Skip navigation

'The Melissa Harris-Perry Show' for Saturday, May 2nd, 2015

Read the transcript to the Saturday show

  Most Popular
Most viewed

Date: May 2, 2015
Guest: William Rhoden, Wes Smith, Kavitha Davidson, Dave Zirin, Gautham
Nagesh, David Zirin, Jon Shane, Marquez Claxton, Cherrell Brown, Lester
Spence, Marc Steiner, Dayvon Love

MELISSA HARRIS-PERRY, MSNBC ANCHOR: This morning my question, are you
going to watch the fight tonight? Plus don`t believe the hype. People
protests are not the only engine of social change. And the NFL still
sending mixed messages. But first, all eyes are still on Baltimore.

Good morning. I`m Melissa Harris-Perry. Yesterday, six Baltimore police
officers were charged with crimes in the death of Freddie Gray.


comprehensive, thorough and independent investigation, coupled with the
medical examiner`s determination that Mr. Gray`s death was a homicide,
which we received today, has led us to believe that we have probable cause
to file criminal charges.


HARRIS-PERRY: That was Baltimore`s top prosecutor Marilyn Mosby announcing
the charges ranging from false imprisonment and misconduct in office to
manslaughter. And for one officer, second degree depraved heart murder.
That`s the charge that claims the officer acted with an extreme disregard
for human life. Mosby says officers illegally arrested Gray, repeatedly
flouted department policy by failing to buckle Gray into the police van and
repeatedly failed to get him medical attention. At one point, she said,
officers placed Gray in the back of the police van face down and head first
with his hands cuffed and his ankles shackled. Gray`s spinal cord was
severely injured and his voice box was crushed. He died from his injuries
a week later. After the charges were announced the officers` union, the
fraternal order of police released a statement claiming the officers are
not responsible for Gray`s death.

The charges came after more than a week of demonstrations that at times
turned to rioting with shops looted, cars set aflame and rocks thrown at
police. The bulk of the protesters, however, were simply calling for
justice. Prosecutor Mosby said yesterday that she`d heard the
demonstrators` demands.


MOSBY: To the people of Baltimore and the demonstrators across America, I
heard your call for no justice, no peace. Your peace is sincerely needed
as I work to deliver justice on behalf of this young man.


HARRIS-PERRY: Now, that call for justice that is what is at the heart of
the Black Lives Matter movement. The protests we`ve seen around the
country, are about the number of unarmed black men and women who end up
dead at the hands of police, but they`re also at least as much about a
justice system that often fails to hold those officers accountable. We saw
it in New York when the officers who placed Eric Garner in a chokehold, a
maneuver banned by the NYPD were not charged with any crime. We saw it in
Ferguson when the officer who shot and killed Mike Brown was not charged
with any crime. We saw it in Chicago when a judge acquitted the officer
who shot and killed Rekia Boyd of a legal technicality. And we`ve seen it
in protests in cities around the country, thousands of voices demanding
that officers who use unwarranted deadly force be held accountable in a
meaningful way. And with Baltimore, neighbors of Freddie Gray burst into
cheers when they heard that the officers would be charged. The man who
filmed Gray`s arrest on his cell phone, Kevin Moore, told the "Baltimore
Sun," "I`m exuberant, I`m happy, I`m every positive word you can think of.
I finally made a difference in the world." With tears streaking his cheeks,
Moore said "It feels so good that black people finally matter." After
announcing the charges Mosby who comes from a family of law enforcement had
this message for the Baltimore police force.


MOSBY: To the rank and file officers of the Baltimore City police
department, please know that these accusations of these six officers are
not an indictment on the entire force.


HARRIS-PERRY: But will it change how the police force does its job?
Joining me now Jon Shane, associate professor at John Jay College of
Criminal Justice and a retired captain from the New York Police Department.
And joining me from Columbia, South Carolina, is Marquez Claxton who is
director of the Black Law Enforcement Alliance and a retired NYPD
detective. Marcus, I want to come to you in one moment, but I want to
start with you, John, at the table, because I am very committed to the idea
that structures matter, that people are good and bad and all those kinds of
things, but that a lot of times what we see as human behavior is actually
happening in the context of structures. And if I believe that for the
communities that I`m reporting on and talking about, I got to also try to
believe it for the police. So, help me to understand what are the
structures that police officers face that might help us to understand the
choices that these six officers made.

exceptionally complex endeavor. There are four contexts, in which policing
is generally set, political, economic, social and legal. And they all have
different implications and the rhetoric that comes from the prosecutor is
something that I don`t particularly care for. I don`t want her to make a
social statement on the backs of police officers that have yet to go to
trial because I think it`s a bit inflammatory. Just as they were - I
believe so, a lot of the protesters were rushing to judgment about what had
happened in the rioting, so too do I think it is going to happen when these
officers go to trial. What`s going to happen when these police officers
are found not guilty at trial? Someone`s going to say invariably .

HARRIS-PERRY: You think they`ll be found not guilty at trial.

SHANE: No, I really have no idea. I`m curious to know what - how the
evidence is going to play itself out. But what interests me is that the
term "accountability" is not synonymous with punishment. It is not an
outcome. We can`t guarantee equal outcome. We can guarantee equal
process. And that`s what the indictment suggests, that they`re going to
subordinate themselves to a process; that they are answerable as public
servants and during that process we`ll find out what the outcome is going
to be. It is then that punishment may or may not attach. But it`s only
then. And the structure in which that happens is one fraught with
political, social, legal and economic contexts.

HARRIS-PERRY: Marcus, let me come to you on that. So, you heard one of
the response here from Jon at the table. What`s your response?

there is a culture within law enforcement and policing, but that culture
has been kind of cultivated and we`ve seen a manifestation of that police
culture which is really a shift away towards more community-based public
service model into an enforcement model. As a result of that there are
shortcuts that law enforcement has routinely been engaged in, that resulted
in a type of tragedies that occurred nationwide whether it be Tamir Rice or
Trayvon Martin or Freddie Gray, or Mike Brown, etc. You can`t ignore the
fact - I mean if you look at it academically, it may seem clear and obvious
to you. But I think there are certain subtleties and realities that we
must face. And that is that in large part across the nation, enforcement
of the law by police officers has become more race-based, statistics and
photo (ph) driven than anything else. And that`s doing a disservice to the
public that we`re supposed to be serving and protecting.

HARRIS-PERRY: All right, so hold for me. Because this is an interesting
point. When I saw the image of those six officers. There`s one woman
officer, she`s a woman of color. There are several officers who are
officers of color. It is a group of people who probably are pretty
representative racially and demographically of the Baltimore police force
itself. And that`s part of why I sort of really wanted to ask these
structural questions. What is it that we don`t understand about the
choices that they may be making that they`re facing? You know, there`s
been a lot of conversation about potentially that when Martin O`Malley was
governor he set a set of activities sort of in process of arresting every
person who you see who is so and so so-called disrespectful. We know that
this seemed to have happened when Freddie Gray made eye contact. But to go
to Officer Claxton`s point, isn`t that the wrong kind of policing? Like
why are we arresting people for eye contact? Can`t we have a little more
internal capacity than that?

SHANE: I can`t disagree entirely because I don`t know all the facts. But
I will say this, Freddie Gray was not arrested because somebody looked at
him with a cross eye. The law dictates how police officers can operate,
the things they can and can`t do. The choices they make are predicated
upon action versus reaction. Now, if they are going after somebody because
they are investing drugs or some violent crime, and someone reacts to them
in a way that`s consistent with the law, the police officers then follow up
with that.

Now, the federal law says that you can chase somebody and a wholesale
flight is a legal reason and a legal basis to do that. In New Jersey, for
example, that`s not the same case. Wholesale flight in New Jersey is not
probable cause to make an arrest. So it depends where you are. I don`t
know what the law is in Maryland. But if we`re following the federal
standard, they can make that foot pursuit. And the reaction of the police
officers is predicated upon how these events are unfolding. Sometimes they
unfold with a lot more facts and circumstances. A lot of times it happens
in an instant. And it is that moment that we pay police officers to make
decisions on our behalf. Sometimes they`re inaccurate and they`re allowed
to be mistaken about the facts, but they must be right about the law all
the time. And in this case, perhaps, they were mistaken about the facts on
what it was they observed, but we give officers the leeway and the
discretion to make those decisions on our behalf.

HARRIS-PERRY: But isn`t it in part because - and Marquez, let me come to
you on this, because we believe there has to be some sense that once you
are taken into custody by police officers, once your hands are handcuffed
and you can`t, for example, control your own body in the back of a car, I
mean, part of our belief is that even if they`re making bad choices they
shouldn`t be fatal choices to the public.

CLAXTON: Right, absolutely. And let me just say that, you know, I
disagree with Mr. Shane in as far as giving officers leeway. We don`t give
them leeway to violate the law or to disregard the law. Case in point,
clear example of just how the quality of the professional standards of law
enforcement has diminished so much. And representative of the FOP last
week stated that this is a type of arrest that didn`t need probably cause.
We can`t allow our law enforcement professionals to kind of freelance, if
you will. There are laws, they are written down and every police officer
should be familiar and aware of those laws. And you can`t skirt around
them. No, you can`t -- we`re talking about an arrest situation. Not
merely a chase situation or you are responding to a call for assistance,
we`re talking about an arrest situation. Now, clearly a law enforcement
professional should know the difference between the level of suspicion
needed to chase someone and a level of suspicion required to arrest them.
And that is probable cause across the board.

