'The Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell' for Wednesday, June 24th, 2015
Read the transcript to the Wednesday show
Show: THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL
Date: June 24, 2015
Guest: Sherrilyn Ifill, Jelani Cobb, Jamil Smith, Ryan Cooper, Aloke
Chakravarty, Ed Deveau, Garrett Quinn
RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: Tonight marks one week since --
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We have to be forgiven, we have to be loving and we
have to turn love the noun into love the verb.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Tonight marks one week since a small group of people who turned up
for Wednesday night Bible study at the Mother Emanuel Church in Charleston
were killed in that church, that was one week ago tonight.
And tonight, it is more like a hundred people who are congregated in that
same room at that same church for Bible study tonight, including family
members of one of the victims, 59-year-old Myra Thompson.
Funeral for the victims of that massacre will begin in South Carolina
tomorrow. That does it for us tonight, we`ll see you again tomorrow, now
it`s time for THE LAST WORD with Lawrence O`Donnell, good evening,
LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, MSNBC HOST: Good evening, Rachel, thank you.
O`DONNELL: Alabama`s governor took down the Confederate flag today and the
national wake for the victims of the massacre in Charleston spread from
South Carolina to Washington.
And tonight, at Mother Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, as Rachel just
reported, Wednesday night Bible study went on as usual, a week after nine
members of the church were murdered during that Bible study.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A very solemn public tribute to a native son.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The body of the late Reverend and State Senator
Clementa Pinckney is lying in the South Carolina State Capitol Rotunda.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: People really loved him here and they are going to miss
him a lot.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A black drape blocking the view of the flag outside.
ALEX WAGNER, MSNBC: What began as a push to remove one flag has grown into
a national movement.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Alabama has just removed its Confederate flag from
the state capitol grounds.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And in Mississippi, the Republican speaker of the house
called for the emblem to be removed from his state`s flag.
SEN. TIM SCOTT (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: Our future as a nation has been
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: South Carolina Senator Tim Scott has introduced a
resolution honoring all nine victims.
SCOTT: One of the victim`s son, he said with great enthusiasm, that this
evil attack would lead to reconciliation, restoration and unity in our
nation. Those were powerful words.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Change can happen at any time, at any place. We
still have so much to do to correct the ills of our society.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Alabama`s segregationist Governor George Wallace first raised
the Confederate flag over the state capitol dome on April 25th, 1963.
Alabama`s segregationist politicians had been happily governing in that
state house for generations without the help or inspiration of the
Governor Wallace raised the flag that day, not in honor of Confederate
soldiers but in defiance of the United States of America.
Specific defiance of the Attorney General of the United States Robert
Kennedy, who came to visit George Wallace that day to tell him that the
United States government would crush him if he carried out his announced
plan to stand in the doorway of the University of Alabama to prevent the
first black students from entering the university.
Months later, Wallace flamboyantly stood in that doorway and as promised,
was pushed aside by the national guard on the orders of President Kennedy.
And the Confederate flag continued to fly over the Alabama State Capitol as
nothing but a symbol of defiance. Defiance crushed by the government of
the United States of America.
As of today, that flag is no longer flying. Republican Alabama Governor
Robert Bentley had all four Confederate flags on the Capitol grounds
removed this morning.
In South Carolina today, thousands of people came to pay their respects to
State Senator Clementa Pinckney whose body is lying in state in the Capitol
According to the Charleston "Post and Courier", Senator Pinckney is the
first African-American given the honor since at least reconstruction.
A black curtain was placed over a window of the Rotunda to block the view
of the Confederate flag which continues to fly on state house grounds while
the state legislature debates its removal.
And the national wake for the victims of the massacre at Mother Emanuel
Church in Charleston came to Washington today where South Carolina`s junior
Senator Tim Scott told the Senate about his conversations with victims`
families and how they hope this tragedy has changed this country.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SCOTT: It is with great sadness and amazing hope that our future as a
nation has been changed. It has been changed because one person decided to
It has been changed because the response of those nine families has been so
courageous, so inspiring. And if you will permit me, I will read the names
of those nine individuals.
We honor the Reverend Sharonda Coleman-Singleton; a beloved teacher, coach
at Goose Creek High School. Her son Chris has shown us all what an amazing
mother she was, through his strength over the past six days.
