August 19, 2014
Guest: Val Demings, Marq Claxton, Kendall Coffey, Josh Dubois, Amy Nelson
CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HOST: More trouble.
This is HARDBALL.
Good evening. I`m Chris Matthews in Washington.
Before going to Ferguson, Missouri, tonight, I`m obliged to deliver tragic
news from abroad. Tonight, ISIS forces in Syria and Iraq released a video
which it said shows James Wright Foley, an American journalist, being
beheaded. In the video, ISIS threatens the life of another captured
American if President Obama doesn`t stop air strikes in Iraq.
Mr. Foley was kidnapped at gunpoint in northern Syria on Thanksgiving Day
2012. He had heard from -- not been heard from during his time in
captivity. Foley traveled extensively in the Middle East and North Africa.
He reported about conflicts in Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya, where he was
once held captive for 44 days. And following that captivity in Libya,
Foley said, "I believe that front line journalism is important."
Now to the tragic events going on right now in the American heartland.
We`ve got pictures from Ferguson tonight, also of last night, when violence
and arrests erupted (ph) tenfold. What police are calling a criminal
element is dominating the streets there that had once been filled with
And today, there`s been another deadly confrontation with police. This
afternoon, St. Louis police were involved in a fatal shooting just three
miles away from Ferguson and the protests there. According to the police,
the suspect, a 23-year-old black male, brandished a knife and advanced on
officers saying, Shoot me now. The police opened fire when the suspect
ignored their orders to stop and drop his weapon.
But tonight, we return to Ferguson itself, where police are clashing with
what they`re calling a criminal element, as I said, that has overwhelmed
the city. And these are just some of the sights and sounds of last night`s
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PROTESTERS: Don`t shoot! Don`t shoot! Don`t shoot!
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If you are not credentialed media, you need to disperse
immediately or you will be subject to arrest! Do it now!
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You have to (INAUDIBLE) or you will be subject to
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Sorry, Officer.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh! Oh!
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You want to make sure it gets inside of your eyes.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Captain Ron Johnson told NBC`s Craig Melvin that police faced
heavy gunfire last night from people hiding in bushes. He also said that
instigators were baiting police by yelling things like, "Red rover, red
rover, send your best cop over."
Four officers were injured last night amid last night`s chaos. Two people
were shot, not by police. SWAT teams were called in to evacuate one of the
victims. Guns were confiscated. Fires were set. Seventy-eight people
were arrested. According to the arrest list, a majority were from
Missouri, but the list also included people from California, Chicago and
New York. Members of the media, including our own Craig Melvin and Chris
Hayes, were pelted by rocks on live television last night.
Well, tonight, authorities are bracing for more violence. Area schools
have been closed for the rest of the week. Police are urging protesters to
stay home after dark. Attorney General Eric Holder arrives in Ferguson
tomorrow, and "The Hill" newspaper is reporting that White House officials
are not ruling out a presidential visit, as well, to Ferguson.
NBC`s Craig Melvin joins us now from Ferguson. Craig, I`ve been watching
your reporting all day, including that very impressive ride with Captain
Johnson. Tell us how it seems to be heading tonight on this. Well, it
seems to be getting more -- escalating each night.
CRAIG MELVIN, NBC CORRESPONDENT: Yes, you know what? I can tell you,
compared to last night, Chris, the crowd right now considerably smaller
last night (sic), calmer and more organized. At one point last night, we
saw three or four very large groups marching together, but marching
separately. Tonight, we`ve seen, for the most part, one group marching
together, chanting, very peaceful so far.
But again, as you indicated, you know, heretofore, it`s been peaceful until
the sun goes down, Captain Johnson saying that today, one of the things
that they were really encouraging folks to do, the peaceful protesters --
stay at home at night. He asked them to do that so that it`s easier for
law enforcement to differentiate between the peaceful protesters and the
so-called criminal element.
And that`s the language that law enforcement continues to use here. His
claim was -- what he said to me was, you know, every night, what they`ve
seen is they see the peaceful protesters, the folks that you can see right
now live. They see those groups. But as the sun goes down, those folks
tend to go home. They tend to go home and get ready for work, whatever
(INAUDIBLE) And then they -- they have an entirely new group that comes out
at night. A larger group comes out at night.
And he made an interesting point, Chris Matthews, and I thought about this
yesterday. He said one of the big problems -- the guys who were marching
were wearing masks, were wearing bandanas. Said that`s -- you know, that`s
your (INAUDIBLE) you know, they can`t stop you from doing that, but he
raised a very important question. Why do you need to protest wearing a
mask? Why are you hiding your face on the street if you are just peaceably
As I`m talking to you, this is that -- this is that -- that protest I was -
- I was just talking about. Again, this is organized, a lot more
organized. And two, three hours from now, of course, it remains to be seen
what it`s going to look like. Another interesting thing that we covered --
MATTHEWS: Could you --
MELVIN: -- Captain Johnson -- go ahead, Chris. Go ahead.
MATTHEWS: Craig, could you see the people throwing stones at you last
night, rocks at you and Chris Hayes?
MATTHEWS: Well, who were they?
