'The Melissa Harris-Perry Show' for Sunday, April 19th, 2015
Read the transcript to the Sunday show
Show: MELISSA HARRIS-PERRY
Date: April 19, 2015
Guest: Judith Browne Dianis, Matt Welch, Cristina Beltran, Vince Warren,
Erica Sagrans, Will Pierce, Jenny Rustemeyer, Grant Baldwin, Elizabeth
Alexander, Keith Sainten, Robbie Tolan, Marian Tolan, Cristina Beltran,
Judith Browne Dianis
JOY REID, MSNBC GUEST ANCHOR: This morning, my question -- when will
Loretta Lynch become attorney general?
Plus when 17 presidential candidates just isn`t enough.
And the great poet, Elizabeth Alexander, comes to nerdland, but first the
"Today" show interview that left everyone stunned.
Good morning. I`m Joy Reid in for Melissa Harris-Perry. The developments
this week involving the shooting death of Eric Harris in Tulsa, Oklahoma,
have been nothing short of astonishing.
Last Sunday this program showed you disturbing video that had just been
released of an unarmed man shot and killed by a reserve deputy. That
civilian volunteer, 73-year-old Robert Bates said he thought he was pulling
his taser but instead grabbed his gun.
Bates can be heard on the tape saying, I shot him, I`m sorry. Police were
trying to arrest Harris for allegedly selling a gun to undercover officers.
By Monday Bates was charged with second degree manslaughter. He turned
himself in and then was released on $25,000 bond. On Thursday, a newspaper
report based on anonymous sources emerged making a startling allegation
that Bates` training records were falsified.
Bates` attorney denied the allegations and the sheriff`s department
dismissed it as rumor. On Friday, surrounded by his family and his
attorney, Bates sat down for an exclusive interview with Matt Lauer on
NBC`s the "Today" show. First, he explained what his role was supposed to
be that day.
MATT LAUER, NBC: I want you to take me back to April 2nd, the day this all
happened. You were not supposed to be actively involved in the arrest of
Mr. Harris. You were supposed to provide support from several blocks away,
but you did get involved in the struggle.
You write in your written statement that you were not sure whether he was
armed and you say you saw, quote, "a brief opening to use your taser to
subdue him." Take me back to that moment.
ROBERT BATES, TULSA RESERVE OFFICER: Matt, I was actually parked down the
street at the St. Clare station, several blocks away from where the
activity took place. In other words, the dope and the gun purchase. He
decided to bolt from the under cover`s truck and run.
He came to me and two other cars in front. I was the last car, as I always
am. I carry the equipment that the deputies use to clear a scene,
whatever. I have been involved in several hundred of these. I do clean-up
when they`re done. I take notes. I take photographs and that`s my job.
REID: Then he offered this to Eric Harris` family.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BATES: First and foremost let me apologize to the family of Eric Harris,
you know, this is the second worse thing that`s ever happened to me or
first ever happened to me in my life. I have had cancer a number of years
ago. I didn`t think I was going to get there.
Luckily I was able to go to a hospital where I had hours of surgery. I
rate this as number one on me list of things in my life that I regret.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
REID: And then in a truly remarkable moment of live TV, Lauer asked Bates
to demonstrate where he keeps his taser on his body versus his gun.
LAUER: Would you do me a favor, would you stand up for me for one second
and show me where on your body when you are in uniform you keep your taser
and where you keep your weapon -- your revolver. Can you stand up and show
BATES: Sure. You bet. My taser is right here on the front tucked in a
protective vest. My gun itself is on my side, normally to the rear.
LAUER: People are going to look at that, Mr. Bates, and say how can you
make this mistake? How could you think you were going for your taser on
your chest tucked into that vest and accidentally pull your weapon?
BATES: Well, let me say this has happened a number of times around the
country. I have read about it in the past. I thought to myself after
reading several cases, I don`t understand how this can happen. You must
believe me, it can happen to anyone.
REID: OK, so finally, Lauer asked Bates about the report this week`s
report on his training records.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LAUER: You did the training and you can prove that you were certified.
BATES: That`s absolutely the truth. I have it in writing.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
REID: Now yesterday, attorneys for Bates released some of the training
records. NBC News has the documents that were released, but some of the
records are missing. Authorities are currently trying to gather what`s
Following Friday`s interview the family of Eric Harris released this
statement, quote, "We appreciate Bob Bates` apology for shooting and
killing Eric. Unfortunately, Mr. Bates` apology will not bring Eric back.
With each passing day as the facts continue to unfold, we have become
increasingly disturbed by Mr. Bates`s actions on April 2, 2015 as well as
the Tulsa County Sheriff`s Office`s acts and omissions both before and
after the shooting. We remain vigilant in seeking the truth and in our
pursuit of justice."
Joining me now, Judith Browne Dianis, co-director of the Advancement
Project, Matt Welch, editor-in-chief of "Reason" magazine, Cristina
Beltron, associate professor of social and cultural analysis at NYU, Keith
Sainten, retired NYPD detective and former Police Academy instructor.
Thanks to all of you for being here. I`m tempted to go right to you, Matt,
only because I have been reading a lot in "Reason" magazine about these
issues in policing coming up and uniting people across the ideological
What do you make of this notion of private citizens who are not police
officers acting in this reserve deputy capacity armed and part of a crime
MATT WELCH, EDITOR-IN-CHIEF, "REASON" MAGAZINE: Armed is pretty troubling
and also is the just sort of the basic lack of training that seems to be
apparent here. We don`t need Shaquille O`Neal, Steven Segal out there
doing the crime busting and the nation of -- the tape showed not just that
But also some of the other police involved with the shooting who said
expletive your breath when he was gasping for air on the ground. There is
a dismissal of the human life that they are interacting with which
transcends a 73-year-old insurance executive. It`s part of police culture
too much nowadays.
I think we have to imagine that. The reason we are talking about this and
have a right-left moment of criminal justice reform is largely because we
have a lot more videotape here of this. We get to see not just the
actions, but also the attitudes behind the Alaska actions that I think
pervaded this particular case, too.
REID: Absolutely. I want to play another clip of this wealthy donor or as
he`s been portrayed. This is the question Matt Lauer asked about him,
quote/unquote, "playing cop." Let`s play that.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LAUER: In the wake of this incident, you have been portrayed as a wealthy
and generous supporter of the sheriff`s department and a close friend of
the sheriff, who has been rewarded for your financial support with the
opportunity -- and this is what`s out there -- to play cop and carry a gun.
Is that a fair characterization?
BATES: That is unbelievably unfair. I have donated equipment as I saw
fit, when the need happened to arise to allow the task force and other
areas of the sheriff`s office to better do their jobs on the street of
Tulsa. Tulsa has a drug problem. There is no question. Nobody argues
that. I am willing to put up equipment to assist them to better educate
(END VIDEO CLIP)
REID: So, Keith, I want to come to you as a former law enforcement
officer. I think what Matt is describing is a sense among the public as we
are starting to see these incidents rather than just have them described by
the families of the deceased or by witnesses.
Now that we are seeing police culture in action then you have a guy who is
not an officer who seems to embody that same culture, the sense of, there
is a drug problem, I`m out there trying to police it. Then the kind of --
I don`t know.
Talk to me about the way police see the communities that they are policing
and whether that police culture then translates to the civilians who side
with them and work with them as volunteers.
KEITH SAINTEN, FORMER POLICE ACADEMY INSTRUCTOR: OK, this is troubling,
first of all. It`s amazing how the cavalier approach towards policing
nowadays. To bring an individual like this who is up there in tenure, to
say the least, to do such a tactical buy and bust with firearms and to come
on the scene later with other officers on the scene is troubling to us.
Lack of training and there are clearly some ethical and integrity issues
involved with this department.
REID: But is he absorbing a mindset that is in your opinion out there
SAINTEN: Absolutely is. He`s bringing on the same good old boy attitude
toward policing. This has to stop. The only thing happening now is that
we are seeing it more often. It`s been happening for years, but now the
video is bringing everything to light. I wouldn`t want to be in his
position right now.
REID: Judith, I think the video -- the existence of video now really does
change in a lot of ways the conversation. It does feel like communities of
color have been saying for quite a long time there are issues of basic
respect and valuation of the lives of the people in the community, seeing
people in the community as criminals, et cetera that the videotape changes
There is some also research that shows when you introduce body cameras
there is actual reduction in the use of force by police. Is the actual
tape what is need here to bring these sides together and start to get
traction on the civil rights issues?
JUDITH BROWNE DIANIS, CO-DIRECTOR, ADVANCEMENT PROJECT: I definitely think
that the cameras and the video help. Let`s think about Rodney King, right?
