Guests: Ron Allen, Joy-Ann Reid; Ken Padowitz, Joe Madison, Michael Eric Dyson,
REVEREND AL SHARPTON, MSNBC HOST: Welcome to "Politics Nation." I`m
Tonight`s lead, the FBI goes to the scene of Trayvon Martin`s death.
Breaking news today, the FBI is in Sanford, Florida, and they are
investigating. Agents arrived this morning at the gated community where
Trayvon was killed going door to door, questioning potential witnesses and
compiling information on Zimmerman`s background. The FBI investigation
focused specifically on whether the shooting was racially motivated. Were
the young man`s civil rights violated?
Meanwhile, Trayvon Martin`s parents sent a letter to the justice
department asking for a formal investigation of Florida state attorney Norm
Wolfinger`s interactions with the Sanford police department. The family
wants to know why Wolfinger`s office didn`t bring charges against Zimmerman
even though the lead homicide investigator in the case wanted an arrest.
The most explosive news today centers on a witness 911 call the night of
the shooting. On this call a voice can be heard screaming for help.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
911 FEMALE DISPATCHER: 911. Do you need police, fire or medical?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE CALLER: Maybe both. I`m not sure. There`s
someone screaming outside.
911 FEMALE DISPATCHER: Is it a male or a female?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE CALLER: It sounds like a male.
911 FEMALE DISPATCHER: You don`t know why?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE CALLER: I don`t know why, I think they are
yelling help, but I don`t know. Just send someone quick please.
911 FEMALE DISPATCHER: OK. Does he look hurt to you?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE CALLER: I can`t see him. I don`t want to go out
there. I don`t know what`s going on.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They need to come now.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE CALLER: They are sending.
911 FEMALE DISPATCHER: You think he`s yelling help?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE CALLER: Yes.
911 FEMALE DISPATCHER: Alright, what is your --
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE CALLER: There are gunshots.
(EN VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: Zimmerman`s supporters say it`s him crying out for help.
The self-defense claim relies very heavily on it. According to a police
report an officer overheard him saying, quote, "I was yelling for someone
to help me, but no one would." His family members claim he was in the
fight of his life.
But leading forensic voice experts have analyzed the 911 call and they
believe it is not Zimmerman. One says, quote, "You can say with reasonable
scientific certainty that it is not Zimmerman." A different expert using
different voice technology saying, quote, "I believe that`s Trayvon Martin
in the background, without a doubt." End of quote.
The more we learn, the more curious this mystery gets.
Joining me now is NBC news correspondent Ron Allen. He lives in
Sanford. He`s live rather at Sanford city hall and he`s with us tonight.
Ron. Thanks for joining me.
RON ALLEN, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Thank you, reverend. I have been
living here for the last couple of weeks. It was quite a day, you are
right. The FBI was in town --
SHARPTON: We both feel that. We have been teasing each other about
living there. But, what can you tell us now about this FBI investigating
and what they are doing down there?
ALLEN: I think the FBI being here will really help perhaps give
confidence to people in this community that a thorough investigation will
be done. As you pointed out they are concerned about whether Trayvon
Martin`s civil rights were violated, whether there was a hate crime
committed and specifically the Martin family wants them to look at whether
or not the chief of police and the state attorney Norm Wolfinger were here
at the police department that night. And apparently - allegedly had a
conversation where they overruled the homicide investigator who wanted to
press manslaughter charges against George Zimmerman.
Now, the police denied that. Wolfinger released a statement today
saying they were outright lies. That`s the first time we have heard from
him during the course of the investigation. It was a very, very strong
letter that was a really, really strong pushback about that allegation that
the Martin family`s attorneys are making. So we go on. And you`re right.
SHARPTON: Ron, is he saying there was not an affidavit from the lead
ALLEN: He wasn`t specific. He basically said that the letter, the
allegations were outright lies, that this meeting, this communication
between the chief and the state attorney, he says it never happened. It`s
SHARPTON: So, he`s denying the meeting. He is not denying the
affidavit and the statement that the lead investigator had said that he
wanted an arrest?
ALLEN: No, no. Yes. He is denying that communication ever happened.
There is also some reporting that the chief investigator Serino is now
saying that he never, never, said that, that he thought Zimmerman`s self-
defense claim wasn`t valid.
The other day, we were in the community and spoke to one witness, a
woman with a 13-year-old boy. And she told us as she told others that she
believes that investigator Serino told her that he didn`t believe it was
SHARPTON: You know, she told me that in Television. She said live on
television that he said that. And there is supposedly an affidavit. So, I
think the investigation will surface that one way or another. We`ll see
where that goes.