MELVIN: They taunted us for a bit first. They taunted us (INAUDIBLE)
first. Chris, you know, they were -- they`re young guys, and they were --
they were angry at law enforcement. They were shouting some things at law
enforcement first. And then when they realized that we were on television
live, all of a sudden, they became angry with the media. You know, they
were, Tell them the true story. Tell the real story. And we said, That`s
what we`re here doing.
You know, as you know, oftentimes in situations like this, we get lumped in
together. All journalists are the same. All media is the same. We`re to
blame, as well. And Captain Johnson, as well. I took him to task on this
last night and this morning because, you know, he said -- (INAUDIBLE) you
know, you guys -- again, all of us. He said, You guys really at times are
making the situation worse. You`re exacerbating the situation.
I said, Captain Johnson, what do you mean? (INAUDIBLE) some of these --
some of these young guys, you know, all they want to do is to be put on
television. They want to be seen. They want this national platform. You
go out and you stick your cameras in their faces. And I said to him, I
said, You know what? We`re up against the same thing you`re up against.
It is difficult for us sometimes to discern who is a peaceful protester, as
you`ve labeled them, and who is perhaps not a peaceful protester.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.
MELVIN: So you know, he said, tonight, that they are going to be a little
stricter, as well, with some of the media, some of the journalists. So it
remains to be seen precisely what he meant by that.
MATTHEWS: OK, thanks so much. You`ve been doing great stuff. And I`d
love your thoughts about Captain Johnson.
MELVIN: Thanks, Chris.
MATTHEWS: What an impressive guy he is. Thank you -- NBC`s Craig Melvin
MELVIN: You got to --
MATTHEWS: -- Ferguson.
MELVIN: You got to wonder if he`s going to run for office at some point,
MATTHEWS: Well, he`s the kind of leader we need sometimes, certainly now.
Anyway, thank you.
Val Demings was the police chief in Orlando, Florida, and Marq Claxton was
the director -- is the director of the Black Law Enforcement Alliance and a
former NYPD officer himself.
Let me go right now to Val. Val, this -- this -- what we`re hearing now
from the police captain there -- what do you make of that -- get the media
cameras -- I mean, it reminds me of, you know, reading Tom Wolfe, you know,
and "Bonfire of the Vanities," that some people do want to see those
trucks. They want to see the camera crews live. It is a very attractive
thing to get on national television if you`re voiceless 365 days of the
year and here`s a chance to make your voice. (sic) Your thoughts.
VAL DEMINGS, FMR. ORLANDO POLICE CHIEF: Yes, I think Captain Johnson is
absolutely right. You know, there are people -- and he`s right to refer to
it as a criminal element. There are people who will just seize an
opportunity in a community when it`s vulnerable to wreak havoc. These are
criminals who aren`t looking for justice, they`re just looking for
And sometimes, when the situation is ongoing, as it is in Ferguson, the
media is sometimes, as we say, in the way. But we also understand that the
public deserves to have a right to have the story told, to hear what`s
going on. And you just have to make accommodations.
I think one of the best things that could have happened to Ferguson is to
have Captain Johnson. He gets an A-plus in community-oriented policing.
And had Ferguson had someone like him in the beginning, who knows how to
get out in the community, not afraid of the people in the community, but
someone who celebrates diversity, the police department may have looked
different. This situation may not have ever occurred in the first place.
But the media, as you know, is a part of the community, as well, and you
just have to make it work.
MATTHEWS: Let me go -- let me go to Marq Claxton about black police
officers. You know, in certain communities -- I think the Irish-American
community has liked being firefighters. I know. I come from that world.
They like being firefighters. They join police forces generation after
What could encourage a greater diversification of police forces like the
one in Ferguson, where you have a large minority community, really, in the
city itself, in the area, now -- where the police are not? They`re white
MARQ CLAXTON, BLACK LAW ENFORCEMENT ALLIANCE: Well, one thing is a level
playing field for those people who are interested in pursuing a career in
law enforcement. But let`s be clear about something. You know, people
really respond to careers based on what they`ve seen and experienced of
those careers. And if they have a very negative experience with law
enforcement, it tends to push them away from exploring that as a
possibility of employment in the future.
So the problem that municipalities, that other agencies are having in
supposedly employing and finding qualified black candidates, it really is
because of the circumstance and situations that they themselves created.
MATTHEWS: Yes, well, let me ask you this. In a black community, in places
like Ferguson, could you address that? Are you seen as something of a
turncoat if you become a police officer? I mean, how bad is it to take a
position like that, where you are telling people what to do on the street?
CLAXTON: Well, I think, too often, people assume -- people assume that
there is -- as a police officer -- and I`m speaking from practical
experience -- as a police officer, your community, the black community, if
you will, will see you as a turncoat. That has never been my experience.
You have certain individuals who have a negative impression of police, and
they will, of course, see you as a turncoat or negative to the community.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.
CLAXTON: But overwhelmingly, be -- just be aware black folk love the
police, support the police, love law and order. There is not this innate
dislike or distrust of police that is in us from birth.
MATTHEWS: Let me go back to Val on that question. What do you think about
-- how do we improve the diversification of the police force because one of
the knocks on Ferguson has been although there`s been a change in
population there demographically, that there hasn`t been a change in terms
of the police force.
