'The Melissa Harris-Perry Show' for Saturday, November 22nd, 2014
Read the transcript to the Saturday show
Show: MELISSA HARRIS-PERRY
Date: November 22, 2014
Guest: : Alina Das, James Carafano, Juan Cartagena, Amy Goodman, Cristina
Jimenez, William Barber, Vince Warren; John Gaskin, Nina Turner, Malcolm
London, Asha Rose
MELISSA HARRIS-PERRY, MSNBC ANCHOR: This morning, my question, just what
is the state of emergency in Ferguson?
Plus, new questions over the hanging of a young black man in the South.
And one-on-one with Nina Turner.
But first, President Obama invites millions of people to come out of the
Good morning. I`m Melissa Harris-Perry. President Obama promised that
after the midterm elections he would take executive action and use the
power of his office to address our nation`s broken immigration policy.
Thursday evening, in a speech to the nation from the White House, he
unveiled the specifics of his action plan.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: First, we`ll build on our
progress at the border with additional resources for our law enforcement
personnel so that they can stem the flow of illegal crossings and speed the
return of those who do cross over. Second, I`ll make it easier and faster
for high-skilled immigrants, graduates and entrepreneurs to stay and
contribute to our economy as so many business leaders have proposed.
Third, we`ll take steps to deal responsibly with the millions of
undocumented immigrants who already live in our country.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: The president followed that up with a second speech on
Friday in Las Vegas explaining and promoting his executive actions to the
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: For years we haven`t done much about it. Well, today we`re doing
something about it.
(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)
OBAMA: If you have children who are American citizens or legal residents,
if you register, you pass a background check, you are willing to pay your
fair share of taxes, then you`re going to be able to apply to stay in this
country temporarily without fear of deportation.
(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)
OBAMA: You can come out of the shadows, get right with the law.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: To help us understand the specifics and significance of
President Obama`s proposed executive action, is Alina Das, associate
professor of clinical law at the New York University School of Law, with
the specialization in immigration. She`s also the co-director of the
immigrant rights` clinic.
All right, Alina, this is supposed to be a temporary and partial fix for a
broken system. The president said and we often hear it. But what exactly
is it that is broken in the system?
ALINA DAS, ASSOC. PROF. NYU SCHOOL OF LAW: Well, the president was right
when he described the system in terms of its hypocrisy and its cruelty.
Essentially, we created a system of laws that doesn`t match what is
happening on the ground. It doesn`t reflect who is coming to this country
and why they come here, why they want to stay. And instead, we force
people to live and work in the shadows. We have them - they come here,
they are exploited by workers because they don`t have work - employers
because they don`t have work authorization and they are simply not able to
stay with their family members when they are here. So it`s a very broken
system and the president`s plan, while it`s a mixed bag, does help millions
of American families who are at risk of losing a loved one to deportation.
HARRIS-PERRY: That`s exactly where I want to go. Let`s listen for a
moment to the president kind of outlining the folks that this executive
action is meant to help. Let`s listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: If you`ve been in America for more than five years, if you have
children who are American citizens or legal residents, if you register,
pass a criminal background check and you are willing to pay your fair share
of taxes, you`ll be able to apply to stay in this country temporarily
without fear of deportation. You can come out of the shadows and get right
with the law.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: OK, so it`s basically five categories. Let`s walk through
them. If you`ve been in America for more than five years. Is that
everyone who`s been in America for more than five years? How do you prove
when you came? What does that mean exactly?
DAS: So it`s really focused on people who either came here when they were
very young and have grown up here or parents of lawful permanent residents
and U.S. citizen children. So there are millions of people who have been
here who are not going to benefit even if they`ve been here for a very long
period of time.
HARRIS-PERRY: All right, so when it says, if you have children who are
American citizens or legal residents, the first thing I`m thinking is, is
this only bio kids, in other words, if you are the biological parent of
them? Is it only - if you are the residential parent? What if you are the
residential step parent, but not the biological parent? Families are
DAS: Right. And immigration law is complicated. So, a lot of these
issues have come up in the past and there are precedents that describe what
kinds of parents would actually qualify. But we are certainly going to see
cases of American families that seem to fit into the criteria, but actually
won`t be able to benefit.
HARRIS-PERRY: Yeah, I mean I imagine that that becomes extraordinarily
complicated. Now, let me ask this question, if you register, what is
registration going to entail?
DAS: So, it`s going to be similar to the program that the president has
announced previously, a Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals where there
will be an application process. You`ll have to submit that information
with a fee and then you`ll have to undergo background checks. So, it is a
very rigorous process and it takes a long period of time and we`ll see
people have to go through that.
HARRIS-PERRY: All right, so I want to listen to the president one more
time to clarify the fourth point where he said, if you pass a criminal
background check. So, I want to listen to something that he said. He made
a distinction between felons and families. I want to listen to that.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: Over the past six years, deportation of criminals are up 80
percent. And that`s why we are going to keep focusing (NO AUDIO) threats
to our security. Felons. Not families. Criminals, not children. Gang
members, not a mom who`s working hard to provide for her kids. We`ll
prioritize, just like law enforcement does every day.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: OK. So what does that mean when he says pass a criminal
background check? Does that mean no violent felonies? ? Does that mean
no drug arrests? ? Does that mean no traffic tickets? What will it mean
to pass this?
DAS: Well, it`s a very difficult standard. I mean the president`s
rhetoric around felons not families is really problematic.
HARRIS-PERRY: Because felons often have families.
DAS: Exactly. It`s a misleading term. It is - in your mind, the idea of
a dangerous and violent person who has no place in our society, but in
reality our immigration laws can make someone deportable if they`ve had a
conviction that was 10, 15 years ago where they have already repaid their
debt to society or even if it`s a misdemeanor and in some cases, non-
criminal violations, like the marijuana possession violation that may have
happened when you were a teenager. And it applies not only to undocumented
immigrants, it also applies to people who have lawful permanent resident
status, that they can face deportations for something that they`ve already
been punished for and the families are the ones who really suffer. And
this really highlights a problem with the policy overall. Whenever we
divide immigrant communities into the deserving and undeserving, we all
suffer. And that`s not just because people in the undeserving category
actually look a whole lot like the people in the deserving category, but
also because the even - the pure existence of an undeserving category tends
to justify programs like mass deportation and detention which hurt all of
us. So, really the only solution is to make sure that everyone has due
HARRIS-PERRY: Right. Which is, of course, to me, listening to that feels
so much like the challenges that African-American communities often face in
attempts to do civil rights egalitarian (ph) work, because of that desire
to sort of divide - and also the communities dealing with poverty, right,
to divide the worthy from the unworthy.
Last question on this, and we`ll keep talking about the politics of it.
But talk to me about the skilled workers, what the president said there.
Who is he trying to indicate with the skilled workers part?
DAS: Sure. So, the president released a series of memos that explain
these different pieces in more detail. But in terms of the skilled
workers, he`s really trying to help some of the people who have often come
to this country to study and who have advanced degrees in science
technology, give them an easier way of being able to stay here instead of
losing their skills and their education to other countries, which is a
great program. Of course, there are many workers in this country who don`t
fit that category who still make tremendous contributions to our country
and our society and they are, again, being left out of that kind of
dynamic. So, again, we want to see long-term comprehensive reform which is
going to take Congress to act as well.
HARRIS-PERRY: Absolutely. Hold with me. We have got much more on this.
Alina Das is going to stay here and we`re going to bring in more voices
next, including this voice.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. JOHN BOEHNER (R-OH), HOUSE SPEAKER: With this action, the president
has chosen to deliberately sabotage any chance of an acting bipartisan
reform that he claims to seek. And as I told the president yesterday, he`s
damaging the presidency itself.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: Thursday night, President Obama announced executive action
on immigration reform. Friday morning, congressional Republicans filed to
sue the president. No, not over immigration. Yesterday`s lawsuit filing
was the long-promised suit from House Speaker John Boehner over the
implementation of the Affordable Care Act, but the House speaker did make
time to react to the president`s immigration reform plans.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BOEHNER: With this action, the president has chosen to deliberately
sabotage any chance of an acting bipartisan reform that he claims to seek.
And as I told the president yesterday, he`s damaging the presidency itself.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: Back with me is NYU law professor Alina Das. Joining her at
the table is James Carafano who is the national security expert with the
Heritage foundation. DemocracyNow host and executive producer Amy Goodman
and Juan Cartagena, a president and general counsel for the civil rights
organization Latino Justice. So, we heard Boehner there. I want to hear
just a few more of the reactions from Republicans on this and then I`m
going to come to you with a question. Yes.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: President Obama seems to have forgotten that he is not
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The president is ignoring the American people, our
Constitution. The president`s imperial actions.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh, he drops this bomb in the middle of us that will be
-- it will tear us under this Constitution.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: All right. So my question for you, Juan, is this, in fact,
unconstitutional, unlawful, kind of illegal behavior? Beyond, we`ll get to
the policy part, but just is this behavior itself unconstitutionally
illegal on the part of the president?
