'The Melissa Harris-Perry Show' for Sunday, August 24th, 2014
Read the transcript to the Sunday show
August 24, 2014
Guest: Kai Wright, Salamishah Tillet, Elon James White, Michael Skolnik,
Eugene O`Donnell, Ed Husain, Shayla Nunnally, Maria Chappelle-Nadal
MELISSA HARRIS-PERRY, MSNBC ANCHOR: This morning, my question, to build
trust, must you first be trustworthy.
Plus, the terror of ISIS. And a mother`s terror during a police stop.
But, first, a family prepares to bury their child.
Good morning, I`m Melissa Harris Perry and before we get to our coverage of
Ferguson, the newest information on breaking news out of the San Francisco
area. More than 50,000 people are out of power right now after an
earthquake with a 6.0 magnitude rattled the bay area early this morning.
The epicenter is five miles north of American canyon at Napa County. There
have been gas line breaks and water main breaks and reports of fires. A
medical center reports many medical injuries saying many of them are due to
cuts from broken glass. Stay with MSNBC for updates on this developing
Now, we turn to the latest in Ferguson, Missouri. Tomorrow, Michael
Brown`s parents will bury their child. It will have been more than two
weeks since he was killed by a Ferguson police officer. Tomorrow, Michael
Brown will be remembered as a son, a grandson, as a cousin, as a big
brother and as a friend. He will likely be remembered as someone who was
quiet and gentle with a sharp sense of humor, who loved music, particularly
hip-hop, and who planned to own his own business.
The man child who was 6`4", but had a baby face. A kid who had struggled,
but still managed to graduate from high school just a week before his death
after catching up on his credited over the summer. He will be remembered
as an 18-year-old boy.
That`s going to be a nice change. After stories and headlines suggesting
Michael Brown wasn`t exactly an innocent victim, Monday`s service no one
will imply that Michael Brown was not innocent because he may have stolen
cigars from a convenience store or because he may have had marijuana in his
system or because he rapped about things that young boys rap about. And
that, therefore, his death should not outrage us because Brown was killed
while he was unarmed. And while we don`t know all the facts, we do know
that even if he did stole cigars or smoked marijuana or liked hip-hop.
None of those realities mean that he had to be shot to death on his way to
is grandmother`s house.
And when the victim is not perfect, it is easier to dole the public outrage
in response to injustice. Civil right leaders have known and grappled with
this for a long time. Let`s go back to 1955, nine months before Rosa Parks
refused to give up her seat on segregated public bus in Montgomery,
Alabama. (INAUDIBLE) did the same thing. Now Colden (ph) was 15-years-old
when she refused to move for a white person. She was hauled off the bus
and arrested. But the civil rights community leaders in Montgomery did not
want to take up her case although they were looking for a case to challenge
segregation on city buses. Colden (ph) was a victim just like Rosa Parks,
but not a perfect face for the movement. She was a teenager, poor and soon
after her arrest, pregnant. Rosa Parks, on the other hand, well, as Dr.
Martin Luther King later wrote, Mrs. Parks was the ideal for the role
assigned to her by history. Her character was impeccable.
Both women, victims of aggressive policing of segregation, but it is Parks
who was championed by local activists launching the Montgomery boycott.
Colden (ph) story was nearly lost to history.
But we must not ignore stories like hers, like Michael Brown`s because even
though they`re not perfect they have a perfect right to seek justice.
Joining me now from Ferguson, Missouri for more on the plans to honor
Michael Brown is MSNBC`s Richard Lui.
Richard, what is the mood in Ferguson this morning?
RICHARD LUI, MSNBC NEWS ANCHOR: Good morning to you, Melissa. You talk
about that mark of history. They understand where they will stand or can
stand. Last night we had reports from Captain Ron Johnson who was so often
talked about many of those illusions that you were just referencing. Only
six arrests as he put it overnight. Otherwise, it was calm. This is a
move towards that ark of healing, looking at Monday, tomorrow, and that
And part of that movement towards healing is community policing. Yesterday
we had the opportunity right around the corner here, we were down by the
apartment complex where Mike Brown lived and about 1,000 bags of food was
being delivered, not only by community organizations, some of which are
religious, but also police officers. And this filled an 18-wheeler and
Lieutenant Lohr from the St. Louis police department had to say this about
what they`re trying to do.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LT. JERRY LOHR, ST. LOUIS COUNTY POLICE: Obviously, we`re trying to take
some steps to show them that we`re people like they`re people, just like
they are people. Was trying to, obviously, try to provide some assistance
for them. This has been stressful for everybody, not only us but also for
the citizens that live here. Citizens that live here that feel like they
have been confined to their homes since the turmoil. And so, we want to
bridge build those bridges back up.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LUI: And part of that, Melissa, is that the Ferguson police department
itself, although three officers I was told by the organizer wanted to be
part of the distribution decided not to be. However, the other three
police forces were there, about 10 of them total, part of that tension, if
you will, still existing.
You can look at today`s paper says new life amid chaos. Again, describing
how despite moving towards healing, there is still some opportunity here to
understand what those different backdrops are out of bounds. This is very
front page. They list all of the counties, all the municipalities in this
area with at least 10 percent African-American population. And then they
put next to that the number or the percentage of African-American police
There is only one municipality right down here out of the 31 that have
equal or more representation. I bring this up because today is the day
before the memorial service and this is that backdrop. They`re going to
forget tomorrow for a moment, perhaps, giving honor to Michael Brown.
About 5,000 seats will be available at that location and we understand from
the church that 485 of the immediate and extended family will be there.
And I got to speak with one of them yesterday and that was Mike`s
grandfather. Mike calling his grandfather daddy, as you know, and his
grandfather calling Mike, Mike, Mike. And his grandfather said, you know,
as much as I want this done because I have not slept in two weeks and he
looked that way. I want to be able to say goodbye to him. But having to
say good-bye to him tomorrow is going to be very, very difficult --
HARRIS-PERRY: Richard, thank you for your reporting on the ground.
Indeed, there has been a lot of questions that we are going to continue to
discuss. Many of the things you set up for us there. But you know, all
eyes are on that family. And we know for those of us who have buried the
ones that we love the funeral often brings new kind of pain and agony.
And so, all eyes at this point will hopefully be on the healing for the
family in the short term. Thank you, Richard.
LUI: That`s right.
HARRIS-PERRY: Joining me now is Elon James White, he`s a writer, he`s a
creator of the award winning web series, "This week in Blackness" and the
media director for New Moves Nation (ph). He`s been on the ground in
Ferguson. Michael Skolnik who is editor in-chief of globalgrind.com the
political director to Russell Simmons, Salamisha Tellet who is an associate
professor of English and African studies at the University of Pennsylvania
and co-founder of the nonprofit a long walk hope and Kai Wright, editor at-
large at Colorlines.
So nice to see you all. So, you know, hearing from Richard, the language
about community healing and I guess part of the challenge as we are asking
about this question of the perfect victim and whether or not a victim has
to be perfect. So, is this healing, this attempt to heal, is it a band aid
over a much deeper wound? Like don`t we need to do some work of cleaning
out that wound first before we put a band aid on it?
KAI WRIGHT, EDITOR AT-LARGE, COLORLINES: Yes. I mean I think that part of
it is we have to think about these moments where you have a huge outcry
over an individual and start thinking about how they can be about more than
healing around that individual death, right?
And also more how it can be about more than prosecuting a prosecutor and
police officer and how it can speak to -- if the question is what is
justice for mike Brown and before that what was justice for Oscar Grant?
Is it a prosecution or is it recreating a policing style that makes it
possible for Mike Brown to walk down in the middle of the street without
HARRIS-PERRY: So, it is interesting you bring up Oscar Grant, in part
because, you know, if in thinking about what is going to happen to that
person that is Michael Brown, this kind of public, he now belongs to all of
us in this kind of public way in the way Oscar Grant and Sean bell and
The recent film in which we get to see sort of the light of this young man
on that 24 hours before he is killed at the BART station. And I wonder,
Salamisha, about this work of needing to actually go back and reproduce
these young men as people in order for us to feel the outrage about their
death. Almost immediately, though, this is the kind of response. If they
gun me down, what picture will they use? We saw it all over social media
where people were showing pictures of themselves in their high school
graduation or their college, you know, graduation or in their armed service
uniforms. And then, of course, we can just all take, you know, a kind of
silly and throne (ph). Why must the victim be perfect for this to have
been an injustice?
SALAMISHAH TILLET, ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR, UNIVERSITY OF PENNSYLVANIA: So I
mean, I think it is good that you brought (INAUDIBLE) in the ways in which
Oscar Grant`s life was seen as complex, as contradictory and as messy.