DEMINGS: Well, you know, it`s difficult for people to believe that they
can have a career when they don`t see many people in their hometown who are
doing that career.
MATTHEWS: I got you.
DEMINGS: One of the things I talked about the other night is that when I
became a police officer in 1984, I did not walk into the Orlando Police
Department looking for a job. The Orlando Police Department came looking
for me. My father wasn`t a police officer. My grandfather wasn`t a police
officer, like many other Caucasian brothers and sisters have. So the
police department came looking for me.
And I think Ferguson could benefit from really getting with some of their
community leaders and really going out in those communities and really
actively recruiting African-American law enforcement officers.
MATTHEWS: Well, thank you so much, Val --
CLAXTON: You know, Chris --
MATTHEWS: Yes? Last word to you, Marq.
CLAXTON: I was going to say that, you know, the issues that are going on
in Ferguson would not be lessened if you had necessarily more black police
officers. There are systemic issues, there are historical issues that
occur in that community, and that`s the problem there. So the answer, the
panacea, is not necessarily to increase black police officers in these
communities. It`s to deal with these systemic problems.
MATTHEWS: Yes, well, I don`t think it could hurt, though. Thank you, Val
Demings, so much. And I know these problems are complicated. We`re going
to try to get to all the aspects. I think economics is at the heart of all
this stuff. I know that sounds Marxist, but I tell you, jobs and economics
are the key to this American life we all like to lead well. Anyway, Marq
Claxton, sir, thank you for joining us.
CLAXTON: Thanks, Chris.
MATTHEWS: Coming up, the investigation itself. Attorney General Eric
Holder heads to Ferguson tomorrow morning, the same day a grand jury may
begin hearing evidence in the case. Plus, the shooting death of Michael
Brown has shed light on the plight of young African-American men in this
country. Tonight, we`re going to talk to Joshua Dubois (ph) of My
Brother`s Keeper, the group President Obama started to help give kids
across the country a better shot at success.
And covering the chaos. We`re going to talk to two reporters about the
dangers they`re facing personally on the streets of Ferguson after dark,
Finally, "Let Me Finish" with the heart of this whole thing in Ferguson.
And this is HARDBALL, the place for politics.
MATTHEWS: Well, we continue to watch what`s happening right now on the
streets of Ferguson, Missouri, but we have a breaking political story.
Texas governor Rick Perry has turned himself in after his indictment on two
counts of alleged abuse of power, charges Perry says are without merit.
Perry entered the courthouse in Austin within the last hour, in fact, was
booked and had his mugshot taken.
As he entered the courthouse, the governor had this to say.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. RICK PERRY (R), TEXAS: I`m going to fight this injustice with every
fiber of my being! And we will prevail!
(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)
PERRY: And we`ll prevail because we`re standing for the rule of law!
(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, you heard him there. Perry`s not letting this
questionable charge slow him down. He`s set to visit the first-in-the-
country primary state of New Hampshire this weekend.
And we`ll be right back.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What will bring peace to the streets of Ferguson?
LESLEY MCSPADDEN, MOTHER OF MICHAEL BROWN: Justice. Justice will bring
peace, I believe.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Only if that justice results in the arrest or charges
being filed against Officer Wilson? Is that what it`s going to take?
MCSPADDEN: Yes, him being arrested, charges being filed and a prosecution,
him being held accountable for what he did.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, that was a call for justice from the mother of Michael
Brown this morning, actually. And Lesley McSpadden -- that`s her name --
also said the violence in the streets of Ferguson needs to stop.
Meanwhile, the district attorney`s office out there said a Missouri grand
jury will begin evidence (sic) in the case starting tomorrow. That`s
tomorrow, the grand jury sits. But prosecutors cautioned it may take
months to actually decide whether there is a basis for charging Officer
And in a dramatic move, Attorney General Eric Holder said he will be in
Ferguson tomorrow to meet with FBI agents investigating the shooting as a
potential civil rights matter. NBC News has learned that the federal
autopsy has been completed, as well. That`s the third autopsy conducted on
the body of Michael Brown.
Well, yesterday, "The Washington Post" said that two unnamed sources
familiar with the investigation -- you notice (ph) how it was said there --
sources familiar with the investigation -- who said the state`s autopsy
showed Michael Brown had marijuana in his system. NBC News has not
independently verified that information. In fact, that disclosure itself
outraged critics of the police.
Kendall Coffey is a former federal prosecutor and Jonathan Capehart`s our
colleague here. He`s an opinion writer for "The Washington Post," and of
course, an MSNBC contributor.
Kendall, what basis -- or what is the threshold that a prosecutor, DA needs
to call a grand jury? Is there one beyond his own belief that this matter
deserves looking at?
KENDALL COFFEY, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: Well, he`s supposed to have
some predication, some information, but they`ve got plenty of discretion in
this. And as you know, the fact that they`re convening a grand jury is far
from any indication that any charges are going to be brought. It`s in an
And the other thing to bear in mind as we watch this go forward on the
district attorney, the state and local side, is once the grand jury process
begins, it essentially disappears under a curtain of secrecy. So it could
be harder than ever to get information from the inside of this
And on the state and local side, what we may be living with in the coming
weeks could just be selective leaks, which doesn`t necessarily add to the
public`s confidence in what is going on.