JUAN CARTAGENA, PRES., LATINOJUSTICE: By all means, it appears to be
(INAUDIBLE) case that we`ve started regarding the deferential pro-sectorial
discussion that this executive has, like every other president before him.
So, if he just by itself exactly what has been decided before this, more
than enough room here for him to make this decisions on all levels. Now,
of course, if this gets challenged in court, we`ll find out exactly what
the Supreme Court eventually rules, but in many ways he`s acting pursuant
to the discretion as given to him by Congress, and pursuant to his politics
on the Constitution to exactly do what he`s did - doing now.
HARRIS-PERRY: All right, certainly, what he was saying, he was siding with
Democratic and Republican previous presidents. So, James, part of what I
wondered, when I listen to the kind of Republican reactions, so, let`s just
step back from it. If the primary anger, irritation and disagreement about
the set of policies, the decisions about how immigration law is going to be
enforced or is the primary angst about the procedure here? Because I think
it helps me to understand what the possibilities for future immigration
reform are if I can feel that the issue is either a procedural one or a
JAMES CARAFANO, NATL. SECURITY EXPERT, THE HERITAGE FOUNDATION: Right.
So, I think it might be a bit of both. I think people are justifiably
angry at the president. Because if you think about it, this doesn`t really
come across as the act of great leadership. The Congress and the president
have been struggling for this for eight years, going back to President
Bush, going back to two years when President Obama controlled both Houses
of Congress and nothing has ever moved forward, and the president`s frame-
well, this is the Congress` fault. Meaning that in the beginning the
president has been committed to the only framework that was acceptable for
him, it was a legislative solution that was rooted in amnesty as a first
step and that`s always been controversial. Frankly, it`s been
controversial with Democrats and Republicans. And by the president
sticking to that, the president never put forward a legislative plan of his
own. Unlike Obamacare, he never stepped out, he never really took a
leadership role in trying to put legislation through Congress. Now he`s
turned around and said, well, Congress has forced me to do this. And I
think that`s actually part of the anger that really we`ve seen on both
sides of the aisle.
HARRIS-PERRY: So, I mean what do you make of that argument, that unlike
Obamacare, there wasn`t kind of a White House alternative for a
comprehensive immigration reform plan?
AMY GOODMAN, HOST& EXEC. PROD., DEMOCRACYNOW.ORG: I mean, the Senate
passed a bill. It was ready to go to the House. Even House Speaker
Boehner said he was going to do it and then they just waited and waited and
waited and not months, not -- but more than 500 days. I mean, I think
clearly what is taking place right now is the deporter-in-chief, the
president who has deported more immigrants than any president in history,
more than 2 million, has become the transformer-in-chief. He doesn`t want
that to be his legacy. Sometimes presidents in their last two years do
nothing, lame duck. It looks like President Obama wants to redeem the
legacy, wants to somehow start to answer to some of the movements that got
him elected and this is very significant.
HARRIS-PERRY: So, no, this is - this strikes me as an important question,
in part, because it is such a temporary fix. This will, at most, last
three years, sort of basically the rest of his presidency. What, then,
does that say about the possibility going into the next presidency whether
it is a Democrat who will likely continue to have Republican legislative
majorities or whether this is about the fact that Republicans are just
irritated with the procedure, but would with a different president be
willing to actually turn this into lasting policy?
DAS: Well, it`s clear that this is a temporary solution. I mean, this
immigration action is not the same as immigration reform. I think the
president did put forth a lot of policies in a White House version of the
legislation, most of which ended up in the Senate bill. And hopefully,
that will be a blueprint where future reform - it`s certainly not perfect
in it of itself, but I think the politics about why this particularly
temporary action is so controversial is also problematic. I think as an
American people, we become desensitized to what deportation is.
Deportation, essentially, like getting an eviction notice, being told that
you`re going to lose your job, being told that you may lose your kids,
being told that you can`t see your family and then being forced to live in
a country that you may not have been to in decades and may even face
persecution. And it`s all of those things rolled up into one. That`s why
the Supreme Court in 1922 called deportation that I quote, the loss of all
that makes life worth living. Yeah, we normalized deportation to the point
where we think it`s actually extreme for the president to give a temporary
reprieve to people who are facing something so harsh in a system that is so
broken that people generally don`t get a right to a hearing where they can
present the fact of their case.
HARRIS-PERRY: It does - what still strikes me, the kind of weird politics
in part because there had been this long discourse about anchor babies that
was I think a racialized discourse. Also, a really troubling one as a
matter of empirics, because, in fact, American-born children were not
anchors for their parents. Their parents were being deported away from
them. Part of what the president is doing is allowing families to stay
together. But I also get think - oh my goodness, here comes the revival of
the anchor baby discourse.
CARTAGENA: No question. And - but the fact that he`s messaging this
perfect, from my perspective, talk about keeping families together,
exactly, these are the same values that cut across both parties and we
should be able to find the common ground, in which we recognize that
keeping those families together are so important, not only for those
children, the entire economy, in which these immigrants contribute to.
HARRIS-PERRY: Stick with us. We are going to go on exactly that topic.
This question of families. I want to bring in Dreamer, Christina Jimenez.
She`s appeared on this program a number of times on the issue of
immigration policy. Her thoughts on the president`s actions are next and
here`s Nancy Pelosi`s opinion.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. NANCY PELOSI, HOUSE DEMOCRATIC LEADER: I wish the Republicans would
at least give the public a chance to listen to what the president`s trying
to do and, also, let the public know that the emancipation proclamation was
an executive order.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: The executive action President Obama unveiled Thursday night
was made possible by the success of an initiative he announced two years
ago. The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, or DACA,
benefiting unauthorized immigrants who first came to the United States as
children. These young people refer to themselves as Dreamers because of
their active efforts to gain passage of the Dream Act. The federal Dream
Act, DREAM, standing here for Development Relief and Education for Alien
Minors, it would have required unauthorized immigrants who among various
requirements entered the U.S. as a minor and had been here at least five
years to apply for protected status within one year of graduating high
school and/or being admitted into an institution of higher learning. But
the last time it came up for a vote in the Senate in December of 2010,
despite getting a 55/41 vote, it failed to advance. About 18 months later,
the president introduced DACA, which offers protection to the same group of
young arrivals for a period of two years subject to renewal. Now, with
Thursday`s announcement, he`s reaching out to the parents of those
dreamers. Joining me now from our Washington, D.C., bureau, it`s Cristina
Jimenez, the co-founder and managing director of United We Dream. It`s so
lovely to have you, Cristina. What is your reaction to the president`s
actions this week?
CRISTINA JIMENEZ, CO-FOUNDER, UNITED WE DREAM: Thank you so much for
having me, Melissa. You know, we feel that this is a huge victory for our
communities, particularly because we have been working so hard organizing,
coming out of the shadow and sharing our stories, taking actions and
putting that pressure on the president so that these deportations can stop.
So, we feel that this is a huge victory for our community, but at the same
time, a bittersweet moment. In fact, many young people who have DACA, the
Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, will not be able to
benefit. Their parents won`t be able to benefit because they wouldn`t fall
under the category of having U.S. citizen children or siblings in their
households. So, you know, there`s definitely a huge sense of relief, my
mom and my dad, fortunately, will be able to benefit, but my heart is
broken for many of the young people that I love, my friends, my colleagues
and everyone who has worked so hard, whose parents won`t be able to
HARRIS-PERRY: And Cristina, when you are talking about working so hard, I
want to listen to the president, not Thursday night, but Friday when he
went to Las Vegas and he seems to acknowledge the work that Dreamers have
put into this effort. Let`s take a look to listen to him for a moment.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: And the fact that a year and a half has gone by means that time has
been wasted. It`s Las Vegas. I come back to - also to tell you, I`m not
giving up. I will never give up.
(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)
OBAMA: I will never give up.
(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)
OBAMA: I will never give up.
(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)
OBAMA: I will not give up.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: So, Cristina, I haven`t heard such enthusiastic si, si,
puente cheers, quite honestly, since I think the 2008 election and I`m
wondering how far this action goes towards repairing the kind of clearly
frayed relations President Obama has been suffering with Latino
JIMENEZ: It is definitely a very significant step forward. But we know
that one, it left many people without the protection of deportation. Many
dreamers, young people across the country will still have to live in the
fear that their parents will be deported. And we also know that this is a
temporary reprieve from deportation and ultimately our community will need
legislation so that we can have a pathway to citizenship and, you know,
people like me, my parents and many others in our communities could really
become citizens one day and no longer live in fear that we can be deported
and rooted out of our community. So the fight doesn`t stop here. We`re
determined to continue fighting for everyone that was left out of this
program and to get a permanent win for our communities.
