'The Melissa Harris-Perry Show' for Sunday, September 7th, 2014
Read the transcript to the Sunday show
September 7, 2014
Guest: Marquez Claxton, Paul Raushenbush, Janai Nelson, Phillip Atiba
Goff, Thomas Harvey, Linda Sarsour, Felipe Sousa Rodriguez, Alvin Herring,
Laurie Garrett; Lizz Winstead; Amy Hagstrom Miller; Frankie Edoxien;
William Karesh; Mark Quarterman
MELISSA HARRIS-PERRY, MSNBC ANCHOR: This morning my question, how many of
us understood the real Joan Rivers?
Plus, the economic effects of the Ebola crisis.
And attorney General Eric Holder is policing the police.
But first President Obama is in crisis mode.
Good morning. I`m Melissa Harris-Perry. We have brand-new political news
this morning. New Democrats may rather not hear when it comes to their
party`s chances to maintain control of the Senate after November`s midterm
elections. There are 36 Senate races this year and Republicans just need
to win six additional seats to gain control. A new NBC News/Marist poll
out this morning underscores the challenge of facing Democrats.
OK. In Arkansas` Senate in that Senate race, Republican Congressman Tom
Cotton leads the Democratic incumbent Mark Pryor by five points among
likely voters. In Kentucky, Senator Mitch McConnell leads Allison
Lundergan Grimes by eight points. One bright spot for the Democrats in
Colorado Senator Mark Udall leads his Republican challenger Cory Gardner by
six points. Another key Senate race is in my new home state of North
Carolina which President Obama won in 2008 but then lost four years later.
His current disapproval ratings in North Carolina are near an all-time
The latest poll on the North Carolina Senate contest, Democratic incumbent
Kay Hagan is clinging to a razor-thin lead over North Carolina`s statehouse
speaker Tom Tillis. And in the state that inspired the moral Monday
protests, there are a lot of key issues to talk about, education,
reproductive rights, voting rights just to name a few. But in the very
first debate between Hagan and Tillis Monday night, this was the very first
question to the statehouse speaker of North Carolina?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE REPORTER: How do you think the administration should
proceed? Does the U.S. need to strike is in Syria to protect American
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: OK. Did you catch that? She`s asking that of the House
speaker, the North Carolina house speaker, the first question in the first
debate in the U.S. Senate race in North Carolina is not about anything
going on in the state but about ISIS and the Obama administration. As
expected, Tillis called for tougher action by President Obama but so did
the president`s fellow Democrat, Senator Hagan.
The answers by the candidates as well as the question itself demonstrate
how in North Carolina, like elsewhere, midterm elections are about as much
about President Obama as they are about anything or anyone closer to home.
Hagan is just one of several Democratic candidates distancing herself from
the top Democrat in the country. And that`s because a whole lot of voters
appear to be distancing themselves from the president too.
The latest Gallup poll, the president`s job approval rating has dipped to
41 percent. I mean, certainly doesn`t help that recently at nearly every
turn it seems as though the president is confronted with yet another
Just for starters, there is the brutal militant group ISIS beheading two
Americans. Friday after several of months of steady job growth, employment
numbers for August were lower than expected with just 142,000 jobs created.
There`s Vladimir Putin messing with Ukraine. There`s Ebola in Western
Africa. And then just yesterday the White House announced that the
president will not take any executive action on immigration until after the
November midterm elections. And that was at the urging of many in his own
As "the Washington Post" reports, Senate Democrats have warned that any
bold executive action ran the risk of upending the chances of several
democratic incumbents running for reelection in southern states. One of
those democratic incumbents urging the president not to take executive
action, you guessed it, North Carolina Senator Kay Hagan. And you may
understand why given her challenge is a fairly fervent response to a
question on immigration in that same debate Wednesday night.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TOM TILLIS (R) NORTH CAROLINA SENATE CANDIDATE: Now, we talk about how
easy it is to seal the border, but we`re not sealing the border. We`d
failed to seal the border dating all the way back to the Reagan era. We
need to get serious about that. A strong nation needs a strong border. We
have to seal the border.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: I think he really wants to seal the border.
Already, some Republicans are denouncing the president`s decision to delay
executive action on immigration as a cold political calculation. In an
exclusive interview with NBC`s Chuck Todd, the new moderator of "Meet the
Press," the president said the surge of unaccompanied children across the
border this summer was a factor in his decision.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The truth of the matter is
the politics did shift midsummer because of that problem. I want to spend
some time even as we`re getting all our ducks in a row for the executive
action, I also want to make sure the public understands why we`re doing
this, why it`s the right thing for the American people, the right thing for
the American economy.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: Now, the president had initially promised to take action on
immigration before the end of the summer and it remains to be seen how his
reversal and reasoning for it will play with the growing Latino electorate.
In his interview with Chuck Todd, the President also spoke act ISIS and how
the U.S. and its allies can contain the Sunni militants. The president
says he will meet with Congress in the coming days and deliver speech about
his plans for addressing ISIS.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: What I`m going to be asking the American people to understand is,
number one, this is a serious threat. Number two, we have the capacity to
deal with it. Here`s how we`re going to deal with it. I am going to be
asking Congress to make sure that they understand and support what our plan
is. And it`s going to require some resources I suspect above what we are
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: So from immigration to ISIS and the politics involved in
both, this is clearly a president now operating in crisis management mode.
Joining me now, "New York Times" editor at large Marcus Mabry. Nice to
MARCUS MABRY, EDITOR AT LARGE, NEW YORK TIMES: Good to be here.
HARRIS-PERRY: OK, so let`s back up for just a second to the polls. And
clearly the president seems to be responding to these very tight polls.
What do they say to you?
MABRY: Well, it`s interesting. Many of our polls -- right now "The New
York Times," we say Republicans have two-thirds, 66 percent chance of
capturing the Senate. All these polls, a lot of them -- you showed the one
where is basically Republicans are, you know, in excellent shape -- there
are a few states that could go either way, one or two points, Landrieu in
Louisiana, you know, the Democrats are in trouble there. It could go --
right now, we`re talking act a wave election potentially, but I don`t think
you can call that. It is going to be about a wave election would be if
Republicans took the vast majority, at this point seven to nine toss-up
states. All the Republicans need as you said are six seats and they`re
HARRIS-PERRY: But let me ask you this. Don`t they already control Senate?
And I`m being very serious here because this brings me to the immigration
question and the decision to punt, right? I mean, it`s football days, we
have a lot of punting things going on. But it does feel to me like this
presumption that kind of backing off allows for these blue dog Democrats to
win, nobody is talking act Democrats picking up seats and at this point
since the Senate has to be filibuster proof to actually operate, don`t they
already control the Senate?
MABRY: Yes and no. The Democrats, of course, exercise the quasi nuclear
option and said in some actions instead of needing a super majority we`ll
go with a simple majority and that allows them to get things through like,
you know, presidential confirmations, which are incredibly important,
right? So it`s not as you say at this point for the Democrats.
But I think if you see this tip, I don`t see how you actually complete, you
know, the last two years of the presidency. It`s got to be the most
miserable situation in the world. The House doesn`t do anything. The
Senate would be impossible for the president to --
HARRIS-PERRY: OK so, look, you don`t govern in the last two year of a -- I
mean, look, I mean, let`s be really, like, hardcore, this is painful for me
to say, honest, President Obama gets to be president for two more months
because then there will be a midterm election and then he will be lame duck
and all eyes turn to who will be president next.
HARRIS-PERRY: Why not govern in the two months he has left? Why not get
the immigration done?
MABRY: Because the political calculation is clear enough. And you know,
glitch wisdom involve. There is no reason to do anything that`s going to
make it harder for one single Senate Democrat candidate to win in his or
her race. There is no upside to that.
HARRIS-PERRY: OK. Kay Hagan, Mary Landrieu, if they want to win, this is
not a general election. They`re not in the middle. They`ve got to get
excited again those voters who do still support President Obama, those who
have stayed on his side. Now shouldn`t they in that context go ahead and
throw a little caution to the wind and be, like, you know what, I am down
with President Obama. He is going to do immigration reform, I`m going to
stand with him and I dare you not to come out and vote for me?
MABRY: The bet is that there`s actually more of a downside potential the
Democrats doing that because it would further invigorate a Republican
electorate and actually help the Republican candidates in these close red
and purple states than it would help the democrat by saving getting I would
say the Latino base, which would be in support of those kinds of policies.
And you know, political calculus, they have done all this general polling.
Political calculus is pretty brutal. They do not want to enlighten a
Republican base at all anymore. They would have Democratic vote. It will
be interesting to see this time, as supposed to two years ago Republicans
were convinced that Mitt Romney was going to win. On election day, they
were convinced that`s what their internal polling showed them. But their
models were wrong.
MABRY: (INAUDIBLE) vote. We will see if that remains. That is going to
be the key.