ALLEN: We will. There is a lot of he said/she said. The more people
talk about it there is a real demand for an open public hearing of all the
issues. As you know, the prosecutor can decide to send it to a grand jury
or she can indict and arrest herself or not. And I think a lot of people
are saying that they would much prefer a process that`s open, not a secret
grand jury where all the evidence can be seen in public. Because if a
grand jury chooses not to indict and it`s done in secret, I don`t think
that will satisfy the demand for justice. There is going to be a lot more
skepticism, a lot of doubts and perhaps worse.
SHARPTON: Well, we will talk about it more on the show. Ron Allen,
live from Sanford, Florida. Thank you.
Joining me now is Lou Palumbo, a retired police investigator and now
director of the elite group of private security agency and in Miami,
Kendall Coffey, former U.S. attorney and now criminal defense lawyer.
Thank you both for being here tonight.
Lou, you have been part of thousands of cases where seeing the
pictures of the FBI on scene in Sanford. When you look at the pictures
what do you make of it?
LOU PALUMBO, RETIRED POLICE OFFICER: Well, I can tell you,
apparently, that this case hit a certain threshold and the FBI now has
interest in it. And what they are going to do is try to recreate what
happened that evening. The one problem, Reverend, is the fact that the
forensics are gone. They are going to have to rely upon the forensics and
crime scene analysis conducted by the Sanford police department as well as
an autopsy report.
SHARPTON: Now, when you say the forensics are gone, what does that
PALUMBO: I`ll give you an example. For example, if we were to find
out that Trayvon was shot and the bullet was a through and through. In
other words it entered one side of his body and exited the other and we
found the bullet lodged in the ground and it was recovered, we could be
able to determine the fact that he wasn`t on top but he was on the bottom.
The entry wound, the distance and proximity in which the weapon was
discharged and the direction of Trayvon. All these things are very
relevant when you`re trying to explain to someone that you did this in
self-defense compounded by the fact.
SHARPTON: That`s no longer possible?
PALUMBO: Well, I`m not going to say it.
SHARPTON: It`s more difficult?
PALUMBO: It`s more problematic.
PALUMBO: And a lot of it is now predicated on the thoroughness, the
comprehensive approach that the Sanford police department implemented in
gathering this information. Their forensics and their crime scene
information, and, you know the photographs they should have taken and how
the body was marked off and so on and so forth.
You know, just makes it when -- the reality of a crime scene is you
have 24 to 48 hours before you have contaminants set in -- weather changes,
the introduction of investigators. And now, we have had a month go by.
So, it`s a little more problematic. As we heard earlier, Reverend, they
are also going in there and they are re-addressing all of the witnesses to
get their own picture of what each of them saw.
SHARPTON: Now Mr. Coffey, let me ask you. When you hear about
forensics as Lou is explaining it and it also could be part of what may
come up if the justice department does honor the request of the parents to
look at what the state investigators did or didn`t do because wouldn`t that
also lead to questions on if certain photographs and certain forensic
evidence was not taken in the first 24 to 48 hours, why would they not have
done that when you clearly had a killing here?
KENDALL COFFEY, FORMER FLORIDA U.S. ATTORNEY: Well, I think it will,
indeed further fuel what we have described at the investigation of the
investigation. That in itself is going to take on a life of its own and
have some very serious questions. I agree with the comment that when you
don`t have an exhaustive painstaking evaluation and collection of all the
forensic evidence immediately available, irretrievable damage is done to an
So, as much as the FBI and justice department may now examine the
quality and other aspects of the investigation that was done by Sanford and
the state attorney, the reality is not much of that is going to help the
family of Trayvon Martin. Because they are looking for justice with
respect to George Zimmerman and the fact that evidence may have been lost
forever, the fact that opportunities may never come again in terms of
gathering evidence. The fact that the FBI and D.O.J. may end up with a
very critical view of what was done by locals on the case, that doesn`t get
to the real key which is how you now get enough evidence to bring charges
if charges are merited against George Zimmerman and prove them beyond a
SHARPTON: Now there was a report in "The New York Times" today, Lou,
that says that George Zimmerman went back to the scene, recreated the scene
with police the day after the shooting and there`s been a recreation of the
scene on tape. This is in "The New York Times." And it says the day after
the shooting George Zimmerman, according to his father, returned with at
least three police officers to the retreat at twin lakes. Investigators
accompanied by someone with the video camera wanted him to reenact the
events of the night when the two strangers had stood their ground.
