'The Melissa Harris-Perry Show' for Sunday, August 17, 2014
Read the transcript to the Sunday show
August 17, 2014
Guest: Clinton Stancil, Lacy Clay, Marquez Claxton, Cristina Beltran, Marc
Steiner, Jelani Cobb, Marissa Franco, Richard Cohen, Maria Chapelle-Nadal,
Brian Fletcher, Khalil Gibran Muhammad, Wade Henderson, Matthew Morgan
MELISSA HARRIS-PERRY, MSNBC ANCHOR: This morning, my question. What are
they thinking in Ferguson?
Melissa Harris-Perry and it is now 10:00 a.m. on the east coast and 9:00
a.m. in Ferguson, Missouri.
The (INAUDIBLE) is now four hours since the new installed nightly curfew
expired in the small Midwestern city that in the past scene has been the
scene of protest, occasional violence, tension, anger and pain. This
morning, there appears to be calm. But last night was a different scene.
He curfew declared yesterday by Governor Jay Nixon in a press conference
set in at midnight. From the curfew hit about 100 to 150 demonstrators hit
in the street continuing to protest the shooting death of Michael Brown,
the unarmed African-American 18-year-old who was killed by a police officer
more than a week ago.
About an hour later, police in tactical riot gear moved in once again.
Police fired smoke bombs and teargas to disperse the crown including,
according to police, one person holding a handgun. Seven people were
arrested for failure to disperse.
Police say one person was shot in the area last night and this morning is
in the hospital in critical condition. The circumstances of the shooting
remain unclear, including any information about the shooter. Captain Ron
Johnson of the Missouri highway patrol said this morning that the police
response, tear gas and all, was appropriate.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CAPT. RON JOHNSON, MISSOURI STATE HIGHWAY PATROL: We have a shooting
victim that is in critical condition that may lose her life. We had a
subject standing in the middle of the road with a handgun. We had a police
car shot at tonight and, yes, I think that was a proper response tonight.
Maintain officer safety and public safety.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: All of this followed a mid-afternoon press conference held
Saturday in Ferguson led by Missouri Governor Jay Nixon. The governor,
though attempting to engage with the community, but many of the gathered
residents and activists with renewed frustration.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. JAY NIXON (D), MISSOURI: If there was an easy way to separate those
who hurt from those who helped, we would, but it`s hard. And sometimes,
especially at night, we can`t. So, to protect the people and property of
Ferguson today, I signed an order declaring a state of emergency and
already the implementation of a curfew and the impacted area of Ferguson.
The best way for us to get peace is for everybody to help to make sure that
everybody gets home safe tonight at 12:00. Get a good solid five hours
sleep before they get up tomorrow morning and that we`re --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Sleep is not an option. We want justice.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We want justice.
NIXON: We want justice. I`ll let you, just a second. I`ll let you yell
at me next. If we want --
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: All right!
NIXON: If we want justice, we cannot be distracted. We must be focused on
making sure that people are allowed their first amendment rights and we do
so in a peaceful fashion. We cannot have looting and crimes at night. We
can`t have people fearful.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We can`t have police officers killing people.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: Multiple times Missouri highway patrol captain Ron Johnson,
the man now in charge of maintaining order in Ferguson stepped to the
microphone in an attempt to bring some sense of understanding.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOHNSON: I`m going to tell you what we`re doing now is not who we are.
It`s not who we are. Yelling at each other is not going to solve that.
We`re all talking about the same concerns and the same passion. The
frustration is in your home is in my home. It`s in my home. And I`ve
given you all the answers I know and I`m going to continue to give you
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: But Johnson himself had to acknowledge a key issue. He is
now in charge of maintaining law and order but not the investigation into
the killing of Michael Brown. He did not have the answers that the crowd
wanted. And if anyone at yesterday`s press conference did, that person was
More than a week after a police officer shot Michael Brown to death in the
street, there is still so much we don`t know. We still don`t know any
details about the allege struggle that Brown had with that officer. We
still do not know how many times Browns Brown was shot. We still don`t
know if Brown was shot from behind. We still do not know whether Brown
was, as witnesses say, on his knees with his arms out stretched out in
surrender when any of those shots were fired. We still don`t know why the
police officer opened fire. And we still do not know for how many hours
Michael Brown`s body lay in the street.
Joining me now in Ferguson, Missouri, is MSNBC.com reporter Trymaine Lee
and Reverend Clinton Stancil, senior pastor and Wayman AME Church in St.
Nice to see you both this morning.
TRYMAINE LEE, MSNBC.COM REPORTER: Thank you.
REV. CLINTON STENCIL, SENIOR PASTOR, WAYMAN AME CHURCH: Good to see you.
HARRIS-PERRY: Because we have so many things we don`t have answers to. I
want to ask a few clarifying questions first. The first is, what time of
day, just in general was it that Michael Brown was shot to death?
LEE: It was in the early afternoon between 1:00, 1:30 somewhere around
HARRIS-PERRY: OK, a second clarifying question. Do we have reason to
believe that all police officers in Ferguson are looking for opportunities
to shoot unarmed teenagers?
LEE: Of course not. I think, you know, law enforcement in general are
here to protect and serve. We know they take their job very seriously.
But I think there is always this feeling, especially in communities like
this where residents say such a long history of issues between the police
and the community that the treatment is always been unfair. Sometimes
leads to brutality and always on the edge of something a little more
dangerous. So people actually do fear for their lives.
HARRIS-PERRY: OK. All right. So I do want to clarify, he was shot during
the day when it was daylight outside and he was shot by an office but we
don`t have any reason to believe that all officers are interested in
shooting on our team. So there are some people there to help and some to
hurt, is that correct?
LEE: You have to assume.
HARRIS-PERRY: OK. Then, I want to listen for a minute, again, to one
piece what Governor Nixon said yesterday and then I`ll have one last
question for you.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
NIXON: If there was an easy way to separate those who hurt from those who
helped, we would. But it`s hard. And sometimes, especially at night, we
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: So, Governor Nixon said that it is hard to tell among the
protesters at night who was there to help and who was there to hurt. Given
that an unarmed teen was killed by a police officer during the day and
given that the response of the governor was to suspend the first amendment
rights of protesters in the nighttime hours because of the difficulty of
telling which ones of them are there to help and which ones to hurt. Has
there been any discussions of suspending the rights of police officers to
carry weapons during the day because it`s difficult to tell which of them
are there to help and which are there to hurt?
LEE: I must say that an amazing framing of that question. But we have to
keep in mind that there really is a difference in tone from during the day
when thousands of people are out protesting along West Florissant Avenue
families and young people and everyone is out. And by the time you get to
about 2:30 or 3:00 in the morning, the tone does change, both, because what
we`ve seen is militarized police force with armored vehicles and automatic
rifles and snipers and all of that. But also some people in the crowd who,
because of this long history, are looking for a confrontation with police.
Have been begging for this moment just to respond and react to all their
And so, there actually is a different tone. The heart at what you`re
getting at is important, though. And I think that`s what we`re trying to
figure out. And this community has long been wounded and that was wide
open and the salt has been spread inside of it. So again, your framing of
that is a complicated one. There also needs to be a recognition that the
tone is different at night. It really is.
HARRIS-PERRY: Reverend Stancil, I want to ask a few more questions of you
to help to understand what`s happening here. NBC News has in fact now
verified the photograph of Officer Darren Wilson. It was first reported by
Yahoo! News. I also want to note that the Ferguson police has not
responded to requests by NBC News to comment on the photo, but we have
verified that is Officer Wilson in the photograph. But I need to ask a few
questions of this. It is our understanding that Officer Wilson is
currently on paid leave. Is that also your understanding, Reverend?
STANCIL: That is my understanding, as well that he is on administrative
pay with leave.
HARRIS-PERRY: And do you know whether or not the parents of Michael Brown
are taxpayers in the city of Ferguson?
HARRIS-PERRY: Certainly, they are taxpayers in the city of Ferguson. And
so, therefore, they are paying the salary of this man who shot their son,
who has not been tried and who has not been brought to justice. And also
there, paying the salary as being taxpayers of the county prosecutor who is
afraid to do his job. He has convened a grand jury. But we are calling
him to do his job and step aside and get a special prosecutor to come in
and do the job. He can file charges. And he needs to step up and do his
HARRIS-PERRY: Reverend, does that seem fair to you?
STANCIL: It doesn`t seem fair at all. If you look, no other case that
I`ve seen that, like this, that is going to a grand jury where a prosecutor
has refused. And if you listen to his interview, he has refused now to
bring charges unless the grand jury indicts. He has to power to indict.
