON: I have no idea. I mean, I thought that procedure was fairly
well established over the last five or six decades --
MATTHEWS: I think we get used to that.
ROBINSON: -- that you wouldn`t, in this sort of case, want the jury to
have no African-American jurors.
REID: Well, you know what?
MATTHEWS: I don`t think -- I don`t think the prosecution believed in the
case. Maybe that`s just a seat-of-the-pants view. I don`t think they had
their heart in it. They didn`t have a picture, a story to tell. They
didn`t have a case to make. They -- right, both of you, I agree with.
They impeached the witness. They impeached the testimony given through
videotape and otherwise testimony, even with the guy not having to sit in
the chair, Zimmerman. But I didn`t get a sense they had a counter-story to
REID: Their own story. Yes. Exactly.
MATTHEWS: OK. Thanks. Please come back. You`re the best. Of course
you`re going to come back. You`re part of us. Anyway, thanks, Joy. Thank
REID: Thank you.
MATTHEWS: I can`t wait to read you tomorrow.
Coming up: The Justice Department is opening a hate crime investigation
into Trayvon Martin`s case. Let`s see how that prospects look. We`re
going to look at where the feds, the federal government, the (INAUDIBLE)
and the Justice Department can actually bring a case. And will they?
Politics will play a part in this. And you`ll have to wonder about Eric
Holder and what he wants to do.
This is HARDBALL, the place for politics.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ANGELA COREY, FLORIDA SPECIAL PROSECUTOR: This case has never been about
race, nor has it ever been about the right to bear arms, not in the sense
of proving this as a criminal case. But Trayvon Martin was profiled.
There is no doubt that he was profiled to be a criminal. And if race was
one of the aspects in George Zimmerman`s mind, then we believe that we put
out the proof necessary to show that Zimmerman did profile Trayvon Martin.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: We`ll be back to talk about the Justice Department`s
investigation into whether Trayvon Martin`s killing was a hate crime.
HARDBALL back after this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ERIC HOLDER, ATTORNEY GENERAL OF THE UNITED STATES: We are cognizant of
the fact that the state trial reached its conclusion over the weekend. As
parents, as engaged citizens, and as leaders who stand vigilant against
violence in communities across the country, the Deltas are deeply and
rightly concerned about this case. The Justice Department shares your
concern. I share your concern.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL. Not guilty. That was the final
decision by the Florida jury acquitting George Zimmerman of all charges in
the killing of Trayvon Martin, but those weren`t, in fact, the last words
in this case, as we`ve been seeing. Attorney General Holder -- you saw
just there -- says his Department of Justice has placed the case under
review as it examines whether or not Zimmerman violated any Civil Rights
statutes. Well, some 450,000 people have signed a NAACP petition urging
the Justice Department to file those charges.
Well, the Martin family is looking at its own options, as well. Attorneys
for the family say they`re considering filing civil charges, a strategy
that has been successful in prior high-profile cases. Of course, the O.J.
Simpson trial was one where the civil charges against O.J. Simpson were
Anyway, the burden of proof to win a case in such a matter is less
stringent than in criminal cases. It`s easy to win a civil case. A
preponderance of evidence standard is used in civil cases, which means the
greater weight of evidence must favor the plaintiff, but it`s a much lower
bar than what the prosecution had to prove of beyond a reasonable doubt in
the criminal case. And because criminal prosecution is now off the table,
Zimmerman could be forced to testify about himself.
So what`s the next chapter for George Zimmerman, and of course, the Martin
family? For the latest on this, we`re going to go to NBC News justice
correspondent Pete Williams.
Pete, when you`re looking at this coldly, what do you see?
PETE WILLIAMS, NBC NEWS JUSTICE CHIEF CORRESPONDENT: I think they`re
unlikely. And here`s the reason.
The closest fit under federal law would the four-year-old federal hate
crimes law. And what it says is that that for a person to be punished
under the federal system for this kind of a crime, you have to show that
bodily injury was the result, was caused by someone`s racial perception or
the belief that the victim -- they attacked the victim because of race.