And, also, here we have Michael Brown as adolescent. So that`s kind of
part of being a teenager in American society anyway.
Unfortunately what happens when the victim of racial injustice is being
vilified by the police or by the media, the response is to kind of cover up
that messiness and make the person sanitize or make them perfect. And I
think one important departure of this generation. And I think all of us
from the civil rights movement is to think about victims of racial justice
as not being perfect. That they can`t be because part of the goal of the
civil rights movement was to restore the notion of black humanity. And
black humanity means that we are imperfect individuals. And that means
often that we don`t deserve to be killed as a result of minor crimes, if at
all any crimes. We don`t even know with Michael Brown.
So I think that`s why that hashtag and those pictures are so important
because it is important the kind of reputing a kind of politics and
respectability that were necessary in the 1960s. It is a call for kind of
more complex understanding in the presence.
In addition to the perfect victim, and I think we can talk about this too,
is what constitute the perfect murder for racial justice, and they want us
to think about the way in which gender functions, right? So we have a line
from Trayvon Martin to Michael Brown where with Renisha McBride kind a puts
race in that. And, so, we have perfect victims that we need to push back.
We also have to think about the racialize gender notion of the perfect that
we organize around and people that we leave behind as a result.
HARRIS-PERRY: As you talk about that, as the sort of notion of martyr and
as you invoke to some parts, Elon, part of what I have found heartening
about the response of young people on the ground is it that did not seem to
be a need to put on the white gloves of Sunday morning to show up for the
protests. That there was a sense of, we are coming as we are, as we dress,
who we are in our full, messy self-expression as black urban youth and,
nonetheless, saying you don`t have a right to tear gas us. You don`t have
a right to impose a curfew on us. You don`t have the right to shoot us on
the way to grandmother`s house. And that maybe in this moment we will
actually see a breaking of that protesting so that ordinary people on the
ground have a right to say, this is my country, too.
ELON JAMES WHITE, THIS WEEK IN BLACKNESS: Well, you have to understand
that out there this was not the first time something like this had
happened. When you speak to people and speak to the community, actually,
they were pointed out that Mike Brown were at this particular point but
they had been living under the extreme circumstances for quite some time.
So when they came out to speak up and say, we are not going to allow stuff
like this to happen, there was no other way to do it. There was no, like
an organization or to come in and make this work.
No, we`re tired of this actually happening. And when they asked about the
police or like the band aid, to me, I would argue it`s less of a band aid,
it is more salt in the wound because these people have actually been
watching. This is like something that in the area, like they report that
in Ferguson, there is three warrants for every household, every household
So, you`re looking at a community that has been like brutalized by the
police for not just the past two weeks, but for years. And so, now you`re
seeing the response from that community saying we`re tired of this and
we`re going to stand up. Our humanity is important and then we have to
watch for two weeks that community -- of the police say actually it`s not
important, you`re vermin.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Goes beyond ways of just shooting you.
HARRIS-PERRY: Stay with us. We are going to stay on this and we`ll get
you in and stay with us.
There was another deadly police shooting in the St. Louis area this week.
But the reaction is far very different. And when we come back, just how
much can happen in 23 seconds.
HARRIS-PERRY: This past Tuesday as protests continue in Ferguson, a young
black man shot to death a few miles away in St. Louis by to white police
officers. The deadly encounter was caught on tape on a six-minute cell
phone video. The person behind the camera starts rolling before the police
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He just straight put him on the ground. (INAUDIBLE).
Man, this is crazy.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: The man in the video, Kajieme Powell, has allegedly stolen
two drinks from a convenience store. And he didn`t try to make a run for
it. He placed the drinks nicely on the sidewalk and apparently waited.
Throughout the first minute of the video, there is no hint of what`s to
come. People walk by. People don`t seem to be afraid of his pacing and
how the steady stream of curses he is saying.
But then the police arrive. And even as they get there, the person filming
does not seem to expect that it will end in Powell`s death. Even as the
cops get out of the car and quickly draw their guns.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The police are going to pull up and, you all call the
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Get your hands out of your pocket!
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They got their gun out.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: Just 23 seconds after the police arrive, Powell is dead.
He`d apparently walked towards the officers and repeatedly yelled shoot me.
The officers opened fire. We will not show you that part of the video.
I want to point out that the person filming along with the other witnesses
and bystanders is in disbelief. In particular, because of what had been
happening in Ferguson for more than a week after Michael Brown was killed
by a police officer.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Shoot somebody at a time like this.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: The shooting of Powell happened just 2 1/2 miles from where
Brown was killed. And yet, St. Louis did not see massive protest or tear
gas or heavy militarized police presence. There was calm. Things there
were the way they usually are when the police use deadly force, on average,
at least 400 times a year. Some of the difference may lie in how the
police reacted. The St. Louis metropolitan police, not the Ferguson police
or the county police we`ve seen in Ferguson began speaking to the community
But within an hour and a half the St. Louis police chief Sam Datson was
holding a news conference at the scene of the shooting. He said that
Powell was brandishing a knife. Thought that`s not completely clear in the
video. And he says that Powell was moving aggressively towards the
officers at very close range when they opened fire.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHIEF SAM DOTSON, ST. LOUIS METROPOLITAN POLICE: The officers are giving
the suspect verbal commands, stop, drop the knife, stop, drop the knife.
The suspect moved towards the passenger, the office that was in the
passenger seat of the vehicle, at which time he came within three to four
feet of the officer and the officer shot. Both officers fired their
weapons striking the suspect and the suspect was deceased.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: It was the police department that released cell phone video
that we just watched just a day after the shooting. They also released 911
calls and quickly responded to criticism about discrepancy between the
initial versions of the event and the video. For example, how close Powell
was to the officers when they opened fire.
However, police still have not released the names of the officers who shot
Powell. The shooting is under investigation but remains debate over
whether the officers could have done something else. For example, use
their tasers to subdue Powell instead of, or at least before firing their
Still, getting information out as soon as possible seems to have the
desired effect, instead of protests was calm in the streets of St. Louis.
And instead of reigniting outrage in Ferguson, the streets there have been
So when we come back, I want to ask my panel, is transparency the same
thing as accountability? And is peace as good as justice?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE REPORTER: Chief, we`re already starting to hear people
yelling, are you guys concerned about this?
DOTSON: Concerned isn`t the right word. I think it`s important people
understand what happened. And so, we are going to get that message out as
quickly as we can through as many sources as we can.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: That was Sam Dotson, chief of the St. Louis metropolitan
police on Tuesday during a press conference about the shooting death of a
young black man by two white police officers.
The chief`s quick response and the sharing of information including cell
phone video of the shooting have been credited with preventing the kind of
protest we saw in nearby Ferguson after the death of Michael Brown.
Joining me now from Chicago Eugene O`Donnell, professor of law and police
studies at John Jay College of criminal justice and a former NYPD police
officer. Nice to have you this morning.
EUGENE O`DONNELL, PROFESSOR, JOHN JAY COLLEGE: Good morning, Melissa.
HARRIS-PERRY: You know, I was watching as that news broke live on Tuesday.
And my first sense of like a sinking feeling in my stomach was, my
goodness, this is going to reignite what was, what was already going on in
Ferguson and making people feel, again, that sense of vulnerability. But
then I almost feel more stressed that it didn`t. I want to be clear, not
that I wanted, that I wanted any kind of violent response, but that I guess
I`m surprised at how quickly, simply by responding and putting out
information, police were able to quell any sense of massive outrage.
O`DONNELL: Well, I mean, transparency is important. But really what we
need to talk about is the need for people to own their police departments,
to be engaged, to vote. There`s too much imposed policing going in the
country and you have been on this case about mental illness. Now, I don`t
know whether this guy is technically has a mental health issue, but as I
read this as a mental health issue or a desperation issue. And too much
was being funneled down the police.
And again, as Kareem Abdul Jabar`s piece this week in "Time" about our
failure to reckon with the underlying situations of things like mental
health. Really, the only way to minimize a lot of these conflicts is to
avoid having the police involved. We saw in Ferguson and we see here the
arrival of the police can sometimes make things better. We need to remind
ourselves the arrival of police, to not necessary any fault of their own
can make things worse, also.
HARRIS-PERRY: All right, I like the point you made there. Stay with us
for a second.
