Melissa Harris-Perry, Transcript 07/11/15
MELISSA HARRIS-PERRY, MSNBC HOST: This morning my question, where were you
when the Confederate Flag finally came down? Plus, the new immigration
debate and what it means to be a sanctuary city. And a troubling new
report on girls in juvenile detention. But first, fulfilling the promise
of the Fair Housing Act.
Good morning. I`m Melissa Harris-Perry and it has been 30 years since
(INAUDIBLE) got into the DeLorean, tripped out with time travel technology
and went back to the future to find out what if. What if you could go back
and correct the mistakes of the past? How might the future be fixed?
Fresh off the 30th anniversary of the iconic film I found myself wondering
about those precise questions as I thought about what President Obama`s
attempt this week was to correct the mistakes of presidents who came before
Because on Wednesday, Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julian Castro
announced that the federal government would finally be fulfilling a past
commitment that it - to keep for nearly five decades, and to honor its
legal obligation to enforce the dismantling of residential segregation in
the creation of racially integrated communities as required by the Fair
Housing Act of 1968. The act was passed and signed by President Lyndon
Johnson after the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. sparked riots
in 125 cities. And when President Johnson charged the commission with
investigating the underlying cause of the riots, their findings lay bare
the truth about residential segregation in America.
What white Americans have never fully understood, but what the Negro can
never forget, is that white society is deeply implicated in the ghetto.
White institutions created it, white institutions maintain it, and white
society condones it. The Fair Housing Act was intended to begin
dismantling those institutions and reassembling with integrated, mixed
income communities. The law banned racial discrimination and housing, but
it also required the government to play a proactive role in transforming
America`s segregated communities and affirmatively furthering fair housing
using the power of federal money. If state and local governments wanted
housing dollars from the federal government, the Fair Housing Act said they
had to show they deserved those dollars by proving their commitment to
However, as Nicole Hannah Jones reported in her 2012 deep dive for
ProPublica, decade after decade the federal government failed to enforce
the law. President Richard Nixon set the precedent when he shut down House
secretary George Romney`s efforts to give the law some teeth and, according
to Jones, over the next four decades a succession of presidents, Democrat
and Republican alike, followed Nixon`s lead declining to use the leverage
of HUD`s billions to fight segregation. After all, those billions, HUD
didn`t get much for its money because it doled out all those dollars in
exchange for communities that are still as segregated today as they were 50
But the new rules announced by the Obama administration are designed to
ensure the federal government gets what it pays for. Local governments
will now have to explain in detail how the federal housing money they
receive will be used to reduce segregation and will get some help from
Washington with finding previously hidden barriers to fair housing in their
communities and figuring out how best to move those barriers out of the
Housing advocates and civil rights groups welcome the new rules as a long
overdue step towards achieving the goals set by the Fair Housing Act so
many years ago, but the promise of what that future could be leaves me
wondering about what the present might have been.
As “The New York Times” wrote in a May editorial, a growing body of
evidence suggests that America would be a different country today, had the
government taken its responsibilities serious which brings me back to that
question, what if? How different would our country be if the government
had taken its responsibilities seriously all those years ago? If Hurricane
Katrina had struck in New Orleans where poor African American residents
weren`t relegated to the low line neighborhoods that are most vulnerable to
flooding. If those - on those rooftops had been a multiracial,
economically diverse cross section of the city? How might asthma rates be
different for black children if they weren`t so much more likely to live in
communities where they are exposed to toxic chemicals and where they
breathe polluted air? What if Baltimore was a city where government
actively worked to expand opportunity instead of as researcher Richard
Rothstein concluded creating policies that quarantine Baltimore`s black
population in isolated slums? If Chicago`s gangs had not been dispersed by
the breakup of housing projects meant to confine African Americans to a
segregated corner of the city, what else might we be counting other than
the tally of those who have been killed? If people of color were not
concentrated in communities where they are easy targets for predatory
lenders peddling subprime mortgages, what if all the educational and
economic and safety and health disadvantages compounded by living in the
wrong zip code were diminished by a government deeply invested in
eliminating those disadvantages 50 years ago? What would our country look
like now if we made those choices then?
Joining me now is Lisa Rice, executive vice president of the National Fair
Housing Alliance, Basil Smikle who is executive director of the New York
State Democratic Party, James Perry, community activist and advocate who
spent a decade as the executive director of the Greater New Orleans Fair
Housing Action Center and then full disclosure, it`s my husband, and Thomas
Sugrue who is professor of social and cultural analysis and history at New
York University. So, Lisa, I actually want to start with you. Can you
answer that question? How would the world look different right now if this
rule had been actively enforced at the beginning of this law?
LISA RICE, EXEC. VP, NATIONAL FAIR HOUSING ALLIANCE: Yeah, I can`t answer
that question. The world would look very, very differently. The United
States would be a much more integrated society. If you remember, if you
look at the census historically America has always been integrated. It
wasn`t until governments and municipalities started implementing policies
and rules and ordinances to drive segregation, to drive residential
segregation that America became a segregated society.
HARRIS-PERRY: So we tend to think of it quite the opposite, as segregation
as the kind of natural state of being and somehow we`ve heard of this week
the notion of social engineering to create this new America, but, James,
let me ask you this. Because I have watched you over the years doing this
work and I wonder is this enough especially given that there are now 50
more years of this inequality and sort of deepening of segregation?
JAMES PERRY, COMMUNITY ADVOCATE: It`s progress but is it enough? Of
course not. You know, the issue is that the rule, as good as it is,
doesn`t have enough teeth. And so, when it comes to the money that we`re
talking about, it`s some of the most flexible money that you can get in the
city. And so, if you are married and you have this money, you know, you
kind of want to use it in a way that supports all of your political goals
and it becomes very difficult for the federal government to make them spend
it in a way that desegregates a community.
HARRIS-PERRY: So, help me understand that a little bit more when you talk
about the political goals. I want to come to you on this, in part because
here we have a late administration, right? We have a president within his
last year of his second term making an announcement like this and maybe
with a policy with some teeth or maybe not enough teeth. And I keep
thinking, man, does this just end up being a tool for, for example,
Republican governors and others to push back against it?
PERRY: Well, they`re certainly going to do that. I mean we`ve seen this
with also Obamacare, what the Republicans talk a lot about the states`
rights. And you see that a lot of Republicans now say we don`t want the
federal government telling us what to do, how to construct and plan our
cities. But going back to an earlier comment, I think this is - it`s such
an empowering thing. Because when you think about wealth in communities
particularly among African-American households, there`s a Pew research
study that said that the average assets for the median white household is
$142,000, for the median black household it`s $11,000.
PERRY: So, I think it`s an appropriate time for …
HARRIS-PERRY: And if we break that down for unmarried African-American
women, we`re down in the handful of dollars.
PERRY: Right. Single digits.
HARRIS-PERRY: Right. Single digits.
PERRY: And I think for the president, for this administration, if you want
to tackle – one of the things that you want to tackle is trying to solve
the wealth gap that I think the minimum wage laws can do but not do enough
HARRIS-PERRY: So, Tom, actually, walk with us a little bit more on that
then, this idea of wealth. Because I do think it gets - it can get a bit
confused in our public conversations where we talk about jobs and economic
development which matter greatly putting people back to work in the kind of
unemployment rate is our one measure, but this notion of housing is tied in
so many other ways to kind of economic well-being in a longer sense.
THOMAS SUGRUE, PROFESSOR, NEW YORK UNIVERSITY: Absolutely. We hold most
of our assets in the form of real estate in the United States. The house
is the way that we accumulate wealth and pass it down from generation to
generation. It`s a way that we help subsidize our kids going to college.
Give them money in the form of inheritance when we pass away. And the
gross disparities in value in the housing market across metropolitan areas
means that those wealth gaps, the household division between whites and
African Americans is reinforced rather than undermined. We`ve seen gain,
we`ve seen progress over the last 50 years since the fair housing
legislation of the 1960s, but not in household wealth. There we`ve seen
stagnation and decline.
HARRIS-PERRY: Lisa, have we seen gain - it`s been 50 years almost since
the passage and I report over and over again on this show our communities
are nearly as segregated today as they were 50 years ago and in some parts
of the country more segregated than they were except for some small portion
of African-Americans, Latinos who generated some portion of it. You know,
so, OK, Oprah can live wherever she wants, right?
HARRIS-PERRY: But everybody else is in the other circumstances.
RICE: And Chris Rock has to live next door.
HARRIS-PERRY: And Chris Rock has to live next door.