We honor Cynthia Hurd; whose love for education has been shared for over 31
years as a librarian in the public library system.
We honor Susie Jackson; who at 87 years young still offered her beautiful
voice to the choir and had recently returned from visiting her family in
We honor Ethel Lee Lance who served her church with pride. Whose daughter
calls her the strong woman who just tried to keep her family together.
We honor DePayne Middleton-Doctor who dedicated her life to serving the
poor and helping her students as an enrollment and counselor at Southern
We honor my good friend, Reverend Clementa Pinckney; an amazing man of
faith, a great dad and a wonderful father.
We honor Tywanza Sanders, beloved son of Tyrone and Felicia, whose warmth
and heart-felt spirit has kept us moving.
We honor the Reverend Daniel Simmons Senior whose granddaughter said my
granddaddy was an amazing man. It seemed like every time he spoke, it was
And we honor Pastor Myra Thompson; who served the Lord with grace and
dignity. She loved her children, her grandchildren and her great
If you would just pause for nine seconds, a second for each one, I would
appreciate it. Thank you.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Joining us now, Sherrilyn Ifill, the President and Counsel of
the NAACP Legal Defense Fund and a professor at the University of Maryland
School of Law.
Also joining us Jelani Cobb, a contributing writer for "The New Yorker" and
Director of African-American studies at the University of Connecticut, and
Jamil Smith, Senior Editor for "The New Republic".
Sherrilyn Ifill, it feels to me like we are in the midst of a national wake
and at wakes important things get said, small personal things get said and
our minds wander over the days of these things.
And I just want you to share whatever your thoughts are at this point as we
move through this week.
SHERRILYN IFILL, PRESIDENT & DIRECTOR-COUNSEL, NATIONAL ASSOCIATION FOR THE
ADVANCEMENT OF COLORED PEOPLE LEGAL DEFENSE AND EDUCATIONAL FUND &
PROFESSOR, UNIVERSITY OF MARYLAND SCHOOL OF LAW: Well, Lawrence, I think
you are right, there is a kind of a national mourning that`s happening.
And I also think at the same time there`s a national waking up that`s
happening. I think that a lot of what we`re seeing around the Confederate
flag is about waking up to an issue that has been hiding in plain sight for
so many of us for decades.
It`s actually been quite interesting to hear the genuine surprise of some
people about the way in which the Confederate flag is perceived.
It`s also been interesting to see the quickness with which a number of
officials have changed their view about maintaining the Confederate flag.
I think this massacre that happened at Emanuel AME Church really has
shocked people. It has focused our attention in a way that I think it`s
powerful and important.
But you know, Lawrence, like all of us who have lost someone that we cared
for, we know that there are stages that we go through.
There is this intensity of grief very early on in which we do feel the
powerful weight of mortality and the resolve to do things differently when
our ears are open to hear our colleagues, and our brothers, and our family
members and our neighbors in ways they weren`t before.
But if that is not nurtured, if that`s not really captured, it`s not very
long before we slide into the old pattern and before we forget the way in
which our ears were opened in that period when we first felt sorrow and
And thus, I think the danger we`re in right now as a country, we`re going
to bury our dead this weekend -- in this week -- the end of this week in
No doubt, the President is going to deliver a powerful and stirring eulogy,
and we will have a weekend and we will have a Supreme Court term end and
there will be a decision in several Supreme Court cases including Fair
Housing Act and marriage equality and healthcare.
And the conversation will begin to drift away from the moments that we find
ourselves in today. And thus I think, the danger. So, the question really
is, how do we capture the spirit of this moment?
How do we make these lives that were lost so awfully and so needlessly not
be in vain by really getting to the heart of the issue.
Not just the Confederate flag, but to the real issue of structural racism,
to the issues that created someone like a Dylann Roof to the reality of
white supremacy and white supremacist-thinking that still exist in our
That`s the heavy lift, that`s the really hard long-term work and I hope
we`re up for it.
O`DONNELL: I want to play some of what George Wallace had to say in 1963,
simply because I think some of the audience is young enough to need a clear
understanding of just how mainstream Dylann Roof`s thinking was in 1963 in
the white south.
Let`s listen to Governor Wallace.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GEORGE WALLACE, FORMER ALABAMA GOVERNOR: If you intend to pass this bill,
you should make preparations to withdraw all our troops than burn in
Vietnam and the rest of the world because they`re going to be needed to
police this country.