Now, one where the tape is would be very interesting. And secondly,
in light of what you just said if they returned with the shooter, why
wouldn`t they have taken all of the forensic evidence and all of the photos
that was necessary because one would then have to question why are you
doing a recreation with the shooter and not taking an independence evidence
gathering of forensic and other things available to you?
PALUMBO: I think what they were trying to do is connect some dots as
to the story Zimmerman told them. Unfortunately, I think Zimmerman will
only tell them what Zimmerman would like them to know. That`s part of the
problem with the process. But with they were probably vetting his story a
little bit further. The simple reality of the situation is that, other
mistakes were made.
For example, the night of the shooting the police didn`t demonstrate a
real concern about blood, for example. Like when they took him out of the
police car in their station, no one put on rubber gloves. So, obviously,
they are not concerned about contaminants. They didn`t take his clothing.
They didn`t take photographs of the alleged injuries that were so severe
that it warranted him using deadly force.
So, you know, going back to the scene with him, it`s like asking me,
did I do something wrong after I knew I did. I`m not going to tell you I
did. So, I don`t give much credence to that. I think the sum and
substance of this whole problem revolves around how thorough they were the
first 24 hours. And if I recall correctly, it indicated there was
precipitation that evening which in itself causes problems.
SHARPTON: For evidence, yes. Lou Palumbo and Kendall Coffey, thank
you for joining us tonight.
Ahead, the mystery surrounding the Trayvon tragedy grows. Why did
they let Zimmerman go? Trayvon`s parents are demanding answers and calling
on the justice department.
Plus, new tapes released from the fire rescue dispatch could shed more
light on Zimmerman`s state that night.
And some in the right wing media have politicized this case. I say
it`s time to come together for America`s future.
You`re watching "Politics Nation" on MSNBC.
SHARPTON: Why did the state attorney decide not to arrest George
Zimmerman? The mystery at the heart of the Trayvon Martin case, that`s
SHARPTON: Thirty six days after the shooting of Trayvon Martin, but
they still don`t know exactly what happened that night. But we do know
George Zimmerman was handcuffed, brought to the police station and then
walked out a free man later that night.
Why, because state attorney Norm Wolfinger refused to charge
Zimmerman. Amid great public outrage Wolfinger recuse himself from the
case and Governor Rick Scott appointed Angela Corey to take over.
Now, Trayvon Martin`s parents are demanding answers. Today, the
family`s attorney sent a formal request to the justice department to
investigate in alleged meeting between Wolfinger and police Chief Bill Lee
on the night of the shooting.
He said the men over ruled the homicide investigator`s recommendation
that Zimmerman be charged with manslaughter. In response, Wolfinger
released a statement today saying he`s, quote, "outraged by the outright
lies contained in that letter."
Joining me now is managing editor of thegrio.com, Joy-Ann Reid and Ken
Padowitz, former homicide prosecutor. Thanks for joining me.
Let me start with you Joy-Ann. Let`s start with the letter Benjamin
Crump, the attorney for Trayvon`s family, sent to the department of
justice. What was this meeting that he`s referring to?
JOY-ANN REID, THEGRIO.COM MANAGING EDITOR: Right. So today the
attorney for Trayvon Martin`s family sent a letter to the justice
department saying there are a number of things they want to look into.
They want to look at the actual investigation of the case by Sanford
police, what they did. They want to look into reports we have also had
from an anonymous source that Wolfinger, the state attorney then assigned
to the case met in person with Bill Lee, the police chief in this case.
SHARPTON: And you have had those sources as well as other media --
REID: Absolutely, yes. Our sourcing says that and then of course,
they have gotten into somewhere else sourcing as well. They also want it
looked into. And this is the part in the letter that sort of raised my
eyebrows. It says the family of George Zimmerman was at the police station
at some point. That could be as innocuous as who went and picked up George
Zimmerman up. But they have thrown all of that in as well as the fact that
the investing officer, the only homicide detective who was a part of this,
the others were patrol officer and some of their specialty, didn`t believe
George Zimmerman but was over ruled. So, they want all that looked at.
SHARPTON: Now, let me ask you, Ken. Let`s look at this without going
into the weeds of what`s in the letter or not, is it unusual for Mr.