That`s the difficult thing here. Now, the federal government could well
look at evidence. There`s been an argument here that it all started
because George Zimmerman, the race was a factor, that Trayvon Martin`s
factor was a race, that that`s why he started following him.
But in essence what the federal law requires is that you persuade a jury
that the reason Zimmerman pulled the trigger was because of Trayvon
Martin`s race and not some other factor such as self-defense. The further
away you get from the shooting itself and you go to some other part of the
chain of events, no matter how it may have started, the further away you
get away from that, the harder it is to make the case.
And I have talked to several former prosecutors in the Justice Department`s
Civil Rights Division and they all say the same thing. Proving someone`s
intent is one of the hardest things to do in the law. So, I think it would
be surprising, Chris, if the federal government brings a prosecution based
on what we know now.
Now, it may be that their investigation will uncover something different.
But if it doesn`t, if it relies largely on the evidence that we have
already seen, then I think federal prosecution is unlikely.
MATTHEWS: I don`t know whether you can help me or not, but I have been
trying to make the case tonight that the reason for the anger over this
trial from a lot of Americans comes from a number of sources, certainly a
history of racial behavior in this country starting with slavery and Jim
Crow. Most of our history has been bad in that regard, white people`s
behavior towards black people, to put it bluntly.
And then you have this whole question of profiling and whether George
Zimmerman went out there with an attitude that this fellow, because he was
African-American, was guilty, and therefore, treated him that way in their
conversations, if you will, and then separate all that from the difference
between what happens between two gentlemen when they met that night, which
is the essence of what the jury had to decide.
Do you have to argue to win a civil rights case in this matter that he shot
him on sight, that there wasn`t a scuffle, that there wasn`t a fear of
great bodily harm?
WILLIAMS: Or you have to prove at least that the -- that the reason that
he shot him, more than anything else, beyond a reasonable doubt, was that
it was because of his race and not because he feared for his life or his
safety or something else.
What you say about the reason for the public outrage may well be true. But
to try to place all that on the back of this admittedly difficult standard
in the federal hate crimes law is a very tall order, Chris.
WILLIAMS: And the prosecutors who have brought these cases say they
succeed when there is really strong evidence of a person`s bias. They`re
making statements while they attack someone. They tell other people in
advance that they`re going to go out and try to attack someone who is black
or someone who`s gay or someone who`s a Muslim or whatever.
MATTHEWS: I got you.
WILLIAMS: You have to have other kinds of evidence.
MATTHEWS: Yes. Thanks, Pete. You`re always great.
WILLIAMS: You bet.
MATTHEWS: Pete Williams, justice correspondent for NBC News.
We`re joined now by someone very much involved in the matter, Jasmine Rand.
She`s an attorney representing the Martin family.
Thank you so much for joining us, Ms. Rand.
Can you tell us what your feelings and thoughts are now about the future in
JASMINE RAND, ATTORNEY FOR MARTIN FAMILY: You know, yesterday -- or
Saturday was certainly heartbreaking for the legal team and for the family.
It was a big disappointment for us to get a not guilty verdict. But we
want the people to know that not guilty does not mean that George Zimmerman
was innocent. And right now in this moment, more than anything, I think
that we are feeling inspired and hopeful by all of the love and
encouragement that we have literally gotten from all over the world.
I have had calls from Morocco, from London, from Jamaica, and this outpour
of love. And I think that that`s what the family is standing on now. We
have heard the words of our president and we have heard the words of
Attorney General Eric Holder, who says he plans to pursue the federal hate
crime charges against George Zimmerman or plans to continue the
So, right now, we`re feeling hopeful that the federal government will step
in and do what the state did not do and what the jury did not do. And I
hate to steal the words of Don West, but it was a tragedy to get an
acquittal in Florida state court. It will be a travesty not to bring the
federal charges against George Zimmerman.
