PoliticsNation, Wednesday, March 11th, 2015
Read the transcript from the Wednesday show
Show: POLITICS NATION
Date: March 11, 2015
Guest: Lizz Brown, Val Demings, Benjamin Crump, Ed Rendell, Lawrence Ross,
Jonathan Capehart, Lizz Brown, Benjamin Crump, Seema Iyer, Jason Johnson,
Victoria DeFrancesco Soto
REV. AL SHARPTON, MSNBC HOST: Good evening, Ed. Thanks to you for tuning
in. I`m live tonight from Chicago.
We start with breaking news in Ferguson, Missouri, where the Police Chief
Tom Jackson, has resigned. His resignation will be effective next Thursday
but he`ll receive a severance package and health insurance for a year. In
30 minutes, we`re expecting a press conference from the city of Ferguson to
address the personnel changes and we`ll go to that live.
Chief Jackson`s resignation comes one week after a Department of Justice
released a blistering report that detailed racial bias in the Ferguson
Police Department. But since it`s released Chief Jackson has refused to
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE REPORTER: Do you think that the department has a race
problem? Do they have a problem? And are you going to fix it? What are
you going to do about it?
CHIEF TOM JACKSON, FERGUSON POLICE DEPARTMENT: I need to have time to
really analyze this report so I can comment on it.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE REPORTER: Why do you need time to analyze the report.
You know what you -- you should have known what was going on in your
department, correct? Right?
What do you think of this DOJ report and what are you going to do about it?
Just any idea what it is you are going to do yourself about this as the
chief of the department?
JACKSON: I`m going to analyze the report and take action where necessary.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE REPORTER: Does that mean you`re going to stay around?
JACKSON: I`m going to take action where necessary.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: Now that action has been made for him. In his resignation
letter, the chief says it was with quote, "profound sadness that I`m
announcing that I am stepping down." Chief Jackson presides over a police
force of 54 officers of whom just four are black.
The population of Ferguson is nearly 70 percent black. He supervised
officers who sent racist emails like this detail in the Justice Department
report. A November 2008 email stated that President Barack Obama would not
be president for very long because, quote, "what black man holds a steady
job for four years?"
In April 2011 email, depicting President Barack Obama as a chimpanzee. And
an October 2011 email, included a photo of a bare-chested group of dancing
women, apparently in Africa with the caption, Michelle Obama`s high school
Five other Ferguson employees have already resigned or have been fired
since the Justice Department report. But the question tonight, is that
enough? So what happens next? Will the chief`s resignation change enough?
No officers were named in the Justice Department report. Do others need to
go? Should this entire department be dismantled? And what about the
city`s finance director who asked the police chief for more revenue? This
is a city with serious problems. And it`s got a long way to go.
Joining me now is Lizz Brown, attorney and columnist for the "St. Louis
American" and former Orlando Police Chief Val Demings. Thank you for being
LIZZ BROWN, COLUMNIST/ATTORNEY, ST. LOUIS AMERICAN: Thank you, Reverend.
FORMER CHIEF VAL DEMINGS, ORLANDO POLICE DEPARTMENT: Thank you.
SHARPTON: Lizz, what needs to happen now in Ferguson?
BROWN: Well, I think that the mayor needs to go as well. Everybody who is
charge -- I mean, this is Missouri. The buck stops here state. Everybody
needs to go. The mayor needs to go next. But I`m not inclined to believe
that the police department needs to be dismantled. I think this is a
wonderful opportunity to gut this police department. No African-American
community -- majority African-American community should ever give away
power. You can`t get power back. Gut this police department. Make it a
model police department for the rest of the country and that way you`d be
able to police the citizens in your community the way that they should be
policed as American citizens.
SHARPTON: You said the mayor needs to go. I remember when this report
came down, the mayor came out alone and basically didn`t really deal with
the systemic top to bottom problem that seems that this report indicated,
BROWN: Absolutely. And they never used the "R" word, they never used
racism, they`ve never used discrimination. They never apologized. You can
look at what the president of the University of Oklahoma did when he was
confronted with racism. He acknowledged it. He said it was awful and took
-- he took some -- he made some changes immediately. This mayor and this
police chief are still saying, I have to look at the report. In fact, I
heard the mayor actually say, I`ve got to go out and verify that all of
these people said what the Department of Justice said that they said. They
need to go. This is main --
SHARPTON: Now Val -- Val Demings, let me go to you. You`re a former
police chief. Gut the department or dismantle it?