Zimmerman, given the facts as we know it to have walked out of the
precinct, handcuffs taken off, never booked, never given a mug shot, never
KEN PADOWITZ, FORMER HOMICIDE PROSECUTOR: Well, it`s extremely
unusual, Reverend Sharpton. That is not done. You cannot be un-arrested
in the state of Florida. And clearly, Mr. Zimmerman had been placed under
arrest by officers at the scene. So, somebody believed there was probable
cause to take him into custody.
Probable cause is mentioned in the United States constitution under
the 4th amendment and in the Florida constitution. And it is not beyond
and to the exclusion of every reasonable doubt which is the standard at
trial. It`s a much lower standard. In fact, you can have probable cause
that a law was violated in the state of Florida and still have some doubt
as to whether or not the person committed the crime.
But clearly, when he was taken in handcuffs and brought to the
station, somebody believed he had probable cause. And when they released
him without booking him in to the jail and filling out a probable cause
affidavit, something is definitely unusual.
SHARPTON: That`s the question I want to raise. Because those of us
who got involved in this early, only got involved saying probable cause, he
should be arrested. Nobody is calling for a conviction. We don`t know
what a charge would be. How can you convict without a charge?
But how do you bring him in the precinct or the police station
handcuff? Somebody somewhere and I`m not getting into who shot the call,
one way or another. But somebody had to say, don`t book him or photograph
him. He was already handcuffed in the police station. Something had to
PADOWITZ: Something absolutely happened. I mean, here you have from
the facts on the ground, you have police officers who observe and using
their intelligence and reasonable minds made a determination to take him
into custody, to arrest him. And that means, by definition, that they
believed there was probable cause.
You have -- Zimmerman, who is a member of the neighborhood watch, not
a member of neighborhood shoot, and clearly you had a dead body. And they
took him into custody based on all the evidence they had at the scene. To
have somebody -- and I`m speculating here, but to have somebody such as a
police chief or even the state attorney step in and take away the
discretion of the officers at the scene and say, release this man, that is
very, very unusual.
And I`m very happy to hear that the justice department is looking into
this to find out what exactly happened because something doesn`t seem just.
SHARPTON: Joy, let me ask you. When you hear all of this, the mother
of the young witness, 13-year-old witness and I had her on the show. She
said the lead investigator said to her that he thought it was not self-
defense and thought it was stereotyping.
REID: Yes. And, you know, there are a lot of strange things in the
case, right? The witnesses who weren`t questioned versus those who were.
And just the fact that, as you were talking about, this person is brought
into the station, they are either in custody or not, police have said he
was in detention, right, something short of being arrested. We don`t know
if there was a mug shot, fingerprints taken. But then, leaks from the
police department say that people are wrong when they say they didn`t take
the gun or jacket.
There was a leak to the "Orlando Sentinel" ostensibly from the police
saying, oh, no, we did take these things into evidence. Well, if this
person is free to go and they are not under arrest, why would any of that
have been taken? He should have right, in theory, been allowed to walk out
with the jacket, with his gun, with everything.
But police have pushed back on that and said he wasn`t. So the
question is, was he arrested or not? Certain legal things kick in when you
arrest someone. It has to happen.
SHARPTON: Including a timeline.
REID: Including a timeline which you have a certain period of time in
which to try this person or it`s moot. So the question of him being
arrested is really important. And if he was arrested there should be a mug
shot, there should be fingerprints, there should be been certain things
SHARPTON: Now, Ken. And clearly, the timeline is important because
if you run out of time if they say there was an arrest he could be charged.
Let me show you the tape, Ken. And you tell me whether this will have an
impact on the justice department looking into it. This is the mother of
the 13-year-old witness on this show.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: Now as the investigators communicated with you arranging
and talking to you around the interview of your son, did they tell you
whether they felt this was self-defense or not?
CHERYL BROWN, MOTHER OF SHOOTING WITNESS: The lead investigator from
the Sanford police department stood in my family room and told me this was
absolutely not self-defense and they need to prove it. He told me, and I`m
paraphrasing the quote, but read between the lines. There are some
stereotyping going on here.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: Now, this lady sat on the show and said that. Wouldn`t
that have some bearing on the justice department if they were to
investigate what happened that night that the lead investigator told this
person who seems to have no ax to grind with anybody that he did not
believe it was self-defense and in fact raised the point of stereotyping
which I said to her I would say is profiling.
PADOWITZ: Absolutely. That is a damning piece of testimonial
evidence for a witness to come forward and say the homicide detective at
the scene made those comments to her about the fact that self-defense was
not an issue in his mind and clearly indicating that he had probable cause
to make an arrest. And that`s what`s so frustrating.
