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PoliticsNation, Friday, June 20th, 2014

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June 20, 2014

Guest: Lena Taylor, David Corn, Richard Wolffe, Joan Walsh, Frank
Schaeffer, Rita Bender

thanks to you for tuning in. Tonight`s lead, Governor Scott Walker under
fire. He`s a top presidential hopeful but today he`s denying allegations
by prosecutes that he was part of a, quote, "criminal scheme to violate
election laws."


GOV. SCOTT WALKER (R), WISCONSIN: This is one of those where the
media jumps on this. Some on the Left spin this. You get our detractors
out there trying to claim there is something more than there is. There is
no doubt. This is a prime example of what happens when you take on big
government special interests. They are looking for ways to come at us.
They will continue to do it. They did it two years ago in the recall
election. They will going to do it again. Now we have another tough
election this fall. And so, they`re going to come at it, it was just about
everything out there.


SHARPTON: Walker says it`s all spin coming from the left. But
prosecutors say, there is a lot more to it. They say Walker`s top deputy,
R.J. Johnson, worked on the Governor`s 2010 recall campaign while also
running an outside group, Wisconsin Club for Growth. A hub that
prosecutors allege was used to illegally coordinate activities and raise
money with other outside groups nationwide. Today, Walker argued the case
is already over and done with.


WALKER: Two objective judges, third parties removed from the
executive legislative branch. Both of them have looked at this
information, both have said, there is not a case here and in fact have
taken it so far to tell the prosecutors to stop.


SHARPTON: What Walker didn`t say is that two other judges are
currently reviewing those decisions. Including the controversial ruling of
conservative Judge Randolph Randa. Last month he halted the investigation
and he even tried to force prosecutors to destroy all the evidence. Judge
Randa also claimed that restricting campaign finance too tightly could lead
to, quote, "the guillotine and the gulag." It`s the kind of right-wing
rhetoric you might hear from GOP billionaire donors which makes sense, by
the way. Because it turns out for years Judge Randa has attended judicial
seminars funded by the Koch Brothers. The very same Koch Brothers who
founded Americans for Prosperity, the group that played a critical role
supporting Walker in his recall while attacking his democratic opponent.


UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Hi. This is Jeremy. I`m a volunteer for Americans
for Prosperity. Just wanted to let you know that Mayor Tom Barrett has
raised taxes in Milwaukee every year but one since he became mayor.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Thank you very much for your time. I urge you to
go to Americans for Prosperity.


SHARPTON: Judge Randa had to know about their connection to Americans
for Prosperity. It`s one of the groups named in the investigation that
Judge Randa ruled on. And this is the judge that Walker claims was quote,
"objective?" So far no charges have been filed. But despite what Governor
Walker would like to think, this investigation is far from over.

Joining me now is Wisconsin Democratic State Senator Lena Taylor and
David Corn, Washington Bureau chief for "Mother Jones." Senator, let me go
to you first. The governor says this is all just spin from the left.
What`s your response?

STATE SEN. LENA TAYLOR (D), WISCONSIN: It`s not spin. It`s just the
facts. I mean, an e-mail that shows direct communication with Karl Rove
talking about different strategies that could be used is not spin, Reverend
Sharpton. It`s just the facts. And the fact that Judge Randa wanted to
have that evidence destroyed is really challenging for me. Because that`s
not something, as a lawyer, that I have ever seen that a judge is requiring
before an investigation is even fully done, before it`s gone through
whatever appeal processes it needs to go through that a judge is saying
destroy evidence.

Why? Because in the end, just like you stated, that judge has shown
his leanings in which way he goes. And it`s not my way. It`s Scott
Walker`s way. And clearly destroying the evidence would have made it with
the people of America could not see Scott Walker and the people of
Wisconsin could not see Scott Walker for what he and his counterparts have
been doing which is, you know, really tampering with lections and the
transparency and the integrity, that`s the Wisconsin way.

SHARPTON: David, let me ask you. Straight out. The judge`s
objectivity. I outlined the judge on these judicial seminar junkets, the
judge dealing with the Americans for Prosperity. Had to know the
involvement if he reviewed the evidence.