You`re going to make the American people law violators because they are not
going to comply with this type of legislation. A president who sponsors
legislation such as the Civil Rights Act of 1963 should be retired from
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: And Jelani Cobb, there is a straight line, a straight
intellectual line from George Wallace to Dylann Roof.
JELANI COBB, WRITER, THE NEW YORKER & DIRECTOR OF AFRICAN-AMERICAN STUDIES,
UNIVERSITY OF CONNECTICUT: Yes, absolutely. And you know, there are some
things that we should talk about and what Wallace was really representing.
He was not, you know, outside of a context there. He was existing very
much in what was the mainstream of southern political thought at that point
And I think the best way of understanding the difference and the context in
which the confederacy or the Confederate flag came to the floor is to think
about, you know, we are now kind of four decades past the end of Vietnam.
And the shadow of Vietnam has hung over this country ever since the Fall of
Saigon. And all the kind of soul searching and recrimination and the way
in which Vietnam has remained kind of the shadow in the path of American
military intervention ever since then.
And this is the first time that the country had to grapple with the idea of
military defeat. Except that the south, a full century before this, had
gone through this idea of grappling and soul-searching and then a kind of
denial that comes with, you know, the bitterness of military defeat.
And so the south is very particular in these ways. And so, for this
generation of people who immediately have fought in the war, many of them
thought that the Confederate flag should be put away.
That it should become an element of history, but for people who came after
them, who felt the need to defend their forebearers, they couldn`t come out
and say, OK, well, we were fighting on behalf of slavery.
So they now had to come up with a euphemism and say we`re fighting on
behalf of heritage or we`re trying to protect the legacy or talk about
valor and then the kind of mythology that the civil war was not fought
about slavery, but was fought about tariffs, which is a kind of absurd
And all these things come together, and you understand this, why we have
this kind of denial that comes to the foreground then.
O`DONNELL: And Jamil, the denial was formalized in southern public school
education, the kids were taught that the civil war was not about slavery.
JAMIL SMITH, SENIOR EDITOR, THE NEW REPUBLIC: Indeed. And the Confederate
flag certainly been flying all in front of the state house, on top of the
state house, certainly did nothing to dissuade them.
And it shows now, you know, it serves today, even though it certainly
doesn`t serve the same purpose quite as George Wallace intended, it
certainly -- it certainly serves today as a trigger for all African-
Americans, young and old.
That see it and know that, you know, it just -- it shows -- it`s an -- it`s
an indicator of all the racial pain that cannot yet be visited on black
bodies the same way that Dylann Roof did at that church.
O`DONNELL: We`re going to take a break here, we`re going to come back with
more of this conversation including about southern politics now, southern
Coming up, a new arrest tonight in the prison escape plot in Upstate, New
York, and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev confessed his guilt and apologized in a Boston
courtroom where he was formally sentenced to death for the Boston Marathon
And as Confederate flags continue to come down, we will consider how
politics is changing in the south.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. PATRICK LEAHY (D), VERMONT: A generation ago, Martin Luther King told
parishioners at the Mother Emanuel Church in Charleston that voting rights
was a key to achieving the American dream.
And Dr. King was right then, and that ideal remains true today. We have to
make sure that every American can vote. And vote for whomever they want,
but every American, every American, every American.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Today, Senator Patrick Leahy introduced a bill to restore much
of the Voting Rights Act that the Supreme Court invalidated two years ago.
The bill would restore voting rights protections and would compel states
with documented voting discrimination to clear future voting changes with
the federal government and would require federal approval for voter ID
Up next, the southern strategy that Republican presidential candidates have
been using since Richard Nixon won the White House in 1968.
O`DONNELL: When President Lyndon Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act in
1964 and the Voting Rights Acts in 1965, he privately told political
confidants that the Democratic Party had just lost the south for a
Republicans seized that political opportunity and the successful 1968
presidential campaign of Richard Nixon was the first to use what came to be
known as the southern strategy to win the electoral college by using the
south as the Republican base.
Legendary Republican strategist Lee Atwater explained it this way.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
HARVEY LEE ATWATER, LATE FORMER POLITICAL STRATEGIST TO THE REPUBLICAN
PARTY: You start out in 1954 by saying -- and I am seeking you can`t say -
- that hurts you. It backfires.
So you say stuff like, well, forced busing, states` rights, and all that
stuff, and you`re getting so abstract.
Now, you`re talking about cutting taxes, and all these things you`re
talking about are totally economic things and the by-product of them is
blacks get hurt worse than whites.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: An article in the week about the southern strategy points out,
"in 1980, Ronald Reagan announced his campaign for president in the town of
Philadelphia, Mississippi where civil rights workers James Chaney, Michael
Schwerner and Andrew Goodman were murdered in 1964.
He was not there to promote racial healing." But the math of the southern
strategy is no longer working for Republicans.
Mitt Romney won all of the deep south in 2012 and won white voters by more
than 20 points but still lost to Barack Obama by 126 electoral votes.
Joining us now is Ryan Cooper, a national correspondent at the Week.com.
So Ryan, is the southern strategy dead for Republicans?
RYAN COOPER, NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT, WEEK.COM: I would say it`s not
exactly dead, like they are still going to try and win the south because
that`s their most solid base of support.
However, it`s not going to win them the presidency like it used to. My
colleague Paul Waldman(ph) who wrote that piece as he pointed out, you
know, back in the `80s when Reagan was running that sort of operation,
white voters were about 90 percent of the electorate and now it`s about 70
percent of the electorate.
So, the math just doesn`t work anymore. And so, you know, you try these
things, and it`s just going to hurt you more than it helps.
O`DONNELL: And --
COOPER: And so they`re searching for a new strategy.
O`DONNELL: And Sherrilyn Ifill, to hear Lee Atwater explain the semantic
change that you had to go through from 1954 into the 1960s and later was --
it was just an open page of the Republican playbook that he was showing us
IFILL: Yes, it`s really quite interesting to hear. Professor Ian Haney
Lopez has written a book called "Dog Whistle Politics" in which he traces
the evolution of this language and this southern strategy that you`re
It`s true, the numbers are different now. But there`s something else
that`s true, Lawrence, and that is that in the 1980s, people still believed
We`re dealing with a different electorate across the board of people who
have been soured, who feel they have been betrayed.
The economic crisis of 2008 hit Americans so hard across the board
including white working class Americans, yes, also in the south.
And what that means is you cannot rely on that population to turn out in
the numbers. That is to be passionate about a presidential election in the
way they might have been in the 1980s.
And so not only are we talking about the size of the electorate, but we`re
talking about your ability to count on that electorate to turn out because
they feel passionate about politics.
Many of those voters are now disaffected. The voters who became passionate
about politics were the Barack Obama voters of 2008, the young voters and
again of 2012.
So the question is, who`s going to be able to ignite passion in voters
across the board, both the Democrats and the Republicans face this problem
going into the next presidential election.
And that`s where the buzz words may actually work, you know, to the
contrary. People are tired of politics as usual and we all recognize what
those words are, even southern voters do.
So, I think there is a real challenge, and I think what you`re seeing in
terms of the response to the Confederate flag issue shows that there`s
There`s fear that holding on to this strategy, being associated with it, is
not a winner for people who are seeking the presidency and who are seeking
higher office. At the same time, we should recognize that the Confederate
flag is an expression of explicit bias.
There are so many coded ways in which bias still gets transmitted and it
remains to be seen whether those coded messages will be abandoned by
Republicans or by conservatives, Democrats or others who are seeking to
capture that southern base.
O`DONNELL: And Jelani Cobb, Nikki Haley did an incredible favor for the
Republican presidential field on Monday after they spent the weekend
struggling with what they think about the Confederate flag and should it be
up or down in South Carolina.
She stepped up and just eliminated it as an issue for them. They could all
get in line behind her. And so now, they will next year go into a South
Carolina primary where the issue won`t be, should the Confederate flag be
COBB: Right. And if you listen to that speech that she gave, she kind of
hedged. And you know, she talked about Dylann Roof having a twisted
interpretation of the flag and so on.
In actuality, he had an accurate interpretation of what the flag was,
connecting it to the history of white supremacy. But very much, she wanted
this to not be an issue.
South Carolina is the third primary. She does not want this to be an issue
next year when people are -- later this year when people are having
debates, and next year when people go out to vote.
And then coincidentally made herself look like a very viable, very
interesting vice presidential pick as well.
O`DONNELL: And Jamil Smith, to Jelani`s point about what she said about
the flag. She had that mandatory thing that the -- especially, the
southern white conservative politician has to have or even in saying we`re
taking it down.
She has to say, there`s this honorable history to this flag and there`s an
honorable decent relationship to it that a lot of people have.
And I hate to do -- and I agree with 90 percent of a politician`s speech, I
hate to zero in on that spot, but this was too important speech.
That was decimated by Senator Paul Thurmond in South Carolina when he got
up and said there is absolutely no honor expressed by this flag.
He denied all of those positive emotional attachments that the south has
had to that flag.
SMITH: Indeed, and as well he should. The flag is nothing less than a
symbol of white supremacy.
And I think if we think about it as anything less, then we start to qualify
it and just kind of you know -- and that`s how it slid by in our society as
an accepted --
O`DONNELL: And --
SMITH: Thing on hats and on belt buckles --
O`DONNELL: And it was why it was raised in the first place --
SMITH: Right --
O`DONNELL: On that day in 1963 in Alabama, George Wallace was doing it to
say nothing but we will defy you on this.
SMITH: Yes, and it serves as a -- as a -- as a -- as a flying affront to
the lives of black people in that state and elsewhere.
And as long as we pretend like it`s something different, then it`s never --
the problems that underlie, they`re the problems that that flag seeks to
maintain in our society will never be solved, will never be fully addressed
O`DONNELL: Ryan Cooper, your reaction to the political importance of what
Nikki Haley did for the Republican presidential field.
COOPER: I agree she definitely hedged to some degree. However, I do give
her a great deal of credit.
And I think this reveals something very interesting about internal
Republican politics because, you know, what she started -- there wasn`t any
-- there -- a whole bunch of different conservative politicians were all
running for cover on this.
People who didn`t -- nobody would have noticed probably if people in
Mississippi hadn`t jumped on this one, too. But it was suddenly -- all of
it, you know, it -- that`s already gone in Mississippi.
And so, I think that, that reveals that the underlying structure, so to
speak, of the -- of the southern strategy has been rotting from the inside
for a long time.
And all it took was, you know, just somebody pulling out a couple of bricks
and it all just crumbled all at once.
And I think, you know, it`s a -- it`s a symbolic act for now, but I think
in ten or twenty years, this could be a real turning point, I think,
considering, you know, for how Republicans think about race and history,
you know, moving forward.
O`DONNELL: Ryan Cooper, thank you very much for joining us. And Sherrilyn
Ifill, Jelani Cobb and Jamil Smith, thank you for joining us tonight.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you.
O`DONNELL: Up next, the prosecutor who listened to Dzhokhar Tsarnaev`s
confession and apology in a Boston courtroom today.
O`DONNELL: Today for the first time some victims of the Boston bombing
heard directly from Dzhokhar Tsarnaev before he was officially sentenced to
death. Tsarnaev began by thanking his attorneys and family saying, quote,
"They made my life the last two years very easy."
Then he said, "The Prophet Mohammed, peace and blessings be upon him, said
that if you do not, if you are not merciful to Allah`s creation, Allah will
not be merciful to you. So I`d like to now apologize to the victims, to
After Tsarnaev spoke, Federal Judge George O`Toole spoke to him directly
saying, "What will be remembered is that you murdered and maimed innocent
people, and that you did it willfully and intentionally. You did it on
purpose. You tried to justify it to yourself by redefining what it is to
be an innocent person so that you could convince yourself that Martin
Richard was not innocent, that Lingzi Lu was not innocent, and the same for
Krystal Campbell. And Sean Collier. And therefore they could be, should
Joining us now for an exclusive interview, one of the prosecutors in the
case, Aloke Chakravarty, an assistant U.S. attorney for the district of
Mr. Chakravarty, what was your reaction to hearing Mr. Tsarnaev speak? And
is that the first time you`ve heard his voice?
ALOKE CHAKRAVARTY, ASSISTANT U.S. ATTORNEY: It`s not the first time I`ve
heard his voice. And, you know, we spent a lot of time through jury
selection and through the trial in his presence. And you get your sense of
someone when you`re in their proximity. But more importantly, we have
investigated him and his entire constellation of friends and family for
over two years. So in many ways, I may have known him better than I have
known any other defendant that I have ever prosecuted.
O`DONNELL: Now --
CHAKRAVARTY: That being said, anytime -- I`m sorry, anytime a defendant
speaks, you know, there`s always some mystery that`s being solved because
you always want to know what they are thinking.
O`DONNELL: And so I was up there in Cambridge days after the bombing,
talking to high school classmates of his. They were showing me his high
school yearbook. I`m sure you spoke to a bunch of them and interviewed a
bunch of them. And from them, I`m sure you heard, as I did, a story of
this well-liked kid in high school but you had to figure out the story of
how he became the bomber.
Does the -- did the root eventually make sense to you? Could you trace it?
Could you see how it happened?
CHAKRAVARTY: I think we did and I think we presented a lot of that. And I
think, as even the judge said at the sentencing today, to the extent that
there was a siren song of some jihadi misleaders, as he called them, around
the world who attract people like the defendant who wants to be attracted
to it, then, you know, there is some ideology, there`s propaganda, there`s
materials that they can consume.
And as we argued at trial and as the evidence showed, you know, in many
ways it doesn`t matter what it was that ultimately flipped the switch for
him that he wanted to pursue that. It`s clear that he did. It`s clear he
internalized it and believed it. And I think what we heard today from his
statements echoes the fact that he still believes it. And, you know, as
the U.S. attorney said shortly after the -- after the sentence, you know,
what`s stark about what the defendant said, in addition to the thanking
everybody on his team and talking about himself and what Islam meant to
him, was what he didn`t say.
He didn`t, you know, talk about renouncing his actions. He didn`t talk
about whether his actions were justified or not. It was simply the human
recognition that over the last six months he has seen the suffering that he
O`DONNELL: One of defense lawyers said today that they and Tsarnaev
offered to plead guilty and apologize at the beginning of this, but you and
your team would not accept that guilty plea.
CHAKRAVARTY: There is some truth to what the attorneys said, but as often
happens with attorneys, maybe not the complete story. Conversations
between attorneys during a criminal case are confidential. And especially
O`DONNELL: But they`ve released --
CHAKRAVARTY: -- this magnitude.
O`DONNELL: They`ve released you from that by bringing up the
conversations. They have completely released you. There`s nothing to
prevent you from telling us what went on in those conversations.
CHAKRAVARTY: Well, I`m not sure I would agree with that but even if I was
at liberty to, and I`m not sure I am, you know, there is a very elaborate
and detailed process within the Department of Justice before a decision to
both engage in a plea discussion or a death penalty decision is made. And
that`s a solemn process that requires ultimate confidentiality. And it`s
for that reason that, you know, we don`t want to break a precedent or
create a precedent, I should say, by talking about something that might
compromise the ability in the future for those decisions to be made in an
apolitical way, in a way that is based on the facts and not based on
emotion or based on what somebody`s political sentiment might be. And so I
think it`s important to respect that.
O`DONNELL: Aloke Chakravarty, thank you very much for joining us tonight.
I really appreciate it.
CHAKRAVARTY: Thank you.
O`DONNELL: Up next, two more people who were in that courtroom today,
including the Watertown chief of police whose officers were in that gun
battle with the Tsarnaev brothers that night in Watertown.
And later, we have new developments in the hunt for those escaped convicts
in New York state. Another prison employee is arrested tonight.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LYNN JULIAN, BOSTON BOMBING SURVIVOR: He went on to give a sort of Oscar-
type speech thanking the judge, and thanking the jury, and thanking his
legal team and those who couldn`t be here and his family for testifying,
and making, and I quote, "making my life easy for the past two years."
Well, our lives have been anything but easy. And our lives will never be
the same again. I regret having ever wanted to him hear speak because what
he said showed no remorse, no regret, and no empathy for what he`s done to
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Joining us now, Ed Deveau, police chief in Watertown,
Massachusetts, and Garrett Quinn, a reporter for "Boston" magazine. He`s
been in the courtroom every day.
Ed Deveau, your officers were commended today specifically by Judge O`Toole
in his remarks talking about how days after the bombing, as he said,
Watertown police officers put their lives on the line in that shootout on
Laurel Street. And to be in that courtroom today, to hear Dzhokhar
Tsarnaev confessed. I`m going to read what he said. Our audience hasn`t
heard this yet.
He said in his written statement, "Immediately after the bombing, for which
I am guilty of, if there`s any lingering doubt about that, let there be no
more. I did it along with my brother."
What was that moment like for you, Ed, hearing the actual specific
ED DEVEAU, WATERTOWN, MASSACHUSETTS, POLICE CHIEF: Well, it was
disappointing. I mean, it rang hollow to me, Lawrence. You know, it was
too little in two years too late for me in my offices. You know, his
comments were immediately after. Well, the marathon bombings happened on
Monday. And then there was Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. Sean Collier
was killed Thursday night.
So if he was remorseful, Sean should be still alive today. Watertown
should have never happened. The gunfight, my officers` lives at risk, my
community at risk. So I really didn`t buy too much into what he had to say
O`DONNELL: Garrett Quinn, what did he sound like? This was the first time
anyone other than law enforcement was hearing his voice.
GARRETT QUINN, REPORTER, BOSTON MAGAZINE: He had a very Russian sounding
accent and I think many people were taken aback at the strength of it, to
be quite honest. I was -- there was a lot of speculation as to whether or
not he would actually speak. And I think the majority of the courtroom was
astonished that he chose to speak.
O`DONNELL: And I have to say it when you read it, which is my only
opportunity is to read it, there`s no audio of this, it does read in spots,
like English as a second language, other parts of it are extremely fluent.
And Allah is present throughout. And I want to read one section of it,
which -- and this is a part of apparently why people in the courtroom
today, including victims for the most part were not convinced of his
He said, "I prayed for Allah to bestow his mercy upon the deceased, those
affected in the bombing and their families. Allah says in the Quran that
with every hardship there is relief. I pray for your relief, for your
healing, for your well being, for your strength."
And Ed Deveau, that isn`t an expression of regret, "I wish I never did
this, I understand now how horrible this is."
DEVEAU: None at all, Lawrence. He said a lot, he referred to Allah a lot.
But he did not renounce the terrorist acts that he and his brother
committed. I think that`s what we wanted to hear and have, you know, the
nation hear that around the world saying, what I did was wrong. He didn`t
say that. You know, it was a lot of, you know, rhetoric if I was
concerned. And he never really hit home.
And then you heard all of the survivors talk about it as well. I mean,
they had their lives challenged from now on. They`re remarkable people and
they`re going to do great things down the road, but they`re challenged
because of what he and his brother did. And there was nothing that was
said tonight that made me feel that he was legitimately remorseful.
O`DONNELL: He talked about it being the month of Ramadan, a month of
forgiveness. And he said this, he said, "I ask Allah to have mercy upon me
and my brother and my family. I ask Allah to bestow his mercy upon those
present here today and Allah knows best. Those deserving of his mercy."
And, Garrett, I have the feeling that people in the courtroom believed that
he thinks that he is worthy of mercy.
QUINN: Well, as you noted, he said god and Allah many times. In fact, if
you go through the whole speech, he mentioned God or Allah over a dozen
times. And this speech to the courtroom is really one of four options
before him, I think. One was he could say nothing. Two was he could
apologize completely, renounce everything. Three was he could go on a
tirade and denounce the United States and praise Islam, and four was
something in between. I think that`s what we ended up getting today.
O`DONNELL: And Ed Deveau, when he says I`m sorry in here, the way it reads
to me as I read it and re-read it, was it has the feeling of I`m sorry.
I`m sorry this had to happen to you but I had to do this. In much the same
way this killer in South Carolina was saying to those people, I have to do
this. I`m the one who has to do this.
DEVEAU: I agree. I mean, you know, the note on the boat, Lawrence, tells
more of what he was really thinking when these acts were committed than
what he had to say in court today. And, you know, he talked a little bit
of asking for forgiveness but it just ran, you know, hollow to everybody in
that courtroom. I think there was great disappointment. You know, so --
you know, he just didn`t get it across anything where anybody was feeling
sorry for him today.
O`DONNELL: Go ahead, Garrett, quickly.
QUINN: To Ed`s point, I think the hollowness of this speech from him can
be found in the way he carried himself throughout the courtroom. Not once
did he show any remorse or any type of emotion. And you saw that even
during his speeches today. He barely looked at the people that were giving
victim impact statements.
O`DONNELL: Chief Ed Deveau and Garrett Quinn, thank you very much.
DEVEAU: Thank you, Lawrence.
O`DONNELL: Coming up, a live report from upstate New York where another
prison employee has been arrested tonight in connection with that prison
O`DONNELL: We have breaking news tonight. Another employee at the upstate
New York prison where two inmates escaped on June 6th has been arrested.
Gene Palmer was a guard at the Clinton Correctional Facility and worked in
the cell block where Richard Matt and David Sweat escaped 19 days ago.
Prison seamstress Joyce Mitchell has already been arrested and told
investigators that she smuggled escape tools to the prisoners inside raw
ground beef. Gene Palmer then allegedly took that meat to one of the
prisoners, Richard Matt.
The Clinton County district attorney said it isn`t unusual for prisoners to
have hot plates or other cooking equipment in their cells to grill raw meat
and other provisions. Gene Palmer`s attorney said this tonight.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ANDREW BROCKWAY, GENE PALMER`S ATTORNEY: We intend to plead not guilty.
He passed a polygraph test and the district attorney also made mention of
that yesterday that he passed the polygraph test. He had no knowledge that
these two individuals were going to attempt an escape. He has admitted to
doing -- he did pass the hamburger meat. He shouldn`t have done it. He`s
apologized for it. We look forward to his day in court.
And in the meantime, he will continue to cooperate in any way he can to aid
in the capture of these two dangerous individuals. He had no knowledge
that there were any contraband, other than the meat itself. He had no
knowledge that Joyce Mitchell had hidden contraband inside of the meat.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Joining us now from Owls Head, New York, MSNBC`s Adam Reiss.
Adam, what`s the latest there tonight?
ADAM REISS, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT: Well, a lot of leads, a lot of dead ends.
They have searched all around this region. Yesterday they were in Mountain
View. Today they were back there swarming the area. A lot of manpower
later this afternoon in Malone, 10 miles from here. They had a tip that
there was two people in a house. They swarmed that area. They surrounded
that house. It turned out to be nothing.
So a lot of leads, a lot of dead ends. All they have is last Saturday that
cabin where they located the DNA. They told us today, there might be now a
bloody sock related to them, as well. In addition a shotgun that maybe
missing from that cabin. That would mean these men are armed and
dangerous, out on the run. Day 19. Still not one sighting, Lawrence.
O`DONNELL: Adam, is there anything that they expect to get from this --
the new person who`s been arrested? Anymore information?
REISS: Well, we`ve already learned a lot of his involvement in the plot
and what he did. He says it`s really Joyce Mitchell who is the one that
was manipulative and manipulating people to help out in this escape plot.
But they say the investigation is certainly continuing and they will lead
it to wherever it goes.
But I can tell you, it`s kind of ironic that you have, possibly tonight, if
he doesn`t make bail, you`ll have two prison officials in jail and the two
escapees still on the run.
O`DONNELL: Adam Reiss, thank you very much for joining us tonight.
Coming up, details about an MSNBC special report.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: A decade ago politicians ran
against LGBT rights. Today they`re running towards them.
(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)
Right? Because they`ve learned what the rest of the country knows. That
marriage equality is about our civil rights.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: What drives white supremacists like Dylann Roof who murdered
nine people at Mother Emanuel Church in Charleston last week? We`ll
explore that in a special tomorrow night called "ERASING HATE" which looks
at one man`s experience in that world and the drive to now erase every
trace of that hatred from his life.
Here`s a preview.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Broke and without a job, Brian had little hope of erasing his
racist tattoos. Enter an unlikely ally. The Southern Poverty Law Center
or SPLC is a nonprofit civil rights organization that tracks extremist
groups and fights them in court.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Brian contacted us because we had published an article
about the Bin Lander Social Club which was an organization that he was
O`DONNELL: SPLC investigators Joe Roy and Laurie Wood asked to meet with
Brian and Julie.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When we first met them we were talking obviously about
my facial tattoos because that always comes up in conversations. And I was
actually looking on eBay at the time for dermal acid to burn them off my
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When I first heard about that I was terrified that they
would even consider that.
O`DONNELL: The Southern Poverty Law Center offered to cover the cost of
Brian`s tattoo removal procedures.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If I could prevent one other kid from making the same
mistakes I did, if I can prevent one other family from having to go through
the same crap that I put my family through, maybe I can redeem myself and
maybe it`ll be worth it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: "ERASING HATE" airs tomorrow night at 10:00 p.m. Chris Hayes
is up next.
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