You know, only people want in this instance is for justice to be done.
No one is talking about convictions. We are talking about an arrest and
probable cause for arrest. And justice is not being done here. That`s why
people are so frustrated. Because they can see that there is a problem
with this situation.
SHARPTON: You know, I think you said it best. All we have ever said
was release the tapes which we finally got, and probable cause for an
arrest. No one but the right wing is saying we want a conviction. We
don`t even know what a charge is. How can you call for conviction? But
you can`t accuse us of rushing to judgment unless you misquote what we are
Joy-Ann Reid, thank you for your time. Ken Padowtiz, thank you also.
And stay with us.
Ahead, new details about an ambulance call for Zimmerman the night of
the shooting surfaces.
And coming up, Bill O`Reilly and Rush Limbaugh are distorting the
effort to get justice in this case. We`ll examine what they are saying.
Stay with us.
SHARPTON: The FBI went on the scene in Sanford, Florida, today just
as we learned new information that further under mines George Zimmerman`s
self-defense claim. That`s next.
SHARPTON: Welcome back to POLITICS NATION. George Zimmerman`s claim
of self-defense is central to his version of events, but the more we learn,
the more shaky that claim becomes. His supporters say, George was in the
fight for his life that night. His father says, quote, "It`s my
understanding that Trayvon Martin got on top of him and just started
beating him in the face, in his nose, hitting his head on the concrete."
His brother said, quote, "George was out of breath." He was barely
conscious. His last thing he remembers doing was moving his head from the
concrete to the grass. The video in the police station did not show those
injuries. And today, we are learning that an ambulance call for Zimmerman
that night of the shooting was cancelled. He apparently did not need it.
Here`s the recording from the fire rescue dispatch on the night of the
shooting when emergency personnel rushed to the scene of the shooting.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Engine 38, rescue 38, gunshot wound at 2821 retreat
UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Engine 38 responding.
UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: Engine 38 responding. Per law enforcement, law
enforcement is en route by a possible shooting. Someone laying in the
grass. Patient is unresponsive. Battalion 31, do you copy? Rescue 38
called, no code, no vital.
UNIDENTIFIED MAN: No, I didn`t copy that. Do they have a second
UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: Battalion 31, that is affirmative. There is a
UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Cancel second rescue. Patient is not a gunshot.
Second patient is not a gunshot.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: This could be critical to the case. If you were barely
conscious and in the struggle for your life, you would think that there
would be a trip to the hospital. But there are signs of an altercation
might have taken place. ABC News released this picture today. It`s a
photograph taken from enhanced video from the police surveillance tape.
And it shows what appears to be marks on George Zimmerman`s head. But
those marks don`t add up to the picture they were painting. And as we
know, 35 minutes after he shot Trayvon, he was walking through the police
station handcuffed without assistance.
Back with me from Florida, Ken Padowitz, former homicide prosecutor
and in Washington, Joe Madison, nationally syndicated host of "Mornings
with Madison." Thank you both for joining me. Let me go back to you, Ken,
we`ll start with you. You have seen thousands of homicide cases in
Florida. If someone is badly injured, how unusual would it be to cancel an
KEN PADOWITZ, FORMER HOMICIDE PROSECUTOR: Well, it would be extremely
unusual. I mean, clearly that is an important piece of circumstantial
evidence that this man was not so badly injured, that he had been fighting
for his life just minutes earlier. It is clear from everything I have seen
in this case, even if we take the enhanced pictures from ABC News that
shows some injuries to the back of his head, that it`s clearly an extreme
exaggeration that he was fighting for his life, the fact that an ambulance
is cancelled, that he`s not even brought to the hospital and examined. If
he was near being unconscious, that would indicate that he potentially had
some type of brain injury. Nothing like that occurs in this case. Thirty
minutes later, he`s brought to the police station. That is a very, very
important piece of circumstantial evidence that blows out of the water this
consistent claim we hear from Mr. Zimmerman`s family that he was fighting
for his life. The evidence doesn`t seem to support that.
SHARPTON: Now, Joe, if you look at the fact that officer Timothy
Smith wrote in the police report from the crime scene, quote, "Zimmerman
was placed in the rear of my police vehicle and was given first aid by the
Sanford Fire Department." Zimmerman was cleared by the Sanford Fire
Department. He was transported to the Sanford Police Department. Now,
this is the officer that says he was treated in the back of his car. This
is his report. His police report. Clearly, he`s not indicating that he
was near unconscious or fighting for his life. This is his written report
at the scene.
