'The Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell' for Thursday, November 21, 2013
Read the transcript to the Thursday show
THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL
November 21, 2013
Guest: Steve Rattner, Michael Hiltzik
LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, MSNBC HOST: Tonight, we have more video of the
New Mexico state police reckless shooting at a mother and her five children
in their minivan. Eight more minutes of that video that has not yet been
And today, here in Washington, it was a historic day in the United
States Senate, for the future of democracy.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Things are on track to go nuclear.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Nuclear.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: In the Senate.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Harry Reid is getting ready to release the so-
called nuclear option.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Using a 51-vote majority.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The change the rules of the Senate.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Stopping filibusters of president`s nominee.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Judicial nominees being blocked by Republicans.
SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY), MINORITY LEADER: Utterly absurd
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Republicans are very concerned.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This frustration has been building for a long
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And their base is very concerned.
SEN. HARRY REID (D-NV), MAJORITY LEADER: The American people believe
Congress is broken.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The Democrats are just at their wits end.
REID: I believe the American people are right.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The Democrats are finally fed up.
REP. JOHN BOEHNER (R-OH), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: It sounds to me like
Harry Reid is trying to change the subject.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is about obstruction.
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Obstruction in
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So much obstruction in the United States Senate.
OBAMA: This gridlock has not served the cause of justice. In fact,
it`s undermined it.
MCCONNELL: That story line is patently ridiculous.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The red phone is ringing.
Will Republicans pick it up?
BOEHNER: Absolutely not.
O`DONNELL: The camel`s back was broken in the United States Senate
today by this straw. Patricia Millett, who was nominated to be one of 11
judges on the Washington, D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals, the second most
important court in the country. That court has jurisdiction over some of
the most important appeals that eventually find their way down the street
to the United States Supreme Court. It is the place where presidents most
often look for their next Supreme Court nominee.
When Patricia Millett`s nomination was considered three weeks ago no
one argued that she is not qualified. She has argued 32 cases before the
United States Supreme Court. Most lawyers, including most of our highly
accomplished lawyers never have the honor of arguing even a single case
before the United States Supreme Court.
The Republican case against confirming Patricia Millett was simply
that, they didn`t feel like it. When the votes were counted, Patricia
Millett got 55 votes, with 38 votes against her, 55, which should have been
enough to confirm her, but wasn`t, because the senators were actually
voting then on breaking a Republican filibuster against her nomination.
So, a simple majority was not enough. Her nomination would have needed 60
votes to prevail at that point.
Today, the Senate broke that filibuster with 52 votes after the
Democrats decided to change the rules of the Senate through a method that
has been referred to as the nuclear option in the last few years, and has
been contemplated but not used.
Normally, it take is a 2/3 vote of the Senate to change a Senate rule.
But it takes only a majority vote majority vote to overrule a ruling of the
Senate`s presiding officer which is what they did today. That`s this --
that`s the senator, they`re presiding over, the one in the big chair
overlooking the body and ruling with the advice of a professional
parliamentarian on a variety of parliamentary issues that come before the
Senate. Those things happen constantly in debates.
It is usually the most boring seat in the chamber. That`s why it is
reserved normally for junior senators who are forced to sit there and
follow the word for word whispered instructions of the parliamentarian.
Today, it was the most important seat in the chamber occupied by one
of the Senate`s elder statesman, Patrick Leahy who watched from the chair
as history was made on the Senate floor.
First, Harry Reid brought Patricia Millett`s nomination up for
reconsideration. Again, a large majority voted for Patricia Millett, 57
votes in favor of reconsidering her nomination. But according to the rules
of the Senate, Senator Leahy had to rule that was not enough, that 60 votes
would be required to cut off the filibuster to reconsider Patricia
That was the moment when Harry Reid moved to the nuclear option.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REID: Mr. President.
SEN. PAT LEAHY (D), VERMONT: Majority Leader.