HARRIS-PERRY: Yes. You know, we have no time. But I got to tell you, the
point at which I feel like the president of the United States is being held
hostage by Tom Tillis politically that the speaker of the North Carolina
house is one who gets to, you know, pontificate about sealing the border,
and my president`s stance, it really does makes me wonder what the value of
that position is. I want a little hmm!
MABRY: He will govern by executive action for the last two years. That`s
all going to be. Now, that might work in the short term. Long term for
the American political process it is a dire situation.
HARRIS-PERRY: All right. I want to remind the viewers that "Meet the
Press" with Chuck Todd and his exclusive interview with President Obama
will air today at 2:00 p.m. eastern here on MSNBC.
Also, the funeral of legendary Joan Rivers is set to begin in less than an
hour. We are going to talk about her legacy next.
HARRIS-PERRY: If you`re like me, you may have only known of Joan Rivers
later in her careers as an interviewer of celebrities on the red carpet and
often the butt of her own jokes about plastic surgery.
But her career started decades earlier and was quite groundbreaking. She
was the first woman and to this day one of the only women to host her own
late-night comedy show. In 1986, "the late show starring Joan Rivers" on
FOX. It was short lived but came on the heels of 20 years of appearances
on "the Tonight Show" with Johnny Carson.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOAN RIVERS, COMEDIAN: My body -- yes. Wait, wait! Come back, girls.
Thank you. My body is dropping so fast bugs bunny saw my rear end and
went, now I know what`s not up, doc. My boobs, oh, think how I feel!
Rivers passed away this week at the age of 81. Her funeral is being held
today at temple Emanuel in Manhattan. And for more, we go live to NBC`s
Hi,Ron. Rivers was pretty specific about her funeral wishes. She wanted
Meryl Streep crying in different accents and a Harry Winstead toe tag. She
wanted Hollywood all the way. Will those final wishes be honored today?
RON MOTT, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Hey, there, Melissa. You know, they
talked about this being a red carpet funeral. We don`t see any red carpet
on Fifth Avenue but this is a high-profile funeral. Howard Stern just
walked in. Rosie O`Donnell, Kathy Griffin, those comedians who say that
Joan Rivers was their inspiration for getting into the business. And there
will be a lot of sadness because of her sudden passing on Thursday.
The theme here is this is all about humor. She had a sense about her
funeral and her life that she wanted this to be big time. And she would be
honored. A lot of friends have said since her passing this week about this
turnout. There are dozens of television cameras here, dozens of still
photographers here and there are hundreds of people standing by behind our
camera three and four people deep just to get a look at some of the people
coming and going for this service.
The service is set to get under way at 11:00. As we understand yesterday
the body was transported to New Jersey for cremation, and so right now
we`re looking out for Melissa Rivers, her daughter, and her grandson
Cooper. A lot of think people got to know those two during that reality
show that Joan did with her daughter and granddaughter.
So it is sad day, but also a day to celebrate a powerful force in comedy
and a great American who have been passed -- Melissa.
HARRIS-PERRY: NBC`s Ron Mott, thank you so much.
And up next, Liz Winstead is here to explain what Rivers meant for women
who are also comedians.
HARRIS-PERRY: Joan Rivers got her big break back in 1965 when she first
appeared on "the Tonight Show" with Johnny Carson. She would become a
frequent guest and guest host for decades.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOHNNY CARSON, HOST, THE TONIGHT SHOW: This is like an old cliche. People
say that New Yorkers are rude and they`re polite in Los Angeles. Do you
find that true?
JOAN RIVERS, COMEDIAN: Yes.
CARSON: I live in both places and I do.
RIVERS: And it`s healthy.
RIVERS: Healthy. California, everyone`s smiling, they`re dying of ulcers
at 30, right? Here there`s hostility and it`s overt. But you know who
you`re dealing with, you know? We had a taxi driver today. We gave a $6
tip on a $40 ride. He gave us the peace sign, a half of it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: Still with me IS Marcus Mabry of the "New York Times" and
joining the table is Lizz Winstead, co-creator of the "Daily Show" and
author of "Lizz Free or Die."
So Lizz, this week has been a bit of a challenge for me because my first
reaction was, you know, I`m not a big fan of her comedy. And my friend sat
me down and said no, you need to understand more about Joan Rivers. So
help me to understand more about why she matters so much.
LIZZ WINSTEAD, COMIC WRITER: You know, what she did on stage and the kind
of comedy that she was is comedy so subject they`ve I like to put that
aside for a second. From the second Joan Rivers set foot on stage she
announced to the world I`m a woman, I have something to say, I deserve to
say it, and if you don`t like it, then weigh in and I`ll weigh in back.
And giving that permission -- and in 1965 when, you know, the pill was
literally the Supreme Court said the same year said, you married ladies can
get the pill now, you know, it was a huge step for women to go, wow, I
matter and I get to get up there and think about that and a lot of comics
when they say especially women that Joan Rivers was the person who allowed
me to feel like I actually deserve to be on the stage and command attention
is huge deal.
HARRIS-PERRY: Did you actually know Joan personally?
WINSTEAD: I did. I was on her --
HARRIS-PERRY: There you go.
WINSTEAD: That`s `91-ish. She had a new talent show and I was on with
WINSTEAD: I know. The brilliance continues for the both of us.
HARRIS-PERRY: I can -- part of what is stunning about her is not only did
she step on the stage in 1965 but also refused to leave stage, ever, right?
I mean, she just kept looking for another activity, another task, another
gig. And in many ways also didn`t even think of herself primarily as a
comedian. Thought of herself as an actor and as entertainer and, you know,
there are other sorts of identities.
MABRY: She always says she was actually an actor acting the part of a
comedian. She so believed in it but also was so vulnerable and I think
that`s why to many populations, you know, I guess I should have known since
1986, I watched her show. I watch her several. And said that`s one of my
first time to guest that I was actually gay.
For us, I think for the LGBT community, especially for gay men, she`s meant
so much. And I think the same way for women comedians, as she spoke to our
sense of I`m here and I`m going the demand it. And I may be marginalized
but I`m going to take center stable.
And to do that for six decades, I think her last incarnation in many ways
her most kind of famous incarnation. She`s got a broader following now
than she did ever before in six decades including being guest host of "the
WINSTEAD: That`s right.
MABRY: That`s extraordinary.
HARRIS-PERRY: Those criticisms of her as mean or harsh and being harsh, I
mean, sometimes mean and harsh, two people on the red carpet who were also
women, are those gendered criticisms?
WINSTEAD: You know, I think that comedy isn`t nice in general. You know,
how many comics that you think of that you go, you know what, I love how
that person brings everybody together.
HARRIS-PERRY: Yes, yes.
WINSTEAD: You know, it is comedy is based in that. People can have their
feelings. And I think it`s what kind of humor appeals to you. Do you like
humor about fashion, shallowness, taking on celebrities? She took on her -
- and I don`t mean this as a justification for whether or not people liked
it, but she took on herself as much as she did other people. Does that
mean it`s OK to say other things? That`s for others to decide for
themselves what is they think is OK in comedy. I`m never going to say
that. I put it out there and if people don`t like it, well then, you know,
I got to be able to defend it.
MABRY: And she was even more harsh to herself than she was anyone else. I
mean, the joke act, you know, wake up one morning and thinking she`s
wearing gray bunny slippers and they were actually her breast that had
fallen when she realized it. She said something as harsh and -- would have
been hurtful, right? And she said it was one way of her dealing with the
pain of self-hate or self-loathing.
WINSTEAD: Yes. I mean, there`s something about somebody putting out there
who they are and you don`t have to wonder in the least bit about what`s
going to come it from and what it is. Like it`s very brave to be at your
HARRIS-PERRY: Yes. What I do hope is that as I`ve heard from many people
the ways in which she opened doors, but I also watched on the night that
her death was announced that it was all male late-night comedians who had a
stage, who had a microphone to eulogize her. And so I do hope in addition
to opening the doors there are opportunities for women to actually walk
Thank you to Marcus Mabry and to Lizz Winstead for joining us this morning.
Before we go, this programming note. Coverage of Joan Rivers continues
this afternoon right here on MSNBC including a replay of celebrity Joan
Rivers at -- excuse me, "Celebrating Joan Rivers" at 3:00.
Up next, the reproductive rights clinic that is now back up and running,
but at risk of being shut down all over again.
HARRIS-PERRY: In Texas and Louisiana, those fighting for reproductive
rights and abortion access actually received good news about a week ago.