MATTHEWS: Well, Pete Williams was just on. I want to ask you about -- I
will repeat what he asked. I`m not an expert. I`m not an attorney like
yourself, but do you have to prove it was basically shooting on sight, that
he -- I have heard some earlier charges in the beginning of this when it
was very outraged in the country that he saw a young black man and shot him
because he met the profile in his own head -- profile in his head of who
was committing these burglaries.
And my question to you is, if it did involve a scuffle, if his head was hit
a number of times, maybe not 25 times, maybe his testimony isn`t accurate,
but there if there was a scuffle that involved the danger of bodily harm,
can you still prove that the reason he shot the guy, the poor young kid,
was because he was black? Can you prove he waited until his head was hit
three times and then shot him because he was black or hit him or shot him
because he was in fear of his life?
How do you separate those two possibilities for a jury?
RAND: First, I don`t think there`s any -- any statute in law that says you
have to shoot somebody first.
And I certainly think that in this case, we have a tremendous amount of
MATTHEWS: Well, what would be the story you would tell a federal jury?
What story would you say? What would be your scenario of what happened?
RAND: I think that George Zimmerman placed 46 calls throughout a short
period are of time reporting black men as suspicious in the neighborhood.
He got out of that car saying these "F`ing A-holes always get away."
RAND: He followed George -- Trayvon Martin with a loaded gun and that
loaded gun, when he pulled the trigger, the thing that pulled the trigger
was his hate in his heart for African-American people. And we heard the
defense say it over and over.
MATTHEWS: But, wait. You skipped past -- OK, let`s get back to the
incident. You said he carried a loaded gun. Was he carrying it or was it
in his holster?
RAND: I don`t --
MATTHEWS: You said he was carrying it. You said he was carrying it.
RAND: What I meant was, he was carrying it on his person. I don`t know at
which point --
MATTHEWS: And you say he had the intention of shooting -- this will be
your case -- I think it`s very important you make it clear -- he went out
with the intention of killing a black man?
RAND: I don`t think he got out of the car saying I`m going to go kill a
black man tonight.
I think that he followed Trayvon Martin because he was black. I think that
he assumed he was committing criminal activity because he was black.
RAND: And I think that he put a bullet in his heart because Trayvon Martin
was black, because if it hadn`t been for the color of his skin, I don`t
believe George Zimmerman would have begun following him to begin with.
MATTHEWS: Do you believe he had any danger -- felt any danger of his life
or bodily injury when they were scuffling? Do you believe that ever
RAND: I don`t know how a grown man felt any great danger of bodily injury
to himself when he was carrying a loaded gun the entire time. And if he
was so afraid, why did he get out of the car? Why did he continue to
follow Trayvon? He was not afraid. He was pursuing Trayvon and he was not
going to let another one get away.
MATTHEWS: At the point of horror, when he did pull the trigger, do you
think he would have behaved differently at that point if the person who he
claimed to be the assailant, who he claimed to be the aggressor, who he
claimed was the one threatening his life, if that person had been white, he
would have behaved differently, you say, or do you?
RAND: Yes, I do. And all I need to do was listen to the words of the
The defense throughout the entire trial tried to justify killing Trayvon
Martin because he was black. The last witness they called said somebody
black broke into the neighborhood. That`s why George thought Trayvon was a
criminal. That`s why he lodged a bullet in his heart, and that`s OK.
That`s not OK.
MATTHEWS: OK. We know your case.
RAND: Our United States Constitution says that`s not OK.
MATTHEWS: It`s great to have you on. Thank you so much for sharing your
points of view and your intentions. It`s great to have you on. Please
RAND: Thank you.
MATTHEWS: Up next: The politics in this case is not just black and white,
of course, but part of it is, and why people also see the case through the
right vs. blue prism, right vs. left. By the way, some outrageous thoughts
here and voices coming from the right. It`s not symmetric, ladies and
gentlemen. There`s some really crazy stuff coming from the hard right
And this is HARDBALL, the place for politics.
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.
Well, reaction on the explosive right I have got to call them to the not
guilty verdict in the trial of George Zimmerman was loudest among the
people who frequently try to stoke the fire and polarize any issue that
comes to the fore. These agents provocateur are often exploiting an issue
for their own gain.