REID: I raise a point of order that the vote on cloture, under Rule
22 for all nominations other than that for the Supreme Court of the United
States is by majority vote.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Harry Reid asked for a vote of the Senate to overrule the
presiding officer`s ruling -- something senators could ask for at any time
but almost never do. It takes only a simple majority to overrule that
presiding officer, 52 senators voted to overrule the presiding officer.
Harry Reid announced that it is his intention now to use today`s vote
as a precedent on all votes on presidential nominations except for
nominations to the Supreme Court, which will still be subject to a 60 vote
requirement to break a filibuster.
The Democrats did not take this step lightly. They have been
considering for years, after it was first threatened by Republicans when
they were the Senate majority.
Harry Reid blamed the unprecedented obstruction of Republicans.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REID: There has been unbelievable unprecedented obstruction. For the
first time in the history of our republic, Republicans have routinely used
the filibuster to prevent President Obama from appointing his executive
team or confirming judges.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Harry Reid pointed that of the 168 filibusters against
presidential nominees in the history of the United States Senate, about
half of them we against President Obama`s nominees.
President Obama welcomed the change.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: One of the president`s constitutional responsibilities is to
nominate Americans to positions within the executive and judicial branches.
Over six decades before I took office, only 20 presidential nominees to
executive positions had to overcome filibusters. In just under five years
since I took office, nearly 30 nominees had been treated this way.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: In defeat, Mitch McConnell could offer nothing more than a
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MCCONNELL: I`d say to my friends on the other side of the aisle. You
will regret this and you may regret it a lot sooner than you think.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Joining me, E.J. Dionne, columnist for "The Washington
Post," and MSNBC analyst, and Alex Wagner, host of MSNBC`s "NOW WITH ALEX
E.J., that threat by Mitch McConnell had intimidated on this issues
for years. Like the traditionalists in the Senate, I was like afraid what
happens when the other side has the power. I recently came around, I guess
like the final few senators to the realization that of course they have got
to do this, because in fact, when the Republicans have power, and the
Republican presidency, the, Democrats in the Senate would not be attempting
to use the filibuster this way to that degree anyway. So, they don`t need
that protection in the minority.
E.J. DIONNE, THE WASHINGTON POST: No, absolutely right. I think that
the, the abuse went too far. I mean to reject, not one, not two, but three
of the president`s nominees including Patricia Millett, who is incredibly
respected across the board. That was a slap in the face. I also think,
rejecting Mel Watt really for the housing job, really infuriated Democrats.
You are absolutely right. If you go back in history, Democrats have
opposed Republican nominees. They fought against Robert Bork famously and
beat him on a majority vote. They haven`t used the filibuster very much.
And the figures you cited, 168, in all of our history, almost half
under Obama. Same on judges, if you go back the last 45 years or so. Most
of those are against Obama. So I think that, Democrats decided they had
little to use in the long run. Obama has got three years that he needs to
O`DONNELL: Alex Wagner, my favorite thing said in the last week or so
was Chuck Grassley, on the Senate floor, said if you guys do this, then,
you know we are just going to when we get back in power, we are going to
confirm another Scalia. And, I realize, yes, of course you are, because
Scalia got 98 votes in the Senate.
ALEX WAGNER, NOW: Right.
O`DONNELL: The Democrats voted for Scalia, they did not filibuster
WAGNER: Yes. It`s funny that from the nuclear option, we now have
the Scalia option as Republican rejoinder to what Harry Reid did. But I
mean, Lawrence, I think every piece outside analyzed I`ve read says that
not only is the Supreme Court carve out going to go way o the dinosaur,
which is to say Republicans are going to extend the nuclear option to
Supreme Court nominations to put Democrats in a really tough place if they
take back the Senate.
But some people are saying this could feasibly be the end of the
legislative filibuster, as well, just because the Pandora`s box has been
opened. And now that there`s been agreement that this sort of the
filibuster on nominees was really creating and havoc, what`s not to say
that they could not go further when there is a huge piece of legislation
that is held up because of filibustering.
That as a Senate junkie, I wonder what your thoughts are about the
prospect of losing the filibuster entirely. I think I am in complete
agreement with you. That it is high time, Democrats sort of Albert
Finney/Network moment we`re mad as hell and not going to take it. The
country will applaud this decision.
