ALL IN with CHRIS HAYES
December 3, 2014
Guest: Jumaane Williams, Melissa Mark-Viverito, Norman Siegel, Vince
Warren, Ta-Nehisi Coates
CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST: Good evening from New York. I`m Chris Hayes.
Tonight, protests fanning out across New York City and all over Manhattan
in the wake of the shocking decision by a Staten Island grand jury voting
today not to indict New York City Police Officer Daniel Pantaleo.
What you see are some images of the death of Eric Garner after being put in
a chokehold that resulted in Garner`s death. A 43-year-old, father of six,
Garner was stopped by police on Staten Island on July 17th apparently for
selling illegal loose cigarettes. And that widely seen video of the
incident starts with an exasperated Garner and ends with him face down on
the ground repeatedly telling the cops he can`t breathe.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Don`t worry, because he was just sitting here.
ERIC GARNER: I`m minding my business. (INAUDIBLE) walk away.
GARNER: Are you serious? I didn`t do nothing. I didn`t sell anything. I
did nothing. I was sitting here the whole time minding my business. What
are you talking about?
Who did I sell a cigarette to? To whom? For what? Every time you see me,
I`m tired of this. This stops today.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This guy right here is trying to lock somebody up for
breaking up a fight.
GARNER: I`m standing here. I didn`t do nothing. I did not sell nothing.
Because every time I see you, you want to harass me. You want to stop me,
and say I`m selling cigarettes.
I`m minding my business, officer. I`m minding by business. Please, just
leave me alone. I told you the last time, please leave me alone.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hold on.
GARNER: Don`t touch me, please. Do not touch me.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Damn, man.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Put your hand behind your head.
GARNER: I can`t breathe. I can`t breathe. I can`t breathe. I can`t
breathe. I can`t breathe. I can`t breathe.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: You heard Garner saying there in the final moments that he was
conscious was, "I can`t breathe, I can`t breathe, I can`t breathe, I can`t
New York medical examiner would later rule Garner`s death a homicide caused
by another person, determining the cause of death was, quote, "compression
of neck, chokehold, compression of chest and prone positions during
physical restraint by police."
The grand jury was convened in September by Staten Island District Attorney
Daniel Donovan to decide whether or not there was probable cause to indict
the officer seen on that tape ignoring Garner`s cries that he could not
breathe and like the grand jury in Ferguson, this one was a little unusual,
especially convened to consider the specific case and like the Ferguson
grand jury, it also heard all the evidence gathered by prosecutors. Like
the Ferguson grand jury, this one heard months of testimony from witnesses,
including two hours of testimony from the police officer whose indictment
they were considering, pretty rare for a grand jury proceeding.
Last night on this show, I asked New York Congressman Hakeem Jeffries what
kind of outcome he was expecting.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. HAKEEM JEFFRIES (D), NEW YORK: I can`t really imagine a circumstance,
Chris, where we at least don`t get a manslaughter indictment coming out of
this grand jury. And certainly for the sake of justice, for the sake of
the Garner family, I hope that`s going to be the case.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: After the announcement today, the congressman sounded a very
different note, echoing the widespread shock and outrage that greeted the
grand jury`s decision.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JEFFRIES: The decision by a grand jury not to indict in the death of Eric
Garner is a miscarriage of justice. It`s an outrage. It`s a disgrace.
It`s a blow to our democracy. And it should shock the conscience of every
single American who cares about justice and fair play.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: Today, President Obama addressed the decision and sense of distrust
in law enforcement that`s been enflamed by this case, as well as that of
Michael Brown and countless others over the years.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We are not going to let up
until we see a strengthening of the trust and a strengthening of the
accountability that exists between our communities and our law enforcement.
And I say that as somebody who believes that law enforcement has an
incredibly difficult job but they`re only going to be able to do their job
effectively if everybody has confidence in the system. And right now,
unfortunately, we are seeing too many instances where people do not have
confidence that folks are being treated fairly.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: Right now, we`re going to go live to a press conference called by
Reverend Al Sharpton, the National Action Network, with the family of Eric
Garner. Take a listen.
REV. AL SHARPTON, NATIONAL ACTION NETWORK: -- of Eric Garner, Gwenn Carr,
to my left is (INAUDIBLE), two of his daughters, Emerald and Erica, and his
son Emory, are standing with us. We`re joined also on stage by Minister
Kirstin John Foy (ph), who`s the regional director of the National Action
Network, the Staten Island president of our chapter, Cynthia Davis. We are
joined by the president of the New York state branches of the NAACP, Hazel
Dukes (ph), and we are joined by Assemblyman Karim Camara, Assemblyman
Walter Mosley, Senator Adriano Espaillat, and our home city councilwoman,
Ynez Dickens (ph).
And last but not least, one who has fought for many years to avoid us from
being at this moment, the presiding bishop of the House of the Lord
Churches, the Reverend Dr. Herbert Daughtry.
A week ago tonight on this stage stood the mother and father of Michael
Brown from Ferguson. Stood the domestic partner and mother of the child of
a young man killed in the pink houses in Brooklyn, New York, Mr. Gurley,
who will not even be funeralized until Friday night. We`ve not even had
the chance to bury him. They joined the mother and wife of Eric Garner.
