August 12, 2014
Guest: Patricia Bines; Les McSpadden; Dorian Johnson; Freeman Bosley, Jr.
REVEREND AL SHARPTON, MSNBC ANCHOR: Developing news tonight from St.
Louis, Missouri where a heartbroken community is still searching for
answers in Michael Brown`s death.
Late today President Obama put out a statement saying in part, quote "the
death of Michael Brown is heartbreaking, and Michelle and I send our
deepest condolences to his family and his community at this very difficult
time. As attorney general Holder has indicated, the department of justice
is investigating this situation along with local officials. And they will
continue to direct resources to the case as need."
The President`s statement comes amid a day of fast-moving developments.
Late today, we learned that a close friend of Michael Brown`s who was with
him at the time of the shooting was questioned extensively by the U.S.
attorney`s office here. It suggests that federal law enforcement officials
are already heavily involved in this investigation.
And stay tuned to this show because later this hour, I will talk live with
that friend of Michael Brown`s who was with him when he had that tragic
confrontation with police on Saturday.
Also today, police reversed themselves and now say they will not release
the name of the officer involved in the shooting citing threats to the
officer`s safety. All this following more unrest last night, including
police in riot gear shooting teargas at protesters.
At a news conference today where I spoke in my capacity as President of the
National Action Network, Michael Brown`s father called for peace.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MICHAEL BROWN SR., MICHAEL BROWN`S FATHER: I need justice for my son. I
need everybody to be cool and I need all of us come together to do this
right. The right way.
BENJAMIN CRUMP, BROWN FAMILY ATTORNEY: Yes.
BROWN: The right way so we can get something done about this.
BROWN: No violence.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: In my time here today, it`s clear that this community needs
something to be done. It needs justice, peaceful justice.
In just a moment I`m going to speak to Michael Brown`s grandfather Les
McSpadden. But I want to bring in Patricia Bines, a democratic committee
woman for Ferguson township. Thank you for being here tonight.
PATRICIA BINES (D), COMMITTEE WOMAN, FERGUSON TOWNSHIP: Thank you for
SHARPTON: Committee woman, let me ask you. There seems to be a lot of
suspicion among members of the community about the police. Why do you
think that is?
BINES: Reverend Sharpton, we have a long history of mistrust in the
community here with the police. There are constant stories of harassment.
You know, young black men, it`s almost the same across the country. Young
black men have tales of being harassed by the police, you know, while they
are walking or while they are driving. The racial profiling, the numbers
in the state of Missouri are very scary. And it`s not unfounded. There is
a high number of African-American men and women in our community who are
harassed by the police. And nothing seems to get done about it.
SHARPTON: Now, you`ve talked about the need for federal investigation.
Why do you and so many others want that?
BINES: Well, I have been out talking with the community themselves on the
ground and, while I know there is going to be a fair and thorough
investigation, when we can get the full cooperation of the community
because they don`t feel comfortable talking clearly with, you know,
Ferguson police department.
But even with St. Louis county police, that`s not enough for the residents
who have history with county police and feeling like there is going to be a
fair and thorough investigation. So, if everyone involved truly wants a
fair and thorough investigation and there are witnesses that say they will
not talk to St. Louis county, we have to seriously look at that. And as an
elected, you know, official, we have to listen to that and make sure people
know that if they want fair and thorough, we have to give it to them. It
only comes through the feds.
SHARPTON: Committeewoman, please stay with us. I want to bring in Les
McSpadden, Michael Brown`s grandfather.
Mr. McSpadden, thank you for being here.
LES MCSPADDEN, MICHAEL BROWN`S GRANDFATHER: Thank you, Reverend Sharpton.
It`s always an honor, a pleasure to see and hear from you. I would hate to
talk to you at these circumstances like this, at a bad time like this.