But what it portents for the future I think is very much anybody`s
O`DONNELL: You know, any senate staffer who sat on the senate floor
in the minority, while your minority its using the filibuster as I did --
made me very reluctant to see this thing go. But what you saw today, as
Alex points out, is how fragile actually all of the rules of the Senate
really are. They`re not written in granite the way people think they are.
And this so-called nuclear option was used by Robert Byrd years ago to
refine rules of the Senate including the filibuster rule. This has been
used before. It`s rare. But it`s used before.
DIONNE: Right. And I think what happened here is -- there were a lot
of traditionalists in the Senate, Dianne Feinstein was one of the last
aboard, and she was real signal that Democrats are really fed up.
The only defense of the filibuster really was that it was used rarely.
It was used either to stop extreme appointments or it was used on something
of great moment, and it could be a consensus forcer.
And, sure, if you get 60 votes for a bill, it`s probably more of a
consensual bill. But those days are gone. This has been accused so much
on so many issues, the filibuster is bad, is questionable, if you care
about minority rule in the first place.
But it`s absolutely useless if it becomes a matter of routine. There
is nothing in the Constitution that says, it shall take 60 votes to do
business in the Senate. The only super majorities are on a couple things
So, I think that people just said, this is -- an antique. It`s not
being used the way it was supposed to be.
O`DONNELL: Alex, the filibuster rule used to be 2/3, used to be 66.
It was pulled done to 60. We have seen movement in the past.
Let`s listen to more on what President Obama had to say about this
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: Over the past three weeks, senate Republicans again denied a
yes or no vote on three highly Americans to fill three vacancies on the
nation`s second highest court, even though they had support of the majority
Four of President Bush`s six nominees to this court were confirmed.
Four out of five of my nominees to this court had been obstructed.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Alex, it`s just -- it`s just no way to look at this other
than the Republicans were using just an extraordinary, and Harry Reid said
incredibly unprecedented level of filibuster.
WAGNER: Yes. I mean, I think really the core of the story is about
the degradation of the Republican Party. Krystal has the great analysis on
this. I mean -- this is, the filibuster and the sort of promiscuous use of
it is very much like an out growth of radicals like Ted Cruz, getting into
the upper chamber, which is supposed to be the deliberative body. It is
the rise of the Tea Party, and outside conservative groups, scoring votes
and effectively holding bipartisan legislation hostage.
And it is also sort of referendum on Mitch McConnell, Harry Reid and
their relationship. Keep in mind, the last time harry read walked off the
brink of the nuclear option because John McCain came to the rescue. Mitch
McConnell is beholden to the primary challenge and radicalized by virtue of
his reelection that bipartisan agreements and working together is basically
And that is really -- I mean the onus of that is on Republican
DIONNE: I had a sad thought while Alex was making that good point,
which is, the word deliberative is now the very last word you associate
with the United States Senate. And that`s totally against tradition in the
O`DONNELL: Yes. That used to be the aura of the place.
E.J. Dionne and Alex Wagner, thank you very much for joining me
DIONNE: Good to be with you.
WAGNER: Thanks, Lawrence.
O`DONNELL: Coming up, the Republicans have a playbook, an actual
playbook that they can carry under their arms telling them how to attack
the Affordable Care Act.
And we have more video from the police dash-cam in New Mexico that
captured that reckless police shooting. And we have an explanation from
the mother of five driving that minivan in her own words. Joy Reid will
join me to discuss all of the new evidence.
O`DONNELL: Katie Couric interviewed Shellie Zimmerman, George
Zimmerman`s estranged wife, today who said this about her husband in the
process of divorcing. "He does seem like a ticking time bomb."
Up next, how to measure the real success of the Affordable Care Act.
O`DONNELL: The Republicans have a playbook, actual playbook of
strategy on Obamacare. It is entitled House Republican Playbook. And
every Republican member of congress has one.