However, even with these rare wins, they may be short lived. Last Sunday a
district judge granted a temporary restraining order in three of
Louisiana`s five abortion clinics which faced closure due to a law
requiring abortion providers to have admitting privileges at local
That same Sunday Texas attorney general and Republican gubernatorial
candidate Greg Abbott asked the fifth circuit court of appeals to reverse
an August 29th district decision to prevent closure of a majority of clinks
in that state and allowed at least one clinic reopen on Friday. That one
was the whole women`s health clinic in McAllen, Texas, which had to close
due to the new restrictions. Its clinics in Ft. Worth and San Antonio
which had been threatened stay open for now for. Here`s what Andrea
Ferrigno, the whole woman`s health corporate vice president had to say
before the reopening.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ANDREA FERRIGNO, CORPORATE VICE PRESIDENT, WHOLE WOMAN`S HEALTH: This team
has gone through a lot of difficult times, a lot of negativity, a lot of
saying no to the people that we love. We love this community. We are from
the valley. We love doing what we do in offering services and for many
months we`ve had to say no. And so now we get to say yes. We get to say
yes, you`re welcome to come in. Yes, we are going to help you. We are
going to see you here. And so, it`s very exciting and we are so happy that
we get to do this.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: Joining us now live from Richmond, Virginia is Amy Hagstrom
Miller the president and CEO of whole women`s health. It is nice to see
you this morning.
Here is my big first question. Given how brief this stay may end up
proving to be, why reopen?
AMY HAGSTROM MILLER, PRESIDENT, WHOLE WOMAN`S HEALTH: You know, Melissa,
we left our clinic in McAllen (ph) completely intact with the hopes of
being able to reopen and the hopes that we would be able to prove in court
that these laws provided a tremendous undue burden to the women in the Rio
Grande Valley specifically.
And so, we were hoping for an injunction and we were ready to go in case we
were able to get it. And even though we`ve only got two weeks here until
the court meets again. We felt like it was important to be able to serve
these women locally in the community where they`ve been able to get safe,
professional care for years before this law passed last year.
HARRIS-PERRY: So, it is a little bit of good news in both Texas and
Louisiana, but the basis for the decision that you see seems quite
different. In Louisiana, it seems to be more of a timing question. The
providers weren`t given enough time to comply with this new law about
admitting privileges. But in Texas it does sound like there`s a ruling
here about an actual unconstitutional, undue burden. Are you more hopeful
that Texas will actually remain -- that this will be a durable finding?
MILLER: You know, Melissa, I`m always really careful being a reproductive
justice person in Texas with hope. But I am actually pretty hopeful this
time around. We put together a really good case. Our evidence was really
strong in the court. And the judge Yeakel really saw that clearly in his
decision. It`s very straightforward that this provides very much of a
documented and well-established undue burden. And that the laws also not
passed on anything that has medical evidence behind it. And so, we really
demonstrated a strong case and I`m looking forward to seeing what the fifth
circuit is going to do this coming Friday.
HARRIS-PERRY: I actually want to take a moment and have you hear your own
corporate vice president making this point last Thursday. Let`s take a
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
FERRIGNO: Before these laws were passed there wasn`t any type of public
health crisis or any type of increase in complication rates. Nothing has
changed. Abortion has been one of the safest medical procedures in
medicine for decades and decades, and none of that`s changed.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: So those are obviously the facts. But I`m wondering is that
a winning argument either legally or politically in Texas?
MILLER: You know, I think one of the things we`re dealing with here is
really the stigma that surrounds abortion in this country and that a lot of
these laws are passed from people`s conflicting and sort of moral ambiguity
around feelings and beliefs. But what we need to keep in mind is that
these laws are not passed based on medical facts and that it is indeed true
that abortion is one of the safest procedures, abortion is normal, common
in health care procedure. Almost a third of women in the United States
will have an abortion in their lifetime.
And this law didn`t do anything to sort of address unplanned pregnancy or
do any prevention. This law simply cut women off from their access to
safe, professional, compassionate care. And so, we are really happy to,
one, be able to reopen, but, two, are really committed in the long term to
fight these kind of regulations that are passed not on medical truth or on
fact, but are passed basically about feelings and beliefs.
HARRIS-PERRY: In Richmond, Virginia, Amy Hagstrom Miller perhaps having
our first-ever good news conversation ever on this show.
MILLER: It`s true.
HARRIS-PERRY: Nice to see you this morning.
MILLER: Thank you so much.
HARRIS-PERRY: And up next, the Ebola crisis you have not heard about yet.
HARRIS-PERRY: This week, we saw for the third time an individual infected
with the Ebola virus land on American soil. Friday morning, Dr. Richard
Sacra arrived at the Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha and was taken to a
special isolation unit for treatment. Now, Dr. Sacra worked at the same
Liberian clinic and was friends with the two other infected American aid
workers who were brought to the U.S. Unlike both of those patients, this
doctor was not treating Ebola patients, but instead was treating pregnant
women and delivering babies when he contracted the disease. Dr. Sacra`s
wife had this to say about her husband`s condition.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DEBBIE SACRA, EBOLA PATIENT`S WIFE: Rick is clearly sick, but he was in
very good spirits and he was -- and he walked onto the plane. So we are
really encouraged by that news and looking forward to reuniting with him.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: Meanwhile, on the African continent, the situation is
getting worse by the day. The death toll has climbed above 2,000 of the
nearly 4,000 people infected. Powerful images continue to emerge like the
video from Liberia of doctors forcing an Ebola patient who had escaped
quarantine into the back of a truck. The government of Sierra Leone has
announced plan for a four-day nationwide lockdown during which citizens
will not be allowed to move their homes, a move some aid agents are
learning could actually exacerbate the problem. The crisis is also now
taking a considerable toll on the political stability and economic security
of West Africa. The cause of this crisis will be likely shouldered by a
weary citizenry for years to come.
At the table, Mark Quarterman, research director for the Enough Project and
previously served with the United Nations for more than a decade, Laurie
Garrett who is senior fellow for Global health for the council on foreign
relations, which she received the 1996 Pulitzer Prize for her coverage of
Ebola epidemic in Zaire. Details of her coverage can be found in her book,
"Betrayal of Trust." Also with us is Dr. William Karesh who is executive
vice president for health and policy of echohealth alliance, which is a
nonprofit that works around the globe at the intersection and conservation
of public health. And Frankie Edoxien who is editor and chief of African
magazine and director reporting for Africa program at NYU`s journalism
It is so nice to have you all here.
So Laurie, I want to start with your piece on foreign policy yesterday in
which the title of it actually says we could have stopped this. How?
LAURIE GARRETT, SENIOR FELLOW, GLOBAL HEALTH FOR THE COUNCIL ON FOREIGN
RELATIONS: Same way we`ve stopped past epidemics, when it was still rural,
when it is still relatively confined, when the strategies that had worked
in one epidemic after another would have succeeded. Unfortunately, by the
time the world community woke up and said, wow, we have a crisis on our
hands, it was well beyond the boundaries of villages and rural areas. It
was well beyond any of the tactical approaches that had worked in the past
and that had become completely urbanize so that now the majority of cases
are in Monrovia, in Freetown, in (INAUDIBLE), in the big cities.
HARRIS-PERRY: So when you talk about that sort of the world waking up. I
mean, what we were here kind of screaming out early on, talking about it
going on, and now I have a certain sense of, like, guilt in the pit of my
stomach because I wonder if those images that we`re seeing, for example, of
-- you know, of someone being shoved into the back of a truck, I think,
have we just reproduced that sick, dirty, awful continent of Africa that
that no one should go to or invest in? Like there`s this way in which the
African continent has worked so hard to push back those kinds of themes
about itself in order to come into an age of economic development. And I
wonder, if this ends up sort of taking a step back, the continent a step
MARK QUARTERMAN, RESEARCH DIRECTOR, ENOUGH PROJECT: It could well do, that
but I think we need to put this into perspective. As you pointed out, a
number of the panelists in our discussions had pointed out, multiple
crisis. It`s not just a public health crisis. It`s governance crisis.
People expect their governments to be able to deal with these things that
occur. There will be outbreaks of disease. There will be natural
But the perspective I think we need to put it in is that governments often
can`t live up to the expectations. Unless we get too smug about what`s
happening in Africa, we should remember hurricane Katrina and the fact that
the U.S. government absolutely let down its public and its citizens in its
response. These are governments that are stretched to the limit in the
best of circumstances in terms of governance.
Sierra Leone, Liberia, are coming out of brutal civil wars. Education has
been disrupted for decades in those countries. They`re rebuilding, which
is not an excuse at all for poor governance and a poorer response. But I
think we just need to put it into perspective and understand that this is
not just an African problem but rather a response to disaster whether it`s
public health or natural disaster that tests any government.
HARRIS-PERRY: And there is an intersection there between that issue of
governance, how an economy operates, and this issue of sort of
vulnerability in the case of my beloved New Orleans to the levees being
breached and in the case here of West Africa to the question of the spread
of this particular disease, because this is in part connected to thousand
local economy works. Is that right?