SHARPTON: Well. Certainly, our condolences to your family. As you heard
the President of the United States and the first lady extended it to your
One of the things I have most admired about you and your family I was with
the mother and father today is the strength and dignity you have shown and
the calling for peace and nonviolence while you pursue justice. Tell us
why that`s so important to you and how it reflects your memory of your
MACSPADDEN: Yes, sir. Violence needs to stop because, you know, my
grandson, he wasn`t violent. He didn`t need to do anything. People around
him. He only be doing things like that because all it does is put gasoline
on the fire. That`s already a big old fire. So the thing to do is for
everybody in the great state of Missouri, the state I was born and raised
in. Just stay calm. And once again, let the judicial system handle it and
take over because all this fire, looting and stuff like that, all it does
is decrease his legacy.
SHARPTON: Now, one of the things I`m hearing is that a lot of people in
Ferguson township are saying it has not been the proper representation.
It`s 67 percent of Ferguson township is black. Yet out of 53 policemen,
there are only three black policemen. And it is so reflected in the school
board and in the politics. Is it a feeling that you have that a lot of
what the reaction is a lot of outrage to people feeling they don`t have
access to influence in their own township and what happened to your
grandson reflects that and brings a lot of that to the surface?
MACSPADDEN: Yes, it does. Like I was trying to explain, Reverend. I have
spent time in St. Louis. And me personally, I avoid that area before this
incident happened because, you know, there is oh so much profiling going
on. I could ride down (INAUDIBLE) with me and maybe two of my older
friends and get pulled over just because of the pigmentation of my skin.
It`s just wrong. He said what happened? Why is that? I wish somebody
could explain it to me. Why would there only be three officers out of 50?
So I mean, I thought demographics meant something. But evidently, it
SHARPTON: So the charge I`m hearing from a lot of young people today about
profiling, you are saying that you feel there is merit to a lot of
accusations of profiling by the police department in Ferguson.
MACSPADDEN: Exactly. One would have to experience -- it would be hard for
me to sit here and explain it. But on any given Friday, Saturday night,
going down to west Flores which is in Ferguson. And I don`t just happen
(INAUDIBLE), West Flores. I`m talking about Ferguson, period, you know.
It`s something that, you know, everybody that lives in St. Louis that are
lifers is like myself know that if you go that way, it better be some
SHARPTON: Now tell me about your grandson. He was supposed to start
college on yesterday. And yet now we are planning -- the family is -- for
his funeral. And I understand he was never in trouble. Wasn`t a bad kid
at all. Yet they are trying to say that he got into a scuffle. The police
story is he got into a scuffle with the policeman and reached for the
policeman`s gun. How do you react to that? Certainly the facts will come
out in an investigation. But as a grandfather, how do you react to that?
Is that believable? Is that at all like the grandson you knew?
MACSPADDEN: Reverend Sharpton, I can say whole-heartedly, 100 percent that
that`s false. I know my grandson. My grandson, he is the type of guy that
I would buy him video games and he could actually beat the games. So in
which turn means you`ve got to get him another one.
As a matter of fact, my grandson is scared of guns. He wasn`t like that
because he wasn`t raised like that. And for someone to say he tried to
take a pistol from him, there is no one in this country that could make me
believe that because that`s false. Those are accusations, those are lies.
But my grandson, as you probably have seen or heard on the news feeds
around, my grandson was a gentle giant. He`s big for his age, but also
he`s a kid. And when was it a crime to walk down the middle of the street
with the Ferguson police department saying if you walked down the middle of
my street, I`ll kill you. And that should never happen, man.
SHARPTON: Councilwoman Bines, how do you deal with the fact that the
demographics in the city are one thing and the political offices, the
police department, the board of education doesn`t reflect that?
BINES: It`s been a major issue in our community. Just a few months ago we
had a big issue with the school board with the firing of the black
superintendent. And it`s been a huge problem in getting more people who
are of the majority demographic here engaged in the political system. They
don`t understand it. And often times it`s a socioeconomic issue where
people are worried how they will get to work, if they can get to work. If
there is a job to go to, rather than political matters on voting. So it`s
the day to day socioeconomic struggle that keeps them from being able to
engage in the political process.
SHARPTON: Committeewoman Patricia Bines, I will leave it there. Les
McSpadden, thank you for your time of grief to come on. And we, again,
give our condolences. We will stay on this story, Mr. McSpadden.
BINES: Thank you very much.
MACSPADDEN: I appreciate that.