"The New York Times" report today on the playbook reveals the
document, the product of a series of closed door strategy sessions that
began in mid-October is part of an increasingly organized Republican attack
on the Affordable Care Act, President Obama`s signature legislative
initiative. Republican strategists say that over the next several months,
they intend to keep Democrats on their heels through a multilayered
One of the plays Republicans have chosen to run is comparing President
Obama`s Affordable Care Act to President George W. Bush`s failed response
to hurricane Katrina, a comparison that many in the news media have been
eager to make.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JON STEWART, COMEDIAN: Katrina. Hurricane Katrina. Yes, I believe
we have all seen the damning photos of the presidential flyover, surveying
the human suffering of the Healthcare.gov Website, from a safe distance.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Joining me is Steve Rattner, former head of President
Obama`s auto task force and CNBC contributor. And Michael Hiltzik, a
Pulitzer Prize winning columnist and financial writer for "The Los Angeles
Steve, we have been struggling on this program and it is a bit of a
struggle to get past anecdote -- to get past these recurring anecdotes
about some one has lost their current insurance and thinks they`re going to
have to pay more, to the actual statistical picture of what we think is
really happening under the Affordable Care Act. And you have been working
And one of the headlines you have found for example that you don`t,
see, every day is about 80 percent, 80 percent of the people out there will
be unaffected by the Affordable Care Act.
STEVE RATTNER, FORMER W.H. ADVISOR: Sure. We all can find examples
of people who have been adversely affected.
But when you look at this from the top down, you find that 80 percent
as you said of people are unaffected you. Find that when you drill down
further and further, you get down to this 5 percent of people roughly who
are in the individual marketplace, which is what this is all about. You
find that half of them are going to find better plans, at lower prices.
You find another 1 1/4 percent or so are going to qualify for subsidies.
And so, what this really comes down to is about 1.2 percent, 1.3
percent of the public. Now, that`s a lot of people. That`s 3 million or 4
million people. I don`t want to minimize it. But it`s not 300 million
people, and that`s where this has gotten blown a bit out of proportion.
O`DONNELL: And, Steve, that`s small percentage what we could refer to
as losers in this scenario meaning people who have, come out under the
Affordable Care Act, having to part with more money for what they will get
than they would have otherwise.
RATTNER: Sure. And I think we have a chart on this that you may want
to show. But the fact is -- the mistake the president obviously made in
retrospect was to say that everybody could keep all their insurance and
imply there would be no losers.
When you put in place something this vast that`s going to benefit 25
million who don`t have insurance, there are going to be some losers. And
those are potentially that 1.2 percent or 1.3 percent that we`ve been
O`DONNELL: Michael Hiltzik, you debuted on this show, talking about
some of the anecdotes that have been put out there -- about people saying
they are suffering now under the Affordable Care Act. The anecdotes you
went about investigating for "The L.A. Times" didn`t hold up that way. It
was, it was, you ended up revealing that, these people didn`t understand
yet what their full options were and how they could actually be better off
What do you think are the metrics we should be looking at to try to
find -- to try to get beyond anecdote to the real picture of what`s going
MICHAEL HILTZIK, LOS ANGELES TIMES: Well, I think as Steve said, it`s
important to put all this in perspective, 25 million people in the United
States, we`re going to get access to health care for the first time --
certainly affordable access to health care.
One of the metrics that I`ve been talking about is that if you look at
the number of people who are going to be deprived of access to health care
because of the actions of Republican governors and legislators, in 25
states that have refused to expand Medicaid, that`s 5 million people. And
if you compare that to the number of people that Steve just talked about
that may actually have to be paying more for health care, in the individual
market than they have been paying in the past, that`s, that latter figure
is swamped by the number of people left unserved because of Republican
actions in the states.
And one thing is very important. If you want to expand, access to
affordable insurance for millions of people, then you have to go with
expanding Medicaid, which after all was originally part of the Affordable
Care Act. It was a crucial part. It was loosened significantly by the
Supreme Court. But it`s not required that they expanded it. That`s
something that really needs to be done.
And then when you add 20 million, 30 million who don`t have insurance
will be able to get it fairly and affordably, that`s big number.