I mean, that was the first time in which -- in quite some time, you saw it
on tape and people had an aha moment.
For communities of color, we are thinking this happens all the time. It
opens up a discourse and an opportunity for structural change. But at the
end of the day, if we don`t change the policies internally, the structural
problems, if we don`t change that mindset.
I mean, for this man -- basically he bought his opportunity to live out his
childhood fantasies. Unfortunately, what he did was he acted upon an
African-American man thinking, just like a lot of police officers do, these
folks aren`t human. We are going in and we are going to bust heads and I`m
going to have a good time doing it.
REID: I want to bring Christina into the conversation. We want to keep it
going on the other side of the break. We have to take a break. So hold
on. We have a lot to get to this morning.
I also want to let our audience know under way now in Oklahoma is the 20th
anniversary remembrance ceremony for the bombing in Oklahoma City, 168
people were killed in what was then the worst act of domestic terrorism in
Later this morning, former President Bill Clinton will speak at the
ceremony and we`ll bring those remarks to you live.
But up next for us on the issue of police use of force, what happens when
there is no video? A man who was shot by police in his own family`s
driveway, but the details are in dispute. He will join us next to tell his
REID: In multiple recent incidents of police-involved shootings, we have
seen how video, be it cell phone video taken by a bystander or video from a
police dash cam or body camera, can play a major role in both how the
public and the legal system responds.
But what if there is no video? What if you were shot by a police officer
and believe the officer was in the wrong, but you have no video to make
That`s the claim of Robbie Tolan in Bellaire, Texas. In 2008, a Bellaire
police officer, John Edwards, observed what he called an abrupt turn into a
cul-de-sac. The driver was Tolan then a 23-year-old Minor League Baseball
Also in the car was Robbie`s cousin, Anthony Cooper. They were pulling up
to the Tolan family home. According to the court documents after typing
the license plate into his patrol car computer the officer believed the car
to be stolen.
He got out of his patrol car, drew his gun and ordered the two men to lie
on the ground. That`s when Tolan`s mother and father emerged from inside
the house. Court documents show Tolan`s father, Bobby, a well-known former
Major League Baseball player tried to assure the police officer that the
vehicle was not stolen.
Now take a look at what a court document from 2013 says happened next.
Bobby Tolan, that`s Robbie`s father yelled at Cooper and Robbie to stay
down. Marian Tolan, that`s Robbie`s mother, walked repeatedly in front of
Officer Edwards`s drawn pistol insisting no crime had been committed.
Dealing with four people in a chaotic and confusing scene, Officer Edwards
radioed for expedited assistance. Sergeant Cotton responded and hearing
the tension in Officer Edwards` voice believed him to be in danger.
Sergeant Cotton arrived approximately one and one-half minutes later after
Officer Edwards` arrival. What happened next is in dispute. According to
the Tolan`s, Sergeant Cotton pushed Marian into the garage door.
The Tolan`s say when Robbie rose to protest Cotton`s handling of his
mother, Cotton shot at him three times, hitting him once. Sergeant Cotton
told a different story.
He and Officer Edwards maintain Marian refused to remain calm and quiet and
it was when her son, Robbie, tried to intervene that Sergeant Cotton feared
for his life and shot Robbie.
Sergeant Cotton was with tried for aggravated assault by a public servant.
A jury acquitted him, agreeing that the shooting was justified. Robbie
Tolan survived the shooting though a bullet is still in his liver today.
It turned out as the jurors learned the vehicle was never stolen. Officer
Edwards had typed the wrong license plate number into the system. He was
off by one digit.
The Tolan family pursued a civil suit claiming the officer`s actions were
racially motivated and violated their constitutional rights, but a federal
district court dismissed the case. The judge noted qualified immunity, the
protection that police officers have from liability or civil damages.
When the Tolans appealed the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit
Court also dismissed the case on the same grounds. In May of last year the
United States Supreme Court ordered the 5th Circuit Court to reconsider.
The judges ruled unanimously that the lower court had made a mistake by
never hearing the Tolan family`s version of events before coming to a
Six years after the shooting the Tolans will have the opportunity to tell
their version of the events of the night in court. We did reach the
attorney for Sergeant Cotton and the city who said the case was dismissed.
That Sergeant Cotton has been acquitted and that there has been no
indication that Sergeant Cotton has been anything other than completely
proper in his conduct.
Of course, in this case, we only have are the word of the people who were
there and their differing accounts. To piece together what actually
happened that night because in this case, there was no video.
Joining me now from Houston, Texas, are Robbie Tolan and his mother, Marian
Tolan. Thank you both for being here.
ROBBIE TOLAN, SURVIVOR OF POLICE SHOOTING: Thank you for having us.
MARIAN TOLAN, MOTHER OF ROBBIE TOLAN: Thank you.
REID: So Robbie, I want to start with you and just ask physically, how are
you doing six years after those events? I guess, everybody wants to know
now, as we did mention you were a Minor League Baseball player. Did it
interrupt your career? Just how are you?
ROBBIE TOLAN: I have my good days and bad days. You know, like you said
the bullet is still in me. I have emotional and physical scars and I ache
all day long. I have back spasms. It`s my life now. I`m used to it now.
I`m still achy all the time from it.
REID: As we read the long and complicated story, Marian, part of the
narrative in the story is and I think as any mother, who is listening to
that story, one can relate to your visceral fear at seeing a gun pointed at
But in hindsight, looking back, do you look back at that night and ask
yourself whether anything that you did contributed to the chaos of the
scene that might have led a reasonable police officer to legitimately fear
for his life?
MARIAN TOLAN: No, not at all. First of all, it was our home. We have a
right to protect in our home. So I don`t think -- I was explaining to
them, we have lived here for 15 years. We have never had anything like
I don`t think I did anything different than a white mother or any other
race mother would have done because we were telling the truth. The car
wasn`t stolen. The car was registered to the very address it was parked in
I was telling them, I believe that had I been white the officers would have
said, can you -- we`re sorry. Can you show us some proof? They never said
that. They never said give us a minute and they lied. They clearly lied
about the evidence.
You know, in one instance, I was still blessed in spite of how horrific
this scene was that I didn`t have any questions. I witnessed it. You
know, I think about the mothers who get a knock on the door or the phone
call that your son`s been shot.
I witnessed it. I know that I didn`t do anything to cause that and Robbie
didn`t do anything. The officer didn`t push me to the garage door. He
threw me against the garage door.
REID: I want to bring you back to ask you a similar question. With this
many years of hindsight looking back on the incident, when you saw as your
mother said, she was pushed or whatever happened between her and the
officer, looking back on it, can you see anything you did that might have
contributed to the officer`s belief that the scene was chaotic and
dangerous for the officer?
ROBBIE TOLAN: No. I don`t believe I did anything to add to that. That`s
what they are trained to do. Police are trained for hostile situations. I
think it is up to them to use their common sense and discernment to say
let`s use common sense and maybe the homeowners come outside in their
pajamas and say, wait a minute, that`s my son, that`s my car.
Maybe we have a mistake. Let`s pull back a little bit, but that`s not what
happened. I believe I did what any son would do if their mother being
thrown up against a wall by anyone let alone a police officer.
REID: OK, we are going to take a break and we are going to have more of
this on the other side of that break. But I want everyone at the table as
well as Robbie and Marian to stay with us. We`ll continue the story. It`s
a very complex story. Stay with us. We`ll have more after this.
REID: We`re back with Robbie and Marian Tolan who experienced -- in
Marian`s case I think every mother`s nightmare, an incident -- a police
incident right in front of her own home involving her son, Robbie.
I want to come back to you, Robbie and just ask you, if looking at the
incident that occurred with you and then doing so in the light of the other
cases that have come out, the Michael Brown case, the Tamera Rice case, the
Eric Garner case, just looking at those cases, has that informed the way
you view what happened to you?
ROBBIE TOLAN: You know, I`m normally a pretty private person. I don`t
bother people. I don`t like to be bothered. So sometimes, you know, when
dealing with the emotional scars, I want the crawl in a hole and disappear.
But I feel like I have an obligation to speak on behalf of the people that
can`t speak for themselves anymore. I don`t know if you guys knew this,
but on the same day that I was shot, Oscar Grant in Oakland and Adolf
Grimes in New Orleans were shot.
We were all shot within 36 hours of each other. When you hear cases like
that and then, of course, Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown, Jordan Davis,
Jordan Baker here in Houston, you know, I have an obligation. I am the
voice for the voiceless. That`s what I try to focus on.
