Melissa Harris-Perry, Transcript 07/25/15
JANET MOCK, GUEST HOST: Welcome back. I`m Janet Mock.
RICHARD LUI, GUEST HOST: And I`m Richard Lui. Melissa is off today.
We begin this hour for you with new details on the deadly shooting in
Louisiana this week.
Two people were killed, nine wounded when a gunman opened fire in a busy
movie theater in Lafayette on Thursday night. The shooter identified by
police as John Russell Houser then turned the gun on himself. The two
victims were Jillian Johnson, a 33-year-old musician, artist and
entrepreneur, and Mayci Breaux, who was just about to start radiology
school. She was 21 years old. Authorities say the shooter had a history
of erratic behavior and mental illness.
Joining us now from Lafayette is NBC News` Craig Melvin.
Craig, we learned so much about Houser. We`re now 24 hours later. What is
new that you found in the investigation?
CRAIG MELVIN, NBC NEWS: Well, the outstanding question, Richard, continues
to be why? Why this movie theater? Why Lafayette, Louisiana? We can tell
you within the past hour, we learned that funeral services for Mayci Breaux
will be held Monday morning at 11:00 a.m.
But the investigation right now, Richard, is really focusing on what was
released yesterday, these rants, these posts on social media, the shooter
turns out had posted and ranted anti-government stuff, anti-gay stuff,
anti-Semitic stuff. We know in addition that erratic behavior that you
mentioned, mental illness was very much a part of his past and some divorce
filings his ex-wife indicated that at one point he was on medication, that
he was supposed to be taking daily. He did not always do that according to
At one point, he owned a bar in Georgia. The license for that bar was
revoked. And he showed up, allegedly, according to the police chief, in
LaGrange, Georgia, he showed up and would go to the meetings and would rail
against local government, and at one point, a swastika on the side of his
bar. He puts up this huge sheet that could be seen from the road of a
So that`s the picture of the shooter that is starting to emerge. But at
this point, investigators say they have not found some sort of manifesto,
nothing detailing precisely why he did what he did in this movie theater
MOCK: Craig Melvin in Lafayette, Louisiana – thank you so much for that.
We turn now to a question posed, first posed on this show a week ago. What
happened to Sandra Bland?
Today, we`re going to bring you the latest developments in the story that
this week have prompted as many new questions as answers. But first we
want to go to Lisle, Illinois, where this morning mourners have been
arriving at the DuPage African Methodist Episcopal Church for memorial
service and funeral for Sandra Bland.
Joining me now from Lisle, Illinois, is the one and only Joy Reid. She`s
standing outside DuPage African Methodist Episcopal Church.
Joy, so great to see you. Can you tell us what you`ve been seeing and
hearing this morning?
JOY REID, MSNBC NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely and great to see you as
well, Janet, and good morning, Richard.
This church is filled to capacity. I just came from inside. They`re
trying to find enough seating for the family and friends and well-wishers
who came to DuPage African Methodist Episcopal Church to pay their final
respects to Sandra Bland. There is an array of flowers as we have come to
expect in front of the church. A contingent, a large contingent of her
sorority sisters from Sigma Gamma Rho marched into the church, the first
wearing white, a second group wearing their signature gold and blue.
I can tell you that I spoke with a woman who was waiting to get into the
sanctuary who said she just sang in the choir with Sandra Bland not three
weeks ago. Sandra Bland having literally just moved to Texas to take a new
job. She actually had two job offers. I can tell you the family is
remaining defiant. They do not accept the results of the autopsy and
finding this was a suicide. Their spokeswoman who is also a national board
member for the NAACP saying Sandra Bland was an activist. In their view,
she would not have taken her own life.
MOCK: And these are powerful details to hear from those who knew and loved
Joy, what can you tell us about the latest in the investigation into the
arrest and death of Sandra Bland?
REID: Well, I can tell you, Janet, they`re actually more than one
investigation that are taking place all at the same time. There`s a
separate investigation from the Texas DPS, which is the Department of
Public Safety, into the officer who pulled Sandra Bland over, into his
actions. He`s currently on desk duty awaiting the results of that
investigation. Should that become a criminal investigation, there`s an
assistant district attorney who`s already been tagged with handling such a
case, if it were to come to pass.