DAVID CORN, MOTHER JONES: One thing you didn`t mention is that he has
someone who works for him who is married to a lawyer for the Walker

TAYLOR: That`s right.

CORN: So, there`s you know --

SHARPTON: He has -- the judge has someone --

CORN: That`s works for him. Yes.

SHARPTON: That was married to someone --

CORN: A lawyer for the Walker campaign.


CORN: And so, you know, when you get into the issue of judicial
ethics, you can get experts on both sides to sort to say good, bad or
whatever. But it`s really clear here that at least it`s gray, if nothing
else. And what we have in these sort of investigations, always they sort
of boiled down or they get pulled down into a partisan mud wrestle. So
Walker gets out there and says, it`s just democratic prosecutors. And
people going to go, it`s just a republican judge. It seems to me that both
sides in these sorts of events need to do everything possible to show that
there is another part of this connection.


CORN: And what the democratic prosecutors did which the state senator
can tell you is they hired a republican to lead this investigation. A well
known republican who George W. Bush almost nominated to be U.S. attorney.
That`s how republican he is. And so, they are trying to make, you know,
make it less partisan while this judge and his participation and ties to
the Koch Brothers makes his decisions suspect. That`s really lousy when it
comes to the integrity of our electoral system.

SHARPTON: Let me go back to you, Senator, on something you said. The
prosecutor`s filing claims Governor Walker sent an e-mail to Karl Rove. He
said, quote, "in an e-mail sent to Karl Rove on May 4, 2011, Governor Scott
Walker extolled R.J. Johnson`s importance in leading the coordination
effort." And here`s what the governor said when asked about that e-mail.
Listen to this.


UNIDENTIFIED MAN: They state that you sent an e-mail to Karl Rove
suggesting coordination with R.J. Johnson. Did that happen?

WALKER: Again, I have not seen that. I don`t know what specifically
you`re talking about. I can`t imagine that.


SHARPTON: Now, he says, Senator, that he can`t imagine he sent the e-
mail. Is he accusing prosecutors of outright fabricating evidence?

TAYLOR: You know, it sounds a little bit like that. At the very
least, he sure is trying to tap dance around the truth which is he knows
that that e-mail was sent. And he wants to not blatantly say that he
didn`t send the e-mail. It`s no different, to be honest with you, Rev,
when he was talking to what he thought was a Koch Brother and talked to him
about what he wanted to have done to try to influence the recall election
and to try to sabotage just protests that were, you know, civil protests
that were happening in Madison against his efforts with act ten.

So, I`m just suggesting to you that our governor is not always the
person who says, you know, the truth. I`m just going to say it like that.
Even the journal sentinel has shown that his pants has been on fire a few
times and maybe more times than they have actually done in PolitiFact. So,
I`m going to say to you that even though the Governor says, "Oh, well, I
don`t remember," his memory is, you know, only not clear when he doesn`t
want to talk about what he knows is true.

SHARPTON: David, why does this even matter? What is the inference
here? What does this mean to people around the country that Scott Walker,
because there are arguments with the complex campaign laws of what`s legal,
what`s illegal. What does this really matter?

CORN: Right. That`s a great question. And we can take a step back
from the headlines that came out yesterday and today and say what this is
really about is that we have a convoluted campaign finance system in part
because of Citizens United but other Supreme Court decisions that allow
what we call dark money. That`s money from billionaires, it could be
corporations, it could be unions to flow and try to influence campaigns
without the voters, the citizens knowing that. That`s the bottom line
here. Whether it`s Koch Brothers or unknown billionaires, they funnel
money in this case to keep Scott Walker there. And there are supposed to
be rules that prevent this from, you know, being too close to the campaign.
But it really doesn`t matter. Whether there was coordination or not that
might violate the law. But the system itself still remains in essence --

SHARPTON: And that`s crooked. He was in the fight of his life and he
needed money.

CORN: Yes. And we need to know -- the voters need to know who owns
you or who you owe. That`s why Republicans always say, we are for
transparency but not when it comes to dark money groups like Americans for
Prosperity or the club for growth.