REID: I want to bring the table in. Cristina, I`m struck by the fact that
when the shooting happened despite the fact that the young man involved is
a baseball player, had a level of notoriety, this case did not sort of
unleash these thorns of outrage that we have seen in later cases.
So what do you think has changed about the way the public looks at
incidents between police officers and civilians, not knowing all the facts
obviously, but just hearing the visceral, a police officer has shot a
CRISTINA BELTRAN, ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR, NEW YORK UNIVERSITY: What changed
in part is the litany of events, right. I think that, you know, the fact
that there have been so many of these over and over again. People are
really I think much more aware of the kind of ongoing-ness of this.
But this does speak to the issue of having cameras, I mean, having tape and
videotape is an enormously useful thing. You have a documentation that`s
unbiased. But at the same time I think we have to really realize the
limits of this technology and what it will do.
Because at some fundamental level one thing we are dealing with here is,
imperfect people acting under conditions of enormous stress and anxiety,
and the kind of culture of demand for obedience from the police. This
focuses on obedience and force that, you know, obliterates people`s ability
to acquire justice or be treated fairly.
Like these are things as we have more videotape we are also going to be
seeing more complex stories going on. We have to be able to talk about
what we are seeing and try to make sense of it. It`s not like -- people
are going to respond in perfect ways.
People will be panicking, scared and they will make mistakes. That doesn`t
stop the fact of the matter that the police are acting in ways that need to
rethink the culture of policing. That`s a big issue.
REID: That somebody that`s a former officer and I think that is a very
important point, this culture of obedience. Do police officers believe and
are they trained to believe that no matter what they tell a civilian to do
that person must do it immediately regardless?
SAINTEN: Officers are trained to assess each situation independently,
patience. Sometimes you need to let a person vent. The case can be
brought down. But the immediacy is what we are having a problem with.
There is no need to rush. Time is our ally.
REID: On that very point, I want to play a little bit of an officer in a
situation that`s similar, but who responded differently in Ohio. If we
have the tape and we can play it, this is an Ohio officer who is wearing a
body camera when he confronted an armed suspect who was being threatening.
You talk about patience. Let`s listen to the tape.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Get your hands up! Get your hands up! Get your hands
up right now! Stop right there. I don`t want to shoot you, man. I will
shoot you! Do it now.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
REID: I want to come back. I actually want to go to Robbie Tolan and
bring are you back into the conversation. You have officers who have very
different ways of dealing with people. The officers who dealt with you,
did you feel you were in a situation where the officer was behaving -- the
officer in that videotape was trying to work the situation out. Is that
the kind of policing we should expect from your point of view?
ROBBIE TOLAN: You know, I think time is your ally. The officer who shot
me was on the scene for 32 seconds before doing so. Like I said, common
sense, let`s pull back on the aggression and figure out what`s going on.
Some people need to vent.
We have lived here 15 years, you know, the homeowner has come out in their
pajamas, maybe we have a mistake. Let`s see some I.D. I think to, you
know, put your foot further down on the gas pedal is not going to help
either party in this situation.
REID: Keith, why doesn`t that -- go on.
ROBBIE TOLAN: I`m done.
REID: I`m sorry. Keith, why do you think that doesn`t happen?
SAINTEN: Well, what we are seeing with the videos and you will hear this a
lot from officers that I had to make a split second decision.
KEITH: I`m sorry. I need to take a break, so I do need to thank Robbie
Tolan and Marian Tolan in Houston, Texas. Before we go to break, I want to
show you the live picture out of Oklahoma. This is the 20th anniversary
remembrance ceremony paying tribute to those killed and injured in the
Oklahoma City bombing in 1995.
We are awaiting remarks from former President Bill Clinton. We`ll bring it
to you live. When we come back, we`ll ask this question, are the police
being asked to do too much?
REID: We are going live now to Oklahoma City, Oklahoma where underway
right is the 20th anniversary remembrance ceremony for the victims of the
bombing that killed 168 people in 1995. As you can see, speaking now is
former President Bill Clinton.
FORMER PRESIDENT BILL CLINTON: Senator Langford, Congressman Lucas, Mayor
Cornett, thank you. I loved hearing you reliving those times. I want to
thank Governor Keating. Most of you don`t know this, but I have known
Frank Keating longer than you have.
We met when I was an 18-year-old freshman at Georgetown, America`s Jesuit
University. I was a Southern Baptist. They asked me what I was doing
there. I said I hoped I could figure it out before I had to leave.
The first encounter we had, we were having a partisan disagreement over a
campus issue. It continues from 1964 or `65 for 30 years until Oklahoma
City, he and Kathy for magnificent. For a whole country you burned away
all the petty squabbles in which we engaged, leaving only our basic
I mostly came here to thank you today. I prepared for this day yesterday
by taking Hillary to see our daughter and son-in-law and my -- about to be
7-month-old grandchild. Hillary and I bathed her and fed her and put her
I looked at her in that crib so I could remember how you felt, those of you
who lost your loved ones. I want to first say I know how hard this is.
When I came to Oklahoma City, four days after the bombing I wanted to see
the family of the Secret Service agent who perished because he was on my
He wanted to come because he thought it would be a wonderful place to raise
a family. Joe Clancy is here, 20 years ago, he was on my detail, too. He
advanced my trip to Oklahoma City.
When you strip away the things that divide us it`s important to remember
how tied we are and how much we, all Americans owe Oklahoma City. People
came here from around the country to help you.
One of them was chief of the New York City Fire Department named Ray Downy.
I met him here. Almost six years later, lo and behold I was living in New
York with my foundation and Hillary was a senator. Ray Downy lost his life
on 9/11 trying to get people out of the twin towers.
When they fell among the first people to show up to help were the workers
from Oklahoma City. I can tell you nobody has ever forgotten that. So I
wanted to say thank you.
I think of Oklahoma City sometimes a tale of two trees that one who proved
that you`re tough, strong and endure and a dogwood that Hillary and I
planted on the south lawn of the White House on my way down here that
fateful day 20 years ago.
Dogwoods for all of us are a sign of springtime and rebirth. For those of
us who are Christians they are also a sign of new beginnings and second
chances. So I thank you.
Nelson Mandela who died a couple of years ago was a great friend of mine
for 20 years. He taught me a lot of things from his 27 years in prison.
He taught me in the face of tragedy, evil and loss there are only two
things that always remain that can`t ever be taken away -- your mind and
your heart. We must decide what to do with no matter what happens.
REID: That`s of course former President Bill Clinton honoring the victims
of the Oklahoma City bombing that killed 168 people and wounded hundreds
more on this day in 1995. We`ll take a short break and come back with my
panel to continue our discussion on the policing of America.
REID: We are back. We have been talking about the 2008 case, the police
shooting case of Robbie Tolan, a Minor League Baseball player shot by a
police officer and survived. He was in the driveway of oh his mother`s
I want to come to you, Judith, on the question of civil liability because
the Tolans did attempt to go to court and they did not prevail. Why didn`t
they prevail on summary judgment and what is summary judgment?
DIANIS: So first there are two different things that they were in court on
criminal charges against the officer. That`s one. Then they went for
civil liability, which gives you money damages.
What happens is often for police officers if they are acting within their
official duty, they get what we call qualified immunity which means
basically you get off the hook if you were acting as a state official,
In this case what happens is in summary judgment that`s where a lot of
cases are kicked out. They never go to trial because, in fact, the courts
can rule just are on the paper. They don`t have to listen to witnesses, et
Just on the paper the facts look like it is enough that this officer acted
within their duties as a police officer so often we find victims having no
recourse in the courts whatsoever.
They can`t get past summary judgment because they can`t get through
qualified immunity. The officers get kind of a coat of protection from the
law. I think what happened in this particular case is the Supreme Court
said, wait a second.
There are some facts in controversy that have to go back before a court,
before a trial court. They will finally have their day in court but it is
an uphill battle.
REID: Does that qualified immunity carry over? If an officer is fired
from the police force because we hear in recent cases the families gearing
up to file a lawsuit potentially against the department, but sometimes even
against the officer. Does that immunity spill over?
DIANIS: No. What you may find is that the actual police department may
say this person was acting outside of the realm of -- that`s not often that
you are get a police department saying this person has gone beyond the
duties, beyond and actually clearly violated someone else`s rights. You
don`t often get them turning on their own officers.
REID: Indeed, Matt, I want to ask you whether or not that`s a tenable
situation. If we do have such broad immunity for police officers and were
with you surprised the Supreme Court said to go back and look again?
WELCH: I was a little surprised it was unanimous. Some of the Supreme
Court justices have shown great reference toward law and order over the
years. The fact that especially Justice Scalia got in and joined that,
one, this is on someone`s property. The Supreme Court takes it seriously.