Michael, I want to come out to you on this because I think that sense of
the arrival of the police in this case, 23 seconds later, Mr. Powell is
dead. And, you know, for me as I watch that video and I watched it over
and over again the thing that is most stunning to me the kid taking the
video is probably taking it thinking it is about to go down and, you know,
get a little internet famous here and post it. He`s not out there to like
police the police. He`s not an activist like I`m going to get this on
camera because the police are about to do something. And there isn`t any
sense of fear for voting either for him or from other people in the video
until suddenly the police arrive and you just start feeling, if only they
hadn`t called 911.
MICHAEL SKOLNIK, EDITOR IN-CHIEF, GLOBALGRIND.COM: Yes. And which is
remarkable as you said this happened just three miles away from where these
protests are happening. I think the issue on transparency is a little
lost. We don`t need to be transparent after you kill a black child. But
to be transparent before you kill a black child. What are your hiring
procedures? What is your sensitivity training? What is standard operating
procedure for fleeing suspect? How do you train your officers? Do you
teach choke holds in the academy?
These things we need to know in terms of policing the police not after. I
don`t care if you bring food after you kill the kid. I want to know if you
bring food before you kill the kid. So in terms of transparency, I want
transparency before these things happen, not after they happen.
HARRIS-PERRY: So Eugene, let me come to you. What, what are police
officers trained to do? How much does that depend of the department?
Clearly the St. Louis police had knew how to respond after the fact, right?
And if one`s goal is having no protests, then they are a successful police
department in that they kept protests from happening. But one might think
they`re not a successful police department if they did not keep this
shooting from happening.
O`DONNELL: Well, I mean, when the police come to these things, they come
with a mind set and orientation with deadly force, with weapons they can`t,
you know, be wrestling around with people who try to disarm them. Knowing,
not knowing the ending like we do, so, those things also have to be put
into the equation. So again, the police have pretty minimal training for a
lot of this stuff. If you can get specialized units, that would be good.
One thing I also think of when these things happen is I hope the academies
are making it clear they`re shooting only because they must, not because
they can. Not a reflection in this particular case. But the only reason
firing at anybody is you believe your life imminently basically is going to
be taken. And if you don`t have that honest belief about that, then you
shouldn`t be firing.
HARRIS-PERRY: And you know, one of the things we know, Kai, about that
belief, is that belief is also a racialize one. It is not even a race
neutral belief that implicit-- we`re not talking explicit racism but just
implicit racial bias leads, often officers to believe that a black person,
particularly a black man is more threatening than they, in fact, are.
WRIGHT: Sure. And that implicit bias that just exist is doubled down by a
system by a larger policing apparatus that says be in these neighborhoods,
be in these places in an aggressive way, you know. And this kind of gets
to the point about what happens before the shooting.
We only have these conversations when there is a dead body. But there are
so many things that proceed that. There are so many forms of policing that
proceed that that create these hostile environments that allow implicit
biases to scale -- you know, if we look at Eric Garner`s death in Staten
Island, he had been harassed dozens of times prior to this.
HARRIS-PERRY: Right, which is what he says to the police officers. Will
you please stop hassling me.
WRIGHT: This was the culmination in his case of months of harassment, but
in the community`s case, years of harassment that leads to these kinds of
WHITE: Can I also make a point about this? You say that there wasn`t the
outrage when the shooting happened, I`m in Ferguson. And people -- when we
find out they say they shot this kid. People are hurt. So, you say there
wasn`t an outrage, what it was, I would argue it was more of a break of a
spirit. Like they just killed someone else and we`re in the middle of
protesting this and they killed someone else. Three miles away from here.
Meaning that they don`t care. It doesn`t matter. People are watching,
they don`t care and they`re getting away with it. You get a press
conference and all of a sudden that`s like, so it is clear no. At this
point we know now you will kill us and it doesn`t matter.
HARRIS-PERRY: You know, I so appreciate that, Elon, because I thought that
was a different reading. I have been reading the fact that there wasn`t a
re-ignition of it as a lack of outrage or as a seeing it as somehow
justifiable because of the discourse about the young man being in the
circumstance of sort of suicide by cop. But another way of reading those
same set of facts is the possibility of a kind of brokenness in the face of
WHITE: When I got into the car and someone was like, did you hear about
the kid? They just shot that poor kid. They just shot him. And people
were just like this was just another example of the police brutality that
they have been living under for years. And we`re just all of a sudden
coming here for now in Ferguson, not understanding that this is something -
- first it is national, the issue is people of color and the police, but in
this situation, people would say the civil right movement messing St.
Louis. That is how they explained it.
HARRIS-PERRY: Stay with us, because I want to really dig into this
question of accountability. Eugene, stay with us, both accountability
after and before the fact.
But also up next, we are going to have an update on the earthquake in San
Francisco this morning.
Plus, details of president Obama`s new action in the wake of the protest in
HARRIS-PERRY: We have more Ferguson and police accountability to discuss.
But, first, I want to bring you the latest on the breaking news out of the
San Francisco area.
"L.A. Times" reports at least 70 people have been hospitalized with nonlife
threatening injuries after an earthquake with a 6.0 magnitude rattled the
bay area early this morning. Tens of thousands are still without power
right now. Crews are fighting fires amid downed power lines and water main
breaks and gas leaks. Stay with MSNBC throughout the day for this updating
Now, I want to take you back our discussion in Ferguson, Missouri, the
shooting of Michael Brown, the police response to protests. (INAUDIBLE) on
reforming police tactics. According to "New York times" President Obama
has ordered a comprehensive review of the government`s decade-old strategy
of outfitting local police departments with military grade, body armor,
mine resistant trucks, silencers and automatic rifles.
Now, the review will focus on how the military equipment is being used.
Whether local police officers have enough training to use it and whether
the federal government should continue the program at all.
Eugene, your sense of whether or not these departments are willing to give
up militarized equipment without a fight? I don`t mean like a fight, I
just mean without resistance to it.
O`DONNELL: It`s a political question. And this is a failure of political
people to lead. They`re going to have to make judgments that are going to
be problematic in some cases about what agency should and should not get
this equipment. With the possibility that there`s a problem if you give it
and there`s a problem if you deny it when there is a school shooting in a
small town and no SWAT team that was disbanded because of this, so elected
officials are going to have to step up.
And if I can just say related to that, since we`re talking about
accountability? People should not lose hard. If you see what happened in
New York, you know, a new mayor was elected, a new district attorney in
Brooklyn was elected and both of them have done dramatic reforms on these
issues of police abuse by simply reducing the police footprint and stop and
frisk has plummeted in New York City under the new administration.
The district attorney in Brooklyn without blinking ran on and is enforcing
basically not writing up junk marijuana arrests. So people should not be
disheartened. I get the sense sometimes it zaps people`s energy trying to
make these reforms. Criminal justice has taken up so much time that we
can`t move on to more important issues. It`s almost like a totalitarian
system where it has its foot on people`s throats. So people need to
reassert themselves and communities need to be hurt and get the kind of
policing and law enforcement they want and not what is imposed on them.
HARRIS-PERRY: So Eugene, let me come out on you, Salamisha, on that
because this question of, you know, the NYPD sort of being in a better
place, but of course, just yesterday protests around Eric Garner`s death
that seem to result from an apparent chokehold according to medical
examiner. The LAPD over the course of the past week, there has been a
similar kind of shooting in Los Angeles in a place that in the past has
sparked protests, has, where we`ve seen the clashes between police and
citizens, not unlike the militarized response of police to the protesters
in Ferguson. And, yet, this time, kind of a tempered reaction.
I`m wondering if things are getting better or if there is a co-optation of
the process. I just want to be sure we`re making a clear distinction
between accountability and just lack of protest or peace in the streets.
TILLET: Right. I think it has to do with what the standard is. Is the
standard of a lack of militarized police presence or the standard the lack
of shooting of unarmed African-Americans? Ann so, I come from the latter,
right? So, in L.A. and I think there`s been a lot of media coverage of the
bank of trust that the LAPD has been investing in this community. And, so,
therefore, and there isn`t a presence of militarized police officers are in
bicycles while the protesters are, you know, articulating their distrust
and their complaints.
But, you know, I think in a way it`s a over self-congratulatory moment. I
think that emphasis on thinking why police officers are so hyper-
militarized is good. I also think that we have to think to have a better
conversation and a better policy around accountability and also about real
concrete data, about unarmed children being killed. Getting a national
registry or national data about the number of ways in which police officers
are using lethal force.
HARRIS-PERRY: I do want to point out because a couple times we talked
about that statistic of 400. That is coming from self-report of police to
the FBI, those are all justifiability homicides, which is a legal
designation, not one about the reasonableness standard. And it does not
account for all police citizen interactions, right, only the ones that are
self-reported by the police and the FBI.