HARRIS-PERRY: To a white dentist. Right, exactly. Not that there`s
anything wrong with dentists. Thank God. Thank God for dentists. But I
wonder about that. Like is this whole notion of how we`re going about
generating integrated communities, should we look 30 years and say, worse
trying enforcement or not, this just isn`t the way to do it.
RICE: No, you know, I want to go back to a point that James raised earlier
and that is that the way that municipalities use their funds, in particular
in this instance their federal funds, can help drive these issues that
you`re talking about. So, yes, we have made progress, but we would have
made much more progress had everybody been on the same page and had this
particular provision which does not have a private right of action been
effectively enforced. There are many, many examples of that.
HARRIS-PERRY: So, no, you just think the things we are not allowed to
doing. You said, a word you said - you said a word …
HARRIS-PERRY: I mean my whole brain went, what? Who? So, what exactly
the private right of action?
RICE: You can sue someone.
HARRIS-PERRY: Oh, right. OK. All right. So, we`re talking about the
capacity to use the law to sue somebody.
RICE: Exactly. And I`ll give you a perfect example. The city of
Zanesville for over 50 years refused to give water to African-American
residents in Coal Run. Coal Run, Zanesville was segregated just like every
other city in the country. And there`s a section where African-Americans
had been pushed called Coal Run. The city of Zanesville actually used, in
part, federal funds to run water lines up to Coal Run, around Coal Run, and
then back out refusing to give those residents water. So think of what
that did to the property value of those African-American residents. It
helped to keep those property values depressed.
HARRIS-PERRY: So, they were using well water because the municipality
RICE: Oh, no, dear. They were catching water in huge cisterns, catching
rainwater in huge cisterns. Yes.
HARRIS-PERRY: Welcome back to the 18th century.
HARRIS-PERRY: We`re going to pause on that because, wow. And then when we
come back we`re going to talk more about housing and who isn`t being held
accountable in these moments.
HARRIS-PERRY: On Wednesday when HUD Secretary Castro announced the new
rule meant to enforce the Fair Housing Act, the second update to the law
was about more than collecting data. That it could literally save lives.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SECY. JULIAN CASTRO, HOUSING & URBAN DEVELOPMENT: Child born today in the
Jeff Benderlou neighborhood in St. Louis can expect to live 18 fewer years
than a child just ten miles away in the Clayton area. In Baltimore a child
born in the Sitton Hill community has a life expectancy that`s 19 years
less than one from the upscale neighborhood of Roland Park. A zip code
should never prevent any person from reaching their aspirations.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: I want to circle back on, so then we have Secretary Castro
saying that the code shouldn`t determine aspirations, and we were just
before the break talking about the idea of having to catch rainwater
because of - because your neighborhood is a black neighborhood.
PERRY: Yeah. And I want to pause for a second and make clear that this is
a big deal, right? That this is so brave of the Obama administration to
put forth this rule and brave not just because of how it challenges
Republicans but black democrats in particular. This idea you might be
elected in a black district, you`re an African-American candidate. When
you have no incentives to want to integrate that community because those
black people elected you.
HARRIS-PERRY: Oh, right. Or to integrate it beyond a certain level
because you have your political base right there in that community.
PERRY: So you have a vested interest if you want to keep your job, then
you want to keep that district just the way that it is. You may want to
keep it as an African-American district. Really, pushing this forward and
saying we`re going to take a stand for integration, this is a very brave
step for the Obama administration.
HARRIS-PERRY: It`s an interesting point and question. I was in a
conversation with someone yesterday, Tom, about this idea of integration,
and I heard that response that I often hear, which is, actually attempts to
desegregate are bad for the black community, because they undermine the
existing community institutions, whether they were schools or hospitals.
It`s kind of a, for lack of a better term, a golden age of segregation
narrative, right? And I guess part of what I always want to do is undermine
that by saying, no, it actually generates vulnerabilities that only
integration can begin to affect.
SUGRUE: Absolutely. We can think about integration in a number of
different of ways, but I think the most important way to think about it,
it`s about the allocation of resources across space. Segregated
communities concentrate poverty, they concentrate poor or underfunded
education. They concentrate mediocre housing. They concentrate lack of
access to capital. They concentrate assess gaps between blacks and whites.
These are devastating over the long run for health outcomes, for safety,
for access to jobs and economic opportunity. So integration isn`t
ultimately about somehow the magic of whites rubbing off.
HARRIS-PERRY: Magical integration in Nerdland.
SUGRUE: It`s really about how we distribute resources and power. And how
we pay for them in the form of taxes across space.
HARRIS-PERRY: You talk about that idea of the distribution of resources
across space, and I can`t help but to think about banks, because in the
midst of all of this, as we`re holding local communities, state governments
accountable, the other thing we have to hold accountable is lenders,
because nobody distributes resources across space like lenders. We think
about Wells Fargo and the big settlement, but, you know, the Democrats just
writ large have been a little bit cozy with the banks. The banks and the
Democratic Party have in fact been rubbing shoulders a fair bit.
BASIL SMIKLE, EXEC. DIR., NYS DEMOCRATIC PARTY: I would also say like here
in New York, with Governor Cuomo, when he was HUD secretary, he talked
about integration as well with public housing. In our recent legislative
session with respect to rent regulations, this issue came up in a way
because with respect to the 421A program, which is about affordable housing
in the midst of market rehousing, there was this issue of poor doors, which
is incredible, right? So you had segregated housing within complexes. And
so the point being that I think Democrats now led by a few are actually
starting to push back quite a bit. There is a groundswell of support.
PERRY: It`s also true that as much as banks can be the bad guys, they are
the ones who pump money into your community. So you have to find a way to
hold them accountable when they are wrong, but to partner with them and say
invest in our communities, because otherwise it doesn`t happen. They have
RICE: And sometimes they invest bad capital.
RICE: One of the things that predatory lending crisis did was it
camouflaged the fact we have always had mainstream lending redlining in
America. Right? It had not gone away. What happened was subprime lenders
with bad, unsustainable credit came into communities of color, and they
were able to do that because those communities were hyper segregated. It
came in with bad capital, it gave people mortgages they could never
sustain. These were mortgages that were designed to refinance, they were
not designed for the long term. When the economy went down, people could
not get refinanced and they lost their houses wholesale. Now what we`re
seeing is communities of color are foreclosed on, you know, 50 percent
HARRIS-PERRY: I feel like I have seen and heard on my local radio those
subprime commercials are re-emerging. Stay with us, everybody. Up next a
Supreme Court decision that is part of all of this, because it was part of
determining and protecting a key tool in the fight against housing
HARRIS-PERRY: Before the Obama administration`s announcement this week, it
already had been having a pretty good year for the Fair Housing Act.
Thanks to the Supreme Court ruling that affirmed one of the most effective
remedies to dismantle residential segregation. The case, Texas Department
of Housing and Community Affairs versus the Inclusive Communities Project.
Involved the Fair Housing Act`s ban on discrimination on the basis of race,
and at issue was the question whether the law prohibits only intentional
discrimination or if it is also applies to discrimination that seemed race
neutral but still caused disparate harm to people of color. In a 5-4
decision handed down on June 25, the court settled the question. Policies
that cause disparate impact, even if unintentionally, are in violation of
the Fair Housing Act. Joining me now from Dallas, Texas, this is someone
from the organization that won that case. Demetria McCain, vice president
and deputy director of the Inclusive Communities Project. So nice to have
you this morning.
DEMETRIA MCCAIN, VP AND DEPUTY DIRECTOR, INCLUSIVE COMMUNITIES PROJECT:
Hello, how are you?
HARRIS-PERRY: Good to see you. Help us to understand how the Supreme
Court decision is part of and this decision to uphold this is actually
related to the effort to affirmatively further fair housing.
MCCAIN: The decision and the rule coming out ran on two separate tracks,
but at the end of the day they both deal with fairness and really the issue
of the ability to break up segregation, right? And so with the disparate
impact tool, if you have advocates who are using that tool, you`re able to
use some of the data and some of the information that you have to show the
patterns that have existed way back to let`s say 1937 when redlining was
going on, overlaying that with maps of what`s going on today. When we`re
looking at the Fair Housing rule, the Fair Housing rule, a key part of that
is for these municipalities who are taking HUD funds to use tools and
information like data, maps, and those kinds of things to see what`s going
on. As they go forward making their planning, their decisions on how to
use that money. So in both instances, it`s critical to see what`s going on
historically, what`s going on today, and what`s going on, on the ground.
The real exciting piece about this new rule for advocates is that they`ll
be able to better use with ease some of the HUD data that`s going to be
online and be able to tell folks, hey, this is what`s going on. And if
you`re going to be using this money from HUD, you need to connect what`s
going on with how you`re going to use it. So that we can break down some
of this segregation.