JOE MADISON, HOST, "MORNINGS WITH MADISON": Absolutely. And I don`t
know what else to tell you. And look at again at the evidence. A broken
nose. Where is the blood? You have a situation like you just reported.
Cancelled EMS. The reality is that we are looking at a person who is
telling his family one thing. He`s probably not telling them the truth.
And they are repeating it and the right wing is buying it and then accusing
us of not wanting us to believe our eyes and believe our ears. And that`s
why this case is falling apart for George Zimmerman.
SHARPTON: Now, let me go back to you on this Ken. One, I don`t think
I have heard anyone say, there may not have been some kind of fight. I
think that the injuries and the extent is what we are dealing with. And
the fact that it is now experts saying that it was probably was Trayvon
yelling for help. There was something going on, but I think to what
degree? And then when you have the funeral director who prepared Trayvon
body for his burial said, the Zimmerman story of a scuffle didn`t make
sense. Let me play what he is saying.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RICHARD KURTZ, MARTIN`S FUNERAL DIRECTOR: We could see no physical
signs like that of a scuffle, a fight. And you know, the hands, I didn`t
see any knuckles abuses or what have you. And that is something we would
have covered up if it had been there. I did not see any signs of cuts on
his neck or face. The story just does not make sense that he was in this
type of scuffle or fight. And nothing that we could see.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: Now, does that kind of statement, if we go to a trial,
would that have a lot of bearing to a jury? Would it have a lot of weight?
PADOWITZ: Well, absolutely. I mean, evidence comes in many forms.
It can come in the form of testimony. It can come in the form of
circumstantial evidence and clearly observing the body of Trayvon Martin
and taking a look at his hands and taking a look at his knuckles, this is
all circumstantial evidence that any fact-finder, any jury can consider at
trial. But the more evidence that appears to come out in this case that
gets leaked out or witnesses are talking about clearly seem to indicate
that it is not anyone here fighting but Trayvon Martin who may be fighting
for his life. He`s being stalked by an individual and now he may be
fighting for his life. The fact that that there are some injuries to the
back of the shooter`s head doesn`t seem to indicate to me that there is not
probable cause. There clearly is probable cause for an arrest for some
type of homicide in this case.
SHARPTON: Now, Joe, isn`t this also the basis of why they are, those
that raised Zimmerman`s past as being something that can be considered here
being that he is the one that did the shooting? I never understood how we
go into Trayvon`s past where he`d never been charged with a crime. Yet the
shooter, clearly you would want to have some profile of him if there are
some questions here or whether he had the capacity of doing something wrong
or whether he had the capacity of having an anger problem or something.
Won`t this come to bear when you`re dealing with all of this kind of
evidence that clearly may be cloudy in areas?
MADISON: I`m not a lawyer, but my God, we don`t have Trayvon on
record, police record, committing what started out as a felony reduced to a
misdemeanor doing what -- jumping on a law enforcement agent who is
executing an arrest. I mean, that is anger management. I don`t know how
many people in the United States of America on the right or the left can
sit back and say, you don`t have an anger problem when you jump on a police
officer who tells you, whoa, back off and that officer is armed and you`re
angry enough to go after a police officer? Yes, it should have some bearing
and I would imagine that a good prosecutor and again I`m not a legal expert
-- it can bring that up in court. But nothing Trayvon has done. Now, this
is where the right wing is making a big mistake. Nothing that Trayvon has
done has -- did Zimmerman know about. That`s the point. He didn`t know
Trayvon at the time that Trayvon was shot.
SHARPTON: So, it`s so irrelevant.
MADISON: It`s irrelevant.
SHARPTON: There are no crimes charged there anyway.
SHARPTON: We`ll be talking about that next. Ken Padowitz and Joe
Madison, thank you both for your time tonight.
MADISON: Thank you.
PADOWITZ: Thank you.
SHARPTON: Ahead, some in the right wing media are using this tragedy
to attack. I`ll tell you why they are distorting the effort and have it
all wrong on this one. Next.