But when you allow, when you expect and when you accept shortcuts around
the law, when you give too much leeway to police agencies and police
officers under the guise that they`re all noble and well meaning, then the
result is tragedy. So the professional -- the level of professional
standards has diminished greatly in large part due to the national trend
away from a public service model into an enforcement model with people who
are ill qualified to be in a position of police officers. Not everyone can
be a police officer.

HARRIS-PERRY: Marquez, I so appreciate you joining us. As we go out we`re
going to actually play a little bit of sound from Baltimore`s current mayor
saying similar things. Jon Shane is going to stay with us at the table
here. We`re bringing some other folks in. But I do want to thank you so
much, Marquez Claxton of South Carolina for joining us. Stay right there,
because up next we`ll talk about the power of protests both when it`s
peaceful and when it`s not.


engage in brutality, misconduct, racism and corruption, let me be clear.
There is no place in the Baltimore City Police Department for you. And as
mayor, I will continue to be relentless in changing the culture of the
police department.



HARRIS-PERRY: This week, some of the people of Baltimore expressed their
pain and outrage about the death of Freddie Gray by smashing windows,
setting fires and throwing rocks at officers. In short, by rioting.
Officials not only called for calm, many also insisted on lecturing the
protesters and the public that only nonviolent protests can bring sustained
social change. Allow me to disagree. Take the nonviolent direct action of
African-American civil rights protesters. Their actions, like the march
from Selma to Montgomery, were potent ingredients for policy change, but
much of that change was still a result of violence. It was the violence
done against their undefended bodies that pricked the conscience of the
nation. Because a key aspect of so-called nonviolent protest is provoking
violence. Now, if you still have - believe that disruptive and destructive
actions on the part of protesters themselves can never bring about
meaningful change, just look at the events of June 28, 1969, that`s the
night Stonewall erupted. In the 1960s, the New York Police Department
enforced anti-sodomy laws so aggressively that they were arresting 100 men
a week. Police would burst into community spaces, threaten, harass, demean
arrest and often abuse anyone who fit the profile. Acting with impunity
against a group with no political or social power. But on June 28th, 1969,
the New York City Police attempted a routine raid on a Greenwich Village
bar, the Stonewall Inn. But instead of business as usual, the police
encountered people who had had enough. That night the people of Stonewall
fought back. Men refused to produce I.D.s, patrons refused to submit to
arrest, gay patrons openly mocked the police performing kick lines in the
face of the cops trying to arrest them. The resistance became physical,
the crowd grew, bottles flew, fires burned, when the police barricaded
themselves in the bar to await for backup, rioters uprooted a parking meter
and used it as a battering ram. Rioters were beaten and arrested.

Stonewall was not a non-violent action, it was a riot. And it was also the
watershed moment in the movement for LGBT equality. The first-ever gay
pride parades were held on the one year anniversary of the Stonewall riots,
a tradition that continues more than 40 years later. President Obama
himself has cited the Stonewall riots as evidence of Americans` commitment
to the struggle for equal rights.


declare today that the most evident of truths that all of us are created
equal is the star that guides us still just as it guided our forbearers
through Seneca Falls and Selma and Stonewall. It is now our generation`s
task to carry on what those pioneers began.


HARRIS-PERRY: And this week, as Baltimore burned, the Supreme Court heard
oral arguments in the case that might lead to marriage equality in every
state in our nation. A decision that would represent one more victory in
the struggle for equality that began decisively as a riot. Joining our
table now Cherrell Brown, community organizer, Mark Steiner, host of the
"Mark Steiner Show" and founder of the Center for Emerging Media, and
Lester Spence, associate professor of political science at Johns Hopkins
University and author of "Stare into the Darkness, the Limits of Hip-Hop
and Black Politics."

So, you`ve been on the ground organizing. I`m certainly not trying to
incite or call for a riot, but I`m trying to complicate a little bit this
idea that only sort of peaceful marching in line is the only thing that
ever brings social change.

CHERRELL BROWN, COMMUNITY ORGANIZER: Right. I think that this question of
nonviolence versus violence, the analysis is often a false framing, right?
I think it`s sometimes to dichotomize oppressed people resisting between
good protesters or bad rioters. Never is this critic of violence put on
white supremacy. Poverty is violence, predatory lending is violence, rough
rides are violence. And the way that oppressed people navigate - the way
they respond is resistance to me. And I think it`s interesting that those
who have no vested interest in black liberation often call us to be
political more like MLK. And what they mean, is more sanitized version or
misunderstanding of who MLK was.

HARRIS-PERRY: I want to pause just to underline this and listen to a man
who was on the streets in Baltimore speaking to CNN about this exact idea.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When I was in the Marine Corps, they called me a
patriot, a Marine. But now that I`m fighting for my people, they call me a
[EXPLETIVE DELETED] thug. I`m not sweeping nothing up. They called me a
thug when I fight for my people.


HARRIS-PERRY: Lester, respond to that for me.

you were running the clip I was pulling - trying to pull up a quote from
Donald Rumsfeld who talked about riots, as a form of political protest when
it applied to Iraq, but not quite here. What we see here is an attempt to
kind of castigate a wide range, a significant number of Baltimore`s people
who are doing - for doing basically what needed to be done to bring an
indictment in the Freddie Gray case. So, if you think about Marilyn Mosby.
Marilyn Mosby is elected in large part implicitly because their concerns
that her incumbent would not prosecute police. And when she ran for
office, she was like, listen, I`ll do this. I`ll treat everybody fairly,
right? And that`s an incredible moment. She - her incumbent outspent her
three to one and she beat that as black political power in effect. But the
thing is, without those protests and without the violent and nonviolent
aspect coming together, there`s no mechanism to hold her accountable and to
hold the city accountable for that.

HARRIS-PERRY: And yet Jon Shane of a law enforcement officer you must be
uncomfortable with this particular set of claims I`m making.

SHANE: I can`t sit here and say that police departments around the country
now have to back off and allow people to express themselves in a violent
way. It doesn`t even make sense. It runs completely counter to rule of
law society.

HARRIS-PERRY: And there were officers who were injured in this.

SHANE: Of course.

HARRIS-PERRY: Some of them still hospitalized.

SHANE: Of course. And my position has always been this. You meet with
protesters ahead of time, you lay down the ground rules. You give them
space to protest and demonstrate rationally and expressible within the
context of the First Amendment right. I have no problem with that. That`s
a legal context in which policing is set. The very first moment that a
window is broken, a crime is committed, police enforce the law, that`s the
end of it. We don`t say, well, we`re going to back up, we are going to
take a hands off approach, we`re going to allow this to go because when
police officers or law enforcement in general as a rule of law society
hesitates like that it very quickly spirals out of control because the
demonstrators almost always outnumber the police, they can always move in
different directions against the way the police are set up. And we don`t
set up society like that to allow those things to occur.


MARC STEINER: Let me describe to everybody`s watching who the people are.

HARRIS-PERRY: They were teenagers, mostly, right?

STEINER: And who they are, who they were on Monday night. And I`ve been
out there every day. These young people out there are the children of the
oppressed. These are the people whose grandfathers and great-grandparents
didn`t - when segregation ended stayed behind, the industrialization
happened, the police`s war on drugs and the government war on drugs
happened. They were the victims of that. Before that - segregation.
Before that, their parents lived in the South. Before that, it was
reconstruction, before that, it was slavery, before that, it was the middle
passage. These are those children, this is all they`ve ever known. So and
when one of their own gets killed and nothing is happening about it and
these are the ones who have been targeted, and harassed, and beaten,
bullied and arrested by the police, they blew up. I don`t want to see them
burn down the CVS while these old people have to get their prescriptions.
Nobody wanted to see that. But you have to understand who these kids are.
Our job now is to put our hands around these children and bring them in,
not push them out and make them the criminals.

HARRIS-PERRY: So, when you say the point about to see that - and no one
wants to see that, so let me just - let me be clear about what I mean here.
I don`t mean that anyone wants this to happen. But when it comes to what
people want to see, the truth is that audiences prefer seeing spectacular
things over seeing calm things. And if .


HARRIS-PERRY: And if a part of a strategy of a social movement is to bring
cameras, then spectacle is -- I mean, like, again I`m trying to take a
moral evaluation out of it and just on a pure strategic perspective, we do
send more cameras when things burn. I mean .

SHANE: That`s the social context in which policing is set.


SHANE: And that`s also the social context, in which television and media
are driven, largely. I think everybody would agree with that.

STEINER: But where were the cameras when 5,000 black, white, Asian, Latino
students from every university and the high schools all over Baltimore
marched down the middle of the city in complete peace saying we don`t -
police brutality has to stop. Where were the cameras? They weren`t

HARRIS-PERRY: Because that`s what no one wants to see.


HARRIS-PERRY: In terms of like, if you just - like if you are flipping
through the channel and something is on fire, you stop to see what it is.
I promise, we are not going to be done. I do want to say thank you to Jon
Shane. The rest of the panel is sticking around. We have got more folks
joining the panel. We are staying on this topic, because Baltimore`s state
attorney has a special message for the young protesters who Marc Steiner
was just talking about. When we come back, we`re going to hear their



MOSBY: . of this city. I will seek justice on your behalf. This is a
moment, this is your moment. Let`s ensure that we have peaceful and
productive rallies that will develop structural and systemic changes for
generations to come. You`re at the forefront of this cause, and as young
people, our time is now.