He has to power to bring charges. And so, we`re calling on him even to
step aside or do your job.
HARRIS-PERRY: So this is my question to both of you, given the
circumstances that you all helped to clarify and helped me to understand
here that we have the parents of a victim paying the continuing salary of
someone with whom there`s no, it`s undisputed this person shot and killed
their son. That as far as we know, there are no charges currently being
brought was a curfew imposed on the people of Ferguson an appropriate
response to the current situation?
LEE: I think when you talk to many in this community, they would say, no,
that grown men and grown women should be able to protest at any time of day
or night especially given the circumstances around not just Michael Brown`s
killing but this long history, again.
But, I think others would say, other people who have been out here
protesting say that, you know, if you`re protesting, you can do that before
midnight. And again, by the time you get to midnight, most folks are going
home and going to bed. So it is still a mix, but it is one that is
(INAUDIBLE), with still so much emotion and so much tension.
HARRIS-PERRY: Reverend, so I appreciate Trymaine`s point there. But I
guess I`m wondering in part, it felt as though, at least to me yesterday in
reporting, that things were beginning to get to a place of calm before the
governor spoke. And that the imposition of the curfew itself may have been
part of what encouraged the push back against the curfew. Am I reading
that wrong from here in New York?
STANCIL: No, I don`t think you`re reading it wrong at all. What the
people need is information and not restrictions. And more restrictions are
not going to help the situation. We need information. We demand
information. We should have information on what`s going on, the
investigation should be transparent. And the more restrictions they put on
the people, the people are riding.
The people have not been heard. Their voices have not been heard. And so,
yes, it seems like we`re farther restricting our first u amendment rights
to speak. So, no, the curfew is not going to work. The people need an
opportunity to express their anger, express their rage in a peaceful way.
And I say, again, in a peaceful way. But what we need is information, not
HARRIS-PERRY: Trymaine Lee and Reverend Clinton Stancil in Ferguson,
Missouri, thank you.
We have much more to come this morning, including the Reverend Al Sharpton.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is the police department. You`re violating a
state-imposed curfew. You must continue disperse peacefully or you will be
subject to arrest and/or other actions.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. WM. LACY CLAY (D), MISSOURI: Let the feds prosecute because you`re
not going to get a fair trial in St. Luis County with this scenario.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: That was Congressman Lacy Clay, the U.S. representative
whose district includes Ferguson, Missouri, explaining why he asked
Attorney General Eric Holder to take over the investigation into the
shooting of Michael Brown.
The congressman joins me now live from Ferguson. It is nice to see you
CLAY: Thank you for having me on.
HARRIS-PERRY: You said you`re not going to get a fair trial in St. Louis
with this scenario. Why?
CLAY: Well, I just don`t have a lot of confidence. There is a lot of
distrust in this community with St. Louis county police, with St. Louis
county prosecution, the prosecutor and the entire judicial system here.
Over the year, there has been a lot of disparity in sentencing and in
charging. I don`t believe there`s ever been a police officer convicted in
this county of manslaughter or murder against a defendant.
HARRIS-PERRY: In that sentence then, is this distrust of the community
CLAY: For sure. I mean, over the decades, the police and community
relations have deteriorated in St. Louis County and there needs to be a
discussion in this community about how we better these relationships and
how we make police force more diverse, especially when they are policing
HARRIS-PERRY: Representative Clay, you were standing there with Governor
Nixon yesterday when he announced the curfew. Do you believe that the
imposition of the curfew is the sort of thing that will improve community
relations with the police?
CLAY: No, I don`t believe that. But I do know that we have to balance,
balance allowing peaceful demonstration and then also not allowed looting
to occur after these demonstrations are over. And, so, that was the issue
that Governor Nixon had to address yesterday.
HARRIS-PERRY: Do you know about how many stores have been looted over the
course of the past week?
CLAY: I`m not sure how many stores. I just road up and down the West
Florissant coming to your tent and there are quite a few stores that were
boarded up windows. And it`s a sight that is not good for any community.
And I`ve heard from the business people in Ferguson who are worried about
their investments here in this community and they want to be protected,
HARRIS-PERRY: Sure. I`m wondering just given so we don`t quite have the
number. Do you think it`s fewer than ten or more than ten stores?
CLAY: I`m wondering just given we don`t quite have the number. Do you
think it`s fewer than ten or more than ten stores? I don`t have any police
HARRIS-PERRY: Sure. I mean, I`m just wondering because it seems that
apparently it takes the death of more than one unarmed teen to get an
arrest. I wonder how many stores it takes to get looted before one loses
their after dark amendment rights to assembly.
CLAY: Well, I`m sure that the store owner who was impacted did not want to
be looted at all. So, you have to balance that between peaceful
demonstrations and a right to assemble and the right to be heard against
the loss of property. And that`s what police forces do. They are supposed
to serve and protect.
HARRIS-PERRY: Thank you, Congressman Clay in Ferguson, Missouri. I
appreciate you joining us this morning.
CLAY: Thank you.
HARRIS-PERRY: We will have much more from Ferguson this morning, stay with
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If I answer your questions, I will listen to you and I
want you to listen to me. Let`s not scream at each other.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You first.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We`re out to get answers. If I had answers to give
you, young man, I would.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOHNSON: I`ve seen people stand up and speak their voice. I`ve seen
people show compassion to each other and strengthen each other and that`s
what we`re going to talk about again. The positive impact our community
has shown on this nation and we will survive this and make a change.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: That was Missouri state Highway Patrol Captain Ron Johnson
speaking yesterday about the people of Ferguson.
Joining me live from Ferguson, Missouri is MSNBC host and Reverend Al
Nice to have you this morning, Reverend Al.
REVEREND AL SHARPTON, MSNBC ANCHOR, POLITICS NATION: Thank you, Professor.
HARRIS-PERRY: What is the mood there in Ferguson the night after the
SHARPTON: Well, we are really dealing with the aftermath of someone we`re
told was shot. There has been some violence. The overwhelming majority of
people peacefully protesting, there is a major rally this afternoon that
the attorneys Ben Crump and Daryl Parks and Gray and I are hosting and
Martin Luther King III will be with us. And the family will come out for
the first time since Tuesday night`s rally where we were here. And we will
lay out where we`re going from here.
Let us be clear there has been a smear campaign against this young man,
Melissa. When we look at the fact that the police chief would release a
tape alleging he shoplifted. Let`s quit talking about robbery. This is at
best shoplifting minutes before his death and then forced to admit it had
nothing to do with the death. It shows a real contempt for even a young
man who isn`t even buried yet. And this is the kind of thing that is
causing the outrage of a lot of the young people in this city.
We are saying that we understand and share your anger, but don`t go mad and
don`t get ahead of the family`s pursuit of justice. So, we`re dealing with
all of that while we`re calling on the justice department. This is a
defining moment. Can America deal with how it`s policing its citizens?
This is what is going to come down to here and Eric Garner`s case in New
York and the case of (INAUDIBLE) in L.A. is America has to come to terms
with policing. That`s the overall challenge here.
HARRIS-PERRY: Reverend Sharpton, this does feel like a defining moment and
clearly calling here on the justice department, which is headed by Attorney
General Eric Holder, of course, overseen by our own president, President
Obama. There is a democratic governor, Governor Nixon there in Missouri
who called yesterday for that curfew who spoke to Andrea Mitchell earlier
today about exactly the issues that you`re talking about in terms of the
smearing of this young man.
But let me ask you this, it is a defining moment for our nation and is it
specifically a defining moment for the Democratic Party?
SHARPTON: Well, I think it is a defining moment for both parties. One, I
think that we`ve got to see whose side is on the side of protecting the
civil and human rights of people. What is interesting to me is we`ve heard
the president twice from vacation. We`ve heard the attorney general and
want to hear more.
But where are the ones that want to be the democratic candidates. I have
not heard from Hillary Clinton. I`ve heard from Rand Paul but where are
Jeb Bush and others? So those that seek to be president cannot have
laryngitis at this time and expect us to forget that when it comes time to
So, it`s a defining moment in our politics. It`s a defining moment in our
nation. The world is looking at how we police ourselves. While we lecture
others around the world about their police state, we cannot come off like
we have one. An unarmed 18-year-old boy is dead and the most we`re told is
maybe he was walking in the street. Another man choked to death with an
illegal choke hold in New York. The most we`re told is he may have sold
loose cigarettes in the past. A woman pummeled on tape on the freeway in
Los Angeles and we say the cop was angry and we`re lecturing the world.