DEMINGS: Revered Sharpton, I tell you, I spent over 20 years in law
enforcement and it was a profession that I was honored to serve in.
However, what has happened in Ferguson is absolutely disgraceful. When you
look at the history of discriminatory practices, illegal search and
seizures, unfair fines, racial bias, I believe that every branch on the
poisonous tree has to go. Which means every person who knew or should have
known by virtue of their position has to go in order for Ferguson to heal
and to move forward.
I agree with Lizz. I don`t believe that gut in the police or at least
eliminating the police department is the answer. Citizens love the ability
to have their own law enforcement agencies. But I do believe that it`s
important to get law enforcement professionals in there right way, who can
really handle the day-to-day operations of the department and really look
at each employee, each officer, look at their training records, look at
whatever history that the department has kept records on, which I
understand they was a problem there. But look at each employee and make
sure that the employee matches the climate that Ferguson is trying to move
to. But a lot of work.
SHARPTON: Now --
Ms. Demings, we saw a lot of missteps from Chief Jackson in the days after
the shooting of Michael Brown. He was held there in Wilson`s name from
public for six days. He released video that showed Michael Brown and his
friend robbing a convenience store against the wishes of the Justice
Department. And he changed his story on that video first. He said,
contact between Michael Brown and Darren Wilson wasn`t related to the
convenience store robbery, then he backtracked and said it was. So was his
resignation a long time coming?
DEMINGS: Oh my goodness. I`m trying to figure out what really took so
long. You know, I watched those early reports from Ferguson, of course, as
a former chief I`d be interested in what was going on in that community and
how the leaders in that community handle it. But it`s obvious there was a
total absence of leadership. The chief made mistake after mistake, misstep
after misstep. He was not held accountable, it seems like. He was not
doing a good job of police in himself and I`m really trying to figure out
what took so long for him to resign and even more than that. Why did he
have the opportunity to take a long time to tender his resignation?
SHARPTON: Lizz Brown, quickly, let me go back to you. The community, the
activist, the Grassroots Activists, those of us that came in calling for
justice, the Department of Justice responded to that. We should give those
young people a lot of credit because had there not been a light, we would
have never gotten a report.
Where does the community go from here? How Chief Jackson`s resignation is
only the beginning. How does the community come together and go from here?
BROWN: The community needs to get involved politically. Because again,
that`s how you control what happens in your community. On the ground,
people need to be registering to vote. They need to be engaged in making
certain that they have full access to and full participation in who is
going to govern their community. And they should continue to call for the
resignation of and the removal of the mayor of Ferguson.
And just to note, Reverend, all of the men in this -- in Ferguson were
allowed to resign. There`s only been fire and that was a woman.
BROWN: So I think that I have been notion that had all the guys got to
retire with or to resign with their severance packages and deals is
outrageous and again it shows that this is a city that cannot fairly govern
SHARPTON: All right. To Lizz Brown and Val Demings, thank you both.
Now let`s bring in the attorney for Michael Brown`s family, Attorney
Attorney Crump, what`s your reaction? And I heard you just now speaking
with the mother of Michael Brown. What`s the family`s reaction to this
news about Chief Jackson?
BENJAMIN CRUMP, MICHAEL BROWN`S FAMILY ATTORNEY: Reverend Al, they are
relieved, that action has being taken, especially in light of the DOJ
findings. These just horrible findings of a pattern and practice of
discrimination and excessive force against African-American citizens which
they have maintained from day one, Reverend Al, was approximate cause as to
what happened to their teenage son in broad daylight. And they always say
it, every citizen always say it, they don`t treat us right here in
Ferguson. They profile us. And you know that, Reverend Al, because you
went to Ferguson and you heard the cries from the people.
SHARPTON: Now, I remember early. I was in there 48 hours after the family
call and I remember that from the first rallies, all the family, the mother
and father, the whole family, stood up with such dignity. All they kept
say is, you must understand why there`s such outrage here because of the
systemic problem. In many ways, that is why the Department of Justice
studied this. They have may change. They did not get Mr. Wilson
prosecuted as many had strived for but they have dramatically changed
what`s going on in Ferguson at this point.
CRUMP: They did. And I think it`s important, Reverend Al, because what we
said there was larger implications about the tragic killing of Michael
Brown because you see unarmed people of color being killed all over
America. It`s almost like an epidemic right now. And so we need to try to
prevent this and there needs to be some deterrent and when you see DOJ say
we`re going to highlight and we`re going to do honest fact-finding missions
to see if there`s a pattern and practice, then that`s a wakeup call for
other police departments all across America.