SHARPTON: Senator, let me ask you. How does this get pressed
forward? How can you press it forward? Will your caucus be doing

TAYLOR: We will continue to press the issue, Rev. Because when you
get done, we want Wisconsinites to know that our elections -- frankly the
Wisconsin way of transparency and integrity in our process is under
question. At the very least, the dark shadow that`s has been over our
governor and his interaction with what he thought was Koch Brothers or now
his interaction via e-mail with Karl Rove influencing our elections and
allowing outsiders to be engaged instead of the voices of the people of
Wisconsin is a problem.


TAYLOR: He`s not working on issues for Wisconsinites. Jobs. Why do
we have 85 percent of our children in Milwaukee cannot read? That needs to
be a priority. Unemployment needs to be a priority. He needs to be
talking about what to do so that we don`t lead in disparities for people of
color and more than anything, we don`t lead in incarcerations. So, he
needs to do his job instead of doing all of these junkets that he`s doing
around the nation and all this, you know, frankly right close to criminal
activity if not criminal activity.

SHARPTON: All right. A lot of big money. But we have a big
spotlight here on POLITICS NATION. We`ll keep looking at this.

TAYLOR: Thank you.

SHARPTON: State Senator Lena Taylor and David Corn, thank you both
for your time, both of you have a good weekend.

CORN: Thank you.

SHARPTON: Coming up, what`s happening to the GOP presidential field?
I mean, there`s one scandal after another. And Republicans are getting

Plus -- Mike Huckabee`s stunning comments about Martin Luther King,
and the holocaust. He`s distorting the historical record and needs to

Also, closing the chapter of a shameful miscarriage of justice. A
settlement for the Central Park 5, a quarter of a century after their
wrongful convictions. Stay with us.


SHARPTON: Right now the republican bid for 2016 is looking pretty
thin. Three governors who were supposed to be top contenders have all been
hit with scandal and suspicion. What does that mean for Democrats? We`ll
talk about it next.


SHARPTON: We hear a lot about the GOP`s problems in Washington.
That`s why when Republicans talk about the party`s future, they were always
focusing on the governors. It was always about Chris Christie and Scott
Walker and Bob McDonnell. These were the republican stars of the future.
And it was no secret they had national aspirations.


UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Governor, are you running?

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: I`m running for governor. I will make that
announcement officially in 2014. And we`ll see what happens after that.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Vice President McDonnell? Any thoughts about that?
Is that something you would like to have on a resume down the line?

FMR. GOV. BOB MCDONNELL (R), VIRGINIA: Hey, I got the best job in
America -- governor of Virginia.

GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE (R), NEW JERSEY: I`m the governor of New Jersey.
That`s my job. That`s what I asked for for four more years. And that`s
what I intend to do.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: All four years?

CHRISTIE: Listen. Who knows? I don`t know.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Listen, the republican say, I think it`s too early


SHARPTON: The governor might be right. It`s too early for any talk
like that. We told you how Governor Walker is at the center of what
prosecutors call a criminal scheme of political fund raising. And today,
Governor Chris Christie says, he`s moving on from bridge gate, speaking to
the religious right at the Faith and Freedom Coalition. But at least one
report suggests the investigation in New Jersey isn`t over. NBC News has
not independently confirmed this, but "Esquire" magazine reports the U.S.
attorney for New Jersey is closing in on Governor Christie.

And I know what you`re thinking, what about Bob. Well, this week,
Governor McDonnell made his first public remarks since being indicted on
corruption charges in January. To be fair, Democrats aren`t immune to
scandals or investigations either. But it`s striking how far we`ve come
since these three were considered the next big thing for the GOP.

Joining me now are Richard Wolffe and Joan Walsh. Thank you both for
being here.

JOAN WALSH, SALON.COM: Thank you, Rev.


SHARPTON: Joan, you`re actually writing about this today saying, the
governor`s troubles might make Jeb Bush and Mitt Romney the GOP`s 2016

Well, there is just a lot of anxiety in the business wing of the
party, Rev. And, you know, Christie was supposed to be somebody who was
bankable and could unite those factions, Jeb Bush has talked about, Scott
Walker has talked about. I really don`t think that they have anyone. I
can`t see Mitt Romney doing it a third time. I really can`t. But there is
really talk about it. And he had his lovely summit last week and everybody
was, you know, praising him saying we`d like you to think about it again.
Jeb Bush, I hear, is seriously considering it. But he`s got a lot of
reasons not to do it, too. So, the idea that was once the deep bench of
the Republican Party for 2016, they are now going to have to recruit people
who may be reluctant or may have already lost really says something about
the structure of the party right now.