But two also the pendulum has swung too far. Summary judgment is supposed
to be I will take the victim`s side and see if they were correct would the
officer be liable.
Summary judgment says, he wouldn`t be liable so we`ll kick it out. The
deference this shows in the lower court cases toward the police is
untenable. The Tolans have gone an incredible amount just to get this far.
The fact that they have the officer indicted in the first place almost
never happens. We don`t generally have independent prosecutors of officer-
involved shootings. So the whole system is biased. Not just qualified
immunity for prosecutors.
There is blanket immunity for prosecutors. If they are consistently
engaged in nefarious activities, unlawful prosecutions, supporting perjury
of witnesses they don`t get a problem at all.
REID: They have immunity too.
WELCH: They are throughout the system and they are why we don`t get a lot
of action against bad cops.
REID: Right, indeed. This is such a hot topic. We`ll continue after the
break. Up next, we`ll ask the question whether or not what we are asking
police to do is too much.
REID: When Walter Scott died after being shot in the back multiple times
by a North Charleston police officer early this month, his family suggested
he may have run in an attempt to avoid jail time for unpaid child support.
Scott`s home state of South Carolina is one of the toughest when it comes
to punishing parents who don`t pay, even when there is no evidence that the
strategy is working.
This week writing for "The Atlantic," (inaudible) writes, quote, "At some
point Americans decided that the best answer to every social ill lay in the
power of the criminal justice system. Vexing social problems,
homelessness, drug use, the inability to support one`s children, mental
illness are solved by sending in men and women who specialize in inspiring
fear and ensuring compliance.
Fear and compliance have their place, but it can`t be every place." It`s a
provocative point. I want to put the question to my panel. Are we asking
the police to do too much? I will come to you, Keith, on that question.
SAINTEN: At times, yes. An officer who has many hats, as you are taught
in academy, you are the first line for everything. People expect you to
know the answer to every social issue, any environmental question, et
There are laws on the books that clearly police officers shouldn`t be
handling that are small. You may have to get a task force. A small
outside agency that police should not be involved in to where people
wouldn`t fear going to jail for not paying child support.
SAINTEN: And an immediate state to where they have to flee from a cop.
REID: Christina, at the same time you have social ills. You have things
like child support, domestic situations whether it`s truancy up to domestic
violence. If the police aren`t the right agency to handle all of the
social ills then who is?
BELTRAN: I think if we are really talking about police reform, this is --
I think the article in "The Atlantic" is required reading for the issue.
He put his finger on something critical which is that we have decided to
ask the police to do everything.
There is a way in which they are social workers, dealing with people at the
ground level. But clearly what we have done is criminalized inequality,
right? When we are dealing with issues of -- the fact that we think it is
normal that a problem of homelessness or drug addiction or mental illness
is that the police are the first responders to that.
It`s really an insane question. When you think about what we are doing
it`s pretty absurd. One thing as we think deeply about reforming police
culture, we should be thinking creatively about should there be other
forces involved, other kinds of responders?
Should police have to go through a process where maybe people spend years
not carrying guns, but dealing with communities in particular ways.
Like we are smart enough people that we should think creatively about new
ways to confront the myriad social problems we have without the logic of
force as our first logic.
REID: Judith, isn`t that the essence of community policing, having police
in the community on small things so they know the community when big things
DIANIS: Right, but not that they lock them up on small things. That`s not
the way it should go. This is really just endemic of our country`s rush to
In the work we do on the prison pipeline for example, police are in schools
arresting kids for minor things, often because the school decided it is
easier to turn that young person -- 5-year-old, temper tantrum, turn it
over to the cop to handle it so we don`t have to.
DIANIS: We have to think about what might seem like hard work but the
REID: Matt, is it the police or the laws?
WELCH: It`s the laws primarily. We have too many stupid laws the police
shouldn`t be enforcing. You shouldn`t be in a choke hold for selling a
loose cigarette. That`s ridiculous. We don`t know how many federal,
criminal laws there are.
People can`t count them. They are in the thousands now. They shouldn`t be
enforcing that and there shouldn`t be incentive for local cops to use
citizens as revenue streams. It`s happening all over the country. It is a
terrible incentive. We need to get rid of that.
REID: Thank you very much. I want to thank, Keith Sainten. The rest of
the panel is sticking around. Up next, Loretta Lynch`s long wait, 162 days
and counting. Even the president is losing patience.
And perfectly good food going to waste, why are we throwing away almost
half of all edible food? More nerdland at the top of the hour.
REID: Welcome back. I`m Joy Reid in for Melissa. It is now been 162 days
since Loretta Lynch was nominated to be the nation`s next attorney general.
And still, no vote. It`s the delay that has been the subject of
speculation, bewilderment and just plain frustration. And as because
Loretta Lynch has the votes to be confirmed. She has enough republican
backers. And there is no denying, she has what it takes to do the job. So
what gives? Well, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is the one who
has the power to end the waiting game by putting Lynch`s vote on the Senate
calendar. But he`s playing hardball, refusing to allow senators to
leapfrog over a stalled anti-human trafficking bill to vote on Lynch.
According to the New York Times McConnell told his colleagues the Senate
would vote on Loretta Lynch this week just as he had always planned. And
here he is on the Senate floor on Thursday.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY), MAJORITY LEADER: I have indicated, gosh, at
least for six weeks now we are going to deal with the Lynch nomination
right after we finish trafficking.
I`m sorry. What? Where in the Senate`s bylaws does it say that
trafficking first, confirmation vote second? Because even as the Lynch
debacle is shining light on what is perceived as a dysfunctional Senate
that gets nothing done, a lot can be done and certainly more than one thing
at a time. Just take a look at this week. The U.S. Senate actually did
things. It struck deals on Iran, education and trade, on Tuesday the
Senate overwhelmingly approved an historic $200 billion Medicaid reform
package. And on Thursday the Senate education committee voted unanimously
in favor of a no child left behind revision. But bipartisan breakthrough
for the historically contentious law. As for the Lynch vote -- crickets.
Sorry says Majority Leader McConnell. Trafficking first and we`ll get to
the nomination from more than five months ago which is why the push to end
the Lynch stalemate intensified this week. Especially after the President
blasted the Senate in uncharacteristically spirited fashion during a press
conference on Friday.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PRES. BARACK OBAMA (D), UNITED STATES: This is the top law enforcement job
in the country. What are we doing here? And I have to say that there are
times where the dysfunction in the Senate just goes too far. This is an
example of it. It`s gone too far. Enough. Enough. Call Loretta Lynch
for a vote. Get her confirmed. Put her in place. Let her do her job.
This is embarrassing. A process like this.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
REID: Now maybe republican leaders in the Senate don`t care too much about
upsetting President Obama. But they may want to think twice about a
particular constituency that is paying attention to this historic delay of
an historic nominee. That would be black women voters. Republicans have
to ask themselves, do they really want to be seen as the ones that
prevented the confirmation of the first African-American woman nominated to
hold the top law enforcement position in the country? Because here`s the
thing. Black women are a powerful force at the polls. Leading in voter
turnout among all women. And that presidential election gender gap you
always hear so much about, the one where President Obama won 56 percent of
women voters in 2008 and 55 percent in 2012?
But you need to look a little deeper. There is not just a gender gap,
there is a race gender gap. In 2008 Senator McCain won 53 percent of the
white women`s vote. And in 2012, Governor Romney won white women with 56
percent. But now look at women of color. Latino voters went for President
Obama at a rate of 68 and 76 percent in 2008 and 2012. And African-
American women, in both 2008 and 2012 they were for President Obama at a
rate of 96 percent. Now if you know that black women voted for the
democrat in the last two presidential elections at a rate of 96 percent and
you are the republican leader of the Senate, wouldn`t you think that black
women aren`t a group that you want to be motivating to get out and vote in
2016? And might you think that holding up the nomination of the first
black woman attorney general might be doing just that?
Joining me now is Judith Browne Dianis, co-director of the Advancement
Project. Matt Welch, editor-in-chief of "Reason" magazine. Cristina
Beltran, associate professor at NYU. And Vince Warren, executive director
of the Center for Constitutional Rights. And Vince, if you have just win
the table, I`m going to go to you first. Is there anything to the argument
that essentially by holding up the nomination of Loretta Lynch, republicans
are getting nothing much accomplished because she`s eventually going to get
through while really, really angering black women.