SHARPTON: Coming up, developing news about a potentially crucial witness
and the role now played by federal investigators. We will have a live
interview with this witness about what he says really happened.
Also, the troubled history of Ferguson, Missouri. There is a big racial
divide and a deep problem with police profiling. So what can be done about
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hands up!
CROWD: Don`t shoot!
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: Raising our arms for peace. How to respect Michael Brown`s
legacy and stop violence on our streets. Stay with us.
SHARPTON: Our social media community has been very active on the Michael
Brown`s shooting. We are receiving a lot of emotional responses to Michael
Brown`s family who joined the show last night.
Cali Lili tweeted, so sorry for your grief. So much dignity. Nobody
should have to be so strong. Condolences.
On facebook, Monea wrote, our arms are stretched around you across the
nation and the world.
Coming next, we will talk live to Michael Brown`s friend who witnessed the
And we want to know what you think. Please keep up the conversation by
going and joining us on our facebook page or tweet us @politicsnation.
SHARPTON: We are back live from St. Louis where a community and family
continue mourning the death of Michael Brown. The big question remains,
what happened? We have two conflicting accounts. One from police and the
other from eyewitnesses. Here is the police version.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHIEF JON BELMAR, ST. LOUIS COUNTY POLICE: One of those individuals at the
time came in as the officer was exiting his police car. Allegedly pushed
the police officer back into the car where he physically assaulted the
police officer. It is our understanding at this point in the investigation
that within the police car there was a struggle over the officer`s weapon.
There was at least one shot fired within the car. After that, the officer
came back out of the car. He exited his vehicle. And there was a shooting
that occurred where the officer, in fact, shot the subject. And the
subjects -- they were fatal injuries.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: He says Brown reached into the car and attacked the officer, but
gave no detail about what happened outside the car when Brown was shot and
killed nearly 35 feet away. But Michael Brown was not walking alone when
this happened. His good friend Dorian Johnson was with him. Dorian is
still alive and he is giving a very different account of what happened.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DORIAN JOHNSON, MICHAEL BROWN`S FRIEND: A police officer squad car pulled
up. And when he pulled up, these were his exact words. He said get the f
on the sidewalk. We told the officer we were not but a minute from our
destination and would be shortly off the street. He pulled up on the side
as he tried to thrust the door open. But we were so close it that it
ricocheted off us and it bounced back to him. And I guess that, you know,
got him a little upset. At that time he reached out the window. He didn`t
get out of the car. He just reached out the window, grabbed my friend
around his neck and was trying -- as he was trying to choke my friend. And
he was trying to get away. And an officer again reached out, grabbed his
arm to pull him into the car. So now it`s like the officer is pulling him
inside the car. He`s trying to pull away. At no time the officer said he
was going to do anything until he pulled out his weapon. His weapon was
drawn and he said, I`ll shoot you, or I`m going to shoot. In the same
moment the first shot went off. We looked at him. He was shot. And there
was blood coming from him. We took off running. His weapon was already
drawn when he got out of the car. He shot again. And once my friend felt
that shot he turned around, put his hands in the air and started to get
down. But the officer still approached with his weapon drawn and he fired
several more shots. And my friend died.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: As the investigation unfolds, there are two different accounts.
Joining me now is Dorian Johnson, the young man who was with Michael Brown,
and his attorney Freeman Bosley, Jr. Thank you for being here.
FREEMAN BOSLEY JR., ATTORNEY: Good afternoon.
JOHNSON: Good afternoon. Thank you.
SHARPTON: Dorian, you say the officer attacked Michael. What do you think
when you hear the police say it was the other way around?
JOHNSON: I knew as soon as I heard it that it is not what happened. And I
knew that I was standing so close and seeing everything so vivid that I
know exactly what happened. I knew that was incorrect at the moment I
SHARPTON: How fast did all this happen?
JOHNSON: It really escalated quickly. It was really less than a minute or
a minute or so before it escalated to death.
SHARPTON: Now where did it start? I mean, how did this start?