SHARPTON: Richard, though we don`t know where investigations go
innocent or guilty.

WOLFFE: Right.

SHARPTON: But this has had to be a big blow to the Republican Party.

WOLFFE: You know, I don`t know what the party is right now. There
are factions that like some people. These moderate people in the middle or
statewide candidates to go down. So, I`m sure there are parts of the
Republican Party that are just happy to see these people in trouble. Here
is the problem. Even while it`s unresolved, it allows your likely
opponents to start scripting out attack ads, the unanswered questions.
Those attack ads may start out being something obscure in a republican
primary. But they rapidly become things that Democrats pick up and say,
well, even the Republicans are saying this is a bad thing about you.

WALSH: Right.

WOLFFE: So, you may want to move on, you may think that it`s nothing
to do with me. But while it`s unresolved, while there are dark questions,
the attack ads almost write themselves.

SHARPTON: You know, Joan, Chris Christie that is of New Jersey was at
the Faith & Freedom Coalition. And he definitely sounded like a candidate.
Listen to this.


CHRISTIE: You establish credibility in leadership by making hard
decisions, by taking the burden onto yourself. And then to stand up for
the things that you believed in, we do not want to be the first generation
who breaks that most solemn of American commitments. And that is to leave
this place better for the next generation than it was left for us.


SHARPTON: But that story in "Esquire" that I referred to says that
Christie has a lot to worry about. It reports, and let me quote,
"Christie`s port authority appointees, not only Samson but former Deputy
Executive Director Bill Baroni and his oddball side kick David Wildstein
all face near certain indictment and are being pressed to hand up
Christie." What do you make of this, Joan?

WALSH: Well, since none of our independent reporting as confirmed it,
you know, I can`t stand behind that.


WALSH: All I can say is that for somebody like Chris Christie, he
sound like a tough guy there, and that`s his strategy, I`m going to brazen
this out, you`re not going to touch me. But for somebody like Chris
Christie who is perceived as a moderate, to make it through the republican
primary process, his big selling point was electability. I can defeat,
presumably Hillary Clinton. That`s what he needed to be able to say to get
other people out of the way. He can`t say that right now. His
electability, maybe he`ll run, maybe he`ll win. I can`t say that that
won`t happen. But his sure thing electability and his actual record of
reaching across the aisle and working with Democrats, all that stuff that
he was going to push as an electable candidate, he doesn`t really have that
anymore. I mean, he has it but he has also got bags of scandal that he`s
carrying along.

SHARPTON: But Richard, isn`t that the point that at the end of the
day, Christie and for that matter, Walker were moderates comparatively? I
mean, look at what we are left with. Here are some of the 2016 contenders.


SEN. TED CRUZ (R), TEXAS: It seems almost as if this president is
going down the bill of rights, violating each one, one at a time.

SEN. PAUL RYAN (R), WISCONSIN: We have this tailspin of culture in
our inner cities in particular of men not working and just generations of
men not even thinking about working or learning the value and the culture
of work.

SEN. RAND PAUL (R), KENTUCKY: With regard to the idea of whether or
not you have a right to health care, you have to realize what that implies.
It`s not an abstraction. I`m a physician. That means you have a right to
come to my house and conscript me. It means you believe in slavery.


SHARPTON: I mean, these are the three top guys. Is this what we are
left with in the GOP field?

WOLFFE: I don`t know where this is going to shake out. But I do know
this. The construction that Jim Carvel that he had in `92 is still the
case. It`s change versus more of the same. And say Democrats do end up
with Hillary Clinton. For any of these republican candidates, you`re going
to want to say, I`m the clean broom. It`s all about change. If you come
in with a bunch of questions about your ethics or your morals, some of them
resolved, some not, nasty taste in your mouth.