VINCE WARREN, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, CENTER FOR CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHTS: It
absolutely makes no sense. It make no political sense, it makes no legal
sense. And based on what we are dealing with in the country right now in
terms of policing and race, it`s an abdication of responsibility to really
move forward some good policies with good people in order to solve a
problem. I don`t understand why the republicans really want to just push
black women and Latino folks to the side. And then at the same time expect
that they will be able to reel people in with their candidates. It makes
no sense at all.
REID: And should you mention that the confluence of policing and race.
Dick Durbin drew some outrage from the other side for comment he made that
did seemed to be either really strategery in terms of reminding black
people, hey, look at this lady that`s being held up, or just, I don`t know,
speaking at a term, let`s listen to Dick Durbin.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. DICK DURBIN (D), ILLINOIS: Loretta Lynch, the first African-American
woman nominated to be attorney general is asked to sit in the back of the
bus when it comes to the Senate calendar.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
REID: He went to the back of the bus. But this is how John McCain reacted
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: What is beneath the decorum and dignity of
the United States Senate, I would say to the senator from Illinois is for
him to come to this floor and use that imagery and suggest that racist
tactics are being employed to delay Ms. Lynch`s confirmation vote. Such
inflammatory rhetoric has no place in this body and serves no purpose.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
REID: Maybe. Or maybe it`s helpful to the democrats in 2016.
JUDITH BROWNE DIANIS, CO-DIRECTOR, ADVANCEMENT PROJECT: I`m feeling like a
Kanye moment here. You know, they never loved us, right? #Sisters for
Loretta Lynch. I mean, like, you know, yes, this is really is like -- they
don`t really care, right? About black women voters. And we are going to
turn out. You know, it`s going to be retribution, right? Because she`s
being held hostage for their political gain. But also at a moment where
they are Holder haters, right? And so, I mean, here we have a woman --
REID: Eric Holder.
DIANIS: Right. Eric Holder. And so, you have a woman who is going to
continue the work of Eric Holder on policing, on immigration, on other
things. So there is concern about that. And you know, for us to think
that they can`t multi-task, you know, if they can`t multi task, they need
to go home. Right? So this is really an interesting moment. Because I do
think when women are going to turn out in record numbers, when black women
repeatedly turn out in record numbers, they are going to have a problem.
REID: Well, I mean, and Matt, you know, Eric Holder`s name has now been
brought into the table. The republicans ostensibly say that this is about
a human trafficking bill that they want to go first. Sometimes you hear
that it is about the perfect potentially Loretta Lynch`s stance on
President Obama`s immigration executive action. But -- is this this about
Eric Holder and her potentially continuing what he`s done?
MATT WELCH, EDITOR-IN-CHIEF, "REASON MAGAZINE": I think it is largely an
act of petulance about immigration, an upset with the President`s executive
actions on that so that so we`re going to hold this up for that reason. I
think there are other people who have reasons that is align more with mine.
Rand Paul opposes this nomination not because of immigration and human
trafficking but because Loretta Lynch is one of the most single biggest
enthusiasts for and practitioners of civil asset forfeiture. So, she, when
she was in Brooklyn said, okay, great. You know, even though this cup is
owned by someone who is not engaged in illegal activity we think it might
be illegal itself so we`re going to seize it. She has used this as a way
to fund her office. This is a problem in American life. It is part of the
incentive structure that we talked about before when cops and police
departments are using people to shake them down and pocket the winnings.
On end, she`s also pretty lousy on the drug war which has not a small
impact on communities of color out there. She has said that she`s not
sure whether marijuana is more dangerous or less dangerous than alcohol
which is a nonsense point to be made. It shows, it signals that she`s
afraid to go against where the pendulum is swinging on the drug war. These
are legitimate reasons to oppose. And I will just point out real quick,
since we`re going to determine the punch bowl here. Dennis Rogers Brown,
if Loretta Lynch is at the back of the bus, Dennis Rogers Brown whose name
escapes a lot of people was at the back of a line of busses. She was at
the lunch counter with her hands in bracelets. She was held up by Senate
democrats for two years as a Bush appointee to the D.C. Circuit. Black
woman. But they didn`t like her politics. Nobody then suggested that it
was because of racism.
REID: I need to go on you on this Christina, because those are actually
substantive debating points about Loretta Lynch. Then why aren`t
republicans making any of those points? Because we are not hearing that
other than from Rand Paul.
CRISTINA BELTRAN, ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR, NEW YORK UNIVERSITY: No, it`s
incredibly bad strategy on their part. I mean, what`s so interesting is
rather that we could actually have an interesting conversation about what
is, you know, productive and problematic about Loretta Lynch as a
candidate, right? If somebody is going up to become attorney general. But
instead, all they have managed to do is galvanize the community.
BELTRAN: You know, and so it is, it`s just incredibly bad strategically
but I also think that it is interesting because it`s like a republican
trifecta of alienation. Right? Like they`re going to alienate, you know,
women, black women, women of color and general Latina women and immigration
advocates. Right? So, they have actually produced this interesting
coalition of people. And Hillary Clinton is going to be able to, you know,
invoke this very effectively. But I`m really glad you brought up the issue
of intersectionality and the fact that, you know, when we understand the
gender gap we have to look at race. Women aren`t just a free floating
category. That women have race and class and that has a huge impact in
BELTRAN: And we don`t talk enough about who is getting mobilized here but
we could be having a really important conversation.
BELTRAN: And instead, they are galvanizing populations which could work
really well for democrats doesn`t do much for our conversation.
REID: And they`re doing it and you know, this is the most democratic of
the next Senate cycles if you look at the map of where people are having to
run for re-election. It`s going to be very interesting. All right. Up
next, we`ll going to get the story of Loretta Lynch and Harry Reid lays
down the law.
REID: It has been 162 days this since Loretta Lynch was nominated to
replace Eric Holder as the nation`s next A.G. and still no vote. As you
saw earlier it isn`t going over so well with President Obama and his party
couldn`t agree with him more. On Thursday Senate Minority Leader Harry
Reid addressed the situation doing an interview with MSNBC`s own Rachel
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. HARRY REID (D-NV), MINORITY LEADER: We have put up with this far too
long. And we`re going to need to have a vote on her very soon, it`s
created by Mitch McConnell or I will create one. I can still do that. I
know parliamentary procedure on here. And we are going to put up with this
for a little while longer but not much.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
REID: A little head swinging by Harry Reid. On the same day White House
Press Secretary Josh Earnest timed in as well spending several minutes
during a news briefing to lament the now historic delay.
JOSH EARNEST, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: There is no reason why she
shouldn`t be confirmed today by the United States Senate. The worst crime
is their refusal to even allow her to come up for a vote. It`s shameful.
And it should change today. Being nice has got us a 160-day delay.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
REID: Loretta Lynch, a U.S. attorney who holds two degrees from Harvard
and is the longest waiting A.G. nominee in three decades. And so, Vince,
we were talking a little bit in the break about the logistics of not having
whatever debate you want to have in the context of an actual vote. But now
to the politics of what Harry Reid is saying. He was like, I know
parliamentary procedure, I will force a vote. But is that really
WARREN: I don`t know if it`s practical and that`s a little bit like
Professor McGonagall is saying, you know, in the ministry of magical, I
will cook something up which I`m kind of digging, I`ll ask for you that.
But here`s the bottom-line, the bottom-line is that someone -- and I think
Harry Reid needs to use his political capital to move this thing forward as
quickly as possible, because it`s about momentum, it`s not necessarily
about parliamentary procedure, it`s about what is not happening and what
the community groups and folks that we have identified really feel is not
happening. And here is really why it is important. Even if you think
about it in the context of policing and all of this other kind of stuff.
Under Title VI of the 1964 civil rights act, the Department of Justice can
and of course should start holding Police Departments accountable for their
funding. And that she will have the ability to say, yes, in order for you
to get federal funding, you`re going to have to demonstrate equitable
policing, you`re going to have to demonstrate that you are doing this
things in the right way. And this is the political moment for that stuff
to happen. So, Harry Reid and the democrats need to step up and force this
thing to happen. Because there is no debate really.
REID: Well, they can`t force a debate to happen Judith without getting at
least four or five republicans to go along with this parliamentary
procedure where 51 senators could force a vote through. We have put up
that map of the 24 Senate seats, republican Senate seats and ten democratic
seats. Look at the map. That is the Senate cycle we`re coming up. All
those red spaces there are the senators that can be targeted by Harry Reid
to get republicans to sign onto the idea to force a vote. Do you think
that can work?
DIANIS: Well -- I mean that map is really decisive. I think, you know,
the map shows that there is a log jam in Congress for a reason. And in
fact, I think it`s showing that there may not be incentive, right, for
people to jump ship. There may not be incentive for people to want to move
because they`ve got to hold it down at home.