MATTHEWS: Why does a DA resort to a grand jury? Why doesn`t a DA simply
get all the evidence and decide whether he has a case to make, and not lay
it on, on somebody else or a group of citizens who may not be familiar with
Why doesn`t he just make his decision himself and have the guts to decide
whether the officer should walk or he should face trial? Why doesn`t he do
that or she do that?
COFFEY: Well, as you recall, that`s exactly what Angela Corey did, the
special prosecutor appointed in the case of George Zimmerman.
She said no grand jury here. Our office is going to make the call. And in
Missouri, the district attorney could do exactly the same thing. There are
certainly procedural benefits to using a grand jury. You can get witnesses
in there under threat of perjury to tell their side of the story.
MATTHEWS: I see.
COFFEY: But along with whatever the procedural benefits can be, you have
the concern about secrecy from the public`s standpoint. And at the end of
the day, there is perhaps less accountability, when a district attorney can
say, this is what the grand jury did. Let the grand jury`s voice be heard.
I didn`t make this final decision.
MATTHEWS: So, here we go with the grand jury, which we all know can be --
will do what the district attorney, the prosecutor tells them to do
JONATHAN CAPEHART, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: Right.
MATTHEWS: So, in the end, the prosecutor is deciding what he wants to do
with the cover of having a group of citizens, a grand jury go with them.
And the whole problem from the very beginning has been -- Kendall was
talking about the veil of secrecy that will descend upon a grand jury
proceeding. Well, there`s been a veil of secrecy already in this case.
There are so many things that we don`t know because either the Ferguson
Police Department hasn`t released information or the Saint Louis County
Police Department hasn`t released information.
And when they did release information, it was information to besmirch the
character of --
MATTHEWS: Or defend the police officer, either way you look at it.
CAPEHART: But in that police -- in that report --
MATTHEWS: But they have never put out, as you say, a clear narrative of
what they believe happened.
CAPEHART: Right. Right.
MATTHEWS: So, we can think about it, at least.
CAPEHART: Well, you know what? The narrative, I believe, exists, because
in that police report on the theft of the convenience store, the officer
who wrote up the report said he was able to corroborate that Michael Brown
was the same person from two detailed reports, one from the Ferguson Police
Department, one from the Saint Louis County Police Department.
We should have -- the public should have Ferguson police report 2014-12391
and Saint Louis County police report 2014-43984. Those are two reports we
don`t have, in addition the first autopsy on Michael Brown, toxicology
report on Michael Brown or a toxicology report on officer Darren Wilson.
Let me go back to Kendall.
Doesn`t it seem to me -- you know this. Prosecutors work with police hand
in glove. That`s how you bring prosecutions. You use the police to get
the information and you bring your case. You make a decision. Do they --
would they be the most likely people to sympathize with the officer in this
case, to see the fear he might have had -- under oath, he will say he had
fear, of course -- and that the decision as being proportionate?
So, doesn`t he have his best chance with a prosecutor?
COFFEY: Well, with a state and local prosecutor, absolutely.
They`re extended family. In fact, this district attorney had immediate
family members -- his late father was killed in the line of duty -- and an
uncle who were police officers. So, they are very, very close. They are
going to empathize with the position of a police officer.
And, by the way, this officer is going to become a cause, not just for the
community, the police and law enforcement community in Saint Louis, but
around the country. Police are going to rally and support officer Darren
MATTHEWS: Explain why.
COFFEY: Because for many of them, they can see themselves walking in his -
- because so many police officers, first of all, they are very skeptical
about politics, when politicians get involved. And they are going to see
officer Wilson as somebody who is a victim of politics if he`s prosecuted.
And they see themselves walking in his shoes or his boots in the same kind
of dangers, having seen the same kind of very quick decisions. Very, very
hard for a local prosecutor to want to make a prosecution here, when
there`s so much police support presently and more to come for this police
officer from the police community.
MATTHEWS: The mother of the deceased, Michael Brown`s mother -- McSpadden
is her name -- she is calling for justice, meaning she`s calling for
basically action against the officer.
MATTHEWS: Either arrest, possible -- maybe she wants conviction. It`s the
same thing with the Trayvon Martin case.
MATTHEWS: You get to a point, and this thing just escalates in terms of
what people want to see.
Justice becomes defined totally differently by two sides.
Well, in the Trayvon Martin -- Trayvon Martin case, it became a big
national cause, because an unarmed teenaged kid was killed by a man who had
not been --
MATTHEWS: Who had no right to have a gun on -- pointing at that guy.
CAPEHART: Right. Right, but also who had not been arrested, had not been
arrested for 44 days.
And in this case, what you have here, Lesley -- what Lesley McSpadden
wants, Michael Brown`s mother wants, is for Darren, officer Darren Wilson
to be held accountable somehow. And I think that, in some way, at a
minimum, people need to see Darren Wilson either walking into a court of
law, showing up at the grand jury proceeding, so that they see that he`s
not just in hiding.
MATTHEWS: Well said. Well said.
This death wasn`t dismissed. What will bother people is why that body lay
there for five hours.