Then the other people you just mentioned have a much stronger pitch to
say, I`m the change guy. Now all of those people happens to be members of
Congress, Congress with the worst approval ratings anyone can remember.
Not a statewide official, not a governor who can say, I want people on the
left, or the right or the middle. That`s a much tougher position. There
is a reason there are so few senators who`ve ever got elected president.
And I don`t know how far we have to go back to find someone who got elected
from the house leadership.

WALSH: Right.

SHARPTON: But Joan, isn`t it also these guys are way out there? I
mean, there is a difference between a clean broom to sweep the floor and a
broom that you think is going to pick the floor up, the boards and the
nails. I mean, we`re not talking about cleaning the floor. These guys are
talking about changing the whole set-up of the building.

WALSH: They are talking about tearing the building down.

SHARPTON: Exactly right.

WALSH: They`re talking about --

SHARPTON: These are states` rights guys, anti-government guy.

WALSH: Anti-federal government guys. This is where the energy is in
the Republican Party, Reverend Al. You know that. And so, you know, I
don`t consider any of those three people that you showed electable, you
know, in the national race unless, God forbid, something unforeseen
happens, but they are the folks who have the love of the base and they`re
going -- you know, they could walk away. I didn`t used to think that. I
didn`t use to think any of those people could be the nominee. I now think
it`s possible.

SHARPTON: Yes. Joan Walsh and Richard Wolffe, thank you both for
your time. Have a great weekend, both of you.

WALSH: Thanks, Rev.

SHARPTON: Coming up, Mike Huckabee bashes gay marriage by using Dr.
Martin Luther King?

And five young men accused of a terrible crime called the Central Park
jogger case. They were sent to prison but they were innocent. Today,
justice for those five wrongfully convicted men. Stay with us.


SHARPTON: Ahead, a powerful story of injustice, and fighting for
what`s right. Five young men convicted of a brutal assault in New York`s
Central Park. But they didn`t do it. But they still went to jail. Today,
justice for them. Stay tuned.


SHARPTON: Distorting the words of the civil rights movement has
become a habit on the right. And it just happened again. At the second
annual march for marriage and anti-gay marriage rally in Washington, D.C.,
Rick Santorum talked about reclaiming the institution of marriage. But it
was former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee who quoted from Dr. Martin
Luther King, Jr.`s letter from a Birmingham jail to justify discriminating
against gays and lesbians.

FMR. GOV. MIKE HUCKABEE (R), ARKANSAS: Let me share this with you.
From someone far wiser than me. These words one may well ask, how can you
advocate breaking some laws and obeying others. The answer lies in the
fact that there are two types of laws -- just and unjust. It was illegal
aid and comfort a Jew in Hitler`s Germany, even so, I`m sure that had I
lived in Germany at the time, I would have aided and comforted my Jewish
brothers. Those were the words penned by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., in
1954 in his letter from the Birmingham jail. I wish he were here today.


SHARPTON: Actually Dr. King wrote that letter in 1963. But
justifying discrimination against the LGBT community by quoting Dr. King`s
words about Nazi Germany is detestable. Across Hitler`s Germany, gays were
ordered to wear classifying pink triangle badges. And thousands of gay men
were marched to concentration camps and slaughtered during the holocaust.
Governor Huckabee is way off the mark. As Dr. King wrote in that same
letter, injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.

But in just a few hours, Mike Huckabee will take the stage at the
religious right evangelical Faith & Freedom Coalition, a conservative
Christian group that was established by Ralph Reed. It`s the same stage so
many type Republicans have run to in the last couple of days. This group
matters to the party. So, what does that say about the party?

Joining me now is Frank Schaeffer, a former evangelical turned
progressive. And author of "Why I am an Atheist Who Believes in God How to
Create Beauty, Give Love and Find Peace."

Frank, this group matters to the party leaders. Why are social
conservatives still so powerful?

Precisely because they are not giving love or creating beauty. What they
are doing is creating a polarized culture in which they always pick on
someone to beat on in order to raise money and get aging white Fox News
viewers to vote for them. So they can throw in allusions to the Nazis and
therefore dishonor the Jewish survivors of the camps. They can talk about
Martin Luther King who was assassinated often by people very much like them
-- white folks who have been so bigoted against our president. Or they can
just throw out whatever comes to mind.