HARRIS-PERRY: That was Baltimore state`s attorney Marilyn Mosby speaking
yesterday with a special message for the young people of the city who have
been raising their voices this week in a response to the death of Freddie
Gray. Joining my panel now in New York is Dave Zirin, sports editor of
"The Nation" magazine. Also, one of those young activists is joining me
now from Baltimore. Davyon Love is co-founder of Leaders of a Beautiful


HARRIS-PERRY: Members of the Baltimore United Coalition. I`m sorry, my
whole table is going crazy. Save on Martin Steiner and Lester Spence right
here and apparently you all know each other a lot.


HARRIS-PERRY: So Dayvon, Dayvon, talk to me a little bit. What has been
the response of young people in Baltimore? I think initially I would not
have expected that while we were having this conversation there would be
this kind of enthusiasm at the table. But in fact, it looks like the
comments yesterday from Mosby really have changed the feeling and tenor of
what`s happening.

mean, one of the things that I think was most beautiful about yesterday was
just the display, the public displays of just love and camaraderie
particularly amongst black folks. We went to Pennsylvania North Avenue
where, you know, it`s a historic place, it`s a place where, you know, in
the `50s you had a lot of, you know, black artists and social institutions
that were there. And to me, what was so amazing was to see at Penn-North
where now you see a lot of boarded-up housing, see a lot of the problems of
people associated with urban America. But what you saw was you saw black
people out in the streets, you know, celebrating, you know, hugging each
other. You know, we actually went out there, were giving away food and
giving away pamphlets that had information about how to deal with law
enforcement, you know, just talking about the work that we`re doing and
getting people this information. So, it was just such a beautiful scene.
And to me, what was an amazing contrast was contrasting that with the level
of militarization around it. So while you have all these black folks that
are embracing each other, loving each other, affirming each other in the
presence of that, it almost seems like, you know, the institution of civil
society doesn`t want us to do that given all the military presence around.

HARRIS-PERRY: Let me ask you about another kind of clear difference here.
And that is, you know, from the early days from Monday and Tuesday there`s
a lot of conversation of Ferguson, and Ferguson in the context of
Baltimore. And it does feel to me like when you see this mayor elected in
part by the black political power in this city, when you see this attorney
who clearly has a sense of not only sort of personal, but electoral
connection to this community, at least at the moment we`re having very,
very different responses from that city government. We don`t know what
it`s all going to end up being, but sort of the Ferguson comparison now
falls apart completely. And I guess I`m wondering how you build on that in
the activism, the kind of ongoing activism that will go on after the
cameras leave.

LOVE: I think there`s an important distinction to be made between the
Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake and a city state`s attorney Marilyn J.
Mosby. Many people, I think, would say that our mayor is someone who has
capitulated to the corporate structure of the Democratic Party, the mayor
of the corporate interests in this city. And I think as we see what
happens in our society at large is that oftentimes individual black people
are put in positions of power and leadership in white-controlled dominating
institutions, which brings more black people into those institutional
arrangements which undermines our ability to develop a kind of communal
independent black institutional building at the basis of our work. And so,
Marilyn Mosby being elected was important because she was elected, as it
was alluded to earlier, for the purpose of prosecuting law enforcement
officials. And she didn`t get the same kind of corporate support. You
know, she was outspent tremendously by the incumbent, but she was able to
get the grassroots support that she needed.

And I think this is what kind of gives her -- and it was very courageous of
her to do what she did yesterday, but I think she knows the kind of support
she gets behind her. And that`s an important contrast. And I think - if I
can just say something else really quickly because I think the Ferguson
comparison is important because I think people reduce racism to individual
white folks in leadership, black people who have succumbed to white folks,
and I think Baltimore shows the sophistication of white supremacy and how
it operates, how it takes black figures, put them in institutional
positions to give the veneer of justice when really the same institutional
arrangement exists.

HARRIS-PERRY: Dayvon Love, you just dropped the mike so hard on that,
original structural dissertation provided live on air. I ain`t even going
to come to the panel. I`m going to let the panel breathe on the commercial
break and I`m going to let them respond when we come back. Dayvon Love in
Baltimore, Maryland, damn.




GENE RYAN, FRATERNAL ORDER OF POLICE: Let me begin by stating how appalled
and frustrated we are this morning advanced an information announced by the
state`s attorney. We`re disappointed in the apparent rush to judgment
given the fact the investigation into this matter has not been concluded.


HARRIS-PERRY: That was Gene Ryan with the fraternal order of police in
Baltimore yesterday. And obviously, we have a very different response
there from Dayvon Love. I just want to throw it back out to the table

what you just saw what the police union had is on May Day, which is
International Workers Day, says something about why police unions should
not be seen as part of the labor movement or labor struggle. Because he`s
talking about why can`t we crack down on the working people of Baltimore
even harder. Why are we being held back from doing that? Dayvon Love,
brilliant, by the way. That was unbelievable, that should be that clip
should go viral. But at the same time I wanted to say that I think we
still have a responsibility to press prosecutor Mosby and to speak about
more demands that we should be talking about. Because as some person, I`ve
been in Baltimore for two weeks. And one person said to me when the
charges came, and they said, let`s remember that a crumb is not a cake,
that this is just the start.

And a couple of basic things real quick. Is one, lifting the curfew.
Because we`re in a moment right now that is celebratory and it is the
weekend and it`s very dangerous when you have angry police enforcing at
gunpoint in highly militarized fashion people having to go back in their
homes at 10:00 p.m. And two, we should ask for an investigation about why
the police and the mayor were allowed to put out that the black family, the
Bloods and the Crips had a plan to shoot and kill police officers. Not one
bullet was fired at the police officer. That scared the holy hell out of
thousands of people. And I want to know where that came from and there
should be accountability for that.

STEINER: The Baltimore Police Department is where it came from.


ZIRIN: Heads should roll for that.

SPENCE: Can I stop in there?

STEINER: It`s totally bogus.

SPENCE: Just for a second. So I take the bus, ground zero for the riots
in Mondawmin Mall. Baltimore City youth don`t have - the Baltimore schools
don`t have their own bus system.


SPENCE: So they take the city buses home. Mondawmin Mall is important
transportation hub for Douglas High School and a number of the high
schools. When they came out from school, the police were in riot gear .


SPENCE: . keeping them from going home. There were people who slept in

STEINER: They shut the subway.

SPENCE: And shut the subway down. I take the subway home. So, when we
talk about the riots, I understand we are talking about them as a political
topic. But we also have to talk about the role of the city government in
kind of deciding that, the role of police. And then secondly - the other
thing that Marilyn, we need to push Mosby on, is a number of people have
really, really high bails.

ZIRIN: $500,000.

SPENCE: $500,000 bail.


SPENCE: Right?

HARRIS-PERRY: So, you mean of the rioters who .


ZIRIN: . pieces of bread. And Don Lemon might think that`s funny, but
it`s not funny. He was laughing on TV about that. A slice of bread is not
a pillow. People are emerging from jails with black eyes, bloody noses. I
have pictures of it on my Instagram. People saying it was from police.
There needs to be accountability for police brutality and amnesty for
protesters who are behind bars.

SPENCE: That`s the big thing they chat now in Baltimore. Amnesty for
everybody who`s been arrested. They need to be out on the street and we
need to be rebuilding and not putting these young people in jail.


SPENCE: It`s absurd.

HARRIS-PERRY: So, I saw finally .

SPENCE: The police officers were out - they are all out.

HARRIS-PERRY: Right, so .

SPENCE: I mean charge in the riot.

M: So, here`s the challenge I find myself in, in part because we had two
officers on earlier, they`re not here at the table right now. So, I hear
what - I mean I hear all of you. That on the ground there this week, you
know so much better than I do what`s actually happening in that moment.

STEINER: It`s emotional.

HARRIS-PERRY: But we`re also not about to live in cities that don`t have
police officers. I mean even if we want to have a world that we`re
imagining that at some point, that`s not about to happen. And so part of
what I`m trying to figure out is, in a world where we are going to have
police officers policing these cities, how do we generate some kind of
structural incentive that improves the reasons and the ways -- I mean, so
I`m hearing with the heads roll and accountability, but then I also wonder
that`s just like - heightened tensions create a way in which officers then
feel even more desire and interest to kind of intervene in black lives.

BROWN: That`s a difficult question because when I envision a world where
black lives matter the police as we know it don`t exist.

HARRIS-PERRY: We said that here, right.


BROWN: We have to navigate this system in the meantime. So a lot of that
looks like civilian review board who actually have like subpoena power with
some teeth. That looks like demilitarizing the police. One of the things
that I felt was really encouraging about Mosby`s statements, that she said
two things that were really important. She said, systemic, and she said
system structural. So, it lets me know that she`s thinking this is not
just about the individual bad cops, bad apples but that there`s a culture
here of misconduct that we need to be addressing. So I was really
encouraged by that.

HARRIS-PERRY: So, I`m wondering, if the police officers are standing there
as young people are coming down, but they`re there to help give them safe
passage home, is that a different story, right? So, if we are going to
imagine they`re going to be police officers and if - even if there is an
underlying current of what we think maybe they`ll do - but if they go with
the spirit of hey, I know you all have got to get home, can we be there to
help you get home as opposed to showing up in riot gear.