JOHNSON: We were walking down the street. At the time there was no
traffic coming. The street was clear. We were walking down the street in
the middle of the street. And before the officer pulls up, the traffic
starts to flow. No cars blowing their horn at us like we`re in their way
or making eye turns like we have to get out of the way or anything like
that. So, we didn`t feel we were causing a problem to anyone. And we kept
So a little bit later we saw the police officer coming. And when he gets
to the side of us, right on the side we were right at his driver door. He
tells us to get on the sidewalk in a real aggressive manner. I don`t want
to cuss on camera. But he told us to get on the sidewalk --
BOSLEY: Get the f.
JOHNSON: Get the f on the sidewalk.
JOHNSON: At that time my friend big Mike didn`t speak at all. I responded
to the officer. I said, officer, we are less than a minute away from our
destination. We`re just walking and we`ll be out of the way. And we
continued to walk because I was under the impression that the officer, you
know, he was fixing to drive off. But then we hear the car stop. And we
hear it reverse, but it reversed very rapidly, like he stomped on the gas
pedal fast. And he reversed in a manner where we had to kind of jump out
of the way. Not really jump but step back out of the way or he was going
to hit us. And now his car is slanted. And we`re back face to face with
him at his driver door.
SHARPTON: Now, you said Michael`s hands -- go ahead. I`m sorry. Go
JOHNSON: Mike`s hands were filled with cigarellos because we have
cigarellos in our hands. So his hands are filled. His hands are not free.
His hands were filled. At that time when the officer pulled up on us, he
was so close to us. He tried to push his door open so aggressively. Now,
my friend big mike is a real big guy. And you know, I`m not that big, but
he`s real big. We were standing so close to each that when he pushed the
door open it didn`t get a full inch out. And it hit us and bounced back on
him. In an instant his arm came out the window and grabbed my friend
around the neck.
SHARPTON: You said that the door hit him. And then the door bounced back.
JOHNSON: Yes. The door ricocheted off our bodies. Not like we had our
hands up because we didn`t know -- we wasn`t ready for the speed that he
opened his door. So, it wasn`t like we braced ourselves. It almost
knocked the wind out of me. But you know, he is so big that it slightly
tapped me and more hit him. And it really bounced back on the officer.
SHARPTON: And then the incident happened.
JOHNSON: Yes. After the door bounced on him. Like I said it is almost in
an instant, his left arm comes out the window. He grabbed him. He didn`t,
at no point in time, tried to get back out of the car or open back the
door. He just stuck his left arm out the window and grabbed my friend
around the throat. Now my friend, he`s angry. He has a frowny face, but
my friend is not an aggressive person. So, he`s not trying to go with the
officer. He`s pulling away from the officer.
And the officer is pulling him in the vehicle like he`s trying to pull him
through the window. He`s so big, he couldn`t pull his body down into the
window. So, it was more like his body was coming into the window while the
officer was pulling on him. And while he was pulling, he managed to turn
around, give lose to officer`s grip from his neck and now the officer is
trying to still maintain his hold and grip on him. So now, he is grabbing
on his shirt and his arm still with the one arm, his left arm. He`s trying
to grab any grip he can on my friend. And he`s turning around.
Now at this moment he hands me the cigarellos like, he says hold these.
And I grab what he says and I`m still standing in the door like what I am
doing all this thug and a pull and not wrestling as they say. It was more
like tug and pull because he`s trying to pull big mike, my friend. And my
friend`s trying to pull away because we really don`t understand the manner
the officer is addressing us.
And at that time I hear the officer saying "I`m going to shoot." And when
he said "I`m going to shoot," my eyes addressed to him because I wanted to
see what he was going to fire. And I know what a taser looks like -- a
taser gun looks like. And I know what a regular gun looks like. And when
I looked at the officer, I was staring dead in front of the barrel. And
almost a second later, the gun went off.
If I didn`t move of hesitation before the gun went off I could have been
shot as well as my friend. But I moved second earlier than the gun going
off. And the bullet did strike my friend. He was never inside the car
when the bullet struck him. At this moment when he pointed the gun at us,
it kind of stood us back like he has a gun pointed at us for no reason.
And he still has his hand on my friend. Mike, the whole time. He never let
his grip go with the left hand. But now, he`s pointed his weapon at us in
a threatening manner.