But if you noticed what these folks do, they create enemies. And they
have created enemies within the evangelical community itself. The fact is
people who are reading my new book, "Why I am an Atheist Who Believes in
God" are often former evangelicals like me who were sending me literally,
I`m not exaggerating hundreds of e-mails, saying we have to somehow reclaim
Christianity as a religious movement and depoliticize it and take it away
from the people who are so abusive.

SHARPTON: But this conference, on that exact point at this
conference, they`re saying as the theme of this conference that religious
liberty is under fire. Listen to this.


REP. MICHELLE BACHMANN (R), MINNESOTA: Our religious liberties are
virtually under full scale attack every day of the week from every

PAUL: We seek to protect the unborn, to end the manipulation of
school children by Utopian planners and to permit an acknowledgment of a
supreme being in our classrooms.

FMR. SEN. RICK SANTORUM (R), PENNSYLVANIA: You see, many people in
our party who don`t want to fight for the most basic institution that holds
the family together. That`s the institution of marriage.

CRUZ: At no time in our nation`s history have we seen the threats to
liberty. Religious liberty and every one of the bill of rights more dire
than they are right now.


SHARPTON: And really, when you read the founding fathers it was clear
we were not building a theocracy, we were not trying to build a nation
based on one religious beliefs, but they are rallying up their base,
distorting even what the country was represented to be when it was founded.

SCHAEFFER: Yes. I mean, what`s happening is these people are doing
exactly to gay people, for instance, trying to deprive them of the right to
marry, what the pilgrim fathers fled Britain about when they came over to
the bay state colony. And that is, they are removing the liberty from
other people and making them, as it were, try to join their version of what
would amount to a state church. A kind of theocracy, one of the things
that I have written about, one of the things that I talk about is that
these folks speak in Orwellian terms of double talk. When they say
religious liberty they mean strip it from people. Look, I was at a
fabulous gay wedding two Sundays ago, a wonderful young couple getting
married. That is liberty -- the freedom to choose, the freedom to live.
It was a terrific ceremony. The kind of people they are demonizing are the
bedrock of a good society.

SHARPTON: If they want to disagree, fine. But don`t make that the
law. But it even got uglier than that. This was first spotted by a
Huffington Post editor. It was an Obama figurine in a urinal at the
conference. Representatives from the Faith and Freedom Coalition condemned
this action. What does this say about the crowd there, Frank?

SCHAEFFER: Look, it says the same thing that happened to our
president when he was just elected and they put a bumper sticker on cars,
some imprecatory prayer of a Psalm that called for the killing of someone
and to leave their children fatherless. And to leave the wife a widow.
And everybody knew exactly what this meant. It`s the same people as these
rubes with their open carry standing around with guns as if they are trying
to protect their freedom from who? We live in a time when our president
has been denigrate, we live in a time when the hatred has been ramped up by
an aging white minority that controls the Tea Party that I write about in
my book, "Why I am an Atheist Who Believes in God."

The young evangelicals are leaving these groups in droves. I have
good news for your viewers, Rev. And that is, the e-mail I`m getting off
this book of mine tells me that there is a new generation including of
white people raised in republican right wing crazy families that is saying
"enough." But in the meantime, as you know and often talk about on this
program, the Republican Party is controlled by the Tea Party element.


SCHAEFFER: And they keep looking for fresh meat. Listen.

SHARPTON: I have to go, Frank.

SCHAEFFER: It was the feminists. Now it`s the gay people.

SHARPTON: Thanks for your time. Have a good weekend.

SCHAEFFER: You, too.

SHARPTON: His new book "Why I am an Atheist." Big news today in the
Central Park jogger case that divided New York City. Tonight, justice,

But first, a turning point in American`s history. The freedom summer
of 1964 and the murders that shocked the nation. It`s my honor to talk to
the widow of Michael Schwerner, next.


SHARPTON: Tomorrow marks a somber day in the civil rights movement.
It was 50 years ago tomorrow that three young civil rights volunteers
disappeared in the backwoods of Mississippi where they were brutally
murdered by the KKK. Michael Schwerner, James Cheney and Andrew Goodman.
They were investigating the burning of a local church where they planned to
build a freedom school that summer, it was one of the many projects slated
for the historic freedom summer of 1964. That courageous effort to bring
students from around the country to the Deep South to fight Jim Crow.