O`DONNELL: Steve, one of the challenges here politically is that we
are seeing governing by anecdote. In the opposition to the Affordable Care
Act, all you have to do as Republican opponent is come up of an anecdote or
a set of anecdotes in your district or elsewhere, about some of those
people, that 1.5 percent, whatever it is that who are going to end up
having to pay more for something. And, now, you get into this dueling
It seems like that could go on forever in this debate.
RATTNER: No question. But here is the real problem. The real
problem is that we have shown in Massachusetts that this can work. That
young people will sign up. That the incentives will work.
The problem we have now is that, there has been so much dust thrown
up. So many charges hurled against the Affordable Care Act. That I worry
that many of the people that we need off to soon up in order for the pools
to work in order for most people to get the benefits that Michael was
talking about will hold back. And they went sign up.
And I think that is frankly part of the Republican strategy so that
they can then say, a year from now, or six months, you see it failed. I
think the Affordable Care Act could work if it`s given of a chance. But
all this commotion is not going to make things easier.
O`DONNELL: Michael, you wrote a new book about the struggles of
implementing the New Deal under FDR. There are similarity here, aren`t
HILTZIK: I think anybody who examines the 1930s, and the New Deal has
to be struck by the parallels between what happened then and what has been
happening now. I think the lesson is that any time you up end this status
quo as Franklin Roosevelt did in the 1930s, and Barack Obama has done with
Affordable Care Act now. The status quo will strike back.
I think that`s what we are seeing with the Republican playbook. I
mean, what`s remarkable about this Republican line, is that there`s nothing
in there that really talks about what they`re going to do, how they`re
going to improve it, if they roll the clock back.
What are they going to do about these tens of millions of Americans
who`ve then would be barred once again from the individual insurance
market. It doesn`t make any sense.
But, really, the fact of the matter is we see this all the times.
Historians know it. Franklin Roosevelt, his ancestry was questioned. He
was called a socialist, all these things. It just happens over and over
again. Things don`t change, especially when you are challenging the old
order. And that`s what`s happening now.
O`DONNELL: Steve Rattner, and Michael Hiltzik, thank you both for
joining us tonight, and helping us with this endless struggle to get the
correct, full perspective on what is happening in Affordable Care Act.
Appreciate your work on this. Thank you both.
RATTNER: Thank you.
HILTZIK: Thank you.
O`DONNELL: Coming up, we now have more of that extraordinary dash-cam
video of the New Mexico police officers trying to apprehend a mother and
her five children. We can now show you exactly ho that encounter began.
And turn into a car chase that reached speed over 100 miles an hour. Joy
Reid is here to discuss the case.
O`DONNELL: We now have much more video from the New Mexico state
police dash-cam that you really have to see. That`s next.
O`DONNELL: In the spot light tonight more video of the New Mexico
state police pursuit of a mother and her five children in their minivan.
The Taos News has now obtained and posted all 18 minutes of the routine
traffic stop that became a dangerously reckless shooting by police followed
by a high-speed chase hitting speed of 100 miles an hour. The new version
of the video shows how it all began and includes every minute of the car
chase. In the interest of time, we have edited some of the car chase.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Here is your information back right here, OK?
Like I said earlier, you are doing 71 back then in a 55, OK? You are going
to receive a citation. The state of New Mexico will offer you two options.
Your first option is you can pay the penalty, misdemeanor. It is going to
be $126 or choose to go to Taos magistrate court. What do you want to do?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You didn`t ask me anything (INAUDIBLE).
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, you have to make a decision whether right now,
you are going to pay the penalty misdemeanor $126. You can mail that in.
You are going to have 30 days to mail it in if you want or choose to go to
Taos magistrate court.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: When is court?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Within 30 days within today.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (INAUDIBLE)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, I understand that. OK. Listen -- OK, look.
OK. I understand. But you are going to have to think about it. I don`t
know what I --
You can`t. You have to pick an option right now, OK?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: According to who?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: According to the state of New Mexico, OK. I told
you your two options. You do have another option. If you don`t want to
sign the citation, if you do not want to sign the citation, you are stating
you want to see a judge right now, OK?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: With five kids -- I can`t make a decision. I
don`t know if I will be here.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You need to make a decision right now. If you
don`t make a decision --
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (INAUDIBLE).