We are dealing with a national crisis where in the last 90 days, from those
three cases to a 12-year-old boy in Cleveland whose funeral was just today,
how many people have to die before people understand this is not an
illusion, this is a reality that America has got to come to terms with.
And no amount of secret grand juries with local prosecutors that put up
evidence that we do not know is going to stop people from raising the
questions and demanding the answers. We are not advocating violence. We
are asking that police violence stop.
CROWD: That`s right. That`s right.
SHARPTON: Don`t make the kids or the adults that are protesting the one
wrong. We are marching against wrong. We are standing against wrong.
And here you now have a man choked to death on videotape and says 11 times,
"I can`t breathe." It is against the police department`s guidelines to
have a chokehold. It is against the law to have excessive force. But if
you are choking a man who is down with other police helping and hovering
over him, even if the guidelines don`t kick in your mind, even if the law
don`t kick on your mind, after 11 times of "I can`t breathe", when does
your humanity kick in?
We have called on, from the beginning, the federal government to intervene
in police cases. We have no confidence in local, state prosecutions
because state prosecutors work hand in hand with the local police. They do
not have the independence and lack of conflict. This is not a position we
are taking tonight. Prosecutors work hand in hand with the local police.
They do not have the independence and lack of conflict.
This is not a position we are taking tonight. We said this from the
beginning. The mother and wife of Eric Garner and their attorneys and I
have had two meetings with the federal government and the eastern district
and had press conferences at both times. So, you know we`ve asked for
We`ve asked for this now nationally because of Ferguson, because of
Cleveland and here. I was in the meeting at the White House with the
president as they began moving. The attorney general talked with Mrs.
Garner and me today. They talked about an independent investigation.
But let`s be clear -- let`s be clear that while we ask for the federal
government to move, we are moving that way on Saturday, a week from this
Saturday, December 13th, we are having a national march in Washington,
D.C., where we are calling for the Justice Department to take this case and
the case in Ferguson and the case in Cleveland. It is time for a national
march to deal with a national crisis.
Why a national march? Because if we -- we cannot be put around like social
hamsters. One minute Ferguson, next minute New York, next minute
Cleveland. No, we`re going to bring Ferguson, Cleveland and all of New
York to the nation`s capital.
CROWD: That`s right.
SHARPTON: To say enough is enough.
This Saturday, we will be -- they`ll be funeralizing former D.C. Mayor
Marion Barry. So, we`ll wait one week but we`ll use every day to organize.
Tomorrow morning, the presidents of civil rights organization, the head of
the Urban League and others, will be meeting here with us as we plan this
march. And we intend to organize until there is a direct move for justice.
The precedent, the precedent for this is Abner Louima. The federal
government took that case and that policeman 17 years is still in jail
CROWD: That`s right.
HAYES: Reverend Al Sharpton calling for a national movement to deal with a
national issue, calling for a march on Washington, referencing the case of
not just Eric Garner, Mike Brown and Tamir Rice, the 12-year-old boy shot
in Cleveland. Those protests the reverend is calling for, they`ve already
started spontaneously here throughout New York City.
Joining me now, NBC News correspondent Anne Thompson, who is live outside
on Sixth Avenue here in New York where protesters have been gathering.
Anne, what`s it like out there?
ANNE THOMPSON, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Chris, it`s a surreal scene. A
block away I can see the Christmas tree lighting ceremony. Behind me you
have probably 50 people in one of these pop-up demonstrations that support
all over midtown tonight. People who are now chanting, "I am Eric Garner."
They`re holding signs that say "I can`t breathe."
And one of the biggest signs here is being held by Terence Knox (ph).
Terence, you said you just couldn`t stay home tonight. Why did you come
TERENCE KNOX: You know, posting on social media is good for some things,
but something like this, the injustice of it all, I just couldn`t be happy
with just posting online.
THOMPSON: What do you want from the authorities?
KNOX: Well, what I actually like from our mayor is for him to ask for
Commissioner Bratton to step down and tender his resignation immediately.
That would be a great Christmas present to me. Then I could go over here
with Mariah Carey and sing Christmas Carols and look at that beautiful
But, Mayor, please ask Commissioner Bratton to take his broken windows
policies back to L.A. or wherever he`d like. We`re done with them.
THOMPSON: You felt -- you said you couldn`t stay home tonight. What is it
about what happened today that made you come here?
KNOX: You know what, I saw the video again and again and again, as I was
working at home today. And I thought, you know what? The injustice of it
all, the fact that a New York City citizen was murdered for something to
trivial. I just -- you can`t sit home in these moments.
THOMPSON: Terence, thank you very much.
So, Chris, once again, we have these pop-up demonstrations happening all
throughout midtown. But as we have been here, we have not seen any
violence. People are very vocal, they`re very determined, but no big
confrontations between police and protesters -- Chris.
HAYES: Anne Thompson, thank you very much.
Really surreal scene here at 30 Rock as protesters have come up from Union
Square, from other parts of the city, the tree lighting is here. There`s
tons of people. There`s tons of police officers. Protesters flowing
through all at the same time.
And joining me now is Trymaine Lee. He`s national reporter of MSNBC. He
is on Staten Island, right outside the store at which Eric Garner died.
Trymaine, what`s the scene been like out there tonight?