SHARPTON: As the problem is nationwide and all of us focused on Ferguson,
what can come out of this that can heal and give a direction to the nation
as we see this all over the country now, Wisconsin, Washington, all over
the country, different cities facing this problem?
CRUMP: I think what the biggest thing should be learned is that you want
leadership. You want your leaders to be transparent. You want them to try
to have trust with the community. And the only way you do that is to deal
with them honestly and openly. If you make a mistake, you say, I made a
mistake. We`re going to work together as a community to prevent making
But when you don`t do that and you try to sweep it under the rug and
sanitized the action of your officer then that be of a greater mistrust in
the community and you see Ferguson happen. And nobody wants to see what
happened in Ferguson happening in their city. So the way to do it is be
honest, do an honest assessment and say, let`s try to police all our
communities equally. Protect and serve, everybody not police the black and
protect and serve the whites. We got to have equal justice.
SHARPTON: Ben Crump, we thank you for your time tonight and we are
awaiting a press conference from Ferguson officials. We`ll have that for
Straight ahead, backfiring. The 47 Republicans being called traitors for
their letter to Iran are in full-blown spin mode today. But one Republican
is actually trying to fund raise off of it.
Plus, the widening investigation into the SAE fraternity caught singing a
racist song. Tonight, other schools and other chapters are being looked
And is the Hillary Clinton 2016 campaign off and running? Wait until you
see the tweets she sent today. Please stay with us.
SHARPTON: Breaking news on that military helicopter that crashed off the
coast of Florida with 11 marines and soldiers on board.
Search and rescue teams are battling heavy fog in trying to locate the
downed black hawk chopper. In a press conference just moments ago, the
military revealing they`ve recovered helicopter parts and human remains.
Today, President Obama called military leaders to offer his support and his
condolences. No word yet on what caused the crash.
We`ll be right back.
SHARPTON: A fury is erupting over that letter to the Iran from 47
senators. This was supposed to be a great idea. They were going to stick
it to President Obama. But their unprecedented disrespect for the
president has become a colossal catastrophe.
Today, many of these Republicans are in full-blown damage control mode,
spinning and squirming to explain it. Some are pointing a finger at the
president somehow trying to blame President Obama for sending the letter.
Others said it was all fun, just a cheeky reminder of the congressional
This morning, Senator Rand Paul said it was meant to strengthen the
president`s hand and he actually said it with a straight face. But it goes
from the ridiculous to the absurd. Senator Marco Rubio is pack is trying
to fund-raise off it, the pack saying, quote, "if you agree that Republican
senators are not traitors, please contribute $25 today."
Maybe it`s good business for Tom Cotton and Marco Rubio but the American
people are speaking loud and clear and this letter is all based in a deep-
seeded resentment of President Obama.
Joining me now is former Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell. Thank you for
being here, Governor.
FRM. GOV. ED RENDELL (D), PENNSYLVANIA: My pleasure.
SHARPTON: Fundraising off this letter, Governor?
RENDELL: Well, it`s disgraceful as disgraceful as the letter itself was.
You know, Rev., we have to look at this in the context of American history.
No Congress has ever done anything close to something like this where
they`ve undermined the policy trying to be set, the foreign policy trying
to be set by the president of the United States by writing of leaders of a
foreign government and telling them, don`t deal with this president.
It`s -- "The New York Daily News," which is not a fan of President Obama`s
Iran deal, it`s not a fan but they had a big headline that called the
RENDELL: And if they are not traitors, they certainly did something, which
borders on treason. It borders on undermining the United States
SHARPTON: Governor, they are in damage control mode today. The only way
out, to me, is an apology. What`s your reaction?
RENDELL: I absolutely agree. An apology. And I would a second letter if
I was those 47 senators saying, look, don`t be misled by our first letter.
We stand behind the president of the United States` ability to negotiate
with your government. We just hope that we can count on your government to
negotiate in good faith and if you agree to a deal, live up to it. That`s
what I would do if I were them.
Look, they`ve got to admit that this was a mistake. People are furious
about this. You know, the Hillary Clinton email controversy, not one
person in the Philadelphia region has stopped me to ask me about that.
Tens and tens and tens of people have stopped me to ask about this
incredible letter that was sent. It`s backfiring at a tremendous speed
right on the 47 senators. The only Republicans who look good are the seven
who refused to sign.
SHARPTON: You know, it is truly unprecedented and Democratic report says,
quote, "the U.S. Senate historian`s office has so far been unable to find
another example in the chamber`s history where one political party openly
tried to deal with a foreign power against the presidential policy." I
mean, how can you view this other than an attempt to sabotage the
president`s agenda, Governor?