SHARPTON: The right wing trying to distort. We`ll set the record
SHARPTON: From the day I heard about the Trayvon Martin case, I made
it very clear that we are not asking for a conviction. We are asking for
an arrest. Because the facts clearly show there is probable cause. Then
George Zimmerman should answer in a court of law. We have also heard
Trayvon`s parents say that it isn`t about black and white. It`s about
right and wrong. But some in the right wing media have taken the case and
made it a political one.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BILL O`REILLY, FOX NEWS ANCHOR: MSNBC and CNN to some extent have a
vested interest in seeing Zimmerman punished because they have already
found him guilty on the air. So they are not going to respect any verdict
but guilty. Therefore, those entities will tell the American public that
racial injustice has been done if there is not a conviction. And that
could very well lead to violence as we saw in the Rodney King case.
Leading the charge to convict Zimmerman is Al Sharpton.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: This is not about self-defense. This is about a man
deciding somebody based on who he was, was a suspect and that he would take
matters in his own hands.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: Does that sound like I`m calling for a conviction or
violence? Here`s what I actually said at a rally in Sanford, Florida.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: Every man in here going to help us do security tonight and
we`re going to escort our sisters. Somebody says something stupid, say,
brother, this is for Trayvon tonight. Be cool.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: Now, what I was saying the night of the big rally is we
don`t want anybody acting up. We want everybody cool. I asked the men to
walk with the women because I don`t want even the outside possibility of
disruptions. But Bill O`Reilly isn`t the only one. Listen to what Rush
Limbaugh said today on his program.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RUSH LIMBAUGH, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: It`s all about Obama`s re-
election, pure and simple. And until Obama or Jackson or Sharpton lead
them to a story the media is not going to go there.
The story is doing more harm to the black community than anything else
out there right now.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: Joining me now is Michael Eric Dyson, MSNBC political
analyst and Georgetown University professor. And Jonathan Capehart,
opinion writer for the Washington Post and MSNBC contributor. Thank you
both for being here tonight.
JONATHAN CAPEHART, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: Thanks, Rev.
SHARPTON: Jonathan, let me start with you. You have been covering
the Trayvon Martin case. What are they trying to do by saying those things
that obviously have nothing to do with what we are trying to accomplish
CAPEHART: I have no idea what they are trying to do. And maybe, if
you want to put a good gloss on it, they are trying to minimize what you
and others have been trying to do. Trayvon Martin`s family and those of us
in the media who have been writing piece after piece after piece just
simply asking questions about what happened and how sit possible that an
unarmed teenager could be shot and killed by someone with a 9-millimeter
handgun who isn`t in police custody? And one of the things I have been
very careful about, you know, despite the e-mails I have been getting from
people making who are making the same accusations about me as they are
about you, not looking for a conviction. Looking for this person to be, at
a minimum, arrested and then taken out so that this case could be taken out
of the court of public opinion and be put where it belongs in a court of
SHARPTON: Now, Dr. Dyson, I think that two things, coming from the
tradition where I grew up as part of the organization Dr. King had founded,
one, we respond when called. And I responded when the parents and the
attorney asked us to come. In many cases, I never got involved in and was
criticized for not getting involved in. And second, that we must adhere to
nonviolence. And I remember, early in my career I would leave things open
and I have learned the hard way to be clear that we are not going to have
violence. Is that not the overall tradition that we have represented in
this case and that we have learned from Dr. King`s teachings?
MICHAEL ERIC DYSON, GEORGETOWN UNIVERSITY PROFESSOR: Absolutely,
Reverend Sharpton. You have ingeniously and I think courageously upheld
that tradition. First of all, don`t be disheartened because Martin Luther
King, Jr., was subject to the very assault, the calumny, the insults, the
slander that you have been subject to. When Martin Luther King, Jr. went
to Birmingham they said, why are you here? You`re bothering us. When he
went to Albany, they said, you`re an interloper, you`re an outsider.
Wherever he went when people called him, they dismissed him, they said,
look, our blacks securities are fine without you. The blacks and whites
are getting along fine. And we knew that Jim Crow was flying in a powerful
fashion over the lives of many African-American people in the south. So,
the reality is, that you are in a powerful tradition. Not simply in
calling for nonviolence which you have been clear about. Not simply going
to where you`ve been called but also in being assaulted. If Bill O`Reilly
were around when Martin Luther King, Jr. was around, he would be saying the
same thing about King that he`d saying about Jackson and Sharpton then.
SHARPTON: Well, I don`t even think it`s just me. I think they have
done this to all the supporters and the parents.
DYSON: Without a doubt.
SHARPTON: And I think that it is, as Jonathan, let me go back to you.