TRYMAINE LEE, MSNBC NATIONAL REPORTER: As you mentioned, just yards behind
me is the spot where Eric Garner died. And the scene here even when the
crowd behind me number in the dozens, it was still relatively solemn.
People I spoke to were not so much angry but frustrated. They had -- many
had given up all hope that there would be justice but they were still
holding on. And person after person said if not now, then when if not a
man captured on video in a chokehold saying again, "I can`t breathe, I
can`t breathe", then when?
I actually spent a few minutes with Ben Garner, Eric Garner`s father, and
he said he was just tired, but that he wanted to keep pushing on not just
today but tomorrow. He urged folks to remain calm and peaceful, but to
keep pushing. And so, again, unlike those crowds we see throughout the
city, it wasn`t raucous here but it was that kind of exhalation that not
just with Eric Garner but you had the Mike Brown situation and then, days -
- within days of that, the John Crawford situation in Ohio.
And so, folks here are wondering again, when will justice arrive? The
chants have risen from Ferguson here -- black lives matter, black lives
matter. Folks here say they`re losing any sense that America as a society,
as a culture believes that black lives in fact matter.
HAYES: Trymaine Lee in Staten Island, thank you much.
Here with me now, Democratic New York City Councilmember Jumaane Williams,
one of the most outspoken critics of stop and frisk, of some of the
policing tactics this city has used under Mayor Bloomberg, some of which
have ended, some of which have changed, some of which have continued.
Your reaction to today`s verdict? Were you surprised?
JUMAANE WILLIAMS (D), NEW YORK CITY COUNCIL: I`ve been vacillating between
numbness and abject anger. It took me a while to make some statements
because most of my statements were toward what I assume would be some B.S.
charge, that they would throw something and say, here. It was almost --
HAYES: Some lower charge he would be indicted on.
WILLIAMS: So, it just blew me away that there was nothing there. That we
can say and -- remember, this wasn`t a trial of guilt. This was a trial to
say, was there enough evidence that we should go trial? Is there enough
evidence that something wrong happened?
So, I look at that video of an unarmed man who did not pose a threat to
himself, police officers and other, I saw an illegal -- I`m sorry, a banned
chokehold used, the man saying "I can`t breathe" 11 times and killed and
murdered by this officer and then, Donovan said with the grand jury that
there was nothing there that led them to believe something wrong happened.
HAYES: So, whose fault is this? This is what you heard in Mike --
Ferguson, we had the process. This is the process and we got our fellow
citizens who are grand jurors, they looked at the evidence and maybe you
saw the video, but you didn`t hear all the testimony. Who do you hold
WILLIAMS: The process doesn`t work for black and brown people period. And
that`s what we have to get to.
And so, if some reason that people say that and think that selling
cigarettes, which no one`s proven he did or stealing a cigar should be a
death sentence for a black man. I remember when two teenagers were white
massacred some people in Columbine, the only thing I heard them talk about
was they were bullied and if only they had gotten some help, and the kind
of the sympathy that I heard from them.
It was amazing for some people who massacred. But for two black men who
stole a cigar and was allegedly selling cigarettes, the crime, the
punishment should be death. That`s amazing to me that we can say that in
2014. That doesn`t make any sense.
HAYES: You`re an elected -- you`re a member, you`re part of the system.
You`re an elected member of the government. You got a mayor who ran on
ending stop and frisk, you got that gentleman out on the street saying
Commissioner Bratton should resign, Police Commissioner Bratton opposed
making police chokeholds a crime specifically. What do you think about the
system that you are part of?
WILLIAMS: It is a problem. And there`s some things that shouldn`t happen.
It shouldn`t happen in New York City because there`s too many black and
brown elected officials like myself. There`s too many so-called
progressive elected officials, that these things shouldn`t be happening
here. They`re wrong to oppose that ban.
I understand why people say Bratton must go, the anger -- how many
commissioners must go, before we saw what the problem --
HAYES: Yes, the problem is deeper than the commissioner.
WILLIAMS: It`s deeper than the commissioner. And so, I want to see
happen, one, is the commissioner and the mayor, this man needs to be fired
immediately. He broke protocol.
HAYES: The federal government, the police officer in question?
WILLIAMS: Absolutely, and more than just the police officer, we witnessed
a murder on tape from people who violated protocol for someone they
believed was selling cigarettes and the sentence for him was death. They
need to be fired immediately so we can have accountability.
We have to have a national discussion that was mentioned because it was not
NYPD specific. We also have to stop sending only police to these
communities to solve a multi-pronged problem.
And if we don`t stop that, we say the people cry out, they want police.
They also say we want jobs, we want better housing, we want youth programs.
But the only thing we hear is police. And that is a problem in the black
and brown communities.
HAYES: City council member Jumaane Williams, thank you for making it up
here tonight. Thank you for your time tonight.
WILLIAMS: Thank you.
HAYES: Joining me now from Staten Island, we have Melissa Mark-Viverito.
She`s the Democratic speaker of the New York City Council.
Speaker Mark-Viverito, your reaction to the verdict today -- I`m sorry, not
the verdict, to the decision of the grand jury?