Separately from that, the Texas Rangers being observed by the FBI as well
as the district attorney in Warren county continuing their investigation
into this case despite the finding of a suicide, there`s still a lot more
work to be done. There`s additional toxicology that`s going to be done
including potentially a finding of whether or not she did, in fact, have
epilepsy or was being treated for such, the additional screenings that they
asked the family to preserve body tissue for, they`re going to do. And so,
this investigation remains open and ongoing.
MOCK: Joy Reid in Lisle, Illinois, thank you so much.
REID: Thank you.
LUI: And, Janet, also part of this, this week, newly released dash-cam
video answers at least some of the questions about the traffic stop that
led to the Bland`s arrest to start with. Bystander video that originally
heightened interest in Bland`s story showed only what happened after State
Trooper Brian Encinia removed her from her vehicle.
In that video release this had week by the Texas Department of Public
Safety, what you see here, the dash cam in Officer Encinia`s vehicle
captures the encounter that begins as he stops bland for failing to
properly signal a lane change.
Now, the video shows how what began as a routine traffic stop escalated to
the tense encounter that led to Bland being handcuffed on the side of the
And we want to show you a couple of longer, unedited portions of exactly
what happened right now. And here`s the first interaction between Sandra
Bland and Officer Encinia.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
STATE TROOPER BRIAN ENCINIA: Hello, ma`am. The reason for your stop is
you failed to signal a lane change. Do you have your driver`s license and
insurance with you?
ENCINIA: How long have you been in Texas?
SANDRA BLAND: (INAUDIBLE)
ENCINIA: OK. Do you have a driver`s license?
No, ma`am. OK. OK.
Where are you headed to now?
ENCINIA: OK. Give me a few minutes, all right?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LUI: And then following that initial approach and exchange, Officer
Encinia returns to his vehicle. The encounter begins to escalate a short
time later when Officer Encinia approaches Bland`s vehicle a second time.
And this is what happens next, and I want to warn you, parts of this video
we`re about to show you may be disturbing.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ENCINIA: OK, ma`am.
Are you OK?
BLAND: I`m waiting on you. You, this is your job. I`m waiting on you,
whatever you want me to do.
ENCINIA: You seem very irritated.
BLAND: I am, I really am, I (INAUDIBLE) what I`m getting a ticket for, I
was getting out of your way, you were speeding up, tailing me. So I moved
over and you stopped me. So, yes, I am a little irritated. But that
doesn`t stop you from giving me a ticket. So –
ENCINIA: Are you done?
BLAND: You asked me what`s wrong and I told you.
BLAND: So, now I`m done. Yes.
Do you mind putting out your cigarette, please, if you don`t mind?
BLAND: I`m in my car. Why do I have to put out my cigarette?
ENCINIA: Well, you can step out now.
BLAND: I don`t have to step out of my car.
ENCINIA: Step out of the car.
BLAND: Why am I –
ENCINIA: Step out of the car.
BLAND: No, you don`t have to – no, you don`t have the right.
ENCINIA: Step out of the car!
BLAND: You do not – you do not have the right to do that.
ENCINIA: I do have the right. Now step out or I will remove you.
BLAND: I refuse to talk to you other than to identify myself.
ENCINIA: Step out or I will remove you.
BLAND: I am getting removed for a failure to signal?
ENCINIA: Step out or I will remove you. I`m giving you a lawful order.
Get out of the car now, or I`m going to remove you.
BLAND: And I`m calling my lawyer.
ENCINIA: I`m going to yank you out of here.
BLAND: OK, you`re going to yank me out of my car?
ENCINIA: Get out.
BLAND: OK. All right.
Let`s do this.
ENCINIA: Yes, we`re going to.
BLAND: Yes, don`t touch me.
ENCINIA: Get out of the car.
BLAND: Don`t touch me. I`m not under arrest. You don`t have the right to
take me out of my car.
ENCINIA: You are under arrest.
BLAND: I`m under arrest for what?
BLAND: For what? For what?
ENCINIA: Get out of the car! Get out of the car now!
BLAND: Why am I being apprehended? You`re trying to give me a ticket for
ENCINIA: I said get out of the car.
BLAND: Why am I being apprehended? You just opened my car door –
ENCINIA: I am giving you a lawful order.
BLAND: You opened my car door –
ENCINIA: I am going to drag you out of here.
BLAND: So you`re going to – you`re threatening to drag me out of my own
ENCINIA: Get out of my car!