HARRIS-PERRY: Stick with us. Don`t go away. I want to ask you on this in
part because my understanding is it was a fairly big risk to bring the case
and some in the housing community were nervous about this Supreme Court
ever weighing in on disparate impact, and yet it`s been a pretty good year
for the Fair Housing Act.
RICE: It is a very good year. The reason people were nervous is because
there had been no split at the appellate level on whether or not you could
use this doctrine. The disparate impact doctrine under the Fair Housing
Act. All 11 appellate courts who have heard this question agreed, yes, the
technical term is that disparate impact is cognizable under the Fair
Housing Act. So people surmised, why would the Supreme Court take up the
question if there was no split at the appellate level? It`s clear from the
congressional level that Congress intended for disparate impact to be
covered. People thought they wanted to undo disparate impact. But what
people have to remember is it only takes four justices to agree to take up
a particular question.
HARRIS-PERRY: It may have been those four who ended up on the losing side
of it. Let me ask this, how important is that role of litigation as part
of all this? We`ve seen a Supreme Court decision and we`ve also seen a new
administrative rule. What other pieces are necessary to really doing the
work of changing what our country looks like?
PERRY: It all comes together to change communities. When Lisa talked
about that city of Zanesville case, the thing that she did not get to is
that someone that we know litigated that case. In the end, the people in
Zanesville won`t have to get their water from a cistern anymore, instead
they will actually have water from the city. It`s because of litigation.
It all comes together. You have political entities. You have lawyers
litigating, and you have the Supreme Court. By the time it`s all done,
hopefully 50 years from now we won`t still be debating this issue.
RICE: We have resources to do effective enforcement. One of the reasons
why that Zanesville case could be brought is because one of (inaudible)
members the fair housing advocates group in Akron, Ohio, went down and
investigated. They had the resources to investigate that Zanesville case.
HARRIS-PERRY: So, let me come to you on this. Now the case your
organization brought out of Texas is going to be the case that sort of
upholds and sustains disparate impact. What were the kind of strategic
decisions and what might others learn from that?
MCCAIN: I think the main thing we learned from that is really what I
hinted at earlier. Local folks on the ground have got to dig in and get
the data. And so if you`re a municipality, or whatever level of government
it is, has seen or knows that you have seen as an advocate or community
activist the data of what`s going on, then that will help hold them
accountable. It`s not the end result, but it`s going to help hold them
accountable. So getting that data, using that data, and putting it in the
context of here is the data and here is the decision you made. And there`s
HARRIS-PERRY: One quick political question for you. Big, splashy
headlines on this. Coming out of local activism but ultimately ending up
in a big administrative rule. It isn`t the president who steps up to
announce it, it is the secretary of HUD. Is he Hillary Clinton`s choice
for the VP?
SMIKLE: Wow. That is – I do not know, but he is a very attractive
leader. He`s very popular in San Antonio. A lot of folks have talked
HARRIS-PERRY: East Texas. Latinos just got a big win.
SMIKLE: I think he should be on the list but who knows what ultimately
HARRIS-PERRY: I was just hoping for a yes or a no. Okay. Thank you to
Demetria McCain in Dallas, Texas. Also here in New York, thank you to Lisa
Rice and thank you to James Perry. Tom Sugrue and Basil Smikle will return
later in the program. But up next, the bold reform that could keep
thousands of low-level offenders out of jail, and, still to come, the judge
who gives defendants homework assignments. What we can learn from her
HARRIS-PERRY: Khalif Browder (ph) spent three years in jail on Rikers
Island, with many of those months spent in solitary confinement, without a
trial. He`d been accused of stealing a backpack, but he maintained his
innocence. And once his case was dismissed and he finally got out, he
struggled still with flashbacks, and paranoia and depression. Last month
he committed suicide at age 22. According to the “New Yorker,” he was
originally held in Rikers because his family could not pay the $3,000 bail.
Jerome Bourdeau (ph) died in his cell in Rikers in February 2014 at the age
of 56. Officials said his cell overheated to more than 100 degrees, and
that the mentally ill homeless man quote, “basically baked to death.”
Bourdeau was awaiting trial after he was arrested for trespassing, for
sleeping in the stairwell of a housing project rather than outside in the
February cold. Bourdeau was in the cell where he died because he couldn`t
afford his $2,500 bail.
These stories have focused city and national attention on the notoriously
violent Rikers Island, and the New York City`s system of cash bail that
keeps people there while they wait for their case to be resolved. About
45,000 people are held in New York City jails every year, mostly in Rikers,
because they can`t pay bail. Bail is meant to ensure that defendants show
up in court, and if they can pay, then they`re released pending trial.
They will get that money back if they show up to their court dates, even if
they`re convicted. If a defendant can`t make bail, they`re held in jail
until they get a day in court, which could be weeks or months or years. On
average, a defendant in New York City waits more than a year for trial.
Now the city is trying to do better. Officials announced this week that
some defendants charged with misdemeanors and nonviolent felonies will be
able to go home while they await trial without paying bail. City officials
say the program will reduce the population of Rikers by up to 200 people a
day, and it could make a big difference in their lives. But still it`s a
drop in the bucket in a facility that has a daily population of about
10,000 people. The new rules could have saved Jerome Bourdeau, the
homeless man who died in his cell. They would not have saved Khalif
Browder. Browder was accused of robbing a man of his backpack and roughing
him up in the process. For that alleged crime, Browder was charged with
second-degree assault, a violent felony, and so he would not have been
eligible for the new bail rules.
Relaxing bail for some defendants is a good step, but New York City still
has a lot of work to do to make its criminal justice system look anything
So up next, more on criminal justice reform with the judge who gives
HARRIS-PERRY: Judge Victoria Pratt, chief judge of the municipal court in
Newark, New Jersey, treats defendants quite differently than most judges
do. She demand they write essays describing where they see themselves in
five years. She explains legal concepts in plain language. She and her
entire court staff applaud when a defendant makes progress by, for example,
completing their community service or going through detox. Judge Pratt is
a pioneer of what`s known as procedural justice, and in a recent profile of
her “The Guardian” described the philosophy like this. The idea behind
procedural justice is that people are far more likely to obey the law if
the justice system does not humiliate them, but treats them fairly and with
respect.” Joining me now, the Honorable Victoria Pratt, chief judge of the
Newark municipal court.
Why is treating people with respect a revolutionary idea in our court
VICTORIA PRATT, CHIEF JUDGE, NEWARK MUNICIPAL COURT: That`s an interesting
question to ask. I think under the concepts and tenets of procedural
justice, some of the things that probably come very natural to other people
in other professions sometimes get lost in court, and also with becoming a
judge. The idea that you should treat the person with dignity and respect.
But respect can be more than just good morning, sir, good morning, ma`am.
It can also be how you address someone when they come before you. For
instance, the transgender female who comes to court whose male name is on
the file. What the judge decides to do when they`re called up and how that
changes the interaction. In my instance, the person actually when they
came up, I said their male name very low so it would be picked up on the
record, but the female name so that when she walked down, she was addressed
that way, and she said, Judge, you know, I`ve been watching you and you`ve
not two-faced it. Look at that. She`s telling me she`s judging me as much
as I`m judging her.
HARRIS-PERRY: There are aspects of the American court system which if
you`ve ever been in court for the smallest thing, a traffic ticket or
anything, that are set up to not lead us to this kind of procedural
justice. Judges sit higher and look down, they talk to the attorneys and
not to the defendants. Is there something that we could institute beyond
the individual revolutionary judge more broadly?
PRATT: Actually, the tenets of procedural justice – I also practiced them
in the context of the community court, which for Newark is a community
solution. But the idea that the defendant or the court participant should
have the opportunity to be heard. And even if they`re not letting them
speak, explain why. I don`t want you to make an admission, you`re not
represented by counsel. Also that the proceedings appear to be neutral, so
that they are welcomed to court, and the judge isn`t just joking around
with the prosecutor or the public defender, those kinds of things are
really important to the process. What was great for Newark, was that when
the court planners, the Center for Court Innovation, came into Newark, they
immediately started to have these community engagement meetings, where they
actually asked Newarkers what they thought about the court, what they
thought about crime and what they wanted. And to actually have the
community involved telling the court, this is what we want to see. And
overwhelmingly, they wanted people to receive assistance. They didn`t want
the drug addict that got arrested to get out two days later and then just
be a drug addict again.
HARRIS-PERRY: When you talk about a drug addict, this is also an important
way of shifting our discourse about what`s happening. So in the “Guardian”
piece, it says that you estimate that 85 to 90 percent of the defendants
have substance abuse problems and more than 40 percent have mental health
issues, and that many have both. How does thinking about people as people
struggling with addiction, struggling with mental illness change how you
respond to them in this context?