TILLET: And the third thing I want to say to Kai`s point too. The climate
of being a black person is your weaponized body. I mean, that creates a
different kind of level of threat, of use of lethal force. And I think
that`s a deeper and harder conversation for people to have. But we`re at
the point where, you know, just being unarmed and holding your hands up
means that you`re likely to be killed by a police officer.
HARRIS-PERRY: We`re getting closer, Eugene, I just want to come back to
you real quick. I promise to let you guys back in when we get back from
But Eugene, before you go since you got to go, I just want to ask, I know
that you have been thinking carefully about how to address that issue of
accountability before, which Michael Skolnik brought up for us. So, how
are you beginning to think as a researcher and as a former police officer
how we address that question of implicit and explicit racial bias before
police are in the position of shooting and killing young people?
O`DONNELL: Well, on so many levels, but, obviously, you know, I`m hopeful.
I`m keeping my fingers and heart and mind crossed that the younger
generation of police officers who have grown up in a different kind of
country than the older police officers and see the lunacy of group blame
will take it upon themselves to push out the bad actors and the agency with
a little nudge from us. To me, the change has to come from the bottom. It
has to come almost in spiritual ways. It is going to come from ordering
people and disciplining people while that is necessary. That is not going
to be the transformative change that we absolutely need.
HARRIS-PERRY: Eugene O`Donnell in Chicago, Illinois, thank you.
Up next, it is a powerful and potentially dangerous weapon. If you can`t
use it during war, why is it being used on American streets?
HARRIS-PERRY: The global rights organization amnesty international showed
up with a delegation in the American city for the first time in Ferguson,
Missouri. They sent a 13-person delegation to Ferguson a little more than
a week ago to provide direct support to community members to observe the
police response to protests. That`s because some of the scenes coming from
the protests and the police response to them were reminiscent of conflicts
we`re used to seeing in foreign nations.
Some of the most compelling images from the Ferguson protests during the
past two weeks involve milk poured into the eyes of protesters. It`s one
of the remedies that individual citizens, even professionals of the media
are using to limit the effects of tear gas.
According to a recent interview with one of my guests Duke University
scientist Savannah Eric Jolt (ph), its quote "like cutting an onion but 100
times more severe." He also told FOX that tear gas could lead to
(INAUDIBLE), the feeling of suffocation and skin and eye inflammation.
And, there is the possibility, although it is not well researched, but
there is the possibility that, in fact, tear gas can cause miscarriage in
And, so the question is, if tear gas is something that we cannot use in
international warfare, why is it something that we use in domestic
politics? I`m going to talk about all of that, when we come back.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh, my God. They are throwing. Jesus, they`re
throwing tear gas.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What was that?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That`s tear gas.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Tear gassing the neighborhood now.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Tear gassing the neighborhoods on. Put your mask on,
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Get the milk.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Milk now.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Just tear gassing completely. It looks like they`re
not even aiming.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: The principal voice you heard on that recording from around
2:00 a.m. central Tuesday was that of our guest Elon James White who is
recording a dispatch for "This Week in Blackness" live from Ferguson.
Additionally, joining me now from Raleigh, North Carolina, Sven-Eric Jordt,
who is associate professor in the department of anesthesiology in Duke
University of Medicine.
Hold on foe me one second, Professor Jordt. I do want to come to Elon
first because, obviously, I follow your work. It was an incredibly
compelling, but also very frightening moment, I think, for us listening to
you from the safety and clear air of our homes. Talk to me a little bit
about your experience.
WHITE: Well, we were going back into Ferguson because, as we said, there
has been a lot of issues and reports that were coming from the police and
the press conferences weren`t matching up what we were hearing on the
ground because that`s what we do. I was working with the people that
actually lived there and actually going to bail someone out who had been
arrested earlier, we go back in to find out what`s going on because they`re
saying fires. There are supposedly Molotov cocktails.
And we go in and we go to the side residential block. It is not when we
are not on the main road of west Florissant. We go to a side residential
block. And as we go in, we are driving and I`m broadcasting live because I
want people to hear this. Because the people are saying that there are
arguing and telling people that they`re lying that this is not occurring.
So we`re broadcasting live at that very moment. When we come up the street
we see a car, an armored truck comes flying down the street behind six
And so it`s not, it`s not this rioting protest, looters happening. Six
people on foot running from this truck, they come down and all of a sudden
you see this fiery spark that start flying and then this tear gas. So, it
people that I`m with -- we actually have a mask and milk. So we`re going
out to try to help them. When we run outside, we get to them and they`re
affected and we have one guy saying it burns. And we`re trying to talk him
down and record it and to the point I forget I even have my camera on me
because there`s tear gas everywhere on a residential block. If you listen
to the tape, you can live here outside of when the police come, it`s quiet.
You hear crickets in the background and now all of a sudden we`re in the
midst. The tear gas that we`re using, it doesn`t dissipate very quickly.
There`s just clouds and plumes of tear gas everywhere. And we`re trying to
help these people. So at this point it`s approximately maybe nine of us
outside, because couple of folks woke up, and then all of a sudden the
truck comes back and then comes firing at us.
We`re not doing anything. It`s not like no justice. It`s not like we`re
breaking and they`re just firing at us. We had to jump over a gate and
hide behind someone`s background because -- the problem is that people, the
people that I was with thought they were going to die. And it wasn`t, it
wasn`t the story that was being told. That you`re going to sit there and
broadcast that all of this is happening and it`s not.
HARRIS-PERRY: OK. Deep breath.
WHITE: I actually haven`t heard the tape much after I had it air.
HARRIS-PERRY: Folks, I`m going to take a break right now. We`re going to
come back and talk about some other things in a minute. But Elon is not
only my guest but my friend so we`re going to take a break and be back in a
HARRIS-PERRY: We`re back and we`re continuing to talk about the realities
of what happened on the ground with in Ferguson, Missouri, with my guests.
I want to pause for a second because I want to go back to Raleigh, North
Carolina, where Sven-Eric, you are an associate professor at the department
of anesthesiology at Duke University School of medicine is joining us.
And Sven-Eric, I want you to talk to me for a little bit about the real
physiological consequences of tear gas. I mean, it became almost
(INAUDIBLE) for us to see it last week. Elon has reminded us that it is
not a routine experience to be tear gassed. But I want to know, in a
physiological medical sense, what does it do?
SVEN-ERIC JORDT, ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR, DUKE UNIVERSITY SCHOOL OF MEDICINE:
Yes. I kind of empathize with what Elon`s experience. I have been tear
gas myself once. So what tear gases do, they activate very fine nerve
endings on the surface of our cornea in the eye and also in the nasal
passages on the skin. And it use pain sensing system that warns us from
imminent danger from toxic chemical exposures and that leads to very
intense pain, it is a very intense feeling and then leads to tear secretion
and closing of the eye, profuse a secretions in the airways and the feeling
of anxiety of on pain leading to incapacitation.
HARRIS-PERRY: So that feeling of fear, Elon, was talking about the feeling
of being with people who felt that they were going to die. Now, obviously,
part of that is about the circumstances in which people found themselves,
but is there also part of it is the tear gas itself?
JORDT: I think it`s a consequence of the very severe pain, the
disorientation and also the choking, the closing of the airways, the
feeling of potential asphyxiation that causes intense fear. So, I think
this is how the fear originates.
HARRIS-PERRY: Stay with us for a second.
Michael, I want to come to you in part because there was a narrative
towards the end of the week that whatever we were seeing, however stunning
and appalling it seemed to us that unlike previous clashes of previous
decades, there were no live rounds being fired and no civilians killed in
the context of the protest, which we had seen in the 1960s. And,
therefore, there was praise for the restraint. Then I have my friend and
my colleague talking about the experience of being tear gassed and suddenly
I feel like that was a pretty false praise.
SKOLNIK: But I think to our friend Elon`s point earlier, this has been
going on for decades. A war against black and Brown America has been going
on for decades. The war on drugs 40 years ago began the militarization of
police and the fact that we have the tools to shoot against our own people.
And to Salamisha`s point earlier, Race is at the center of this issue and
let`s not forget that.
Mike Brown was killed by a white cop. Eric Garner was killed by a white
cop. (INAUDIBLE) was killed by a white cop. Rodney King beat up by white
cops. Abner Louima sodomized by white cops.
White police officers are killing black people two times a week to that
report that you referenced earlier. Every single week. When we see the
images in Elon to his courage for continuing to film that so we, as you
said, Melissa, in our own homes could witness that and it`s solidarity to
our best to get that information out to our communities. As difficult as
it was to hear, again, Elon, I love you for sharing that with the world.