BLAND: And then you`re going to stun me?
ENCINIA: I will light you up. Get out!
ENCINIA: Get out of the car!
BLAND: All this for a failure to signal. You`re doing all of this for a
ENCINIA: Get over there.
BLAND: Right. Yes.
Yes, let`s take this to court for a failure to signal.
ENCINIA: Go ahead.
BLAND: For a failure to signal.
ENCINIA: Get off the phone.
BLAND: I`m not on the phone.
ENCINIA: Put your phone down.
BLAND: I have the right to my property.
ENCINIA: Put your phone down.
ENCINIA: Put your phone down right now. Put your phone down.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LUI: Now, if we continue to play the video here which you`ve seen as well,
Janet, the encounter continues off to the side of the camera, Bland`s car
being searched and impounded, the traffic stop and Bland`s death in the
Waller County jail remained the subject of investigations by the Texas
Rangers under the supervision of the FBI as Craig Melvin was intimating
earlier. Officer Encinia was placed on administrative duties after
officials found violations of procedure regarding traffic stops.
In total, the dash-cam runs for more than 15 minutes but still leaves
unanswered questions about what we see happening to Sandra Bland along the
Joining us right now is Nancy Giles, writer and contributor to CBS News
“Sunday Morning,” Jason Williamson, staff attorney with the ACLU Criminal
Law Reform Project, and joining us from Chicago is Eugene O`Donnell,
professor of law and police studies at John Jay College of Criminal
Justice, and former NYPD officer.
Eugene, we`ll start with you on this. The way it began when we were
showing the first bit of video here was that, was there a right for the
police officer to ask her to leave the car? And then the second part of
that question might be, the cigarette itself, and that interaction. What`s
EUGENE O`DONNELL, FORMER NYPD OFFICER: My thought is it`s more complex
than it appears, that there`s a right generally for the police – you`re
under arrest in the situation essentially. You`re not free to leave. And
it`s kind of a murky area, but generally the police can ask you to get out
of the car.
The issue about the cigarette is a little less clear, but was he afraid?
Was there a fear?
LUI: What`s less clear with the cigarette?
O`DONNELL: Well, he told her to put the cigarette out. Did he think it
was a weapon? Did he think at events that she had some sort of hostile
intention to be assaultive, impairment? Who knows what he actually
Making strong, absolute statements about these cases are very difficult.
The truth is the courts that wrestle with these cases, they can`t draw the
lines very clearly themselves.
I mean, the real issue here is I don`t understand why the officer didn`t
just give a warning. That was his intention to do, say that immediately.
He sort of let it play out and let it escalate. I don`t know why he didn`t
– choose to do that.
MOCK: So, Nancy, I want to bring you into the conversation. You know,
there seems to be excessive escalation of force throughout this. And as
you`re watching this – what are your first reactions? What are you
NANCY GILES, WRITER & CONTRIBUTOR, CBS NEW SUNDAY MORNING: First, I agree
with Mr. O`Donnell, because I think it is complex. I don`t understand why
the officer acted the way that he did.
I`m also confused because it seemed like late in the game he sort of said
you`re under arrest. It sounded to me like Ms. Bland was asking legitimate
questions like, why do I have to get out of the car? Am I under arrest?
What am I under arrest for?
And here`s where I get confused, up until that point, because we don`t live
in a police state – do you have to give up you`re power and authority to
an officer when they just say, like get up, get out, put out that
cigarette? I mean, it`s –
MOCK: That`s exactly the point?
GILES: I mean, it`s naive to just say bossy, but I do understand an
officer is, you know, an officer of the court and he has certain rights and
he`s protecting the public. But this was, you know, I`ve been in a bad
mood on days, you know, and I`m watching this black woman and thinking,
really, you`re going to do this for not signaling? Is that really what
it`s about? And I hear that and it`s familiar. I don`t quite understand
MOCK: So, Jason, that`s where – I think there`s a lot of confusion around
what is legal and what isn`t? You know, Sandra is exerting her right. So,
what are her legal rights if any during this stop?
JASON WILLIAMSON, ACLU CRIMINAL LAW REFORM PROJECT: So, first of all, I
want to extend my condolences to the Bland family at a difficult time. But
I think as everyone has suggested, there really are two conversations that
need to be had here. One is, what does the law say? And then, what is –
you know, what do best practices look like and what is good public policy?