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I`m not saying you are doing anything wrong. I am
already cutting you a break on your license. You know your license is
expired, right? OK, well, it is expired. I am not writing you a citation
to that. I am trying to help you out here, OK?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (INAUDIBLE).
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, you are not going to be --
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (INAUDIBLE) or if I could pay the money.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You don`t need the money today. I understand
that. Which option would you rather choose? What would be better for you
to do right now?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Right now I don`t feel like I am guilty. I
don`t know what I am going to be able to do in 30 days.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK. You can call the court and set up an
appointment too down there within 30 days.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I may not make it. If I change my mind.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (INAUDIBLE).
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Look, I can`t stay here and argue all day. Which
option are you going to choose? I will be right back. Go ahead and turn
the vehicle off for me. I will be right back. OK. Look, this traffic
stop is going to go one or two ways. You cooperate.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I am cooperating.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I am giving you a lawful order to turn the vehicle
off, OK? While I just go back and tell dispatch, OK? If you don`t want to
pick, if you don`t want to choose, if you don`t want to choose, your other
option is you are telling me you want to go see a judge on the matter,
right this second. I can arrange for that, OK?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: She just pulled over. I am going to get her out
of the vehicle right now.
Get out of the vehicle. Get out of the vehicle right now. Right now!
Get out of the vehicle right now! Get out of the vehicle! Get out of the
vehicle right now! Get out of the vehicle, ma`am! Get out of the vehicle
right now, ma`am! Get out of the vehicle!
Go back here and talk about it! Close the door right now. Close the
door! Listen to me! Step out of the vehicle right now!
She is going to go --
Tell your son to get back in the vehicle right now.
Get back in the vehicle right now!
I`m trying to --
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I am not getting out.
What are you asking me to sign, sir? I will sign it. I was trying to
-- I was just trying to be honest --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I need you how to get out of the vehicle right
now, get out. Let`s go!
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Show me what you want --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Look, I am going to give you one more opportunity. I
am trying to help you out.
Look, I am going to be as peaceful as you will be, OK? Let`s go.
Shut the door. Come back here for me. Look.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You cannot, turn around and just come over here,
get out of the road.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You cannot -- I stopped you. I am frying trying
to tell you what to do and you take off.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No. What happened --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That is what happened. I said stop right there.
I will be right back. You took off. OK.
Go ahead and turn around. Turn around for me, OK. Turn around me.
There are going to be two other officers in just a second. Turn around and
face your vehicle.
Ma`am, listen to me.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Please! Please!
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Get back! Get on the ground! Get on the ground!
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Get back in the car!
Get on the ground! Get down right now! Get down!
Get them out!
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Open the door!
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Open the door!
O`DONNELL: You can see the entire tape on our Web site.
Next in the "rewrite," the mother driving that minivan offers an
explanation in her own words.
And later to analyze this new video and what the mother has to say,
Joy Reid will join me.
O`DONNELL: We have a guest "rewrite" by Oriana Ferrell who submitted
a handwritten op-ed to the Taos News shortly after her arrest. Taos News
has a policy of not publishing op-eds on open legal cases, but made an
exception for Oriana Ferrell because her case has received so much national
attention. The Taos News published the op-ed unedited.
In the piece, Oriana Ferrell who runs a home schooling program in
Memphis called True School Academy tries to rewrite the image of her
created by the Taos media. Here is her unedited op-ed piece.
After witnessing uniformed police officers fire shots at a van
carrying my five children, I have learned that the value of their lives
only matters so much as criminal charges against me are concerned. A
uniformed officer can shoot three bullets at my van and be considered to be
doing his job. But my doing what I can to get my own children away from
such a terrifying individual has been turned child abuse and endangerment
according to New Mexico law. An officer can use a baton to smash a glass
window directly into the faces of my four young sons who were riding in the
back seat. But somehow my attempts protect them from further harm are
dismissed because the perpetrator wore an official state uniform and hired
to protect and serve.