In no time during the altercation then my friend, big Mike make a verbal
threat at the officer. No time did I make a movement or gesture like I was
going to jump in the altercation. No time did I felt like the officer`s
life was really in that much danger for him to pull out the gun first
before any other weapon that he had to stop what was going on.
So after the first shot went off, I stepped back and I look at my friend.
And I see the blood coming down his right arm. So I know that he was hit.
And when I see him, my eyes get big. He looked at me because he didn`t
even look at himself. He was in shock. We were both in shock from hearing
the gun so close. He was looking at me and I`m looking at him. He sees my
eyes get big and the officer let go. And that`s how we were both able to
run at the same time. Because it was almost like the officer didn`t mean
to shoot him but he was trying to stop us from committing -- no crime at
all. I don`t know what he was doing for him to pull out the gun. But when
he shot, he let my friend go and we took off running.
Now, at this time for the first shot take off, his vehicle was parked in a
way that both lanes are taken up. No cars can get past -- north or south.
There`s three vehicles parked right in front of the scene. As we were
running I stepped behind the first vehicle and stooped slightly. I could
tell the officer was in shock because it took him at least two or three
minutes before he initially got out of the car after the first shot. It
was almost like he had to make a judgment caller or think about what he had
just done or just saw.
And while stooped down behind the vehicle my friend big Mike`s running past
me. He sees me in plain sight. He looks down at me and says, keep
running, bro. Verbatim. His exact words. He`s still running. I`m still
in shock. So my body -- I can`t move, but my mind is trying to run but my
body can`t move.
By this time the officer is out of the car now. And I`m standing up now.
And the officer is walking with his gun drawn but it`s almost like he
couldn`t see me because I`m just standing still in plain sight. But he`s
walking in such a way that his vision wasn`t even on nobody else. What he
was trying to do.
As he got closer he fired one more shot. That shot struck my friend in the
back. He then stopped what he was going and stop to turn around with his
hands in the air. And started to tell the officer that he was unarmed and
he was -- before he could get his last words out, the officer then fired
several more shots and my friend went down in the fetal position. And
that`s when I took off running.
SHARPTON: Now, did your friend say anything to the policeman when he
stopped and put his arms up?
JOHNSON: He started to talk to the police officer. But he couldn`t fully
get what he was saying out because he was being shot several more times in
mid-talk, many mid-sentence.
SHARPTON: Attorney Bosley, you represent Dorian. And I know he`s already
started talking to the U.S. attorney`s office. This seems as though
federal investigators are already seriously involved in investigating at
least at a preliminary level this case in a serious manner.
BOSLEY: We met with the FBI earlier today, although Mr. Johnson was not
able to meet with us. There were several other key witnesses that did get
a chance to meet with the FBI and tell their story. Mr. Johnson is going
to be available later on to be able to do that. One of the things that`s
just so disappointing about this is that we`ve got a situation in which
this community here -- we have a situation in which this community is
insensitive to what happens to young African-American males.
What occurred here with big Mike is just another indication of what goes on
around here. We`ve got two other people have been killed. We have Kerry
Ball who got shot 27 times by the police. Officer stood over him and
actually fired seven to 10 shots into his body while he lays on the ground.
We have another case involving a gentleman by the name of Antonio Johnson
who was tased 13 times by the police in two minutes in the city of
Hazelwood. He died the next day. This situation with big Mike is more of
the same. And we are so glad, Reverend Sharpton, that you and the national
media have decided to focus on the city of St. Louis and what goes on here.
Because this is critically important to us.
SHARPTON: Well, we are going to stay on this story. I assure you and
Dorian, Attorney Bosley. We are going to follow this story all the way
through. Dorian Johnson and Freeman Bosley, Jr., thank you for being here.
Again, Mr. Johnson has not told the story directly, but he will. His
attorney has announced here tonight. Thank you both for being with me
tonight. We`ll be right back.
SHARPTON: There are still so many questions about the shooting of Michael
Brown, so what are investigators doing right now?
Joining me now is Eugene O`Donnell, professor of law and police study at
John Jay College of Criminal Justice. Eugene, thanks for being here.