MELISSA MARK-VIVERITO (D), SPEAKER, NEW YORK CITY COUNCIL: Well, I mean,
to say that one isn`t angry or exasperated would be a blatant lie. There
was a sense of real frustration and maybe some of us, right, had a glimmer
of hope that some justice would be served. But then to hear from the grand
jury that absolutely no decision or no indictment was to be made when, as
Councilmember Williams indicated, we witnessed a murder on tape. We saw
not only the police officer that used the chokehold on Eric Garner but also
so many other cops around him that took no action or did not ask him to
I mean, you really have to ask, what will it take to get justice? And you
understand the frustration that exists. And again this is an issue that
doesn`t only cut across the African-American community. We have
communities across this city, Latinos and Asian-Americans, that have
experienced the same excessive use of force.
So, there`s concerns here and we really need to take a serious approach to
root this out.
HAYES: So, Speaker, let me ask you this, you guys say, what will it take?
There`s a lot of people in the city who voted for Mayor Bill de Blasio who
is a strong supporter of yours, and who voted for him on a platform of
changing the way this city was policed.
And what are you saying to them today when you say we came out, we voted,
we voted for change and we`re looking at this decision from the grand jury
and we feel like we got fed a bill of goods?
MARK-VIVERITO: Look, this is a systemic issue. We`re talking about biases
that exist systematically in our culture and our society. And that is not
something that`s going to be rooted out or changed overnight.
I know that due to community pressure, due to mobilizations and actions
that Jumaane, myself and other colleagues across the city have engaged in,
we have seen some decisions at the federal level, when it comes to the use
of stop and frisk in New York City. We have seen some changes taking
effect with the NYPD with regards to policy changes.
And the reality is, that as much as I want to see those changes take effect
overnight, that is not going to happen, but doesn`t mean that we shouldn`t
be inspired and be motivated to continue the pressure on the ground, to
organize and galvanize around the injustice that exists. That`s what we
have to do and that is what the family has asked us to do as well, is to
continue to struggle, obviously, in a peaceful way. But we need to be
mobilized and continue to express and channel that frustration in a way
that we will change the system, and that`s where we need to end up.
HAYES: New York City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, thank you very
The New York City Police department banned chokeholds over 20 years ago.
So, how could the grand jury have not indicted Officer Daniel Pantaleo?
We`ll talk about that, ahead.
HAYES: When you watch the video in the Eric Garner case, it certainly
looks like what happened to Garner was a choke hold. The medical
examiner`s report says Garner died from a chokehold and compression of the
chest during physical restraint by police. The medical examiner ruled it a
homicide, that`s a medical determination.
The New York City Police Department banned the chokeholds in 1993. NYPD
patrol guy procedure number 203-11 reads in part, "Members of the New York
City Police Department will not use chokeholds. A choke hold shall include
but is not limited to any pressure to the throat or wind pipe which may
prevent or hinder breathing or reduced intake of air."
In 1994, 29-year-old Anthony Baez was killed when a police officer Francis
Livoti employed a chokehold following an altercation after a stray football
from a neighborhood game hit a police car. Police maintained Mr. Baez`s
death resulted from his asthma, not the chokehold. While the medical
examiner concluded that Mr. Baez died from compression of his neck and
chest and that his asthma was a contributing factor much like in the case
of Mr. Garner.
Officer Livoti was later indicted and charged with criminally negligent
homicides. Two years later, he was acquitted by a Bronx judge, ruling the
prosecutor did not prove guilt beyond reasonable doubt.
In a separate federal trial, Officer Livoti was sentenced to 7 1/2 years in
prison after being found guilty of violating the federal civil rights of
We do not, of course, have access to all the evidence the grand jury saw in
front of us because those proceedings are secret and they`re not being
released. But we have all seen the video, and a whole lot of people across
political spectrum tonight are finding it very difficult indeed to
understand how the police officer in this case was not indicted.
Joining me now, Norman Siegel, former director of New York City`s Civil
Liberties Union; Vince Warren, executive director for the Center for
You have been litigating with police for decades, 50 years combined between
the two (ph). How surprised were you by today`s decision?
VINCENT WARREN, CENTER FOR CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHTS: As a lawyer, I was
shocked, absolutely shocked that this happened. As a human being, I was
saddened. As a black human being, I`m angry about it.
NORMAN SIEGEL, FORMER DIRECTOR, NEW YORK CIVIL LIBERTIES UNION: I wasn`t
shocked. If you know the history of this, the process is secret. It`s not
adversarial. We should abolish the grand juries when you have these kinds
of cases. And you should go to an open, adversarial preliminary hearing.
HAYES: OK, let`s talk about this. How does this happen? We`re not saying
-- we`re talking probable cause. We`re talking can you charge a person?
HAYES: Who we saw on tape do this. Explain to me how this even came
about? Obviously, you weren`t in the grand jury room but knowing what you
know, how did this come about?
SIEGEL: I once served on the grand jury. They didn`t exclude me. So, I
had an experience on that.
And what happens is the grand jury, which at one time historically was a
bulwark of liberty against an oppressive government is now outdated. What
happens is it becomes an instrument of manipulation by the prosecutor.
Usually it winds up with a probable cause indictment.
HAYES: Because that is what the prosecutor wants.
SIEGEL: But not when it`s a cop.
SIEGEL: The built-in conflict of interest, the cop needs the police hour
to hour on all his 98 percent of his criminal prosecutions.
HAYES: The prosecutor you`re saying.