The media has been given authority to defame my character and to
erroneously report partial facts pertaining to my case because an officer
of the law was said to be doing his job, injustice at its best.
For the past 16 years of my life I have devoted my every day to
parenting and to educating my wonderful children. Anyone who knows me will
tell you this. I graduated my daughter from high school at age of 15 as
her home educator. I have educated all five of my children, from the
duration of their educational journey. I have shaped my entire life around
their well-being. Serving and protecting them is something that I do
naturally without pay.
Being a peace officer is who and what I have been, out of my
obligation and responsibility as a parent. Law enforcement, I do that too,
with our unit every day. As a single, African-American mother of five in
this country, things are tough enough. I should not have to endure
harassment at the hands of someone who has been hired to protect the
citizens of this land over an alleged speeding offense. No one should.
As a tourist who came to Taos New Mexico with intention of supporting
the wonderful sites and offerings of this city, I should not sit in jail
right now for continuing to do the best by my children as their mother.
There are hundreds of people across the world who can attest off to the
great commitment I have to the health, well being and safety of my
children. I am considered a mothering mentor to many, and a model parent
The realization did not come. This realization did not come at the
hand of my incarceration. This is the reality of my life. So much so that
even in the Taos adult detention center, the women view me as encouraging,
mother, sister figure who loves on and cares about even those who society
unfairly casts aside.
I write none of these things to pat myself on the back, rather to
paint a true and accurate picture of who I really am, not what a system
that knows nothing about me portrays me how to be. Ask the superintendent
of Memphis city schools who I am, or you can inquire about my person from
the many Memphis city police chaplains that I have worked alongside in
various capacities. You can always speak with the families of the home
school groups that I have run, as well as the many community service
agencies I have worked and implemented programs with.
Any number of individuals will tell you that I am a most, loving,
caring, peaceful person that helps others daily and my own children at the
top of the list. I hope someone read this editorial and comes to know more
about the real me and not the one missed portrayed and demonized by the
Taos media. I hope that someone takes the time to think how this ordeal is
affecting myself and most importantly my children. They do not deserve
this and neither do I. I hope the city of Taos chooses to be fair in
judgment of this situation and that a light be shed on the true injustices
of the horrifying nightmare.
Finally, I speak of work of peace to the officers and other officials
involved. It is my prayer that your families never be made to endure that
which mine has as a result of this terrible situation. May you never be
put in a position to protect your children from your own kind -- Oriana
Joy Reid will join me next to discuss what we have just learned.
O`DONNELL: Joy Reid joins me next to talk about the new video of the
car chase involving Oriana Ferrell and her five children.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There will be two other officers here in a second.
Turn around, face your vehicle. Ma`am, listen to me.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No! No!
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Open the door.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Open the door.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Joining me now is MSNBC`s Joy Reid.
Joy, I have so many questions about this. But I don`t want my
questions to get in the way of your reaction to the op-ed piece that Oriana
Ferrell wrote or new material in the video or any of this. Jut, to what we
just covered last two blocks, your reaction?
JOY REID, MANAGING EDITOR, THE GRIO/MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: Lawrence, so I
watched, you know, all of the way straight through, the 18-minute video.
And just as a mother, it was chilling. It was very hard to watch. My
hearted was racing, even just watching what you replayed there.
But my thought that for the first 12 minutes of this encounter up
until the point where the officer tells the woman to turn around and she
walks away. This mother, Miss Ferrell, was absolutely 100 percent dead
wrong. She endangered herself. She endangered her children.
There is something in law enforcement, called use of force matrix.
You heard the officer referring to parts during the encounter. And that
means simply this. If an officer gives you a lawful order, you heard him
say, he gave her a lawful order, and you say no. You have already allowed
that officer to escalate this use of force to physical restraint. If the
officer then tries to restrain you, he told her, turn around. She walked
away. He grabbed her. She pulled away. You have now just allowed that
officer to lawfully escalate his use of force to violent force. So,
basically restrain you by force, by violent force.