PRATT: It changes how everyone in the courtroom responds to the case
that`s before them. Typically in a traditional court, you`re just looking
to get a disposition, and you`re saying, why did you commit this offense?
In these courts, we`re looking at why is this person offending? We need to
address the underlying issue. The ultimate goal is to actually not have
them on this conveyor belt of justice, it`s really to get them to have
their lives together and to really support their families and communities.
When you have a prosecutor, when you have a public defender, when you have
a police officer in the courtroom, you have court attendants who are
looking and who have specialized training and they use their own life
experience to begin to look at the condition of the person who presents in
court, it`s a totally different experience.
HARRIS-PERRY: I know why I as a college professor assign essays, why do
you as a judge assign essays?
PRATT: The essays are awesome, because the essays are about answering the
question, and the answers are always inside. They are cathartic. They
also require people to think. Some of my young guys or young women who
come to court, no one has ever asked them what are you going to do in the
next five years? So they wake up – when you wake up and you don`t have a
plan for yourself, then you become a part of somebody else`s plan or their
foolishness, and most it is being a part of their foolishness. So I want
them thinking about what are they going to do in the next five years? How
are they going to support themselves? How are they going to support their
families? How are they going to make a contribution? And to think bigger
than the four corners of the block they live on, really important that they
begin to have that.
I also give out essays, one, some of the powerful essays, some of the older
gentlemen who have lost their sons to the street, to the violence, to the
gun violence that we tend to see in our urban centers. I give them essays
that will say, letters to my sons. Some of them have lost them. Some of
their sons are still alive. And those are so powerful, because the fathers
are taking time to apologize to their families for what they haven`t done,
because they`ve been dealing with their own addiction. And they are
powerful when a father is writing an essay and he is addressing his son who
is in prison.
HARRIS-PERRY: Reflection and that opportunity.
HARRIS-PERRY: Judge, I am a fan. Really at the base level I am a fan of
what you are doing in terms of procedural justice in Newark. Thank you to
the Honorable Victoria Pratt. And coming up, a new report on the history of
abuse for many girls in the juvenile system. We don`t ask them either how
they ended up there.
HARRIS-PERRY: Girls who are funneled into the juvenile justice system
often have histories of trauma, including sexual abuse. According to a new
report, nearly a third of girls in the system have been sexually abused,
and in some states the rate is far greater. Among the girls in South
Carolina`s juvenile justice system, 81 percent are survivors of sexual
violence. In Oregon, 76 percent of the girls were sexually abused before
the age of 13. And I want to make this clear, these are not the rates at
which girls experience abuse while in the custody of the criminal justice
system. What the reports finds is that quote, “Sexual abuse is one of the
primary predictors of the girls` entry into the juvenile justice system.”
The report by the Human Rights Project for Girls found that girls are often
detained for exhibiting common reactions to trauma and abuse. Drug and
alcohol use, truancy, running away. In some cases, it is the abuse itself
that lands the girls in court. In many states, underaged girls who are
forced into sex trafficking can be arrested on prostitution charges.
Joining me now, Malikda Saada Saar, who is executive director of Human
Rights Project for Girls, one of the organizations behind this report, and
the Reverend Vivian Nixon, executive director of College and Community
Fellowship and co-founder of the Education Inside-Out Coalition. And back
with us is also Tom Sugrue, professor of social and cultural analysis and
history at New York University.
This report is both appalling and the least surprising thing that I have
read all week. How are girls different for the reasons they end up in our
system versus boys?
MALIKDA SAADA SAAR, EXEC. DIR., HUMAN RIGHTS PROJECT FOR GIRLS: So,
there`s been such remarkable work on the school-to-prison pipeline, which
is really the boys story. But when we look at the girls` story, it is the
sexual abuse to prison pipeline, and that`s because what plays out is that
girls who are sexually victimized, who have trauma, instead of seeing them
as victims and survivors that they are, they are criminalized. So this is
the way that our girls are being criminalized, not because they`re more
violent. Not because they`re the new gang members, but because their
experiences of being raped, of being abused, are seen through this lens of
criminalization. And I think the point you make that is the most egregious
is that a girl who is being forced to be trafficked, who is being bought
and sold for sex, is arrested for prostitution. And that – there`s a
racial dynamic here as well.
HARRIS-PERRY: OK. Thank you. I just want to say there are some girls who
we are able to see as victims and others who we have a much harder time
seeing as victims, and I`m just wondering what might be the difference
between those girls. I wrote a note here to myself, hint hint, race.
REV. VIVIAN NIXON, AME MINISTER: Race is a huge issue in this. We see
time and time again especially with girls who grow up in poor – in
communities of color, that the way they find acceptance and love is try to
get past the trauma they have experienced is to get involved with gangs and
other activities. In other communities that are better resourced, they get
therapy. They get all kinds of attention because they`re seen as victims.
HARRIS-PERRY: And I want to be clear. Obviously the revictimization of
young women and girls who experience sexual abuse is not racial in the
sense that it exists everywhere, but the particular criminalization of it
does feel to me like it is attached to this understanding of what we think
black women`s bodies are. So despite the fact I`m turning away from the
two women of color at the table, but it is in part to ask you this
question, Tom, because it seems to be part of the problem, as if I`m 13 and
I`m a prostitute, that`s a non sequitur. It does not make sense. You
can`t even consent to sex at 13. How could you possibly be engaged in
criminal sexual activity? But our ability to see a young girl in that way
does seem so deeply related to our racial expectations.
SUGRUE: Absolutely. What we see is a recapitulation of old themes in
America`s racist history, which is the demonization of African-American
girls and women as jezebels, as responsible for their own deviant sexuality
rather than looking at them as victims of oppression, of the system, of
(inaudible) relationships of abuse.
HARRIS-PERRY: Let me ask what I think is a tough question on this. I
think the detention centers, the criminal justice system, they`re a tough
target but in certain ways for communities of color they are also an easy
target to call the bad guys. If sexual assault is the gateway experience
for so many girls, and we know that sexual assault for all communities
except for indigenous women is most likely to happen within the community,
what do we do about stopping the initial sexual assault that is occurring
often right within our own families and communities?
SAAR: I think we do need to pay attention to that, and I think it`s not
just within our own communities. We need to have that conversation
throughout the country. We have a very hard time acknowledging in all
communities the pervasiveness of sexual violence against our girls. And I
want to reiterate this is a conversation about children. We`re not talking
about women here. This is about very young girls –
HARRIS-PERRY: 10, 11, 12, 13, 14.
SAAR: And numbers like in Oregon, that girls who are reporting sexual
violence when they come into the system, report being sexually abused at
least three times before the age of 12. This is about the pervasiveness of
sexual violence in all of our communities. The responsibility we all have
to acknowledge this, and the question that has to be asked, why when it
comes to poor girls who are black and brown girls do we recriminalize that
experience of violence. I think it does go to the issue of racial
methodologies that oversexualize our girls of color, that deny them the
status of being a victim, a survivor of violence.
HARRIS-PERRY: I was just speaking with Judge Pratt who does this
revolutionary thing of just asking people about themselves. Reading the
report, quote from a young girl who had been held in juvenile on
prostitution and solicitation charges when she was 15, and again at 16 and
17, saying no one assessed me or ever even asked me what got me there.
Judges not even asking a 15-year-old girl, how in the world did you end up
NIXON: And it`s not just judges. I was reminded when you asked that very
poignant question about how do we deal with the abusers within our
community, of incidents that I`m way too close to, where young girls were
abused within a safe space, like their church, and when young girls come
forward, they`re not believed, because the person who committed the act is
too respectable. They`re the pastor or the deacon and they couldn`t
possibly have done that, you`re making this up. And the types – girls
need to be believed. It doesn`t even matter if we ask if we`re not going
to believe what they say.
HARRIS-PERRY: Then we have to, again I`ll say, the least surprising thing,
in certain ways, my mother did research on this in the `70s that the girls
who were truant were running away from abusive situations, in the `70s, and
now here we are with the exact same patterns. Thank you to Malikda Saada
Saar. And to Reverend Vivian Nixon and to Tom Sugrue. Coming up,
yesterday the confederate flag came down. Again, from South Carolina. We
will talk to the activist who took it down the first time. Also, you know,
so sorry about this, but Donald Trump has taken that border politics to a
border state. I can`t believe we have to talk more about this. More
Nerdland at the top of the hour. Donald Trump.
HARRIS-PERRY: Welcome back. I`m Melissa Harris-Perry.