MATTHEWS: That shows disregard for a human being.
Anyway, thank you, Kendall Coffey. And thank you, Jonathan Capehart, my
Coming up, my colleague Chris Hayes joins us next with the latest from
Ferguson. And he was certainly in the action last night. I`ll tell you, I
didn`t want to be where he was, getting hit with those rocks.
Anyway, this is HARDBALL, the place for politics.
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.
My colleague, MSNBC colleague Chris Hayes continues to cover the protests
in Ferguson. He joins us now live.
Chris, you have been in enemy fire. You have faced the -- you have faced
not just the lions. You have faced the rock throwers. What`s your plan
CHRIS HAYES, HOST, "ALL IN WITH CHRIS HAYES": Well, right now, things seem
a little calmer. Of course, things have always seemed calm during daylight
I mean, the one difference I would say tonight from last night, at this
hour last night, you had a kind of -- a sort of promenade happening.
HAYES: There were several hundred marchers who were walking in a circle
being told to keep going. Right now, the streets are clear here. There`s
a few people congregating in the parking lots. But it`s just become such a
different story after dark.
And I got to say, I spent today sort of walking around, and talking to
people. I happened upon one conversation I thought was really interesting.
It was three African-American leaders talking with the mayor of Ferguson, a
guy by the name of James Knowles III, who hasn`t been making a lot of
HAYES: He`s a guy who -- he`s a mayor of a town of 20,000. He makes 300
bucks a month. It`s not like it`s his full-time job.
And he was talking to them about sort of plans to figure out alternatives
to this sort of cycle of escalation that we have seen now basically nine
nights in a row, with only a few different pauses.
MATTHEWS: What don`t we see on television that you can sense there? Is
there part of the story we`re missing where the television camera doesn`t
HAYES: Yes, I would say there`s a few things.
One is just that, you know, all the attention is on these few blocks in
Ferguson. There are people basically throughout North County that feel the
same way, but also are just going about and living their lives. There is a
sense of disruption here that`s very intense.
But you can walk a few blocks. And you`re just in -- you`re just in
single-family homes with backyards and people barbecuing and something
looking like normal life is happening not that far from here.
And I think the other thing that I think is probably coming across on
camera, but is just so palpable here is just anger. You know, people have
been talking a little bit today about whether the media, what role the
media plays. And the thing I keep saying to people is, the protests of
Mike Brown`s death started while Mike Brown was still laying on the street,
Canfield Drive, just a few blocks away from where I`m standing now.
People rushed there. I talked to a barbershop owner here on West
Florissant yesterday who said, word got to them right after he had been
shot. And within 30 minutes, everyone had left his store to go down there.
And there were people in the moment after Mike -- when Mike Brown is still
laying on the ground, Ferguson police is calling in Saint Louis County
politics for backup because there are people there screaming with anger.
And that -- that anger, it hasn`t dissipated. It hasn`t gone anywhere. It
hasn`t gotten anywhere to go, because people feel that the situation is
basically the same as it was an hour into Mike Brown being shot.
MATTHEWS: What do you think the holding of the grand jury tomorrow and the
arrival of Eric Holder is going to mean?
HAYES: I think Holder will be helpful.
There is a real wide chasm in how much people trust local government vs.
federal government. Everyone -- not everyone, but almost everyone I have
talked to about the case is very skeptical of local authorities, very
skeptical of the local prosecutor, and really sees the Department of
Justice as this kind of backstop that they can trust.
They trust the Department of Justice. They trust the FBI, where they don`t
trust the feds. I think Eric Holder coming here is very significant,
because it`s going to kind of reassure people. He just wrote an open
letter to the citizens of Ferguson.
HAYES: So, I think that`s a positive step, because people feel like there
is a backstop. There is this sense of impotence here that is born of the
way that the political system is structured here, the way the kind of
establishment works, the way that North County works, that, I think,
feeling like there is someone who had their back at the highest level of
law enforcement, that`s the attorney general, the highest law enforcement
official in the country, is soothing people.
At the same time, you know, I don`t know how this dissipates before any
kind of charges are brought. That is -- whether -- whether charges should
be brought as a legal matter is distinct from what the community that I
have talked to here wants to see happen.
And they are unanimous in wanting to see charges brought, and don`t feel --
and as long as charges aren`t brought will continue to feel that justice
isn`t being done.
MATTHEWS: Yes. But, unfortunately -- or, fortunately, I should say, with
all seriousness, fortunately, the mass of people don`t make decisions about
criminal justice in certain cases. It`s up to the people with moral
HAYES: No, that`s --
MATTHEWS: And I hope, when Eric Holder gets there, that he will lend this
whole situation that you`re in moral authority, because it`s clearly what
you say people want to see. Even if they disagree with his final decision,
the sense that he was there fairly and honestly looking at the reality of
the case, he can`t re -- reset the clock on the way things have been for
years and decades.
He can only deal with the facts of one case. He can`t make people happy
with the judgment. He can only give them an honest one.
Anyway, Chris Hayes, thank you for being out there. And take care of
HAYES: Thank you.