How will America be defined and how will those Democrat or Republican that
seek to lead this nation tell us how they will lead in this area. If they
can`t lead in this area, can we trust them to lead the nation?
HARRIS-PERRY: It`s an interesting point that you draw there, especially
when you mention the Clintons who of course were major supporters of
Governor Nixon there in Missouri and you do feel like if there is going to
be ea Clinton 2016 run that there may be questions to be asked about how
Governor Nixon`s record may reflect on her own understanding about what is
appropriate police behavior in this state.
Reverend Al Sharpton in Ferguson, Missouri, as always, thank you for your
work and thank you for being on the ground there and thank you for joining
me this morning.
SHARPTON: Thank you, professor.
HARRIS-PERRY: We have much more on the story from Ferguson, Missouri.
Stay with us.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
COL. RONALD REPLOGLE, MISSOURI STATE HIGHWAY PATROL: I cannot solve this
problem. The trait of the good leader is recognizing resources that he has
put in play when problems come up. Two days ago, I placed Captain Ron
Johnson in command of the highway operations here in Ferguson, Missouri.
He is the most outstanding resource that I as a colonel of the Missouri
state highway patrol can bring to this problem. He can far better solve
this problem than I did.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: That was the colonel in charge of the Missouri state highway
patrol speaking yesterday afternoon about Captain Ron Johnson`s handling of
the protest in Ferguson.
I want to bring with me my panel. With me today is Jelani Cobb, associate
professor of Africa studies and a member of the history department faculty
of University of Connecticut. He is just back from reporting all week in
Ferguson for the "New Yorker." Marc Steiner, host of the "Marc Steiner
show" and founder of the center for emerging media. Marquez Claxton,
director of the black law enforcement alliance and retired NYPD detective
who served for 20 years. And Cristina Beltran, associate professor of
social and culture analysis at New York University and author of "the
trouble with unity."
Mark, yesterday we talked a bit about Captain Johnson. And yesterday
Captain Johnson said very clearly during the, during the presser something
that I want to play what captain Johnson said and look at what happened
last night for a moment and then ask you about it. Let`s take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOHNSON: Tonight, we won`t to enforce that curfew. We won`t to enforce it
with traps. We won`t to enforce it with tear gas. We want to communicate
and talk about, you know, it`s time to go home.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: Was he lying then? Did he change his mind? Is he not in
control of the situation?
MARQUEZ CLAXTON, DIRECTOR, BLACK LAW ENFORCEMENT ALLIANCE: Let me start
off by saying it may be supposedly 9:35 in Ferguson, but in reality, it`s
1961 in Ferguson. And what`s happening with Captain Johnson and he has
kind to be clear about something. This isn`t about the most inept,
incompetent, embarrassing government and police response that I`ve ever
seen. And it`s time to start facing that reality. And whether you have
Captain Johnson who brings a certain skill set to this equation and you
have to respect that, the reality of it is, he`s not in charge. With the
same frustration that the people of Ferguson, and throughout Missouri and
this nation are facing, is the same thing that Johnson is experiencing
first hand. He is the face.
HARRIS-PERRY: Were you waiting that on him in the presser because that`s
what I was reading on him in the presser.
CLAXTON: It was clear. It was clear that I can put something on this. It
was clear that the decision to impose a curfew in 2014 anywhere in this
nation was not captain Johnson`s. But, listen, Captain Johnson is
responsible of deploying tactics there on the street. He is not assuming
the responsibility for all these curfews, et cetera. But he is responsible
as are the other governmental and police officials. It is an embarrassment
and absurdity and direct violation of constitutional rights and protection.
And anybody, Congress or someone who said something otherwise is not
mindful of the history. This is 1961 in Ferguson.
HARRIS-PERRY: Right. And I mean, I mean, I`m sure that my viewers have
noticed the level of anger that I am trying to restrain today in this. But
I see it very similarly in a kind of clear cut that every argument that
seems to be offered for why this curfew was imposed. For why these police
are behaving in this way, just simply does not seem to hold water over and
against the realities of what we`re seeing on the ground. And I`m prepared
to be talked down if that is not right.
CLAXTON: We want to defer to those on the ground who say maybe they are on
the ground, but we can`t. We must not. People die for these rights and
these protections and we must insist that they be respected at all costs
and that`s what many people, many of the protesters there understand.
There will always be (INAUDIBLE). There will always a criminal element.
I`ve been on both sides of marches and there are times when things go
wrong. That will always be the police`s job should not be to shut it down,
the police job. Lock up criminals, protect those who lawfully protest.
That`s their job. And either they can do it or they can`t.
HARRIS-PERRY: If they can`t, is their responsibility for another level of
government to step in and do so?
JELANI COBB, ASSISTANT PROFESSOR, UNIVERSITY OF CONNECTICUT: That`s been
the question that`s been going on since I got there. I got there on
Wednesday that was on the ground. People were talking about whether or not
this was handled by National Guard, whether or not the people who were in
the local authorities were even capable, willing or capable of executing
One thing that I do want to point out here is that the only thing the
governor did was announce the curfew. There had already been a curfew in
place with the exception of Thursday, which was the first day that Captain
Johnson was on the scene of police or purportedly in charge of police
handling the situation. Prior to that, everyone knew that as soon as the
sun went down, the police were going to begin cracking down on the
protests. They were just kind of talking out of both sides of their mouth
saying, well, there is no curfew. We don`t believe in the curfew. We
don`t believe we need to institute a curfew and then at dusk, you know,
some clash would emerge between the police and peaceful protesters.
HARRIS-PERRY: So that idea that there was in practice, if not in -- as a
matter of law and yet it does still seem important to me, Marc, that the
matter of law occurs on that moment when the governor announces it.
Because seven people were arrested last night and they were arrested for
violating curfew, which is a policy that has been announced and put into
place. So, they are criminalized by the imposition of the curfew itself.
MARC STEINER, FOUNDER, CENTER FOR EMERGING MEDIA: This whole power
structure in Missouri is so, it has no notion what goes on in the black
world. None. They`re completely dominated. What is happening in the
whole area of Missouri has an entire history that goes back 100 years and
these people have been in the majority of the black community that is
controlled by white politicians and white businesses and the white world
and the governor himself has a miserable record when it comes to the black
community, miserable. So they have no idea. So you impose a curfew
because that what he supposed to do, he thinks, you know.
And if you notice in the community, you were there, I wasn`t, you saw these
pictures of young people standing in front of stores saying, no, this is
not what we want to do. This is not how to do it. Why not energize those
young people to rebuild their community as opposed that putting in a
HARRIS-PERRY: Well, Malik Shabas (ph) who is a community organizer there
actually stood in that press conference and said exactly that. He was
like, wait a minute. We`ve got this under control. I wonder, let me ask
my production team. Do we have the sound of him speaking? All right, we
don`t have that sound. See if we can get it later. But he is actually
standing in that press conference and he`s saying, officer -- and it was
like hey, how about you give me until 2:00 a.m.? I can get all the guys
off the street, we can do this. And, instead, it was just kind of marshal
no, midnight and then we`ll start bringing in the heavy.
CRISTINA BELTRAN, NEW YORK UNIVERSITY: And this is what happens when you
have a police logic as opposed to a civic logic of our culture, right?
Where the public, this is public space. This is the space -- it`s really
important to remember that mass protest is one of the only ways a lot of
people can talk back to their government, right?
HARRIS-PERRY: Especially if they`re disenfranchised.
BELTRAN: This is critically important. And so, when the logic is about,
you know, it`s a police logic which is about obedience and submission and
reverence, and I think there is something very interesting about some of
the post-9/11 culture or the police, at least I think about this in New
York got used to sort of being seen as being heroes.
But if there is a logic of, and there is a lot of heroism there, right?
But, you know, the logic of -- police logic is a logic of obedience and
submission and passivity. The logic of citizenship is about, you know,
grief and justice and joy and unruliness and anger and there needs to be a
public space where that occurs and it`s not always easy and pretty. People
don`t always behave perfectly. But guess what, that`s what free people do.
But when the logic is a police dream as oppose a civic logic of citizens
acting together in the public realm, this is what you end up.
HARRIS-PERRY: That`s right. Citizenship in a free country is messy.