And then if you grab anything, anything, a rock, a wallet, a pen, a
lighter, anything that could hurt the officer, you have essentially opened
the door to that officer using deadly force. And that use of force matrix
is something that every single person should understand particularly, every
black person, because of there is so much fear and sort of trepidation at
the police. The use of force matrix is real. It is the law. It is why it
is so difficult to convict police officers in law in shootings.
Now, that said at the point you are showing right now. When that
officer started bashing in the door of that minivan with his two fellow
officers present, this went from being an extremely reckless mom, who could
have gotten her son shot, because my kids would have reacted the same way
if they saw some body they thought was hurting me and jumped out of the car
and run to aide, that officer could have shot her son. You don`t know what
could have happened. She endangered her kids.
But when that officer starts bashing in the window of the car, he went
from being a professional law enforcement officer dealing with a
frustrating situation to an angry man with a gun. And pointing that gun
which may have been taser gun, but to that kid, it was a gun-gun.
Pointing it at a child who you know was a child, hearing those
screaming kids, little kids, in that car, and then screaming, curse words
and banging in that door, terrifying those kids, he is the one who then
escalated that situation. Now, after that, she is wrong again. Racing at
100 mile an hour speed going into the oncoming lane, my God, that car could
have flipped over.
But when officers fired at the car as you talked about on the show.
They absolutely crossed the line and possibly crossed the line of legality.
You cannot do that. That car could have flipped over. That car could be
exploded. They could have killed all the occupants of that car. And then,
at the end of the encounter, they didn`t even seem to recognize they were
now dealing potentially with at least four victims in the car, little kids
who had been through a traumatic situation who are now lying face down on
the ground like criminals, terrified.
That officer was unprofessional. All three have got to answer for
this. And when the first officer then says there might have been a gun in
the car. And then he was corrected by officer, 774 in the transcript. Be
advised the suspect did not look to have a firearm inside the vehicle, big
problem. You can`t use force against someone who isn`t attempting to use
force against an officer.
O`DONNELL: Yes. And Joy, that is a clear violation of that
department`s own deadly force rule as we have shown on the program already.
They`re not allowed to shoot at moving vehicles, except in most
extraordinarily threatening circumstances.
You know, she, Oriana Ferrell, says in her op-ed piece, you know, ask
superintendent of Memphis city schools who I am. We fried tried to do that
today. We couldn`t get through the superintendent of Memphis city school.
We did reach the superintended of Shelby County schools which is right next
door. And that superintendent told us that he served on a board with her
of the youth united with senior citizens group. And she was a very helpful
and responsible member of the board. He doesn`t know her very well.
But, Joy, at this moment there where I see her make what is the
fateful decision. It is when that officer tells her she is behind the car.
Turn around and face your car. That`s when she believes, I think what we
are seeing, she believed she is going to get handcuffed, arrested, takes
away from her children. And with this mother, the one thing she cannot
allow to happen is being taken away from her children.
REID: Yes. And she obviously panicked. She panicked earlier on, I
think, in the encounter when she was refusing to get out of the car because
her kids were terrified. They were screaming. They were crying which you
clearly didn`t want to get out of the car and leave them there afraid with
not knowing what was going on. And then, when she realized that look, I am
get about to get arrested. She clearly panicked, you know.
But no one is excusing the behavior of Miss Ferrell. And her op-ed
piece points to, in her words, of the good work that she has done, she fact
that she loves her children, no doubt about it. This is obviously a mother
who was terrified.
And look, I got to tell you, I have been black a long time, Lawrence.
A lot of African-Americans are afraid of police officers. And that
situation is scary. And you have little kids in the car. But I think that
her mistakes, and her errors, don`t excuse the officers callous disregard
for the ages of the kids in the back of that car. I cannot believe that
they would smash in the windows, screaming, curses, and shoot at the car.
The whole thing is heartbreaking.
O`DONNELL: Yes, that officer forgot he wasn`t just dealing with the
mother. He had a responsibility to serve and protect the five children.
Joy Reid, thank you very much for joining us tonight.
REID: Thanks, Lawrence.
O`DONNELL: Chris Hayes is up next.
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