UNIDENTIFIED MAN: We hope to send in to Mississippi this summer
upwards of 1,000 students from all around the country who will engage in
what we are calling freedom schools, community center programs, voter
registration activity, and in general a program designed to open up


SHARPTON: The students who answered the call for help literally put
their lives on the line. That year, only seven percent of blacks in
Mississippi were registered to vote. Seven percent. And the freedom
summer volunteers and civil rights activists were constant targets of hate
and violence. The night of June 21st, 1964, Schwerner, Cheney and Goodman
were pulled over by local sheriffs who claim to have released them late
that night. Authorities found their burned out car hours later, but for
weeks, nobody could find any sign of the missing men.


UNIDENTIFIED MAN: This is bogachita, one of the biggest and deadliest
to the swamps. One hundred men are picking their way through it today
looking for Cheney, Goodman and Schwerner, but the plain fact is, the 1,000
men might not disclose whatever secrets lies into the green slime of
bogachita. This is Backwoods Mississippi, silent and suspicious.


SHARPTON: The families begged for help. Schwerner`s widow Rita vowed
to find out what happened to her husband no matter what it took.


UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: We know something happened to them. They are
being held somewhere or -- something happened. And I am going to find the
answer. If the federal authorities can do it, this is fine. But if all
the federal authority s are at the beck and call of the government are
unable to do so then I, as just one individual, will go down and attempt to
do so if this means driving every back road, every dirt road, every alley
in the county of Mishoga (ph). I will do it.


SHARPTON: Nearly six weeks later, authorities made the gruesome
discovery of their charred bodies at a nearby farm. Killed by a mob of Ku
Klux Klan. It was a pivotal moment that historic summer. A moment that
shocked the country`s conscience and made many millions aware of the
brutalities of Jim Crow.

Joining me now is Rita Bender, Michael Schwerner`s widow. I`m honored
to have you on the show tonight.


SHARPTON: Give a sense to people of how far we have come. What was
it like back in the summer in `64 in Mississippi?

BENDER: Things were pretty bad. There was a tremendous amount of
violence in the south. Children were killed for the crime of being black
in Mississippi.


BENDER: And it wasn`t just Emmett Till. I was 22. I had graduated
from college. And Mickey was 24. We had gone to Mississippi. As field
staff for the Congress of racial equality. We went just as other young
people from various parts of the country, mostly black, some white, went to
various places in the south and we are talking now -- you and I -- mostly
about Mississippi, to be part of an effort to bring about change in the
country. And it was an enormous effort. But, again, it`s a mistake to
focus, Reverend, just on the young people who came in from other places.
This was a movement, as you know, that had been going on for many, many
years. And it was a movement of local people.


BENDER: The local people were the movement. And the rest are of us
were perhaps assistants in that movement.

SHARPTON: In fact, you stayed at a black church that was involved in
the struggle. And I understand that church was destroyed which is why
Michael and his friends went back down there. These people lived under
that all of the time. And Michael and Goodman and Chaney went back because
the church was destroyed.

BENDER: That`s right. James Chaney and Mickey had been working with
members of the church in the months leading up to what became freedom
summer. On voter registration issues in Neshoba County where virtually no
blacks could vote, and the church had committed to being a site for a
freedom school for that summer. The Klan which consisted of a number of
law enforcement people, both from Neshoba County and from Meridian,
Mississippi, from Lauderdale County beat up some of the church members and
burned the church to the ground. And a couple of days later, I think three
or four days later, Mickey and Jay went to the Lauderdale community where
the church was to try and offer whatever support they could for the people.
And Andrew Goodman who was a summer volunteer and had been in the state for
about 24 hours went with them. They were arrested, held in jail while the
Klan assembled and then they were killed.

SHARPTON: You know what inspires me about you is that after the
murders you could have left the movement. But instead you fought to
integrate the all white delegation for Mississippi at the democratic
convention and you are still continuing to fight. Why was all of that so
important and remains important to you?

BENDER: Because it is important just as it`s important to you. And
just as it`s important to many good people in this country.

SHARPTON: Rita Bender, I want to thank you for your life of service
and thank you for your time and sharing your story with us.