Up next, the importance of allies.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We`re here protecting our community, the store,
everything. To let everyone know that criminals and everyone I heard came
to peacefully protest. That`s what we`re standing for right now. There`s
only one guy standing behind me that I know. The rest of these guys I
don`t know. We came over here and shot the looters as quick as possible.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: The people of Ferguson may feel embattled but they are not
alone. Buzz Feed reported Thursday, the National Latina Institute for
reproductive health, the Hispanic Federation, the league of united Latin
American citizens and many others submitted statements expressing
solidarity with the people of Ferguson after office Wilson shot Michael
Brown to death.
The national day laborer organizing network who organized the hunger strike
in front of the White House this past April, you remember Cynthia Diaz who
subsisted on just water for five days in hopes that her mother would be
released from a detention center. They were eventually reunited in May.
Now, the National Day Laborer Organization Marissa Franco is calling for
solidarity in the aftermath of the police slain of unarmed teen Michael
Brown. Her Friday statement read in part quote "as a movement that is
fighting criminalization to stop deportations and detention, Latinos and
immigrants have a duty to stand alongside those who have been fighting it
far longer. On the streets of Ferguson people have bravely sounded an
alarm on the crisis of violence besieging the black community. As we
defend our own families we must answer the call not only to be in
solidarity but the solutions we see are linked together."
Joining me now from Phoenix, Arizona is Marissa Franco, leader of the
National Day Laborer action network, not one more campaign. Nice to have
you this morning.
MARISSA FRANCO, LEADER, NATIONAL DAY LABORER ACTION NETWORK: Thank you.
HARRIS-PERRY: So why, tell us, is solidarity so important in this moment?
FRANCO: Well, you know, in the immigrant rights community and the Latino
community we`ve been fighting a monster. We`ve been calling on President
Obama to stop deportations and that`s a lot of work. But we don`t think
that`s an excuse to stand idly as we see the attack happening on the black
community. We know firsthand the danger of when police are given duties.
We`ve seen firsthand that the way that the border has been militarized, the
way that prison in jail are (INAUDIBLE) to deportations and when police
become deportation agents.
So, we are gravely concerned when we see issues and situations like those
in Ferguson and the many that come before where police are taking matters
into their own hands and becoming judge, jury and executioner all in one.
And so, we think it is the least we can do to issue statements and it`s a
first step in what is to come to be able to address this issue that is a
HARRIS-PERRY: I was truly heartened to see your statement and that of
other organizations and that of LGBT organizations like HRC and others who
clearly seem to recognize this question of belonging.
Talk to me then about what you see as solutions that cross the borders of
LGBT questions, Latino, questions around deportation and immigration reform
and for African-Americans in communities fighting over policing. What feel
to you like solutions to address those questions broadly?
FRANCO: Well, we`re really interested in how can we, you know, what we can
bring is our experience and our sector. We saw deportations happening a
year ago. This was an issue that was being talked about as economy, you
know, fruit and vegetables dying on the vine and right now the immigration
debate is being talked about human suffering and deportations as the
And we are here to say, we`ve learned some particular things in our sector
about what it means to try to fight and try to fight as if we`re trying to
win and trying to fight as if we want Michael Brown to be the last person.
We want his family to be the last ones to suffer from this tragedy.
And so there`s particular things, I think. One is that we need to really
hear from the voices of people who are directly impacted, people who are
survivors of police violence. I think hearing from women, black mothers
who have been on the front lines of having to teach their children about
how to survive and grassroots organizers like those in Ferguson and around
the country who have been battling this for far longer. We think it`s time
to push those who claim to be our allies to demand that they be champions.
This is not just one issue of a rogue cop or a mismanaged police
department. This is a crisis. This is an epidemic. And we think that it
requires us being flank and having the back of the black community as they
respond to this issue. And I think we need to try different things,
because if we continue to do the same things, we are going to get the same
We need to innovate and try different things to address this because his
life matters. His family should not be suffering in vain and we need to
fight as if this is going to be the last time.
HARRIS-PERRY: Marissa Franco in Phoenix, Arizona, with such a simple, and
yet compelling idea, what if we decided that Michael Brown would be the
last one. Thank you.
Coming up, more on the community`s response to a curfew in Ferguson,
(VIDEO CLIP PLAYING)
HARRIS-PERRY: Missouri Governor Jay Nixon`s message yesterday was crystal
clear when he declared a state of emergency and ordered a curfew.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
NIXON: But if we`re going to achieve justice, we must first have and
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: That message from the governor did not go over well as
evidence from the strong response from people gathered at yesterday`s news
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Excuse me, Governor, you need to charge that police
with murder. That will bring peace.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We want justice!
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Why is the focus on security and not getting justice.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He would be in jail.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That`s right. We need justice!
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I`m on the streets until we get justice for Mike Brown.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: Joining me from Pensacola, Florida is Richard Cohen,
president of Southern Poverty Law Center.
It was kind of stunning to hear the governor say instead of no justice, no
peace which has been a long understanding of mass movements, instead to
say, you can have justice until we have peace. Do you think that was a
misunderstanding of what the no justice --no piece of justice is?
RICHARD COHEN, PRESIDENT, SOUTHERN POVERTY LAW CENTER: I think it was a
really unfortunate choice of words. There`s been a lot of that in
Ferguson. You know, the police chief coming out and saying he has
confidence in the officer who shot Michael Brown, such a weird thing to
say. And we all know what the governor meant. He meant, you know, let`s
chant down the looting. You know, we all understand that. But he said it
in such an unfortunate way. No peace, no justice where everyone on the
street saying just the opposite. It`s just such an unfortunate choice of
words. It is kind being tone deaf, it seems to me.
HARRIS-PERRY: I wanted to point out that there was a lot of conversation
about race here, in part because of the optics, and part, because it was a
young unarmed African-American was shot by a white police officer. There
is another piece of it, something that Southern poverty law center has been
looking it more closely and that is that even before officer Wilson was
named as the shooter in this case, that the KKK who you all certainly
monitor began raising money for the police officer who shot Michael Brown.
COHEN: That`s right. There`s a group called the new empire knights. They
have about 32 chapters in 22 states. And you know, they announced a fund-
raiser as a reward for the officer who shot Michael immediately afterwards.
Right now, it`s scheduled for Sullivan, Missouri, which is about 70 miles
south of St. Louis for August 23rd and 24th. And you know, what we have
is, you know, a fault line in our country, a racial fault line. People of
good will are trying to narrow it. Groups like the clan are trying to
widen it. That`s what`s going on.
HARRIS-PERRY: Right. And obviously, the officer and no member of the
Ferguson police force can be responsible for what this group is saying or
doing, but hold on for one second, Richard, because I want to come to you,
You know, obviously, the police do have a role here and my anger about what
is occurring is, in part, that it seems like there is so much confusion. I
just, as a former officer in this moment, is there any way to get these
police forces under control such that we do not see tonight and the next
night and for another week what we have been seeing over the past week?
CLAXTON: First of all, there`s not confusion in that police department in
Ferguson`s police department or in St. Louis` County police department.
There is ineptness, there is an inability, there is ignorance and then
perhaps behind all of that, there is a flow, a will. There is a pathology
that leads to these types of disjointed, non-logical decisions that they`re
The police have, they have a responsibility to protect and serve the
public. We have investigative units within that concept that have an
obligation to conduct thorough fair investigations and that has not been
done up until this point. So therefore, they should lose that
responsibility and it should go elsewhere, whether it be through the
federal government, whether it be an outside entity, whether the attorney
general for the state needs to examine, whatever needs to be done. At this
point, what they`re doing is compromising the integrity of the
investigation and that will have a direct impact on the legal results later
on. They are jeopardizing the integrity of investigation every day by the
decisions, the comments and the quote-unquote "evidence that they`re
HARRIS-PERRY: Richard Cohen, I`m so sorry that we ran out of time. But I
do want to thank you for joining us. And also want to say thank you to
Marq Claxton. The rest of my panel is sticking around.
Richard Cohen in Pensacola, Florida, I`m certain we will have you back.
There is much more to come on the story out of Ferguson, Missouri at the
top of the hour.
HARRIS-PERRY: Welcome back, I`m Melissa Harris-Perry.