HARRIS-PERRY: And what does a permanent win for your communities look like
as a matter of policy?
JIMENEZ: It will look like legislation that will create a pathway to
citizenship for me, for my parents, for workers, for undocumented families
that have come here like my parents seeking a better life and who have been
contributing to this country and who consider this country home. This is
our home. We are here and we are going to continue fighting so that we get
to be in touch with the soul of America. This program is really reflecting
those values and we will continue to fight so that we can get policy that
reflects those values that we deeply believe in.
HARRIS-PERRY: Thank you to Cristina Jimenez in Washington, D.C. When we
come back, I`m bringing my panel back in. And I`m going to ask, so what
will Republicans actually do about the president`s move, some hints at the
reaction to his executive action, next.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: The only thing that`s been standing in the way is a simple yes or
no vote in the House of Representatives. Just a yes or no vote. If they
had allowed a vote on that kind of bill, it would have passed. I would
have signed it.
HARRIS-PERRY: U.S. Attorney for the eastern district of New York, Loretta
Lynch, is President Obama`s nominee to replace Eric Holder, the Attorney
General of the United States. To become Attorney General, she will need
to be confirmed by the U.S. Senate. And although she`s well regarded and
has been confirmed by the Senate for two previous posts, Lynch`s
confirmation is now uncertain. No, you didn`t miss something on the D.C.
scandal pages. Attorney Lynch`s confirmation may be threatened by the
president`s decision to take executive action on immigration. Immediately
after her nomination was announced, Republican senators Ted Cruz and Mike
Lee issued a statement that read in part, "The Attorney General is the
president`s chief law enforcement officer. As such, the nominees must
demonstrate full and complete commitment to the law. Loretta Lynch
deserves the opportunity to demonstrate those qualities beginning with the
statement whether or not she believes the president`s executive amnesty
plans are constitutional and legal." Calling the president lawless in a
column this week for Politico, Cruz doubled down writing "If the president
announces executive amnesty, the new Senate majority leader who takes over
in January should announce that the 114th Congress will not confirm a
single nominee executive or judicial outside of vital national security
positions so long as the illegal amnesty persists."
Let`s be clear, the president didn`t just announce executive amnesty, but
that may not matter much for the confirmation proceedings of Loretta Lynch.
James, is that a reasonable way to respond to the disagreement?
CARAFANO: Well, I think it`s a predictable reaction. The president had
six years to lead on this issue and what has he left us with, a temporary
solution that nobody is really happy with and he`s so angered Congress that
the likelihood of a real permanent solution is just not going to happen.
HARRIS-PERRY: But what - Congress mad, I mean just .
CARAFANO: We`re going to get eight more years - so we`re going to wind up
with ten years of no serious legislation on this issue. Nobody`s happy
HARRIS-PERRY: But wasn`t the -- I mean, really, just to step back for a
second, it`s not like there had been a productive, engaging relationship
and then the president did that.
CARAFANO: Yeah, but whose fault is that? And I really believe it is the
president`s fault because essentially he never had a legislative agenda, he
never pushed a legislative agenda, and the agenda .
HARRIS-PERRY: You mean on immigration?
CARAFANO: On immigration, and the agenda that was out there looked a heck
of a lot like Obamacare. And a lot of people were very concerned with that
because you have one massive piece of legislation which was 800 pages long
and what a lot of people wanted - actually, I think would have worked was a
step-by-step solution where they took through each piece of the components
of the immigration enterprise and legislated on that and worked through
them in a systematic -- I think that would have actually worked. The
president never wanted that. We wasted six years.
GOODMAN: You know, we`re making a mistake to say that this is Congress
versus the president. I think the images we just saw on half-screen
Cristina, a dreamer, and the other half of young people sitting down
protesting, or marching in the streets, what Congress will now do or the
Republicans who are leading Congress will be taking on the majority of
people in this country because most people think .
CARAFANO: no, I heard ..
GOODMAN: . immigrants should be treated humanely and the reason President
Obama is doing this is not because he had some kind of change of heart.
It`s because of the mass protest and the remarkably smart strategizing of
these young people who risked everything to sit down in his campaign
offices, other Congress members, Democrat and Republican campaign offices
and risked deportation themselves to come out of the shadows and say .
CARAFANO: And here`s what we completely .
GOODMAN: So you have to look at.
CARAFANO: I`m sorry. Your president`s Congress is not humane and doesn`t
HARRIS-PERRY: No. No, I think ..
HARRIS-PERRY: No, what I heard was that actually neither of these
political parties or positions are about sort of their own humanity in
either way that it`s actually about a response to a social movement. And
in fact, interestingly enough, when the president says come out of the
shadows, it has a resonance for me like the "We Shall Overcome" that we
heard from LBJ on the citing of the `64 Civil Rights Act, because he`s
echoing the discourse of the movement itself indicating that, of course,
DACA is handed to him by the dreamers, that this action is, in part,
responsive to a changing political reality.
CARAFANO: So here`s the irony. It`s the greatest obstacle to satisfying
that call and getting to a long-term solution was the president of the
United States who insisted on the legislative answer that met his criteria.
And there was no compromise, there was no negotiation. There was no
thoughtful dialogue in process. So, the obstacle to the way forward, not
like LBJ who moved civil rights legislation, is a president who spent six
years doing nothing issued an executive action that angered Congress and
ensures that we`re going to go through two more years of doing nothing.
HARRIS-PERRY: So, let`s - I want to get your response to hearing Ted Cruz.
This is a Facebook post that he put up, in which he says - makes up some
kind of argument. Let`s take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. TED CRUZ (R) TEXAS: Today is a sad day in our nation`s history.
Tonight, just a few minutes ago, the president of the United States went on
national television and announced that he`s defying the Constitution. He`s
defying federal law and he`s defying the American people. All across this
country, Republicans campaign saying if you elect a Republican Senate, we
will stand up and fight to stop Obama`s amnesty. So now it`s incumbent on
Republicans. Stand up and lead.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: So here`s my question going into 2016. Can a Republican
candidate who promises to undo this executive action win a general election
and can a Republican candidate who doesn`t promise to undo this action win
a Republican primary?
CARTAGENA: I find it hard to believe that any candidate who promises
straight up, as clear as Mr. Cruz has just said, that he will undo
everything that president has done, will be able to win the election for
the presidency. It is fine and dandy for Mr. Cruz to take these positions
in the localized bases of the country. Even congressional districts, in
which these individuals don`t have to worry about the Latino vote. But
it`s not just the Latino vote. There is quite a bit of polling that shows
that we have a lot of consensus in this country towards creating a path
towards normalization of status. If the bright line in the debate is
amnesty, however you want to define that, the fact of the matter is,
there`s a lot of polling that demonstrates people of all races in this
country want normalization of status, a path that is sane, that is decent
and that allows individuals not to come out in the shadows, but contribute
in the best way they can that is eventually to become citizens. That we
can bicker about these problems here and there but the fact of the matter
is, I find it hard to believe that if the Republican Party is interested in
continuing to go with tense on the same values that espouses for everybody
else, family values, small business elevation. All values in the Latino
community, then there has to be a better way of saying that that doesn`t
piss off Latinos.
HARRIS-PERRY: Well, the economic piece here is also interesting one Amy.
I mean part of the challenge for Republicans, it seems to me, it does feel,
and the part of what Mr. Cruz was saying there is not inaccurate. That
there`s an impulse from the base, which is the voters for the primary to
undo this kind of action, but then as you point out, that`s going to be a
very difficult position to continue to stand on in a general election, in
part because - not just because of Latino voters but importantly because
there`s various point of interest from the Chamber of Commerce in, you
know, clear immigration reform because of the economic aspects of it.
GOODMAN: Right, and also let`s not forget how many people are paying taxes
and are paying into the base, more than, for example, Citibank and banks in
this country are paying taxes. They are contributing members of society.
And as you pointed out, it is not just Latinos. It is people from all over
the world. And the more the media let`s people tell their stories for
themselves, overwhelmingly Americans are compassionate people. Republicans
are also running scared. They don`t want those faces and voices on
television because it is very hard to say that that kid should lose her
mother. And so you have people like John Kasich in Ohio, you have people
like Jeb Bush in Florida, and they are beginning to distance themselves
from the party of no. And talking about do nothing when you are talking
about the president having done nothing, I - do nothing has become
synonymous with Congress. That`s who`s done nothing.