DR. WILLIAM KARESH, EXECUTIVE VICE PRESIDENT FOR HEALTH AND POLICY,
ECHOHEALTH ALLIANCE: Absolutely. I mean, you have people that are
completely dependent on a resource for food, which is generally in many of
these countries wildlife so, in about central Africa alone. It is about a
billion pounds of wildlife consumed annually for food. And there is
limited choices in the economic disadvantage and the most of these people
are marginalized outside of society and these rural areas. So they`re left
to kind of pick and choose in what they can in the forest and all these
diseases are spreading over originally from wildlife and then burns out of
So if you have poverty, if you don`t have education, if you don`t have
governance, it`s like being surprised that we had a forest fire after 20
years of drought. So you have 20 years of no investment in education and
poverty alleviation and so it`s right for a disaster.
HARRIS-PERRY: This is not a small point, this idea that the food source
itself, the question of I think the kind of language we hear is Bush
league, that this language of wildlife that is part of like this key aspect
of local economies and then that`s precisely also the thing that creates a
public health vulnerability.
FRANKIE EDOZIEN, EDITOR AND CHIEF, AFRICAN MAGAZINE: It absolutely is.
But I think this has gone way beyond that because we see that Africa`s
largest economy in Nigeria is dealing with Ebola and it didn`t come from
Bushmen. It came from a person traveling. And now, not just (INAUDIBLE)
which is its commercial capital dealing with this the, the oil-rich city
are dealing with this, how did this get there?
A diplomat who contracted Ebola got on a flight to go talk to a private
doctor and that doctor now treated him got sick and his wife is ill. So we
look at how people are moving around in Africa either by road or by flight
and this is cutting across all sorts of things. So it`s easier to say,
well, let`s quarantine people, but that does not work in reality.
GARRETT: Yes, I`m going to add to this. We now have the total genetic
analysis of 99 strains completely sequenced do we know. There was only one
HARRIS-PERRY: So that has been overstated.
GARRETT: It has been 100 percent human to human transmission after the
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Just how it starts.
GARRETT: And so, this tells you more about how this could be control. And
let me just add to this. I now am very angry with the United Nations, with
WHO, with the failure to respond. You know, the world health assembly led
in many cases by African nations said, you know, we`re past the infectious
disease era. It`s time to start slashing that budget, slash, slash, slash.
Do you know what the total disease response budget for WHO for the year
2014 is, $114 million.
HARRIS-PERRY: Million, not billion.
GARRETT: $114 million. So if anybody thinks WHO has rapid response
capacity, a big team in a SWAT jet and they`re going to swoop in and save
the day, forget about it. And then WHO two weeks ago starts begging, and
the World Bank comes up and says, wow, you know, we looked around in here
and we just found $200 million for you.
So now we`re up to roughly $300 million for a response that if this was
(INAUDIBLE), Indonesia, $5 billion, the entire U.S. pacific fleet,
mobilization of 12,600 U.S. military personnel. What are we at now? Zero.
HARRIS-PERRY: Stay on exactly that because as soon as we come back, I want
to -- the president in speaking with Chuck Todd this morning actually
addressed this question. And I want to bring his voice in and get all the
rest of you to respond as well.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: If we don`t make that effort
now and this spreads not just through Africa but other parts of the world,
there is the prospect than that the virus mutates, it becomes more easily
transmittable, and then it could be a seriously danger to the United
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: So that was President Obama speaking with Chuck Todd on
"Meet the Press" this morning. And I`m presume the president knows that
there` not much likelihood of a mutating virus that impacts the U.S. in a
broad scale. But I presuming that this is about ginning up American
willingness for the kind of spending we were talking act before the break.
QUARTERMAN: I think that`s absolutely right. By making it a national
security -- potential national security crisis, the president is creating
at least some interest in assistance. But as Laurie said, the United
States, the rest of the world, the U.N., the world health organization, the
response is so inadequate. And the ability of the countries that are
affected to deal with this is so low as to make such a response almost
HARRIS-PERRY: And so, Frankie, I want to go back in part to what Laurie is
suggesting here. So I`m wondering if there`s a cross purpose, particularly
for political leader, if there is a moment where they say look, we`re past
the infectious disease state, right? Is there a cross purpose of economic
development interest and the need to attract particularly international
economic development versus the need to address the health crisis? Like if
that actually ends up working against one another?
EDOZIEN: Well, you know, this is a time for leadership, and President
Obama had this huge Africa summit in August. Bring in all African
presidents here say America is ready to partner with you. We have a major
crisis going on in West Africa. And what really bothers me is that if
you`re going to say we`re going to tried with you, we`re going to do
business with you but when your people are dying we`re just going to wait
and see, that doesn`t really sound right.
HARRIS-PERRY: And the fact that trade is actually being impacted, right?
EDOZIEN: Of course.
HARRIS-PERRY: "The New York Times" cover story saying airlines have
canceled their flights to countries that have been affected, the price of
staple foods going up, food supplies --
HARRIS-PERRY: The planting season for several countries has gone down the
drain right now. There are food prices are hiked up in Liberia and Sierra
Leone. People are hungry and disgruntled. And what is really concern to
me right now is if you are sick in several of these countries and you don`t
have Ebola, you have nowhere to go. If you are pregnant, if you have
meningitis, if you have anything, it`s all Ebola all the time.
So which means malaria season is coming up, people are going to get sick,
people could die. This is going to be really catastrophic. And the United
States has just said we want to be Africa`s partner. Well, here`s a time
to show leadership. Don`t worry about politics. Say these are our trading
partners. We need to pump the money into West Africa right now to contain
this and to take care of this, because as we have said, we know what this
does. We`ve seen Ebola before. It`s not new.
HARRIS-PERRY: So, is this what you`re saying act Indonesia? Is this why
the response would have been different?
GARRETT: Absolutely. Here`s our opportunity, OK? I`m going to speak now
to the Pentagon and to its counterparts in other wealthy nations. Here`s
our opportunity moment and you will be hailed as saviors on the streets in
Western Africa if you follow through.
Ghana has just courageously stepped up to the plate and said we`re willing
to be the air bridge, meaning that all transport of goods -- because as you
said, commercial airlines are no longer flying. We can`t even get doctors
in there now, right? There`s no flights. But Ghana is saying we`re
prepared to be the air bridge. You can use the Accra airport as a staging
ground. You can start bringing in 20, 30, 40, giant c-5A transit planes
loaded with supplies, with protective gear, with medicine, you can start
bringing in the 11,000 health care worker they need now at the current size
of the epidemic, which now is by the way increasing by a thousand a week.
GARRETT: It is unbelievable. Huge increase. So we have this opportunity.
But, you know, Ghana doesn`t have the capacity to actually take care of all
the kind of logistic and supply issues. That`s a great role for the United
States air force.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Absolutely.
GARRETT: And then somebody`s got to have the courage to risk that their
pilots and crew are willing to make the short flights from the Accra
airport to whatever staging ground there are in the three countries and
perhaps also Nigeria. That`s another role for the United States air force.
HARRIS-PERRY: How does doing that change who the U.S. is in the world? So
I don`t know if anyone from the Pentagon is watching. It`s football
Sunday. But if someone is, how does making that decision change who the
U.S. is in the world?
QUARTERMAN: The U.S. is dealing with a number of international crises now
on a number of different levels. Ukraine, Russia working with NATO, ISIS
in Iraq and in Syria. Showing that degree of -- and we`ve got American
politicians clamoring for the president to make firm statements, stands,
actions in those areas.
This shows America`s soft power and this could be a demonstration of that.
And it could also be a demonstration of leadership, showing the way for
other wealthy countries to act as well. So, no, this could be -- it won`t
be transformative, but it could be another way for the United States to
show it power --
HARRIS-PERRY: And for a president who is so embattled, everyone is against
Ebola, right? I mean, this is the sort of thing where you could actually
imagine this Congress that is going to return to work acting. As we even
begin to imagine these kinds of large political, geopolitical, and economic
responses as you look at this from a public health perspective, do you see,
as you talk about malaria season, hunger, that there will be a kind of
second wave of public hilt crisis that`s not Ebola but other kinds of
infections that could come on the back end of this?
KARESH: Yes. It`s just brewing right now. We have to move away from just
responding crisis to emergency to another disaster and spending. They are
expensive. Just go upstream and prevent it. So the same thing as the same
ways we can educate people about reducing Ebola or preventing it is the
same thing we need for childhood vaccinations, the same investment for
malaria. So it`s not extra money. It`s just taking a really coordinated
approach to engage civil society, give people the opportunity to be
educators who can learn how to protect themselves. We will just have fewer
release like I said, we can`t prevent every disaster but we can reduce
their impact. We have an outbreak in DRC right now and it is small and
contained. And those people in that civil society, they have been exposed
to this for several years and the go like we need to do something about
this ourselves. And as we spread around the world, it is like get in front
of these things.