So, I think it is true that at least in Texas, among other places, if you
are pulled over for a traffic violation that is an arrestable offense,
which is important to understand because that means that the police
officers have a great deal of discretion in terms of how they then decide
to interact with you whether they`re going to give you a warning, a
citation or place you under arrest and take you to jail.
That also means that because police officers have the authority to, in a
sense, take control of the situation if they are affecting an arrest, these
commands to put down the cigarette, put down the phone become a lot more
difficult to decipher. But it`s probably true that the officer had the
authority to do that, that she would have been required to get out of the
GILES: Even before he said something like you`re under arrest he could
actually just by pulling her over, that sets everything in motion?
WILLIAMSON: Absolutely, which really speaks to the state of the law –
LUI: And the way it works.
WILLIAMSON: And the way it works –
LUI: I want to get in Gene on this.
Gene, as you heard some of the responses and the commentary to this very
topic, the question might be for the officer himself, when does he make the
decision? How are they trained to make these decisions when they`re out in
the field before they say you are under arrest and before that what they
can do and after that what they can do?
O`DONNELL: They`re not trained well enough. And the police establishment
has to own this.
The truth is the law is not going to solve this, because the courts are
going to have to give the police broad powers. It`s impossible to
simultaneously tell police to do this kind of work and then rein in their
The police of their own volition have to do this. They`ve done that in
many areas like deadly force. They have to do a better job of telling
police people that engagement is a big deal. Arrest is a big deal as we
saw here. Somebody ended up dying. And just – if you look – part about
the stop that`s most shocking to me is you see why this lady was pulled
over. It`s the most trivial of offenses and you wonder, this is the
arbitrary, capricious and scary thing that people feel about the police.
Is there any rhyme or reason to their enforcement? There are so many parts
of the country you get driven off the road because people are driving
dangerously, driving in a way that imperils other people, and they seem to
just drive away, and this lady committed the most trivial kind of offense
and ended up in these circumstances.
So, it`s going to be hard to make this just a legal issue, because no
matter what the law says, the police are put their safety above any rules
and litigate later. But the training and selection of police people and
this whole human dignity issue, that has to be at the center of policing
and we`re not doing a good job with that at all, I don`t think.
LUI: Eugene O`Donnell, the panel here agrees with you at 30 Rock. Thank
you so much for your expertise and perspective on what we were just seeing
on this topic.
Stay with us. We have so much more to get to here on MHP.
MOCK: Yes. We especially want to get into what happened in the jail where
Sandra Bland died. That`s next.
MOCK: On Thursday, an assistant district attorney for Waller County
announced that medical examiners ruled Sandra Bland`s death a suicide by
hanging, and said that the autopsy report showed no evidence of a violent
struggle before her death. The answers Bland gave to questions posed to
her on intake forms at the jail reveal a conflicting account of her mental
health history. She indicated that she made a previous attempt last year
by taking pills after the loss of a pregnancy, and she answered yes to a
question asking if she had thoughts of killing herself in the last year.
However, when they asked the same question about suicidal thoughts in
another section of the documents, the forms indicate she responded no. She
also indicated she had no suicidal thoughts on the day of the arrest.
Joining us from Houston is Carmen Roe, criminal defense attorney and legal
Carmen, I want to ask you about the jail booking screening form released by
the Waller County sheriff. Can you explain the conditions a person respond
something these questions, are they filling out the forms themselves? What
could account for the apparent discrepancies in her responses?
CARMEN ROE, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY AND LEGAL ANALYST: Absolutely. No,
they`re not filling them out. They`re filled in by an officer and
sometimes a nurse at an intake once the inmate comes in to the jail.
These particular forms were filled out about three hours after she was
arrested. They were completed by officers and not by trained physicians or
nurses or other people with medical training.
MOCK: So, Jason, I want to bring you into this. How do the discrepancies
on the forms, what do these forms highlight the way Sandra Bland was
brought into the jail?
WILLIAMSON: Well, I think it`s beyond how the forms were filled out. I
think the question is, how did they respond to the information that they
received? Even if there were inconsistencies there, I think there were
enough indications that at least suicide may have been a possibility and
something that they needed to monitor. I think, you know, the jail failed
on several levels to take appropriate steps to make sure that Ms. Bland was
being monitored and taken care of.
MOCK: And what does that – and what does that say? How do those forms –
on the answers written for her, how do they affect the investigations?