REID: Yes. Absolutely. And I wonder Cristina about just this, it`s a
hypothetical. But what would happen in theory among women of color if
Loretta Lynch were to say, enough. If she were to be like, the rock Obama,
the rock Obama, not Barack Obama. And if she were to say, if she were to
do what Susan Rice did when it came to her nomination at state, when Debo
Adegbile ultimately had to do that when he couldn`t get nominated in the
civil rights division. If she were to withdraw, would that even be worse
BELTRAN: It would be horrible for them, it would look awful. Right? I
mean, if she just said I refuse to be treated like this, I mean, I think
what`s interesting is one with of the sort of circulating debates that you
hear in particular places whether on black talk radio or other places is
the feeling that she`s being disrespected, she`s being treated in a really
disrespectful manner. If she were to walk away and just say, I`m done with
this, I think that would be a huge, huge political problem for the party.
Right? I mean, just the wave of outrage. I mean, the thing is, I think
people often in the public who aren`t political junkies and, you know,
members of Nerdland don`t necessarily know the names of these folks and
aren`t really following closely. But the timing of this and the five
months of this is actually created a constituency of people watching and
committed and interested.
BELTRAN: And so, if she were to do something dramatic like that, that
would have a really big impact.
REID: She would be like the Lanny Grenier (ph) of the --
REID: But on the other hand Matt, could republicans redeem themselves in
the way that you described in the previous segment meaning, have the
hearing and ring substantive objections where it then becomes a debate or
would hectoring her over civil asset forfeiture while she`s sitting in the
-- actually make it worse?
WELCH: I don`t think that would make it worse. I think it would make it
better. We are in a year right now where we are likely to see a series of
very, very important criminal justice reform bipartisan measures. Rand
Paul, Cory Booker are teaming up on a bunch of things on civil asset
forfeiture, on repealing sentencing guidelines and a lot of things are
happening right now. This happened because of grassroots activity on the
Right and the Left pushing people. Pushing Eric Holder at long last. The
kind of start peeling away the asset forfeiture regime. So, what I would
say to everybody out there is, yes, pay attention to all this Washington
But realize that the way that you`re going to change behavior and policies
now right now, so take advantage of a lame duck presidency where he could
see his heart is probably more in the area of reform. But he has lacked
the courage in this entire presidency to, you know, commute sentences, to
actually do great things in the drug war when she could use this next
moment to push that and use the confirmation process to push discussion on
these ideas because you`re right, The Koch brothers and the ATLU are
teaming up on this stuff right now for trying out loud. It`s time to do
that. So, if republicans were smart they would make the hearings about
that so we can have more momentum towards these important reforms.
REID: Yes. This is a very important discussion. But I think I`m just
going to go ahead and award the victory to Matt for using the word
kerfuffle on Nerdland. Kerfuffle on Nerdland. What`s better than that?
Thank you so much to Judith Browne Dianis, I think I`ve been calling you
Dianis, can I call you Diane? I love you and you know. And Vince Warren,
Matt and Cristina are sticking around. Because up next the people who say
17 candidates for president? That`s just not enough.
REID: This weekend we saw nearly the entire 2016 republican field parade
through New Hampshire. Introducing themselves to GOP primary voters in
speeches and handshakes and contests in which they ate a lot of pie. And
there were a lot of them. Bush, Christie, Cruz, Fiorina, Huckabee, Jindal,
Paul, Perry, Rubio and Walker were all there. And there were even more
likely candidates who skipped the trip. Notably Rick Santorum and Ben
Carson. Now Hillary Clinton is on her way to the granite state. And
although she`s very much a lead democratic front runner she`s not alone in
her ambition for the democratic nomination. Several others will likely run
including former Governor Martin O`Malley and Lincoln Chafee and former
Senator Jim Webb.
And then there is the independent and avowed socialist Senator Bernie
Sanders. All together that`s 17 likely candidates for president.
Seventeen. That`s a lot. But for some voters none of the 17 people are
anything to get excited about. They want to see more people throw their
hats in the ring. Some want to see Elizabeth Warren, the firebrand, tough
on Wall Street, no nonsense senator from Massachusetts. They want her to
take on Hillary Clinton for the democratic nomination. Now, she has said
unequivocally, many, many, many, many times that she will not run for
president. But that hasn`t swayed the Warren faithful. Other Dems want to
see America`s favorite uncle the gaffe prone but deeply experienced Joe
Biden make a run.
Vice President Biden has been coy about the possibility. Both he and
Warren are well behind Hillary Clinton in the polls by about 50 points.
But, and that`s out of 100. Nevertheless, in an election cycle where
political strategists are worried about an enthusiasm gap Warren and Biden
have some voters very excited about 2016.
And two of them join me now live from Chicago. Erica Sagrans who is the
campaign manager for Ready for Warren. And Will Pierce, executive director
of Draft Biden 2016. And let`s start on the Biden side with you Will. Why
are you riding with Biden?
WILL PIERCE, DRAFT BIDEN 2016: I`m riding with Biden because this is a man
who has over 30 years of experience as a United States senator, foreign
policy experience as well as I`m seven years as an executive. Myself as a
military veteran, I deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan. I appreciate the fact
that the Vice President`s son has served and then basically the Vice
President, he knows what it is like to send boots on the ground.
REID: All right. All right. Well played. Now Erica, I want to talk to
you about sort of the realistic nature of what you are trying to do. And I
want to first start by playing you actor Mark Ruffalo on who I believe is
on your side when it comes to Elizabeth Warren. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MARK RUFFALO, ACTOR: Would you please, please not say no to running? At
least being in a primary. And take your place, your rightful place in the
history of this great nation. Because we need you. We feed your voice, we
need your politics.
REID: And here is Seth Meyers explaining a response to that.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MAN: But that firm no for Warren is hardly in line with
answers she`s given in previous interviews. Take a look.
UNIDENTIFIED MAN: So, there is no way you`re going to run 2016?
SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN (D), MASSACHUSETTS: I`m not running for president.
You can ask this a whole lot of different ways.
UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Okay, we will.
UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Are you going to run for president?
WARREN: I`m not running for president.
UNIDENTIFIED MAN: There is nothing that could change your mind?
WARREN: David, like I said, I`m not running for president.
UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: If Hillary didn`t run you might give it a shot?
WARREN: I`m not running for president.
UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Can I just ask you one question, people raised this
about you. They say, you constantly say you are not running for president.
Does that mean you will not run for president in 2016?
UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Ooh, good question, Charlie.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
REID: You know, I mean, you know, Erica it`s easy to see Elizabeth
Warren`s appeal. But when you hear that you hear her repeatedly say she`s
not running, why do you keep this up?
ERICA SAGRANS, READY FOR WARREN: Well, Warren has always been a reluctant
politician. But when she saw the support behind her, she decided to run
for Senate and we believe we can convince her. She`s been out talking to
supporters, giving speeches. Talking to media these past few weeks. She
has not rushed to endorse any other candidate. And it`s still very early.
So, at the end of that Seth Myers clip, he played Barack Obama actually
saying that he wasn`t planning for running for president. All candidates
have to say that. Hillary Clinton said it at one point as well. So, this
is still very early and we believe we can convince her to run.
REID: Wow. I`m not sure Hillary Clinton said it like 72,000 times.
That`s probably the -- well, I want to go -- let`s say in the fantasy where
you guys got what you wanted and your candidates ran. Let`s talk about
what are some of their potential demerits. And let`s start with you Will,
Vice President Joe Biden obviously has a great deal of foreign policy
experience. He was put on the ticket for a reason. He`s appealing to blue
collar voters. But he also has a reputation as being kind of a goof, of
being gaffe-prone. There are all the pictures, the onion kind of had a
send-up of him as like the guy in the irac (ph) that`s hitting on your
grandma. The sort of the silly side of Joe Biden and that reputation make
him less credible as a potential presidential candidate?
PIERCE: Absolutely not. Because this is a man who basically can relate to
anyone. Every day Americans. One thing I would just like to point out is
basically all the time, of 24/7 as the President and Vice President they
are followed around by the White House press corps. Imagine having people,
different camera in your face 24 hours a day, seven days a week. But the
average everyday American, they appreciate the fact that he`s not speaking
off a soundbite, he`s not speaking of a teleprompter. He says what is on
his mind and basically, this is someone that they can relate to.