STEINER: Police are going to be here for a long time to come. But there
are other ways of doing this. A, Baltimore has to have - a police civilian
control board of the police with teeth to either propose indictments, or
let police - but we have investigative powers. We need that. The mayor
doesn`t seem to want it. Mosby it seems, doesn`t want it. We need that in
Baltimore City. That`s one thing we need. That`s part of political push.
The other is reforming a policeman`s bill of rights, which says that you
can`t question a police officer for ten days and they can get their stories
together and they don`t have to talk to the prosecutor. And that has to
change. But C, you don`t need the police to take these kids home.
Baltimore is one quick example. There`s a group called Safe Streets, it`s
run by the city government, but these are all ex-cons, people who come out
of prison, ex-felons, they run with one part of the east side, where they
work for people on the streets. There used to be murder capital. In 1 1/2
years not one murder - that happened. Because they know how to talk to the
people. We have a different structure. You can have people, you can hire
them out of prisons for the community, who know the communities, who patrol
their communities, help people with their problems, work with kids. You
don`t need a policeman for everything we do in the society because they`re
enforcers, they are not protectors.

HARRIS-PERRY: Stay with us. So much more because why everything you think
you know about Baltimore, you may know even though you`ve never even been


HARRIS-PERRY: Long before protests and social unrest attracted the
attention of the news media to Baltimore this week, the city occupied a
space in the public imagination informed in large part by a TV series that
has been called the greatest television show ever. Viewers of "The Wire"
during its original run on HBO more than a decade ago or those who`ve
discovered and binge watched the show since it first aired think they know
Baltimore through the lens of the show`s raw nuanced and intimate portrayal
of the city and its people.

The images and sounds coming out of Baltimore this week may have felt
familiar to "The Wire" fans because the show captured details like
Baltimoreans` unique accent and the city`s abandoned boarded up row houses
so authentically. But the stories that unfold over the course of "The
Wire`s" five seasons were about much more than just aesthetics because at
the heart of the series was an often bleak commentary on how the city`s
institutions have failed the people they were designed to protect. The
frustration and despair of individuals who try to resist those institutions
and push against them to change. "The Wire" used compelling narratives to
explain the often conflicts ways, in which systemic failures at every level
from the war on drugs and de- industrialization to policing, public
education and dysfunctional politics helped to replicate inequality and
limit opportunity for the city`s most marginalized people.

In fact, the real world reach of the show was so influential that then-
Senator Barack Obama declared "The Wire" to be his favorite show when he
was running for president in 2008. And just recently when President Obama
wanted someone to come to the White House to talk criminal justice policy
that was David Simon, the creator of "The Wire" who got the invitation.
But there`s realistic and then there`s real. A real young man who died and
was buried this week. A real family and community awaiting justice for his
death. And real people demanding recognition of the fact that their
vulnerability to police violence is no fiction.

So up next, I`m going to ask my guests what the art of a fictional show can
tell us about real life.



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Unless you live within that own communities and you
understand their own lifestyle, you really can`t judge. You can voice your
opinion, but you can`t judge. So, I even said some things, but when I came
down here and I see - and you feel the hurt and you feel the pain, you
understand where they come from. You understand the anger, you understand
the pain, you understand the relief of the stress that was built up.


HARRIS-PERRY: That was a protester in Baltimore reacting to yesterday`s
announcement of charges filed against officers accused of causing Freddie
Gray`s death. So I think that`s what I want to open up for you all, what
is it that we need to know? All of you have spent so much time there.
Dave, I know you wrote a piece about Makayla Gilliam-Price .


HARRIS-PERRY: And this kind of intergenerational struggle for justice.
Maybe you can .

ZIRIN: I mean I think it`s just if you understand the Gilliam Price
family, you can understand why people are in the streets of Baltimore.
First and foremost, the state of Maryland stepped up its executions in the
major way in the late 1990s after going 20 years without executing anybody.
Where was the death house, where was the death chamber? Right in the
middle of a poor neighborhood in Baltimore. You know, in many states the
death houses are in the middle of nowhere. Because they don`t want people
going out there, they want to isolate death row prisoners. They put it
right in the middle of a neighborhood that was defined by urban decay in
the 1990s, it`s since even gentrified a little bit. But even though it`s
defined by decay, the death house and the super-max prison, brand new. So,
the only new building in the neighborhoods, the death house. Tyrone
Gilliam was executed in 1998, November 16 for a crime that a lot of us
thought he didn`t commit. The mother of the murder victim in the case
begged the governor not to execute him, and yet the governor, a Democrat
Parris Glendening, went ahead and executed him. Tyrone Gilliam-Price.
There was a movement for him, Tyrone X Gilliam, I`m sorry, the movement for
him was led by Zelda Gilliam, his sister. And Zelda Gilliam would march
with her husband John Gilliam-Price and her one year-old daughter whose
name was Makayla Gilliam-Price. And I marched with this baby girl. And I
never saw her again until I saw her earlier this week as a 17-year-old
member of City Block, Baltimore block, dyed red hair standing in front of a
room of 300 people in Baltimore, speaking without notes.

And you know what she said, she said, we need a movement for black lives
matter. It can`t be a black deaths matter. In other words, did you love
Freddie Gray when he was alive? That`s the question I asked you. You
can`t love these brothers and sisters only when they`re dead. And she said
we need a world where we all see the humanity in each other. And the idea
that she could say that after the blood that her family has spilled in the
city of Baltimore, that to me is amazing. So, what I wrote about, it was
Makayla Gilliam-Price, people might look at her and say that`s the revenge
of Baltimore`s racist history. I think Makayla Gilliam-Price is the
potential redemption of Baltimore and a new kind of city.

STEINER: She is, I mean, she`s -- something that in Baltimore people don`t
get, I think, a lot.

SPENCE: Yeah, that`s right

STEINER: And there`s a lot of organizing going on. There are -- what
Makayla part of the Baltimore block, this came out of two years ago, three
years ago Tyrone West was killed by the police two years ago, right? When
Tyrone West was killed by the police, his family stood up. They`ve been on
my show over and over again. And every Wednesday they had West Wednesday.
They stood in front of the City Hall, they stood in front of the state
attorney`s office, they stood in front of the police department demanding
accountability for the death of their loved one. And a movement began to

SPENCE: It was that energy that put Mosby in office.

STEINER: It was that energy that put Mosby in office and the movement
began to build. And the out of the project kids, and the LBS, Leaders of
Beautiful Struggle, that Dayvon is part of. Heba (ph) Brown who is a
minister, a Baptist minister in town who has been the leader of this
struggle as it`s been organizing across the city. You got that. You have
got tenants` rights group working in a neighborhood called Park Heights.
But they`re all part - they are not all part of an organization, but
they`re all connected. And they need and they come together and they -
that`s why when people came in from the outside like Malik Shabazz, who is
coming into Baltimore, Baltimore leaders say, folks saying .

SPENCE: Yeah, we got this.

STEINER: We got this.

SPENCE: It`s all good.

STEINER: Because Baltimore`s moving. And you`re seeing it now, I think
there`s going to be a huge movement building -we`ll see what happens in the
2016 elections and more.

SPENCE: Now, before the break, what we talked about was the idea of what
we need to do. We can`t just stop with this. And the thing is, as Dayvon
- I`m sorry, language.


HARRIS-PERRY: That`s all right.


SPENCE: They want to know about - have been organizing to kind of repeal
and pull back the law enforcement officials` bill of rights for a while
now, right? And that`s going to continue that work. But more importantly
it`s not just about the political violence, it`s not just about anti-black
police violence it`s also about economic violence. Right? So, if you
think about - it`s a thing they spend $47 million per year incarcerating
residents of the Western district. $17 million per year incarcerating
people in Freddie Gray`s neighborhood.

STEINER: Winchester.

SPENCE: Right. 700,000 (ph) to Winchester.

STEINER: 7 million in police brutality claims paid out since 2011.

SPENCE: Right. And so, and people have been organizing about the economic
violence as well.

HARRIS-PERRY: Because you are thinking about if those dollars go into the
public schools, if those dollars go into the - this is the loving Freddie
Gray while he`s alive.

SPENCE: Right. So thinking about day`s work, for example, $9 million,
think Camden Yard is a $215 million stadium, they only pay $9 million.
What 220 or whatever that is, you know, math is --

HARRIS-PERRY: So, I - I so appreciate you all being here. Lester, I
appreciate you keeping it so real in Nerdland, MHP show where construct -
Dayvon in denim.


HARRIS-PERRY: Dave, will be back in the next hour. I want to say thank
you to Cherrell Brown, to Marc Steiner and to Lester Spence. I hope that
all of you will continue to be voices for Baltimore as we move forward.
Coming up next, the fight of the century and its knockout price tag and the
NFL`s number one draft pick. Does his talent trump his troubled past? Now
you know why Dave Zirin is staying with us because there`s more Nerdland at
the top of the hour


HARRIS-PERRY: Welcome back. I`m Melissa Harris-Perry.

The six Baltimore police officers charged in the death of Freddie Gray are
out on bond this morning. And not due back in court until May 27th.
They`re charged with crimes ranging from manslaughter to misconduct in
office. And in the case of Officer Caesar Goodson, the second degree
murder is the charge.