SIEGEL: If the prosecutor goes against the cops, he won`t get the
cooperation on his cases. So the prosecutor behind closed doors is able to
manipulate the grand jury to not get an indictment.
HAYES: This is -- I mean, it`s like if you went to work tomorrow at the
Center for Constitutional Rights, Vince, and I said your job today is to
pants off the guy that sits in the cubicle next to you, right? Because I
mean, let`s -- police, grand juries and prosecutors, they all work together
every day. I mean, the prosecutor`s office is talking to the police who
are giving them -- who are handing over the cases who are then testifying
in their trials. They`re on the same team.
WARREN: Right. They`re on the same team and what happened here very
clearly was it`s the prosecutor`s job to get an indictment. If there`s no
prosecutor has failed. We have to ask ourselves why is that?
HAYES: How did this happen under everyone`s noses in the media capital of
America? Everyone saw it happen.
WARREN; I will tell you exactly how that happened, here`s how that grand
jury process should have gone. They should have shown the videotape, they
should have then handed out the popcorn, then they should have taken the
vote. They would have gotten an indictment.
But what actually went on was that they gave all of this information to the
jury and they shifted the from securing an indictment wit the evidence that
would support a charge to one where they were making sure that they could
figure out and bring in what the defense --
SIEGEL: The prosecutor Dan Donovan never should have never had this case.
This should have been a special prosecutor appointed by Governor Cuomo. He
was asked to do that. He did not do that. His father --
HAYES: Does he have the power to do that?
SIEGEL: Yes, and he didn`t do it. And he doesn`t do it because it`s a
political decision. And we`ve got to get beyond putting cameras on the
officers, which creates a whole 1984 issue. And we have to deal with bold
systemic change because this will happen again and again.
HAYES: So, bold systemic change looks like an institutionalized procedure
by which cases such as these move into a channel other than the normal
WARREN: Well, no, what we have to do is we have to create a system that
makes sense, that`s transparent and that we can trust. And as we`ve all
pointed out, there is a built-in conflict of interest every time a
prosecutor has a police officer in his clutches. It will almost always
turn out that there`s no indictment. So, we have to shift the power
dynamic and put it in the hands of people that could look at that and --
HAYES: Well, let me play devil`s advocate for a second.
SIEGEL: You don`t look like the devil.
HAYES: Well, that`s how the devil works.
If the police are -- have the job of taking risk, physical risk, they are
imbued by the state with the authority to use force in ways that normal
civilians are not. That`s part of their job.
SIEGEL: No problem.
HAYES: They -- the latitude, therefore, for them to use force is far
and maybe the grand jury just saw a lot of stuff or heard a lot of
testimony that we don`t have access to and we would have come to the same
decision if we were sitting in their shoes.
SIEGEL: But the process is not fair. It is not fair and it frustrates
justice, because you don`t see the process. It`s secret. In New york it
can`t even be made public as it was done in Ferguson. So, what you know
have to do is recognize every state should have a special prosecutor for
police misconduct. We should go to preliminary hearings. We should
integrate the police department so they reflect the racial makeup of the
city or the town that they`re doing, and you
need some real training with regard to undoing the stereotypes.
Without that, putting a camera on a cop, we had the video here, look at the
WARREN: But here`s -- Norman is absolutely right, but there`s another
piece to this, which we have to remember, which is that the camera
situation doesn`t solve the systemic racism problem. We have a systemic
There are two things that happened in that grand jury. Number one, the
prosecutor presented a case where he was abdicating his authority and,
number two, I suspect that the grand jurors, like jurors in America, see
police officers as
almost like superhuman. They can`t imagine that police officers can commit
crimes in the course of their duties which they do all the time,
particularly where there are black people.
HAYES: And they are also obviously interpreting the posed threat, or
supposed threat through a racial lens as a lot of psychological research
shown. Norman Siegel and Vince Warren, thank you gentlemen both.
SIEGEL: Thank you.
HAYES: All right, you`re looking at some live footage of some of the
protests here in New York City as people are congregating, fanning out
through the streets. There are folks on the streets to see the tree
lighting which is happening just outside these windows here. There are
also folks on the street protesting the decision of the grand jury not to
indict Eric Garner.
I`m going to talk to the man blasted the St. Louis Rams players who held
their hands up on Sunday in support of protesters upset over Michael
Brown`s death. I`m going to talk to him ahead.
HAYES: The officer who was not indicted today, Daniel Pantaleo released a
statement in which he, among other things, offered condolences to the
Garner family just a few moments ago at a press conference at The National
The widow of Eric Garner was asked how she`d respond to the condolences
expressed by the officer.
(BEGIN VIEO CLIP)
ESAW GARNER, WIDOW OF ERIC GARNER: Hell no. The time for remorse would
been when my husband was yelling to breathe. That would have been the time
for him to show some type of remorse or some type of care for a another
human being`s life, when he was screaming 11 times that he can`t breathe.
So there`s nothing that him or his prayers or anything else would make me
feel any different. No, I don`t accept his apology. No, I could care less
about his condolences. No, I could care less. He`s still working. He`s
still getting a paycheck. He`s still feeding his kids. And my husband is
six feet under. And I`m looking for a way to feed my kids now.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: Be back with much more with Eric Garner decision in a break.