And yesterday, the Confederate flag was removed from the state house
grounds again. Just a few weeks ago, the flag had come down in the hands
of an activist, Bree Newsome, in a courageous act of direct resistance.
But it was returned to full staff just a few hours later.
This time was different. This time, the flag came down with the force and
finality of law.
(VIDEO CLIP PLAYS)
HARRIS-PERRY: As the flag was lowered for the last time, some in the crowd
chanted “USA”, while others shed tears and waved American flags.
The honor guard carefully and dutifully folded the flag aware of the
history being made in that moment.
LT. DERRICK GAMBLE, SC DPS HONOR GUARD: Hearing the roars of the crowd,
again, me personally just gave us a sense of how people come together under
tragedy and just to show that unity, if you will, was very humbling to me.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: Lieutenant Gamble.
The flag was later taken to the Confederate relic room in military museum
as specified in the bill that South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley signed
Thursday afternoon. That bill arrived on Haley`s desk after 13 hours of
debate on the statehouse floor Wednesday.
Ultimately, the House decided 4-20 to remove the flag which has been
displayed on the state house grounds since 1961 when it was put up to
symbolize in opposition the civil rights movement.
For more than 50 years, the flag has flown in the South Carolina state
capital city prompting debate, protests, and even boycotts over the
But there was readily visible to residents and visitors alike, a constant
tangible reminder of the state`s rebellion in both the 1860s and the 1960s
– until Friday. The flag`s removal is certainly a symbolic accomplishment
that has generated a lot of state pride as Governor Haley noted while
signing the bill on Thursday.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. NIKKI HALEY (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: Today, I`m very proud to say that it
is a great day in South Carolina.
One person started this almost two decades ago and that was Governor David
Beasley. And the last time I saw him, I said, “You started it”, and he
said, “Well, I need you to finish it.”
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: Now, I`m going to have to pause for a moment because I was
traveling yesterday at the moment the flag was removed and I watched the
ceremony in an airport in North Carolina. Even as the gate agents started
boarding the flight, none of us could take our eyes off the screen.
I did not expect to be moved. I didn`t expect to even care all that much.
After all, this isn`t a legislative victory for a substantive policy or a
Supreme Court of great consequence. It`s just a flag. It`s just a symbol.
But there I was holding my breath stunned to see this moment live, and I
could not stop the tears. It turns out it mattered to me much more than I
So, what is it that just happened? What have we accomplished in this
moment, and what is the work left to be done?
Joining me now from Philadelphia NAACP president and CEO, Cornell William
And joining me by phone from Charlotte, North Carolina, is Bree Newsome,
the activist arrested for removing the state flag last – the flag from the
state house grounds last month.
Bree, let me start with you.
You were one of the last, you and the other activists who work with you,
some of the last in a long line of activist, working to get this flag down
down. Tell me why it matters.
BREE NEWSOME, ACTIVIST (via telephone): Yes. Well, I think – thank you
for having me on. I really think that this is a battle over ideology and
really a historical narrative that is manifesting in this battle over the
single flag. But the reason that there are so many emotions tied up into
it is that this is it is about the reconciling with the past and deciding
where we want to go with our future.
And so, just the very fact that, you know, us removing the flag even as we
did, we didn`t burn it or cause any damage to it, it still struck a very
strong nerve with the nation because we – a lot of these issues are still
unresolved. I mean, we are steel really dealing with issues of racial
injustice and segregation in America.
HARRIS-PERRY: Cornell, let me come with you because despite the
overwhelming vote of the state of South Carolina lawmakers, the U.S.
Congress decided to have a contentious debate about the flag this week. We
also know that seven states have kind of rebel flag-inspired designs. Is
it over or is this just the beginning?
CORNELL WILLIAM BROOKS, PRES. & CEO, NAACP: It`s far from over. Melissa,
it`s a delight to be here. I certainly want to say to my sister, Bree, as
a son of South Carolina and president of the NAACP, I commend your
patriotic gutsiness in terms of going up and retrieving that flag.
The battle was far from over. The NAACP maintained an economic boycott for
15 years running to bring down that flag. And the prospect in the wake of
this tragedy, in the wake of Bree`s civil disobedience getting bigger,
businesses pressured, the governor pressured the legislature to bring the
flag down. We expect to see the same elsewhere in the country. I can
certainly imagine a similar scenario, for example, in the state of
But we have to be clear here. The issue is not merely dealing with the
symbol of bias and bigotry but the substance. And so, the point being in
the state of South Carolina, we have some serious voting rights challenges,
serious school inequities, serious employment challenges and so the NAACP
meeting in Philadelphia this week, we`re not merely talking about the flag.
We`re talking about bringing down the Confederate flag and symbols of that
bygone era in terms of the Confederacy.
But we`re also talking about, for example, Americans` journey for justice,
marching from Selma to Washington, D.C., in August to deal with voting
rights, to deal with employment, racial profiling.
So, we have to be clear here. We`re not content to feast on a symbolic
victory only as important as it is and that was a tremendously moving
moment for me.
I want to be clear here. I grew up in South Carolina. I grew up in and
around Charleston. What Bree did moved me profoundly. The flag coming
down moved me profoundly but also the sacrifices of folks in South Carolina
and NAACP for years, years on end, that moves me because they understand.
We have to have symbolism and substance, which means we want more and that
means this fight continues.
Bree, I want to come to you in exactly this idea of symbolism and
substance. The sense that all of us had watching you just a couple weeks
ago initially as active civil disobedience retrieve that flag, I am
reminded that you are an activist before this moment, you will continue
your work after it, but you will always be connected and you personally,
even more than all the activist community that was around you, that was
supporting you in that moment.
And so I wonder about that if you can reflect on how the work of symbols
and the work of the work can sometimes become difficult because we`re not
just trying to purge symbols, we`re trying to make real change.
NEWSOME: Yes, absolutely. I think what President Brooks spoke to is
entirely correct. Part of what I`m really striving to do is make sure that
people don`t forget the recent history. I mean, that`s the only thing, a
lot of times these symbols and these symbolic gestures like we did with the
civil act of civil disobedience, those can be very important moments of
revelation for us but it`s also really important that we don`t just get
caught in the symbol.
Like you said, it`s not just about the flag coming down. I mean, I`m
trying to make sure that everyone remembers that this flag was raised in
1962 as a statement against the civil rights movement. And like President
Brooks said, people have been fighting ever since to have the flag taken
down not just because it`s about the flag but because of what it
And so, the whole choice that we made at that time about me as a black
woman being the one taking it down and handing it to – handing it off to a
white man and both of us being, you know, descendents of the south and
descendents of this heritage and this legacy is to make sure that we
elevated the conversation because if he had just allowed the process to go
through and the legislature to just remove the flag, all of that might have
We wanted to make sure that we don`t forget – it`s not just about a flag.
It`s about our culture. It`s about our values as a nation and everything
that we have come through and taking a stance. We don`t want to be in this
position in another 50 years. We don`t want to keep fighting this battle.
HARRIS-PERRY: Cornell, let me ask you a last brief question here. We talk
– Bree was just talking there about the recent history.
HARRIS-PERRY: Nine South Carolinians slaughtered, murdered in their
HARRIS-PERRY: Yes, there was a flag flying at that moment. Yes, it
maintained at full staff after their murders. But I also don`t want to
We feel so good about the victory but, man, I just want to keep remembering
that those nine lives were lost.
BROOKS: Absolutely, Melissa. I mean, we have to – we have to think about
this. The blood of African-Americans is not free, and the fact that nine
students of scripture, our brothers and sisters, could be slaughtered in a
church. So, we can`t simply pat ourselves on the back. We can`t blink the
fact that a bureaucratic mistake in our criminal background check system
led to Dylann Roof having that gun.
BROOKS: We can`t blink the fact our president called for strengthening the
nation`s gun laws and was criticized and subject to criticism that somehow
Dylann Roof got the gun lawfully and therefore, we can`t talk about the
unlawful purchase of guns.
The point being here is we have to have symbolism and substance with the
recognition that the blood of the slaughtered, the blood of the slaughtered
must not be forgotten here.
HARRIS-PERRY: Yes. I just –
BROOKS: Those nine families –
HARRIS-PERRY: That`s right. I want –
BROOKS: – they remember and we have to as well.
HARRIS-PERRY: That`s right. I want that flag down but I want those nine
people back even more. I just – there`s nothing we can do but I don`t
want to forget them.
Thank you to Cornell William Brooks in Philadelphia, have a great NAACP
BROOKS: Thank you.
HARRIS-PERRY: All eyes will be on you all.
And thank you to Bree Newsome on the phone from Charlotte, North Carolina.