When Baltimore state`s attorney Marilyn Mosby announced the charges
yesterday, she said Gray never should have been arrested in first place.


and Officer Nero failed to establish probable cause for Mr. Gray`s arrest
as no crime had been committed by Mr. Gray. Accordingly, Lieutenant Rice,
Officer Miller and Officer Nero illegally arrested Mr. Gray.


HARRIS-PERRY: Following that announcement, crowds cheered in the streets,
mostly in the same intersection that had been the scene of protests all
week. As night fell and the city`s curfew set in at 10:00, the streets
grew quiet and all tactical police units left by midnight. Only 15 people
were arrested overnight for curfew related violations.

Joining me now from Baltimore, Maryland, is NBC News correspondent Ron

Ron, what`s expected today in Baltimore?

RON ALLEN, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Well, Melissa, there`s a big gathering
happening here in the city hall plaza in the next couple of hours. It`s a
demonstration, protest, victory rally, it`s any number of things, but it`s
very upbeat, which is what`s striking about all this.

You can see behind me. There`s still significant police presence here, but
they`re very relaxed. There`s no tension at the moment. There were a few
arrests for curfew violations but all that is becomes sort of almost like a
-- it`s been very well-choreographed. A number of protesters stayed out
late past 10:00, but by 10:45, 11:00 streets were cleared. And it`s only
happening in a couple of small areas of the city.

So, things are moving peacefully, of course, because of the very serious
and sweeping charges leveled against the six officers. So, imagine what it
would be if that had not happened. Things are much more upbeat and
positive going forward today.

The event today, I think is about a lot of things. One of the issues of
police brutality, one of the issues is the Freddie Gray case.

When you talk to activists here, there`s a whole range of things that
they`re trying to focus the attention of the public on now that they`ve got
momentum and now they`ve got a big victory, they would call it. I talked
to people who are interested in issues like education, housing, jobs, voter
registration. One young man pointing that to me, that had there not been a
voter registration push that got Marilyn Mosby elected back in November, we
wouldn`t be at this place where we are today because of the change in
leadership. She has a much different approach to criminal justice than her

So, that`s where we are now. People are trying to seize this moment, seize
the momentum, seize the victory they got, although they point out in is a
first step, a big step towards getting justice for the Gray family but
still a long way to go. But activists are trying to seize this moment to
make further sweeping changes on a whole range of issues, and trying to get
the public organized and engaged and moving and moving forward at tackling
these other long range systemic issues that are at the heart of the problem
here in Baltimore and across the country -- Melissa.

HARRIS-PERRY: Ron Allen in Baltimore, Maryland. Thank you so much for
your reporting this morning.

Now, we`re going to shift gears. Now, it`s the fight of the century.
Finish word century. But it is happening tonight. Floyd Mayweather will
face Manny Pacquiao at the MGM in Las Vegas. It`s a long awaited bout that
matches the two best fighters of the era.

Now, boxing isn`t the mainstream attraction it once was when Muhammad Ali
faced archrival Joe Frazier in the Thrilla in Manila. Or when an estimated
100 million listened on their radios to Alabama native Joe Lewis knocking
out Germany`s Max Schmeling in their 1938 rematch. It was called the
largest history for anything. And the first time many people heard a black
man referred to simply as the American.

Still, boxing has a way of grabbing the public`s imagination as well as our
wallets. Tonight`s welterweight championship fight proved that Mayweather
who weighed in yesterday at 146 pounds and Pacquiao who weighed in at 145
aren`t heavyweights, but they`re commonly regarded as the two best fighters
in any weight class even as they`re nearing retirement age.

Mayweather, 38, undefeated, and nicknamed "Money", well, because he has a
lot of it, is the pound for pound king and the master of defense. Then, we
have 36-year-old Pacquiao, aka Pacman, a southpaw reknown for his quick
feet and in an out style and constant pivoting --


HARRIS-PERRY: Yes, thank God I have these producers.

For a sports that`s fueled by theatrics and spectacled, it also helped that
this was a fight that almost didn`t happen. So, after five years of
torturous negotiations involving Mayweather`s unprecedented request for
random, Olympic style drug testing, Pacquiao`s refused last icons finally
set a date, but not without a defamation lawsuit that Pacquiao flattened
Mayweather with in 2009 when Mayweather accused him of using performance-
enhancing drugs, and Mayweather`s legal troubles continued, his
controversial life outside the ring includes five convictions in domestic
battery or assault cases involving four different women.

Yet none of this seems to have damaged the hype because the fight of the
century is also the highest engrossing, tickets sold out in one minute and
the two contenders will share a reported $300 million purse for a record
$100 a pop and three to four million expected pay per view buys, Mayweather
and Pacquiao are the first boxers to cross the billion dollar threshold in
career pay-per-view revenue.

When it`s all said and done, tonight`s bout could generate $400 million in
revenue, making this the richest fight in boxing history. In fact, in
fact, Pacquiao will make at least $2 million off the sponsorship on his
boxing shorts alone, which is a lot for anybody but especially for a man
who grew up in crushing poverty in the Philippines only to leapfrog two
weight classes and dominate the much larger Oscar de la Hoya in 2008.

The statesman has said, "There is a God who can raise people from nothing
into something and that`s me. I came from nothing into something."

Mayweather, 38, also grew up poor but in Grand Rapids, Michigan, with a
father Mayweather says physically abused him. "Boxing is easy," Mayweather
has said, "but life has never been easy."

Tonight as they attempt to best each other in the sweet science, we are
reminded how much boxing is tale of two men because that`s exactly what
boxing has always been about, the sort of heroes and anti-heroes, what it
meant to be an American, an icon, a game changer or the strongest man in
the world.

Tonight, that story continues, and it could be where the story ends.

Joining me now, Dave Zirin, sports editor at "The Nation" and author of
"Brazil`s Dance with the Devil: The World Cup, the Olympics and the Fight
for Democracy." Kavitha Davidson, who is a sports columnist at `Bloomberg
View". Wes Smith, founder and principal of Pro Art Management Incorporated
and executive producer of "Forgotten Four." And Gautham Nagesh, sports
writer for "The Wall Street Journal" and founder of

Also joining me now from Las Vegas, Bill Rhoden, sports columnist at "The
New York Times."

Bill, how crazy is it in Vegas right now as the world has been waiting on
this fight that is finally going to happen?

have to tell you how impressed I am in you. When are you coming here?

HARRIS-PERRY: Let me explain. That research comes from Kyma (ph), who is
a little tiny producer but very invested in boxing.

RHODEN: I`m like, Melissa`s got game. Come on.

But, you know, so excitement is still sleeping. You know, this thing is --
I drove in from Los Angeles and there was like a caravan of people coming.
So in about two hours, three hours, this place is going to be permanently
crazy because, everybody loves a fight. We can talk all about the peace
and the love and the concussions and the hand wringing. People love a big
fight particularly in one of the great fighters is an American, somebody
born in the United States.

And, you know, boxing is just such a great morality play. You know, you
mentioned both of these guys come from poverty. I mean, that`s sort of
been the history of this sport from Tom Mono (ph) who was a slave who wound
up being champion.

So, yes, this is really going to be a crazy moment for all the reasons that
you mentioned, domestic abuse and the whole thing makes it great.

HARRIS-PERRY: OK. So, stay with us, don`t go away. But I want to come
out on exactly that -- we`ve been talking a lot on the show so far about
structure and inequality of the system. But, man, boxing really is -- it
is two warriors, two people in there together. But let me just say this.
I outweigh both those guys and so I`m a little bit -- what I don`t quite
understand, if you can help me --

RHODEN: How is your jam?

HARRIS-PERRY: Well, I would lose. But why do we care about little guys

RHODEN: Because that`s all we have right now. Clearly, if they were
heavyweights, it would be big. But right now this is the best we`ve had
for a long time. The last time I was here for a fight was when Tyson bit
Holyfield`s ear, you know? But that`s what we have.

And these -- you know, Mayweather`s 47-0, Pacquiao we`ve been waiting for a
great fight for a long time. This is a legacy fight. Mayweather could not
retire unless he fought this guy.

HARRIS-PERRY: All right. Let me ask the same of Wes here.

WES SMITH, PRO ART MANAGEMENT: You know, these are the two most compelling
figures in the sport of boxing and it`s been that way really since you go
back to the heavyweight division, Lennox Lewis and Evander Holyfield. You
haven`t had any personalities that have commanded the public`s attraction
the way these two athletes.

HARRIS-PERRY: The heavyweight champion is white and has been for a long
time. And a lot of people have wanted that for a long time, Wes. How is
he not like a big deal?

SMITH: He fought last week in Madison Square Garden, last Saturday night,
and that story just got glossed over because everyone is preparing for this
day. You know, these two men -- really when you have two men in the ring
and even with team sports, it`s about competition, and the competition that
drives passion from the fans. And these two men have been successful doing
that over the past 10, 12 years.

HARRIS-PERRY: What do you think we`ll actually see?

see? It will be obviously the biggest spectacle in boxing that we`ve seen
in years. You know, as Wes is saying, the issue of not having an American-
born heavyweight is really kind of one of the driving factors and why
boxing has declined.