HARRIS-PERRY: And the expense if we don`t seems to be not exponential in
the way that --
GARRETT: We will have endemic Ebola in at least three countries, possibly
in the whole of the West Africa region that will go on for years. And if
we don`t act now, and I`m not just saying act, I`m saying we need a log
rhythmic increase in the commitment, in the personnel on the ground, in the
logistic concern. We need U.S. army to fly in the Medevac (ph) unit that
they are so good with that we`ve got battle-hardened skilled guys that know
how to walk right into a war. They know how to fly right in, set up a
medical response capacity and boom, it`s on the ground and it is running in
HARRIS-PERRY: There`s not anything that could be clearer than the
suggestions Laurie has made. Thank you both Mark and Laurie for being
here. Also, thank you to Dr. Karesh and to Frankie for being here.
Still to come this morning, what an African-American-Latino coalition could
look like in 2014.
And the U.S. attorney general is policing the police for civil rights
There is more Nerdland at the top of the hour.
HARRIS-PERRY: Welcome back. I`m Melissa Harris-Perry. President Obama`s
most meaningful response to calls for him to do something about the police
shooting of Michael Brown and the militarized response to Ferguson
protesters wasn`t something he said. It was something he did -- deploying
Attorney General Eric Holder to Ferguson to see what was happening there
for himself. When the Attorney General went to Ferguson two weeks ago, he
spoke both as the nation`s top law enforcement official and as an African-
American citizen who related intimately to the racialized tensions that
fueled days of protests in the city.
This week we learned that his visit was not just a photo-op. And it wasn`t
only to check on the progress of the federal investigation into the
shooting of Michael Brown by Ferguson police Officer Daren Wilson because
on Thursday, Attorney General Holder announced that the DOJ would be
investigating not just a single officer but the entire Ferguson Police
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ERIC HOLDER, U.S. ATTORNEY GENERAL: As a result of this history and
following extensive review of documented allegations and other available
data, we have determined that there is cause for the Justice Department to
open an investigation to determine whether Ferguson police officials have
engaged in a pattern or practice of violations of the United States
constitution or federal law.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: DOJ`s investigation will look into the Ferguson Police
Department`s use of force including deadly force, its record of stops,
searches, and arrests and the treatment of prisoners at the Ferguson City
jail. And it adds the Ferguson Police Department to a list of 20 other
investigations of police departments launched by DOJ in the last five
years. More than twice the number in the five years before that. And the
end result for those departments according to "The Washington Post," is
likely to be either a lawsuit against them by DOJ or a settlement that
includes a consent decree in federal monitoring.
Those investigations aren`t just happening in departments in states whose
policing problems you`ve already heard of, yes, California`s LAPD and
Louisiana`s New Orleans PD and Arizona`s Maricopa County sheriff`s office.
They`ll make a list. But also included are departments like Portland,
Oregon`s Police Bureau and the Seattle PD in Washington.
Joining me now to discuss Marquez Claxton director of the Black Law
Enforcement Alliance. He`s a retired detective who served 20 years with
the New York Police Department. Reverend Paul Raushenbush, executive
religion editor at "The Huffington Post." Janai Nelson who is associate
director and counsel of the NAACP`s legal defense. And Phillip Atiba Goff
who is professor of social psychology at UCLA and director of the Center
for Policing Equity, visiting scholar at Harvard`s Kennedy schools.
So, Phillip, what happens when there was a consent decree? When has it
PHILLIP ATIBA GOFF, PROFESSOR, SOCIAL PSYCHOLOGY, UCLA: Well, that`s bit
of an issue that`s controversial within law enforcement. Consent decrees
are negotiated settlement-type deal where law enforcement and the Justice
Department says, we`re going to get together and agree these are the steps
we need to take to make the department better. But I think the reality is
in places like Cincinnati and Los Angeles where people have said they`ve
worked well, they`re really a lever for progressive law enforcement that
wants to do the right thing. A consent decree in the hands of a chief or
department that`s very resistant is really just a lot of smoke with not a
lot of light.
Oh, that`s interesting. So, I mean, I want to listen to A.G. Holder
because he has got a little bit more enthusiasm about what they have been
up to. Let`s take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HOLDER: And we`re enforcing 14 agreements to reform law enforcement
practices at agencies both large and small. With these agreements we have
seen dramatic decreases in excessive uses of force, with equity in the
delivery of police services including important measures to address bias,
and most significantly increased confidence by communities in their law
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: Now, MHP show viewers you couldn`t see Phillip Atiba Goff`s
face in this moment but he had a little skepticism about that. Marquez
Claxton, what is your experience on this question of how consent decree or
oversight by the federal government ends up impacting what happens on the
MARQUEZ CLAXTON, RETIRED, NYPD: A.G. Holder greatly overstates the
effectiveness of a consent decree. Even a DOJ investigation itself and
subsequent federal monitoring. It`s all overstated. There is no
significant increase in public confidence, effectiveness of the police
forces in dealing with municipal environment, et cetera. So I mean it`s
really an overstatement and it`s shameful because I think what happens is
people tend to believe that there will be some positive changes coming out
of federal investigation and subsequent consent decrees but there is no
clear evidence that that is the case.
And they`re limited -- they have limited themselves in the manner which
they deal with these things. For example, Newark Police Department is also
under a consent decree, if you will. They`ll appoint a federal monitor
there. But they do so in conjunction with city government. So you have a
cooperative agreement between city government and the federal government to
say who will be the monitor and what they`ll monitor and what the actual
impact will be.
HARRIS-PERRY: So both of you have made me a little sad because I have been
feeling excited all week about the fact that A.G. Holder announced that
this was going to happen. You know, I always have this kind of
reconstruction moment where I`m like ha-ha! Federal government coming
back, take that! But now I`m sitting here thinking, okay, if what it`s
really about is what these city governments are, then maybe the most
effective things are actually the Attorney General`s lawsuits about voting
because maybe actually it`s social movements and voting and who is running
these places that makes the big difference rather than the oversight.
JANAI NELSON, NAACP LEGAL DEFENSE FUND: That`s absolutely true. If you
look at Ferguson and you look at the composition of the city council, for
example, in a city hast 67 percent black, the city council four out of five
of the members are white. And that is due to all sorts of, you know,
structural barriers to voting, to political participation in this city, and
it shows in the lack of any type of leadership on the part of the city
council to represent that community in this moment of crisis. So I think
DOJ should be applauded for this investigation. But it absolutely is going
to take more. This is not a fix to Ferguson. This is a fantastic first
step but it is absolutely not a fix.
HARRIS-PERRY: And it`s what the federal government can do. Right? Or are
there other steps that the federal government has some capacity over when
it comes to local police departments?
ATIBA GOFF: I think part of the reason why you`re hearing skepticism is
not because consent decrees don`t work, it`s because as you said we don`t
have evidence. Why is it the case that the federal government has to go in
and find out how much force has been used, right?
ATIBA GOFF: Find out how many people are getting stopped? How was it that
after the --
HARRIS-PERRY: It`s not even routinely collected.
ATIBA GOFF: It`s collected but it`s not reported to any national body,
right? So we have the tragedy of Michael Brown`s shooting death. Right?
And now we`re following that with the embarrassment of not knowing how
often that happens.
ATIBA GOFF: How can you do that and say you`re taking race and policing
HARRIS-PERRY: So, it makes me wonder, Paul, if part of what we need to be
looking at and if part of what the lesson of Ferguson potentially can be is
about sustainable long-term social movement in the face of this sort of
injustice so that when we have the hands up don`t shoot movement and for at
least a moment because of the overreaction of police, we have cameras that
come. The cameras induce the A.G. down there, the A.G. sets -- but it does
feel like if that`s it, then it`s going to just potentially at least go
nowhere. So how then do you keep a movement, a protest alive?
REV. PAUL RAUSHENBUSH, EXECUTIVE RELIGION EDITOR, "THE HUFFINGTON POST":
Well, I think that`s the point is that no one would be there if that
protest hadn`t started and hadn`t been sustained. You know, the whole
reason that the Attorney General ordered this was because he went there and
then asked, and he said, oh, there`s been systemic abuses. And I thought,
well, you could go to almost any community in America and find that. So
what we`re looking at as an opportunity here.
And one of the sad things I thought was that when this was announced, the
civil defense police offers, the head of that in "The New York Times" said
this is politically motivated, we`ll have a chilling effect on police, and
I think that`s just the wrong message to send. This is an opportunity for
all of us to say, this is what we need, this is what America needs, and
that`s all of citizens. I want to reiterate, this is not a black issue.
This is an American issue. We should all care about it intensely.
CLAXTON: I have to take issue with that. I think clearly this is a black
issue. And I think what has happened in the past is there`s been some
minimization of it or, you know, people attempt to say, well, this is a
broader issue that affects all people equally. It does not. It is a black
issue because of the impact it has on black communities. And to go even
further than that, this is a larger issue than just DOJ or police
brutality, criminality. This is about an entire criminal justice system
that is in desperate need of reform. So until we get to the point where
we`re willing to accept that the entire system is broken, these things will
continue. But this is a black problem. It is not exclusive to the black
community but it is a black problem and all data and available evidence
HARRIS-PERRY: So, on exactly that --
RAUSHENBUSH: You know, I just want to say I completely agree with you, it
is not only up to black people to solve it. It is up to all of us to solve
HARRIS-PERRY: So on exactly that topic when we come back, I`m going to
just ask a little question about whether or not having a black solution to
the black problem is in fact a sufficient solution.