SHARPTON: A point you raised because you`re a writer, you`re not an
SHARPTON: You`re not saying a lot of things activists say. But all
of us have only said probable cause. Make an arrest. How can you call for
a conviction when you don`t even know what the charges? Supposedly the
charge is something the family and supporters don`t agree with.
SHARPTON: So, how could you even practically call for a conviction?
That just doesn`t make any legal sense.
CAPEHART: Right. You know, from the very beginning it has always
been -- the question has always been and I have always asked this question.
Why isn`t George Zimmerman in jail? That is the first hurdle.
CAPEHART: But in one of the first pieces I wrote, I cautioned readers
that especially when the Department of Justice got involved and started its
parallel investigation for possible hate crime charge, I cautioned right
then and there that the likelihood of a federal charge of hate crimes might
be unlikely because the bar is so high for the government to meet that it
might not be possible. It could be possible that George Zimmerman could be
charged on state charges where the bar is lower, but still, reminding
people that, you know, justice and the law don`t work in ways that, you
know, every day people think that it should work because the law is the law
and how you go about it is, you know, very tricky and nuanced process.
SHARPTON: Let me go back to Dr. Dyson because we`re running out of
time. I think the only thing that makes sense to me and Rush might have
slipped with it, is that they are really trying to tie this some kind of
way into the President. Because he mentioned President Obama who has as
much to do with these rallies and stuff as the man on the moon. Why are
they connecting this to the President and what do you think they are trying
to gain by politicizing this?
DYSON: Well, it`s a vicious politicization of it. And I think,
again, it`s a weak need attempt to try to assault the President`s
reputation, to link him again, to blacken him in the public consciousness
about which Mr. Capehart has brilliantly written and also to assert that
its illegitimate for us to be concerned about racial justice. And it`s not
simply racial justice, it`s right versus wrong, it`s not black versus white
and as Capehart has indicated, why isn`t this man in jail? What we are
trying to do Reverend Sharpton is say, if we have to go to this extreme and
this extent, just to get an arrest in the case of George Zimmerman, that
throws a sharp spotlight on the injustice that prevails in the justice
system and the way in which many people of color and for that matter poor
white people and poor Latinos are disserved by this justice system. Read
Michelle Alexander`s book, "The New Jim Crow." And it lays it out
SHARPTON: Mr. Capehart, you have been a journalist, you`re an editor
of "Washington Post," we went back in front of the house you grew up in
Jersey and showed what you went through. Did you do that because you
wanted to incite violence or try to get a conviction or were you just
trying to show people that people go through this and that`s why this
meant so much to so many?
CAPEHART: Right. To show people, you know, here is where I lived.
This is where those lessons, you know, took effect. But also because the
outpouring of emotion over that particular piece was really rather
overwhelming. And I`m not talking about from African-Americans. I`m
SHARPTON: A lot of people.
CAPEHART: .from a lot of people...
SHARPTON: Of all colors. And I have to leave it there, Jonathan.
CAPEHART: .who didn`t know the story.
SHARPTON: Thank you so much.
CAPEHART: Thanks, Rev.
SHARPTON: Thank you Mr. Dyson. We`ll be right back.
SHARPTON: I was back in Sanford, Florida this weekend marching with
hundreds to keep the pressure on local officials. Over the weekend, more
than 20 rallies were held around the country. Regular citizens calling for
peace and justice. Some celebrities a part of this movement. Chaka Khan
created a music video calling on people to show their support. Yesterday
in Miami, she and others joined me and the family in shining a bigger
spotlight on the case. This is a movement for nonviolence. In fact, I
have called for these kinds of nonviolent protests many times before. Like
in the Amadou Diallo case back in 2000 when police were acquitted. I also
called for peaceful protests after the police officers were acquitted in
the Sean Bell police case here in New York.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: We are going to react in a methodical and serious way. We
are going to engage in nonviolent civil disobedience. We are coming back
to demonstrate to the federal government that New Yorkers will not take
this abortion of justice laying down.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: So, even when we were disappointed, we called on
nonviolence. I learned years ago if you`re not clear, someone will come
behind you and do something and your enemies will try and blame it on you.
If you see people acting up, they are not with the Trayvon movement. The
parents made that clear. The only violence that`s happened so far is when
George Zimmerman killed Trayvon Martin. And we intend to keep it
nonviolent. And to address that violence only. Thanks for watching. I`m
Al Sharpton. "HARDBALL" starts right now.
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY
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Guests: Ron Allen, Joy-Ann Reid; Ken Padowitz, Joe Madison, Michael Eric Dyson,