Frankly, I`m not excited for this fight. I can`t -- I`ve written very
openly about how I can`t have any dollars supporting a guy like Floyd
Mayweather given his history and given the fact that more directly than in
any other sport, the dollars are going into his pocket from the fans. So,
you know, that`s kind of my position on this.

DAVE ZIRIN, THE NATION MAGAZINE: Yes, I spend a lot of time arguing that,
despite the many hypocrisies in sports that we should engage with sports
because it`s how we communicate with each other in this nation. And it`s
worth it, no matter how dirty the sport might be.

Mayweather and Pacquiao is a bridge too far for me. I`m not watching it
tonight. Not when I look at the actual rap sheet of Floyd Mayweather, 21
calls from come from his home begging for police intervention because he
was beating women, 21 calls and that`s what we know about. He has an
elaborate operation of actually paying off whether it`s attorneys, whether
it`s women, whether it`s police, to get out of these situations. So, the
idea of subsidizing his serial abuse of women is tough for me.

It`s also tough for me because I was at a Black Women`s Lives Matter rally
this week. That`s where the hypocrisy gets too much. Like how can I be
there and Rekeya Boyd (ph), you know, remember her name, now, I`m going to
watch Floyd Mayweather.

It`s -- I usually am fine in rectifying these parts of my life --

HARRIS-PERRY: Too far for you --

ZIRIN: With Baltimore, with everything that I`ve been dealing with this
week, it`s too much.

HARRIS-PERRY: Bill Rhoden, out in Las Vegas, Nevada, I feel like I should
put my producer on a plane to come out to hang out with you --

RHODEN: Please.

HARRIS-PERRY: -- for the evening, because clearly, clearly --

RHODEN: Please. We don`t have to go to the fight.


RHODEN: We can have our cake and eat, too.

HARRIS-PERRY: Oh, Bill. Bill Rhoden in Las Vegas, Nevada. Thank you for
joining us.

We`re going to have more on tonight`s big fight when we come back. But
first, a very different kind of story -- the announcement of a big arrival
across the pond.

Early this morning, Kate, the duchess of Cambridge, gave birth to a little
girl. This is the second child for Kate and her husband Prince William.
Just moments ago, Prince William left the hospital to check on their first
child, Prince George, who will turn 2 in July. The new baby girl will be
the fourth in line to the throne.

Congratulations to the royal family. I wonder if they`ll be watching the
fight tonight.

We`ll be right back.



MANNY PACQUIAO, BOXING CHAMP: Long before I became a boxer, I used to live
in the street starving and hungry. Now I can`t imagine that the Lord
placed me in this position and blessings that I can`t imagine.

FLOYD MAYWEATHER JR, BOXING CHAMP: It`s time to fight now. You know, you
guys came out here to see excitement. You guys came out here to see a
great event. And I think that`s what both competitors bring to the table,
excitement -- the biggest fight in boxing history.


HARRIS-PERRY: That was Manny Pacquiao and CNN`s Marc Lamont Hill -- I
mean, Floyd Mayweather on a Wednesday, just before the MGM showdown that
is promising the biggest payout in the history of sports.

Gautham, I`m wondering about that narrative. Both of them have of a kind
of up from poverty narrative. And, you know, Dave was killing our sports
joy, as he often does, just before the break, by -- you know, by reminding
us of the kinds of inequalities that we face when we look at Mayweather`s
history is really about this question about violence against women, but
there`s still -- there`s this kind of like up from poverty story that I
think leaves people still really rooting for both of these guys.

just these guys. Boxing is historically a sport that`s been populated by
people from rough backgrounds, very impoverished. Most boxing gyms are not
in the Upper East Side or neighborhoods like that.

HARRIS-PERRY: Just kickboxing for the stay at home moms.

NAGESH: Exactly, or fitness class.


NAGESH: Sugar Ray Leonard called boxing the sport of the poor man.

For a lot of people who box, I covered quite a few local fighters in the
D.C. area, teenagers and really young adults. For them, boxing is a
sanctuary. They come from violent backgrounds where violence is just a
fact of life.

Boxing is positively civilized compared to some of the things that they
have to deal with. It can teach people self-discipline, it can teach self-
control. I wouldn`t prescribe it as a panacea for the other ails of
society. But there`s no doubt that boxing has a tradition of taking people
who have criminal backgrounds, who have questionable backgrounds and
offering them a positive outlet for, you know, the various things that they
have to deal with in their lives.

HARRIS-PERRY: Yes, it`s one of the few sports where that was possible for
folks with those kinds of backgrounds as opposed to the major league
sports, the NFLs, the MLBs, right, especially for those of color wouldn`t
have been accessible.

ZIRIN: Yes, there`s this famous line where Buster Mathis Jr., who`s a
fighter, asked his father, Buster Mathis Sr., he said, daddy, should I play
football or box. And his father said, son, please play football because
nobody plays boxing.

And that`s the thing about the sport is that it takes a chunk out of you.
I mean, you`re signing over a part of yourself. And I think there`s a lot
of positive that comes particularly from youth boxing. But the sport
itself institutionally is so corrupt, so decentralized and so thoroughly
messed up in terms of how it treats fighters that it makes the NFL,
seriously, look like a Quaker convention.

DAVIDSON: Well, at the same time, you know, we talk about, you know, the
NFL and the future of football and parents not wanting their children to
play youth football because of the concussion and everything. The same
thing has already happened in boxing, so that you do see kind of a pool of
fighters who really only come from these impoverished backgrounds.

HARRIS-PERRY: But is that a shift or has it always been true?

DAVIDSON: It`s always been true but we`re more aware of it now. And we
see this as a problem in football. We don`t see this as a problem in
boxing but that`s the state of how the sport`s always been.

HARRIS-PERRY: So, let me then kind of dig in on that a little bit,
because, you know, part of what happened, if you have people from a
disposed space coming to be wealthy is what we saw happen with Muhammad
Ali, right, which is in a part a use of exactly that space, a use of boxing
as a way to have a kind of political story, as way to tell a story about --
in fact, he`s even in on this fight, "Mayweather apparently said that he
was better than Ali. I`m saying that no one can ever brainwash me to
believe that Sugar Ray Robinson and Muhammad Ali are better than me."

And, well, Muhammad Ali tweeted back to him, "Don`t you ever forget, I`m
the greatest." Right? So, the fact that even now his voice is relevant in
the context of boxing.

SMITH: Well, Ali came up in a time of social unrest and change in our
country, and his voice was much needed to galvanize people and to show them
that they can work within a system but yet still maintain their values when
he was a conscientious objector to the Vietnam War, stayed true to being a
Muslim and converting to Islam, he was able to follow that path and prove
that he was going to stay true to his principles in light of everything
happening around him.

I don`t think you have a lot of athletes that are willing to do that for
their principles because of the commerce and the amount of commerce that
surrounds them.

HARRIS-PERRY: What if it was just money, though? What if -- I mean, you
say he comes up in a time of social unrest. Well, we`re in a time of
social unrest. Would Mayweather be more of a sort of likable guy, even if
for money alone he was willing to say, I`m giving a portion of to this
purse to Black Lives Matter?

ZIRIN: Well, check this out, Floyd Mayweather last year, according to
several tax returns gave $7,000 to charity, $7,000.

He has a nonprofit. Guess how much that nonprofit gave out last year?
$37,000 is what the nonprofit distributed. I mean, that`s what the thing
about it is that Floyd --

HARRIS-PERRY: That may be about poverty. So let me just -- but the most
charitable I can be. Sometimes when you really grow up in a circumstance
of poverty, kind of hoarding instinct to keep it all just in case.

ZIRIN: I don`t want to in any way be casting stones at Floyd Mayweather,
that`s his decision what he wants to give. But there`s another layer with
Floyd Mayweather, in that he`s never been held accountable that he`s a
serial abuser of women. This isn`t Ray Rice caught in his worst moment in
an elevator and all of us passing judgment and bringing fury down upon him.

I mean, this is someone, I said three dozen times calls have gone in about
abuse, and the stories that you hear -- and I`ll tell you who`s the hero
for me that I`ve learned about this fight is Floyd Mayweather`s 13-year-old
son Koraun who walked in on a "USA Today" interview with his mom, who used
to be married to Floyd, Josie Davis, who said she was abused constantly in
their relationship, he walked out there and he said, "My dad is a coward,"
that`s what he said. It`s a "USA Today" report. He said, "My dad is a


ZIRIN: They held up the letter he wrote at 10 where he swore out a
complaint and described in detail how his dad beat his mom. That`s another
level to me.

DAVIDSON: Him and his brothers reported to the cops.

ZIRIN: Right.

HARRIS-PERRY: We`ll talk more on this topic when we come back.

But up next, what has 3,000 emeralds and will be center stage at tonight`s
fight? The answer is next.


HARRIS-PERRY: We talk about the money at stake in the showdown between
Mayweather and Pacquiao. But the winner don`t just get a big paycheck,
they also get a really big belt. The actual championship belt is adorned
with more than 3,000 emeralds and 800 grams of gold. It is made of the
same kind of letter used in Ferraris and is decorated with 165 hand-painted

The belt alone is worth around $1 million. And it looks like it could
weigh more than either of the men fighting for it. I`m sorry, I`m still
hung up on why it`s teeny, tiny men fighting is so exciting to us.