EUGENE O`DONNELL, JOHN JAY COLLEGE OF CRIMINAL JUSTICE: Thank you, Rev.
SHARPTON: Now, Eugene, let me ask you, you just heard this interview with
Dorian Johnson who was actually with Michael Brown when the shooting
occurred. Of course there is no way for you or anyone to know what`s true,
what`s not true. That would be evaluated. But what will investigators be
looking for. He seemed very detailed, he seemed very sure of what he was
O`DONNELL: All right. That`s crucial. He`s giving us very detailed
accounts and you`re going to try to construct a timeline really. And see
if the physical evidence and any other evidence if there is a dash cam, if
there`s any kind of dispatch tapes, whether you can pinpoint the exact
timeline of this event and hone in on exactly what happened. But certainly
he gives a lot of detail. And he would be at this point, you know, a
crucial witness in this investigation.
SHARPTON: Now so they will look to see if the timeline and the physical
evidence matches because he was very -- I mean, I sat back. It was
riveting to me. But again police and investigators and federal agents
can`t react like maybe I would or our views. They`re going to be looking
to see what matches. Explain that to us.
O`DONNELL: Well, it`s not that you believe or disbelieve somebody. But
you are trying to accredit them and just trying to see whether what they
are saying will pan out. In this kind of an event, it`s horrific. He`s in
the middle of it. He`s, you know, probably emotionally over wrought. It`s
a friend of his. So, you are just trying to see if you can step back from
what the witness is telling you and see what objective evidence will
substantiate what he`s saying. And if it does substantiate what he`s
saying, obviously that will be a long way to a criminal prosecution.
SHARPTON: Now he mentioned three cars that could not move. Are they also
potential witnesses here?
O`DONNELL: Right. I mean, sometimes there are more witnesses than you
realize. And we saw it with Zimmerman. Sometimes you get out in the
neighborhood. You get eyewitnesses, you get ear witnesses, people who
heard stuff, people who may have hearsay information. So, if you actually
canvas the neighborhood, do a thorough investigation there, you may get a
lot more than you know immediately. But it`s a very detailed account. And
typically in these kind of cases, you know it`s he said and the deceased
isn`t around. So, you go to the pears person in the best position to know.
In this case it`s somebody who happens to be his friend but gives a very
detailed accounting of what occurred.
SHARPTON: Now, will they also be looking for different stages of what
occurred? Because isn`t it possible for one stage to not violate a statute
but another does because from what I`m hearing from him, the first shot
was much different than the shot, I think he said a couple minutes later
when the officer allegedly got out of the car at then fired down the black
kid Michael Brown.
O`DONNELL: Absolutely. I think he said at one point he didn`t seem to
want to shoot. That it may have not been an intentional shooting initially
and then it appears that there may have been intentional shooting. So,
yes, absolutely. Something that`s initially fuzzy can become clear as you
go through an investigation. A shooting that`s initially not justified
could become justified or certainly any direction it is initially justified
or at least murky can become clearly unjustified as it plays out.
So, it`s absolutely true that it`s a second to second analysis. And as you
say comparing what the law requires to what actually happens is why it`s
important to get the timeline. Because literally, seconds before it`s not
an unlawful act it may not be an unlawful act that it could morph into an
unlawful act on the basis of some malicious activity, some intention that
deprived somebody of the civil rights. So, literally you know, several
seconds in you may not have a crime. And as you go forward you may have a
SHARPTON: All right. Eugene O`Donnell from John Jay School of Law and
Police. Thank you for joining us tonight.
O`DONNELL: Thanks, Rev.
SHARPTON: We`ll be right back.
SHARPTON: Welcome back to St. Louis. The Michael Brown shooting has
exposed the deep racial divide. And issues of police profiling that have
plagued this area for decades.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Hands up!
(Crowd): Don`t shoot!
UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Hands up!
(Crowd): Don`t shoot!
UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Hands up!
(Crowd): Don`t shoot!
UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Hands up!
(Crowd): Don`t shoot!
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: Residents have taken to the streets to protest what they say is
a long history of racial injustice in Ferguson. One former prosecutor even
described the town as a powder keg. Just one-third of Ferguson is white.