RENDELL: If Rand Paul is saying they were trying to strengthen the
president`s hand, it`s ludicrous. It`s ludicrous. Look, these guys should
stand up and say we made a mistake, we`re sorry we made the mistake, it was
ill thought out and we`re writing the Iranian leaders to tell them that
we`re going to stand behind the president if he negotiate the deal. We
hope that the Iranians will live up to the deal. There`s no way out. This
is one where you can`t talk your way out of it, you can`t spin your way out
of it. It`s a total unmitigated disaster. But it`s not just a disaster
for the Republican Party in the Senate. It`s a disaster for the country.
RENDELL: What`s going on in Iran is serious business, Rev. The Middle
East could blow up because of it, could blow up because of it. If Iran
gets nuclear weapons, Lord knows what`s going to happen. It is very
SHARPTON: And --
RENDELL: I`m not sure that I totally agree with --
SHARPTON: And You and I have been in politics --
You and I have been in politics and around social issues for a long time.
I`ve never seen anything like this. Usually politics stops at water`s
RENDELL: Absolutely. And foreign policy, the United States has always
spoken with one voice on foreign policy. There`s no question about that.
Once a decision is made. And look, I`m not crazy about the deal, although
we don`t know what the eventual deal is going to be. I`m not so sure that
we should know strengthened sanctions as some of the Republicans and some
of the Democratic senators say. But that`s no excuse for a treacherous
action like this. Almost bordering on treason.
SHARPTON: Ed Rendell, thank you for your time tonight.
RENDELL: My pleasure, Rev.
SHARPTON: Still ahead -- still ahead. Did that fraternity racist chant
happen at other schools and other chapters?
Breaking news tonight on the growing investigation.
Also, we`re awaiting that live press conference from Ferguson announcing
that the city`s police chief is resigning. We`ll bring it to you live,
SHARPTON: Breaking news tonight on a potential new alarming embarrassment
for the Secret Service. The administration reportedly investigating
allegations that two agents drove a government car into White House
Security Barricades after drinking at a party last week. "The Washington
Post" reports one of the agents alleged to have been in the car is a top
member of President Obama`s protective detail. For the Secret Service, it
could be another black eye after a series of blunders, including letting an
armed intruder break into the White House. The agency now has a new
director but tonight it appears the Secret Service may be dealing with the
same old issues.
Coming up, any moment now, we`re expecting a press conference from
Ferguson, Missouri, on the resignation of their police Chief Tom Jackson.
What happens next? Will the mayor go, too? And what should happen to the
city`s police department? We`ll bring you that briefing live, next.
SHARPTON: We`re back with breaking news. We`re awaiting a press
conference from Ferguson, Missouri. For more on the resignation of Police
Chief Tom Jackson. We`ll bring that to you as soon as it starts.
But we turn now to breaking news on the investigation into the racist frat
video at the University of Oklahoma. Widening tonight possibly to other
schools, the president of the University of Texas at Austin says he`s
investigating rumors that the SAE chapter there sang a similar chant. And
the frat`s national leader says they are looking into reports of incidents
at the other chapters. The apologies coming from the ringleaders, not
expelled from school, are raising only more questions about how many people
were involved. Nineteen-year-old Parker Rice saying, quote, "I am deeply
sorry" but then adding, quote, "Yes, the song was taught to us." The song
was taught? By whom? Today, the fraternity`s national office responded
saying they believe the chant was a recent creation, originating at the
University of Oklahoma chapter.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BRANDON WEIGHORST, SAE FRATERNITY SPOKESMAN: Somebody says it was talk to
us. We know it was not the national headquarters. We have every reason to
believe that when they are talking about being taught the songs, it was
done by somebody who was an older member of the chapter, in just a two or
three-year period there that has passed it down and said, here`s a chant
that we want to teach you.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: But the investigations tonight indicating this story isn`t over.
How did this chant start and where will this end? Joining me now is
Lawrence Ross, author of "The Divine Nine: The History of African American
Fraternities." And Jonathan Capehart from "The Washington Post." Thank
you both for being here.
LAWRENCE ROSS, AUTHOR, "THE DIVINE NINE": Thanks, Rev.
JONATHAN CAPEHART, THE WASHINGTON POST: Thank you, Rev.
SHARPTON: Lawrence, you know the culture of fraternities as well as
anyone. Are you surprised that this investigation is widening to chapters
at other schools?
ROSS: No, not at all. In fact, I`m just surprised that we are surprised.