Because if we didn`t hear that information, we might not have known how
ugly it is.
HARRIS-PERRY: We most certainly would not know --
SKOLNIK: That`s right.
HARRIS-PERRY: And uhm --
WHITE: And as we`re talking about this and they`re framing it and the
story keeps coming out about the rioters and the looters and the I`m sorry,
I mean, it`s not the answer, but it`s not the story. And, so at this
point, you have to question why would even, why would the media even go
along with this narrative as people are actively explaining to you. Do you
understand what`s happening on the ground? People are acting, it`s not
like just yes sir, some folks that are doing that, but what about everyone
else? What about the vast majority of people out there that are not doing
But yet, you feel that this is a reasonable way, all because of the police
safety, the article that comes out about don`t challenge me because I`m a
police officer. So, basically your safety overrides my own humanity and
you can`t do this to people. If this is the way, if this is how the police
have to be safe, our system is broken completely. We have to rebuild it
because this is not, this is not, you can`t.
HARRIS-PERRY: In fact, I`d go even further than the question because
certainly you brought us all the way back to the good beginning. Which is
I believe further than the idea that there are some looters, rioters and
then some good people and what about them. I would suggest that given that
there is international convention against the use of that in war and
amnesty international shows up that even under the circumstances of threat
to property, which is what looting it, it`s about threat to property that
tear gas is still not a reasonable response to that from an American police
force to an American citizens.
Elon, your work over the course of the past two weeks earns you some rest.
I know that you are going to continue to want to push on this. I`m just
going to also ask you, that you sacrificed a lot. I know you`ll sacrifice
more but it is also OK to pause for a moment.
Thank you to Sven Eric Jordt in Raleigh, North Carolina. And here in New
York, thank you so much to Elon James White. The rest of the panel will be
back in the next hour. And we will have more on Ferguson and the issue of
trust later in this show.
Right now, we`re going to turn to the latest on breaking news out of the
San Francisco area. The "L.A. Times" reports at least 70 people have been
hospitalized with non-life threatening injuries after an earthquake with a
6.0 magnitude rattled the bay area earlier this morning. Tens of thousands
are still without power right now and crews are fighting fire and downed
power lines and water main breaks and gas leaks. The largest earthquake to
shake the bay area since 1989. According to U.S. theological survey. Stay
with MSNBC throughout the day for updates on this developing story.
This week began with news that the Kurdish fighters and the Iraqi
government forces with the support of air strikes by the United States to
help to retake Iraq`s Mosul dam from ISIS extremists who controlled the key
strategic location since early August. It was a positive note for the
Persian and Coalition of Nations working against ISIS or ISIL as you may
have heard it. And it`s a growing control over regions of Iraq and Syria.
We got that news on Monday.
On Tuesday, we learned that ISIS had executed U.S. citizen and journalist
James Foley who disappeared in November of 2012 while reporting in Syria.
We will not show the video that ISIS released of James Foley`s murder.
This is only an image from that video. And this morning, "The Sunday
Times" reported that Britain`s secret services have identified that killer
as a British man. But NBC news has not confirmed that. British Foreign
Secretary Philip Hammond wrote today`s Times accusing the killer of "an
utter betrayal" of country. President Obama addressed Foley`s murder on
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JIM MIKLASZEWSKI, NBC NEWS CHIEF PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Is it the
calculation, though that ISIL presents a 9/11 --
PRES. BARACK OBAMA (D), UNITED STATES: Today the entire world is appalled
by the brutal murder of Jim Foley by the terrorist group ISIL. Jim was a
journalist, a son, a brother and a friend. He reported from difficult and
dangerous places bearing witness to the lives of people a world away. He
was taken hostage nearly two years ago in Syria and he was courageously
reporting at the time on the conflict there. Jim was taken from us in an
act of violence that shocks the conscious of the entire world.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: The president called for confrontation of hateful terrorism.
Our friends and allies would stop short of outlining specific military
action against ISIS. The United States has continued air strikes against
ISIS`s target this week conducting one air strike yesterday. Defense
Secretary Chuck Hagel told reporters Thursday the United States considers
ISIS a quote, "an imminent threat."
NBC`s Jim Miklaszewski asked Secretary Hagel how extreme the threat ISIS
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MIKLASZEWSKI: Is it the calculation, though that ISIL presents a 9/11
level of threat to the United States?
CHUCK HAGEL, SECRETARY OF DEFENSE: Jim, ISIL is a sophisticated and well
funded as any group that we`ve seen. They`re beyond just a terrorist
group. They marry ideology, sophistication of strategic and tactical
military prowls. They are tremendously well funded. Oh, this is beyond
anything that we`ve seen.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: Here with me in New York is MSNBC military analyst Colonel
Jack Jacobs and joining me from London is Ed Husain, senior fellow at the
Council in Foreign Relations. Thank you, both, for being here.
ED HUSAIN, SENIOR FELLOW, COUNCIL ON FOREIGN RELATIONS: Thank you,
HARRIS-PERRY: Ed, I do want to start with you. Help us to understand the
land space that is currently controlled by ISIS. How vast it is? How
strategic? How resource rich?
HUSAIN: It`s resource rich in the sense, Melissa, that they`ve gone out of
their way to target oil installations. It`s resource rich in the sense
that it has airports. It is resource rich in the sense that it is fertile
territory. It`s strategically important because it is on the eastern most
part of Syria and western most part of Iraq and, most importantly, it`s
important to them because it`s in the Middle East. This is not as was
previously the conflict zone in Afghanistan or in Bosnia or Chechnya.
This is in the heart of the Middle East. This is exactly where they wanted
ISIL and their global affiliates, al Qaeda and others wanted to have a
presence in the heart of the Middle East which is not far from Israel, from
Saudi Arabia , from Turkey. So, their choice of this location is not
accidental. What`s more worrying is what you just alluded to, Melissa.
Which is the appeal of that location, that geography, that narrative of a
caliphate that has led to hundreds of British Muslims. I`m in London and
I`m picking up the music and the tone and the color here.
Going out to fight in this, for the so-called caliphate and then many
prepare to come back. And my real concern is that as we consider all
options whether it`s attacking or otherwise, the ISIL caliphate, will they
turn around and say to their British and other European fighters that you
guys are an asset here, but, actually, you`re better off going back to the
European homeland and trying to trigger attacks into the U.S. and the UK
and elsewhere. And while the fighting inside Iraq and Syria is important,
but I think we shouldn`t turn our eyes away from the risk of blow back to
the homeland here.
HARRIS-PERRY: So, Colonel Jack, let me bring you in on what we just heard
from Ed Husain and also what we heard from Secretary Hagel before that.
With given the vastest of the land, given how they`re being characterized
and given that there are clearly parts of the organization that are
carrying, for example, British passports, how in the world did we
underestimate ISIS at this level?
COL. JACK JACOBS, MSNBC MILITARY ANALYST: Well, because our intelligence
is so terrible. And we had nobody on the ground in Syria. Indeed, we have
been talking for a long time. Politicians, the media, everybody in the
United States has been talking for a long time how we need to undermine
Assad. Get on the side of the rebels. We`ve had nobody on the ground.
We`ve tried recently to develop the human intelligence capable of giving us
information about ISIS in Syria and we haven`t done it yet. We`re way
behind the eight ball and part of it was the complacency and part of it was
a sanctimoniousness that we all developed about the importance of
undermining the despots in the Middle East including Saddam Hussein and
Assad and without realizing what the alternative was and the alternative
HARRIS-PERRY: OK. So, speaking of alternatives. Ed, let me come to you
on that because I think Colonel Jack makes a very important point about the
ways in which we`ve undermine existing states, even if they were despots,
as we understood them. Has ISIS at this point basically become a state?
And if so, then what are the alternatives even if they can be defeated?
HUSAIN: Melissa, it`s very, very important for us to realize that ISIS is
not a new threat. ISIS has been on the map since 2002. ISIS was known as
al Qaeda and Iraq and in 2002, all the way up to two years ago. The United
States forces were combating and fighting with al Qaeda and Iraq for almost
ten years. So, we know who they are. It was partly because of the Syrian
civil war but it`s also to do with the U.S. withdrawal from the Middle
East, more specifically with troop withdrawal from Iraq that emboldened
this new leadership to give itself a new name and a new control of
territory and new enthusiasm and it doesn`t face resistance in its
Now, it`s flawed, I think, to then argue that the U.S. should respond by
its old methodology of more bombs and more troops on the ground. But what
it desperately needed is U.S. leadership on mobilizing Saudi Arabia,
Turkey, Egypt, Jordan and other important countries in the region to lead
the effort in cleansing the ground by cleansing the ground by whatever
means necessary that the ISIS and others have now struck up as the so-
called caliphate. Yes, it is a shambolic state.