HAYES: One of the most stalwart defenders of police conduct in Ferguson
has been Democratic State Representative Jeffrey Roorda. He`s the business
manager of the St. Louis Police Officers Association. Roorda is the man
who released that blistering statement blasting Ram football players for
adopting the hands-up pose on Sunday calling it, quote, unthinkable that
hometown athletes would so publicly perpetuate a narrative that has been
disproven over and over again, unquote about the last moments of Michael
And joining me now is Jeff Roorda, business manager for the St. Louis
Police Officers Association and former NYPD detective Mark Claxton,
director of Black Law Enforcement Alliance.
Representative Roorda, let me start with you. Do you understand why there
are so many people upset about the Eric Garner decision today?
JEFFREY ROORDA, (D) MISSOURI STATE REPRESENTATIVE: You know, I don`t claim
to know as much about that situation, Chris. I`ve watched it from a
distance like much of America has, but I heard some folks in your last
block talk about -- and it`s kind of a weird subtext that we`ve heard --
that it`s the prosecutor`s job to indict, the prosecutor`s job to indict.
The prosecutor`s job is to seek justice and to seek the truth.
And we don`t know what happened behind closed doors in the grand jury, but
I sure hope that`s what happened.
HAYES: Do you think that`s how a prosecutor normally operates? I mean,
when it is reversed, right, when a police officer has been shot, when a
civilian has been burgled, you know, I don`t hear a lot of police officers
talking about how much discretion prosecutors have to offer, how they
should be restrained, how they should offer all the evidence.
ROORDA: Well, I think that`s exactly what happens. I don`t think
prosecutors -- we`re upset all the time when we bring good cases to the
prosecutor where we believe there`s clear cause to charge and prosecutors
don`t pursue charges.
HAYES: Are you telling me that if Michael Brown had shot and killed Darren
Wilson, Bob McCulloch would have used an identical process in which he
would have presented all of the testimony, all of the evidence without
ROORDA: Well, that`s a hypothetical.
HAYES: But clearly he wouldn`t have done that, we can agree on that.
ROORDA: Well, I mean, if there was evidence that Michael Brown killed the
police officer, yes, I`d think that Bob McCulloch would have pursued
charges vigorously. He didn`t believe there was evidence that Darren
Wilson acted in a criminal way.
HAYES: Mr. Claxton, let me ask you this, one of the things we`re seeing
here is it feels like there`s a kind of falling in line that`s happened
among police officers in police culture. I was just looking at some common
threads on Police One that were very unnerving.
How do you address the cultural aspects of how police think of themselves
in relationship to the community?
MARK CLAXTON, FRM NEW YORK POLICE DETECTIVE: I think what has occurred
throughout the nation is occurring in these cases that we`re seeing more
recently is that the police -- within the subculture there are these vows
in this fraternity and these strong bonds that supersede even the vows that
they`ve taken to hhold
their respective positions in their agencies.
So, it becomes a matter we`re all in this together, hell or high water,
regardless of the circumstances and individuals who represent police
officers do that blindly, unabashedly, unashamed, and they put on the back
burner the vows that they took to uphold the constitution and the state
laws and their department of regulations. That should supersede all, but
it naturally doesn`t.
HAYES: Mr. Roorda, do you agree with that?
ROORDA: Give me a break. These guys go out and put their lives on the
line for these communities every single day.
HAYES: Do you think it`s true that police officers don`t cover for each
other, they don`t ever spin things or say false things for each other?
ROORDA: Well, I think it`s fun to say that and to perpetuate this distrust
of police, but let`s forget that both in the Garner case and in the Brown
case, that if either of them had complied with the police, that these might
have had different outcomes, not that the outcomes are not tragic and that
other than a
police officer dying, the worst outcome that could come from these
interactions. But let`s not lay all the blame at law enforcement and let`s
HAYES: Mr. Claxton -- yeah, you`re talking about compliance in the case of
Eric Garner. Mr. Claxton is a former New York City Police detective.
What`s your response to that?
CLAXTON: Well, I think what Mr. Roorda is doing is what a lot of people
make the mistake of doing and presupposing things and accepting things as
facts when they haven`t been established as facts neither in the grand jury
or in reality.
And to go further in specifically dealing with this Garner case, which he`s
indicating he may not have as much information on, it`s on videotape. So,
we don`t have to presuppose so many of these items and issue, but we can
review what happened over in Ferguson.
And quite clearly, you know, there is a bias that Mr. Roorda and many
police officers have accepted and have put out in the media and just
treated as if it`s
fact, when it is not established fact.
Even the grand jury process did not establish facts. They examined
evidence and made their own judgments based on a faulty presentation made
by the prosecutor, which has set precedent throughout this nation.
ROORDA: How is it faulty?
CLAXTON: Well, the process itself.
When the process for all of these years and all of the cases --
ROORDA: This is a prosecutor that put every single piece of evidence
before a grand jury --
CLAXTON: Let me answer you a question. Let me ask you this question --
ROORDA: And then he`s criticized for giving too much information to the
CLAXTON: Let me just answer your question. You asked me how it was
the process all of a sudden became a new process. All of the cases
previous to it,
and probably all the cases since that time, did not follow this pattern
where basically throw everything in the pool and let the grand jury --
HAYES: Mr. Rooda, if this is the best process that will can be offered,
will you commit here on air for calling for Bob McCulloch to pursue this
process in all subsequent cases?