If you actually understand the history of fraternities and sororities,
particularly on predominantly white campuses, you`d really be able to see
this pretty much any year that you wanted to look at it. All you have to
basically look for is fraternities and Halloween or fraternities and
sororities during black history month. We`ve had plenty of incidents over
the years where predominant white fraternities and sororities have put
black paint on their faces, held a racist party, like some constant
cookouts and ghetto parties, quote/unquote, where they imitated gang
members or things that dealt with Latinos in terms of using a Latino
stereotypes. And so this actually goes back. This is not just something
recent. This goes back into their early 20s. Even when African-Americans
were particularly on these campuses. You see this, you know, in terms of
the earliest history of the white fraternities and sororities.
SHARPTON: Yes, Jonathan, you`ve been writing about the bigotry exhibited
in that video, quote, "That it was on public display seemingly without
reservation by millennials shows that too many folks in this country
continue to live as if it`s 1968 or 1865 for that matter."
Jonathan, does this video reminder of the things that still haven`t changed
in this country?
CAPEHART: Right. Exactly. The thing that was so shocking about that
video, in addition to the "n" word being used, in addition to the reference
to lynching, in addition to the reckless abandon with which this cheer is
being led and people clapping was the fact that these were millennials who
were engaging in this racist activity. Millennials are the people we are
always talking about leading us, the United States, to a more progressive,
more open, more inclusive America because they are so accepting of things
like marriage equality, because they are quote/unquote color blind and they
don`t have a problem with race and here we have in a ten-second video in
2015, the day after we celebrated the 50th anniversary of Selma, a reminder
that while things have changed greatly, there is still a whole lot of work
to be done with people`s attitudes, not just older Americans but the people
who are coming up, the millennials, tweens and folks in their early 20s.
SHARPTON: Now, in line with that Professor Ross, after the racist video
from the University of Oklahoma surfaced, a picture from Oklahoma State SAE
Chapter made headlines. It showed the confederate flag hanging in the SAE
fraternity house. Doesn`t this make it harder for the national leaders to
say, the video was an isolated incident and there aren`t larger concerns.
ROSS: Well, I think, I know ruckus concern about SAE. But I mean, we can
talk about a lot of different, you know, fraternities and sororities,
particularly for example Kappa Alpha Order used to in the past, used to
have this old south parties, sometimes they still do. Where people would
dress up in confederate uniforms and then parade through those communities,
oftentimes some of those communities will be African-American and do the
same thing in terms of displaying the confederate flag. But this is also
speaks to in terms of where Mr. Capehart was talking about. The reason
why, this is kind of like a symptom of the things that happens when we
actually have a broader issue, in terms of for example, public policy.
When you have for example the University of Oklahoma where there are only
five percent African-American on campus, you marginalize African-American
students on that campus which makes it very comfortable for these students
in predominantly white fraternities and sororities to be very comfortable
singing that song. The thing that struck me by this whole thing is how he
felt free to actually sing this song. I know we`re spotlighting him. But
he felt free because not just because the fact that there were no black
people on the actual bus, but because he felt that there was probably no
one on the bus who actually even interacted with other black people. And
that creates a hostile environment for the black students on this
particularly, not just that University of Oklahoma but predominantly white
campuses throughout the country.
SHARPTON: And that no one was going to stop it or be seemingly offensive.
But Jonathan, I want to go back to something that the professor referred to
in terms of the history of this and going back, because the website for
SAE`s national organization refers to his history in the pre-civil war
south. Noting that it`s, quote, "The only national fraternity founded in
the antebellum south. The fraternity had fewer than 400 members when the
civil war began. Of those, 369 went to war for the confederate states."
How relevant are the SAE sudden roots when we talk about its culture now?
CAPEHART: They are really relevant. Extremely relevant. I mean, the
thing about that chant is that, you know, fraternities are all about
tradition and passing things down from member to member, you know, class to
class, so that way when you leave the university and you go around the
country and you ask what part of a fraternity and you find out that they
are all part of the same fraternity, you have the same traditions, you have
the same language. And to be a part of a fraternity that is a pre-civil
war fraternity and that, I don`t know, celebrates the fact that most of its
early members fought for the confederacy against the union in the civil
war, you have to wonder and you kind of know what the history of that
fraternity is. And it`s going to be incumbent upon the national
leadership, the modern day national leadership to live down that history,
to make sure folks understand and know that they are not that fraternity
from pre-1865. If, indeed, they are not that Fraternity from pre-1865.