We want you, as soon as you can be here with us, Bree, we`re excited about
the work you do.
And still to come, we`re going to talk about White House hopeful Donald
Trump – no, really we`ll talk about his comments on immigration and why
And after the break, we`re going to go to Vienna for the latest on the
HARRIS-PERRY: Iran and six world leaders have given themselves until
Monday to reach a nuclear agreement. Yesterday, Iran`s foreign minister
said talks had made some progress and Thursday, Secretary of State John
Kerry stressed these negotiations are very technical and should not be
Joining me now from Vienna is Andrea Mitchell, NBC News chief foreign
affairs correspondent and host of MSNBC`s “ANDREA MITCHELL REPORTS.”
Andrea, we understand the sides are divided over a set of U.N. sanctions.
What more can you tell us about this?
ANDREA MITCHELL, NBC NEWS CHIEF FOREIGN AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Melissa,
good morning to you.
There is a big sticking point and there has been all week. The question is
whether they are narrowing their differences on this. Iran really started
emphasizing this week that they wanted the Security Council to lift the
arms embargo, three different resolutions that have been banning arms
deliveries to Iran and sales from Iran, including on ballistic missiles
since 2006. There were three resolutions in 2006, 2007, 2009, and those
are very important arms embargo resolutions according to the White House.
But Russia is backing Iran on this.
This was the first instance since we`ve been here, really since 20 months
ago when this all started, that Russia was siding with Iran, Russia and
China, from the Security Council, on how this U.N. resolution would be
worded and whether or not that arms embargo would be lifted.
Russia`s self-interest is clearly there in arms sales country. They wanted
to make money by selling arms to Iran. And the fear by the White House, as
testified to by the wanted to make money by selling arms to Iran and the
fear by the White House as testified to by the chairman of the joint chiefs
only this week was that would mean more arms going to prop up Syria`s
President Assad and other arms dealings that Iran has in the region.
So, it was a nonstarter from the White House perspective. A lot of
pressure from even Democrats in the Senate this week on the president not
to yield on this point and the Iranian complaint was that they thought
there was some give on Kerry`s side until he spoke with the president at a
secure videoconference on Wednesday night, and they argued that then the
U.S. was reneging on what compromises may or may not have been offered.
My take is that there`s a lot of posturing on both sides. Neither side
wants to be blamed from walking away from the table after all this time.
The U.S. does want to get it done. They believe that every time the
Iranians go back between rounds that they get toughened up because of all
the pressure from hard-liners in Tehran. And, of course, John Kerry is
going to have to sell this to a lot of skeptics on Capitol Hill now in both
So, we don`t know if it`s going to get done this weekend. A lot of signs
pointing to a possibility at least of tomorrow – Melissa.
HARRIS-PERRY: Thank you to NBC`s Andrea Mitchell in Vienna. Obviously,
all eyes will remain. This is of crucial importance to the whole globe.
Up next, the presidential candidate who has had much to say about
immigration. He`s heading to a key border state today.
PERRY: OK. I admit it, when Donald Trump first announced he was running
for president, seemed like a joke. I mean, how could this guy with the
bouffant hair and obsession with President Obama`s birth certificate
possibly be a serious candidate?
And then there was the spectacle of his campaign announcement, gliding down
the escalator in the lobby of Trump Tower as Neil Young`s “Rocking in the
Free World” played. It`s no wonder it became an instant inspiration for
But then Trump spoke and it was no laughing matter when he got to the topic
of immigration and offered his now infamous description of undocumented
immigrants from Mexico.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: When Mexico sends its people,
they`re not sending their best. They`re not sending you. They`re not
sending you. They`re sending people that have lots of problems and they`re
bringing those problems with us.
They`re bringing drugs. They`re bringing crime. They`re rapists and some,
I assume, are good people.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: Despite being inaccurate and being offered many chances to
walk back his comments, he`s continued to double down as he did in an
interview with NBC`s Katy Tur this week.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: I have great respect for the country of Mexico. I love the Mexican
people and their spirit. But the country of Mexico is killing us. The
country of Mexico is taking our jobs. They`re killing us at the border.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: He repeated that sentiment again in California last night
after meeting with families who say they`ve lost loved ones killed by
In the wake of his inflammatory and, again, mostly false comments,
companies have rushed to cut ties with Trump. While many political analyst
doubt Trump has a serious chance for the presidency, it is clear that he is
being taken seriously by some important voters.
Recent polls of Republican voters show him leading the GOP field in the
Super Tuesday state of North Carolina, and in a close second in New
Hampshire. That means the Republican establishment has been forced to take
Trump seriously, too. Several of Trump`s fellow Republican presidential
candidates have denounced his comments.
And “The Washington Post” reports that RNC chairman Reince Priebus spent
nearly an hour on the phone Wednesday, urging him to tone down the
comments. Trump tried to paint it as a congratulatory call, but admitted
the Priebus did ask him to dial it back a bit.
Today, we might find out if Trump will indeed heed that advice when he
brings his campaign to the critical board of state of Arizona, and appears
with the controversial sheriff of Maricopa County Joe Arpaio, who was known
for his, let`s call it, tough approach on undocumented immigrants.
MSNBC reporter Amanda Sakuma joins me now from Phoenix.
Amanda, what in the world is Donald Trump up to today?
AMANDA SAKUMA, MSNBC REPORTER: Good morning, Melissa.
You know, it`s very significant that Donald Trump will be appearing on
stage next to Sheriff Arpaio who`s a self-described America`s toughest
sheriff and also one of the most divisive characters that we`ve seen in the
immigration debate so far.
This opens a little bit of a preview of what to expect from Donald Trump
later this afternoon. I mean, Arpaio has already been federally convicted
for racially profiling Latinos. He`s currently in the midst of a contempt
of court hearing after he admitted to actively defying a court order to
stop racially profiling folks, and it doesn`t even end there.
He even admitted an attorney of his had hired a private investigator to spy
on the wife of the judge presiding over the case.
So, all around this, Sheriff Arpaio is not the typical surrogate that you
would see for a presidential campaign. Yes, he`s bringing in massive
amounts of crowds here. We`re expecting some 5,000 people to come to
Phoenix here later this afternoon.
In many ways, Arpaio does have a loyal following, who believe that he`s a
vigilante of sorts, going above and beyond immigration laws even if federal
courts are deeming them to be unconstitutional, but it is significant that
Donald Trump will be coming here. This is a place where there`s a very
active pro-immigrant rights community where they had to battle many of
these harsh divisive laws in the past here in Arizona. We`re expecting
them to protest in pretty strong numbers outside of the crowd here, and so,
we should see an interesting dynamic here on this border state later this
HARRIS-PERRY: Thank you to MSNBC`s Amanda Sakuma in Phoenix, Arizona.
Now, I want to bring in my panel: Juan Manuel Benitez, who is political
reporter and host of “Pura Politica” on New York 1 Noticias, Basil Smikle,
who`s executive director of the New York state Democratic Party, Alina Das,
associate professor of clinical law and co-director of the immigrant rights
clinic at New York University of Law.
And joining me now from Washington, D.C., is Cristina Jimenez, co-founder
and managing director of United We Dream.
Christina, let me start with you.
You know, there is a kind of joking about this whole Trump sort of
discourse going on I think in the media and for many of us. Oh, it`s so
funny he is saying these sort of patently ridiculous and, again falsifiable
data kind of things. But, man, it doesn`t feel funny at all to me.
CRISTINA JIMENEZ, CO-FOUNDER, UNITED WE DREAM: This is not at all funny,
Melissa. And the Latino and immigrant community are taking Donald Trump`s
comments very seriously. They are deeply offensive. And, to be quite
frank, what you have seen in the last couple of weeks, he has completely
galvanized the Latino and the immigrant community.
And you`re going to see protests today in Arizona, you`re going to see them
when he will be in California the next few weeks, and you will see them
wherever he`s going to show up. That is the reality.
But one of the things I want to mention here is what he is really showing
here is the divide that exists within the Republican Party, right, when you
have seen a party that the only thing that has promoted is deportation,
deporting people like my own parents, like myself, and a party that has
been promoting just hate and fear when it comes to immigration.
HARRIS-PERRY: So hold on for me. This is exactly what when I very first
heard Trump`s discourse and now as he keeps doubling down on it, is it a
public art project almost, as though taking things that have been turned
into dog whistle and just laying them bare, saying them plain.
JUAN MANUEL BENITEZ, HOST, “PURA POLITICA”, NY1 NOTICIAS: I think he`s
just trying to take this as far as he can and so far he`s been really
successful. He`s a media savvy person.