HARRIS-PERRY: One of the things we had already learned about the Ferguson
Police Department before Attorney General Holder launched his investigation
was that the Ferguson PD has a diversity problem. Just three African-
American officers in a community that is 67 percent African-American. And
on Thursday "The New York Times" published a listing showing 15
metropolitan areas that, like Ferguson, have a racial disparity between
police departments and their communities. "The Times" reported that in
hundreds of police departments nationwide the percentage of white officers
on police forces is more than 30 percentage points higher than in the
communities they are policing.
According to experts cited in the article, those numbers matter because
diversity in police departments give them more credibility with the
communities they serve. Now, as both a professor and researcher I am
willing to take seriously a claim based on research, data, and expert
analysis. But I`m also from generation hip-hop. And I`m a student. And
so I have to weigh those numbers against a lesson I was taught a long time
ago from none other than the teacher himself.
On return of the Boom Bap, the first solo album released in 1993 from hip-
hop icon KRS-One, Chris raps on the track, black cop, and apparently I`m
going to get some help here. Thirty years ago there were no black cops you
couldn`t even run drive around the block, recently police trained black cop
to stand on corner and take gunshot this type of warfare isn`t new or
shock it`s black on black crime again nonstop black cop, black cop, black
cop more than 20 years later, the teacher`s lesson remains the same.
Simply having more African-Americans officers on the police force will not
necessarily need to less of a policing in African-American communities.
I`m going to ask my black -- about it when we come back.
HARRIS-PERRY: I did. I begged them not to make me rap. But listen,
tensions between St. Louis area police and the communities they serve had
already been simmering long before Michael Brown`s killing made the rest of
the country take notice. Aggressive ticketing by police for low-level
offenses has fueled that friction among many in the northern part of the
county which is honked to a growing population of lower income African-
An NBC News report found in recent years, Ferguson and other jurisdiction
across the north side of St. Louis County have issued low level traffic and
other violations at a per capita rate as much as a dozen times higher than
cities in other parts of suburban St. Louis. Data from the state Attorney
General`s office cited in the report found that per capita African-American
drivers in the county are 66 percent more likely to be stopped than white
drivers and are more likely to be arrested once stopped.
Four of the jurisdictions finds from those violations amount to added
revenues. But for the financially vulnerable people who get caught in the
system, those violations add up to what one St. Louis County municipal
judge said could become a web of dick ticketing, debt, and if people can`t
or don`t show up in court to pay it, warrants and arrests.
Joining me from St. Louis is Thomas Harvey, executive director of ArchCity
Defenders, a law firm that represents low-income people in the area and
that recently released a report on local municipal courts. Nice to have
THOMAS HARVEY, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, ARCHCITY DEFENDERS: Thank you for
having me. Pleasure.
HARRIS-PERRY: So, it seems that there is an actual incentive here. A city
budgetary incentive to criminalize local communities.
HARVEY: There`s certainly that impression by my clients and our report is
based on taking seriously what our clients had to say about the fact that
they were stopped because they were black and then exploited because they
were poor and they routinely told us this isn`t about public safety, this
is about the money. And when we looked into it we saw a lot of support for
what they said in terms of the city budgets, city of Ferguson estimates
that it will increase revenue -- I`m sorry, it will have revenue from its
municipal courts to the tune of $6.65 million, adjacent city of Florissant
has revenues from municipal courts for $3 million. And those are largely
stemming from traffic tickets.
HARRIS-PERRY: Hold for me for just one second. Because now, I want to
come out to you officer. Because I made this point that I`m not sure that
having black officers fixes the problem overall, and this is precisely why.
If there is an economic incentive for stopping and ticketing and ultimately
jailing, what difference does it make if the officer is black or white?
CLAXTON: Absolutely excellent point and that`s true because it would make
no difference, and not only insofar as the ticketing situation is concerned
but as far as the allegations of brutality, et cetera. When you have an
individual subsumed by the current culture they`re in, which is the police
culture, then everything else is off the table. You lose a certain level
of consciousness oftentimes and that`s sad. What`s happened here is that
you have what should be professional police officers who now, because of
the city`s needs or desire to make more money, have turned into bounty
hunters. And you have to deal with bounty hunters as bounty hunters and be
real about what they are. That`s not professional police service, that`s
HARRIS-PERRY: OK. And when you use that language, I want to come to you
because as I was listening to the reports about this, as I was reading
these numbers, it felt to me like basically what we`re talking about is
local city jails becoming debtor`s prisons, that if you`re just a person
incapable of paying then the ways in which that then mounts are enormous,
whereas if you have -- you know, if $100 the -- so not that a bigger part
of your monthly budget, you pay your tickets and you go on. Is there a
legal question here? I mean, is there a way in which these kinds of city
policies might actually run afoul of larger legal concerns?
NELSON: Well, absolutely. When we look at the fact that the Police
Department is subsidized by the municipality and effectively these officers
are finding their own salaries through the communities they serve. They`re
issuing tickets, having their subsidies put in by the people who are
targeted. And there should be a legal remedy to this to disincentive the
police officers from targeting the communities they`re actually paid to
protect and serve.
HARRIS-PERRY: So this is an interesting and important point that these
communities are also taxpayers who are initially paying in and then they`re
paying in again with these fines.
ATIBA GOFF: I think it`s really important to make the distinction between
what law enforcement is responsible for and what happens to law
enforcement. So if the laws of the land are racist it`s law enforcement`s
jobs to enforce racist laws. Right? So, but that`s not going to change by
going to law enforcement, talking to the chief and begging for a change.
Right? The chief has one vote just like every other resident has one vote.
Right? So, if we`re talking act police reform, it`s so important that
we`re about community reform, municipal reform, because law enforcement is
a reflection of the community and the police. It`s not just, you know, its
own entity that creates its own laws, at least it shouldn`t be.
HARRIS-PERRY: So, Thom, let me come back to you though. Because it does
seem to me this question of community, part of what came up, you know, for
all of us watching Ferguson, getting to know Ferguson over the course of
the past few weeks is how many municipalities they are in a very small
geographic region and the fact that so many of the officers don`t live in
whatever the most sort of micro-municipality is. Why is that and what
effect does that end up having?
HARVEY: Well, there are nine municipalities and when people talk about
this being limited to Ferguson, I would say that`s an error. This is a
broader problem in 30 to 40 of the municipalities in that region. There`s
a lot of talk of outsiders agitating in Ferguson, saying they were not from
Ferguson. Well, if you`re from -- or you`re from Jennings, you`re from
Florissant or you`re from maybe less than a mile from Ferguson, so
Ferguson`s policies impact everybody in that region. Everybody`s policies
in that region impact people from Ferguson because you could potentially
drive through eight municipalities in a stretch of three miles. I did want
to speak to something you mentioned about legal remedies. It is clear that
incarcerating someone after they`ve stated that they don`t have the ability
to pay is unlawful.
And that`s something that we`re looking into. That`s not the police.
That`s the court system. And they obviously have different
responsibilities than police do. I also would like to say, I agree
completely that adding a handful of African-American officers to Ferguson`s
police force or any of the other municipalities is a welcome first step,
but it doesn`t address the systemic problems that we have many the region
with regards to these municipal courts and the fines that are assessed that
disproportionately affect poor people and communities of color. There`s a
neighboring municipality called Pine Lawn, which is predominantly African-
American, has African-American representation on its -- at the mayoral
level and at the prosecutorial level, and there`s the same problem there.
HARRIS-PERRY: All right. So, this goes back to the point that you were
making earlier, Paul, which is as much as this a problem that
disproportionately impacts the poor, disproportionately impacts African-
Americans and particularly African-American men living in cities, as much
as all of that is true, the folks who are going to have to fix this cannot
exclusively be -- can`t just be adding a handful of American cops to the
RAUSHENBUSH: No. It has to be a complete coalition. And I want to bring
in the clergy that were very present in, you know, the response to what
happened in Ferguson from the first night they were there. They were
praying, they were on the front lines of the protest. And I think this is
a real opportunity for them to be organized in whatever reforms happen.
They should be in the front, because often they can offer a liaison,
sometimes even the police officers are also in the congregation along with
people who are suffering from these racist laws. So, I want to encourage
that as one step that, you know, could have real solutions.
HARRIS-PERRY: Yes. It`s so interesting to hear you say that, living down
North Carolina, Reverend Barbour and the moral Mondays movement. This is
his key. He said you have to take these injustices and frame them as moral
questions. In St. Louis, Thomas Harvey, thank so much for your time this
morning and for your continuing work.