And here they had again. And here`s a sampling, starting with Iowa
Congressman Steve King, who said George Zimmerman should never have been
prosecuted in the first place. And then he took a jab at the president, of
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. STEVE KING (R), IOWA: The evidence didn`t support prosecution, and
the Justice Department engaged in this. The president engaged in this and
turned it into a political issue. This should have been handled
exclusively with law and order.
NEWT GINGRICH (R), FORMER SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: I watched these
protesters, none of whom read the transcript, none of whom sat through five
weeks through the trial, all of whom are prepared basically to be a lynch
mob. They only wanted one verdict, and the verdict was guilty.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, the fact is, I will bet most of the protesters watched
every hour of the trial.
Anyway, and the night the verdict was announced, conservative -- I guess
you would call her that -- Ann Coulter tweeted one word: "Hallelujah."
Well, the reaction from political left was more muted, but still questioned
the verdict, of course.
Today on MSNBC, U.S. Congressman Elijah Cummings was among those giving
voice to some of the public dismay.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. ELIJAH CUMMINGS (D), MARYLAND: And it`s very, very, very hard for the
public to understand how somebody with some Skittles and candy against
somebody with a gun and it ends up that the -- that Zimmerman -- Zimmerman
-- Zimmerman walks away with not even a misdemeanor charge against him,
found guilty of a charge against him, and then young Trayvon is dead. That
is hard for people to understand.
REP. CHAKA FATTAH (D), PENNSYLVANIA: A person who the police -- who
officials had asked not to follow him took a gun and killed him.
And now that person will get his gun back. He will -- George Zimmerman
will get his -- that gun back. He will be out. And I think the notion
that the jury is saying to him that if he did the same thing again today or
tomorrow or next week or someone else did it that there would be no
punishment is not a great signal to send.
SEN. HARRY REID (D-NV), MAJORITY LEADER: I think the Justice Department`s
going to take a look at this. They`re -- this is not over with. And I
think that`s good. That is our system. It`s gotten better, not worse.
BILL RICHARDSON (D), FORMER NEW MEXICO GOVERNOR: I worry about all those
young black kids out there that see a system of justice that maybe doesn`t
respond to them. I think a national dialogue is needed.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, as my colleague Joe Scarborough of MSNBC writes in
Politico: "The Zimmerman verdict showed just how politicized every speck of
American life has become for a hyper-partisan political class."
Well, joining me, The Huffington Post now, Howard Fineman is joining me,
and "Mother Jones" magazine, David Corn. Both are MSNBC political analyst.
Gentlemen, this, well, predictable outrage, I must call it, from the right,
but I have to tell you, when I watch Newt in action, Howard, I have learned
to believe he`s just pulled the pin on the grenade at every operation --
every opportunity. And here he is again trying to excite I think a group
of Americans who are unhappy perhaps at the whole tragedy itself, who
aren`t saying hallelujah.
I don`t care how conservative you are. I think most Americans say what a
terrible thing that`s happened in race relations in this country. We so
much wish it never happened. We don`t -- they don`t think anything -- we
don`t think there`s any heroes in this case.
HOWARD FINEMAN, NBC CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Newt can
sometimes be a human sneer.
FINEMAN: In the case of Ann Coulter, she`s a -- she`s a -- you know, on it
for show. Steve King is the wild man from western Iowa.
Newt Gingrich used to be speaker of the House. And he should know better.
FINEMAN: And to focus on the accusation of ignorance on the part of people
who are demonstrating is to more than miss the point, Chris, more than miss
And I -- look, I actually think that the comments that you showed on the
left side of the spectrum, so to speak, were more measured and more -- and
more grieving, if you will --
MATTHEWS: I agree.
FINEMAN: -- more sad and wondering than the accusatory tone on the
And there`s nothing to be -- there`s no need for accusations here. There`s
need for some thinking, reflection and trying to make the society better.
That should be everybody`s dominant view at this point, it seems to me.
DAVID CORN, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes.