And the problem now for Republicans he has effectively hijacked the
Republican primary process and also the Republican Party, because now every
single presidential candidate is forced to react to every single new issue,
or new topic that Donald Trump brings out on the table.
So, it`s really worrisome for the Republican Party and some members of the
GOP have tried the last few years to really court the Hispanic vote in many
different areas with many different messages. Now all the work they`ve
done is destroyed.
HARRIS-PERRY: And yet – so on the one hand, that`s my feeling of, like,
in a certain way, welcome – welcome, Mr. Trump, to this conversation,
because the things you say lead to this distancing. On the other hand, I
am worried the repetition of some of this discourse when there is so much
anti-immigration, sort of latent bias that exist underneath, is that it can
inflame it in ways that we may not fully expect at the moment.
So, we`re just kind of looking at the crime stats, right, that, in fact,
undocumented immigrants are less than 4 percent of the total population,
that four out of five drug arrests involve U.S. citizens not people who are
undocumented or otherwise. Non-U.S. citizens make up only like 5 percent
of the prison population. These are the realities but, man, it`s hard not
to just flick that anti-immigrant bias on.
ALINA DAS, ASSOC. PROF, NYU SCHOOL OF LAW: Absolutely. Trump`s remarks
really tap into a long and ugly history of using fear of crime as a way to
target racial and ethnic minorities in this country, and it`s a real
problem because it`s not only inaccurate, as you said – study after study
including a recent report by the American Immigration Council out this
month have shown that immigrants are less likely to commit crime than U.S.-
born citizens and that immigration, including undocumented immigration has
increased as crime rates have fallen.
So there`s really not this association. More than that, it`s a very
dangerous political game to be playing because when immigrants do commit
crime, they don`t commit crime because they`re immigrants. They commit
crime for all of the reasons people generally commit crime, and by saying
that deportation or harsh immigration issues is the solution, you`re taking
attention away from the real problems. I mean, why aren`t we talking about
getting guns off the streets or increasing treatment for drug addiction?
I mean, these are the kinds of issues – poverty, education – that are
involved with driving crime. But, instead, we`re targeting hard-working
people and calling whole groups of people criminals when it`s simply not
HARRIS-PERRY: When we come back, basil, I want to ask you about how then
to go back to the point on how then this operates for the Democratic Party
as well and then start asking the questions that we`re not asking in the
midst of all of this madness.
Up next, a homicide arrest has reignited the debate on sanctuary cities.
HARRIS-PERRY: The shooting death of a San Francisco woman has become a
flash point in the debate over immigration. On July 1st, 32-year-old
Katherine Steinle was hit by a bullet while strolling with her father along
a city pier.
The alleged shooter now in custody is Juan Francisco Lopez-Sanchez, an
undocumented immigrant and a Mexican national, with a lengthy felony rap
sheet and five deportations. He`s pleaded not guilty to first-degree
Also on trial is the policy that some critics say contributed to Steinle`s
death. San Francisco is a so-called sanctuary city, like nearly 200 other
state and local jurisdictions nationwide. Sanctuary cities typically
provide a heaven for undocumented immigrants without criminal records and
limit cooperation between the local police and federal immigration agents.
Critics say that Lopez Sanchez whose criminal history includes seven prior
felony convictions should never have been on that pier. Instead, he should
have been deported.
Back in March, Lopez-Sanchez finished serving a multiyear prison sentence
for felony re-entry after deportation. Upon completion of that sentence,
he was transferred to the custody of a San Francisco County sheriff`s
department based on an outstanding arrest warrant.
Weeks later, he was released from the city jail after local prosecutors
dropped a drug charge against him. U.S. Immigration and Customs
Enforcement, also known as ICE says it had issued a detainer for Sanchez
requesting notification of this release so they could deport him. Instead
San Francisco authorities released Lopez Sanchez without alerting the
The detainer was not honored said ICE spokeswoman Virginia Kice in a
statement that we received via e-mail. San Francisco`s sheriff says the
city does not comply with immigration detainers and only turns over people
to the federal government if there are active warrants against suspects.
For more on the role of sanctuary cities, Cecillia Wang, director of the
ACLU Immigrants Rights Project, joins us from San Francisco.
So, Cecillia, so help us to understand what a sanctuary city actually is.
CECILLIA WANG, ACLU IMMIGRANT RIGHTS PROJECT: Good morning, Melissa.
First, the murder of Katherine Steinle s a tragedy all of us who live in
San Francisco are grieving about but all of the media frenzy that`s been
driven by false information has really led to an unfortunate and dangerous
situation for public safety. First, it`s important to note this phrase
“sanctuary cities” can encompass a very wide range of local policies that
either cities or counties or, in some cases, states, have decided to
implement. Number one in the name of public safety and, number two,
because federal courts have held that it is unconstitutional for localities
to detain this people based on the say-so of a single ICE agent who issues
this piece of paper called an ICE detainer.
So, we need to be clear about one thing in this current media discussion
and in the policymaking discussion that`s going on right now. San
Francisco`s city ordinances did not have anything to do with the fact that
Sanchez was out on the streets and shot Kate Steinle sadly and tragically.
ICE could have picked up Sanchez. It knew that he was in San Francisco`s
custody. ICE failed to pick him up and put him in deportation proceedings.
That`s the plain and simple fact.
San Francisco after many years of study and a history of law making going
back to 1985, came to a considered decision that it wanted to avoid
liability for holding people illegally on the say-so of a single ICE agent.
And, secondly, was focused on public safety and the proven fact that when
local police departments get into the business of enforcing civil
immigration laws, they alienate a whole portion of the local community and
people are afraid to come forward and report crimes and serve as witnesses.
Cities and counties and states around the country have similar policies,
and the rush to judgment right now is an unthinking knee-jerk reaction
based on a very unfortunate and unusual case. That would be a shame.
HARRIS-PERRY: Cecillia, that point – Basil, I want to come to you on,
because nothing is more important in an election year than unthinking knee-
jerk reaction to public crisis. That is an awful lot of what drives our
electoral politics. I just wanted to think about how this is impacting the
Democratic side as well.
Hillary Clinton saying on the GOP this question about sort of this is –
when she is talking about Trump, I want to listen to that and read what she
said in relationship to this case.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HILLARY CLINTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: They`re on a spectrum of, you
know, hostility, I think is regrettable in a nation like ours, all the way
to kind of grudging acceptance but refusal to go with a pathway to
citizenship. I think that`s a mistake.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: So, if you`re responding to Trump, you can do the continuum
of hostility. But in response to the San Francisco case, Mrs. Clinton
saying the city made a mistake not to deport someone, that the federal
government strongly felt should be deported and, by the way, had been
deported five times, right? So the deportation might not be that useful.
How a moment like this becomes basically an immigration Willie Horton this
part of how it`s been talked about.
SMIKLE: I think that`s a fair point in that this is about knee-jerk
reaction and raw emotion as you mentioned earlier. And I think she`s
correct in that. No Republican has really come out and said this is wrong.
We should not be having this kind of conversation. And what it does is it
forces the Republicans to be not a national party but a regional party or
even just a congressional party.
And every major argument supporting immigration reform undermines every
Republican argument against it.
SMIKLE: I mean, in terms of economics, just the fact if you promote
immigration reform, you grow the GDP 4.8 percent. And so, my point is that
I think what Hillary is saying and Cecillia said earlier, you can`t blame
cities for, in some respects, saying we don`t want to be in the business of
going after folks that are undocumented. We don`t want to be in the
business of that. We need them to help us do our jobs.
But in terms of the federal government, maybe we need to strengthen certain
aspects with cities. We certainly should not alienate these communities.
HARRIS-PERRY: Cecillia Wang in San Francisco, thank you for making the
point for us that this is a tragedy. It`s tough but it`s also not the best
context for making reasonable, informed policy. Thank you so much for
joining us from San Francisco.
We are going to stay on this topic when we come back and I`m bringing back
in Cristina Jimenez and the rest of my table, when we come back.
HARRIS-PERRY: Donald Trump reportedly re-tweeted and then deleted a
message suggesting that former Florida Governor Jeb Bush had a more
sympathetic view of immigration because of his Mexico-born wife.
In New Hampshire on Wednesday, Bush had this response while outlining how
he would reform immigration policy as president.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JEB BUSH (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: You can love the Mexican culture.
You can love your Mexican-American wife and also believe we need to control
the border. This is a bizarre kind of idea that somehow you can have an
affection for people in a different country and not think the rule of law
should apply. This is ludicrous.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: Man, there`s a lot of Mexico love going on in the GOP these
BENITEZ: This is really problematic.
HARRIS-PERRY: You think?