It doesn`t have support on the ground in terms of beyond its control zone
and it enforces its government by the mass killings and the brutality that
we`ve seen at the hands of the ISIS carried out against the Yazidis, the
Shia Muslims and others. And unless, I`m not calling for troops on the
ground or necessarily US strikes. But we desperately need to have the
United States, the table to mobilize its allies along with the Europeans to
lead an offensive against ISIS and its allies. It doesn`t look like doing
HARRIS-PERRY: Thank you to Ed Husain in London. Also to Colonel Jack
Jacobs here in New York, I appreciate you both for helping us to put this
JACOBS: You`re welcome.
HARRIS-PERRY: And up next, the issue of trust in the wake of the protests
in Ferguson, Missouri.
HARRIS-PERRY: Americans have always mistrusted government. And we were
founded with a declaration of independence from a government that had
proved itself unworthy of trust. A declaration that states it is not only
the right of the people but their duty to throw off a ruler which they
cannot trust to protect their life, liberty and their right to pursue
happiness. Comes this fight, our collective weariness, Americans have
forged meaningful bonds of trust with one another and our leaders, we`ve
managed to sustain this little experiment and democratic self governance.
But in recent years, public trust in government has plummeted. In the late
1950s, 73 percent of Americans trusted the government in Washington to do
what is right.
But by October 2013, Pew reported that only 19 percent of Americans felt
that sense of trust. Our founding teaches that when the people no longer
trust those who govern, the whole system is in trouble. Maybe that is why
trust has emerged as a central theme in Ferguson, Missouri. This week,
Gallup reported that while 59 percent of white adults have a great deal of
confidence in the police, this sentiment is shared by only 37 percent of
black adults. A 22-point trust divide. And this is what distrusts sounds
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MUSTAFA ABDUL HAMID, ST. LOUIS RESIDENT: Think about the young folks in
this community that are now, now seeing and experiencing this for
themselves. Their understanding of law enforcement, their understanding of
the civil rights and civil liberties is forever skewed and it will take a
lot of work to re-instill some confidence into them. So, I hope and I pray
that we have not lost a generation to more distrust.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: In the wake of community protests following the police
shooting of unarmed teen Michael Brown, many ask, how can we get the people
of Ferguson and communities around the country to trust the police? That
is the wrong question. Instead, we should ask, what have the police done
to earn the trust of the people? Fifty years ago, three civil rights
workers in Mississippi, James Cheney, 21. Andrew Goodman who was 22 and
Michael Turner who was 24 were beaten, shot and later found buried.
It was local police who pulled the three young men over. It was local
police who released them after dark into the hands of the KKK. In 1969,
Chicago police raided the apartment of Black Panther Fred Hampton, they
shot and killed him in his bed. He was 21. At that time, authorities
claimed, the Panthers opened fire on them, but evidence would later surface
that the FBI, the Cook County State attorney`s office and the Chicago
police conspired to assassinate Hampton.
In 1999, New York City police officers fired 41 shots at West African
immigrants named Amadou Diallo striking him 19 times. The officers said
they thought he had a gun which turned out to be his wallet. He`s 22. And
earlier this month, 18-year-old Michael Brown, unarmed who was shot at
least six times by a Ferguson, Missouri, police officer. And now these
incidents are part of our collective memory and the living reality for
black people in America. They are the cornerstones of the mistrust and
wariness and suspicion that under lie the protests in Ferguson. Protests
that have been met with curfews and riot gear and tear gas and military
grade weaponry. The question may not be why don`t the people trust the
police. The question may be, why would they?
When we come back, we`re going to try to answer that question.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ARCHBISHOP DESMOND TUTU, CAPE TOWN, SOUTH AFRICA: We are charged to
unearth the truth about our dark past, to lay the ghost of the past so that
they will not return to haunt us. And that we will thereby contribute to
the healing of traumatized and wounded people.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: That was Archbishop Desmond Tutu speaking at South Africa`s
truth and reconciliation commission in which he served as the chairperson.
Now the commission was set up so that anyone who felt they`ve been
violently victimized under the system of apartheid could come forward and
be heard. Approximately 21,000 people testified. Two thousand of them
appearing at public hearings.
Though only a few efforts to prosecute the perpetrators of the violence
actually happened after the commission, the commission itself was a chance
for victims to be heard and the nation to listen. And, therefore, to start
the healing process. It`s a reminded that the efforts to build trust in
the aftermath of violence requires a willingness to honestly and publicly
take responsibility for atrocities and injustices.
At the table, Shayla Nunnally, associate professor in the Department of
Political Science at the University of Connecticut. Michael Skolnik,
editor and chief of GlobalGrind.com and political director to Russel
Simmons. Salamishah Tillet, associate professor of English and Africana
Studies at the University of Pennsylvania and co-founder of the nonprofit A
Long Walk Home. And Kai Wright, editor-at-large at Colorlines.
And joining me live from Ferguson, Missouri, State Senator Maria Chappelle-
Nadal who is democratic state senator from Missouri. Nice to have you,
STATE SEN. MARIA CHAPPELLE-NADAL (D), MISSOURI: Thank you so much,
HARRIS-PERRY: So, I understand from looking at your twitter feed this
morning that you were going to bring your gas mask with you for this
appearance and that sense of like -- to walk through the streets of your
own town, you would need to carry this new accessory. What has happened to
any bonds of trust that once existed in this community?
CHAPPELLE-NADAL: I have to tell you, Melissa, I never expected to have to
prepare my constituents for tear gas, ever. All we have been trying to do
from day one is express ourselves and to demonstrate that our voices must
be heard and we have to absolutely be in communication with our leaders
including our governor and our U.S. state senators and other people. But
the young people that I represent, what they`ve been trying to establish
here is that their voices are absolutely equal to everyone else.
And, so, because we have had to endure tear gas and a lot of intimidation
from the police force, we`ve had to undergo a certain measure that we never
anticipated. Instead of being from Ferguson, Missouri, we now call it
Baghdad, Missouri. And that is unfortunate for a wonderful society in
which we live where we do have challenges such as institutional racism.
HARRIS-PERRY: Can you imagine the possibility of the police forces that
have been deploying military procedure and tear gas. Saying that they are
sorry for what they have done to the people of Ferguson?
CHAPPELLE-NADAL: You know, I have to tell you, it is going to take a long
time for the multiple departments to really bring justice to the people in
this community. What they have done is injured people who have already
been oppressed and I`m not talking 60 years ago, I`m talking about the last
10 or 12 years. The majority of the young people that are in my community
have been intimidated. They have been harassed. And only because of the
death of Michael Brown, Jr.
Now all of these feelings are coming into fruition and they`re very angry
and they`re in pain. And so, in order to overcome that mistrust, what
we`re going to have to do is have to have open conversation every single
day and we cannot reject a statement that may seem offensive to us, but we
have to come from a place where we basically understand where another
person is coming from. And we`re starting that process right now, Melissa.
HARRIS-PERRY: Hold for me one second, state senator. Sheila, I want to
come to you because you quite literally have written the book on trust and
race in this country. As you have been watching events unfold in Ferguson,
what has sort of your position as a scholar, how does it help you to
reflect on this question of mistrust within black communities vis-a-vis the
SHAYLA NUNNALLY, UNIVERSITY OF CONNECTICUT PROFESSOR: Melissa, when I see
Ferguson, I just think immediately about history and the history of race in
America, four black people. And how discrimination experiences
institutionalize racism. Outright violence have been a part of this
history. And even though young people may have read this as history to
have witnessed this in their presence and in the present is something that
I think will affect young people. As the state senator said, in a way that
we may not have even imagined. It`s not just about a story for people.
This is a reality. And I think it really does challenge us to think about
citizenship and what the question of citizenship has meant for black people
in America throughout its history.
HARRIS-PERRY: Are there things we know from that history? I mean part of
why I even invoked Desmond Tutu and the truth and reconciliation is to try
to say, there have been times and there have been enormous breaches that
have found some at least a minor way to begin to heal. Do we know anything
from that history about healing? And I don`t mean like band aid healing?
I mean legitimate cleaning of the wound healing.