WILLIAMSON: Well, I think that`s unclear. I`m not privy to all the
information that the investigators are considering to the extent that they
are trying to figure out whether or not the jail acted appropriately.
Again, I think it doesn`t speak well for jail administrators. I think at
the very least there should have been a mental health professional made
available to speak with Ms. Bland to verify or not that she may have been
at risk and that wasn`t done.
LUI: And, Nancy, to you on this. When we look at what happened in the
video, some would say, well, look at the sort of approach that Sandra Bland
had at that moment. He said, you`re obviously irritated.
But what has also been noted by Jason and others is that, you know, you can
be rude if you might define it as that, but that`s not necessarily illegal.
And that`s not what`s happening here as to what has been said.
GILES: I mean, it may not be your best tactic if you`re stopped by a cop
to, you know, respond in equal force or whatever, be annoyed, although I
think I might be annoyed and could see myself getting more annoyed, but I`m
confused about the whole intake thing just to sort of switch gears a little
bit. Like, are there questions that are on the forms? Have you ever
Have you had mental health problems, or is the person doing the intake form
free styling it, just asking things, you know, willy-nilly? I`m confused
about that. And that confuses me then about why the sets of answers were
different like, I guess it makes sense to ask questions about suicide
because someone in a jail could do harm to themselves but it`s so murky,
the whole form. I`m wondering if anybody knows how that works.
MOCK: And I`m hoping – and, Carmen, I`m hoping you can weigh in on this
murkiness and offer some clarity. What about the discrepancies on the form
and should someone have noticed and sought clarification of the answers
where there seemed to be a contradiction?
ROE: Absolutely. I mean, this is an issue the jail is going to have to
answer for. The jail commission has come in and said these individuals at
this jail were not trained, and that they didn`t follow the procedures that
are necessary to keep individuals safe. The discrepancies in the form are
part of the problem.
These people just filled in the blanks and checked yes or no on all these
forms and they didn`t absorb any of that information and they certainly
didn`t do anything with it. They didn`t make observations about Sandra and
what condition she was in.
And even assuming for the sake of this conversation that they made those
observations and that she was fine coming in, you know, the cell mate
talked about how many days she cried continuously and when her emotional
condition changed, they had an obligation to react to that condition as
well. And when they didn`t, I think there are going to be lawsuits that
are filed in the case.
MOCK: Carmen, thank you for offering clarity in Houston. Thank you.
Up next, how politicians are responding to the Black Lives Matter movement.
LUI: And a co-founder of the Black Lives Matter hashtag joins us live
LUI: Last Saturday, during the Netroots Nation conference, a presidential
candidate forum featuring former Maryland Governor Martin O`Malley, as well
as Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, was interrupted when Black Lives Matters
protesters came in to say her name. Neither candidate that day gave
answers that satisfied the demands of the protesters who wanted recognition
in response to their calls for racial justice agenda.
But their responses later in the week suggested the voices of the
protesters did not go unheard. Within days of Black Lives Matter taking a
stand at the Netroots conference, Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders and
Martin O`Malley had all said the name of Sandra Bland.
Joining me now from Cleveland is someone who was on the stage, Patrisse
Cullors, cofounder of Black Lives Matter and director of truth and
reinvestment for the Ella Baker Center.
Patrice, thank you for joining us.
They`ve now said Sandra Bland. At the time, clearly, there was a question
why don`t you understand what this group here wants to hear, what they`re
believing, what the words connoted, not necessarily what they were exactly
What`s your sense here of the significance of the response in that moment
PATRISSE CULLORS, BLACK LIVES MATTER: Well, I think during the Netroots
Nation protests and action, it was a disappointment. Senator Sanders and
Governor O`Malley fumbled. They were unable to address the issues we were
naming, and they seemed disconnected from the broader Black Lives Matter
But it was clear that within a day`s time, all – the both of them as well
as Hillary Clinton probably went back to their teams and made choices that
I think were in alignment with what we were asking for, which is to talk
about the state of emergency that black America is currently in and to name
the people who have died at the hands of law enforcement.
I think that at this point now, we want to see a real racial justice agenda
that is people`s agenda.
MOCK: And so, now, beyond the action that was so powerful, that quick
turnaround and that response happened, beyond that what action do you want
the – to see those candidates take for what the movement is calling for?