HARRIS-PERRY: And you brought up Jeb Bush there, which, I mean - Jeb Bush
is the key example of - could he win a prize, he seems as a strong general
candidate, but could he win a primary given his position on immigration?
CARAFANO: Well, you know, I think this is going to be a problem for both
Republicans and Democrats.
HARRIS-PERRY: Yeah, Hillary certainly raised her hand immediately. She
was like, yes, I`m down for this.
CARAFANO: I get that. I get that, but look, we`re going to live with the
president`s solution for two years, which is a temporary fix which makes
nobody happy and .
HARRIS-PERRY: Well, it makes some people happy and the families that are
impacted by this happy.
CARAFANO: And, you know, in two years nothing happen in Congress and we`re
going to watch the consequences of that policy unfold in two years. And
that`s what people are going to .
HARRIS-PERRY: Well, it doesn`t have to be that nothing happens in
Congress. I mean Congress could still pass a bill. The only thing that
I`m going to ask, is no matter what else happens to the immigration reform
today, Mr. Cruz, when you make Facebook videos, just turn the iPhone that
way. It makes it easier for us to show them on air. Thank you to Alina
Das and to James Carafano. Amy and Juan will be back in the next hour.
Still to come this morning, Reverend Barbara called for a federal
investigation in North Carolina. I mean the turner comes to Nerdland, and
all eyes are on Ferguson.
But up next, the new threat facing residents who are still digging out from
under the snow in Buffalo, New York.
HARRIS-PERRY: Roads have begun to reopen and recovery work is under way in
Buffalo in the western - in the area of western New York where 13 people
have already lost their lives following the more than seven feet of snow
that fell in the region this week. With many homes in the area completely
covered by snow, there have been reports of 30 major roof collapses and
nearly 100 minor ones. This weekend, the possibility of a new threat. As
temperatures are set to rise to as high as 45 degrees, the potential for
melting and, therefore, for flooding. For more on the risks still facing
residents in western New York this morning, we go now to NBC`s Chris
Chris, at this point, what`s the biggest threat to residents where you are?
CHRIS POLLONE, NBC CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, Melissa, I think you just hit it
right on the head. You know, this is a record-setting snowfall but it is
poised over the next couple of days to become a record-setting snow melt.
As you mentioned, temperatures are rising. Usually, good news for people
who have weathered a storm like this over the past week. But what is not
good is that it is supposed to get into the 40s today and then possibly the
50s tomorrow. That`s an awful big warmup over the stretch of the last few
days, and right now, a light rain is starting to fall. What that means is
that this snow has to go somewhere. In some places, 70 to 80 inches worth
of snow fell here around the Buffalo area. As today and tomorrow progress
into Monday, where it`s supposed to be in the `60s and we could see a half
inch to three-quarters of an inch of rain on that day. There is a big fear
of flooding all around this area.
And as a matter of fact, as we speak, incident command personnel from the
New York City fire department are using some specialized equipment that
they have to do detailed mapping of areas that could possibly flood here in
the Buffalo area. Also, big concern, roof collapses as that water falls
onto the snow. It`s only going to make it heavier. There have been roof
collapses in the area and a lot of - we were just driving around a couple
of minutes ago. So, flat roof businesses that are actually out there with
snow blowers on top trying to get the snow off of a lot of roofs in the
area here. So could be more trouble in the days ahead, Melissa.
HARRIS-PERRY: Thank you to NBC`s Chris Pollone in upstate in western New
Up next, eyewitnesses say they found a young, black man dead from hanging.
But his family and community still want more answers. Reverend William
Barber joins me next.
HARRIS-PERRY: On August 29th, Lennon Lacy, a 17-year-old Bladenboro, North
Carolina teen was found dead hanging from a swing set in his neighborhood.
Five days later, local investigators claim they found no evidence of foul
play, implying the possibility of suicide. The Bladenboro police
department`s report suggest the teen might have been depressed because of
his uncle`s recent death. But Lacy`s parents say their son was not
depressed. In fact, they say he was looking forward to playing in a high
school football game he had been training for. Concerned that foul play
was too quickly ruled out, the family called on the local NAACP for
guidance. Tuesday, representatives of the North Carolina branch of the
NAACP met with U.S. Attorney Thomas Walker to formally ask the Federal
Bureau of Investigation to get involved. Reverend William Barber,
president of the North Carolina NAACP state conference joins me now from
Raleigh to discuss the request for federal involvement in this case.
Reverend Barber, thank you for joining us. Explain to me the aspects of
either the physical evidence at the scene of death that raised suspicions
for the family and community.
REV. DR. WILLIAM BARBER, PRES., NC NAACP STATE CONFERENCE: Yes, thank you,
Melissa. And, you know, I`d really rather not be talking about this today
considering a 17-year-old boy was found on August 29 hanging in a trailer
park, a predominantly white trailer park that`s been known for drug
activity. 17-years old, 59 years and one day after Emmett Till. The
family, Claudia Lacy asked us to become involved and to be very methodical.
And so, Heather Ratalet (ph), (INAUDIBLE) Jonas, Alan Rogers (ph) and the
retired officer Frank Jones (ph) have been on this. We hired our own
pathologist. And what we have found is troubling and chilling. First of
all, the independent pathologist has found out that the physics of the
self-inflicted hanging just don`t work. The height of the swing set, the
length of the rope. We`ve also found out that the local medical examiner
was not allowed to take pictures by the local authorities at the scene. We
found out that Lennon Lacy`s hands were not properly wrapped in plastic so
the DNA could not be tested to see if there was a scuffle or something, or
DNA under his fingernails. We`ve also found out that the shoes that Lennon
had on at the scene were not there when the autopsy was done and they were
not his shoes. They were not his shoes. And finally, we have just found
out that also there was a kind of choke hold that can appear like a hanging
and there is video of a person in that community seen doing a similar choke
hold on persons in that community. It`s deeply troubling. And we also
have now, Melissa, about 15 or 20 leads. I can`t even talk about all of it
that we have handed over to the U.S. Attorney.
What Claudia, this mother whose courage is as tremendous, said I want a
thorough and full investigation and this thing about him being depressed
was simply, when she was asked, you know, what did he have any sadness?
And she said, yes, his uncle had just died. But it was not clinical
depression. He was mourning. He simply mourned, but he was looking
forward to his football game the next day and this really now just does not
make any sense.
HARRIS-PERRY: So clearly, Reverend Barber, when you have a circumstance of
a hanging of a young black man in the South and when you are using the
language invoking for us, the history of Emmett Till. It evoke as
particular kind of community concern and anxiety and obviously no family is
-- particularly if they haven`t seen signs of depression wouldn`t want to
think that someone had taken, you know, the young person had taken their
own life. But I guess part of what I`m wondering, as much as those raises,
you know, great concerns, this internal, you know, stress and struggle, is
there anything -- any reason to think that there was -- that there was foul
play? Is there any reason to think that the community was- was having a
racial angst or anything like that?
LENNON: Well, Lennon was in relationship with a white woman. There was
some concern in that particular community that we know of and we know that
that was a reality and the pathologist has now said and the state examiner
has said, if she had had all of this information, she would not have ruled
it a suicide. She would have ruled cause of death pending. Now, here`s
what the family has said. Claudia, and I`ll give you her words, she says,
you know, I`m prepared to accept anything. I`m prepared to accept suicide.
But I`m not prepared to accept that my son hung himself with all of these
unanswered questions, with all of these unanswered questions, and with the
physics now, according to the pathologist not working, that`s what is
And again, as I`ve said, Melissa, there`s some questions but for integrity
of the investigation, there`s some things we turn now to U.S. attorney that
I can`t talk about publicly. The lawyers have restricted me from talking
about. But these questions have to be answered and that`s why this
pathology report, independent pathology report is enough to have a full
federal investigation. We must have a federal investigation. The family
said if it proves that it was suicide, they can accept that, which is a
tragedy in itself that this mother has got to weigh between saying, almost
saying I`d rather it be a suicide than be a lynching, that`s a heck of a
place to be in as a parent. But what we can`t have is this case going
forward without all of these questions being answered.
HARRIS-PERRY: Reverend Barber, thank you for bringing this story to our
attention. Obviously we will all be watching it to see what happens next,
particularly with the call for a federal investigation. And Reverend
Barber, stick with me. So you can join us in our next hour. Because
coming up, another place that is waiting for some answers, the state of
emergency declared in Missouri and why it looks to some like there`s more
of an emergency of the state. More MHP show at the top of the hour.