REID: Okay. And now to over to you Erica, one of the issues that
Elizabeth Warren has. That she`s very popular with the Left of the
democratic liberals with democratic liberals. But she doesn`t have a broad
demographic base. The Democratic Party is heavily Latino, it`s heavily
African-American. That`s what you need to win. How do you address that
SAGRANS: Right. Well, I think Warren has shown, I mean, the thing that
Warren is not as many people know her yet. But when people do know her in
focus groups and other areas, they respond very well and really like her.
And I have met folks across the country of all different backgrounds who
really have spoken about how excited they are. People I`m surprised
sometimes even know who Warren is. But talk very passionately about how
they believe she will fight for them. And she`s the one person who fights
for the little guy out there.
REID: Okay. I`m going to come back to you guy in a second. I want to
come out to the table and just talk to Cristina and Matt about this a
little bit. What does the fact that you do have passionate support for
candidates who do not appear to want to get in? Maybe Biden if Hillary
were not to work out. But what does it say about the current field?
BELTRAN: Right. Well, I think there`s -- we are in an interesting moment
with Hillary because of what happened in 2008. Right? And I do think that
there is -- I mean, it really varies. I mean, we were talking before the
break. There is a lot of support for Hillary. And deeply passionate in
certain pockets of the Democratic Party. Right? Certain segments in
democrats are very excited about her. And there are other segments who I
think are hoping for a larger conversation, a bigger dialogue around issues
and are hoping that the primary. I mean, one of the things that are
happened with the Obama-Clinton fight that went on was we had a series of
really useful conversations. You know, and I think that there is a hope
that there will be like a sort of deliberative democratic moment in the
party where lots of people can really talk about issues. The issue that`s
hard though is -- I think you see it with Biden. There is no pressing
issue that he brings to the table. Right. If a candidate is going to come
in in the context of Hillary, they need to have some kind of a critical
issue that no one is talking about that they`re not.
BELTRAN: Now, that`s one reason why Hillary has been pivoting left. She`s
kind of try to take Warren safe. She`s doing that already. So, I think
that`s the big reason why.
REID: And very quickly, Matt. Do you think that gives an opening for the
republicans if there isn`t like a consensus that Hillary is the --
WELCH: Absolutely. Nobody likes a coronation. And Hillary Clinton is
significantly away from the democratic base on civil liberties issue on
intervention and war. And in many ways she is not the candidate of, you
know, sort or DeBlasio, Chuy Garcia, Elizabeth Warren kind of left right
now. And there is a lot of energy around those issues that she does not
REID: All right. Very quickly to wrap up. Will and Erica, very quickly,
very short answer. If your candidate does not run, Will, who is your
PIERCE: Right now we are focused on the process right now.
PIERCE: What we`re going to be doing as always say, is we`re going to
support whoever the nominee is. But we are pushing Joe Biden as hard as
REID: And Erica, very quickly, exit question. Who is your second choice?
SAGRANS: It`s still early. And so, we want to get Warren in the race.
REID: Okay. All right. You guys are sticking with your candidates.
Thank you very much to Will Pierce and Erica Sagrans in Chicago. And here
in New York, thank you to Cristina Beltran and Matt Welch. And still to
come, the documentary that will change how you look at your next meal. And
celebrated poet Elizabeth Alexander is here to talk about her new memoir
which is already winning high praise from none other than the First Lady
REID: Forty percent of the food produced in the United States goes to
waste. Forty percent. Four-zero. Just thrown away. A documentary
premiering on MSNBC this Wednesday will have you rethinking what`s in your
fridge and what`s on your grocery list.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MAN: There was a study in New York. They looked at all the
food waste in one county. And the most waste came from households. More
than from restaurants, more than from supermarkets, more than from farms.
UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: In our households we are wasting somewhere between 15
and 25 percent of the food that we are buying. You know, that`s expensive.
I mean, imagine walking out of a grocery store with four bags of groceries,
dropping one in the parking lot and just not bothering to pick it up. And
that`s essentially what we are doing in our homes today.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
REID: It`s a growing issue with an impact reaching far beyond our wallets.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MAN: People think the environmental problems are about
smokestacks, about roads, about factories, about cities and concrete. But
for sure those are significant. But if you look at the earth from the sky
what you see is fields. And it is there that we have had the biggest
impact. Wasting a third of the land and all of that energy that we
currently use by wasting the food that we have produced is one of the most
gratuitous aspects of human culture as it stands today.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
REID: Filmmakers Jenny Rustemeyer and Grant Baldwin dove further into the
issue with a challenge. For six months they would only eat food that would
otherwise be wasted. Dumpster diving and scouring supermarkets for
rejected produce. "Just Eat It" Producer Jenny Rustemeyer and Director
Grant Baldwin join me now. Thank you both for being here.
JENNY RUSTEMEYER, PRODUCER, "JUST IT EAT": Thanks for having us.
REID: And it`s a great documentary, I was saying before we came on camera,
that I was prepared to be really just grossed out oh. Because I thought
you guys would going to be going in dumpsters and getting, look, like a
happy apple or something. That isn`t what you found in these dumpsters.
RUSTEMEYER: That`s exactly it. I mean, there`s this really stigma when we
use words like food waste and people think it is disgusting but it is
really surplus food. There is a lot of really nutritious edible food in
the landfill. And that should really be feeding hungry people.
REID: And why is this food being thrown away?
GRANT BALDWIN, DIRECTOR, "JUST EAT IT": I think a lot of the food that we
found was thrown away because it was close to the date label. And people
think that date labels about a safety date, but it`s actually just about
peak freshness. It has nothing to do with safety at all.
REID: And so, is there a good reason to have that date visible to the
public when you go into a store? My teenaged son like lives by that date.
If it`s one day later, he`s not eating it. Is there a reason why we need
that date have it shown to us?
RUSTEMEYER: I mean, for most it`s really about stock rotation, it`s really
for the grocery stores to be seeing so that they make sure that they are
not leaving things on the shelf for too long. But as individuals we can
use our senses a little bit more and use a better common sense.
REID: So, we are talking now about household food waste. But let`s also
talk about on farms. I mean, this is not, as your documentary just said,
the leading cause of food waste, but what about the food that`s just
literally thrown away? There was a shot in the film about this mountain of
bananas because they weren`t exactly just the perfect shape. How much of
that is going on?
BALDWIN: There is ton of that going on. The banana example is also an
example of a peach grower that we met in California. And he said he throws
away between 30 and 70 percent of his peaches because they are not the
right shape, or the right color or maybe they have a little blemish on
REID: And so, how much of this is the consumer essentially demanding
RUSTEMEYER: Well, here is where the controversy comes in. Right? I mean,
grocery stores are saying that people are demanding perfect food. And we
are saying, let`s give people the choice. So, let`s try to sell those ugly
vegetables and see if people willing to buy them if they are educated about
REID: And you guys did talked to at least one person who is trying to
salvage this food and trying to do something else with it. Are there
organizations that are looking in these dumpsters? I mean, it was
incredible to see in your film packaged food in these dumpsters. Not
opened food, but packaged food thrown a way.
BALDWIN: Yes. There is a store that`s going to be opening in Chicago by
the former CEO of Trader Joe`s. And he`s going to basically mitigate all
that food from grocery stores that`s near date and sell it in this grocery
store for lower income people so they can basically shop for about 70
REID: Yes. So, getting back to now our households which is your
documentary shows is the number one source of food waste, give us some
advice for parents, for people who have food in the fridge that their
family is saying, "leftovers don`t want it." How can we start to reimagine
how we think about that food?
RUSTEMEYER: Well, that`s the amazing thing about this issues. There are
many things that we can do as individuals. We can start by using our
freezers. If you have too much of a meal, you`re not sure you want to
leftovers. Stick it in your freezer, bring it out next week like a brand
REID: Yes. And I noticed that you cooked at the end, you cooked this sort
of fabulous meal at the end. Were your friends as reluctant as I was going
in to watch the documentary when you told them, we are going to eat this
repurpose food. It`s going to be great.
BALDWIN: Yes. Well, the people sort of raise their eyebrows and didn`t
really bring it up until they saw the food that we were finding. And when
they would come over to the house and grocery shopped at the house, they
would open up the pantry, oh, look under the spare bed, there are some
cases of food. Go ahead, help yourself. And that was when people started
to go, okay, this is big deal.
REID: It`s amazing. Do you have food left?
RUSTEMEYER: We have a little bit of food left. We found a lot of
chocolate. You know, we kind of went off the chocolate after, you know,
months and months of eating chocolate every day.
BALDWIN: My dad still asks me. You know, do you have any chocolate left?