NUNNALLY: Well, we have had resolutions to apologize for slavery. And I
don`t know how many people are aware of that. But that is important
because acknowledging this history is something that our nation should do,
has attempted to do but the conversations around it, I think, are very
important so that people can discuss the hurt that they have felt. The
trauma behind the violence or even the trauma behind realizing that one`s
citizenship may not be full. And these are the kinds of conversations that
we should entertaining so that we can develop some form of empathy because
I think that is what is at the core of this. Empathizing with human beings
and understanding that citizenship, but more importantly, human rights are
at the core of our being.
HARRIS-PERRY: State senator let me come back to you for just a moment on
exactly that question of empathy. Obviously, the next major thing that we
expect to happen in your town is the burial, the funeral of Michael Brown
and the realities of a family having to do the one thing that parents
should never have to do. That is to bury their child. Do you think that
there is some capacity in that moment for a sense of human empathy for
Michael Brown and his family?
CHAPPELLE-NADAL: Absolutely, Melissa. I have to tell you, tomorrow is a
day of closure for not only the family, but for this community. It was
only a couple of days ago where the family was only able to see their young
son and have that moment and time where they get to say personally, one-on-
one good-bye. But for the community and the family as a whole, tomorrow
will mark an important day and then we have to move on to the next steps so
that this does not reoccur any more. So, we don`t have to have gas masks
in our community and be in fear injustice, yet again.
So, we are trying to take these steps and these measures so that we can
change certain requirements that are at the city council level and at the
state level. And frankly there are some changes that we`re going to have
to make federally, as well. But the moment tomorrow and right now is on
behalf of this family and our hearts have complete sympathy for this family
and what they have had to go through.
HARRIS-PERRY: State Senator Marissa Chappelle-Nadal. Thank you so much
for your clearing voice of the course of past two weeks. I`m out of
Ferguson, Missouri. Stay safe.
CHAPPELLE-NADAL: Thank you so much.
HARRIS-PERRY: We`ll have more on the issue of trust in a moment. But,
first, I do want to bring you the latest on the breaking news out of
Northern California. Emergency crews are assessing the damage after an
earthquake with a 6.0 magnitude that rattled the bay area this morning.
According to the "Los Angeles Times," at least 70 people have been
hospitalized with nonlife threatening injuries, several fires have broken
out and there are reports of significant damage. Firefighting effort have
been complicated by broken water mains and gas leaks.
Stay with MSNBC throughout the day for updates on this developing story.
And coming up, a mother and four children are pulled over at gunpoint by
police in the case of mistaken identity.
HARRIS-PERRY: Two weeks ago in Forney, Texas, Kemetra Barbour, a mother
was pulled over by police and handcuffed in front of the four young kids in
her car. The stop was reportedly in response to a 911 call about someone
waving a gun out of the car window of a beige or tan colored vehicle.
Barbour`s car is burgundy red. So case of mistaken identity. Take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED OFFICER: Come on back. Keep walking backwards.
KEMETRA BARBOUR, HANDCUFFED BY POLICE OFFICER: What is wrong?
UNIDENTIFIED OFFICER: Keep walking backwards. Put your hands behind your
BARBOUR: Yes, sir.
UNIDENTIFIED OFFICER: Come on back.
BARBOUR: What is wrong?
BARBOUR: My kids.
UNIDENTIFIED OFFICER: How old are they?
BARBOUR: They`re 6 and 8 and 10, 9, what are we doing?
UNIDENTIFIED OFFICER: Hold on a second, okay.
BARBOUR: Sir, what is going on? Oh, my God. You`re horrifying my
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: While the mother`s pleas are heart wrenching to hear what
happened moments later is almost impossible to watch.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED OFFICER: They`re young. Gun down. Gun down.
UNIDENTIFIED OFFICER: Come on back here son. Come on back here. You`re
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: Salamishah --
TILLET: Yes, sorry.
HARRIS-PERRY: Because, so, let me say, we don`t, we can`t prosecute this.
This is not a case or any, no one is killed in this interaction, but as we
are talking about trust and you can hear her saying you are going to
terrify my children. And then guns down. So, you know that at every point
guns have been up. And then that baby coming out of the car with his
hands. I mean, and now we watch it and the notion of trust is violated at
such a core level.
TILLET: I guess my response is partly because knowing that your hands are
up means nothing. Right?
TILLET: So to see that little boy get out of the car and an image that we
now associate with Michael Brown is really jarring. So, that he`s not
safe. But I guess to the larger point of trust and creating a sense of
trust amongst African-Americans with the state and with police officers.
Starting with the Desmond Tutu clip I think is really important because I
have done a lot of work on repressions and last time I was on with Tony
Hissen (ph) (INAUDIBLE) repressions. And you know, what does it mean for a
group of African-Americans in this case never to have had any sense of real
reconciliation with the state for the long history of racial injustice.
And Tony`s was point was about racial discrimination and racial housing.
But obviously, we`re talking about, you know, slavery and segregation. And
also the 2008 apology. I applauded it. It was also the timing was really
curious because we also had the election of the first African-American
president and that way kind of overshadowed the potency when people
demanded Clinton to apologize. It was seen as maybe a catalyst repressions
and then Clinton eventually backed away from that. So, I want to say that,
you know, an apology meant something with the Congress did it, but it
didn`t have the teeth to create a more sustainable racial justice movement
HARRIS-PERRY: I also have to talked about the Senate apologizing for
having never passed the dire anti-lynching bill which happened literally,
like something like four to six weeks before hurricane Katrina occurs and
the failure of federal response in that context. So, here you had an
apology. You have an acknowledgment of the Senate`s failure to have
brought racial justice at the turn of the century, like just, you know, at
the threshold of another injustice that ends up being perpetrated.
WRIGHT: You can`t apologize for things that are ongoing. You have to stop
doing them first. Going back to this video what is most striking to me is
the state brutalizing black women in that way every day. And we see these
brutalizations in their most extreme format when there is a gun drawn on a
person. But every time somebody goes in and applies for medicate and it`s
treated like they are damaging their children. Every time that we have,
going back to the foreclosure crisis and all of the irresponsible borrowers
and many of these were black women. Something that we didn`t talk about.
HARRIS-PERRY: As oppose to irresponsible lenders.
WRIGHT: Irresponsible. But they were all these black women who just had
done too much with their loans through, we brutalize black people by policy
by policy in ways every single day that are less extreme than killing us.
And we need to have some understanding of that.
WRIGHT: And the fact that the kid knew to raise his hands getting out of
the car. Also by the way --
WRIGHT: That he knew because this wasn`t his first interaction with a
HARRIS-PERRY: And you know, some of the more appalling analysis that have
emerged post Michael Brown. When you encounter the police, you just have
to, you know, back up and you have to say sir but we see this mother
driving down the street in a road that I presume that if she was a
taxpayer, she has paid taxes on. Right? As well as -- and she is stopped.
She is saying. What is happening? Then we learned at every point there
are guns on her. She is being handcuffed in front of her children.
SKOLNIK: This conversation is so difficult for me to swallow because this
hasn`t happened to my community. And in general the police are our friends
and white people who look at them as our friends and we know and when I
think about that I can drive down the street and a cop tails me, I`m not
going to get afraid they`re going to put a gun to my child.
HARRIS-PERRY: Right. You can be irritated and you`re going to get a
SKOLNIK: I think something is wrong. Right? And I should get a ticket.
And when I think about the first night in Ferguson, Saturday night, not
Sunday night. The cops came with dogs that first night. They are
peacefully protesting that first, before the tear gas. Before the rioting
and looting, the cops came with dogs to a black community.
HARRIS-PERRY: I was going to say, know that history.
SKOLNIK: We know that history. So, when I think about this as a white
person, I have to challenge white people to check our privilege and check
our power and when we see things like this. When I see 59 percent of white
people, right? We have to have the conversation amongst ourselves of how
are we contributing to this problem? How are we part of this problem? How
can we help resolve this problem because this doesn`t happen to us?
HARRIS-PERRY: Stay with us. We`re going to go right on this question. As
soon as we get back, we`ll come right back to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CAPTAIN RON JOHNSON, MISSOURI STATE HIGHWAY PATROL: When this is over, I`m
going to go in my son`s room, my black son who wears his pants sagging,
wears his hat cocked to the side, got tattoos on his arms. But that`s my
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: That`s Captain Ron Johnson, a Missouri Highway patrol
speaking at the gathering of Ferguson residents. His is a testimony meant
to build trust by emphasizing similarity. You can trust me, because I`m
like you. The necessary strategy because of the startling racial
dissimilarity of the Ferguson police of the people of the town. Well, the
population in Ferguson 67 percent African-American, only three of
Ferguson`s 53 police officers are African-American.