BENITEZ: Republicans think that Donald Trump controversy sooner or later
is going to disappear. He`s going to self-destruct.
However, this is the summer of anti-immigration sentiment thanks to Donald
Trump. So, next year when Jeb Bush tries to portray his wife front and
center to put her out there to appeal to Mexican voters as a Mexican wife
of the presidential candidate, Mexicans and Latinos are not going to buy
it, because they`re going to ask him where were you when we were being
beaten up by the Republican Party last summer?
SMIKLE: Remember, we also have Republican debates starting in a few weeks.
HARRIS-PERRY: That is right.
SMIKLE: And so, he is going to be there front and center and there are
other candidates that might not even get a seat at these debates and I
wonder then what kind of tacit support other Republican candidates are
going to have for a lot of the statements? Is there going to be broad
repudiation or will they stand there and let him pontificate?
HARRIS-PERRY: In fact, Cristina, I wonder what air this is sucking out of
the room for a more substantive conversation? What questions are we not
asking about the actual experience of being undocumented in the U.S.?
JIMENEZ: Well, exactly. I mean, this is beyond the conversation about,
you know, border security and sanctuary cities. I mean, the question for
Republicans and, honestly, all presidential hopefuls, is – what are you
doing about the fact that immigrant families are facing deportation every
In Florida, in Texas, in Arizona, we`re seeing raids, people continue to
get deported, the fact that we have an injunction has halted the program,
that our communities fought for, that would have protected up to 5 million
people, including people like my own parents from deportations. It`s just
such a shame and it`s a little game.
So the question is, you know, for Jeb Bush, trump and others, do you
support a temporary programs that can protect people from deportation right
now, and if you don`t, you don`t start with our communities. Saying that
you support immigration reform is not enough. We need the details. We
need the commitment from all presidential hopefuls that they are with
immigrant families, that they will protect immigrant families.
And, honestly, we don`t have short-term memory. Latinos and immigrant
voters are going to remember what Trump, what Bush, and others have said.
And up to this point, all Republican presidential hopefuls have said that
they are against temporary programs and they`re not really offering
HARRIS-PERRY: And so, Alina, what can Republicans substantively,
meaningfully do at this point to turn this?
DAS: Well, they really need to come out strongly against this rhetoric,
and we see it from both parties. Both parties are now taking some subset
immigrants and demonizing them. The Republicans are demonizing a larger
group, to be sure. But the Democrats are doing it, too. They use labels
like criminal aliens and other kinds of fear-mongering words in order to
justify mass deportation and mass detention.
What the Republican Party or any leader that`s coming out should say is
that we want to create a system that`s fair for everyone. It`s not about
who deserves it and who doesn`t. It`s really about due process, that you
should be able to go through our immigration system and have a fair shot.
Most Americans don`t know that people face deportation without the rights
to counsel, being detained far from their home. We need to change that.
HARRIS-PERRY: All the things that we think of as central and critical to
who we are as an American people. Don`t just bring the flag down, make the
other flag mean something.
Thank you to Cristina Jimenez in Washington, D.C., and here in New York,
thank you to Juan Manuel Benitez and to Basil Smikle. I`ll try to have you
back for our “Magic Mike” conversation tomorrow, and to Alina Das.
Up next, our foot soldier this week helped immigrant women make a dough in
more ways than one.
HARRIS-PERRY: Bread in its many forms is the world`s most widely consumed
food. It`s also one of the most lucrative. In 2010, the baking industry
accounted for roughly $300 billion in revenue, more than 2 percent of the
U.S. GDP, and employed nearly 2 million Americans.
And for this reason, Jessamyn Waldman Rodriguez, founder of New York City`s
Hot Bread Kitchen, made bread the entry point for low income and immigrant
women to get a foothold in the city`s high-end baking industry.
Drawing on the cultural traditions and culinary talents of women the world
over, the nonprofit bakery finances an ambitious baker training program by
selling a wide selection of delicious, diverse breads out of its East
Our friend Dorian Warren, host of “Nerding Out” on Shift by MSNBC, went to
Hot Bread Kitchen to see what it`s cooking up.
DORIAN WARREN, NERDING OUT: I`m at Hot Bread Kitchen with the CEO and
founder, Jessamyn Waldman Rodriguez.
And, Jessamyn, I want to ask you first about bread.
JESSAMYN WALDMAN RODRIGUEZ, CEO, HOT BREAD KITCHEN: I think what makes
bread amazing is that it is global and it is universal. Nearly every
culture in the world has a staple starch or a bread that they`re passionate
So, Hot Bread Kitchen is more than a bakery. We bake bread to create
educational opportunities for women. Most parts of the world, women bake
bread. But in North America and there Europe men get good jobs in the
baking industry. So I had this idea of creating a social enterprise that
married the passion and skill that women have in this art form and
hopefully creating a new job pipeline for women who would succeed in their
WARREN: So, walk me through how the training program works.
WALDMAN RODRIGUEZ: So, what we offer is a paid on-the-job training program
which is quite intensive. In addition to that, we offer classroom
education that includes English classes, kitchen math, computer literacy,
resume and interview skills.
WARREN: What do you enjoy most about it?
SHADAYA JACKSON, BAKER TRAINEE, HOT BREAD KITCHEN: Everything, because
everything is new. I never touched anything in the kitchen, nothing. So,
for me to be doing this is a big step for me. Hopefully, I`ll be going to
a nice bakery. That`s what I would love to do. I want to keep on baking,
so I can learn more and expand my horizons.
WARREN: Many of the women you`ve recruited to work here and be trained
here bring recipes from their home countries.
WALDMAN RODRIGUEZ: I like to say we`re the United Nations of bread. Since
we`ve started, we`ve trained women from 21 different countries.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Just use your hand.
WALDMAN RODRIGUEZ: We have breads from Morocco and Iran, Mexico, Poland.
Many of the breads that we produce here everyday come from the recipes that
women know. So, something they might have made at home, something their
mother might have taught them or something they just loved eating at their
home country that we work to develop here in the home kitchen.
WARREN: What does hot bread kitchen mean for this community?
JACKSON: A lot of opportunity. If you want to come work here, that`s a
big opportunity or if you want to just come here and buy bread, that`s
another big opportunity because you know you can never run out of bread. I
live in East Harlem, everyday I walk to work proud.
WARREN: What is the most satisfying aspect of all of this for you?
WALDMAN RODRIGUEZ: We have placed women at some of the best bakeries in
New York City.
When women come back who`ve gotten a promotion after being placed in a
bakery or some of our managers are graduates from our program, to see their
success and to see their kids one year at the company picnic and see them
the next year and their mother is telling me about the promotion she`s got
at work, I get a lot of motivation, pride, glory out of the successes.
WARREN: I love it. I`m going to give up on this one. That was perfect.
I don`t want to ruin any more dough for the day. So, I have in my hands
some Nan-e barbari, it`s a Persian flat bread, one of over 70 breads made
here. I`m going to take a bite.
Delicious, sesame seeds, it would be even more amazing with hummus.
Fantastic. Right here, Hot Bread Kitchen.
HARRIS-PERRY: Dorian Warren kneading bread. Thank you for that report.
Before we leave you today, we want to welcome the newest and tiniest member
of Nerdland, Zoe Jasmine Salzman (ph), daughter of our executive producer,
Eric Salzman. Zoe arrived in the world on Monday, congratulations to Eric
and to his wife Sara and to Zoe`s big sister Lucy. We can`t wait to meet
the newest addition to our Nerdland family.
That`s our show for today. Thanks to you at home for watching. We`re
doing “Magic Mike” tomorrow.
Also, I want to mention that while we were in Nerdland, Serena Williams won
her sixth Wimbledon title, which is her fourth grand slam championship in a
When we come back, tomorrow 10:00 a.m. Eastern, we`re going to talk about
women and sports and the real, real magic of “Magic Mike.” I don`t know if
I can beat Dorian Warren kneading bread at Hot Bake Kitchen. Whoo! Also,
neo soul star Bilal comes to Nerdland.
Right now, it`s time for a preview of “WEEKENDS WITH ALEX WITT”.
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY
Copyright 2015 Roll Call, Inc. All materials herein are protected by United States copyright law and may not be reproduced, distributed, transmitted, displayed, published or broadcast without the prior written permission of Roll Call. You may not alter or remove any trademark, copyright or other notice from copies of the content.>
Copyright 2015 Roll Call, Inc. All materials herein are protected by
United States copyright law and may not be reproduced, distributed,
transmitted, displayed, published or broadcast without the prior written
permission of Roll Call. You may not alter or remove any trademark,
copyright or other notice from copies of the content.>