Demonstrators continued protests last night. Despite the midnight curfew
established my Missouri Governor Jay Nixon, despite assurances by Missouri
highway patrol Captain Ron Johnson that tear gas would not be used on
protesters, post-curfew demonstrations were met with militarized police
officers who did deploy smoke canisters and tear gas into the crowd. Seven
protesters were arrested, charged with failure to disperse. After 18-year-
old Michael Brown was shot to death by a local police officer, one of the
first things we`d learned about this relativity small city of 21,000
people, is that although more than two-thirds of the city residents are
African-American, it`s police force and elective representatives are
Only six percent of the Police Department`s 53 officers are African-
America. And as MSNBC Zachary Roth reported, though whites make up just 29
percent of the city`s residents, five of Ferguson`s six city council
members are white, as is Mayor James Knowles and six of the local school
board`s seven members are white. Now, those demographic realities don`t
necessarily indicate conflicting interests between community and
leadership. But at yesterday`s press conference, the highest ranking
elected official in Missouri, Governor Jay Nixon, did something that did
suggest those yielding political power over the people of Ferguson may be
profoundly out of touch with their constituents.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
NIXON: To protect the people and property of Ferguson today, I signed an
order declaring a state of emergency and ordering implementation of a
curfew in the impacted area of Ferguson.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: Joining me now is State Senator Maria Chappelle-Nadal whose
district includes parts of Ferguson. Next to her is the former mayor of
Ferguson Brian Fletcher. Nice to have you both with us.
STATE SEN. MARIA CHAPPELLE-NADAL (D), MISSOURI: Thank you so much,
BRIAN FLETCHER (D), FORMER FERGUSON MAYOR: Thank you, Melissa.
HARRIS-PERRY: Mr. Fletcher, let me ask you this. Do you think that last
night`s curfew accomplished the goals that Governor Nixon had for it when
he established it?
FLETCHER: Obviously not. There`s still violence after the curfew, so it
did not accomplish what Governor Nixon wanted to accomplish, obviously.
HARRIS-PERRY: As a former mayor of Ferguson, I want to ask you something
that I actually ask the state senator standing next to you yesterday which
is, what are we in the national media? Those of us sitting in a studio in
New York, what are we getting wrong about your town? What do we not know
or not understand about your city?
FLETCHER: I`m glad you asked that question, again, Melissa. Because that
isn`t being asked by the media. Here are a couple things I keep hearing in
the national media and local in that matter, is you, just yourself, talked
about the fact that there are only three African-American officers on our
Police Department. Let me take the opportunity to explain why that is the
case. Within our community we have 67 percent African-American citizens.
All right? We have tried, myself and the current mayor of the past and the
current police chief to hire more African-Americans.
I would tell you this, if an African-American or woman, for that matter,
because women are not fully equal on the Police Departments either. If any
of them would go through the police academy and graduate, they are
immediately snapped up by St. Louis communities. As a matter of fact, when
we do hire African-Americans they are normally enticed by other communities
away from the city of Ferguson and other cities by the cities in the St.
Louis area that can pay more.
I would argue that in the African-American that goes through the academy
would have an immediate job for life. I am hearing repetitively by leaders
outside the city of Ferguson that we need to hire more African-Americans.
I would challenge them. Please, give us a list of academy qualified
African-Americans or women for that matter. I would challenge them. They
are unavailable. Go ahead, I`m sorry.
HARRIS-PERRY: OK. SO, I just want to give the state senator an
opportunity to respond to the idea that the reason that there are an
insufficient number of African-Americans and women on the Ferguson Police
Forces is because they are simply are not a sufficient and qualified pool
available to be hired.
CHAPPELLE-NADAL: Well, here`s what I would say to that, Melissa. I look
at other police departments and I represent several of them and they have
been very aggressive in seeking African-Americans as well as other races
and women to be on their Police Department. In their Police Department.
In university city, for example, we have made a concerted effort in our
community to make sure that our Police Department is reflective of our
community. If you look at the city of St. Louis, they have done a superb
job in making sure that the Police Department looks like that community.
And, so, I think many times people make excuses. Send me a resume. I
think that`s an excuse. I think that what we should be doing is making
sure, one, we have people in the community that know that it`s a wonderful
opportunity to work on the Ferguson Police Department. But, also, I know
that I`ve gotten phone calls and inquiries from police officers and other
departments that actually want to come to Ferguson because they do pay
more. And those folks who I`ve talked to, Melissa, are African-American.
HARRIS-PERRY: Mr. Fletcher --
FLETCHER: Maria, I`ve known you for decades.
HARRIS-PERRY: Mr. Fletcher, I also want to ask you a little bit about the
elected leadership because although the police forces is --
FLETCHER: I`m sorry, Melissa, I didn`t hear you.
HARRIS-PERRY: Sure. I want to ask you a little bit about the elected
leadership. Because the police force is hired, but the leadership is
HARRIS-PERRY: And I`m wondering, over the course of the past week, do you
think the elected leadership from the local all the way up to the governor
has served the people of Ferguson well?
FLETCHER: Yes, I do. Let me take that issue, as well. We have had two
African-American councilmen in recent times. The reason they are there, we
had resignations among white councilmen, the council actually went to
active African-Americans in the community and asked them if they would
accept an appointment to the city council. The only thing they requested
is that they run for the next election on their own. Both of these
gentlemen appointed by the city council were elected in their own right
against white candidates when they ran. It is difficult in getting
African-Americans to run for elected office in our communities.
Now, the school board does not pay any salary. The city of Ferguson, the
councilperson gets $250 a month. All right? It is difficult. Now, I`ve
been very active over 30 years in elected office here. I`ve personally
held voter registration drives and I helped individuals like Maria in the
past get elected. I have been very active. We have sought as much as I
possibly can. I would ask for Maria if she`s ever had the name of an
African-American, a person that want to be a police officer, I have
personally never been contacted by an African-American elected official
about anyone that want to work for our Police Department, ever.
HARRIS-PERRY: State Senator, would you agree that this is the reason that
there are so few African-Americans in elected leadership and would you
agree that the elected leadership has done a good job of representing the
interest of the people of Ferguson over the course of the past week?
CHAPPELLE-NADAL: Absolutely not. Here`s what I would say to you. I`ve
been at ground zero both A and B since day one, actually. And the only
elected official that I have seen at ground zero is a councilmen who is
African-American. And it`s a privilege to have him on the ground, but even
at the state level, many of the representatives that I have in my Senate
district who are African-American have not been on, at ground zero at all.
And that`s one of the disappointments that I have.
And as far as it comes to being paid for an elective office, it`s not about
being paid. I, too, serve on their local school board in University City.
I don`t get paid because I believe it`s a volunteer effort on my part in my
spare time. There are a lot of African-Americans who want to serve in
elected offices. We had a great example of that this last April when there
were at least four or five African-Americans who were running for school
board in the Ferguson Florissant School District.
And out of those, only one of them made it. And there was a huge issue
this year because the only African-American superintendent for a school
district that has all white, Caucasian school board members. He was
actually fired. One of the leading African-Americans superintendents was
fired by an all-white school board this year which has created vast
controversy in this community. And I would like to go further in that
saying, Melissa, there is a disconnect. A lot of people like to have the
perception that everything is going fine and hunky dory, but that is not
There is an underlying issue in this community which has existed for years.
And if we are not open about it and transparent about it and Brian is my
friend and he is someone who I do like talking to, but there an
undercurrent that is going on. And I think that most elected people until
they get to ground zero, they are not going to know what is really on the
minds of the people in Ferguson and the greater majority of this region.
FLETCHER: Melissa, I do want to correct one thing Maria said.
No, please, please, I must respond to this.
HARRIS-PERRY: Former mayor of Ferguson, it`s not, I simply, former mayor
of Ferguson --
FLETCHER: He`s not fired, he resigned, that is the fact.
HARRIS-PERRY: OK. Former mayor of Ferguson, I am sorry, it is just about
being -- about being out of time. I`m sorry, not Ferguson, former Ferguson
Mayor Brian Fletcher in Ferguson, Missouri, also State Senator Maria
Chappelle-Nadal in Ferguson this morning. I do have to cut you off only
because of time here. I will say that clearly the two of you have reporas
(ph) individuals but that the question here is about this issues of
structure. I do hope, all of us deeply hope that the underlying issues can
be addressed because the people of Ferguson are clearly hurting and asking
for justice from all sides of this point. Everyone stay right there
because how two people can say the same thing and get very different
results is next.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
NIXON: Working in a coordinated fashion.
UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: Excuse me, governor, you need to charge that police
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
NIXON: This is not the silence the people of Ferguson or this region, but
to contain those who are drowning out the voice of the people with their
actions. The best way for us to get peace is for everybody to help to make
sure that everybody gets home safe tonight at 12:00 and gets a good, solid,
five hours sleep before they get up tomorrow morning.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: That was Missouri Governor Jay Nixon Saturday afternoon
justifying his implementation of a mandatory curfew for all Ferguson City
residents. Governor Nixon`s message about residents exercising their first
amendment rights and what constituted a peaceful evening was remarkably
different than the one delivered by Highway Patrol Captain Ron Johnson on
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CAPT. RON JOHNSON, MISSOURI HIGHWAY PATROL: You can stay out here all
night. The only thing that I ask is that we pull back a little bit so
traffic, our family members and our friends can travel up and down West
Florissant. They can come by and yell out the window, blow their horns and
give you support, but we have to move back on the sidewalks. But you can
stay as long as you want.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: Thursday stay out all night. Friday go home and get some
With me, at the table Jelani Cobb, associate professor of Africana Studies
and a member of the history department faculty at the University of
Connecticut who is just back from reporting all week in Ferguson for the
New Yorker. Marc Steiner, host of "The Marc Steiner Show" and founder of
the Center for Merging Media. Khalil Gibran Muhammad, who is director of
the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture. And Cristina Beltran,
associate professor of Social and Cultural analysis the New York University
and author of "The Trouble with Unity."
Is this performance art at this point about what it looks like to be out of
touch with one`s constituents?
STEINER: They are so out of touch. I mean, police brutality and racist --
in people of color universal in this country. But these folks are so out
of touch, they don`t know how to fake it. You know, I mean, you see
sometimes people, you think they know what they`re talking about because
they can play with words. They can`t even do that. I mean, the governor
can`t do it. None can do it. He`s just unbelievable.
COBB: They never had to.
STEINER: They never had to.
COBB: So, being there, the impression you get is that these people remind
you of those southern towns in the 1960s who had no idea how their actions
looked on television. Remember, television was a thing that made
segregation kind of untenable because the rest of the world could see it
and say this looks barbaric. I don`t think that the people here have any
sense of how this looks in the broader spectrum. And then talking to
people in the community about it, they said, well, they`d never had to. If
they had control of the power system here, the structure here, who are they
accountable to? They never really even had to go through a kind of
pantomime accountability before.
BELTRAN: Right. Well, there is something really interesting going on here
around the politics of representation. Right? And there is a couple
things going on. I mean, obviously, a big issue here as there is simply no
people of color in authority in this area and there`s no people to even
speak to them as equals in these different institutions and say, do you
know, that this is like appalling, or you know that kind of thing.
And clearly all of our institutions should be reflective of the communities
they serve and all should have equal access. That should be a given about
this. But it`s clearly more than just having those bodies in those spaces.
I mean, one interesting things right now when you had -- earlier is that,
you know, the border patrol now right is over a third Latino. And it`s
still a militarized border and still a border that is not taking the rights
and concerns of those populations and questions. So clearly --
BELTRAN: The unarmed African-Americans are sometimes committed by --
BELTRAN: So, we just need to be really clear about the important of having
that presence there but also this is about changing culture, this is about
the politics of militarization, this is about the politics of equipment.
BELTRAN: You know, really talk through this rather than, I think, the
logic now which is sometime we just had, you know, more diversity there
then we`d be fine. It`s like, no, we actually have a cultural question.
There`s ideology and there`s a lot going on.
KHALIL GIBRAN MUHAMMAD, DIRECTOR, SCHOMBURG CENTER FOR RESEARCH IN BLACK
CULTURE: I just want to add to this that I think that we can`t also
completely isolate Ferguson as the back waters of America in the way we
could pockets of Alabama.
HARRIS-PERRY: Yes. At least next to St. Louis. Yes.
MUHAMMAD: Not only that, but I think there is a trend here that represents
the decontecturalization across the country. There is a turning off of
these issues. There is a distancing from it like, you know, not my problem
and unless it shows up in my commune, I don`t have to worry about it. We
have to remember black folks are 13 percent of this population. And so,
for most of white America the idea that you could even be ten minutes away
in a drive or bicycle ride from Ferguson is like this is not my issue.
So, I think we have to keep that in mind because I think the larger context
for this, the reason why this keeps happening is because no one is
connecting the dots where power resides in this country. The folks who are
the powerless, the folks on the ground marginalized are the ones who keep
showing up at rallies. They`re the ones who keep connecting the dots. So,
we keep reliving this like it`s Groundhog Day because the rest of America
is tuned out.
HARRIS-PERRY: It`s so interesting. So, both these question of sort of
whose problem is this? Right. And the problem when you said the politics
of representation and you were talking about television and I keep thinking
as multiple politics of representation going on here. One is about elected
representation and just now kind of trying to get into that issue and
clearly isn`t just sort of are you a black elected or a white elected, it
has to do with whether or not you have a sense of who your constituents are
and what their lives are like.
But there`s also this politics of representation because the young people
who are on the front lines of this set of protests are not dressed in their
Sunday best, you know, 1962, you know, going to meet an outfit, these are
young people coming out as they are to protest this police violence. And I
wonder how much that is impacting the ability to see these young people as
young people to whom something wrong is being done.
STEINER: Yes. Because these young people are always seen by the media and
by the majority of the other and to be feared and not to be taken serious
because of the way they dressed, the way they might speak, they way they
move their bodies and all those things. And you see it all across the
country. I mean, what you did yesterday, Melissa, on this show was really
critical because you named all these people who have been murdered by the
police and you connected dots around the country. And I think about the
city I come from in Baltimore where it was young people, innocent kids,
young black college students and others who stopped the building of a new
jail for young people in Baltimore City.
STEINER: They took to the streets and did it. But also we have people
being killed at the hands of police in Baltimore.
STEINER: It`s what you were talking about, Melissa is this pervasive
culture of violence inside the police departments and the power and control
that had to be dealt with and the militarization of our police forces is
HARRIS-PERRY: And I have to say, I appreciate that so many in these
communities are pushing back against the kind of politics and
respectability that would say that a young person like Michael Brown
whether he committed the shoplifting or not would somehow, you know that a
death sentence would be reasonable. I just want to listen just for a
moment to his family, to his attorney and that of Michael Brown`s family
about that effort to smear that young man just for a moment.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ANTHONY GRAY, ATTORNEY, MICHAEL BROWN FAMILY: Mike Brown Jr. had his hands
in the air before the police shot and killed him in broad daylight. What
happened in the 18 years before that does not matter?
ERIC DAVIS, COUSIN OF MICHAEL BROWN: So whatever that took place there had
nothing to do with the individual getting down on his hands and knees
raising his hands in the air and saying, don`t shoot.
ROGER HOOKS, JENNINGS, MO RESIDENT: I believe if he was a suspect in any
kind of way, he should have been taken into custody and questioned,
arrested, whatever the case may have been and I don`t think he should have
lost his life.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: Before we go to break, I want to report this breaking news
in the federal civil rights investigation into the shooting of Michael
Brown. The Department of Justice has released a statement this morning
saying, quote, "Due to the extraordinary circumstances involved in this
case and at the request of the Brown family, Attorney General Holder has
instructed Justice Department officials to arrange for an additional
autopsy to be performed by a federal medical examiner. This independent
examination will take place as soon as possible. Even after it is complete
justice officials still plan to take the state performed autopsy into
account in the course of their investigation."
Up next, the history of sundown towns.
HARRIS-PERRY: By the time Missouri Governor Jay Nixon went on television
yesterday to announce the midnight curfew for the residents of Ferguson,
we`d already gone off the air on MHP but friend of the show Dorian Warren
who was with me at my table yesterday stuck around and joined my colleague
TJ Holmes at his table during the news conference. After it ended, Dorian
weighed on the historical present on what the governor had to say.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MAN: What you just said, Raul, when the sun goes down. Here
is the historical context for this. If you were black in an all-white town
you cannot be in that town when the sun goes down and it was a threat to
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: Historian and author James Loewen, the man who literally
wrote the book on "Sundown Towns" uncovered thousands of these towns that
existed in the United States throughout the 20th century. By some
estimates, as many as 10,000 Sundown towns had sprung up across the country
by 1970. Some were the warnings to African-Americans to not let the sun go
down on you was unspoken rule that spread by reputation. Others where the
warning was explicitly spelled out and signs posted along the highway who
were on the county line. But all of them, whites only spaces were being
black after dark could mean arrest, harassment, assault or worse.
In 1968, 21-year-old Carol Jenkins was selling encyclopedias door-to-door
when the sundown town of Martinsville, Indiana when she was stabbed in the
chest with a screw driver and left to die in the streets. So, for African-
American travelers, making the choice about where to stop for food, gas or
bathroom break or rest for the night was potentially a life or death
decision. It is in part what prompted the publication of this. "The Negro
Motorist Green Book." This handy guide let African-Americans on the road
know where they could find safe harbor and where they need to steer clear
of the threat of white violence in sundown towns.