SHARPTON: Well, what is interesting about it, Professor, is that they in
2015 would post that seemingly proudly on their website. That this was
their founders and this is what they did.
ROSS: Well, I mean, I don`t know whether or not that you could change it
in terms of your actual founding but it`s a disservice to all of those
young African-American men who decide that they want to become members of
SAE. Because I actually fear for them. I think I`ve been a 30-year
brother of Alpha Phi Alpha, the oldest African-American fraternity and if
something happened with Alpha Phi Alpha that made me feel lesser, I would
feel lesser. And these African-American men who decide to go to SAE, I
know they must feel that they`ve been let down because they look for an
ideal, they look for particularly for the SAE, the idea of a true
gentleman. And what they really received was someone who said, no, you`re
not -- fraternalism does not transcend in terms of all of our differences,
race, ethnicity, beliefs, and unifying us around principles and ideas, you
have really just reduced me and humiliated me and this is what you think.
So, how can I now look at all of my other brothers and think that I`m an
equal in your eyes? That`s got to be some devastating psychological, you
know, view for a young African-American men as a member of that fraternity.
SHARPTON: Lawrence Ross and Jonathan Capehart, thank you both for your
time tonight. We`re going to stay on this.
CAPEHART: Thanks, Rev.
ROSS: Thank you.
SHARPTON: Coming up, we`re awaiting the press conference in Ferguson,
Missouri. We`ll be back after this.
SHARPTON: Breaking news tonight, we`re awaiting a press conference from
Ferguson, Missouri, for more on the resignation of Police Chief Tom
I want to bring back Benjamin Crump, attorney for Michael Brown`s family,
Lizz Brown, attorney and columnist for the St. Louis American. And
Jonathan Capehart for "The Washington Post."
Lizz Brown, you said to me earlier in the show, the mayor needs to go.
Short of him saying that, what else could this mayor say to this community
tonight that in your opinion, would be effective?
LIZZ BROWN, ATTORNEY: You know, I really think that this mayor has just
advocated his responsibility as a mayor. The fact that this mayor is still
going around saying that we have to go and delve into this DOJ report, that
we have to verify the findings from this DOJ report, remember, this was a
mayor who said initially that there were no racial issues that confronted
the city of Ferguson. He had to be drug, kicking and screaming, into the
small admission that there are racial issues in the city of Ferguson. So,
this mayor also had an opportunity to cut a different deal with this police
chief. This police chief, it looks like he`s going to be able to get his
pension, it looks like he`s going to be able to get health care and when
you think about it, it`s a police chief that has never commented on this
DOJ report. A police chief that has said, I`ve never even finished going
I was live tweeting it as I got it and I`m sure you read it as soon as you
got it, too. So it is despicable and amazing that this police chief will
be able to get away without ever making a comment on the DOJ report that
has captivated and is important to everybody in America. So the fact that
the mayor did not require him to do so, that he cut this kind of deal with
him says, again, that this mayor has to go. You have to clean out the
entire -- the entire political body that has been involved in this issue.
SHARPTON: Jonathan, what do we need to hear tonight?
CAPEHART: One, I think we need to hear a further apology for what`s
happened in Ferguson that we now know as a result of the DOJ`s report on
the Ferguson Police Department. I think what he should have announced,
Thomas Jackson`s resignation a week ago when he had a press conference,
saying that they had gotten the report and they are looking at it. I don`t
think we`re going to hear him say that he`s resigning. I`m not sure what
more we`re going to hear from him. But you know what, I think his
resigning would let him off too easily. And I want the people of Ferguson
to do something that`s at once easy but also harder, given voter turnout in
the last two elections. Mayor Knowles is up for re-election and half the
city council is up for reelection, just next month. They only have a month
left in office. The people of Ferguson, if they want to send a clear
message to their government, they need to show up at the polls and vote
Mayor Knowles out. That would be --
SHARPTON: Attorney Crump, let me go to you here. Mayor Knowles, police
Chief Jackson going through this whole thing. You`re representing the
family. The chief, as I said earlier, put out a tape on Michael Brown and
had conflicting interpretations of the tape. There were other things, the
mayor said there was no race problem in Ferguson. Tonight, what, if
anything, can they say? We are told we`re only going to hear from Mayor
Knowles. They are all coming out but we are only going to hear from Mayor
Knowles. Given what they have done throughout the whole situation, the
whole case since last August, what can they say tonight given the DOJ
BENJAMIN CRUMP, BROWN FAMILY ATTORNEY: Well, one thing they can say,
Reverend Al that we have not heard, are they going to enter into an
agreement with the consent decree or are they going to fight the consent
decree? Because that`s very important. And so Jonathan, the young lady
said they are still saying they`ve got to thoroughly go through this fact-
finding from DOJ. That tells me that they are still finding these e-mails,
these arrests, these overcharging of tickets, this putting people in jail
for inability to pay tickets that clearly were designed to raise capital on
the folks of -- on the backs of poor folks.