HARRIS-PERRY: Welcome back. I`m Melissa Harris-Perry. Ferguson,
Missouri, is still waiting, waiting for a grand jury to decide whether to
indict Ferguson police Officer Darren Wilson, to decide whether there is
cause to charge Wilson with any crime for shooting and killing Michael
Brown, an unarmed 18-year-old on august 9th. No matter what the grand jury
decides, protesters are expected to take to the streets as they did this
summer following Brown`s death. And the waiting it tense. Protesters have
been trained in civil disobedience. Businesses have boarded up their
windows. Hundreds of civil rights lawyers are traveling to Ferguson to
observe police response to protesters, and if necessary y, file a lawsuit.
One school district that includes students from Ferguson has already
canceled classes on Monday and Tuesday. Small protests have been ongoing
since the shooting, including over the past week. Last night, three people
were arrested for blocking the road.
The state is preparing for the possibility of unrest on a large scale.
Monday, Governor Jay Nixon declared a state of emergency in Missouri.
His declaration reads in part, "Whereas the United States Department of
Justice and St. Louis County authorities are conducting separate criminal
investigations into the facts surrounding the death of Michael Brown; and
whereas regardless of the outcomes of the federal and state criminal
investigations, there is the possibility of expanded unrest; and whereas
our citizens have the right to peacefully assemble and protest and the
State of Missouri is committed to protecting those rights and whereas our
citizens and businesses must be protected from violence and damage, now,
therefore, I, Jeremiah W. (Jay) Nixon do hereby declare a state of
emergency exists in the state of Missouri."
Nixon`s emergency declaration activates the Missouri National Guard and
places the St. Louis County Police in charge of security for any protests
The order also creates a unified command among St. Louis County and city
police and the Missouri State Highway Patrol. The unified command can
expand its region to areas beyond Ferguson, if necessary, to, quote,
"protect civil rights and ensure public safety."
Tuesday the governor was asked why he would declare a state of emergency
and call up the National Guard before anything resembling an emergency
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. JAY NIXON (D), MO.: As part of our ongoing efforts to prepare for any
contingencies it`s necessary to have our resources in place in advance of
any announcement of a grand jury decision, which the prosecutors indicate
will happen sometime in the second half of this month. We`re now in the
second half of this month.
We want an orderly preparation here and I think having those folks in that
place and ramping up now is the best way to do it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: So here we are; 105 days after Michael Brown was killed, the
officer who shot him has not yet been charged with any crime and may not
ever be. Officials at every level have urged protesters not to engage in
violence or property crime.
So have faith leaders, Attorney General Eric Holder and Michael Brown`s
father. Protesters have asked police not to use tear gas or riot gear. A
state of emergency has been declared and we are waiting.
Joining me now on the ground in Ferguson, Missouri, is Craig Melvin.
Craig, is it as tense there as it feels to us here?
CRAIG MELVIN, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT: You know what, Melissa, I don`t know
that I would describe it so much as tense as I would anxious. You know,
I`ve spent a fair amount of time talking to folks on the ground here and I
spent about an hour, hour and a half yesterday, with the pastor that
pastors the church closest to the Ferguson Police Department, where we`ve
seen this protest pop up over the past few nights.
And he said, you know, in the days after the shooting, the tension here was
palpable. The unrest we saw play out on our screens over those days,
almost two weeks, he said this time he`s not sure we`re going to see
necessarily that. We`ll probably see a lot more protests around the
country. At least 100 cities are planning protests.
But just to give you some idea of what we`ve seen here, for instance, the
three people that you mentioned who were arrested last night, two of those
folks were actually from Illinois. So when you look at the people who are
on the ground here so far, the folks that we`ve seen arrested even this
week for blocking the streets or refusing to disperse, a lot of those folks
have not been here from Ferguson.
A lot of the organizers that I`ve talked to said a great deal of time and
attention is being paid to having a structured, organized protest. No one
here wants to see what we saw unfold in the aftermath of the Michael Brown
All of that being said, you know, you mentioned the state of emergency that
was declared, the calling up of the National Guard troops, so many people
pleading for peace. One of the guys I talked to yesterday said, yes, at
some point it appears like it`s a self-fulfilling prophecy when you have
the mayor of St. Louis yesterday, who said he fully anticipates unrest.
You`ve got another local mayor who`s asked for National Guard troops to be
deployed around his city over the next few days.
When you see that, then does that not sort of invite, perhaps, some unrest
to a certain extent?
So on the ground I wouldn`t describe it as tense. I would describe it as
HARRIS-PERRY: Craig Melvin from NBC, thank you for your work and we`ll
continue to come back to you in the anxious space that is Ferguson,
Joining me now in New York is Vince Warren, executive director of The
Center for Constitutional Rights and Amy Goodman, host and executive
producer of Democracy Now.
Also back with me, from Raleigh, North Carolina, is the Reverend William
Barber, president of the North Carolina NAACP State Conference and
importantly right here, the author of the new book, "Forward Together: A
Moral Message for the Nation."
And Reverend Barber, I want to ask you a bit about the insights for example
that you have in this book about this moment in Ferguson, because it does
seem that we are at a critical, maybe even a watershed moment for this
still nascent movement.
And I`m wondering what key issues organizers are going to need to be
attentive to no matter what the indictment decision.
REVEREND WILLIAM BARBER, PROTESTANT MINISTER: Well, I think first of all
there`s a long-term struggle and we need systemic change. I`ve talked to
my own president, Cornell Brooks (ph), and the branches on the ground and
groups like Don`t Shoot and Hands Up and who are working.
PICO (ph) is down there. When I went down I met with white evangelicals,
the Jewish community and African Americans and they are beginning a
mobilization. We need the narrative to come up from Ferguson. It needs to
broaden it to talk about the humanity of Mike Brown, to talk about how this
is a systemic problem in the nation.
One study in 2012 said 313 person of black were killed. That`s one every
28 hours. So this is a systemic problem. And I wish the governor would do
like Leonidas Dyer, who, in 1922, saw lynching as an emergency and worked
with W.E.B. Du Bois and formed a coalition to pass the first anti-lynching
I wonder what would happen if rather than just having an emergency, calling
up the National Guard, if we would have an emergency dealing with the issue
of unarmed black men and boys being killed by police, because racial bias
has no place, no place at all in policing.
We must have structural change that deals with transparency, trust and
training in order to deal with this situation, not just in Ferguson, but
HARRIS-PERRY: Reverend Barber, that`s so useful.
And I want to come to you on that, Vince, because that idea of what
constitutes the emergency and who constitutes the potential threat to
public safety is, I think, the thing that I have found most personally
infuriating and difficult in these weeks leading up to -- presumably we`re
going to have an answer about an indictment at some point.
I can list for you all of the people who have told protesters to be calm,
to be peaceful and not to engage in property crime or violence.
I can`t believe this for you a large group of people who have suggested
that the police not do so.
VINCE WARREN, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, CENTER FOR CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHTS: Well,
let me get on that list.
WARREN: Because back in 1957, Orval Faubus (ph) called the National Guard
in because nine little girls were going to integrate Little Rock school
HARRIS-PERRY: Girls and boys --
WARREN: The president nationalized the National Guard and then ordered
them to protect the protesters and the people that were going in. And this
is the question about what constitutes public safety. There`s another
narrative here that is important.
The biggest threat to public safety for the people in Ferguson right now is
the Ferguson Police Department. And people are -- and I want to unpack
this unrest thing. Unrest is good when you are protesting unjust policies
and practices. People are dying on the street.
So I expect and we should all expect people to be arrested when the police
say you need to disperse, that the people are not going to disperse and
they are going to get arrested and what the lawyers are going to do, they
are going to make sure that the police are not gaming this system, roping
people in so they can`t get out and then saying disperse when you can`t do
So it`s important for us to shift the narrative. Unrest is good. Martin
Luther King said that riot is the language of the unheard. And that is
what is happening here in Ferguson. This is why it`s a national moment and
we should be embracing the anger, moving that towards change as opposed to
trying to tack people down and turn this into a polo match.
HARRIS-PERRY: Reverend Barber, just one more moment here. But I do want
to ask -- because I heard from Craig Melvin when I asked him earlier, and
he was saying, well, some of the folks who are being arrested are not folks
Of course, that will always bring up the outside agitator language. We
also just heard from Vince here the importance of thinking of this as a
national movement. But, yes, Ferguson is about Ferguson but it`s also
about this issue much more broadly.
How do we understand what the scope of this movement is?
BARBER: When Dr. King said that no boundaries when it comes to injustice,
a threat to justice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. But the
reality is, we have this local leadership in these young people who have
organized more than 600 nonviolent protesters and we must honor that
protest. We must hear it.
Again, I would say, you know, we have a model. Leonidas Dyer (ph), in
1922, was from St. Louis; black men were being hung on an average of one
per day. The NAACP was in the middle of raising the consciousness. He did
not call out the National Guard to say stop protesting, NAACP.