The green book started to become obsolete in the passage of the civil
rights act of 1964 outlawed racial discrimination and public
accommodations. But that history of restricting travel and access to
public spaces for African-Americans seemed very present last night in
Ferguson where the streets, the people were warned to stay out after
midnight in a town they normally call home.
HARRIS-PERRY: History has already taught us what happens when governments
answer to resistance against police violence is to respond with even more
aggressive police tactics. We need to look no further than lesson learned
by Bull Connor, the infamous Birmingham commissioner of Public Safety after
he made this 1963 speech opposing the deployment of federal troops to
protect civil rights protesters led by Dr. Martin Luther King.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
EUGENE BULL CONNOR, FORMER COMMISSIONER, BIRMINGHAM PUBLIC SAFETY: Blaming
police assisted by law enforcement agencies from the county and surrounding
counties and backed up by the Alabama highway patrol has a situation here
under control and they`re working around the clock to maintain law and
order. If there is anybody in this nation who understands what is going on
here, it is me. I know that we have sufficient man power. Enough trained
officers to keep the peace in Birmingham without any outside help from the
federal government. If the president is really sincere about wanting peace
in Birmingham, why doesn`t he use his great influence and ask Martin Luther
King and his bunch of agitators to leave our city.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: Connor`s decision to escalate the use of police force to
suppress the cause of the demonstrators ended up having the exact opposite
effect. When Americans saw televised images of young people being blasted
by high-pressure fire hoses, clubbed by officers and attacked by police
dogs, the national outrage galvanized the movement. Improved a pivotal
turning point in the fights for civil rights.
Joining us now from Washington, D.C., is Wade Henderson, president and CEO
of The Leadership Conference on civil and human rights. Wade, is this
moment in Ferguson a turning point or just yet another moment when black
communities are outraged, but it will go away.
WADE HENDERSON, PRES. AND CEO, THE LEADERSHIP CONFERENCE: I think the jury
is still out, Melissa. But I think it could be a very powerful turning
point both in Ferguson but also around the country. You know, you pointed
out the resemblance between the efforts of Thomas Jackson, the police chief
in Ferguson and those of the historic and infamous Eugene Bull Connor of
Birmingham, Alabama. It takes journalists like John Artripol (ph) of
Alabama to talk about the ghost of Bull Connor haunting the story in
And if we don`t know the lessons of history, then we`re bound to repeat
them. And I think we`re seeing that in the case of Thomas Jackson, the
police chief there. He`s chosen, of course, to impose a strong arm set of
responses to the Ferguson challenge. And in doing so, has evoked the very
worst images of the nation in its historic treatment of African-Americans
and no place is better for exemplifying that problem than Birmingham,
Alabama, of 1963. After all, it was Eugene Bull Connor who was the public
safety director who had control over both the Police Department and the
Fire Department who chose to use fire hoses on the little children of
Birmingham, who chose to arrest Dr. King and in doing so, helped prompt the
letter from the Birmingham jail.
And it was Bull Connor through his racist response to the legitimate
American values of equal justice under law and the need to lift up the
First Amendment right of assembly and free speech that help to bring about
the jujitsu of Dr. King in a way in which he used nonviolence to promote
social change. I think what America has seen and I think, in fact, what
the world has seen. I was in Geneva just last week at the United Nations
conference reviewing American compliance with the convention on the
elimination of racial discrimination and I can assure you that the story of
Michael Brown was lifted up in a way that could only occur when someone
like Sybrina Fulton, mother of Trayvon Martin and Ron Davis, father of
Jordan Davis who was there looking at what happened in this country and
helping to lift it up.
So, all of these things have contributed to what I think is a pivotal
moment for change. And I think the militarization of American law
enforcement and a way that makes Ferguson look like an occupied community
rather than a small suburb of St. Louis is also helping to promote change.
So, while this tragedy is profound and significant and both the families
for the city of Ferguson and, indeed, for the nation. I think what we`re
seeing is a unique moment in time where change is likely to be inevitable.
And I guess one last point, I really want to applaud the efforts of
Attorney General Eric Holder and the Department of Justice for their
thoughtful response to the challenges posed by Ferguson.
Just his decision today to conduct or to allow for a separate autopsy of
Michael Brown`s body by federal examiners is the kind of tactic or kind of
approach that will restore a sense of trust and a more harmonious
relationship in that community. And that`s why Captain Ron Johnson has
done such an outstanding job. He is the general honorary, if you will of
the Ferguson challenge.
HARRIS-PERRY: Wade Henderson, as always, you bring such depth of
historical understanding and experience. And thank you, also, for bringing
that international perspective for us. Thank you for joining us this
HENDERSON: Thank you.
HARRIS-PERRY: Now, we are not done. We`re going to comeback. I have more
with my panel about Ferguson right after the break.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MICHAEL BATCHMAN, ST. LOUIS RESIDENT: We have to do something. There has
to be some justice somewhere and it has to be in somewhere. This is not
going to end. It is not going to stop. All the news media, all the crowds
until we sit-down at the table and we start to deal with racism as it is.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Tonight to wait. Why has this happened? Why are we out
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: We are still looking for answers in Ferguson, Missouri. So,
where do you think we are at this moment? It was a week ago on Sunday that
we reported the first press conference that the police there first telling
us what their part of the story was. What do you think the next week holds
MUHAMMAD: Can I just take one stab at the past?
MUHAMMAD: Just for a second. Well, because I don`t want us to get lost on
the Bull Connor.
MUHAMMAD: Because Bull Connor represents even the story of sundown towns,
a kind of exceptionalism in this country`s history.
MUHAMMAD: Where we can distance ourselves from this kind of rapid racist
personification of the past that distances ourselves from what is with us
MUHAMMAD: And, so, making the connection to the systematic micro-
aggressions. Just the simple abuse of authority and disrespect that
happens every single day. What happened to Michael Brown just like what
happened to Eric Garner is just the most extreme form of this. So, when
you hear people in Ferguson talk about police harassment is a way of life
in this community and in other communities all around it, that`s what has
to be the frontier because that`s the story of black people in America. In
the south, it was vigilantism and in the north it has always been police
And if we don`t make that connection, if we don`t say that history is
actually fairly flat in this instance and we have not moved the needle in
over 100 years when it comes to black people making claims on liberty. So,
finally, what happened in the Birmingham crusade just to come full circle
was actually pressing with double downing on the actual fact that Bull
Connor would be violent that day. So, they put kids out there to actually
create the circumstance of juxtaposing the instance against brutality.
HARRIS-PERRY: Yep. So, they could see it.
MUHAMMAD: Against brutality. And further to invert the notion that law
and order was only the purview and privilege of the white establishment,
MUHAMMAD: When, in fact, black people are calling for law and order in
their communities. That`s one of the greatest ironies of this moment.
It`s like we want quality policing. We want justice. We want order in our
HARRIS-PERRY: This is, I mean, every time the governor says, well, you
know, we can`t have people afraid and the people in the press conference
screamed, we are afraid that the police are going to shoot. Like I don`t
think you understand what it is we are afraid of.
MUHAMMAD: The disorder is exactly what happened to Michael Brown. The
disorder is the best treatment of American citizens and citizens every
STEINER: So, what you were saying about the future and I`m thinking what
you just said about the future and the past tied together here that I
think, one, what Ferguson has done on the heals with what happened with
Miss Garner in New York and all the other people who have been murdered
over the years is this come into a hit. People begin to be -- a
consciousness is being raised, I do believe and the American people are
seeing this. I think this is the important bubbling up. The sacrifice of
these human lives, as tragic as they are. They`re building something, I
think, that we haven`t seen in a long time.
We have to remember, there has never been a time in American history we
were saying during the break that the only time civil rights has been
protected, the only time liberty has grown in America is when the forces
and the ground fought for it, but federal government had to come in, the
federal level to ensure that change. It`s the only way it happens. We`re
seeing it now.
HARRIS-PERRY: It`s why Rand Paul is wrong in that article.
STEINER: Right. Right.
HARRIS-PERRY: You know, Dorian Warren, our friend pointed this out that
for all this love he`s getting from the left about the militarization of
the police, which is an appropriate, I think reasonable sort of analysis.