SHARPTON: And it goes beyond even Ferguson, which is why what happened
here is so instructive because even the city surrounding Ferguson were told
somewhat even worse in terms of this ticketing and profiling and the
inferences all over the country that you and I hear about almost on a daily
CRUMP: Yes. And that goes to the larger implications, Reverend Al, I
think Ferguson has become a microcosm for our greater America. We have to
get it right here in Ferguson as an example for all these cities where you
have tragedies occur with unarmed black and brown people are being killed
by the people who are supposed to protect and serve them and nothing
SHARPTON: Seema Iyer, let me bring in Seema Iyer. Seema, what, in your
mind, has to happen and what are your thoughts as we go through this? A
lot of us were in this from day one, some of us under a lot of attacks for
even raising the question of, this needs to be looked into.
SEEMA IYER, "THE DOCKET" ON SHIFT MSNBC: Well, Rev, of course it needs to
be looked into. This is what we`ve asked for, for all long. And justice
has still not been served. So, now we`re at a point where things have to
change in terms of training, in terms of staffing, in terms of creating
diversity and transparency.
SHARPTON: Let me go Political Science Jason Johnson, you in Selma over the
weekend and as we had this great weekend and this awesome memory. Here we
come out of the weekend and we are dealing with the racial video coming out
in Oklahoma, we`re dealing with another killing of -- by police in
Wisconsin and Madison as being questioned and now we`re seeing what is
going on in Ferguson. This shows how far we have yet to go, Jason.
JASON JOHNSON, POLITICAL SCIENCE PROFESSOR: Of course. And the violence
is tremendous and it`s not going to stop and either the Department of
Justice report said we can probably go 15 miles up the road and find the
same problem. But I`ll say this, Reverend about this, the announcement
they are going to make in Ferguson. Fire everybody. Let`s just make this
simple. There were two other police departments in the St. Louis County
area that have been eliminated in the last three years for tax purposes,
for corruption purposes. They should just fire everybody in the Ferguson
Police Department and start from scratch. Because this process, a bit by
bit people are saying, I`m going to resign, is crazy.
IYER: But firing people and firing everybody, now you`re creating a whole
new set of problems. Okay? We`re at a point where we have to be --
JOHNSON: How so?
IYER: Because you fire people without warranted reasons, then they are
going to sue the police department and already this whole new agreement,
this lawsuit potentially by the DOJ, whether they signed the consent decree
or they don`t sign the consent decree is going to cost the Ferguson Police
Department millions of dollars. So if officers who don`t deserve to be
fired -- and then you`re facing lawsuits.
(TALKING OVER EACH OTHER)
SHARPTON: Wait a minute. Let me bring in Victoria DeFrancesco Soto.
Victoria, the politics of this, why the policy question? Because what many
of us have raised is the need for legislation nationally, when Attorney
General Holder dealt with the whole decision on Michael Brown, he talked
about what we raised in the big march in December, jurisdictional pressure,
how hard it is to make civil rights cases. What are the legislative needs
that we need to see come out of this?
VICTORIA DEFRANCESCO SOTO, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: At its core, Reverend, is a
respect for diversity. In your previous segment, you and Jonathan and your
other guests were talking about all of the incidents taking place across
college campuses where black and brown folks were being disrespected,
stereotypes are being used of them and that`s a bigger part of what goes on
in Ferguson, because if we allow those things to happen, just, oh, it`s
just a stereotype, these are just young kids who don`t mean anything, then
it snowballs into what happened with Michael Brown. It snowballs into the
police, not having respect for black bodies, not having respect for Latinos
SHARPTON: All right. Let me stand by because here Mayor Knowles is coming
out and we`re going to go live to Ferguson to hear what Mayor Knowles is
going to say.
MAYOR JAMES KNOWLES, FERGUSON, MISSOURI: The city of Ferguson and Police
Chief Thomas Jackson have agreed to a mutual separation involves the chief
police resignation from the city of Ferguson. The chief`s resignation is
effective March 19th, 2015. This was a mutual decision both by the chief
of police and the city`s administration. Chief Jackson will receive a
severance payment with health insurance for one year. Lieutenant Colonel
Al Eickhoff will assume the duties as acting chief of police effective
Thursday March 19th, 2015. In addition to our search for a new city
manager, we`ll also begin conducting a nationwide search for a new police
chief. As you are all aware, one week ago today the city of Ferguson
received its final report from the Department of Justice.