I am -- I do want to think a little bit about the money piece here.
Because you know, there`s on the one hand the kind of judgment that we can
bring to it, but you know in a market, you sell what you can sell. In this
case, the idea that we still have this desire to see this kind of fighting
again between two guys almost 40 years old. I`m fascinated by this.

NAGESH: So I wouldn`t -- I always say that boxers earn their money perhaps
to a greater sense than anyone else. This fight is unique in the fact that
Mayweather has taken control of his own career, his own finances, so he
sees the vast majority of the money that comes into him. This is actually
a departure because Muhammad Ali, Mike Tyson, we`ve seen a lot of boxers
that have earned a tremendous amount of money over their careers --

HARRIS-PERRY: And they don`t keep it.

NAGESH: And they end up practically broke. Even today, boxing has always
got a history of exploitation. The various sanctioning bodies, promoters,
they typically take advantage of these less educated, less financially
sophisticated boxers. And so, in that sense, Mayweather is a step forward
to some extent because he`s really the one who benefits on the bottom line.

Even Pacquiao has had some tax troubles in recent years despite earning
hundreds of millions of dollars.

ZIRIN: I mean, you could correct me if I`m wrong. I believe he owes $75
million in tax money. So, we`re talking about Pacquiao is fighting to pay
his tax bill, which has a layer of pathos to it as he talks about coming
out from poverty. Is he really out?

HARRIS-PERRY: Well, it`s also just, in part, people saying, oh, there`s
not athletes like Muhammad Ali, but Pacquiao is a statesman. He`s actually
elected -- I was having this conversation with Kyle (ph), I`m like, wait a
minute, he`s not in the Congress, right? And some people even talking
about wanting to push to run for president. Like, is that an indication
that Pacquiao actually is the athlete like that in this fight?

DAVIDSON: I think absolutely. I mean, if you talk to people in the
Philippines after they`ve had tragedy after tragedies, tsunami and things
like that, but he is the face of, you know, the international kind of
galvanizing people around raising some money for the Philippines. You
know, it`s really interesting, the money is part of what was holding this
fight up for so many years, right? The split between what Mayweather and
Pacquiao, how they would split the purses is what was holding it up.

And Pacquiao actually at some point suggested, hey, let`s just play this
fight for charity. Let`s just get it out there. And get money for
charity, this guy who owes $75 million.

HARRIS-PERRY: Yes, and Floyd Mayweather is like uh-uh.


ZIRIN: I`m not trying to rain on everything here. Particularly the
dichotomy of bad Mayweather, good Pacquiao.

HARRIS-PERRY: Right, right.

ZIRIN: But Pacquiao`s most significant accomplishment as a politician in
the Philippines was denying contraception to poor women.

HARRIS-PERRY: Yes, it`s Catholicism, right?

ZIRIN: Part of his political belief, he says that even though he grew up
in poverty with a lot of brothers and sisters, that was a blessing and
other people should be able to go include that blessing.

It`s just to say that I find it interesting when people say, I`m for
Pacquiao because this is a morality play about women`s rights. And it`s
like, well, no, both people`s ledger if we really want to talk about
women`s righting being represented in a boxing match, which is bizarre --

HARRIS-PERRY: Yes, I was going to say, could we begin by just saying, OK,
boxing, feminism, likely two separate spaces. I mean, I`m down with the
idea of like a feminist boxer just bringing the noise.

DAVIDSON: Shields, you know?


HARRIS-PERRY: Stay with us. We`ve got more.

I want to actually talk a little bit about the way in which sports welcome
such a big deal as they are right at the center of the other big political
story of the week.


HARRIS-PERRY: Take a look at the eerie scene at Oriole Park in Camden Yard
on Wednesday as the Orioles played the Chicago White Sox to an empty
stadium, is believed to be the first major league game ever played without
spectators. Team officials had declared that the game would be closed to
the public amid protests that had been taking place in the streets of

So, for me, I wanted to set these two things next to each other, this idea
that everyone in the world was going to be watching the fight tonight on
pay-per-view, on everything else. And then in Baltimore, the other
enormous and important story, here we had a major league game that was
happening -- no one there, except you.

DAVIDSON: I was. I was there. It was absolutely bizarre. And you know,
you talk to players and managers in the stands and everyone seemed kind of
resigned to this reality but obviously not very happy with this decision.

What this did really was send the message that Baltimore is not safe and
not open for business. And that`s really not what I found when I went
there. I know that David`s been there longer than I was and David`s been
there all week. But, you know, people were very willing to talk. They
wanted the real story of what was actually happening in Baltimore to be

ZIRIN: It`s so interesting, like I thought the scenescape at Camden Yards
with the empty stadium was actually both poignant and appropriate. Not
that it was intentionally done this way, but there`s something to me very
powerful about it, because it sent the message that, you know what, it`s
not business as usual in the streets of Baltimore right now, so why should
it be business as usual in the stadium?

Freddie Gray is not cheering and not yelling, so why should anyone the
stadium be cheering and yelling? In an odd way, this was not the intent,
it drew a lot of attention to the fact that these are special times like
Baltimore Oriole Adam Jones one of only two African-American starters on
the team. He said, they asked him, are you worried about your schedule and
the empty stadium? He said, I`m much more worried about the city of
Baltimore healing.

And I felt like it sent that message oddly.

DAVIDSON: Right, the optics and the metaphor of having the national anthem
played in front of 45,000 empty seats was very, very poignant.

ZIRIN: Wow. That`s deep.

HARRIS-PERRY: I kept feeling we make decisions about this show and what`s
going to go on and what`s a reasonable set of conversation for us to be
having in the context of the world. And, you know, we`re really battling
with do we turn to talking about the fight, the thing that everyone is
talking about, do we turn to talking about sports in the context of
Baltimore. Now Baltimore shifted, but if it were still burning, I mean,
there`s a question, would the fight have gone -- kind of obviously, I
wonder if it should have.

SMITH: Well, the whole week, you have a number of sporting events that are
taking place.

You have the Kentucky Derby today.


SMITH: You have the NFL draft taking place. It really -- I`m glad that
Baltimore and the orioles in particular kept the fans out of the stadium to
make it seem like this is really more important what`s going on in the city
than the actual event, but I think it goes to a larger point that for
Americans generally -- talent trumps character, you know?

In the case of Baltimore, I think they actually placed the right emphasis
on what was taking place in the streets and the community there with
Freddie Gray. I think that was important for them to do.

ZIRIN: It`s so interesting. I mean, the COO of the Orioles, Johnny
Angelo, made a long statement about the roots of the problem, the manager
of the Orioles, Buck Showalter, was asked, what advice do you have to give
to young black men? And he said, "I have no advice. I`m a white person.
I don`t know what it`s like to be a young black man."

HARRIS-PERRY: Actually, I love listening to him.


people trying to weigh in on things that they really don`t know anything
about. I tell guys all the time when they talk about, you know, you`ve
never -- you know, I`ve never been black. OK? So I don`t know -- I can`t
put myself -- I`ve never been faced with challenges that they faced, OK?

So, I understand the emotion, but I don`t -- you know, I can`t -- it`s a
pet peeve of mine. Somebody says, I know what they`re feeling, why don`t
they do this? Why don`t somebody do that?

You have never been black. OK? So, slow down a little bit.


HARRIS-PERRY: Just slow down a little bit.

When we come back, I want to talk about this question of talent trumping
character in the context of the NFL draft. We`ll also give everybody a
chance to weigh in more on this, because up next, the number one pick in
the NFL`s draft -- will his past trouble affect the already troubled


HARRIS-PERRY: On Thursday, Chicago rolled out the gold carpet to welcome
28 perspective NFL players to day one of the 2015 NFL draft. The number
one overall draft pick was none other than Florida State University
quarterback Jameis Winston.

Winston famously became the famous person to ever win the Heisman Trophy in
December of 2013, after passing for 41 touchdowns and more than 4,000 yards
that season. But Winston is also notorious for some of his actions off the
field. In September, Florida State suspended the player from one game
after learning that he made vulgar comments about female anatomy while
standing in the middle of campus.

About two years before that, one of his Winston`s FSU classmates Eric
Kinsman accused him of rape. A year later, the state attorney general
decided against prosecuting citing insufficient evidence. And Winston has
maintained that the sex between him and Kinsman was consensual.

In December 2014, Winston faced a Florida State code of conduct hearing
involving the Florida sexual assault allegation. The campus found that he
was not in violation of the code. Winston is now facing a civil suit that
Kinsman filed in April.

For these reasons, Winston`s status as the number one NFL draft pick has
been controversial especially since several players were accused of
violence against women and children last season.

Ray Rice was released from the Baltimore Ravens and suspended indefinitely
after the now famous elevator video released by TMZ showing Rice punching
his now-wife Janay. Rice`s suspension has been overturned but he has yet
to find a new team.

Vikings star Adrian Peterson pleaded no contest to a felony charge of
injuring his four-year-old son. He said he was disciplining a child with a
switch. Most recently, Greg Hardy who last week was suspended for 10 games
without pay for the 2015 season because the league found that he violated
the personal conduct policy by assaulting his ex-girlfriend in 2014.

This upcoming season will be the first full season for the NFL`s new
personal conduct policy, which is supposed to clarify standards of behavior
and impose stricter repercussions on offenders. Is this a new beginning
for the NFL? Or does this week`s draft send a mixed message about the
league`s commitment to change?