You know, this sort of glee and the lack of empathy that was reflected in
those quotes from the right were -- I found quite shocking. This was a
tragedy. There`s no recognition of that from the comments that you showed
and from others that have played out in the past few months -- few weeks
and months since this happened.
And I`m struck by, yes, there was a very difficult legal case to make here.
I`m reminded of the line from Dickens. Mr. Bumble says the law is an ass
when something happens like this, because it was a hard case to bring. The
prosecution may have screwed it up a bit. But it was a hard case to bring.
And there is no measure of justice for Trayvon Martin and his family.
And that seems so distant from these voices on the right that they have to
jump up and down with glee and say, see, we told you so. All you people on
the other side, you know, you`re wrong and we`re going to going to call you
ignorant and we`re going to devalue, delegitimize your reaction to this and
show that you have absolutely no understanding of justice in this country.
And it`s quite the opposite. And I think Joe Scarborough was quite right
in his column when he says, if the Republican Party and conservatives are
trying to broaden their appeal, they have done exactly the opposite in
response to this is verdict.
MATTHEWS: Let`s look at right and left, not just black and white, red and
blue, Howard, and this possibility that this is going to become a political
And I have to tell you, I`m white, obviously, and I always say that because
it`s obvious. My feeling is -- and this has really bothered me about this
case -- this has grabbed the attention particularly of the African-American
community -- and I understand, I try to understand it -- in a way that the
Obama presidency hasn`t.
And I can`t think of -- well, if you`re going to change history and race
relations in this country, the great opportunity for changing those
relations and the attitudes is going to come with a successful African-
American president. It`s not going to come from the O.J. case, no matter
who won it, no matter who wins it. It`s not going to come from this case,
no matter who wins it.
The future of justice in this country is going to come from a sense of true
equality and true potential and true respect. And that`s going to come
from political participation that wins. So, that`s just my little speech.
OK? Because it`s what I care about.
But, again, I`m not black. I haven`t had to walk down the street or into a
restaurant and have people stare at me. I haven`t had people treat me even
with a minimum of courtesy when they should give me the maximum courtesy.
So, I don`t know about that part of that. I respect my colleagues though
who have lived that world, certainly Joy and certainly Gene and other
people like that of color on this program.
But let me get back to the issue of politics, where I`m strongest. Eric
Holder, is he truly under the pressure from both sides, from the 450,000
members of the NAACP who have signed a petition for action by the Justice
Department? Is he also bothered by the potential of the right to once
again go chewing on him again, Howard?
FINEMAN: Well, it`s Eric Holder`s fate to kind of be the lightning rod
and, you know, front man, if you will, the guy who has to walk point for
Barack Obama on a lot of issues.
FINEMAN: And he`s going to have to do it for President Obama here again on
Eric Holder spoke today to a meeting of the nation`s largest and oldest
African-American sorority. These are accomplished women, many, if not
most, of them mothers who, many with boys and with young men who know the
fear and the agony of this situation.
I think President Obama himself is conflicted. He knows he has to be and
he wants to be president of all the people. He`s gone to great lengths to
try to say that the jury has spoken, a jury has spoken, that I want calm
and order here, and I want to be the president of all the people.
But I think he also has an opportunity here to speak more directly to the
African-American community. And I think, if he`s going to do it at any one
time, this is probably the time to do it.
MATTHEWS: Does he do it by indictment?
MATTHEWS: Does he have to indict?
CORN: That`s one of the problems.
FINEMAN: I don`t know.
I think -- I think I agree with Pete Williams and I agree with other people
I have talked to today who say bringing the civil rights prosecution is
going to be very, very difficult.
FINEMAN: But whether or not there is a civil rights prosecution, this is a
moment for the president to step forward.
MATTHEWS: I agree.
FINEMAN: -- terrible problems in terms of poverty, in terms of violence,
in terms of incarceration, in terms of lack of political participation.
CORN: One problem, though, is if you`re going to do that, from the
president`s perspective, what can you offer that`s concrete and specific?