He joined with W.E.B. Du Bois and got an anti-lynching law passed. We need
a national effort to deal with this police brutality and police killing and
protect people from murder at the hand of those who have been sworn to
protect and serve. That`s the issue here.
And so that kind of civil disobedience that the young people are doing that
is nonviolent is very much in order and we must broaden it not just to
Michael Brown -- we`re in that county, Melissa, where a man was charged in
St. Louis area for destroying government property when he bled on police
who beat him.
HARRIS-PERRY: I remember reporting that early on and how this is a moment
but it`s uncovering something much older.
BARBER: Much deeper, that`s right.
HARRIS-PERRY: Reverend William Barber in Raleigh, North Carolina, thank
you so much for joining us this morning.
We`re going to go back to the ground in Ferguson as soon as we come back.
HARRIS-PERRY: As we wait for the grand jury`s decision on whether to
indict the officer who shot Michael Brown, I want to go back on the ground
in Ferguson to someone who`s been organizing there.
Joining my panel now is State Senator Nina Turner, a Democrat from Ohio and
Juan Cartagena, who is president, general counsel of LatinoJustice.
And joining us now from Ferguson is John Gaskin, a Ferguson native and
John, we heard from Craig Melvin, who is there reporting for us, that
there`s more of a sense of anxiety on the ground.
How would you describe how people are feeling on the ground as they wait
for news out of the grand jury?
JOHN GASKIN, COMMMUNITY ACTIVIST AND FERGUSON NATIVE: Well, as I`ve been
throughout the area today, people are calm. There`s not a whole lot of
people out on the streets in areas. People are just awaiting what is going
to happen in the coming days, what that decision will be and what the
reaction from the community will be.
I believe that things will be peaceful. I believe that all protests will
I am concerned, however, about the amount of restraint that the police
departments here and the National Guard will use on citizens as they
exercise their right to protest. That is many people`s concern, what that
reaction will be. If you go to certain areas, there`s a lot of police cars
in certain areas that are basically, you know, just awaiting the
HARRIS-PERRY: So John, this is -- I thought this was so useful. The "St.
Louis Post-Dispatch" did a Ferguson protest by the numbers. Zero deaths,
zero serious injuries to police officers, 37 cops hospitalized with minor
injuries, 20 civilians hospitalized, 28 stores burglarized, 25 windows
broken, one building burned, less than $5 million in damage.
So this idea that we`re preparing for what feels like such an aggressive
movement on the part of the governor around the state of emergency, the
kind of mobilization of resources that we are seeing, is there some way to
have a conversation about the concern, as you just laid out, as Reverend
Barber laid out earlier, that the line being drawn in the sand here is less
about the protesters and more about the response to the protesters?
GASKIN: Well, I think Reverend Barber made a very good point. There is a
lot of concern about the governor really almost embarrassing the people of
this region, of this state by calling a state of emergency before there is
even an emergency.
Some of the anticipation, some of the things that are taking place,
Melissa, honestly is very concerning and honestly it`s insulting to the
protesters and it`s insulting to the people of this state and of this
community, to be quite honest with you.
But there definitely needs to be a conversation with the governor and with
some of the leaders that are making these types of choices and preparations
as though we are somewhere in a distant land and not here in America within
a bedroom community in the suburbs of St. Louis County. I think it`s
almost ridiculous, some of the preparations that are being made.
HARRIS-PERRY: John, stay with us.
Nina, I want to follow up on what John is saying there because that idea of
the language he used was insulting when it was just a few months ago when
this community, the officials in it were saying, now we`re going to have
NINA TURNER (D), OHIO STATE SENATOR: Right.
HARRIS-PERRY: Now we`re going to develop respect and trust and then here`s
a local community activist saying, excuse me, what you are doing is
insulting to us.
TURNER: Right. And the word embarrassing that John used is very profound.
It invokes an emotional reaction. Again, this governor is not handling
this properly, painting the citizens of that city as the other.
And it`s almost a self-fulfilling prophecy that you bring in the National
Guard when there is no rationale to bring them in because this black
community could explode at any moment. It`s continuing a narrative of
African-Americans that should be unacceptable in 21st century America.
And so John is laying that out strongly. Certainly the governor could have
handled this a different way. Let`s address the symptoms as to why folks
are upset about what is happening to them, that the people who are elected
in that community do not reflect them.
You cannot serve that which you do not love. You cannot serve that which
you do not have a respect and a reverence for. If the governor and the
mayor of that community, if they want to get down with the get down, then
they need to address the rash, the symptoms of this problem.
HARRIS-PERRY: John, let me come to you and ask exactly that. In the
month, in the 105 days since the death of Michael Brown, while we are
waiting on whether or not there will be an indictment from this grand jury,
has there been a sense that those elected officials have come into the
community, have begun to develop relationships or are showing the kind of
love and respect that State Senator Turner is suggesting here?
GASKIN: To some extent. I`m not going to give a blanket statement to say
all have not. Some have met with protesters and some have met with
organizations like the NAACP and the Urban League. Some have.
But those that have remained distant from the start, we continue to beg the
question, where are they? You know, another very good point is, from the
very beginning the protesters have been trying to engage people like the
governor and those that make the type of decisions in terms of policy when
it comes to policing these types of communities and he`s yet to meet with
His response is to call in the National Guard and to bring in military
equipment. And so I think that that is a remedy for a problem.
The people within this community, I`m going to be frank with you, Melissa,
are tired of people that don`t know what`s going on prescribing a solution
for a problem that they have no understanding of.
And so the best way to come up with a solution is to bring people to the
table that understand what is going on. Although you may not understand
them, I guarantee you if you allow and afford them the opportunity to be at
the table and have a dialogue and have a conversation, as Reverend Barber
alluded to, I guarantee you you`re going to get some good results.
But the response that we have seen here, it`s very unfortunate, to be quite
honest with you, it`s disgusting.
HARRIS-PERRY: Thank you to John Gaskin in Ferguson, Missouri, making a
clarion call this morning for democratic participation in an American city.
Attorney General Eric Holder weighed in on Ferguson more than once this
week. That part of the story is next.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Now we sit back and look at this. We will see the
positive impact that it will have bringing St. Louis together as a whole
and as a loving community.
HARRIS-PERRY: This past Monday as Missouri Governor Jay Nixon declared a
state of emergency and the wait for a grand jury decision began in earnest,
Attorney General Eric Holder was in Washington, D.C., at a small ceremony
outside the Capitol, where he and others planted a tree in memory of Emmett
Till, the young African American boy murdered in Mississippi in 1955 after
supposedly whistling at a white woman.
Till`s murder and his mother`s brave decision to expose it to the world
helped to spark the civil rights movement.
After the ceremony, a reporter asked Attorney General Holder what
connection Emmett Till`s story has with what has been happening in
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ERIC HOLDER, U.S. ATTORNEY GENERAL: The struggle goes on and it`s not only
Ferguson. There are other communities around our country where we are
dealing with relationships that are not what they should be, be they
official communities they have chosen to serve or whether these are more
kind of more personal level.
There is an enduring legacy that Emmett Till has left with us that we have
to still confront as a nation.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: So, Amy, I thought it was interesting that the attorney
general made a decision to go ahead and make that linkage between Till and
this current moment.
Is there a legacy here? Is that part of what is going on?
GOODMAN: Well, one of the things that Mamie Till did, Emmett`s mother,
when she said open the casket for the wake and the funeral, she wanted the
world to see the ravages of racism, the brutality of bigotry.
And thousands of people streamed by that casket and "Jet" magazine and
other black publications took photographs of his distended, mutilated head
and they were actually published, seared into the history of this country.
I think she taught something very important even to the press of today,
show the images, show the pictures.
Because when we see what happens, for example, on the streets of Ferguson
with the police, the whole country, the world is aghast and yet we now see
it again, the preparations dealing with protest.
And one other thing, to talk about history, Dred Scott haunts the streets
of Ferguson. He`s buried just four miles down the road, on that protest
street, on West Florissant at Calvary Cemetery, the worst Supreme Court
decision ever. It was 100 years before Emmett Till, 1857, the decision
that no black man or woman or child in this country, free or slave, could
ever be a U.S. citizen, ever.
It also tells us something about the immigration movement and also here. I
mean, here that ghost is in -- I mean, when I went to Ferguson, I was just
thinking of Dred Scott in the midst of the clouds of tear gas.