CULLORS: Well, I think first off we want candidates to actually call
movement leaders, sit and have meetings with us, have a conversation with
us about what`s happened this last year since the murder of Mike Brown.
And then we actually want candidates to really think about the ways in
which they can build a platform that`s divesting from the ways policing and
imprisonment operates in our country today, and a full-fledged platform
that`s about resourcing communities, specifically poor communities where
black folks are – black communities are completely decimated from policing
and mass incarceration. So, we want them to acknowledge that and think
about ways that they can really push towards a new vision for Black
MOCK: And, you know, we know O`Malley, Clinton, and also Sanders, right,
what are we doing in terms of – or what is your plan for the Republican
candidates specifically after Jeb Bush and his idea of saying that
#BlackLivesMatter is just a slogan?
CULLORS: Yes. And we – many folks have asked why would you go after the
Democratic Party? They`re on our side. What about the Republican Party?
And trust and believe that any opportunity we have to shut down a
Republican convention, we will. We will make sure that our voices are made
loud and clear. And we also want to be clear that the Democratic Party
isn`t off the hook.
MOCK: Well, Patrisse Cullors, thank you so much.
CULLORS: Thanks for having me.
LUI: And very much thanks to our panel here, Nancy Giles and Jason
Williamson in New York. It`s been a tight day. We`ll get you next time.
LUI: That`s OK. We`ll get you next time.
There`s also something called Sunday, tomorrow. So, I don`t know. We`ll
be tweeting. That`s all we`re doing.
All right. Coming up for you, the significance of President Obama`s news
conference in Kenya this morning.
MOCK: And still to come, the movie star who shocked the world 30 years ago
LUI: And welcome back.
President Obama made some news today in a joint press conference with
Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta. President Obama was talking about
corruption, also looking at election safety and the equal treatment of LGBT
On the last point, he invoked a very personal example. Take a listen to
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: As an African-American of
the United States, I`m painfully aware of the history of what happens when
people are treated differently under the law. And there`s all sorts of
rationalizations provided by the power structure for decades. In the
United States for segregation and Jim Crowe and slavery, and they were
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LUI: And joining Janet and me now from Nairobi is NBC News senior White
House correspondent Chris Jansing.
So, Chris, you had marked last hour four major areas and really far
reaching as you were saying and that comment there one of the key marks.
CHRIS JANSING, NBC NEWS SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESONDENT: Yes, and I think
what it really points out is the Barack Obama we are seeing as he gets
closer and closer to the end of his second term, and right before I came
here, I was talking to a member of the administration who is particularly
close to him who acknowledged to me that he is hearing the talk – the
clock ticking much more loudly as the days and weeks go by.
And so, we`re hearing him more unfettered, right? We`re hearing him speak
more personally as he did there when he was in a prison a short time ago.
He said there but for the grace of God go I, essentially.
And so, on all of these issues, he seems more open to being direct and he
actually was warned certainly in the media by some African officials that
he should not come here and try to impose the Western will on gay rights on
this country, but he didn`t back off on that.
So, I think this is an indication, a further indication that President
Obama knows he only has a little more than a year left to get things done.
Some would say even less if you believe in lame duck status, and he`s
MOCK: I kind of – I love that he`s also pushing hard there as well,
making sure civil society is brought in. But what are his plans over the
next few days in Kenya and Ethiopia?
JANSING: So, tomorrow is going to be one of the fascinating parts of the
trip. He`s going to be giving a speech. It`s being billed as a major
speech in a stadium. They`re planning here – they can`t fit this many in
the stadium – but as many as 300,000 people to come to see him. We`ve
already seen huge crowds of people hoping to catch a glimpse of him.
And so, one of the indications we`ve got here is that he is going to again
speak very personally. And the reason for that in particular here is
because he is so popular and we talked about this in the last hour, 80
percent of the people here believe he wants to do what`s best for the
people of Kenya. And so, on those areas where he might disagree with the
leadership, he sees this as kind of a bully pulpit, an opportunity and
essentially a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to have impact on these
MOCK: NBC senior White House correspondent Chris Jansing in Nairobi, thank
Up next a major civil liberties case involving a trans prisoner in Georgia.
LUI: And then, later, the movie star who made history on this very day 30
MOCK: This is Ashley Diamond, a 37-year-old transgender woman and first-
time inmate at the men`s prison in Georgia. She`s a nonviolent offender
whose major offense was burglary.