Nationwide, the thin blue line is often a -- between black and white
communities. Twenty nine cities have five times the percentage of white
police officers as residents in the community they police. It`s a stark
demographic reality that can make it more difficult to build trust.
Shayla, how much of a barrier, empirically. How much of a barrier is race
to the building even of interpersonal trust, much less trust towards
NUNNALLY: So, when we turn to the data as far as black Americans, clearly,
this is a prospective that rests in the history of black white dichotomy.
And that distrust manifest itself as trust, distrust in whites. And so,
what this means for representation, whether it be in a police force or even
thinking about institutions for which people elect representatives, this is
something that becomes of a major concern, especially even in the political
TILLET: Can I just add to that point? Because Paul Butler wrote a really
good piece in the "New York Times." And so -- Paul Butler is a professor
at Georgetown and also member of African-American Policy forum, which not
only race, which is a big part of it, but the presence of female officers.
So, the 12 percent of the U.S. police force are women, but when there women
who are police officers, the level of regression is substantially
decreased. And the level of complaints is substantially decreased.
And so, at the end of this piece he calls for -- what would it look like if
there were African-American women police officers in Ferguson. So, in
addition to having -- to think about race, to think about race and gender
and the way in which this thin blue line, a relies in a certain notion and
male aggression and patriarchy and to think about the issue not only in
terms of who the victims are as men and women but also think about policing
definitely. And now gender and race operates together to create a police
WRIGHT: But I have to say, I mean, we should be very careful with this
TILLET: Yes, of course. I agree.
HARRIS-PERRY: Exactly. I mean, this is the story out of Ferguson is like,
yes, diversity does not fix it.
WRIGHT: Certainly a wonderful and important thing is having more diverse
police sources, but not for nothing. You know, most of the graduating
classes going back several years now of NYPD are majority/minority. I hate
the term but, you know, there are majority people of color. And that`s
happening in large police forces around the country. Because since the
late `90s this is been the answer. Oh, we need to diversify our police
forces. But if the policy remains that whoever the police officer is that
walking down the street in the middle of the street is grounds for police
interacting with you.
WRIGHT: If it`s -- if policing is still rooted in certain communities, we
have to be super aggressive because they are moments away from gang
violence. As long as federal money continues to pump into police forces to
have gang task forces, drug task forces that operate without accountability
and militarize them. As long as those things are the case, whether the
police officer are black, white, male, female, purple, green, we`re going
to have this problem.
HARRIS-PERRY: OK. So, this point to me feels like such a critically
important aspect of what we saw in Ferguson. Right? In part I think
because for some observer, sort of the presence of Captain Johnson
initially felt like a kind of General Honore showing up in the streets of
New Orleans, they were going to put down the guns. But then, that`s not
what happened. Right? The tear gas and the militarized police response,
the curfew even occur after he shows up.
And as long the litany as you gave us of white officers, African-Americans,
there is also the Sean Bell counterexample where there is also black
officers involved in these kinds of shootings. And so, it does feel to me
like part of the trust problem is about, is about the uniform, not just the
body within it.
SKOLNIK: Yes. I think there was a sense that many people could come into
a community and calm it down and they couldn`t. Right? Where there is a
HARRIS-PERRY: It wasn`t the people that need to be calmed down.
SKOLNIK: Right. So, there was this lie to themselves, that you know, we
could go and speak to them and they will calm down. But, in fact, people
wanted to continue to piece it together. Even until last night and today,
they continue. I think it should continue. It`s our first amendment.
It`s in our constitution. We should be supporting those having grievances
against the government and uplifting those voices. So, I think until we
have as Kai said a dismantling of our Police Department in a way we policed
from a policy, you know, line on down, we`ll continue to have aggression
against black and white people in this country, and we`ll continue to have
police shootings and we`ll continue to have people who are very upset with
the police officers and that conversation has to begin now.
WRIGHT: It`s the footprint thing that we`ve heard about. How do we
increase that footprint? Every time this comes up, I think about I
interviewed a 16-year-old kid in Brownsville, Brooklyn who had four priors
for rioting because he got in a shoving match in the --
HARRIS-PERRY: Thank you to Shayla Nunnally, to Michael Skolnik, also to
Salamishah Tillet and to Kai Wright.
Now, we`re going to be right back with a final note on Ferguson. But,
first, there is some good news this week. It is from another city that has
been plagued by violence against its youth. Chicago. But, the story today
is about the Jackie Robinson West All Stars from Chicago`s South Side who
could become the first all African-American team to win the Little League
World Series today when they represent the U.S. against South Korea.
The All Stars advanced to the final after defeating a team from Las Vegas.
We watched it in "Nerdland" yesterday and cheered, the Chicago team has
captivated their home town, they`ve captivated their land. And win or lose
there`s already a parade planned to welcome them home on Wednesday. Until
then we say, go All Stars! We`ll be right back.
GOV. JAY NIXON (D), MISSOURI: 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 of sleep before they get up tomorrow
morning and that we are going to --
UNIDENTIFIED MAN: (INAUDIBLE) Governor Nixon, we want justice!
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: That was Missouri Governor Jay Nixon like week announcing
the imposition of a midnight curfew in Ferguson. And hearing the reaction
of citizens. Now, the curfew did not result in peaceful slumber for
Ferguson rather attempting to curve protesters civil liberties heightened
tensions and exacerbated the anguish of a community feeling silenced by
their leaders. In the nights following the governor`s imposition of the
curfew, it seemed that no one could rest. Police responded to those
resisting, the new curfew with tear gas and arrest.
Each day, the peaceful protests gave way to after dark police actions that
made it impossible to sleep in Ferguson even for those watching from the
comfort of their homes, the breath-taking scenes of militant police action
in an American City made it hard to turn off the coverage and go to bed.
It was horrifying and scary and, frankly, exhausted. And on Wednesday,
Attorney General Eric Holder came to Ferguson and in an interesting
parallel, one of the first questions the Attorney General asked Captain Ron
Johnson was whether he was getting enough rest.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ERIC HOLDER, U.S. ATTORNEY GENERAL: The last time I talked to you, your
wife said that you were not sleeping too much. She`s worried about you
getting a little bit rest. (INAUDIBLE) Little bit more?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: Captain Johnson responded with exhaustion made him forget
about his 26th wedding anniversary the night before. Then he informally
briefed Holder about the situation in Ferguson. And as they parted, Holder
urged Johnson once more.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HOLDER: Keep up the good work.
JOHNSON: All right. Thank you.
HOLDER: And get a little rest.
JOHNSON: I will.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: That direction to get a little bit of rest sounds very
different coming from the Attorney General than it sounded when Governor
Nixon declared the curfew. Maybe it`s because the rest does indeed make
people better decision makers. I mean, no one wants to take a flight with
a sleepy pilot, have an operation performed by a sleepy surgeon or face
police in a riot gear if they have not had a good night sleep. But
acknowledging the need to rest for an individual is not the same thing as
collectively being asleep to injustice.
The first work of an organizer is to ensure that people are awake to unfair
circumstances. When Governor Nixon told protesters to get five hours of
sleep, it sounded too many that he was asking them to put their legitimate
grievances to bed. When Attorney General Holder told Captain Johnson to
get some rest, it sounded more like an offer of help. I got this watch,
you can catch from Shaddai (ph). There`s a lesson here for those of us who
hope to see the moment of unrest in Ferguson become a movement for justice.
Sustainability requires shift work. Those who press hard for collective
righteousness must also take moments of self-renewal. Those who move
mountains must also pause to catch their breath and it`s OK to pause. It
is necessary to sleep. It is right to renew. But when one pauses, the
other carries on so that no momentum is lost and the movement itself
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
(Protesters): No justice, no peace! No justice, no peace! No justice, no
peace! No justice, no peace!
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: That`s 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 preview of "WEEKENDS WITH ALEX WITT." Milissa Rehberger
is in for Alex. Nice to see you, Milissa.
MILISSA REHBERGER, GUEST-HOST, "WEEKENDS WITH ALEX WITT": Hey, Melissa.
Thank you. We`ll have more on the breaking story in Northern California.
A powerful earthquake rocked the Napa Valley. We`ll talk to an expert, an
earthquake expert to see if this will lead to more he earthquakes in the
Also, the message from Michael Brown`s grandfather as the family prepares
to bury the teenager. And the role witness accounts will play in shaping
the public`s view of what happened the day of the shooting. How reliable
are witness accounts and how they might be used in front of a grand jury?
We`ll hear from a former aide to Attorney General Eric Holder. Don`t go
anywhere. We will be right back.
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY
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