HARVEY: Thank you.
HARRIS-PERRY: Thank you to all of my guests here in New York. Marquez
Claxton, my favorite black cop. Janai Nelson and Phillip Atiba Goff. Stay
with us because many of the headlines about policing focus on the treatment
of men of color, but there is an alarming case out of Oklahoma involving
African-American women and a police officer accused of repeated sexual
abuse. You do not want to miss this story when we come back.
HARRIS-PERRY: The choking death of Eric Garner during a police stop in
Staten Island, New York. The shooting death of Michael Brown by a
Ferguson, Missouri, police officer. The gunshot death of Victor White
while he was handcuffed in the back seat of a New Iberia, Louisiana, police
car. These cases have America talking about the violence and harm black
men that too often experience at the hands of American police.
But a chilling new case out of Oklahoma City may shine a light on the
vulnerabilities of women. This week, a BuzzFeed Jessica Testa went to
Oklahoma County where prosecutors presented a case against police officer
Daniel Holtzclaw, who is alleged to have sexually assaulted eight black
women. Testa recounts the stomach-churning testimony of a 57-year-old
grandmother who says she was violated, molested, and forced to perform oral
sex all during what she initially believed was a routine traffic stop.
Holtzclaw, through his attorney and family members, is vehemently denying
the charges of eight women whose stories collectively present a narrative
of a serial sex offender.
According to Testa`s reporting, Holtzclaw allegedly used his position as a
police officer to identify potential targets who pose the least risk as
targets of assault. By allegedly focusing on poor black women with
criminal records, Holtzclaw kept himself from being caught. Not only is
this individual stopping women who fit a profile of members of our society
who are confronted rightly or wrongly by police officers all the time, said
the prosecutor, he identifies a vulnerable society that without exception,
except one, have an attitude for what good is it going to do? He`s a
police officer. Who`s going to believe me?
This of course is the question -- who is going to believe these women?
Anthony Douglas, president of the Oklahoma NAACP is frustrated that even as
he is sounding the alarm about the alleged pattern of violence against
black women by a police officer, it seems to be garnering less attention
than the shooting deaths of black men including the blanket media coverage
of protests in nearby Ferguson, Missouri. Well, Mr. Douglas, we have heard
you. We are paying attention. And we will follow closely as this case
proceeds. And thank you to the team at BuzzFeed who did the work on the
ground, original reporting, the kind of original reporting we need so much
more of to bring focus to a story in this case of eight women allegedly
raped by someone who was supposed to serve and protect them.
HARRIS-PERRY: We`ve been talking this hour about how some members of the
police force treat the communities they sworn to protect and to serve. I`d
now like to bring you the story of a recurring quest on this show. She`s a
civil rights activist based here in New York whose work focuses on social
service and equality for women of color. We learned earlier this week that
she was harass and attacked while exiting her office with a co-worker on
Wednesday. Her alleged attacker chased her down the street, yelled
racially charged threats, and threw a trash can at her. Apparently
targeting her because of her identity. She and her co-worker called the
police, who took more than 40 minutes to respond.
In fact, it was the individual being targeted who said she had to go find
the two police officers in a nearby bagel shop. The guest and friend of
this show I`m talking about is Linda Sarsour, executive director of the
Arab-American Association of New York. The day of the attack Sarsour says
she told -- police told her they did not believe her case was high priority
because of the way she described the incident. But Mayor De Blasio has
since tweeted his support for Sarsour saying, "New Yorkers stand with you,
Linda Sarsour, our city will never condone such glaring acts of bigotry and
intolerance." Police Commissioner Bill Bratton said on Thursday that the
NYPD has launched an internal investigation into the officer`s response to
On the table now is Linda Sarsour, executive director of the Arab-American
Association of New York. Also Reverend Alvin Herring who is a deputy
director of Faith and Formation at PICO National Network. And still with
us, the Reverend Paul Raushenbush, executive religion editor at "The
Huffington Post." And from Washington, D.C., Felipe Sousa Rodriguez, the
deputy managing director for United We Dream. So nice to have you all
Linda, I want to start with you and I purposely did a bit of a head fake
introducing you because I wanted my viewers to think I was speaking of
someone who is African-American because it is a story we so frequently
think of as a story of abuse and then police sort of not caring. But your
story is a reminder that there are some shared experiences here.
LINDA SARSOUR, EXEC. DIR., ARAB-AMERICAN ASSOCIATION OF NEW YORK:
Absolutely. I mean, to think I could be chased in a street and being
threatened to get my head cut off in broad daylight at 12:20 and for me to
have to wait over 45 minutes for a police officers who are supposed to
protect and serve me is something that I can`t fathom. And what makes me
even more horrifying is that there are women in my community whose English
is not their first language and it`s very hard for them to describe an
experience in a way. But to say you`re being chased by a man who`s being
violent, I don`t know what more worse we were supposed to say.
And even after NYPD showed up 47 minutes later and spoke to my colleague,
because I left the scene of the crime, they even had the nerve to lecture
us about the lexicon that we should have used next time. We should have
said we were being assaulted which makes it a high priority case. I mean,
I have no idea if we`re supposed to pull out a dictionary, you know, every
time we become a victim of a crime. But unfortunately, this was the case.
But I`m grateful that the commissioner is taking this matter very seriously
and I hope that my story is going to make some waves in the New York Police
Department that when you`re being called to a scene of a crime you don`t
choose a bagel or a sandwich over the community that you`re supposed to be
HARRIS-PERRY: I can remember being told as a young person cry fire not
rape because that is what they will respond to. And yet part of what I am
hoping emerges as a result of the investigation into this horrifying
incident that you experienced is apparently the alleged assailant in this
case has a record. Is that right?
SARSOUR: He has been arrested 56 times and has 34 convictions including
ones he walked into a restaurant waving a butcher knife. This man is
walking our streets. He`s a man who`s mentally ill. I`m sure he has
addiction problems. He needs help. He`s part of a failed system. But if
you took the man and he was African-American, you better believe he
wouldn`t be walking in our streets right now. He`d be in some maximum
federal security prison probably just for having possession of drugs. You
know, this is the kind of story that this tells you that I have to live in
a community with the man like this that the system has failed and in part
has failed us as a community.
HARRIS-PERRY: So, part then of why I wanted this table of folks together
is it does seem to me as a matter of electoral reality, coalition building
is always necessary. But even beyond that, Reverend, we often think of
particularly I think progress, I was tend to think of religion and faith as
inherently divisive. Do you see the possibility of interreligious,
interracial, cross class alliances that actually come from shared
experience of vulnerability?
REV. ALVIN HERRING, DEP. DIR., FAITH AND FORMATION FOR PICO NATIONAL
NETWORK: Oh, I absolutely do. I`m just getting back from Ferguson,
Missouri. I`ve spent two of the last three weeks there. And on the ground
there is an amazing coalition forming of religious leaders, clergy,
faithful congregants of all religious back backgrounds, and not just in
Ferguson but all over the country. We are certainly seeing that in our
work. And not only are we seeing people beginning to have conversations
and dialogue at levels that they hadn`t in the past, but we`re also seeing
the beginning of the kind of coalition building that will really create
Now, there are challenges, obviously. We have a great deal of distance to
cover because the system really imposes a kind of religious apartheid in
this country where we`re not supposed to have dialogue, Christians, and
Jews and Muslims and other faiths communities. We`re really working very
hard. Our organization PICO which is a network of some 2,500 congregations
is working very hard and we`re working very hard to do that. But you know,
I think that the conversations, the public conversations, the important
conversations, police violence, the immigration and so forth, are made
better, stronger, clearer through the involvement of people of faith.
HARRIS-PERRY: So Felipe, let me come to you then on exactly that since the
reverend has brought us to the question of, you know, he listed immigration
as part of that story, part of the reason that you are not with us here in
New York but instead in D.C. is because the president who is the
beneficiary of perhaps the most diverse electoral coalition in American
history, just yesterday announced that he is not going to take individual
executive action on the question of immigration reform. How is the part of
the coalition that you are in part part of here responding to this?
FELIPE SOUSA-RODRIGUEZ, DEP. MANAGING DIR., UNITED WE DREAM: Well, the
president has failed us again on the issue of immigration. More than two
million people have already been deported, local police have been deputized
to enforce immigration law, which is partly the reason why it`s so hard for
immigrants to even come forward when a crime is being committed against
them. And it feels like he played with our emotions. He played with our
lives. Right? Eleven million people had their hopes and dreams again up.
They believed that we were going to get relief. And yesterday he basically
said that he chose politics over our lives.
HARRIS-PERRY: I want to leave on that powerful thing just for a moment.
We`ll take a quick break. Because when we come back, that question of our
lives versus politics is where I want to ask Paul Raushenbush about how he
we go back and make a claim, a moral and ethical claim about what our
politics really need to look like.