Ashley has identified as female since she was a child, but since entering
the prison system in 2012, the state has denied her the medically necessary
hormone therapy she had previously taken for 17 years. In February, Ashley
filed a federal lawsuit demanding that corrections officials provide safe
placement for the prisoner and medically necessary care including hormone
According to the complaint, Ashley was thrown into solitary confinement for
pretending to be a woman. She had her gender affirming clothing
confiscated and was repeatedly told to look and act like a man.
The lawsuit also alleges the Georgia Department of Correction failed to
protect her against repeated rapes in the men`s prison. While
incarcerated, Ashley has been sexually assaulted eight times, her attorney
The Georgia DOC declined to comment due to pending litigation.
Here is Ashley in a video she recorded inside the prison.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ASHLEY DIAMOND, TRANSGENDER WOMAN: I cannot stress to you what a
treacherous (INAUDIBLE). It`s amazing how a minor brush with the law
turned into a death sentence. This is more than just about hormone
treatment. This is about gross human rights violations. Three years of
torture is enough.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MOCK: In April, the Justice Department intervened in support arguing that
blanket limits on medical care for transgender prisoners are
Less than a week later, the DOC announced a policy change. It would now
provide medical and health treatment to offenders diagnosed with gender
But Ashley`s fight is far from over.
Back at the table, attorney Raul Reyes, and joining us from New Orleans is
Chinyere Ezie, a staff attorney at the Southern Poverty Law Center, the
civil rights law firm representing Ms. Diamond.
Chinyere, thanks so much for joining us.
Could you please share with us and the viewers where is Ashley and what is
her current state of mind right now?
CHINYERE EZIE, SOUTHERN POVERTY LAW CENTER: You know, Janet, thank you for
having me. As you pointed out, unfortunately, Ms. Diamond`s fight is far
from over. Ashley continues to be housed in men`s prisons within the
Georgia Department of Corrections, and continues to be housed with an
administration that shows gross indifference to the rights of transgender
So, very recently, Ms. Diamond suffered a sexual assault. She continues to
be harassed on a daily basis by staff at the prison that she`s currently
incarcerated so in. So, you know, she has a fighting spirit but she`s
definitely not out of the woods just yet.
LUI: Chinyere, this is Richard. You know, when you see this story
develop, can you not help but think of “Orange is the New Black”, and in
that storyline for those who have not watched it there is this discussion
of a transgender inmate in there that`s been refused hormonal therapy and
here we have a case where that is what`s being alleged.
Can that happen? Can hormonal therapy or the drugs that are required or
needed be denied?
EZIE: You know, our firm view, and it`s backed by the Department of
Justice, is gender dysphoria treatment is medically necessary treatment
under the 8th Amendment which cannot be denied because someone is
Unfortunately, it`s a fight that, you know, Ms. Diamond had to wage
personally. She has undergone a forced transition from female back to
male, and it shouldn`t have been at that expense that we could have
conveyed to the Department of Corrections that they had an obligation under
the Constitution to provide her medical care.
MOCK: And we also know unlike Sophia Burset in “Orange is the New Black”,
Ashley has been put in the men`s prison, right?
MOCK: So, what are Ashley`s goals for lawsuit? What are the issues that
extend beyond immediate relief for Ashley?
EZIE: Of course. Ms. Diamond is one of many transgender inmates within,
you know, prison systems in Georgia and beyond who are being subjected to
gross mistreatment whether that comes in the form of being denied access to
health care, whether that comes in the form of being denied safekeeping,
and so ms. Diamond recognizes herself as being a spokesperson for
transgender individuals and really sees her lawsuit as shining a light on
the types of conditions that transgender inmates face and trying to bring
about class wide changes.
Really instilling that there is a right under the law for inmates such as
herself to access health care and to be placed in safe prisons and it is
our firm belief that currently she`s not in a safe environment.
LUI: Raul Reyes who is on the table with us here.
Putting on your legal analyst hat here, Raul, tell us about this concept –
discrimination to incarceration pipeline that has been so much talked
about, that affects disproportionately those individuals of color.
RAUL REYES, ATTORNEY: Right. Absolutely, and particularly transgender
people. I believe the statistics for transgender people, an estimated 16
percent of the transgender population has experienced incarceration at some
point in their lifetime versus 2 percent to 3 percent of the general
population and the reason for that is because transgender people face so
much discrimination that it`s very difficult for them to find work and many
turn to illegal activities.