African-Americans make up 67 percent of the population. But those racial
demographics aren`t reflected in the town`s police force. They are
currently 53 commissioned police officers who work for the city of
Ferguson. But only three of them are black. Three black officers in a
town that`s 67 percent African-American.
The state`s attorney general has already investigated the city`s police for
racial profiling. An investigation of traffic stops last year showed
blacks were far more likely to be pulled over than whites. Just 13 percent
of people pulled over by Ferguson police were white. Eighty six percent
were black. Way out of proportion to the population.
Joining me now are Joseph Anderson, president of 100 Black Men of
Metropolitan, St. Louis, and the Washington Post`s Wesley Lowery. Thank
you both for being here tonight.
JOSEPH ANDERSON, PRESIDENT, 100 BLACK MEN OF METROPOLITAN, ST. LOUIS:
WESLEY LOWERY, THE WASHINGTON POST: Thank you, Reverend.
SHARPTON: Joseph, how long has this pressure been building between the
police and the people of Ferguson?
ANDERSON: Well, Reverend Sharpton, I would say, it`s been building for
years. It`s been building in not just Ferguson but several other
municipalities and in the city of St. Louis. And this incident just busted
the cop off. And so, we hope that coming out of here we can have some
positive dialogue, some sensitively training and some better communication
between police and the community that they serve.
SHARPTON: Now let me ask you, Wesley. You have been moving around,
covering this story. And we are told that only 16 percent. Now, again,
the town is nearly 70 percent black. But look at the demographic breakdown
of city officials in Ferguson. The mayor is white. The police chief is
white. But only 16 percent of the city council is black. Six percent of
the police force is black. And the school board, 0 percent -- not a single
African-American is on the school board. Do you feel as you move around
that this kind of tension is built on the fact that there seems to be such
unequal positions of influence for the two-thirds of the city that`s
LOWERY: My impression is that it plays a large role in it. And also the
statistics you were talking about earlier in terms of disparities racially
in terms of people interacting with the police, being pulled over,
misrepresentation of the black community here in terms of their elected
officials as well as in terms of the Police Department. I had a few
residents described to as a boiling point. These tensions have been
simmering under the surface for years.
I mean, so many people has said to men, you know, it isn`t just about
Michael Brown. This is about all of us. It could have been my son, it
could have been my daughter. And in fact, so often it is their son or
daughter who is the one laying on the pavement, you know, with police --
them or friends with -- someone else in them. And so again, this is an
issue here in this community based on the residents I have spoken to which
is much larger than this specific anecdote and specific case but really
speaks to a deeper problem here in Ferguson.
SHARPTON: Now, Joseph, the Ferguson police chief told NBC`s John Yang that
his department does not racially are profile. Listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHIEF THOMAS JACKSON, FERGUSON, POLICE DEPARTMENT: We strictly prohibit
racial profiling. It`s absolutely strictly prohibited. However the city
of Ferguson, North County in general is a majority minority population. So
most of the people who live here or the majority of people who live here
are African-American. So it just goes to that. You know, if this was an
all white community or majority white community most people getting stopped
would be white ideally. You know, but we don`t racial profile. And it`s a
severe punishable offense.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: Now, clearly Joseph, the community seems not to agree with him.
And the state attorney general`s investigation, the numbers of the traffic
stops do not reflect that because the African-American demographic is much
lower than the amount of stops that are made and the white community
different as well.
ANDERSON: Yes. That`s true, Reverend Sharpton. And one of the things
that we want to emphasize is that if, in fact, we have fair representation
then this desensitization from police officers to go from stopping a young
man walking down the middle of the street to killing him minutes later,
does not reflect understanding the community you serve. We totally,
totally reject the fact that this officer was serving his community. And
while the community is very angry, frustrated, we understand it, but we
don`t condone the violence.
So the hundred black men chapter in St. Louis and all across the country is
experiencing some of the same problems with killing African-American males.
It`s got to stop. We want it to stop. We insist that it stops. We insist
that a full impartial and honest investigation take place on this incident.
SHARPTON: Wesley, let me ask you this. I have talked to a lot of people
today. Ministers, officers, Anthony said, a lot of the grassroots leaders.