HARRIS-PERRY: In an interview aired this morning on "Meet the Press,"
President Obama spoke to NBC`s Chuck Todd about his decision to delay
executive action on immigration reform until after the November elections.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: And what I want to do is
when I take executive action I want to make sure that it`s sustainable.
What I`m saying is that I`m going to act because it`s the right thing for
the country, but it`s going to be more sustainable and more effective if
the public understands what the facts are on immigration, what we`ve done
on unaccompanied children, and why it`s necessary.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: Paul, this just feels to me like the moment where, no, you
do what`s right. And in fact that this is such a moment to say, you know
what, whatever the political expediency, I`m going to do what`s right here.
RAUSHENBUSH: What`s crazy about immigration is that there is no debate
among any religious community, this includes Catholics, it includes the
southern Baptists, includes all these people who normally fight about
things, no one`s fighting about this. Everybody agrees this is the right
thing to do and now is the right time. So what`s interesting about this is
that he`s ignoring this grand coalition that makes up like religious
America that is decided we have to do something about immigration, we have
to do it now, it`s lives involved and this is our moral imperative.
And the president is hemming and hawing. And I think what this teaches a
lot of us, I think is that, it`s more than electing a president. It`s
about what we do on the ground, how we agitate continuously. I have to say
people have been working so hard and that`s the reason this is so
disappointing for so many, that this has been a major point for many people
to come together, there`s consensus on it and the president should just act
HARRIS-PERRY: It`s so interesting when you frame it that way to say that
there is a moral consensus on this question that crosses religious
differences, because I do think, you know, when we think of religion, we
tend to think of, you know, a set of books that we consider holy or a set
of rules that we consider necessary. But sometimes it`s about can core
questions on which there are enormous senses of agreement.
SARSOUR: I mean, one thing that we have to remember is that if we delay
immigration reform our country deports over 1,100 people a day. So if we
want to wait until after the November elections, we`re basically going to
be deporting over 70,000 people, we`re tearing up tens of thousands of
families. It`s a human toll that we`re not going to forget, it`s a human
toll that is creating extreme suffering in the communities that we come
from. And President Obama is not the one that sits in front of young
people that come and tell me that their fathers have been deported or
mothers will have to now be single mothers and raise their families in this
country, and they`ve been here. We`re not helping new people.
These people have been living in our country. They are our neighbors, they
are restaurant workers, they are people in our community that without them,
we wouldn`t be able to do or daily, you know, anything that we do during
the day includes undocumented people in this country and President Obama
has failed us once again. I never believe anything that he says anymore.
And unfortunately, if you walk in communities and you talk to people, no
one is surprised but we are still outraged.
HARRIS-PERRY: Felipe, let me come to you on that because it occurs to me
that there`s a common theme here as well, from Linda`s experience of
harassment and abuse on the street in part her attacker using the language
of ISIS as he attacks her because of her identifiable faith. The
experiences in Ferguson and the notion of these young black men as threats.
And then in this context, vowing to a group who so frequently talk about,
for example, undocumented refugee children as though they are a threat,
that the constant narrative is that there is some America up here and all
the rest of you are threatening and scary. How do we push past that?
SOUSA-RODRIGUEZ: Well, the truth is that we have to remind the entire
country that, number one, they are children. Right? Little kids fleeing
violence in Central America and many times violence that was actually
created because of the intervention of the United States. But really what
this is all about is the president`s two million people, two million lives
too late on this issue and every single day we lose fathers, mothers, we
lose our parents. I have to come back home to Florida and talk to my
family members, I have to look them in the eye and say, the president lied
again. The president is asking us to delay our dreams, our hopes one more
time and we`re tired. And the truth is that every single day that he
delays, we`re going to continue escalating and the expectation for him to
actually show bold leadership will continue to increase.
HARRIS-PERRY: And, of course, this is the president. Who we elected in
part because as a candidate he said the fairest urgency is now. He goes
back, he quotes king. And he says, there is a reason why we cannot wait.
There`s a reason why justice delayed is inherently justice denied. This is
the fairest urgency of now, 2008. We`re like, yes, we can. And now I feel
like well, maybe we will in two months. I just -- it`s really is
HERRING: Well, Paul is absolutely right. There s an amazing coalition of
religious leaders and religious people all across this country. We look
just like that coalition of different racial backgrounds, different faith
backgrounds and we are being insistent. This is a moral dilemma. This is
a moral issue. This is a moment where we need strong moral leadership as
well as strong political leadership. But we had asked the president, we
have cajoled the president, we have pushed our elected in the House and in
the Senate. We have done the work on the ground to help everyday Americans
understand that the 11 million undocumented residents in this country are
their allies, their brothers and sisters, their friends and neighbors. And
all of that is intended to bring us to this moment of real opportunity in
this country. And that`s what is not being covered really well. There`s
an opportunity for us to shape an America going forward that is amazing but
we don`t see them at this point. The president, the administration, the
political leadership in this country seems not to be able to do what we
have been doing so vigorously and so well.
HARRIS-PERRY: So let me ask you a question. If the U.S. Congress has
failed on this, and there`s no question that the U.S. Congress has failed
on this, if the Obama administration is now delaying on this and
potentially may never act on this, the one group that I have interviewed
regularly on the show who is doing something is this lovely little church
in Arizona who is providing sanctuary. And it`s made me wonder, if this is
the time, if really nobody else is going to do it, shall the faith
community step up and say, you know, what? You will deport no more. All
of our churches and synagogues and all of our communities of leadership --
whether they are Unitarian universities or whether they are Catholic, nope,
we are going to provide sanctuary, we`re going to be -- we`re going to seal
our border, right? Of people and you won`t come four our families in our
RAUSHENBUSH: Well, I think, I mean, this is the wonderful Presbyterian
Church down there that`s doing amazing work. And there`s a history of
that. The sanctuary movement is not new. It`s been going on for decades
but now it`s, maybe a new time. And I think that also would show kind of
where the -- putting our morality where our seats are, and our sanctuaries
and really showing that this is -- that we`re standing up, but it involves
that and on other issues, I mean, really I`m feeling so much for your
situation and how much we all of us, Christians needs to be stepping up and
say, this is unacceptable and our police force needs to also be taking this
seriously like taking race seriously, that the Muslim community has really
HARRIS-PERRY: And whenever the international politics around something
like ISIS re-emerge, then you get a surge in it here domestically.
RAUSHENBUSH: Right. But this is just, an opportunity, I think we are the
real opportunity right now where there is -- there are these coalition`s
building. And I think that frankly, progressive religious traditions,
people who are interested in yes, welcome, stay, inclusion, you know, more
justice, more peace have a real moment because the other way to think of it
is no, stay out, be small, be scared. And we have a real opportunity to
change the narrative completely.
HARRIS-PERRY: Felipe, I want to come back to you just really briefly
because one of the places where the president does have I think a really
fantastic civil rights -- around the question of LGBT rights in which he
has become far more expansive over the course of his presidency both in
terms of his personal opinion as well as the policy work that he has done
within the administration. Oftentimes when it wasn`t clear that public
opinion would stand with him, is there a way that you can make an argument
that Mr. President do hear what you did in the question of LGBT politics?
SOUSA-RODRIGUEZ: Yes. There are 267,000 undocumented people that I
identify as LGBTQ, those are people who have to live through harassment,
discrimination and also the threat of deportation every day. So we are
uplifting, building coalitions with LGBTQ organizations in communities who
are really pushing back on the president on the issue of deportation and
immigration. The truth is that, you know, it`s a moral question and it`s
about lives and the president has the opportunity to do the right thing
HARRIS-PERRY: Thank you to my guests, Felipe Rodriguez in Washington, DC.
Here in New York, Linda Sarsour, the Reverend Paul Raushenbush and the
Reverend Alvin Herring.
That`s our show for today. We`ve been talking about how you build
coalitions. But later on today, there`s going to be no coalition, I`m
rooting for one team, that one team is the New Orleans Saints and Atlanta,
I want you all to tune in and just see what happens. Right now it`s time
for a preview of "WEEKENDS WITH ALEX WITT."
ALEX WITT, MSNBC HOST, "WEEKENDS WITH ALEX WITT": Can I just say I just
changed out of my USC t-shirt before we came.
I mean, three points, but that`s cleaver. Anyway, good luck. We`re
rooting for you guys.
All right. Melissa, we`re going to have many excerpts everyone from Chuck
Todd`s exclusive interview with President Obama on "MEET THE PRESS" this
morning. Also, saying good-bye to Joan Rivers, the celebrities and fans
who turned out for her funeral today.
What`s being called a miracle of sorts in Napa, California after the
earthquake two weeks, have the -- may have held to ease the drought
conditions in some areas?
Plus, what America eats. The new survey that shows us the new foods we
love and how many of us follow the five second rule. Don`t go anywhere.
I`ll be right back.
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