The city has been committed to and will continue to be committed to
addressing each item outlined in the report. It is the city council`s goal
to continue to be transparent as we strive to, once again, become a vibrant
and diverse community. On a final note, I would like to say this. To
Ferguson residents, business owners and to the entire country, the city of
Ferguson looks to become an example of how a community can move forward in
the face of adversity. We are committed to keeping our Police Department
and having one that exhibits the highest degree of professionalism and
fairness. And I`ll open it up for questions.
UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: How much is that severance?
KNOWLES: I believe his annual salary is 96,000, somewhere in that range.
It`s roughly 100,000.
UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: What can you tell us about the acting police chief?
Does he have a function or action with the residents of Ferguson?
KNOWLES: Lieutenant Colonel Eickhoff is new, rather new to the city of
Ferguson. He did started in August right before the events in August.
Lieutenant Colonel Eickhoff formerly with St. Louis County. I know that he
has, you know, obviously over the last six months spent a great deal of
time working with the people of Ferguson, and also our police department
our officers seem to have a very high degree of respect for the
professionalism and abilities of Lieutenant Colonel Eickhoff and we are
bless at this point to Lieutenant Colonel Eickhoff -- take the reins,
always search for a new police chief.
UNIDENTIFIED MAN: -- in terms of his departure and does a year severance
for a five year employee seem like a lot to you?
KNOWLES: Some of those conversations really are, you know, employee
discussions and you know, personnel discussions. I think that it`s fair to
say that in many executive level private industries you would get a similar
UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: He`s been permitted to stay in his job all along and
tell the Justice Department (INAUDIBLE) did he voluntarily say to you? Can
you characterize how this happened?
KNOWLES: Sure. So, I mean, I think we`ve all been very candid for the
last several months that we have explored every option. The city manager,
myself, the chief as far as what would be the best way forward, how we can
lessen the frustration during the unrest, how we can try to bring this
community together so we can move forward. You know, the chief is the kind
of honorable man who you don`t have to go to. He comes to you when he
knows that this is something that we have to seriously discuss and so after
a lot of soul searching and it is very hard for him to leave and for us to
have him leave, he felt that this was the best way forward. Doing this
obviously not only for the city but also for the men and women who served
under him in the Police Department because he is and he has been committed
to making sure the city of Ferguson keeps the Ferguson Police Department,
the city of Ferguson has been committed to that as well. And so, that was
obviously also kind of I think his thought process and when he decided to
make an exit.
UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Can you talk about wanting to keep the police
department? Have you all assessed at this point, you know, given what the
Justice Department wants from you all, will the city be able to, you know,
fulfill those commitments and keep its department? I mean, obviously --
KNOWLES: Those are recommendations from the Justice Department. Sure. So
the city of Ferguson, again, is looking at all of those recommendations.
We are engaging, we have already mentioned that we`re engaging consultants
to tell us what that price tag might be and what are those, you know, try
to tell us what is realistically what we need to be working on. And so, as
we move forward, we`ll obviously continue to keep all that in mind as we
make decisions going forward.
UNIDENTIFIED MAN: And will you be able to keep the Ferguson Police
KNOWLES: You know, we`re already engaged several experts on these issues.
Rough estimates and things, you know, going forward, I would say that we
believe that it`s something that we can do. So we`re committed to making
SHARPTON: The press conference in Ferguson continues. Chris Matthews will
have continuing coverage on "HARDBALL."
KNOWLES: You know, for the future of the city. And so, you know, for
right now, you know, what we`re seeing going forward absolutely to keep the
UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Many who protested outside of the police department,
liked him on a personal level.
UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Can you talk about and evaluate the job he did as police
chief after you read that DOJ report, that scathing report about how he ran
the Police Department?
KNOWLES: I mean, again as I`ve said, we continue to go through that report
and talk about where the break down was. Again, the chief being an
honorable man decided that we need to talk about the way moving forward was
with someone else. And so, he left. But that is not to say that`s an
indication of anything at this point. Again, we want to go and we have
been going through that report and identifying the breakdown. And that
breakdown can be at all different levels. And as we continue to do that
the important part is about how we can address that. What are the
safeguards we can put into place? What changes do we need to do to put
into place? And those are the things that we`re focused on.
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