We know that he`s good with words. He gave a great speech on race
relations during the campaign. He`s written a book about this. He`s
thought long and hard. And here sort of there`s been a demand that`s been
made by the African-American advocacy organizations, and to come forward
and just sort of once again raise this as an issue, but yet not do
anything, while there aren`t a lot of options.
I agree with Pete Williams, too, that because of the way the law is
structured, it`s very hard to do anything.
I think this puts the president in a very difficult position. Jawboning
may not be enough when you have a tragedy like this.
HOWARD FINEMAN, HUFFINGTON POST: Bring the gun control measure back. I
don`t care what Harry Reid says. Harry Reid says it isn`t over, Reid says
it isn`t over, OK, Harry, it`s not over. Bring gun control back.
CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST: Well said. Howard Fineman, thank you. Thank you,
We`ll be right back after this. You`re watching HARDBALL.
MATTHEWS: A little comic relief now. We`re back to the sideshow.
Last week, teen idol Justin Bieber apologized to Bill Clinton after TMZ
released a video of the wayward youth bad mouthing a photograph of the
former president. Well, Saturday night, actually "Late Night`s" Jimmy
Fallon -- Fallon weighed in on that with a re-enactment of their phone
Here`s the real reason that Clinton was so forgiving of Bieber`s wild boy
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hello.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hey, President Clinton, this is Justin Bieber, yo.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Justin, what`s up, my man?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hey, I`m actually just calling to say I`m sorry for is
saying "F Bill Clinton" and spraying blue stuff on your picture.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That`s cool, bro, no worries.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Really?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hell, yes, man. I saw the whole video. Let me tell
you, it was awesome.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I was kind of embarrassed about it. I mean I peed in a
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Of course you did. You`re the wild kids. I want to be
one of the wild kids. I`m a wild kid. Come on.
UNIDDENTIFIED MALE: That`s great.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I`m serious, I want to hang with you guys. I`ll bring
my own bucket.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I got to go.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hey, real quick, can you give me Selena Gomez`s phone
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don`t think I can give that out, yo.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Justin Bieber.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Sounds like a classic case of youth being wasted on the young.
Anyway, was that Darrell Hammond?
Anyway, next up: is the pen mightier than the sword? Well, Democratic
Congressman Mark Takano of California thinks so. The former high school
teacher of 24 years took his Republican colleagues to task with red ink
grading, a letter circulated by House Republicans on immigration reform.
He gave them an "F."
Amongst his corrections is a note asking the author of the letter,
Representative Bill Cassidy of Louisiana, to come by his office so he can
explain it. Judging by the number of corrections on those pages, I don`t
expect those two to settle their differences after class.
For his part, Cassidy didn`t take the insult laying down. His office
dismissed the stunt as an act of political grandstanding. Wow.
Up next, the epidemic of African-American men behind the bars. Think about
it, the double standards when it comes to sentencing drug offenders. You
know, crack cocaine versus powder cocaine?
Well, this is HARDBALL, the place for politics.
MATTHEWS: We`re back. And we`re talking with director of a new film about
love, youth and marijuana.
HARDBALL back in a moment.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So what you got here?
UINIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh, two for three came too early, so got a little
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So what is this like, your little personal thing?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What? No. No, that`s -- we can share that. You can
have some of that if you want. That`s like just in case we run out.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
Welcome back to HARDBALL.
That was the scene from a new film or coming out film, "Newlyweeds",
directed by Shaka King, which premiered at this year`s Sundance Festival.
"Newlyweeds" explores the use of marijuana use on a young couple trying to
Well, Shaka King is the director of "Newlyweeds", and Joshua DuBois is a
former Obama adviser and contributor to "The Daily Beast".
Shaka, thanks for joining us.
This thing that I hear about but I don`t know much about -- drugs and
incarceration, a huge incarceration percentage of young African-Americans.
Of course, this is all in the context of attitudes about the criminal
justice system right now.
Your thoughts, what your movie says.