MATTHEWS: You will be back anchoring "ALL IN" live right after I`m done
Anyway, up next, Michael Brown`s shooting, his death, has renewed calls to
do more to help young men of color in this country, obviously. President
Obama has made it a priority. And we are going to talk about what needs to
be done to make sure the whole context here perhaps can change.
And that`s coming up next. And you`re watching HARDBALL, the place for
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: In too many communities
around the country, a gulf of mistrust exists between local residents and
law enforcement. In too many communities, too many young men of color are
left behind and seen only as objects of fear.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.
That was of course President Obama addressing the realities faced by young
African-American men in this country, not just in Ferguson, as he spoke
about the situation in Ferguson.
And today, "Washington Post" columnist Eugene Robinson amplified that
sentiment with a column on the state of African-American men in America.
It reads in part -- quote -- "The fire this time is about invisibility.
Our society expects the police to keep unemployed, poorly educated African
American men out of sight and out of mind. When they suddenly take center
stage, illuminated by the flash and flicker of Molotov cocktails, we feign
surprise. These African Americans who were left behind are invisible. Yet
in Ferguson and other such pockets across the nation, millions of young
black men and women grow up knowing that the deck is stacked against them."
Anyway the unrest in Ferguson, Missouri, is bringing into focus once again
the racial tensions that still simmer in this country.
And joining me now is Joshua DuBois, who was President Obama`s spiritual
adviser this his first term and currently sits on the outside advisory
board of My Brother`s Keeper, the program launched by the president to
address the opportunity gaps faced by boys and young men of color. We also
have joining us our friend Michael Steele, my friend, former chairman of
the Republican National Committee. In fact, he`s the only chairman of the
Republican National Committee I have as a friend.
MATTHEWS: He`s also an MSNBC political analyst.
I want you to take -- we don`t have much time tonight. We`re doing a lot.
Take a couple of minutes, and then, you, Michael, your feelings and
thoughts about people who grew up like you guys did, maybe worse off.
MICHAEL STEELE, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Sure.
JOSHUA DUBOIS, MY BROTHER`S KEEPER: Well, there is something very
destabilizing about being an African-American in this country right now,
and particularly being a black man, knowing that there is something
intrinsic about who you are that makes people fear you, to have malice
towards you, and maybe even, if the situation is in the right -- in the
wrong place, kill you.
We are thinking about Jordan Davis. We are thinking about Eric Garner.
We`re going all the way back to Emmett Till and now Mike Brown. And these
names and these faces are running through our heads. And we are realizing
maybe we don`t matter.
Maybe our lives don`t matter. And that`s -- that makes people angry, it
makes people fearful. And it produces the type of rage that you are seeing
right now in Ferguson. That`s not justifying that rage. But we have to
understand where it comes from.
Black people are wondering, do our lives matter to this country?
MATTHEWS: Good thought.
STEELE: I think that`s absolutely right.
And a lot of it has to do with the fact, Chris, that there is this attitude
that`s pervasive that, OK, we did the 1960s thing. We did the civil rights
thing. We`ve marched, and we`ve protested, we passed laws.
But we`ve never really dealt with the systemic root of racism, and the
relationship, the pure unadulterated relationship between white folks and
black folks. Why do they continue to look at young black men in particular
suspiciously? Why do black people feel that as you aptly put it,
invisible, to the rest of America when the legacy and the story has been to
So, I think -- you know, the examples we see of violence perpetrated by
police or individuals in the case of Trayvon Martin is a reflection of us
in a way that we haven`t dealt with. A lot of these systemic issues on
We can talk immigration all day long. We can talk about what to do with
this group and that group. At the core, at end of the day, it still boils
down to how white folks feel about black folks and how black folks react to
CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HOST: Well, what do you want white folks to do?
STEELE: Well, I think --
MATTHEWS: It`s time for bluntness here, you know?
STEELE: No, I`ve been: (a), let`s be honest about what we are dealing with
here. Let`s be honest about the tension we all feel at times. Just call
it what it is, and then let`s have the national conversation.
Look, I`m not one of these folks who says, let`s put it all on the
president`s back, and have him weigh in and give us moral authority here.
This is community by community, individual by individual. The president
can lend his voice as he`s done at times. And other leaders around the
country, political leaders, can do the same. But it really is communities
like Ferguson coming to grips with the reality that lives right next door
JOSHUA DUBOIS, FORMER OBAMA SPIRITUAL ADVISOR: And I would say two things.
One, push for specific policy changes that can help men and boys in these
circumstances -- changes to the way that we operate the criminal justice
system, the way we support this demographic.
But the other thing is, talk to black folks in your community, folks that
you know. Ask folks what it feels like to process these thoughts.
STEELE: OK, what about this kid -- begins to start thinking about his life
in his mid-teens?
MATTHEWS: He goes -- he looks in the neighborhood. He`s never been out of
the neighborhood. He probably won`t ever get out of neighborhood, he
thinks. And he`s thinking, where am I going in this world? And what do
you say when the answer is, there isn`t a good industrial job like there
was for white generations before. There isn`t going to be that job you can
take out of high school.
DUBOIS: I`m going to say to him, tap into your inherent creativity and
your inherent strengths, because he may be a poet, he may express that
poetry in terms of rap music. But he`s also a brilliant creative type.