What do you think?

NAGESH: Well, I think that the Jameis Winston case in particular has drawn
a lot of attention because, one, there`s been a series of incidents
involving him, but two, because Jameis is sort of not shrink in the

HARRIS-PERRY: No, he trolled the whole internet with crab legs. Yes, uh-

NAGESH: So, it does speak to character concerns that are often cited by
executives at sports teams. And we often see that among those concerns,
domestic violence tends to rank fairly low on the offense scale. We see
players who are punished through the draft much more severely for things
like drug use like marijuana or something to that effect.

But we have a whole host of athletes who have in the past been accused
over, convicted of domestic violence from Jason Kidd to Robert Parish to --
just a whole bunch of people, this has really only something that has been
highlighted I think in the wake of the Ray Rice investigation. They`ve
also been people who paid attention to it. I think Wes is exactly right,
the better an athlete you are, the more you can get away with. And there`s
nothing like sports to make people lose perspective of what should and
shouldn`t be allowed in society.

HARRIS-PERRY: But should we say, look, this is a kid who, yes, there were
the accusations but there were multiple hearings and trials in which he was
found -- where there was a decision not to press charges and so why
shouldn`t his talent be the only thing making this decision?

ZIRIN: Well, because above it all, just the basic issue of maturity. I
mean, Jameis Winston, you`re talking about two different women accused him
of rape and he chooses that moment with everybody looking at him to stand
on a table in the middle of campus and say, bleep her in the bleep and
bleep her in the bleep. You know?

So, it`s like -- so, that`s one issue. So, it`s not just about talent,
it`s also about character if you are going to invest that much money in
somebody. The second issue, though, big macro issue, is what a message the
United States has sent to young black men this week. It`s -- if you are
going to be a young black men, in this country, be Jameis Winston, don`t be
Freddie Gray, because if you`re Jameis Winston, the police will cover up
what happened.

I don`t know if Jameis Winston is guilty of rape. I do know and I`ve read
enough to say that the Tallahassee Police Department covered up this
allegation, made allowances for Jameis Winston. So, think about this -- a
Southern police department protected someone guilty or innocent from being
charged with a felony. And then, in Baltimore, they break a young man`s

DAVIDSON: Well, I mean, if you want to talk about talent trumping
character, you know, what we`re talking about with Floyd Mayweather and
Jameis Winston, it`s all very similar. Floyd Mayweather still being issued
a boxing license despite what he`s convicted of. Jameis Winston, having
police department not only cover up any kind of investigation, they didn`t
even talk to him when he was initially being investigated, because, you
know, the police department and campus security are very much in bed with
each other and it`s because of the high profile that these athletes have.

NAGESH: And both of these cases, also, these are very parochial interests.
The Tallahassee Police Department, these communities where college football
is the main industry, they rely on college football as their economy for a
large part of the year. Similarly, Nevada needs Floyd Mayweather to fight
there. So, that`s why they`re not going to slap -- at most a slap on the
wrist, because if they don`t give them a license, then New York or
California, someone else is going to take that $400 million fight, and have
it here.

That`s one of the reasons boxing needs national oversight.

SMITH: Well, again, it all comes down to commerce, right? How much
revenue you can generate for an organization or a team or a community --
that`s what it`s all about. So, that`s the equation that society has to
deal with, whether or not they want to place more emphasis on the character
variable of that equation or the talent which leads to revenue.

HARRIS-PERRY: When you say commerce, all about commerce, and also as you
point out the parochial interest about the needs economically of those
communities and ways even hearkening us back to the Ferguson report about
the ways in which policing those black bodies is also related to the
commerce and parochial interests of those communities. But it also feels
like, and maybe we just can`t miss this. That it`s also about the
vulnerability of black women`s bodies or women`s bodies in general, this
idea that there would be some kinds of violation or some kinds of character
issues which, as you point out, for example, the drug war right around
marijuana, that would potentially but not balance against women`s bodies --

ZIRIN: Right.

HARRIS-PERRY: -- which are consistently seen as kind of an acceptable part
of this.

ZIRIN: And just, if we want to ask, where is the NFL in all this? This to
me says it all.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers have been all over the sports media, talking about the
hundreds of hours they spent investigating Jameis Winston`s character and
how confident they are that he`s the person to be the face of their
franchise. Guess who ne never reached out to speak with about Jameis

HARRIS-PERRY: The accuser.

ZIRIN: Erica Kinsman.


ZIRIN: Not one call to her. Not to say she would have wanted to talk to
them. But to me, it speaks volumes that they didn`t even want to hear what
she had to say.

HARRIS-PERRY: I am -- I feel, you know, lost in a moment like that because
there`s so -- you know, on the one hand when I heard you say the character,
there`s a part of me that thinks, ah, being able to use that character
discourse particularly against young black men can also run counter, can
run the exact opposite way.

But I don`t want to miss if we`re giving many tens of thousands, millions
of dollars into -- because we want to these young men play, like it has got
to connect somehow.

SMITH: I didn`t mean it to say that talent should trump character.


SMITH: I mean, what I want to see is that society come together and really
reprioritize our values so that character trumps talent.

HARRIS-PERRY: Yes, no, I just wonder -- what worries me is sometimes when
I say character, that we then take a whole group of people who are just,
you know, bravado and braggadocio and we`re like, oh, they have bad
character, right, as opposed to actual -- in this case claims at least,
allegations, we don`t have convictions in this case of real violence
against people.

DAVIDSON: Well, part of the problem is actually -- I know you didn`t mean
it this way -- but using euphemisms like character issues, behavioral
problems, off the field issues, which, you know, if you read the scouting
reports on Jameis Winston not one actually said sexual assault allegations.

ZIRIN: Right.

HARRIS-PERRY: Like that word.

DAVIDSON: The language used, the lack of specificity that we use to talk
about violence against women especially in the sports world is really a big
problem, that allows us to skate by that, the fact that there are no
pictures, the fact that there are no videos when an attack comes by, allows
people to say, well, she`s automatically a liar.

HARRIS-PERRY: That`s very useful.

DAVIDSON: Crab legs, rape, they talk about it. It`s all the same thing.

HARRIS-PERRY: It`s all the same thing. Right.

Getting money for autographs, all the same thing.

ZIRIN: Rape --

SMITH: Tattoos.

ZIRIN: Rape.

HARRIS-PERRY: Thank you to Dave Zirin, and Kavitha Davidson, to Wes Smith
and to Gautham Nagesh.

Up next, our foot soldier of the week showing us a new face of bravery.


HARRIS-PERRY: The Ebola crisis that began in 2014, is easing. It`s not
completely over. Cases are still being diagnosed in Sierra Leone and
Guinea. There were 33 new cases confirmed last week.

But the numbers thankfully are on the decline. Overall, more than 26,000
people have been infected by the Ebola epidemic, close to 11,000 people
have died. International health care workers traveled to the affected
areas to help combat the highly contagious disease and we`ve all seen the
protective gear they wear. They look like giant space suits.

But while doctors are working on healings the physical bodies of those
affected by Ebola, our foot soldier of the week was focused on helping the

Mary Beth Heffernan is an artist and an associate professor at Occidental
College in Los Angeles. When she saw the images coming out of West Africa,
she tried to imagine being one of the patients. She asked herself, what
would it be like to go for days on end without seeing a human face and only
engaging with people in those biohazard suits while suffering through
physically wrenching symptoms?

The suits the health care workers wear are called personal protective
equipment or PPEs for short. They`re very important for preventing the
spread of Ebola, but they can be very impersonal, maybe even downright

But Mary Beth had an idea. What if health care workers who wore the PPEs
had big photos of their faces ob the outside of their suits like a sticker
of their smiling faces so that patients can see that behind the scary
protective gear, is a friendly, warm person, someone who wants to help.

Mary Beth got to work. She turned to her kitchen table into a command
center and she spent months there testing cameras, printers and paper types
all in an effort to create photos that would adhere to a PPE suit without
compromising the suit`s integrity.

She did research on the disease and the effects of isolation on patients.
She secured funding from Occidental College and from the Arnold P. Goldman
Foundation. And Mary Beth then reached out to 75 people hoping to find
someone interested in her project.

The chair of Ebola case management for Liberia loved her idea and asked her
to travel to Liberia. So, in February, Mary Beth left Los Angeles with 12
boxes of equipment and an Occidental College photographer Mark Campos who
went along to document the process.

Mary Beth and Mark went to one Ebola treatment center in Liberia with the
greatest amount of patients and began printing on water resistant vinyl
labels. She trained the staff on how to use the equipment and donated a
full kit to the hospital.

The pictures were an instant hit. Health care workers loved them. The
images improved their relationships with their patients and they could now
see their own colleagues and work better as a medical team that way. The
patients loved it, too. Instead of seeing the, quote, "white ninja suits"
they have been called in Liberia, now they can see their caretakers are
members of their own community, no longer an unknown quantity.

For thinking about the emotional suffering of those already suffering
physically, and for coming up with a Creative Solution, Mary Beth Heffernan
is our foot soldier of the week.

And that`s our show for today. Thanks to you at home for watching. I`ll
see you tomorrow morning at 10:00 a.m. Eastern. We`re going to take a much
closer look at the messaging around the mom who made headlines in Baltimore
this week.



<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.>


Sponsored links

Resource guide