BENDER: Thank you.

SHARPTON: We can never forget the courage of all those who struggled,
sacrificed and died in the fight for freedom. They didn`t back down. They
didn`t let fear interfere with their convictions. And neither can we. The
things they fought for, the right to vote, the right to have a nation where
there was not a double standard. But it was equal protection under the
law. We can`t let that go. Otherwise we make a mockery of those that shed
their blood so we would have a better day. Yes, it is hard. But it`s not
nearly as hard as it was. And they didn`t back down. We have no excuse.
We`ll be right back.


SHARPTON: Coming up, the march of justice. Five young men sent to
jail for a crime they didn`t commit. Today, 25 years later, justice.
That`s next.


SHARPTON: Finally, justice delayed but not denied in the Central Park
five jogger case. Today, a landmark decision that will finally right a
terrible wrong. It all started in 1989. The rape and beating of a jogger
in New York City`s Central Park. It was a shocking crime. And five
teenagers were quickly arrested and accused of the crime.


UNIDENTIFIED MAN: One of the cops tackled me. All my cloth were just
all dirty, and muddy. And he had a helmet and he swung it across my face.
He handcuffed me and I said -- um -- what`s going on? He`s like, you know.
Didn`t I tell you not to run? Like you`re an animal or something. So I
basically said, I didn`t do nothing, you know.


SHARPTON: Under what we now know was police coercion, the teenagers
all confessed to the crime, but almost immediately recanted and said they
didn`t do it. No other evidence tied them to the crime. But they were
convicted anyway. And spent from seven to 13 years in state prison. From
the very beginning, some of us stood up for them and raised money to help
get them out of jail and because these young men should have been presumed
innocent, but it didn`t matter. These children were sacrificed to satisfy
the mob`s demand for blood.

More than ten years went by. Then in 2001, another man, a career
criminal came forward and confessed. And DNA evidence confirmed he did the
crime the Central Park five did not. The Manhattan district attorney who
had prosecuted the original case fought to overturn their convictions.
That happened in 2002. And they were freed from prison. They were
innocent. And free. But they had already lost so much. As they told
Sarah and Ken Burns in the important film on the case.


UNIDENTIFIED MAN: I lost my youth. I lost several years of my life.
I lost that sense of being youthful and missing the average things of going
to school and going to the prom, just living like an average 14, 15-year-
old kid.


UNIDENTIFIED MAN: It hasn`t become easier to live as an adult. It`s
become harder. It`s always more difficult to do something if you have this
huge gap of your life taken away from you. It`s not like just because they
said, OK, we are vacating the convictions that it vacated the whole prison
term. That prison term happened. It was a reality. We really went
through that.


SHARPTON: I spoke to them in December of 2012 about the
interrogations and why they confessed to a crime they didn`t commit.


UNIDENTIFIED MAN: They were telling, you know, everybody`s families
that all you`ve got to do is say this and we`ll let your sons go home. You
know? This is the amount of tricknology they were using was so devious
that it caused even our parents at that point of saying, you know, maybe if
we just go along with it, we`ll be able to get out of here.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Being 14, a lot of stuff goes over your head. You
don`t really know what`s happening. It all seems like a blur, it all seems
like this one nightmare that you can`t wake up from, you can`t escape some.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: This was a death sentence, as Raymond also says,
that exceeded far beyond the regular prison term. They wanted society to
kill us off as well. You know? Never in a million years did they want us
to succeed and be here before you today telling the truth about this


SHARPTON: Today, the five wrongfully young convicted men came to a
close and they came and close an ugly chapter in New York City`s history.
They have agreed to a $40 million settlement with the city. I remember how
their families and others were attacked. Those of us that rallied and
marched for them. But nobody went through what they went through. One of
the young men who did 13 years in jail came out, couldn`t find a job,
worked for my organization, National Action Network.

I watched him every day. Tried to get his head together, his mind
together. Who could ever give them their youth back? Who could ever give
them that time back? Money only underscores the debt we owe. A debt we
can`t pay. A debt we will never be able to fully recover. And it`s
happened too often to too many. We need to keep fighting.

Thanks for watching. I`m Al Sharpton. "HARDBALL" starts right now.


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