MATTHEWS: Where`s the money in that?
DUBOIS: Well, he can move into music production, not just from the front
DUBOIS: He may be an entrepreneur in a lot of different ways. And so, he
can start a small business. He may be good with numbers. So, he can move
into coding like the "Yes, We Code" campaign that Van Jones is running.
There are lots of different ways that channel the inherent talents of young
men and boys.
MATTHEWS: That`s subjective.
MATTHEWS: But, Michael, I want to get back to the issues we -- you and I
fight about. Unless, we have a national jobs program because we can`t
reindustrialize this country tomorrow morning, unless the government makes
big decisions about --
MATTHEWS: -- highways and bridges. We`re going to start spending some
money in capital funding and we`re going to get some people back to work.
And if it isn`t going to happen in the private sector, it isn`t going to
North Philly or Harlem --
MATTHEWS: It`s not going to happen.
STEELE: It`s not going to happen just in the private sector. You`re
right. I mean, the private sector is going to be a player there, because
the private sector has invested in places like Harlem as we have seen.
They have invested on U Street here in D.C., and look at how that corridor
has taken off.
But also, it`s become gentrified. So, as all this money comes in, it
pushes the established community out. So, the reality for the young black
male you`re talking about is there is no upward mobility. I get pushed out
of my community because I`m not -- no one sees me as vested or willing to
invest in me in this community. And I think that that`s a big part of the
MATTHEWS: Yes, I don`t think the future is with curfews and laws. It`s
got to be with opportunity.
DUBOIS: And internships.
MATTHEWS: I know it sounds Marxist, but it`s economics, damn it! It`s
jobs. Everybody, all your economists were talking like that, but unless a
kid has a job in his future, he`s going to figure out something else to do
and it probably won`t be poetry.
Anyway, thank you. But I think it would be great if it was.
MATTHEWS: And music-- we always need good music.
Josh Dubois, nice to meet you.
DUBOIS: Thanks for having me.
MATTHEWS: Michael, as always, thank you, sir.
Up next, back to Ferguson. We`re going to talk to two reporters about the
dangers they are facing as they do their jobs covering the case. One says
it`s more violent than anything she`s covered anywhere.
And this is HARDBALL, the place for politics.
MATTHEWS: As we continue to monitor what`s happening out there in
Ferguson, on the streets out there in Missouri, there is a big development
in another case where an African-American man died while in police custody.
The district attorney in Richmond County, New York, that`s Staten Island,
announced today he`ll present evidence to a grand jury in the Eric Garner
case. Garner is the African-American man who died last month after he was
apparently placed in a chokehold by a police officer.
And we`ll be right back after this.
MATTHEWS: We are back.
The reporters covering the volatile situation in Ferguson are quickly
learning that the only thing to expect when covering riots is the
As Paul Farhi wrote in "The Washington Post", quote, "The intensity of the
situation is illustrated by the things reporters carry. Not just notebooks
and cameras but flak jackets, helmets, gas masks. On Monday, `The
Washington Post`, following the lead of other news organizations begin
outfitting its own employees with gas masks purchased at a chain hardware
store. `Post` photographers are among those equipped with an accessory
familiar with war correspondents, a blue bulletproof vest emblazoned with
the word `press`."
For more on this situation facing journalists in Ferguson, Missouri, we
turn to MSNBC.com, Trymaine Lee, and Amy K. Nelson, a contributing editor
at "Animal New York", an art and cultural Web site.
So, we`ve got two views out there.
Trymaine, first of all, give me your sense of your physical vulnerability
out there. Do you feel endangered the fact that you might have to wear a
flak jacket tonight?
TRYMAINE LEE, MSNBC.COM NATIONAL REPORTER: No, no. I have never really
felt in danger. It`s more a feeling that you really can`t expect what`s
going to happen next.
There were a few moments, you know, when you get into moments, you know,
when you get into the deeper hours of the night where bulk of protesters
have long since gone and you`re left with that really concentrated group
who may or my not be there for justice for Michael Brown, may or may not be
there for something else. Those are the moments that you`re kind of -- you
know, put you on edge because you don`t know what to expect at all.
But never feared -- I never feared for my life since I`ve been here. But
just concerned you never know what`s going to happen.
MATTHEWS: Yes, Amy, your thinking, your feeling?
AMY NELSON, ANIMAL NEW YORK: You know, I think it`s the unpredictability.
When it comes to tear gas, you can sort of track that for the most part and
see where it`s going. But I don`t have protective gear. I`m not wearing
anything out there.
So, if there`s gunfire and there are bullets flying, that`s the only thing
where I`m trying to find out routes and trying to put myself in the best
position possible not to get shot. But again, it`s putting all the stuff
to chance a little bit.
MATTHEWS: Would you rather have more freedom of movement or more security,
personally, if you had to trade it off for now, for tonight?
NELSON: Oh, freedom of movement every single time.
LEE: Freedom (INAUDIBLE).
NELSON: Yes --
MATHEWS: You`re willing to take some risks?
NELSON: Document what`s happening.
MATTHEWS: You want to take some risks?