And on Monday President Obama at the White House will give the Presidential
Medal of Freedom posthumously to James Chaney, Mickey Schwerner and Andrew
Goodman, three civil rights activists who went to Mississippi to fight for
the vote, which is why I`m so concerned to register people`s vote, when
people say who was arrested, were they people from Ferguson or were they
people from outside? This is not just a Ferguson issue. It`s why the
people of Ferguson have called for everyone to come in, to stand up in
those days in Ferguson October to stand with them, black, white, Latino,
everyone, because this is an issue for us all.
HARRIS-PERRY: So for me, in part when you invoke those civil rights
workers, you then invoke along with it a legacy of the Department of
Justice. And so on the one hand, we have Attorney General Holder talking
about the legacy around Emmett Till but part of that legacy going forward
from that moment was the ways in which the federal government had to step
in to provide justice when local communities did not.
And so for me, I guess, the big question for the Department of Justice is
it less about whether or not there`s a recognition of history but whether
going forward, if there`s no indictment of this officer, and we don`t know
whether there will be or not, but if there is no indictment, whether or not
the Department of Justice, given that it did its own independent
investigation, is prepared to bring civil rights charges.
CARTAGENA: What makes this a national moment from that perspective is
exactly the positions taken so far by Attorney General Holder, that he`s
definitely undergoing and undertaking this investigation very seriously and
then it`ll go to its full complete end.
What we`ve learned and we`ve seen here in New York alone in the Alla (ph)
case, the Anthony (ph) bias case, where local grand juries do not indict
but the federal government comes in, does indict and does obtain
It`s incredibly important for the entire community, the national community
to recognize that we have this double-tiered system and the federal
government will step in when it`s necessary. There`s no doubt in my mind
that this particular attorney general and (INAUDIBLE) as well will do
everything necessary if there`s no indictment to press forward on federal
HARRIS-PERRY: But it did not happen in the case of the exoneration, for
example, of Mr. Zimmerman after the death of Trayvon Martin. And so I keep
wondering in part this week, because it`s one of those moments when the
coalition that is the coalition the Left is having a weird moment. Such
good news. Not perfect but good news for Latino communities this week.
Potentially troubling news for African-American communities this week.
It`s possible that we`ll get immigration action and no indictment. Now
it`s also possible that there will be an indictment or an indictment of
some kind. And I`m always worried about the ways in which that potentially
could fray the coalition, because that`s part of what I want to talk about
when we come back.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We need all the people, no matter who they are, no
matter what color they are, to stand together. That won`t change whatever
the grand jury says.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HOLDER: I know from firsthand experience that demonstrations like these
have the potential to spark a sustained and positive national dialogue to
provide momentum to a necessary conversation and to bring about critical
But history has also shown us that the most successful and enduring
movements for change are those that adhere to nonaggression and
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: That was Attorney General Eric Holder on Friday in a message
to the people of Ferguson. And I appreciated the message, this idea that
this could be productive. I also don`t know that historically it`s true
that nonaggression and nonviolence are most likely to be successful.
I think there are moments that the U.S. civil rights movement in the mid-
century was extremely successful but there were other peaceful protests
that were crushed, that were destroyed over time.
I guess I have such a desire that this moment of pain turned into something
sustainable. I guess that`s part of what I`m wondering, is how we can
allow this to be a sustaining moment.
WARREN: Yes. And I spent last week in Ferguson and it was very bizarre to
be in a place -- I`ve never been in a place where there was a state of
emergency and there was nothing happening. I mean, it was just quiet.
But what I`m seeing on the ground, particularly from the young folks, the
15-year old people, low-key, who looked me in the eye and said, "Old man,
how could you let this happen to us? How come you didn`t handle this back
in the `60s and the `70s?"
People have questions but they are also defining their own answers and I
think that`s the connection, when you were talking earlier in the segment,
about immigration work, the black folks here on the ground in Ferguson, the
LGBT movement. There are points where people realize that the current
government structures are not giving people what they need and people are
coming together now to take these things back.
And the question isn`t really -- it`s a diversion to talk about violence
versus nonviolence. It`s very good to talk about disruption. People have
to disrupt the status quo in order to get justice.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That`s right.
WARREN: And that happened to the LGBT community, it happens in the black
community, the Latino community, you name it.
GOODMAN: You know, the grand jury could do the same thing. You know,
you`ve got this 12-person grand jury. I think there`s three African-
Americans on the grand jury but nine have to agree on whatever this verdict
is. They could be a rogue grand jury. They don`t have to follow what Bob
McCullough wants. Maybe Dr. Baden`s testimony, maybe they called for it.
Maybe they`re asking questions and they get to see the news. They`re not
sequestered. They see what`s going on in the world. It`s an important
message for everyone who serves on grand juries . They control it.
Actually, they have that power, not the prosecutor.
TURNER: Professor, this is a Frederick Douglass moment in my mind, the
quote where he says power can seize nothing without a struggle and it never
has and it never will. That struggle doesn`t have to be violent. But the
struggle for liberation is at hand in Ferguson and what I would hope is
that some leaders in Ferguson will take the reins on the political side of
The judicial side is one side, but the residents of Ferguson have the power
of recall where they can start to get petitions out there and control their
own political destiny.
You`ve got to get out there to vote. As we know, only 60 percent of the
African American population voted in the last municipal election. There`s
a correlation between the ballot box and the breadbox, a correlation
between those who serve you and those who do not.
They need to take that energy and change the dynamic of the representation
in that city. That will get a lot of attention, quick.
HARRIS-PERRY: You know, I`m suddenly feeling sad -- I guess, Vince,
because of what you said about the idea that a young person said to you,
how could you have let this happen and then your point about power
conceding nothing without struggle -- not your point, but Douglass there.
And I wonder if, in fact, part of the failure here is that a generation
that had some -- a set of successes then encouraged the next generation not
to disrupt, not to -- to pull up your pants and conform and just march the
line rather than, in fact, passing on strategy. So not just to disrupt to
be disruptive but --
HARRIS-PERRY: -- purposeful in strategic ways that could continue to make
change and again, to go all the way back to the beginning of the show and
DACA and the fact that this president is responding to a movement of young
dreamers who continue to disrupt, who had that courage.
CARTAGENA: There`s no question that civil disobedience is part of our --
it`s being blamed on all of us, a matter of a form of protest and a form of
creating public attention on any issue. I mean, I myself have been picked
up on civil disobedience charges. It`s part and parcel of what we do in
this country to shine that light.
At the same time, where I think Vince, what you said before about that
young man saying that to you but the fact of the matter is in many ways
what we see in Ferguson is youth-led. What we saw in the DACA immigration
rights victory, this is all youth-led.
Our young people are much better at making these connections than the
veterans that have, perhaps calcified in their kind of approaches to
certain things but now we`re recognizing that in many ways these synergies
are working together.
HARRIS-PERRY: So now the young will lead and the rest of us will all have
to follow. I guess I`m no longer the young anymore.
HARRIS-PERRY: Such a fascinating moment of transition. Thank you to Vince
Warren and to Amy Goodman, also to Juan Cartagena.
Nina`s going to stick around, because she and I, up next, are going to do a
little one-on-one. But as we go to break, one more thought from Ferguson.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think that this is symbolic, this standing in the
street is symbolic of the very reason why Mike Brown was killed. So it has
significance. Had Mike not been killed, I don`t think we`d see lots of
people standing in the street.
HARRIS-PERRY: The last time Nina Turner joined us in Nerdland was right
before the midterm elections. She was challenging incumbent John Houston
in the race to be Ohio secretary of state.
She lost that election but the state senator remains one of the rising
stars of the Democratic Party and her passion and future are potentially
hotter than ever. Turner has been mentioned as a possible replacement for
the outgoing chair of the Ohio Democratic Party and as a possible 2017
contender for the mayor of Cleveland.
No matter what she chooses to do next, we know she`ll remain committed to
standing up for equality, for voting rights and for reproductive rights and
challenging proposals like the controversial heartbeat bill making its way
through the Ohio House.
The bill would prohibit abortion once a fetal heartbeat has been detected.
House Bill 248 would outlaw abortions as early as six weeks into a woman`s
pregnancy when many women don`t even know they are pregnant.
As we say in Nerdland, the struggle continues and we`re so glad that Nina
Turner is still helping to lead that fight.
So, Ms. Turner, whatever else you`re going to do next politically, you`re
going to spend a little more time in the classroom teaching, which I love.
Now I`m going to start calling you Professor.
What will you bring from your experiences of both loss and a victory to the
classroom as you`re talking particularly maybe to women about the role of
running for office in a democratic society?
TURNER: That your voice matters. And I`m glad you brought up women in
particular because Congresswoman Shirley Chisholm once said that great
amounts of potential in this country is lost because that potential wears a
I want to remind our women and also our men but our women in particular
that your voice matters, that it should matter that you`re in the room. So
I`m delighted to go back to Cuyahoga Community College where I took a leave
of absence to fight this epic battle for voters rights in the great state
of Ohio and I will continue to launch that because, as far as I`m
concerned, what I fought for and others toiled for still remains a
constant, that the ballot box is the greatest equalizer that we have.