ROORDA: The process that Bob McCulloch used in this case was different.
It was to oblige the public outcry when he didn`t believe there was enough
to charge. He didn`t believe that the evidence led to the conclusion that
the officer violated the law, but he still took it --
HAYES: If it`s a good process, should the prosecutor demand that process -
ROORDA: He still provided all the evidence to the grand jurors and they
reached the same conclusion that he did.
HAYES: If the process is a good process, should the prosecutor always use
that process, yes or no?
ROORDA: No, he shouldn`t have used in this case. He should have said
there`s not enough evidence to pursue a charge here. He should have never
taken it to the grand jury.
HAYES: We`ll be right back.
HAYES: There`s a standoff right now between protesters and police on the
West Side Highway here in New York where it appears protesters have shut
down part of the West Side Highway, this in response to the decision of the
grand jury not to indict the police officer who put a choke hold or an arm
around the neck of Eric Garner as he said I can`t breathe 11 times before
Joining me now is Ta-Nehisi Coates, senior editor for The Atlantic.
All right, Ta-Nehisi, where do we start with this? What was your reaction
today when you heard the news?
TA-NEHISI COATES, SENIOR EDITOR, THE ATLANTIC: I was -- I would like to
say that I was surprised, I was not surprised. I was not shocked at all.
I think we expect our grand juries to exist outside of the context, outside
of the forces that, you know, effect ordinary human beings, ordinary
Americans who live in this country. And that just isn`t true.
You know, laws, grand juries, all of our hallowed institutions they are
what the people make them to be ultimately. They don`t exist on some other
plane immune from other forces like American racism.
So I`d like to say I was shocked and surprised. I was not, regrettably.
HAYES: I saw you saying earlier today or I think you might have tweeted
this, the way we`ve been having this discussion is about the intersection
of policing and racial bias. And you were saying let`s not hole the police
out as an institution that is the one institution in American life
particularly tainted by racial bias.
Well, I mean, the history of this country is, you know, we have this long
history of racism in this country. And as it happens, the criminal justice
system has been perhaps the most prominent instrument for administering
racism, but the racism doesn`t actually come from the criminal justice
system, it doesn`t come from the police. The police are pretty much doing,
you know, what the society, you know, they originate from want them to do.
If you -- you can look at any number of studies on how African-Americans
are perceived in terms of criminality versus other Americans, you can look
at the long history of criminalizing black people in this country which did
not begin with Eric Garner, which did not begin with Tamir Rice, which did
not begin with John Crawford, this is a very, very old tradition in this
And the expectation that the police, that our grand juries, that our
prosecutors will exist outside of history is I think a grave mistake.
I think we have to, you know, come to some sort of terms with the country
that we`re living in.
HAYES: Ok, so if that`s true, how do you avoid either fatalism or impotent
rage? So what is -- what do you do?
COATES: Well, I don`t know that you avoid infinite rage. I mean, infinite
rage can be, you know, I walk around with it. You know Baldwin talked
about this, you know, to be black in America is to walk around all afire,
in rage constantly.
So, I don`t know that you can avoid that.
In terms of avoiding fatalism, listen, I`m the descendant of enslaved black
people in this country. You could have been born in 1820 if you were black
and looked back to your ancestors and saw nothing but slaves all the way
back to 1619, look forward another 50 or 60 years and saw nothing but
slave, you know, forward. There was no reason at that point in time to
believe that emancipation was 40 or 50 years off, and yet folks resisted
and folks fought on.
So, you know, fatalism isn`t really an option. Even if you think you`re
going to necessarily win the fight today in your lifetime, in your child`s
lifetime, you still have to fight. I mean, it`s kind of selfish to say
that you are only going to fight for a victory that you will live to see.
As an African-American, we stand on the shoulders of people who fought
despite not seeing victories in their lifetime or even in their children`s
lifetime or even their grand-children`s lifetime. So fatalism isn`t really
HAYES: Right now, as you and I are talking Ta-Nehisi, there`s an image
that we`re showing of folks who are marching down, I believe that is the
West Side Highway. And they`ve shut it down.
There have been wave of protests ever since that grand jury decision was
announced in Ferguson over a week ago. And one of the things that I think
you keep pointing out in your writing is that at the time that protests
happened, a lot of
people are talking about how they`re not the right kind of protests.
They`re too disruptive or they`re not accomplishing the right thing, and
then 40 years later or 50 years later the people organizing them get put on
But then we forget that when they were actually happening people were --
didn`t think -- they thought they were too disruptive.
COATES: The protest is against the policies, you know, or the enaction of
policies by the American state, to expect the American state to then
approve those protests at the same time is a little insane. It`s easy to
approve the protests 40 years later, you know, when you don`t have to deal
with Martin Luther King, when you`re not Bobby Kennedy and having, you
know, to worry about balancing federal
laws and state laws.
But people in that time, in the time of the actual protests don`t -- in
I mean, a protest that`s approved of isn`t kind of defeats itself. It`s
HAYES: It isn`t a protest.