NELSON: Well, yes, but it`s also being able to have the access to see
what`s happening. If we can`t document what`s happening, then we`re not
able to tell the stories that we should be able to tell and that`s exactly
what the police -- I mean, they say it`s for our safety. And I do respect
that to a degree. But at the same time, it should in the end be our
decision what kind of risks we personally want to take.
LEE: Well, especially when they cordoned you often, you know, on one far
end of the block and you see hear bangs and see smoke unfurling from the
other end of the street. They`re yelling at you, barking at you if you
take a step in the street. That`s kind of a problem.
MATTHEWS: Well, we`re looking at the live pictures right now.
Trymaine, you first, then Amy. Give me a sense of what you sense coming
tonight. And also, the same question I asked Chris Hayes, what aren`t we
seeing with these pictures that we`re all getting on television? Is there
more of a story personally, anthropologically, if you will, sociologically.
Is there something more you can tell us about the community out there?
LEE: I think we`re on day 11 now. And one thing that`s taken me is that
the protesters have actually been emboldened. Mind you, they`ve been tear-
gassed every single night. They`ve been barked at by police officers. The
military-like police, they came out with their SWAT team and their armor.
Now, life here is getting more difficult. They`re blocking off the roads.
There are checkpoints.
But, still, even though the crowd is a little bit smaller now, they`re
emboldened and they`re loud and they`re still marching.
So, that`s what the takeaway of the day is, with the developments in the
case and all of the step by step we`re going to be following closely, that
the people are still out here, still chanting and still pushing.
NELSON: And I`d say, and this is a blanket thing, but it`s something that
I definitely want to reiterate, is that the people here are amazing people
and they`re good people and they`re very welcoming to all of us.
And the only other thing I`d mention about tonight, Chris, is that the one
thing I haven`t seen as much about, but I think is growing, is that, yes,
there`s a small sect of people who are here to purposefully cause mayhem
and chaos and attack the police, and each day, I`ve seen that group, that
small group grow a little bit bigger. So, that`s something to keep an eye
It seems that they are emboldened, too, in a different sort of way and
they`re here for very specific purpose. So whether or not that will
actually translate, again, to violence tonight, obviously we hope not, but
it has so far the past I guess four straight nights.
MATTHEWS: Well, Trymaine, it seems like they`re a dynamic there. My
limited experience in the anti-war movement back in the `60s was you get
excited when you`re in one of those situations like the march on the
Pentagon and you do get defiant. When the other side puts up a show of
force, you respond.
And I wonder how that`s going to go tonight as it escalates again.
LEE: Oh, oh, certainly. Just the mere presence of these police officers
that have pretty theoretically drawn a line in the sand and kind of, you
know, testing people to see if they`ll come, then add the other layer of
that that there are clear racial undertones here. That going back to the
reason why we`re here in the first place, a young man was shot and killed.
And so, all those complicated layers make it more of -- a kind of a really
MATTHEWS: OK, thanks so much. We`ll be back to you again throughout the
week, Trymaine Lee and Amy Nelson.
When we return, let me finish with the heart of the whole thing in
Ferguson. It`s not just race. It`s economics.
We`ll be right back after this.
MATTHEWS: Let me finish tonight where I began 24 hours ago: economics.
It`s at the heart of this whole thing.
You look at a situation like Ferguson, Missouri, the young people coming
out of high school face a 50 percent unemployment rate. I doubt that even
that figure represents the true reality of how many have simply given up
finding a job.
And this is career plan we`re talking about in Ferguson and places like it
-- there is no plan. Got it?
And so, we send police officers into the streets to keep the lid on, to
keep the peace. Keep the law obeyed where young people see no future, no
future at all. They think about what this does to your attitude. You
think about it -- the dealing with the world.
And think about what it does to the police officers getting out there each
day facing this proportionate poverty, disproportionate hopelessness,
disproportionate anger, and yet being duty-bound, honor-bound, in fact, to
treat all citizens proportionately.
As Attorney General Eric Holder just warned in an article aimed at those
officers, "Arrest patterns", he said, "must not lead to disparate treatment
under the law."
Well, the hard facts are these: we can`t keep doing what we`re doing and
now expecting different results. A change in attitude among angry young
people will only come when their conditions changes, when their lives look
better, their hopes rise.
If this president makes one change between now and when he leaves office, I
wish it were to insist to the American people on the price we will continue
to pay for the failure to put people to work in this country. That means
what I just said, put people to work. There`s much that needs doing in
this country and there`s no way in the world the private sector is going to
do it. It`s up to government to get people back to work.
As Ronald Reagan of all people said back in his 1983 State of the Union,
"We who are in government must take the lead in putting people back to
work." He said that. And the Democrats in Congress stood there and
cheered and I was there.
So, it`s the economy, stupid.
And as for the police, it`s all part of that vicious cycle. No job, no
hope, and the crime and the fear that hopelessness always ignites.
So, it`s about jobs, but not only that, a change in attitude among police
will only come when their superiors get the word out in the ranks that as
much as humanly possible, they must address individuals with the
presumption of innocence, the respect of full citizenship, and the dignity
of shared humanity. Yes, this is hard, but yes, it is also necessary.
And that`s HARDBALL for now. Thanks for being with us.
"ALL IN WITH CHRIS HAYES" starts right now.
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