SHAKA KING, DIRECTOR, "NEWLYWEEDS": Well, I don`t think my movie speaks
specifically to that epidemic. But I think that the high incarceration
rates are just -- really just another example and symptom institutional
racism and white supremacy. I think it`s -- the reason you`re seeing so
many young black men in jail now is the confluence of, you know, racist
criminal justice system, you know, racist law enforcement, you know, racist
education system. You know, racist health care system, and these things
are racist and classist and the two intertwine.
So, I feel like the reason that you`re seeing those high incarceration
rates, besides the draconian drug laws, are just the confluence of you
know, the confluence of white supremacy, really.
MATTHEWS: Do you think that police officers do stop and frisk or any other
kind of an exercise in order to capture young men on drug charges?
KING: Oh, I think that they do it -- the police do stop and frisk I think
to get them into the system, and to really infect our minds and to make us
believe that that`s where we belong, and this is the way we should be
treated. You know, the last time I was approached by the cops, they asked
me two questions. They asked me, where are the drugs? Not, do you have
any drugs on you? Where are the drugs?
And they asked me, when was the last time you were arrested? And the only
time I`ve ever seen a jail cell was when I was kidnapped by the cops when I
was in 11th grade.
So, you know, I got very offended, obviously. And to me, quite frankly,
not to use inappropriate language on your show, but to me actions like
those are far worse than calling me a nigger, honestly.
KING: And, you know, watching the Trayvon Martin trial, it just was a
greater example of that. You know, folks talked about how that was -- race
might not have been a factor. But to me, we`re living under black belt --
eighth degree black belt racism, where Jim Crow was like yellow belt
racism, you know? Like it`s racism where, like, you hit me and I take 20
steps away and then I die.
MATTHEWS: Shaka, thank you. Hold on now. I want to hold your thought.
Joshua DuBois, you`re with the White House (INAUDIBLE).
What do you make of this question of drugs? Because I think it didn`t come
into this trial, but it seems like it`s a big reason I`m hearing that there
are so many young blacks in jail. It`s just a fact we ought to look at.
JOSHUA DUBOIS, FORMER OBAMA SPECIAL ADVISOR: Yes. You know, it gets to
how we see young African-American men and boys in this country. And that`s
related to the Zimmerman trial.
I mean, the fact of the matter is when George Zimmerman looked at Trayvon
Martin, he saw a nameless, faceless hoodie. He didn`t see a young boy with
hopes and dreams. He didn`t see a son, a brother, a nephew. He saw some
kid that was to him seemed aggressive or suspicious. And then a few
minutes later, he shot that kid in the chest.
And unfortunately, there are a lot of folks that are like George Zimmerman.
They`re not monsters, but they just don`t understand young African-American
men and boys. And folks from all different races and background.
I wrote about this in a piece for "Newsweek" called "The Fight for Black
Men." I think it`s a wake-up call where not only do we have to extend more
empathy, we`ve to get to know and get to like young African-American men.
MATTHEWS: OK, we have to go.
I`ll have both of you gentlemen back on again. By the way, very proud of
my son involved with Shaka in his great film this coming September.
Thanks for coming on, both of you, guys. We`ll have you back. Well didn`t
have enough time for this thoughtful discussion, or to have a thoughtful
We`ll be right back after this.
MATTHEWS: Let me finish tonight with this:
The American people were not collectively sitting on that jury that
acquitted George Zimmerman. They were not asked to judge whether the
defendant was guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in the second-degree murder
of Trayvon Martin.
But we are, all of us, jurors in what kind of country we want to live in.
We are jurors on whether we want profiling or want people to be judged on
what they do, not what they look like. We are jurors in whether we want
people, civilians walking around carrying guns, believing they have the
right to decide where to carry that gun and what situations they can use
the confidence a gun gives you to operate as if they were trained and sworn
in officers of the law.
We can decide on all kinds of matters of social justice and economic
fairness, all kinds of ways to make this a better country, a fairer
country, a more reasonable country where the laws favor less violence, not
That`s HARDBALL for now. Thanks for being with us.
"POLITICS NATION" with Al Sharpton starts right now.
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