COATES: It`s not a protest. What are you protesting? You know, if
HAYES: Ta-Nehisi, where do you think right now there is something about
this moment that`s kind of galvanize -- I mean, just feels today like on
the heels of what happened in Ferguson, with the video of the shooting of
12-year-old Tamir Rice, with the way that social media operates and the
camera phone`s operating, we now have a kind of consciousness of what`s
happening that we weren`t able to get before in quite the same way and
whether that galvanizes something nationally. What do you thing?
COATES: Maybe, maybe. I don`t know. I hope so. I would like to think
so. I would like to think that the drive-by killing of an 11-year-old
child would galvanize something, but Chris, I really hate to keep going
back to this.
but we are under the weight of some 350 years of state-sanctioned racism
and about 50 years of just halfway trying to dig our way out of that. To
expect things to change because, you know, a few cases over the past few
months I think is to expect too much.
This is a long, long fight. I`m not calling for fatalism. I`m not calling
for giving up. But, you know, we ought to be tougher than to just expect
that because suddenly we`re aware, those of us who watch and love MSNBC are
aware that that necessarily means that change is around the corner.
HAYES: Ta-Nehisi, I want you to stay with me and I want to bring in MSNBC
political analyst, former RNC chairman Michael Steele into this
And Michael, today I was happy to see a kind of cross-ideological
bipartisan unanimity -- Charles Krauthammer, Andrew Napolitano on Fox News
and people on Red State saying this is outrageous, this is ridiculous.
Here is my question for you? Is that going to last? Because I remember
people reacting that way to the Trayvon Martin death. I actually remember
people reacting that way to the SWAT teams in Ferguson. And then it didn`t
And then when I happened lo these many months later was conservatives in my
Twitter feed saying the most vile, execrable stuff I could imagine.
So, my question is, can this be a moment where there is some kind of
bipartisan consensus about the fact that policing and the criminal justice
procedures in this country are in some deep fundamental sense broken?
COATES: Well, you know, I guess I kind of have to come at this with a
And that would be, I don`t see this strictly in the political lens, Chris,
so this idea of will it last if Republicans engage or Democrats engage, I
think this is really about what the American people need to do at this
I`ve been saying for some time we fundamentally have to deal with the
quintessential issues around race, the black and white of race in this
country. This is not about Hispanics, this isn`t about Asians or women,
this is about black people and white people in this country. Mr. Coates
just noted, we`re talking about 350 years of this struggle. So, bring it
down to what Republicans and Democrats do to me doesn`t really get to where
we need to go.
But having said that, I will say that the idea that you do have this
bipartisan recognition, the Republicans along with others recognizing that
we need to move on this, Rand Paul being one of the leading voices with
respect to criminal justice reform, looking at our justice system as a
whole I think is an important step.
HAYES; Ta-Nehisi, even given the weight of all the history that we know we
have and given the inheritance the criminal justice system has, which is
laid out in Michelle Alexader`s great book "New Jim Crow" among other
places as being a part of institution in American life that patrols the
boundary of kind of racial power and hierarchy, we could also have that
same history and have half as many people in prison as we have now with
some fairly straightforward reforms to the kinds of laws we have and
policing we do.
COATES: Yeah, but I think the question that has to be asked is why haven`t
those reforms happened. And I just, again, I think that takes you back to
the society itself. You know, and so I think in many ways, you know, this
conversation about policy, about policing practices, you know, even
extending it out to mass
incarceration, I think that we should not let ourselves as a society off
There are reasons why, you know, these policies exist. Look, either we
live in a democracy or we don`t. You know, and maybe some would argue that
we don`t, but if we`re going to accept that we do, if we`re going to accept
that votes matter, that the process matters then you know, we can`t avoid
fundamental truths about people who are deciding what the government will
be justice, that the people get the government they deserve in a democracy.
And I think that`s kind of where
HAYES: Michael --
STEELE: Hey, Chris, can I just dovetail right on to that? And it goes
back to your last conversation. The prosecutors in both the Ferguson case
and in this case prosecuted to the extent that they wanted to, and at the
end of the day they either will vigorously apply this process on behalf of
the victim or they won`t. And if they`re out to protect a class of
individuals, this system will not survive. And I think we`re seeing
evidence of that.
HAYES: So, you don`t think they were trying to vigorously prosecute this?
STEELE: No, come on, come on. I mean, look, at the end of the day, just
in looking at the video itself, I mean, you may not want to go for first
degree murder, but then you`ve got assault, you`ve got all sorts of other
COATES: You have other options. You have other options.
HAYES: You even have a New York statute that makes it illegal to choke
STEELE: Right. Exactly.
COATES: No, you had other options.
STEELE: So if you don`t want to vigorously want to prosecute the system
for the benefit of the victims, then this system will not work.
HAYES: And that gets -- to what the essential nature of this system is,
HAYES: Do we have equal justice under law or don`t we? And there`s a lot
of people asking some pretty profound and deep questions about the nature
of that. You see some of them walking through the streets tonight in New
York in spontaneous protest, walking up the West Side Highway with cars
there. They`ve fanned out across the city. We`ve seen protests as well in
Philadelphia, some in Ferguson as well and all in reaction to this very
shocking, I might say, decision from the
grand jury not to indict the police officer that led to the death of Eric
Ta-Nehisi Coates and Michael Steele, thank you gentlemen both. I really
All right that is "All In" for this evening. The Rachel Maddow Show starts
right now. Good evening, Rachel.
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