In this case, let me drop this on you, as astonishing as it may seem,
Ashley is one of the fortunate ones that we are talking about her case,
that we know who she is, that she has representation. There are many more
cases like this where someone has not been lucky enough to smuggle out
video and have her voice heard.
And hospitals, what might surprise people – excuse me, prisons have a
higher legal standard of care than actually hospitals do because when
you`re in a hospital, even against your doctor`s orders, you can leave.
You can check yourself out. When you are incarcerated, you are totally
within the care of the government and they had an obligation to provide you
And as I understand it, not only has the federal government weighed in on
has the federal government weighed in on Ashley`s side, Georgia state law
requires that whatever prescription medicines a person was on before they
were incarcerated, they be kept on them. And somehow due to
inconsistencies with her intake form that policy has been disregarded.
So, as astonishing as it may sound, she is fortunate in at least there are
people fighting for her.
LUI: Raul Reyes, thank you so much. Chinyere Ezie, in New Orleans, thank
you as well.
And, Janet, that statistic that many folks probably don`t know and we put
that up a second ago, 3,209 transgender inmates across the country.
MOCK: I know. And it`s also a powerful story to point out that prisons
are not safe spaces for anyone, period. And so, to have the added layer of
being of color and a transwoman, it further complicates this story.
But up next, a major announcement made on this day 30 years ago.
LUI: We`ll tell you how a top movie star stunned the world.
MOCK: On this day 30 years ago, just as the AIDS crisis was escalating, a
new face of the epidemic emerged, and the fight against the disease, it was
Rock Hudson, one of Hollywood`s most famous leading men, became the first
major celebrity to publicly disclose that he had AIDS. He was first
diagnosed in 1984 but kept it a secret from everyone except his closest
By the following year, there were rumors about his health, especially after
he appeared at a news conference with his frequent co-star Doris Day,
looking thin and gaunt. In July of 1985, Hudson was hospitalized in Paris
amid media speculation that he was suffering from cancer.
But then came the official word from his publicist. The mysterious illness
affecting Hudson was the same illness that had already killed some 6,000
people. At the time, the medical community knew little about AIDS. It was
often stigmatized as a disease that only affected gay men and intravenous
Hudson`s acknowledgment of his condition marked a turning point in the
public`s perceptions of AIDS and AIDS patients. Suddenly, the crisis had a
face familiar to millions. His revelation also challenged long held
stereotypes about homosexuality and revealed the double life many gay
actors were forced to lead, particularly in the 1950s and `60s when Hudson
was the famous – or made famous for embodying the quintessential leading
man, wooing top starlets like Elizabeth Taylor in “Giant” and Doris Day in
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ROCK HUDSON, ACTOR: Look, I don`t know what`s bothering you, but don`t
take your bedroom problems out on me.
DORIS DAY, ACTRESS: I have no bedroom problems. There`s nothing in my
bedroom that bothers me.
HUDSON: Oh, that`s too bad!
(END VIDEO CLIP)
Hudson`s famous co-stars not only stood by him after his diagnosis but
rallied, the Hollywood community to raise money for AIDS research. After
his revelation, a sold out fund-raiser for AIDS Project Los Angeles raised
more than $1 million. Hudson was too sick to attend the event,
unfortunately, but sent a telegram that was read by fellow actor Burt
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BURT LANCASTER, ACTOR: I`m not happy that I have that AIDS, but if that is
helping others, I can at least know that my own misfortune has had some
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MOCK: Less than two weeks after that fund raiser and less than three
months after opening up about his fight with AIDS, Rock Hudson died at the
age of 59.
Over the course of 62 films, he won the hearts of millions of movie fans,
but in real life, Hudson helped change minds and save lives by going public
with his own very personal struggle on this day, July 25th, 1985.
LUI: And, Janet, thanks for that. I mean, it`s one of those events that
we think back, we remember that and Magic Johnson as well in this long and
very troublesome storyline for many.
And with that, that`s our show for today. Thanks for tuning in with Janet
and myself on this Saturday. We`ll be back tomorrow, 10:00 a.m. Eastern.
You`ll be here, right?
MOCK: Yes, I will.
LUI: OK. We`ll be back.
Up next, though, a preview of “WEEKENDS WITH ALEX WITT.”
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