HARRIS-PERRY: And the idea -- you and I have talked about this before.
Ohio is free faith. That`s what people are trying to get to. It`s
extremely stressful to me to see things like the fetal heartbeat bill, like
the voting rights restrictions.
What is currently winding its way through the Ohio statehouse, state
legislatures that the national audience should be aware of?
TURNER: The heartbeat bill is one. They tried to pass it in the last
general assembly. They -- the Senate held it up and we find ourselves
again only one hearing on this bill. They voted it out of committee and as
Jamie Miracle (ph) of Pro Choice -- or Neyral Pro Choice Ohio (ph)
articulated in her testimony that this is a way to stop Roe v. Wade in its
tracks, that even in instances of rape or incest, which I think it`s kind
of sad that we have to qualify rape. You know, rape is rape. It is a
But even in instances of rape as incest, a woman, if this bill passes,
would not even be able to seek an abortion, which is a medical procedure.
Sixty percent of women who seek that kind of procedure, they are mothers,
90 percent of those women are single.
Women should not have to ask men for permission slips. They don`t need
more legislative or executive daddies. We need to understand that the
power -- the party that talks about personal freedom, they want to take
that away from grown women and it makes no sense to me.
HARRIS-PERRY: Speaking of the party that talks about personal freedom,
HARRIS-PERRY: Interesting statement. I want to look at Ohio Governor
Kasich saying something interesting about Republicans these days.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. JOHN KASICH (R), OHIO: It`s a cool time to be a Republican and I
think young people are back looking at us again. We lost them for a while
but I think they are back. In my state we`re seeing minorities voting
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: John Kasich running for president?
TURNER: I`m sure that`s on his list. "It`s a cool time." I don`t know if
parents of those children think it`s such a cool time when we need to
invest more money into education, when government -- local government funds
have been cut from municipalities and townships.
How cool is that when their mothers can`t make decisions about their own
body, how cool is that?
And when this same governor, when he talks about minorities are voting
Republican and not just the voting spaces exclusive to African-Americans
but particularly because of our history in this country, this governor did
not hesitate to sign those bills that took away opportunities to access the
It`s a cool time to be a Republican? I don`t think so.
HARRIS-PERRY: My producer and I have a bit of a Nerdland bet on whether it
will be Kasich or Pence, who`s going to ride the rising surrogate (ph).
But it will be important, no matter who it is, that folks who are from the
state where these new voices are emerging will have something to say about
what those records actually look like.
Thank you to Ohio State Senator Nina Turner, Professor Nina Turner.
Up next, our foot soldiers of the week are just back from Geneva.
HARRIS-PERRY: Sixty-three years ago in 1951, William L. Patterson,
National Executive Secretary for the Civil Rights Congress, sent a petition
to the United Nations entitled, "We Charge Genocide," citing the United
States`s long history of racial violence, from slavery and lynching to the
rise of urban ghettos and police violence.
That document made its case to the international community, that given its
treatment of black people, America was guilty of nothing less than the
crime of genocide. Now that crime had been defined by the U.N. just three
years prior as "intent to destroy in whole or in part a national, ethnic,
racial or religious group."
W.B. Du Bois (ph) and Paul Robeson were among the undersigned. In the
United States, that document, the Civil Rights Congress who presented it,
would both become casualties of the anti-communist Cold War environment
which subsumed the nation`s politics at the time.
In fact, the United Nations never acknowledged receiving the document and
the CRC was disbanded just five years later.
Fast forward to last week, when a group of eight young people from Chicago,
Illinois, presented a familiar sounding claim to the U.N. Committee against
Torture in Geneva, Switzerland.
Resurrecting the We Charge Genocide name, the group made many of the same
claims of the original document, slightly updated to reflect the realities
of today. And then Chicago, where black citizens are 10 times more likely
to be shot by the police than white citizens, those realities are stark.
Despite making up just 32.3 percent of the population, between 2009 and
2013, 75.3 percent of police shooting victims in Chicago were black. For
going to great lengths, literally, traveling to the other side of the world
to raise awareness and speak out against injustice, the members of the
group We Charge Genocide are our foot soldiers of the week.
And joining me now are two delegation members who went to the U.N. in
Geneva, Asha Rosa and Malcolm London.
Tell me why a revival of the discourse, We Charge Genocide?
MALCOLM LONDON, WE CHARGE GENOCIDE: We call it what it is. It is
extremely disheartening and the numbers are incredibly stark themselves.
In a lot of ways, a lot worse in America and definitely in Chicago.
HARRIS-PERRY: So you find yourself at the U.N. making an international
How was it responded to? How was it received at the U.N.?
ASHA ROSA, WE CHARGE GENOCIDE: Like you said, we`re bringing this
conversation to an international stage because, from what we`ve seen, the
state is not going to protect us. That`s why we`re bringing it to the
United Nations. And it was received a lot better than we ever could have
HARRIS-PERRY: Give me an example.
ROSA: Essentially we present to the Committee against Torture and then
they ask the U.S. government questions. So we`re kind of sitting there,
like maybe they`ll take up an issue, maybe they won`t.
And one of the committee members, Asadi al-Belnir (ph), she was talking and
she was talking about Chicago specifically. She was quoting our report.
We were getting very excited at that.
And she just gets to a point where she`s getting very excited and she asks
them, "I just don`t understand, why don`t black people experience the same
rights as other people?"
And to hear that in the United Nations and to hear her quoting our report
is just an incredibly affirming thing.
HARRIS-PERRY: The language of affirming, Asha, I think, is an important
one and we`ll talk a bit. And I wonder if there`s something important
about taking a global perspective on the experience of blackness.
It`s kind of a vague question, but to say, when we think about ourselves
only as Americans and we may be Americans, deeply committed to this nation,
but we`re also citizens of the world. We`re also covered by human rights,
not just civil rights.
How does that change your perspective, to stand in Geneva and look back on
the U.S., to look at a global blackness?
LONDON: I think what it means for me or the perspective that I have is
just -- shows and builds the global community in a way that we are not
thinking about not just Chicago but I think there`s a quote -- and I forget
who says it.
But in terms of organizing, you always want to ask yourself, what time is
it in the world?
So connecting our struggles in that way, but in terms of the United States
and our relationship and why we went there is because we felt this strategy
of going to the U.N. to expose or continuing to expose America`s hypocrisy,
not just in its foreign policies but also right at home and so connecting
in that way these structures in which operate and oppress people abroad --
HARRIS-PERRY: Paint a vision for me, Asha.
What would a truly accountable system of community policing look like in
ROSA: I would like to see no police. I would like to see no prisons. I
don`t think that policing one another or locking people up -- I don`t think
a system of punishment is one in which there can be true accountability and
I don`t think it`s one in which there can be true justice.
HARRIS-PERRY: What`s the alternative look like for you?
ROSA: The alternative to me is restorative and transformative justice. I
think there are problems in communities and people mess up, people do
But I think that the response to that shouldn`t be to punish or to
ostracize people and it definitely should not be to criminalize people
based on their identity.
So I think what that looks like is asking ourselves really hard questions,
asking, what are the roots of these problems and looking at changing the
roots of those problems as being the actual solutions to our problems.
So there`s crime, right? Are our schools being funded?
HARRIS-PERRY: You all are certainly asking really hard questions and
asking all of us to follow you in asking those tough questions. Thank you
so much for taking a global perspective and for bringing your community to
the world. Thank you to Asha Rosa and to Malcolm London.
That`s our show for today. Thanks to you at home for watching. I`m going
to see you tomorrow morning, 10:00 am Eastern. On tomorrow`s program,
we`ll be speaking with several individuals we`ve reported on over the
course of the past year to see how the president`s moves on immigration
impact and affect them.
We`re also going to explore the controversy surrounding comedian Bill Cosby
as allegations continue to grow.
But right now, it`s time for a preview of "WEEKENDS WITH ALEX WITT."
Richard Lui is filling in.
RICHARD LUI, MSNBC HOST: Melissa, great to see you and thank you so much.
Still no word from the grand jury in the case of Darren Wilson, the officer
who shot Michael Brown. We`ll talk to NBC`s Craig Melvin, who is there on
They are digging out in Buffalo. But now residents face another problem
that could create even a bigger mess.
You may have heard the news. There`s a chocolate shortage. Oh, no. But I
will talk to someone who says there`s a couple of ideas out there.
But will it change the taste of chocolate forever? Don`t go anywhere.
We`ll be right back.
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY
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