REID: And also your dentists are probably very glad that you --
All right. Thank you so much Jenny Rustemeyer and Grant Baldwin. Really
appreciate it. Once again the film debuts on MSNBC this Wednesday at 10:00
p.m. Eastern right here. And we want to see what you will do to waste less
food. You can share your response in a video or a photo with the #No food
wasted and you can do that at MSNBC.com/nofoodwasted.
And up next, Michelle Obama calls her words beautiful and powerful.
Acclaimed poet Elizabeth Alexander comes to Nerdland talk about her new
REID: On Friday the White House celebrated national poetry month by
hosting a workshop for student authors and a reading by celebrated poet
Elizabeth Alexander who in 2009 wrote and delivered her original work
"Praise Song for the Day" at the inauguration of President Barack Obama.
During Friday`s White House celebration, Alexander moved many to tears when
she read from her new memoir called "The Light of the World." In the book
she shares the story of the sudden death of her beloved husband artist
Ficre Ghebreyesus, who died just four days after his 50th birthday party.
Alexander`s memoir is elegy of love, understanding, grief and acceptance as
she navigates life without her partner. But perhaps First Lady Michelle
Obama describes the impact of Alexander`s words best.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MICHELLE OBAMA, U.S. FIRST LADY: Hers was the kind of grief that would
leave most of us unable to function normally. Yet she took all that grief
and she transformed it into something beautiful and powerful. Not just for
herself but for anyone who has ever lost someone they love. So this book
is not just an achievement for her. It`s also a lifeline for others who
are overwhelmed by their own grief.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
REID: And I`m pleased to welcome Elizabeth Alexander to the table. Good
morning. Thank you so much for being here.
ELIZABETH ALEXANDER, "THE LIGHT OF THE WORLD": I`m so glad to be here,
REID: And just reading your words and there is also an excerpt of your
book in the New Yorker this week so people can get a sense of your writing
and of you. What really did come through I think for me is how universal
the experience you described is. And you can connect with it whether the
loved one that you lost is a partner or a mother or a child. You really
universalize this process. When you were writing it, were you thinking in
the universal or were you really deeply in the personal?
ALEXANDER: Well, I was thinking in the absolute particular. Because I
think that the universal always resides in the particular. And if we start
there with what we know carefully observed, why we love, what we love, why
it matters to us then we give something that is so alive and dynamic
hopefully that it has meaning to other people. And I`m moved to discover
that that seems to be true.
REID: Yes. And what`s really evocative about your writing is that you go
into such beautiful detail about the life of your husband Ficre. You
describe him as a living being and a living person. And then you describe
the separation between that living soul and that body in the end. Do you
still, when you think back and look at your husband, do you dwell in that
grief or are you able to still experience him as a whole living person?
ALEXANDER: Well, I think that you have to move forward. You have to live.
We are alive. We are here. Every day is a gift and a blessing. And
that`s the way that I want to show my children how to live. What I find
beautiful is even when you lose the body and the tremendous crushing grief
that comes along with that, there is so much that you are our loved ones
give us that is indelible. It never goes away. In some ways it blossoms
as we carry it forward as we share stories, as we live and walk in the
steps of the things that we cherished with the one that we loved.
REID: Yes. And we saw the response of the first lady to your words.
What`s been the response from people to just the part of the book that they
have read so far?
ALEXANDER: It`s been extraordinary. I have hundreds and hundreds of e-
mails from strangers in response to the New Yorker excerpt. When I read
the book people come and want to talk mostly not about losing spouses but
about all kinds of loss. Loss and grief are common denominators for human
beings. The fact that we will not always stay on this earth is a common
denominator. And so, I think that we are all trying to find meaning in
that. We are trying to find comfort. And we are trying to think about,
what is this thing called life? And how do we live it purposefully? And
that`s what loss sometimes teaches us.
REID: Yes. Indeed. And you found lottery tickets after your husband
died. And that was obviously very significant to you. Can you talk a bit
about the significance of it? And then I`m going to ask you to read a
passage from your book.
ALEXANDER: Yes. After you discover many things in the space that you
share after someone departs. Then that`s often very, very wrenching and
very poignant. And sometimes also I would find things that would make me
laugh and shake my head. I would open a book and out would come lottery
tickets. Like confetti. He loved the lottery. He believed in luck, he
believe in possibility. He was a bit of a magical realist. And so there
they were, reminding me. I would say, do you have to buy -- maybe one
would be okay.
ALEXANDER: And I would find a whole bunch of then. So, it was actually
that, a lovely way to remember his presence.
REID: Indeed. And could you just read -- there is a poem called "The
Light of the World" that`s in the book if you could read that for us.
ALEXANDER: Yes. This is a section from the book. He who believed in the
lottery. He who did not leave a large carbon footprint. He who never met
a child he didn`t enchant. He who loved to wear the color pink. He whose
children made him laugh until he cried. He who never told a lie. He who
majored in physics who knew the laws of the universe. He who wanted to win
the lottery for me.
REID: Elizabeth Alexander, the book is "The Light of the World." And it
can be purchased this week. It is a wonderful, wonderful memoir. Thank
you so much for being here.
ALEXANDER: Thank you very much.
REID: Thank you.
And up next, you will hear from President Bill Clinton who spoke just
moments ago this morning because of what happened on this day 20 years ago.
REID: On this day exactly 20 years ago, the country was rocked by the
worst domestic terrorism attack in American history. The bombing of the
Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City. Earlier this morning,
a remembrance ceremonies was held in Oklahoma City in honor of the 168
people killed in the blast. Former President Bill Clinton was among the
many national and local officials who spoke. The attendees also observed
168 seconds of silence. One second for each person killed on that fateful
day when a truck carrying a homemade bomb blew up outside the federal
building. The explosion was so powerful, it obliterated a third of the
building and damaged or destroyed more than 300 nearby sites. And the
human toll was staggering. Among the 168 killed, 19 children who were
inside the federal building`s daycare center.
In the immediate aftermath of the bombing, some in the media speculated
that the attack was the work of foreign terrorist. But within 48 hours, a
new face of terror emerged, and it was from right here at home. Timothy
McVeigh, a former soldier and anti-government extremist, was arrested. And
his co-conspirator, Terry Nichols, turned himself in. In 2001, McVeigh
became the first person executed for a federal crime in the U.S. in nearly
40 years. Terry Nichols is still serving a life sentence in a super
maximum security facility in Colorado. Their act of terrorism made the
nation rethink the notion of who is a threat to America and strengthened
the country`s travel confront our enemies both foreign and domestic. It
also put a spotlight on the resilience of Oklahoma City. A spirit
reflected in the simple yet stirring memorial built in honor of the victims
and in today`s remembrance ceremony which was called "a program of hope and
healing." Former President Clinton paid tribute to that spirit this
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BILL CLINTON (D), FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: Not because you forgot the loss
of loved ones, but because you remembered. Not because the pain and loss
and love have worn away with time, but because they endure, and the only
way you can redeem the loved ones is to live by the standard you have
branded. It has been magnificent to behold. I urge you never to forget
(END VIDEO CLIP)
REID: A fitting tribute to Oklahoma City and the 168 people who died in
the bombing that forever changed our country on this day, April 19th, 1995.
And that is our show for today. Thanks to you at home for watching. Be
sure to tune in to "HARDBALL" with Chris Matthews this Tuesday night here
on MSNBC. Chris has a big interview with none other than President Barack
And now it`s time for a preview of "WEEKENDS WITH ALEX WITT." Hi, Alex.
ALEX WITT, MSNBC HOST, "WEEKENDS WITH ALEX WITT": Hello to you Joy, thank
you so much. Well, everyone, there`s an update on the stalled confirmation
of Loretta Lynch. New word from Capitol Hill that the logjam may soon be
New questions about what was left out of the Britt McHenry videotape and
whether it kept the whole story from being told.
It`s a possible solution to California`s drought, but will it cause more
environmental problems? I`ll speak with the mayor of one town to hear what
California`s measles crisis is over. But the vaccine fight continues.
This morning, hear from a mother of seven who refused to inoculate her kids
and then changed her mind quick after a traumatic event for all her
children. Don`t go anywhere. I`ll be right back.
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY
<Copy: Content and programming copyright 2015 MSNBC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.
Copyright 2015 Roll Call, Inc. All materials herein are protected by
United States copyright law and may not be reproduced, distributed,
transmitted, displayed, published or broadcast without the prior written
permission of Roll Call. You may not alter or remove any trademark,
copyright or other notice from copies of the content.>
WATCH 'THE MELISSA HARRIS-PERRY SHOW' SATURDAY AND SUNDAY AT 10:00 A.M. ET ON MSNBC.
MORE FROM MSNBC
Add msnbc headlines to your news reader: