'The Melissa Harris-Perry Show' for Saturday, October 31st, 2015
Read the transcript to the Saturday show
Show: MELISSA HARRIS-PERRY
Date: October 31, 2015
Guest: Anthony Roman, Dr. Jacqui Lewis, Patrick Egan, David Zirin, Raul
Reyes, Sayu Bhojwani, Hillary Mann-Leverett, Mikey Kay, Joshua Dubois,
Carla Shedd, Francine Sherman, Gregory Thomas, Gloria Malone, Hyunhee Chin,
Tee Emanuel, Brittany Braithwaite
MELISSA HARRIS-PERRY, MSNBC ANCHOR: Good morning. I`m Melissa Harris-
Perry. We have a lot to cover this morning including the latest on the
presidential race, the debate over immigration reform and the shocking
classroom confrontation in South Carolina. But we begin with the breaking
news about Russian jetliner crashing into Egypt`s Sinai Peninsula. And my
colleague Richard Lui joins us right now. Richard?
RICHARD LUI, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT: Yes, thanks, Melissa. Good morning to
you. Let`s get folks at home updated on the latest that we know about that
plane crash. Officials have now confirmed just within the last two hours
there are no survivors of this plane crash. That Russian jetliner carrying
224 people taking off from Egypt`s Sharm el Sheikh Airport this morning
headed for St. Petersburg in Russia, but disappearing about 25 minutes
after takeoff. There are reports that the pilot requested an emergency
landing before that flight vanished. Now, Air Force planes later did spot
wreckage from the aircraft. An Airbus A-321 in the mountainous area of the
Sinai Peninsula. Crews have begun recovering bodies from the scene,
Russian officials saying most of those on board were Russian tourists,
including 17 children. Following this story for us all this morning is
NBC`s Tom Costello in Washington. And Tom, what are we learning right now
at this hour?
TOM COSTELLO, MSNBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Well, we know that this plane
apparently has experienced some sort of a very sudden deceleration and a
very sudden - it happened at 28,000 feet. And the speed here is what is
particularly interesting here, Richard. 404 knots is what it was traveling
at, at about 33,000 feet. And then suddenly, within about 20 seconds, it
went to 62 knots. So a very dramatic reduction in speed. And this plane,
as you know, this is an Airbus A-321, which is really a work horse stretch
version of the A-320 family that`s flown around the world. This flight was
on its way from Sharm el Sheikh to St. Petersburg, Russia, packed with, we
believe, Russian tourists when it went down there in the Sinai.
By the way, the Israeli military offering assistance to the Russians as
well as to the Egyptians, but so far the Egyptians are the ones who are
handling this recovery operation. Egyptian forces on the ground reporting
that there were no survivors. And that apparently every -- the wreckage is
in at least two big pieces and then spread across the desert floor there.
217 passengers and 7 crew members on board. And now as this investigation
will begin, the key will be for them to identify the black boxes. We`re
told that they may have one of them already. But the flight data recorder
and the cockpit voice recorder. To then piece together what happened. And
that flight data recorder is going to be critical because it would have
recorded hundreds, and perhaps thousands of pieces of data, data coming off
of the cockpit which would tell them accurate headings, actual readings
about heading, about altitude, about speed, about whether the plane was in
a nose up or nose down configuration, and how far did this plane break up
in air or did it in fact stay intact until hitting the ground.
An awful lot of questions here that we need answers to. The cockpit voice
recorder captured, of course, the last few seconds of the conversation
between the co-pilot and the pilot. There was one report that the pilot
had reported radioed. He was having some sort of technical problem, but
that`s the best translation we have at the moment, Richard.
LUI: Tom, I know that you have been tack-teaming and talking with Ron Mott
in London who has also been covering this story throughout this morning for
NBC News and MSNBC. Let`s get to Ron in London. Ron, also what you`ve
been reporting about are the families and how they have been learning about
the details as they come in.
RON MOTT, MSNBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Right. It`s a devastating day,
obviously, for the folks who are in Russia waiting on their loved ones to
come back. Most of those folks going on vacation. A very popular tourist
spot, Sharm el Sheikh. And I can tell you, though, in terms of the
investigation on the Russian front, it is moving along rather rapidly here.
We`re getting word via Reuters that the transport agency that regulates air
travel in Russia is at the offices of this airline in Moscow and have
apparently seized some documents. We can also tell you that last year this
airline when it had its last safety inspection in March of `14 had some
violations and the government gave them some time to correct them and
apparently the airline met those deadline - those deadlines and was able to
get back up in the air. But as Tom and I spoke off and on the air today,
that something catastrophic apparently happened at altitude with this
flight crew and this airplane that seems to have caused a sudden pitch
control problem, where the captain and the co-pilot could not control the
up and down motion of this aircraft because of data returns we`ve seen from
flight radar 24 show that the plane oscillating essentially in those last
few seconds. I would imagine being a passenger on that flight would
probably be pretty scary to have an aircraft going through that kind of
movement on the way to the ground. And then, of course, we know that the
radar control -- radar contact, was lost before the flight hit the ground.
And so whether there was a break-up of the aircraft, we don`t know. One
final point I wanted to point out that, there apparently was, according to
our producer in Cairo, a post-crash fire and many of the bodies succumbed
to fire as well. So a lot more details coming out as we go forward in the
morning, the afternoon. Richard.
LUI: Ronald, Tom. Also joining us at this hour, Anthony Roman, a former
pilot and CEO and founder of Roman and Associates, an investigation/risk
management firm. And Anthony will look at this. Tom was talking about
that those recorders. They will have hundreds of pieces of information.
Ron was talking about that oscillation. Will be able to confirm from if
those are intact what exactly did happen, what they were doing in front,
what was happening in back with the equipment?
ANTHONY ROMAN, FMR. COMMERCIAL AIRLINE PILOT: You know, these oscillations
are a real problem because once they start, they build on themselves and
can result in a stall configuration. Which would explain that very low air
speed within 20 seconds after it reached 33,000 feet or so. It`s basically
called a full-joyed (ph) oscillation. And it begins like this and as the
aircraft builds momentum, as they get bigger, it reaches an angle of
attack, at which the aircraft stalls and then it begins to go down
precipitously. So, that may explain what happened there. But those flight
data recorders on the A-320 series are robust. They`re enhanced like data
recorders with an increased number of parameters that it monitors. So the
answer`s going to be there.
LUI: Ron, also part of this is as they go through the debris on the ground
and, you know, they`re going to be looking at where is what, right, and
that`s going to tell them potentially more of this story, that at this
moment, we don`t have all the details on.
MOTT: Correct. If that`s for me, Richard, yes. I mean this investigation
is going to take quite some time. Obviously, the first matter of business
is to secure the scene and to get to the victims first before you turn it
over to the officials to start piecing together exactly what happened with
the aircraft. But as we mentioned, there was post-crash fire.
MOTT: As airplane had just departed Sharm el Sheikh, so there was a lot of
fuel aboard that aircraft. And as your expert is just mentioning there,
something happened at altitude. The one thing as a pilot I would wonder
is, as this flight at altitude probably has the autopilot engaged, so -
inputs that the crew is making in terms of altitude or speed or heading is
simply done by a dial. You`re not using the control yoke to control the
plane at that point. There are just dial inputs as you are getting
instructions from air traffic control.
Now, when they were turned over from Egyptian air traffic control
authorities over to Cyprus, they did not make the handoff, so the crew did
not report into that new handoff and that`s shortly thereafter we saw this
LUI: Covering this for us all this morning, and throughout the day - on
MSNBC. NBC`s Ron Mott. Thank you, so much, NBC`s Tom Costello, Anthony
Roman. Thank you all three for that. Melissa, we`ll have much more on the
breaking news throughout the morning, but we`ll throw it back to you now
for the rest of the show.
HARRIS-PERRY: Thanks, Richard. And we will keep checking in with you.
We`re going to take a short break right now. But when we come back, why
you can thank immigration for an amazing World Series.
HARRIS-PERRY: Welcome back. And we`re going to pick up our coverage this
morning with sports news from late last night. The New York Mets are back
home and bouncing back, defeating the Kansas City Royals 9-3 in game three
of the World Series. A lot of enthusiasm on my set about this. Game for
is tonight at city field with the Royals leading the series two games to
The last and only time the Royals clinched the title was in 1985, winning
over their interstate rival, the St. Louis Cardinals. And the following
year, the Mets won it all, beating the Boston Red Sox in the sevenths and
deciding game of the World Series, meaning that these two teams want it and
they want it bad. On one side, we have a young arsenal of New York flame
throwers that threw pitches of 95 miles per hour. More often this season
than any other team. Versus a Kansas City roster that is older, more
experienced and knows how to hit heat.
It all began on Tuesday when the royals outlasted the Mets in a 14-inning
marathon that hit the books as the longest game won by innings in World
Series history. And that wasn`t the only historical tidbit. As Nerdland
favorite Dave Zirin wrote in "The Nation," "We are presented for the first
time with a fall classic pitting two teams that never fielded all white
You know, it`s a point that reminds us how sports history is American
history. "The Star Spangled Banner" was sung at a World Series game for
the first time in 1918 during World War I when Major League players were
being drafted into service. In 1947 when Brooklyn dodger Hall of Fame
infielder Jackie Robinson stepped on - became the first African-American in
the 20th century to play baseball in the major leagues, smashing the color
line, a segregation practice dating back to the 19th century. And then in
1955, the debut of Roberto Clemente of Puerto Rico, aka, the great one, who
amassed 3,000 career hits in nearly 250 homeruns, playing the kind of
baseball that turned the right fielder into a symbol for the nation`s
growing Latino population. And the first foreign born player to be elected
into the Hall of Fame.
Possibly no other sport echoes U.S. immigration patterns as well as
baseball. MLB is a $9 billion industry that aggressively courts foreign-
born talent. Close to 30 percent of the players on MLBs opening day
rosters this season were born outside the U.S. The Dominican Republic has
topped the list each year since MLB began tracking the numbers ten years
ago. And the percentage of foreign born minor league players is nearly 50
percent. As for the two teams now vying for a championship, 40 percent of
the Royals active roster is foreign born. For the Mets, 28 percent.
But say the phrase immigrant labor in the context of politics instead of a
Major League ballpark, and the conversation changes dramatically. During
this week`s GOP debate, the discussion focused on H1-B visas. According to
the U.S. Department of Labor, quote, "the intents of the H-1b provisions is
to help employers who cannot otherwise obtain needed business skills and
abilities from the U.S. workforce by authorizing the temporary employment
of qualified individuals who are not otherwise authorized to work in the
These days, H-1b is largely about filling high-tech roles, science,
engineering and IT. Just take a listen to two GOP candidates.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP (R) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I am all in favor of keeping
these talented people here so they can go to work in Silicon Valley.
MARCO RUBIO (R) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Our legal immigration system from
now on has to be merit based. It has to be based on what skills you have,
what you can contribute economically and most important of all, on whether
or not you`re coming here to become an American, not just live in America,
but be an American.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: So, did you catch it? It comes down to a kind of foreign
born respectability politics. The ones we want and those we don`t. And
although I`ve got to say, maybe we don`t even know what we really want and
need. Because immigrants make up nearly 50 percent of workers in private
households and nearly a fifth in construction, food services and
agriculture. Immigrant labor is the foundation of the American economy.
But listening to Wednesday`s debate, you`d think the only thing the country
needs from immigrants are skills that are the tech equivalent to throwing a
Joining me now, Reverend Dr. Jacqui Lewis, senior minister at Middle
Collegiate Church. Raul Reyes, attorney and nbcnews.com contributor.
Patrick Egan, associate professor of politics and public policy at New York
University. And Sayu Bhojwani who is founding director of the New American
Leaders project. And joining me and my cold from Washington, D.C. is Dave
Zirin, sports editor of "The Nation" magazine. Nice to see you this
DAVID ZIRIN: Great to see you, Melissa.
HARRIS-PERRY: So, you know, when we think of Major League sports, we
rarely discuss it as immigrant labor. And I guess I wonder what might
happen to our public debate if in fact we did talk about it that way.
ZIRIN: I think it would expand dramatically. It reminds me of during the
first part of the Black Lives Matter movement. When fans in St. Louis held
up signs that said "Black lives matter on and off the field." In other
words, if you like us in uniforms, then you need to actually respect us
when we`re outside the stadiums and not just entertaining you. It would be
a similar dynamic if this was raised in Major League Baseball. If you are
liking the World Series, then you probably like Johnny Cueto who is from
the Dominican Republic. Then you probably like Alcides Escobar from
Venezuela. On the Mets side, a folk here in New York right now is Bartolo
Colon, the only Major League player in the World Series older than me. So,
I look at him and I think, maybe I can play in the World Series. He still
gives me that hope. Bartolo Colon also from the Dominican Republic. And I
think it`s important that people recognize that part of Major League
Baseball, because it`s also about recognizing some of the worst excesses of
globalization. Of the idea of going into the Dominican Republic. Hyper
exploitation of young Dominican kids dreams to play Major League baseball.
99 percent get thrown on the scrap heap. So, respecting that 1 percent who
was able to make it, to play Major League baseball, it`s also about
respecting the 99 percent who are left behind who dream of a better life.
HARRIS-PERRY: So, Dave, stick with us. You know, Raul, part of what`s
interesting to me here is that this isn`t just immigrant labor, these are
often precisely the immigrants, black, brown, Spanish speaking immigrants
that we hear most often denigrated in our public discourse around
immigration. And yet, when I looked back at some data about high-skilled
and highly educated immigrant labor. In fact, there`s a 2008 report from
the Migration Policy Institute saying that if you are higher skilled and
highly educated from Africa or from Latin American, they actually have
trouble finding jobs. Whereas those from Asia and Europe are able to find
these jobs. So I wonder if it`s really about high skill or something else?
RAUL REYES, ATTORNEY: No, it`s really about the way the H-1b, the visa
program has evolved. It`s really about serving the needs of American
corporations. And basically, exploiting everyone else. And what many
people don`t realize is an H-1b visa, it`s a, specifically designated as a
nonimmigrant visa. You can only stay on that type of visa, if you renew
it, for six years. So, basically they want people to come here, work, they
often promise that they will help them obtain permanent residency. Rarely
happens. They work for far less than their American counterparts. And
then they are sent home. And these workers themselves are exploited
because they`re tied to the company they`re working for. American workers
And also, it`s very interesting that this came up in the Republican debate.
Because H-1b visas in the context of our whole immigration system and
policy, it`s a very small part. There`s only 65,000 allocated a year with
another 20,000 for people with masters. You know, contrast to the 11
million undocumented people we have. And even for that 65,000 people, I
think this year, almost a quarter of a million people applied. I mean
record numbers of people applied. And yet, that`s the only people that the
GOP wanted to talk about at the debate, where the quote/unquote "good
immigrants" who are going to work and then go home.
HARRIS-PERRY: Well, I have to say that my favorite thing about this
particular piece of immigration law is that it is both high skilled people
HARRIS-PERRY: So, for some very bizarre reason, models actually ...
REYES: It`s a talent.
HARRIS-PERRY: Yeah, but they have the highest yield. Because far fewer
people apply to be a model. So, something like 50 percent of them actually
end up getting the H-1B -- just the most bizarre thing ever that it is like
the model visa. And look, I`d love to put it on the GOP. I`d love to say,
this is all GOP, but it`s not, right? I mean I just want to say that good
versus bad immigrant thing, we actually even heard this from President
Obama in a conversation he was having about deportation. So, let`s take a
listen to the president back in November.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: Over the past six
years, deportations of criminals are up 80 percent. And that`s why we`re
going to keep focusing enforcement resources on actual threats to our
security. Felons, not families. Criminals. Not children. Gang members,
not a mom who`s working hard to provide for her kids.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: I saw you take a deep breath there. What was that for?
SAYU BHOJWANI, FOUNDING DIR, NEW AMERICAN LEADERS PROJECT: Well, I think
it`s part of the narrative we`re being sold. That it`s not just skilled
immigrants, but it`s tied to this keep America great. But the immigration
and economy, immigration and fences and security. The difference between
that narratives is that we are willing to accept those immigrants who are
going to help keep America at the forefront of sports, at the forefront of
certain sectors. But caring for our children and caring for the elderly is
an equally valuable job to creating the next banking app. So if we can get
to a place where the conversation becomes about immigration and immigrants
as part of all of American society, then that would be a much more nuanced
and, frankly, a more American conversation.
But the conversation we hear, particularly in the GOP, and actually during
all the debates is the palatable conversation. Because if you can tie
immigration to the American economy, then you have the year of, you know,
these Americans who apparently don`t include immigrants.
HARRIS-PERRY: Dave, let me go back to you on this, because it does feel to
me like this question of sports goes right to this American identity
question. And I was also looking at data suggesting that of the kind of
MLB big fights that have happened, they are consistently happening between
foreign-born players and those who are American born often around this
language of whether or not you really know how to play the American game.
ZIRIN: Yeah. I mean, of course, it`s absurd because people from Latin
America have been playing in the major leagues for over a century. There
is a terrific book called "Playing America`s Game" by Professor Adrian
Burgos. Everyone should read that. And it shows that the roots of the
sport in the Western hemisphere are in the Americas, not in the United
States. And that`s largely a myth spun. And the reason why it`s in so
much of Latin America has to do with the U.S. Army. And the ways, in which
a lot of these nations were conquered.
So, it runs deep in the vein of the Americas, but the thing about
respectability politics set my antenna up because it reminded me that, you
know, respectability politics, it can`t save you at the end of the day. If
we`ve learned nothing else from this last year of talking about police
brutality, it`s the limits of that. And I was thinking about the players
for the Arizona Diamondbacks who have been advised by their union and the
team about what to do if they`re stopped by police, because what was left
of SB-1070, as well as Major League players who play in the Arizona Cactus
League. They all have instructions of what to do if stopped by police for
fear that they`re going to get caught up in the anti-immigrant dragnet.
So, this affects Major League players, too, when you have this
HARRIS-PERRY: Dave Zirin just speaking all the truth from Washington, D.C.
Respectability politics cannot save you.
Up next, we have a new speaker of the Houses promising a new way of doing
things. But does Speaker Paul Ryan`s agenda begin with the promise to do
absolutely nothing? And we`ll talk about that when we get back.
HARRIS-PERRY: The House officially has a new speaker. Here he is on
Thursday with constant Republican Paul Ryan. Now Speaker of the House, a
fiscal conservative who was the GOP nominee for vice president in 2012 and
who now seeks to quell, a quote, "broken chamber."
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. PAUL RYAN (R) WISCONSIN: The House is broken. We`re not solving
problems. We`re adding to them. And I am not interested in laying blame.
We are not settling scores. We are wiping the slate clean.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: Reportedly, one thing that will not get done any time soon
under the new speaker is immigration reform. This week, "The National
Review" reported that Congressman Ryan signed off on a letter promising
members of the House Freedom Caucus for the speaker he will not, quote,
bring up any immigration legislation so long as Barack Obama is president
and that he would not allow any immigration bill to reach the House floor
unless the majority of GOP members supported it. Congressman Ryan`s office
did not return multiple requests for a statement. This is real? I mean as
a matter of politics, this is a real issue. We see that, you know,
Republicans are more likely to not want immigration reform. Like voters,
that sort of thing. So, how do we get past that to the reality of people`s
PATRICK EGAN, ASSOC. PROF., NEW YORK UNIVERSITY: Yes, it`s really a shame
because you`ve got a situation now where something like 60 to 66 percent of
Americans support some kind of path to citizenships. And actually, that`s
a lot of Republicans as well. So, it`s one of many issues right now on the
political agenda that is blocked by partisan polarization in Washington and
our institutions, which make it very difficult to do anything, unless
Ryan`s insistence that nothing`s going to happen while we`ve had a
Democratic president means that we probably are not going to see much
movement on this until 2017 at the earliest.
HARRIS-PERRY: Now, you know, at least one of my producers, when that news
hit, just sent me emails like I am having all the rage about this. This
idea that it just definitely isn`t going to happen.
REV. DR. JACQUI LEWIS, SR. MINISTER, MIDDLE COLLEGIATE CHURCH: One of the
things that I`m hoping is that all our faith-based institutions will make
this an election issue. That we will have conversations about especially
because, especially in the Judeo-Christian scriptures, there`s this whole
sense that, you know, you were once strangers. You were once strangers in
the land. And because you were, you must be welcoming to strangers, kind
to strangers. So, what does our faith compel us to do in terms of raising
these issues? And at the actual people level. Like, we know somebody in
the congregate -- I met a little guy the other day named Jesus. A waiter
in a restaurant in New Jersey. Waiting on me. Was caught up in some
Mexican cartel things with his family. Is here under an asylum. 4 1/2
years, still waiting for citizenship. And as soon as he started telling us
his name was Jesus, he was playful about the whole faith thing.
LEWIS: Well, Jesus was an immigrant from Bethlehem doing his ministry in
Palestine. Nothing good can come out of Bethlehem. And look what good
came out of it.
LEWIS: So, I`m thinking about all the Jesuses, all the Marias, all these
children who have the possibility of healing our world, if we give them a
HARRIS-PERRY: So, it`s interesting, because even as you tell that story,
right? Which is this kind of compelling story, even taking us to the
scripture, I still worry about our good versus bad. Immigrant narrative
that emerges - and it`s in part actually, even if we think about DACA. You
know, activists themselves have used this as a way of getting what they can
through politically palatable.
BHOJWANI: You know, and I think what`s interesting about that letter and
the quotes that we saw is that on the one hand, there`s - it`s purely
obstructionist, right, we`re not going to do it while President Obama is
BHOJWANI: But then there`s this other piece, that unless the majority of
Republicans, so let`s get - let`s cover that base as well, because we know
that`s not going to happen. Even - not even in 2017. And back to your
question, Melissa, about what are we going to do in the absence? I think
what`s been happening is the faith community organizing. I think the other
thing that`s happening is that localities and states are take things into
their control. And on the one hand that can be very negative as we saw
with SB-110. But on the other hand, you know, you have in New York City
municipal I.D.s. That can happen, probably in Phoenix as well. All the
things that happen at the state level. Around driver`s licenses and pay
equity - I`m sorry, tuition equity.
BHOJWANI: And so, I think we`re not going to sit there waiting for
something to happen. Now, obviously, immigration reform has to be
addressed. But in the last three to four years as we`ve watched Congress
refuse to deal with this issue, the last thing I will say is that the fact
that it`s in the negotiation with the speaker is really, really, really
fascinating, right, because it means that people are scared. And they get
that this is an issue. And so I`ll take some hope in that.
HARRIS-PERRY: Is there any room for executive actions at this point?
EGAN: There is. You know, I think one thing that`s really happening
that`s blocking that, however, is it courts - looks like courts are going
to go after anything that the administration tries to do. So, we`re
probably - I think there`s very little wiggle room for the Obama
administration now. And it`s the kind of local and state responses to the
gridlock of Washington that we`d like to see any sort of action take place,
both on the conservative and liberal side between now and 2017.
HARRIS-PERRY: I have to say good-bye to you all. Thank you both for being
here. Jackie and Raul should be back a little bit later in the show.
But still to come this morning, the story behind the rise and the
redemption of Ben Carson. And up next, we`ll have an update on that
Russian passenger plane and the crash in the Sinai Peninsula.
LUI: And welcome back to MSNBC. We want to bring you the latest on the
breaking news that we`ve been following all morning here. The Russian
passenger plane that crashed in the Sinai Peninsula. The Russian embassy
in Egypt confirming no survivors. They just did that within the last two
or three hours. Now, the plane, it took off from Sharm el Sheikh Airport
en route to St. Petersburg, Russia. 217 passengers on board along with
seven crew members.
Egyptian officials say the pilot of the airliner had reported technical
difficulties and wanted to make an emergency landing. But about 25 minutes
after takeoff, air traffic controllers lost contact. Like to bring in
international affairs correspondent, pilot and former British senior
official Mikey Kay. Mikey, also just coming from the Associated Press
Egypt`s foreign minister saying they`re going to work very closely with
Russian officials. And that`s international collaboration as we know, then
they are bringing in forces and brains from all the over world to try to
find out what happened on the ground there.
MIKEY KAY, FMR. BRITISH SENIOR OFFICER: Yeah, whenever - whenever a board
of inquiry is convened of this nature, there are certain critical
components that need to be involved in that investigation. The first one
will be the design manufacturer. So it will be Airbus, so that`ll be
French officials involved there. The country with which - within which the
aircraft went down. Obviously, Egypt in this case, they will be
responsible for coordinating and running the investigation. And then
you`ve got Russia, a Russian operator, so Russian - Russian officials will
be heavily involved as well as all of those subject matter experts ...
LUI: Looking for these black boxes, looking at the size of the debris that
they might find?
KAY: Yeah, at the moment there are reports saying that the fuselage is
relatively intact, almost snapped in two. Which I think - which I think
gives us a number of clues when it comes to understanding what happened.
For example, if you look at MH-17, so anyone that`s sort of indicating
there might have been a shootdown, there is no credible evidence. But for
example, the MH-17 aircraft that was shot down over 30,000 feet by a Buk
missile system, the Dutch safety board concluded that not so long ago, that
was spread over 50 kilometers radius. If you look at the German Wings
Airbus that remained relatively intact and the debris field was spread over
three to four football fields.
LUI: 4:37 in the afternoon there in Egypt. When it hit night fall, do
they stop? Because they don`t have much more than a couple of hours there.
KAY: Well, I think the area which has come down as quite austere. It`s
kind of north of the most mountainous region on the Sinai Peninsula. The
Sinai is very mountainous. But there`s still elevation there in terms of
terrain. It`s very hot, it`s very arid. This is also an area that has an
insurgency in it. The Sinai province which is an affiliate of the Islamic
State has been targeting Egyptian soldiers in that region for all year.
It`s also actually gone into Cairo. So, these will be factors when the
Egyptian authorities and the officials will be setting up the perimeter ...
LUI: The security of those who are on the ground is what you`re saying?
KAY: Absolutely. And if it`s limited - then they will be allowed to look
by night. But it`s obviously got to vary on other security factors as
LUI: Any time concerning here? Of course, we were looking at the black
boxes in other crashes in the past?
KAY: There are all reports, I mean the black box is the critical. And
let`s break those down into two. You`ve got the flight data recorder and
then you`ve got the - voice recorder. They`re separate. We know from the
MH-370 they were never found. It look a long time for Asia Air for them to
be found because they landed in the ocean. But there are already reports
that these boxes have been identified. And they will be absolutely
critical to the subsequent investigation. Hopefully, there will be an
earlier, rather than later, conclusion of what happened.
LUI: National correspondent, pilot, former British senior official Mikey
Kay, thanks for giving us your perspective on what we know right now.
Stick with us. Back to Melissa Harris Perry right after this.
HARRIS-PERRY: The U.S. mission in Syria is about to get more complicated.
The White House announced Friday that a small contingent of Special
Operations Forces will be sent to northern Syria to work with opposition
fighters who are battling ISIS. But the White House insists the U.S.
Forces will play an advisory role. And they will not be engaging in direct
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOSH EARNEST, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: I think if we were envisioning
a combat operation, we probably would be contemplating more than 50 troops
on the ground. But because the responsibility they have is not to lead the
charge to take a hill, but rather, to offer advice and assistance to those
local forces about the best way they can organize their efforts to take the
fight to ISIL or to take the hill inside of Syria. That is the role that
they will be playing.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: Joining me now from Washington, Hillary Mann-Leverett,
former State Department and White House Middle East adviser and author of
"Going to Tehran," also CEO of Strateger, a political risk consultancy.
So, Hillary, what do you make of this very small contingent, just 50 or so
individuals? How much of this is really an escalation?
HILLARY MANN-LEVERETT, FMR. STATE DEPT. AND WH MIDDLE EAST EXPERT: Well,
unfortunately, I think as the White House spokesman said later in his
briefing to the press, it really isn`t much of a change in the Obama
administration strategy, which is unfortunate, because the strategy for the
past four years has, I think, by all standards, really been a failure. But
it`s led to a massive death and destruction inside of Syria, the
neighboring states and massive refugee outflows. So, this is really I
think, unfortunately, more of the same. In addition to the 50 or so
Special Forces, they`ve also allocated another $100 million to Syrian
rebels to increase the fighting, increasing the bloodshed in Syria. So,
the strategy hasn`t gone well - for four years, and this is unfortunately
an indication of more of the same.
HARRIS-PERRY: Now, that said, the White House is also apparently
redoubling diplomatic efforts. Secretary of State Kerry saying that
there`s now a role also for Iran in those diplomatic efforts. So, how do
you see the kind of boots on the ground even if they are limited contingent
relating to those efforts?
MANN-LEVERETT: Well, they seem to be operating in parallel universes.
Secretary of State Kerry when briefing reporters in Vienna during these
very important diplomatic talks that do for the first time include Iran,
which is terribly tremendously significant. He said to reporters that he
was just made aware that the White House had finally -- had made the
decision to send the 50 Special Forces to Syria. So it seems like there is
a bit of disconnect between the diplomatic operation and the military
operation. The diplomatic piece is potentially a very significant silver
lining to an otherwise failed strategy. We saw Secretary Kerry with
President Obama`s support lead two years of intense negotiations with Iran
that came to this incredibly important deal with Iran. Hopefully,
secretary can do the same thing with Syria. But the military strategy the
White House is pursuing I think will impede his efforts rather than support
HARRIS-PERRY: You know, it`s the kind of military strategy that at least
initially, it seems like no one is happy. Either folks want many, many
more boots on the ground or are irritated that any are showing up there.
What`s your sense then of kind of the internal politics of this decision?
MANN-LEVERETT: Unfortunately, I think it`s a lowest common denominator
type of decision. To try to make - if not make everybody happy, at least
not make everybody completely unhappy or have the unhappiness spread across
the board. But we`ve seen the slippery slope strategy all over the world.
It never works. Whether it`s advisers to Vietnam, to the Contras in
Nicaragua, to Afghanistan, Syria. The intelligence support we`re giving to
Saudi Arabia and Yemen, it fails across the board. I think it is very much
a product of domestic infighting within not just the administration, but
Congress, the military, the intelligence agencies. And it`s a lowest
common denominator approach that does not work. Fortunately for President
Obama, he does have Secretary Kerry who is dogged in his pursuit of
diplomacy. That`s really the only way forward here.
HARRIS-PERRY: Thank you to Hillary Mann-Leverett in Washington, D.C.
Appreciate you joining us.
MANN-LEVERETT: Thank you.
HARRIS-PERRY: Up next, the new front-runner and how a story of redemption
is fueling the surge for Republican Dr. Ben Carson.
HARRIS-PERRY: A new NBC News online poll conducted by Survey Monkey found
that retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson has made a 12 point surge since last
month to tie Donald Trump to head of the pack of contenders vying for the
Republican nomination for the presidency. It follows the poll - earlier
this week, where for the first time in a national survey, Carson surpassed
Trump at the number one spot. Carson`s lead is even wider in another
recent poll of likely Iowa caucus goers who prefer him to Trump by a
whopping 14 point margin.
Carson support in Iowa has increased across all ideological groups, but his
biggest bump comes from Christian Evangelical voters, who`ve given him an
18 point lead, a significant increase from the six point lead he held just
two months ago.
Carson, a member of the Seventh Day Adventists Church, makes his religious
beliefs a key component of his political persona and his message has
resonated among the faithful.
In a recent "De Moines Register" poll, 89 percent of Iowa Republicans
agreed that Dr. Carson is an attractive candidate precisely because he says
his decisions would be guided by his faith in God. And among this large
and influential bloc of religious Republican voters, a pass that could be a
liability for another candidate has become for Carson an affirmation of
authenticity of his faith. Recounting a story about his history as a
violent and angry young man, Dr. Carson told NBC`s Chuck Todd last week
about a pivotal moment from his past.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DR. BEN CARSON: There was a time when I was, you know, very volatile. But
CHUCK TODD, NBC CORRESPONDENT: When was that?
CARSON: As a teenager, I would go after people with rocks and bricks and
baseball bats and hammers. And, of course, many people know the story,
when I was 14 and I tried to stab someone. And, you know, fortunately, you
know, my life has been changed and I`m a very different person now.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: It`s a story that Carson has frequently recounted since he
first rose to national fame with his 1996 autobiography "Gifted Hands."
And in his telling of it, Carson says after praying and reading the Bible
following the incident, he got control of his temper and found his faith.
With me again, the Reverend Dr. Jacquie Lewis from the Middle Collegiate
Church. And joining me now from Washington D.C., Joshua Dubois, who is CEO
of "Partnership" and former director of the White House Faith-Based
Initiative and author of "The President`s Devotional: The Daily Readings
That Inspired President Obama."
Nice to have you, Josh. Let me ask you specifically about the way that
sort of this discourse of redemption, of having been one kind of young man
and now being someone else, how that might be influencing how Dr. Carson is
JOSHUA DUBOIS, FMR. DIR., WH FAITH BASED INITIATIVE: Sure. Well, you
know, there are simple answers to our challenges on race in this country
and complicated ones. And Evangelicals are responding to Dr. Carson and
Republicans more broadly are responding to him because he`s providing a
simple answer. He`s basically saying, look, I was a troubled young man,
just like you see a lot of troubled young people today, and all I did was I
went in my prayer closet, I prayed and God turned me around.
He`s basically saying that the issues on race in our country as they were
embodied in his life can be solved by personal responsibility alone. So,
he`s absolving the country of having to have a serious conversation about
these issues. And that has great appeal because it means that no one else
is to blame except African-Americans. But I think in the long run it`s a
real challenge for the conversation on race that we need to be having.
HARRIS-PERRY: So, hold for me, a second, Jacqui, because this is an
interesting point, that evangelicalism is a strong aspect of many African-
American, particularly Christian faith communities. And yet, over and over
again in the polls, we see black evangelicals look different than their
white counterparts on a variety of issues. And I wonder if it goes to,
what Doctor just saying there, about this kind of easy, hard answer
LEWIS: I think Josh is right about the place where the simple answer
doesn`t work for African-American folks. I think we understand our faith
is a really important part of our lives. And we know that there`s
something about personal transformation. But I think the black church and
I think most black Christians, no matter, evangelical or progressive,
understand the transformation isn`t just an individual transaction. We
would say we`re not saved until everybody`s saved. So, the transformation
of systems. The eradication of poverty, housing, you know, health care,
all of those kinds of things, that justice, pocket of faith, I think is
really important for black folks.
And here is, just to sort of say a little more about the Ben Carson
phenomenon, I think his narrative I mean as a young black person, he was my
LEWIS: I think all of us are captivated by this story like Paul, you know,
I used to be violent, I was blind and now I can see. But there`s something
that is missing if the narrative doesn`t continue to evolve to where
individual responsibility can`t be the only answer and that there has to be
some corporate responsibility as a part of our faith.
HARRIS-PERRY: Yeah, Josh, let me - Josh, I want to play for you, though,
because as much as I hear that I just have got to say, my colleague Chris
Jansing was in Colorado and really did captured some extremely strong
feelings of support for Dr. Carson. Let`s take a listen, then I`ll come to
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I love the man.
CHRIS JANSING, NBC CORRESPONDENT: And you`ll vote for him?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh, honey, I would give him everything I had, honest
JANSING: You`re very emotional.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I am serious, I would. I love him. He needs to save
our country and our country needs saved.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I`ve known for a long time he was a brilliant man and
a man that God has gifted in many ways. And now that America is so sick,
we need a doctor. We need a doctor to heal us. And that`s all there is to
JANSING: So, is there any doubt who you`re going to vote for for
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No, there isn`t.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
DUBOIS: Yeah, you know, we have had a really tough couple of years as a
country. And I think some of these same voters are looking at the
challenges that we are seeing in Baltimore, in Ferguson. Even the deaths
of nine African-Americans in Charleston. And they don`t know what to do
with that. And here, Ben Carson presents a solution. If you can just,
like he did, go into his prayer closet. And if you just, you know, pull
yourself up by your boot straps, then the challenges with race and the
challenges that we`re facing as a country will be solved. Now, we know
it`s not as simple as that and that we`ve been grappling with these issues
for a couple of centuries, but they don`t want to hear that. What they get
to do is support this nice soft spoken doctor. And be absolved of all of
these issues. And I think that`s why you`re seeing this outpouring of
emotion. He`s a candidate to support, but unfortunately, a candidate that
I think would take our country down a really problematic path.
LEWIS: I agree with that. I think even more pointedly I would say this
read on to the black body thing. This is a black body that can be read on
to with all this evangelical fervor, nonthreatening black body, non-angry
black body, speak-sharing our values black body. So, I would really love
to hear Dr. Carson talk about Black Lives Matter and see how many people
would stay supportive about him then.
HARRIS-PERRY: No, it`s so interesting. I`ve got to say - we just have no
time today, but like some of what I`ve heard from both of you today is
discourse that is not unlike we heard in 2007 about then Senator Obama.
This idea that it was easy to support him or that he could do god-talk in a
particular way, and then that`s of course, precisely not what the
experience of his actual presidency has been. But it is an interesting set
of questions we will undoubtedly have to come back to. Thank you to Joshua
Dubois in Washington, D.C. and here in New York, thank you to Reverend
Still to come this morning, updates on the Russian passenger plane that
crashed in the Sinai Peninsula. Plus, the South Carolina school where the
video, what we can learn from it. Much more at the top of the hour.
HARRIS-PERRY: Welcome back. I`m Melissa Harris Perry.
And we have a lot to get to this hour, including the classroom
confrontation between a school resource officer and a 16-year-old student.
But we begin with the latest on the crash of a Russian jetliner in Egypt`s
Sinai Peninsula. My colleague Richard Lui joins me now -- Richard.
LUI: Good morning, Melissa.
Egyptian officials now say all 224 people aboard the Russian jetliner were
killed when that plane crashed in the mountainous area of the Sinai
Peninsula. The plane, an Airbus 321, was en route from Sharm el-Sheikh to
St. Petersburg, Russia, when that flight disappeared from radar about 25
minutes after takeoff.
Relatives of the passengers have been gathering at the airport in St.
Petersburg, waiting for updates. The majority of those onboard are
believed to be Russian, which could be the biggest aviation disaster in the
country`s post-Soviet history.
All right. Joining us right now is NBC`s Ron Mott in London.
And, Ron, as we get closer to the end of the day, what do we know about the
final moments of this flight and any developments that you`re hearing as
MOTT: Good morning, again, Richard.
Yes, you spoke about the passengers being mostly Russian, that is correct,
224 in all, 221 Russians and there were three Ukrainians on this flight,
217 passengers. A crew of seven.
And what we`re learning in the last moments of this flight, there were some
abnormalities if you will in the smooth and level flight this flight
appeared to have been on before something went wrong at altitude 35,000,
36,000 feet, and then they plunged 6,000 feet, about 6,000 feet in a
minute, which is usually normal but that`s a lot of altitude to give up in
60 seconds time.
And there did appear to be some up and down motion, if you will, in those
final moments of the crash. We can tell you Russian officials are already
on the way to Egypt. Vladimir Putin has announced tomorrow will be a day
of mourning, a national day of mourning. And they have also sent
investigators from their transport agencies, which regulates commercial
travel in Russia to the offices, the Moscow offices, of this carrier, Metro
Jet, and apparently they have seized some documents.
Now, we can tell you that last year, last spring, March of 2014, when they
had their last routine safety inspection, that the government found some
violations. And gave the airline some time to correct those violations and
apparently the airline did just that. Made those corrections and get back
up in the air.
The flight that was operating today is Flight 9268 was a charter flight.
So, a lot of these folks were on vacation, returning to Russia from the
very popular tourist destination of Sharm el-Sheikh. And obviously they
did not make it all the way home.
And you mentioned, Richard, there are families that are gathering in St.
Petersburg tonight. Just past 6:00 there in the Moscow area. Gathering to
get this bad news and what happens now going forward. This is going to be
a rather lengthy investigation I would imagine and they`re still recovering
bodies at this hour. We can tell you there were 17 children among those on
this aircraft. So, a really tragic day for Russia especially -- Richard.
LUI: Richard, what have you heard about those key black boxes?
MOTT: They -- we are just getting word now from Egyptian state television
that they have recovered the plane`s black boxes. That would be, of
course, the flight data recorder. Those will be analyzed over the next few
hours, days and weeks perhaps and we should glean a lot more information
about what exactly happened in the air there.
The pilot, we were told, did make a distress call. Said that he was
dealing with some technical problems with the aircraft and that he was
looking to land at the nearest airport.
Now, I believe Cairo was going to believe that airport. She did not make
any move before the radar was lost, Richard.
LUI: All right. NBC`s Ron Mott following the story for us all this
morning from London. Thank you so much.
I`d like to bring in now, international affairs correspondent, pilot and
former British senior official Michael Kay. Also joining us is retired
airline pilot and NBC News aviation specialist John Cox.
John, starting with you on this -- Egyptian officials saying that a black
box was found from the Russian airliner here. Ron Mott just telling us
that. So, that`s new this hour. What do you expect to learn from this?
It has hundreds of pieces of information in how the mechanical versus the
digital might be working here.
CAPTAIN JOHN COX, MSNBC/NBC NEWS AVIATION ANALYST: Well, the parameters
reported on the recorder are very numerous. This will tell us the tale of
what the airplane did. The cockpit voice recorder will give us additional
insight into the conversations that the pilots had. And when you put those
two together, you get a pretty complete picture of what actually happened.
We know this much, we know that the airplane reached its cruising altitude.
We know that the captain or one of the pilots said they had a technical
problem and that they wanted to land. There`s conflicting information
about where they wanted to go. But they did intend to land the airplane.
The airplane started down, the descent rate was high but within the normal
fly parameters. And for reasons that we don`t yet know, this descent
continued all the way to the ground. Beyond that, it gets pretty
speculative. I think we`ll know in short order if we have the recorders.
LUI: And that 6,000 feet permitted is within normal parameters?
COX: Yes, yes.
LUI: OK. All right --
COX: Yes, it is something most pilots or most passengers have experienced
on commercial airliners. They just may not have known the magnitude of it.
But it`s well within the operating envelope of commercial airliners.
LUI: OK. Mikey Kay is also here with us.
So, Mikey, you were mentioning the black boxes before we went on air. They
found it. That`s new at this hour. And the piece of information so key,
which may mean that new issue of debris we`ve been talking about this
morning may not be as difficult as some of us were worried about.
KAY: Yes, the two black boxes, cockpit voice recorder, fundamental to
getting the investigation under way. If you go back to MH370 and the pings
from the black boxes, we never actually found them. And so, the first
thing is you identify the debris and the debris hopefully takes you to the
black boxes. And it looks in this case, they`ve been found pretty
I think the other thing that`s happened pretty quickly as well is actually
bringing together the investigation. The state of occurrence, there`s four
key components to any investigation. The first one is the state of
occurrence, which would be Egypt. They have the legal responsibility to
start bringing the investigation about.
Then you`ve got the state register. That appears to be island. You`ve got
state of design of manufacturer, which would be Airbus, which will be
France. And then you`ve got the operator, which would be Russia.
And we know Russia has set up an investigation. "Reuters" are already
reporting they`re checking into some of the fuel samples and they`ve also
opened a criminal investigation against the airline as well.
LUI: Just to clarify about the black box. They`ve located, they know the
location. They have not actually been able to harvest it as of yet.
That`s the latest we`re hearing from our news desk.
John Cox, to build off what Mikey Kay was saying here, the fuel sample is
number one. Why? Number two, speaking with Metro Jet employees, both in
Russia, and three, the travel agency that appears to have chartered this
As an investigator, what are you going to be gathering from these pieces?
COX: As an investigator of something over 30 years of experience, the
first thing you do is you start compiling evidence. And then you begin to
exclude the things that are not contributing.
Certainly, they`ll look at the fuel. They`ll look at the weather. They`ll
look at the mechanical status of the airplane. They`ll look at pilot
training. They`ll look at cabin training. They will look at air traffic
What you do as an investigator is you gather an enormous amount of data,
you document it, and then that leads you to your areas of focus. And that
narrows it down so you understand what happened to the airplane. And,
equally, you have the evidence and data to support those conclusions.
LUI: Mikey, finishing with you very quickly, they are getting into the
evening. We talked about this a little bit earlier. And the question is,
you know, every moment certainly counts, especially for the families.
KAY: Yes, every moment counts. It`s vitally important to secure the area.
And it appears the area is relatively small in this case.
However, there are other additional problems. To the south of Sinai, you
have a very mountainous region, very arid. The crash apparently did take
place slightly north of that.
You`ve also got this insurgency. The Sinai Province is an affiliate of the
Islamic State. They`ve been incredibly active on the Sinai Peninsula, both
bombing Egyptian soldiers. They`ve had IEDs in Cairo. They`ve just been
So, that`s something that`s going to be on the forefront of the Egyptian
authority`s minds when they try to secure the area, as John says, process
this data and make sure that, you know, the criminal investigation can
occur before the flight investigation can.
LUI: And again, new this hour, they have identified the location of one of
those black boxes. We`re just getting that information in. Ron Mott
saying Egyptian officials and media reporting that.
Thank you so much, John Cox. Thank you so much here in New York, Mikey
We`ll keep you updated on the story.
But now, back to Melissa Harris-Perry -- Melissa.
HARRIS-PERRY: Thank you, Richard.
When we come back, the latest on the 16-year-old girl hurled from her desk
by a school resource officer in a South Carolina classroom.
HARRIS-PERRY: Welcome back. I`m Melissa Harris-Perry in New York.
And an undoubtedly, you`ve seen the video by now. A disturbing act of
school violence so hard to watch that it is incomprehensible to imagine
what it must have been like to actual experience it.
The video of school violence is not a mass shooting or playground brawl.
It`s a Monday morning math class at Spring Valley high school in South
Carolina. The intervention by an officer doesn`t seem to stop the
violence. It seems to initiate and aggravate it.
As the school resource officer Ben Fields hauls a 16-year-old girl across
the floor and arrests her after she refuses to leave her classroom, the
student who according to her lawyer had recently moved to a foster home
after the death of her mother was reportedly caught using her cellphone
during class. The girl, whose name has not been released, refused the
teacher`s request to put her phone aside and later to leave the classroom.
When a school administrator asked the student to leave, she continued to
refuse. At that point, school resource officer Ben Fields was called in to
remove the student. She also refused his demand for her to leave with him.
And the video shows part of what happened next.
Some of the student`s classmates reported the officer as he removed the
student from her desk by flipping her backward by the neck, pulling her out
of her toppled chair, and dragging her across the room before arresting
her. The student`s attorney says she now has a cast on her arm, with neck
and back injuries.
Wednesday, Richland County Sheriff Leon Lott fired Fields for failing to
follow training protocol when he was called to the classroom. The Justice
Department Civil Rights Division along with the FBI and U.S. attorney`s
office in Columbia, South Carolina have launched a civil rights
investigation into the incident.
Still, Fields attorney maintains his client`s actions were justified. In a
statement released on Wednesday, the attorney wrote, in part, "We believe
that Mr. Fields` actions were justified and lawful. We believe that Mr.
Fields` actions were carried out professionally and that was he was
performing his job within the legal threshold."
His job duties, it`s interesting. I mean, what are the duties in high
school? There are English and math and history and science teachers,
principals and guidance counselors, the janitorial and food service staff
provide critical services. We might expect to encounter volunteer parents
or front office administrators, librarians, coaches, choral directors,
pretty much any made for TV after school special, that cast of characters
is going to appear.
But over the course of the past 20 years, another group of professionals is
increasingly performing their job duties in our high schools, police
So, why was an officer like Ben Fields at Spring Valley High School on
Well, Fields is part of the school resource officer or SRO program. The
particular education initiative was part of a group of school policies
initiated as part of the get tough on crime policies of the 1990s that
introduced zero tolerance policies. Zero tolerance for children.
These policies led to an uptick in suspensions for small infractions like
talking back to teachers or being disrupted. And as the number of
suspensions rose, schools relied increasingly on the presence of officers,
school resource officers in the classroom. Between 1997 and 2007, the
number of SROs in schools increase from 9,000 to 413,000.
According to the National Center on Education Statistics, SROs are officers
deployed by the police departments to collaborate with schools and
organizations to engage in community policing. And SRO is meant to both
police and act as a guidance counselor, a mentor, an adviser for students.
That appears to be far from the role Officer Fields played Monday in South
Carolina`s Spring Valley High.
Joining me now, Carla Shedd, assistant professor of sociology at African-
American studies at Columbia University, and author of "Unequal City: Race,
Schools and Perceptions of Injustice", Raul Reyes, who is attorney and
NBCNews.com contributor, Francine Sherman, who`s clinical professor and
director of Juvenile Rights Advocacy Program, and an associate professor at
Boston College Law School, and Gregory Thomas, senior executive for law
enforcement operations at Kings County D.A. and a former director of
security at New York City Schools.
So let me start with you. When you see that video, you see job duties
performed in the way that an SRO is meant to be performing job duties?
GREGORY THOMAS, SR. EXEC. LAW ENFORCEMENT OPERATIONS, KINGS CTY DA: No, I
don`t. It`s very troubling. I also see a very bad decision made by other
So, people -- you see that incident for what it is right now. Back to the
decision that was made by another adult, the administrator in that room who
called for the SRO in the first place. Because I think over time, their
role has devolved into being, you know, guidance counselors, as you
mentioned earlier, also being involved in discipline.
Their roles in schools were never meant to be that way. They are police
officers. They`re taught, you know, police tactics. He made the wrong
decision clearly by intervening the way that he did. But the problem is he
was called in the first place.
HARRIS-PERRY: This is not a small point. It feels like this is part of
what makes this video -- I mean, I find all of the videos we have been
watching over the past year very hard to watch. But typically, we`ve been
seeing videos between police officers and young men or women in traffic
stops, in policing situations, having it happen in the schools feels like a
particularly kind of emotional violation.
CARLA SHEDD, AUTHOR, UNEQUAL CITY: Yes, sight definitely matters. The
fact we have this violence you would maybe expect from a routine encounter
that goes bad on the street happen in a classroom is even more alarming.
But it`s not uncommon. There are arrests every day in schools across the
In Chicago last year, there were 3,000 arrests. That number is so low in
comparison to the early 2000s when we were really ramping up the police in
schools. Overall, there have been about 92,000 arrests a year of all kids
in schools. So, it`s not uncommon.
All of these arrests aren`t happening very gently. In fact, they could be
very brutal. The kids said they took him down like a man. They treated
this child like a grown man. So, they could see the horror and the sort of
trauma that comes from these interventions.
HARRIS-PERRY: Every time I hear this language, it was an arrest in school,
you know, there are things one should be arrested for in school and in
other places, right, breaking what I think everyone would reflect and
understand as our laws. But I just got to say, I mean, I get what would be
irritating for a teenager to not put their phone down. I get why it`s
irritating when they don`t jump and do what you ask them to do.
I totally -- I also figured, teenagers, part of what they do is push back
against authority. Heck, part of our job as teachers is to teach them how
to push back against authority.
FRANCINE SHERMAN. DR. JUVENILE RIGHTS ADVOCACY PROJECT: Right. And it`s
not criminal, right?
HARRIS-PERRY: It doesn`t feel criminal.
SHERMAN: Right. And this is what happens with SROs. But it also happens
with charging decisions, because you know, this story didn`t end at the end
of the tape. My understanding is that this particular girl who was
assaulted and another girl were charged with disturbing schools which is a
very common charge for things like speaking out of turn, talking loudly,
being disruptive, not obeying the teacher.
And that really wasn`t the intention of that law or other laws like it or
the role of SROs.
HARRIS-PERRY: It makes me wonder, to go back to your point about police
officers in schools, they have to be doing something. So, if you have a
math teacher, they`re going to be teaching math. And if you a food service
worker, they`re going to be providing lunch every day.
But if you`re just a police officer standing around waiting for a mass
shooter, the fact is that`s pretty unlikely to happen. And so, we find
things for them to do, like criminalizing the schools (ph).
REYES: Right. What is happening unfortunately is that the presence of
these police officers, we are importing the ratio -- the disproportionate
ratio into the schools. We see that, what is amazing is that we even see
that in research from preschool, where you see that black kids in preschool
are far more likely to be suspended than white kids.
This continues at all educational levels, for black girls, especially.
And the other thing that`s interesting, certainly, black and white students
are suspended. That`s what teenagers do. They act out. That`s part of
HARRIS-PERRY: Right. Teachers and parents are supposed to teach
boundaries and how to do it reasonably and respectfully. That`s part of
REYES: Right. And yet when you look at the type of offenses, white kids
are suspended for documented offense, maybe breaking a window, doing
graffiti. Black kids and children of color are suspended for highly
subjective things, attitude, being defiant, talking back, much more
subjective criteria. And we end up with a dangerous place in the
classroom, like in that institute. Who would have thought, when you have
the choice between a girl being defiant in the classroom and refusing to
leave, how is that more disturbing than this police officer traumatizing
the whole classroom with that very violent act.
HARRIS-PERRY: Well, I have to say for me the piece of -- I kept refusing
to watch it for a long time. But the piece that just got me is that this
young woman was in foster care. And we know that -- we know from these
data these are the most vulnerable young women, highly likely to end up in
the juvenile justice system, often vulnerable to a variety of other trauma
and abuse. Apparently has a parent who recently died.
I feel like the school should have said, hey, by the way, this is a student
experiencing trauma. We should expect to see acting out behavior.
REYES: As an at-risk student.
HARRIS-PERRY: This is an at-risk student. Let`s sort of pull our arms
around the student, not our handcuffs.
THOMAS: That`s my point, because again, the administrators in the school
knew her better than ever he could know her, right? And we have to be
careful we don`t vilify the entire SRO program, because there are some SROs
that I personally having travelled the country and train SROs, they are
very sensitive to these issues.
But in this case, it clearly wasn`t told who she was. I think there`s ways
you could have dealt with that through de-escalation tactics. Whether it
be before he got there or while he was there. He also did a very poor
thing tactically. I mean, to take her down like that in the classroom full
of students who might at that point revolt against that action. You`re
asking for trouble, right? So he didn`t think this thing through fully.
SHERMAN: But also, one of the things you see when you look at the tape is
the reaction of the other kids. One of the disturb things, these kids
looking down, trying to cover their faces. I mean, it was clearly a
dramatic event all around.
If you play out into the juvenile justice system, what we see is that girls
experiences of trauma and reactions to trauma are criminalized, mislabeled,
and they drive them into the system.
SHEDD: And I`m glad we`re talking about different systems because we see
failure at every turn. Here, you now have the welfare system and the
school system, parents missing. So we are really losing kids. She
probably felt the safest in the classroom.
I mean, from the research, kids say they feel the safest in class or
walking in school or in the hallways. So, we failed her.
REYES: That`s where those at-risk kids should be when they have an
unstable home life. And they`re not together. They should be in school.
They shouldn`t be being suspended, although, you know, I think there is
some good news. We`re seeing from Department of Education. Some different
places like LUSD (ph) where they`re moving towards restorative justice
programs, trying to move away from that. There`s some good news in terms
of the reform.
HARRIS-PERRY: So, it`s interesting. I want to go back, we`re going to
take a break. But when we come back, you were talking about the reactions
of other students.
We`re going to talk about another part of this story out of South Carolina,
there are been some reactions from the other students. You might be
surprised to discover what those reactions are.
HARRIS-PERRY: Friday morning, nearly 100 Spring Valley high school
students staged a walkout at 10:00 a.m. to express their support for former
officer Ben Fields -- the student resource officer who was fired for
dragging a 16-year-old student from her desk following a call for
assistance. The participating students, many wearing "Free Fields" or
#bringbackfields t-shirts gathered together for ten minutes to share their
thoughts on Officer Fields.
In an e-mail to parents, the principal described the walkout as safe and
So, Carla, we found this to be really interesting. This Officer Fields has
also been someone who was an assistant coach on the football team. And
this sense that there was support for this officer, despite this. And I`m
wondering, given the research, talking to young people, do you find that
surprising or not surprising?
SHEDD: I don`t. There`s great nuance in how young people view the people
there as authority figures. They may say I hate police but they love
Officer Hernandez. You know, I was walking down the hallway about to
interview the kid, he`s like, give me a dollar, officer. And then later
he`s like, don`t like police. And we have to talk about that.
And so, with this, you know, walkout and show of support, they may have had
a personal connection with him and positive interactions matter. It`s just
the negative interactions matter a great deal more, and the psychological
research shows us.
That`s why it`s interesting when I saw this video, the police officer in
D.C. doing the dance contest, the nae nae, and I said, this is a moment of
positive interaction but the girl she was dancing with said she had had no
personal contact with police but multiple kind of vicarious perceptions of
injustice and seeing how they treated her, you know, siblings and her
So, this one positive moment is there. But it doesn`t disrupt everything
else she`s seen.
HARRIS-PERRY: So, you know, this is -- that feels like such a critically
important point, even as Raul was saying. You know, the White House is
clearly on criminal justice reform, policing reform, trying to talk about
trying to talk about how create community-based policing. We love that
D.C. video. It felt like, oh, look, here is an officer behaving as though
a young person is not a threat to them.
And yet, I wonder how much -- is that enough to actually change the
relationships between policing authorities and the communities where they
THOMAS: No, it`s not. It`s an ongoing process, too. And I had the
pleasure of being with the police chiefs in the White House with the
president when he discussed reform practices. He was trying to go down the
path of doing. But, again, every time you take a step forward, sometimes
these things like this take you four steps back.
So, the challenge is going to be everyday interaction police have with
people in the community, has to be on a professional respect level. It has
to go both ways. Some decisions not being made by people who are contacted
by police to bring things to another level so it`s a matter of balance.
HARRIS-PERRY: I want to dig in just a little bit on the feelings that the
16-year-old girl might have about the walkout. And, again, I want to
emphasize that students have every right to support this officer. I think
there may have been some very good reasons for doing so. I do also wonder
for young women who have been traumatized, how frequently the young women
are blamed for the experiences of trauma they have.
I want to listen to the sheriff on Wednesday, actually placing that blame
and then I come back to you on that.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SHERIFF LEON LOTT, RICHLAND COUNTY, SC: We must not lose sight this whole
incident started by this student. She is responsible for initiating this
action. There`s some responsibility that falls on her. Now, the action of
her deputies, I`ll take -- we take responsibility for that. We also have
to put responsibility on her for disrupting that school, disrupting that
class, and causing this incident to start from the very beginning.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHERMAN: So, you know, it`s hard to listen to that. What we know now is
the developmental lens is the right lens for schools, for justice systems.
It`s about fairness. It`s about the perception of fairness. And girls,
very many of them girls of color who are in the system, who are 61 percent
of girls in the juvenile justice system, don`t perceive it as a fair
And that`s really what we want to strive for in this kind of thing. I
mean, these are sort of understandable responses to trauma we see and
HARRIS-PERRY: Yes, we`ve seen young women who are traumatized, often
abused, experiencing loss and then having this kind of additional
victimization. It`s very hard to hear, you know, it`s her fault.
REYES: But that`s the state of how this country views black people, black
youth, black girls.
We`ve talked about it on this show. The pathology our society assigns to
black victims of crime, especially in encounters with police. But what is
to me, it is great we have this video that -- so this incident could be
brought to light and other videos have, you know, literally shined a lot on
But what is also troubling to me is I think now we`re reaching the point
where not only do you have to have a near perfect victim so they can be
totally unassailable in assigning guilt, but also if there`s not a video,
people will not even believe it. I fear we`re reaching the point when
these incidents happen, people will demand to see a video and if there
isn`t one, they will discount it.
Even when we have the videos, over time, we`re seeing these videos have
been used more often to maybe absolve the student or the victim but not
necessarily leading to charges of punishment of the officer involved. Look
at Eric Garner. Having the video, the video record cuts both ways.
HARRIS-PERRY: I want to say thank you to Carla Shedd, Raul Reyes, Francine
Sherman and Gregory Thomas.
And up next, we want to get you the latest on that Russian passenger plane
crash that left 200 people dead.
LUI: We`ve got new information now on the breaking news we`ve been
following. State-run television there in Egypt reporting investigative
team has identified the location of one of the black boxes of the passenger
plane that crashed in the Sinai Peninsula. The Russian embassy in Egypt
confirming there are no survivors. A recovery teams are working to
transport bodies to a morgue in Cairo.
Now, the airliner was traveling from Sharm el Sheikh airport to St.
Petersburg, Russia, 217 passengers were on board along with seven crew
members. Relatives of the passengers have been gathering at the airport in
St. Petersburg, waiting for updates.
And we have one of our producers headed that way soon right here on MSNBC,
we`ll go to her when we are able to reach her.
For now, let`s go to NBC News correspondent Ron Mott who`s been up all
morning and night looking at what`s happening on this flight.
The Metro Jet A321 that has crashed, and now as you`re reporting, at least
in our last discussion, Ron, and that is that the state-run television
reporting they found one of those boxes.
MOTT: A crucial piece of evidence obviously, Richard. But this
investigation is only just beginning. In fact, we just heard from one of
the Russian aviation regulators who says it`s simply too early to say
exactly what caused this plane to fall out of the sky. Whether it was a
technical malfunction, whether there was some sort of outside force that
caused this plane to go down or whether this was sort of human error on the
part of the pilots.
We can tell you that the Russians said they were given promises by the
Egyptians that they will be fully cooperating with them. Vladimir Putin
has called for a day of morning, a national day of mourning tomorrow. He
has sent a team of people down to Egypt to the site of this crash to help
find out exactly what happened.
We know they have also sent investigators into the Moscow offices of this
airline metro jet. As you mentioned, they were last inspected back in
March of 2014 and had some issues, had some problems that the government
gave them some time to correct. Apparently they did meet those deadlines
and were able to go back in the air.
It`s not a huge fleet. We understand it`s fewer than ten aircraft in the
fleet for metro jet. This is a carrier, in American terms, a discount
carrier, if you will, flying people back and forth down especially to
Egypt, which is a popular vacation spot for them.
But a couple of things that they`re going to be looking at, Richard, in
terms of the investigation at the airport in Sharm el-Sheikh, will be the
fuel that was used to refuel that aircraft. Also, they want to see
footage, camera footage of anyone who had access to the exterior of the
plane while it sat there on the ground before service before being loaded
with passengers and taken off on this ill-fated flight, Richard.
LUI: NBC`s Ron Mott reporting for us. Thank you, Ron.
Melissa Harris-Perry will be back right after this. Stick around.
HARRIS-PERRY: We know that black girls in public elementary and high
schools across the country are suspended or expelled at six times the rate
of their white counterparts. What are the lived experiences of navigating
the stereotypes and expectations that so frequently define girls of color
as defiant or disruptive, impervious, even criminal?
It can be dizzying to try to navigate a world where studies show sometimes
the adults meant to guide, mentor and teach you often perceive you as a
problem and expect less from you than from other students.
Girls for Gender Equity, an organization that supports young women of
color, spoke with a few high schooler about their special experiences with
discipline in schools.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think with being a black girl, it`s automatic
assumption you`re going to be louder in the classroom or the problem child.
MIASIA: It makes me feel misunderstood and I`m very cautious now of what I
do in school because I know if I say something, then it would be taken to
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I focus on how my teacher makes me feel, not the
positive energy around me. It causes me to really shut down and not want
to be there.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: Joining me now are some representatives from girls for
gender equity, who this week participated in a White House forum on girls
of color and public systems, Gloria Malone, Hyunhee Chin, and Tee Emanuel
are all advocates for Girls for Gender Equity. And, Brittany Braithwaite
is a community organizer for the group.
Thank you all for being here.
So, I found the video, the South Carolina video we were seeing in the
break, really hard to watch. But I`m wondering if any of you have
witnessed in your classrooms in your experiences something similar?
GLORIA MALONE, ADVOCATE, GIRLS FOR GENDER EQUITY: Well, when I was in
elementary school, I would se the teacher literally throw students across
the classroom. And then at recess, as a young girl of color, I was not
only afraid of teachers throwing me across the classroom but also young
boys replicating the same things and throwing us, you know, in the
playground and things like that.
When we would go to administrators to tell them what was going on, they
wouldn`t listen. They would tell us that`s how boys are or just don`t play
with the boys. So, we would spend recess hiding from the administrators
who don`t listen to us, from teachers who might be harming us and from our
fellow classmates who are harming us as well.
HARRIS-PERRY: And in a context, in which school resource officers are
meant to be there to create greater safety in schools, I`m wondering if
that also echoes your experience.
TEE EMANUEL, ADVOCATE, GIRLS FOR GENDER EQUITY: Yes. Well, I`ve
experienced a lot of physical abuse within schools and school safeties.
I`ve been restrained by school safety where I was choked up. And then
afterwards they tried to have me put in juvenile delinquent center where,
you know, they suspended her but they come to find out they switched her to
my little sister`s school.
And when she found out I was with her, that was my little sister, you know,
they tried to attack her as well.
HARRIS-PERRY: So, do you end up feeling like you have rights, like you
have a voice, like you can speak back against that type of experience and
TEE: At the time, no. They did not allow me to, you know, voice my
opinion, tell them exactly what was going on, where, in fact, you know,
they were saying I assaulted her, when, in fact, I was the one who had the
as ma attack and she only had a broken fingernail.
HARRIS-PERRY: I was -- again, it`s hard for me when we were talking in the
break and you`re all sort of, you know, lovely young women who are pursuing
education, doing all of these kinds things. And then to hear about these
kinds of experiences, very clear violent or trauma, I was also reading in
your conversation with one of my producers, your sense that some girls are
given first and second chances and some girls never get a first chance at
HYUNHEE CHIN, ADVOCATE, GIRLS FOR GENDER EQUITY: Yes, definitely, when I
was in high school, as a survivor of multiple forms of violence in my life
at home, the way that I responded to my trauma was to re-enact that
violence towards my fellow peers. And so when I was in high school, I have
stabbed somebody, I choked somebody, and I threw a textbook at my physic
teacher`s face. Not only was I not disciplined, I wasn`t given detention,
I wasn`t even given a verbal warning. But nobody caught my trauma.
HARRIS-PERRY: No one saw that what was happening underneath was the
violence that you`ve been experiencing outside of the school.
HARRIS-PERRY: That is the story over and over again. Part of the reason
all of you were at the White House is because we talk about that school to
prison pipeline for boys, but over and over again, for young women, the
pipeline to juvenile detention and the pipeline to prison begins with
sexual assault with violence, with intimate partners and family members at
BRITTANY BRATHWAITE, COMMUNITY ORGANIZER: Right. That`s why it`s so
important we expand the narrative and scope of our definition of school.
Because currently it`s only capturing the experiences of young people that
are policed in these ways. But girls of color experience violence inside
and outside of school on a daily basis.
And there`s no one -- in New York City, there are more safety officers than
guidance counselors and social workers combined. So, the current
narrative, the current research doesn`t address and can`t address because
they`re not looking for the indicators.
HARRIS-PERRY: That idea of trauma and as you were talking about a
secondary trauma that boys who are experiencing violence might then enact
that violence on girls, I guess part of what I`m wondering then, is if
defiance is something that you can be held accountable for in school, what
appropriate way can you get your sense of trauma out?
EMANUEL: Being talked to, being listened to. And that`s where the line
crossed where, you know, there`s no boundaries or, like, how to get these
girls help. Like, there are people who are introverted who have trauma,
and there are people who are extroverted who has trauma and they don`t
realize that and that`s where the issue stands at, that we need to have
more guidance counselors at school than police officers, because that`s
what they technically are.
HARRIS-PERRY: Yes. Stick with me because I want to talk more about what
the solutions might look like when we come back.
HARRIS-PERRY: This week, Simone Biles made history when she earned her
third straight World Gymnastics title and standing on the podium with her
3.3 points behind was Olympic champion Gabby Douglas, it was pure black
magic. A magic which seem so pervasive in the world where Misty Copeland
graces the American Ballet and where Serena Williams dominates the tennis
course, and where Viola Davis captures the Emmy, and the first lady is just
fabulous all the time.
But even in this extraordinary era of visibility and achievement, the
realities often un-acknowledgeable, their abilities continue to shape the
lives of far too many girls of color. And this week`s gut wrenching viral
video out of South Carolina was a vivid reminder of that fact, as was the
language that you all provided at the White House. And so, I`m interested
in what your experience was in talking about these questions in that space.
CHIN: Yes, I think it was an e empower in empowering experience to not
only bring our wisdom and the lived experiences to the White House, but to
have these researchers and advocates go up on the subsequent panels and r
reflect our language back at us.
HARRIS-PERRY: That idea that the voices of girls and women of color might
show up here, I`m wondering if you also see solutions in local communities
of, you know, what I heard is that we need to be listened to, we need to be
able to say our stories.
MASON: Absolutely. We need to be listened to, and it is not like the
girls of color are just starting to experience these types of issues,
right, advocates and young girls of color have been speaking with the
things that has been dealing with forever, and we are being, our
experiences are being raised and not listened to, and that is the issue
going on here.
And we here in New York City, we have the women`s initiative which was
spearheaded by the speaker of New York City, and what we are doing is to
talk to young women, and specifically about the types of experiences that
they lived experiences that they have within the communities and the
different communities that they walk through in life, and whereas speaking
to policy makers and researchers and looking over the data and saying, you
know, are the numbers that are missing?
And yes, we know that there are numbers that are missing. There an
analysis across race and gender, and how are when we`re connecting,
conducting -- when we`re collecting research and breakdown the ethnicities
of the individuals or the indigenous individuals or AAPI communities, even
the black community and the Latino community, and how we can get targeted
data that reflects the real experiences of young women.
HARRIS-PERRY: When you start talking about these other identities that
cross cut what it means to be a girl or young girl of color, the other part
of that is gender nonconforming or lesbian identities and queer identities,
trans girl identities, and I`m wondering how that ends up playing out in
schools as well.
EMANUEL: Well, as someone who identifies with GNC, which is gender
nonconforming, within schools, I have experienced a lot of verbal violence,
you know, I am not female enough or I`m not feminine enough to be a woman
or to classify myself as a woman. And you know, I used to get harassed
about that, and there was no help, no assistance with that because there`s
not enough gay straight alliance in schools, and that`s the issue where it
lays at, you know?
So, I feel like when it comes to the schools and GNC and trans folks, queer
people in general, that they need to have more guidance for us, as well as
the people who are allies to us.
HARRIS-PERRY: So, this issue of trying to think about girls of color
inserting this experience of these multiple ways of experiencing black and
brown girlhood into the conversation, what looks like a ray of hope, and
what look like some kind of solution?
BRAITHWAITE: Well, first, for the communities, which was lifted
communities who addressed these issues for schools and the local places,
but we also don`t have a national initiative that addresses young women and
girls of color, we know last year, President Obama issued an initiative to
look at the disparities among Latinos and black men, but these things are
also as we are at the table, also affecting girls of color.
And so, to not address the vulnerabilities, and the sexual violence and the
issues with the parenting and all of the things that affect girls of color,
it is horrible, right, and we can`t expect black girls to be that magic.
HARRIS-PERRY: Thank you to Gloria Malone, to Hyunhee Chin, to Tee Emanuel,
and to Brittany Braithwaite, I appreciate your courage and the power of
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.
Last week, we spoke to the director of the FBI saying there is a Ferguson
effect. Tomorrow, we`ll bring you President Obama`s response.
Coming up, "WEEKENDS WITH ALEX WITT."
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY
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