That what he`s wrong about it is every time big government who know, right,
it`s actually the problem is the local government having this, you know,
BELTRAN: I think a lot of what you were saying too about the media. Like
I think this could become a really important moment if we can talk about
teaching people to see better and to get really deeper and thicker around
these problems. Like really talking about structural inequality, talking
about the ongoingness of this. I think one of the problems we often have
and we`re seeing it now. These really easy desires for like a good guy/bad
guy narrative. Right? So, for couple of days, Johnson was like the good
cop and, you know, the guy from the county was like the bad cop. And it`s
just so much more complicated. And like, to get to the questions where we
can really talk about.
What is the structural day-to-day, you know, issues of black and brown
bodies living in cities and the way they`re treated particularly if they`re
poor and low income. Like, let`s really talk about that. Rather than
just, you know, what does it mean to see people, what does it mean to look
at the democratic crowd. The democratic crowd is something that is
exciting, it`s full of anger, it`s full of grief, it`s full of joy, it`s
exuberant, it`s festive. You know, and that is also, and rather than just
saying, well, like you said, we need to wearing like black and white
outfits and just being earnest.
BELTRAN: Like, this is what actual, you know, we just need to make sure.
I mean, I think shows like this trying to have conversations that say,
let`s really explore what it feels like to be disempowered and what it
feels like to claim public space and structures.
HARRIS-PERRY: But I get even more simple on the question of helping people
HARRIS-PERRY: I am profoundly irritated by the extent to which people
continue to use passive voice when they talk about a man who murdered a
child. A man who was armed who had the power of the state behind him and
was a police officer whose job it is to serve who shot and killed an
unarmed child. And somehow, you know, back when Michael Brown got shot
because now Michael Brown who got himself shot by existing and walking and,
so, like the usual --
BELTRAN: The perfect.
HARRIS-PERRY: That`s right. The use of passive voice when we talk about
COBB: Mistakes were made.
HARRIS-PERRY: Mistakes were made, officers were involved. I mean, like in
a very basic, looting is occurring.
COBB: Right. One of the things I saw, we`re talking about the future.
This was a question I asked people when I was there. But one of the things
I saw that was very exciting and very interesting was that in that quick
trip parking lot. That gas station has become effectively a town square.
COBB: The people spray painted QT people`s part, there were churches
there, there were people who were doing liturgical dance who was kind of --
HARRIS-PERRY: Yes. The democratic crowd.
COBB: Right. The motorcycle group, the outcasts who were there. I talked
with those gentlemen, very incisive. They were the ones who pointed out, I
mean, you talk about how the power structure here ends up being all white
and we have to talk about the number of us, they were talking without
themselves. The number of us who had been disfranchised because we were
arrested and charged with felonies. Some of which resulted from fights in
high school. I had a fight in high school and charged with a felony. I
have never been able to vote.
HARRIS-PERRY: Maybe that`s part of why there are so few African-American
COBB: Right. Exactly. And so, they were there, there are people who are
white members of the Ferguson community who were outraged about this.
There were a cross section. A democratic cross section of people there and
it was hard to believe that that will not generate some other kind of
sustained response, as well.
HARRIS-PERRY: I`m so happy that both of you brought us in that moment, the
question of the democratic crowd and the possibility of free space because
that is precisely where we`ll go towards the end of the show today. I want
to thank my guest this morning. Jelani Cobb, Marc Steiner, Khalil Muhammad
and Cristina Beltran.
And up next, we`re going to talk about the notion of free space in a very
different place. Afropunk, when we come back.
HARRIS-PERRY: Before we go on, I just want to make one note. I got a
little emotional in our last block talking about Officer Darren Wilson of
the Ferguson Police Department shooting and killing the young man, unarmed,
Michael Brown. I used the word murder. Murder is a legal designation.
There has been no court case, no finding in fact at this point, not even an
arrest. And so, I should not have used the word murder and I apologize for
the use of that word.
Now, today we`ve been discussing the politics of and the message sent by
the curfew in Ferguson, Missouri. The implication of that curfew for some
being that even in 2014, if you`re African-American or if you`re black, you
have to stay in your lane or else the police may put you back in it. But
what if there were a place where black expression was peacefully supported
by the community? Well, this coming weekend, some 30,000 black people and
if history as any guide, many of them will be tattooed and dreadlocked will
converge on Brooklyn New York Park for a singular purpose. It`s not a
demonstration. It`s Afropunk.
In 2003, music industry insider Matthew Morgan, co-produced a documentary
called Afropunk which explores the sometimes uncomfortable relationship
between black punk rockers and a scene dominated by white artists.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MAN: It`s been mostly a white experience.
UNIDENTIFIED MAN: I felt like, I totally didn`t fit in with the white punk
kids. You know what I`m saying, I was like I had to go out on my way to
prove that I was --
UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: I would feel like everyone turns around, look at the
black girl coming in.
UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: I`m usually always, I`m the only black person there.
UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Usually I`m the (bleep) --
UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Usually, I`m the only black person.
UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: Yes. I was like the only --
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: From the film came a movement. And from that movement came
what "The New York Times" called the most multicultural festival in the
United States. Now celebrating its 10th anniversary, Afropunk 2014 will
feature artists as diverse its folks singers Lianne La Havas, rapper Ice T
and his heavy metal band Body Count. And R&B legend Sharon Jones.
Happy to welcome to "NerdlLand" Afropunk local organizer Matthew Morgan.
Thank you so much to you for being here.
MATTHEW MORGAN, CO-FOUNDER, AFROPUNK FESTIVAL: Thank you.
HARRIS-PERRY: Talk to me. We heard that there are people talking about
being the only one. What happens when you`re suddenly not the only one,
when you`re part of this profoundly multicultural experience it is
MORGAN: I mean, people get a real sense of being and finding one another
we say haven`t done prior to that. A lot of excitement. They get to wear
their freak nerdness in all their glory and it`s a lot of fun.
HARRIS-PERRY: The show has been a heavy month day in which we`ve talked a
lot about history and politics and violence. Part of it, we wanted to end
on culture because sometimes if feels like these are the spaces that become
both most free for individuals and potentially most healing for
MORGAN: I mean, it`s been a progression of ten years and I think we`re in
a unique space because we`re in Brooklyn and the festival has found its
fame in Brooklyn and the community have been really supportive. They`re
not just the community that hasn`t just found the festival but the
supporting people that without those individuals and the police force or
local government have really supported us and it wouldn`t have happened.
HARRIS-PERRY: So, it`s so interesting that we talked about the police
force. So, obviously if you`re organizing an enormous festival like this,
you have to work with local police for a crowd control. How`s that
experience been toward you?
MORGAN: I mean, I would say to people that I`m an advocate for my
particular precinct, 88 precinct (ph), because without them we would never
been able to have this festival. I mean, we`re upwards of 30,000 people a
day now, most of which people of color. And they are extremely supportive,
they let things go there. They`re told from the top down to have people
come and enjoy themselves and leave quietly and that`s exactly what
happens. When you heard people and you treat people in a particular way,
you get a particular result. And without them, we would have -- we
wouldn`t be doing it at this point, so.
HARRIS-PERRY: If there are folks for the first time are considering coming
out to Afropunk, what should they expect?
MORGAN: They should expect to see things they haven`t seen before, groups
of individuals that they only see in small amounts. And I think one of the
most exciting things that has transpired in the 10 years is within our
community, within the black community, you see so many different types of
individuals. So from the LGBTQ audience to skate kids, to hip-hop kids,
from seven to 70, like we really do have an incredible array of people that
come to the festival.
HARRIS-PERRY: For you, is Afropunk a free space?
MORGAN: It is absolutely a free space. If anyone ever asks if I can sum
it up for one word, it`s a sense of freedom.
HARRIS-PERRY: A lovely thing to remember if there are places where you can
go and just feel free. Matthew Morgan, thank you for being here this
morning and best of luck. But the 10th year, the Afropunk says, taking
place in Brooklyn, New York, next weekend.
That is our show for today. Thanks to you at home for watching. I`m going
to see you next Saturday at 10:00 a.m. Eastern. Right now, it`s time for a
preview of "WEEKENDS WITH ALEX WITT." Hi, Alex.
ALEX WITT, MSNBC HOST, "WEEKENDS WITH ALEX WITT": Hello to you Melissa,
thanks so much. Well, everyone, we`re going to have the latest on the
outrage on the how police have handled the probe into Michael Brown`s
Also new reaction today from Missouri Governor Jay Nixon to the criticism
about his response to the situation.
Plus, the father of Trayvon Martin talks about what Michael Brown`s family
is going through and what he expects to come from today`s big march for
peace and justice. Don`t go anywhere. I`ll be right back.
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY
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