What has struck you the most in your covering the story you`re moving
around the city and the area today?
LOWERY: The anger, the frustration, the emotion. I mean, you could hear a
lot of the people standing around us as they have gathered here, and
wanting to know what`s being said about the community. And what`s being
put out here on the national television waves. You know, there is
frustration. I likened it in a tweet yesterday almost to Spike Lee`s "do
the right thing" where you could just feel the bubbling throughout the
city. And you just know when the sun goes down that those tensions will
going to flare again.
There`s a lot of emotion here, there`s a lot of anger here, we have a
community here that feels like it`s been neglected by its elected
officials, like it`s been neglected and abused by its police force. And it
feels that even those of us were parachuting in here don`t really
understand them and can`t tell their story correctly. And so, I have been
trying to do a lot of listening and not as much talking when I tried to
talk sincere. But there is a lot of frustration and a lot of anger. And
you understand some of it and even though you don`t understand each other,
you tried to be quiet and listen.
SHARPTON: All right. And we have to leave it there. Joseph Anderson and
Wesley Lowery. Thank you both for your time. We`ll be right back with
more from St. Louis.
SHARPTON: Many Americans have been dismayed by these pictures. Where
officers look more like soldiers than public servants charged with keeping
the peace. That has to change.
Joining me now is the Reverend Rodney Francis, senior pastor at the
Washington Tabernacle Missionary Baptist Church who is working to de-
escalate racial tensions in Ferguson. Thank you for being here, Reverend.
REV. RODNEY FRANCIS, WASHINGTON TABERNACLE MISSIONARY BAPTIST CHURCH:
Thank you for having me, Reverend Al.
SHARPTON: Reverend, how do you start restoring trust in this community?
FRANCIS: Well, I think the first way to start restoring trust is to have
complete transparency throughout this process. I think there needs to be
an apparatus for the community to be completely informed of every step of
the process, that where things are and what the next steps are until a full
accounting and reporting of the situation and circumstances are done and
some form of justice and closure can come to this. I think that`s the
first thing that absolutely has to happen.
I think there also needs to be acknowledgment of the lived experience of
people on the ground in Ferguson and in communities like the community in
which Michael Brown lost his life where the police are absolutely
controlling those areas and patrolling those areas in ways that the
community feel are not fair and just. And that needs to be acknowledged.
And there needs to be a sense of the police protecting them, and not coming
into the community to escalate situations and circumstance that leads to
such tragic incidents.
SHARPTON: Now, what kinds of frustrations are there beyond the specific
Michael Brown incident that you, as a pastor, encounter?
FRANCIS: Well, you know, this whole strategy. There seems to be a
national strategy with police engagement in very stressful communities.
This broken windows theory, so to speak, I know that you are very well
familiar with. In which, you know, just small, minor quality of life
infractions become big issues with the police officers and people are
getting confronted for walking down the middle of the street when there is
really no inhibitment on the traffic or just going about their day and then
get confronted which can lead to all kinds of interactions with the police.
And so it`s those kinds of infractions, I think where people are feeling
they are being absolutely picked on that lead to that frustration. And I
think that needs to be called into question.
SHARPTON: Well, Reverend, I`m going to have to leave it there. Reverend
Rodney Francis, thank you so much for your time tonight. We`ll be right
FRANCIS: Thank you, sir.
SHARPTON: Still ahead, the right way to honor Michael Brown`s memory.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: If you`re angry, throw your arms up. If you want justice, throw
your arms up. If you want answers, throw your arms up. Because that`s the
sign Michael was using.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: Earlier today at the old courthouse in St. Louis, I stood with
Michael Brown`s family. They want desperately for people to know they
raised a son they say was a gentle giant. They do not want people looting
and doing violent things to distort who this young man was. He`s not a
political cause to them. He`s not a prop in a social drama. This is their
son. This is a human being they brought in this world. We should not rob
his legacy of who he was if, in fact, we really want justice. To have
justice, we must act justly. And Michael Brown deserves more than an
outburst. He deserves justice.
Thanks for watching. I`m Al Sharpton. "HARDBALL" starts right now.
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