Melissa Harris-Perry, Transcript 08/09/15
MELISSA HARRIS-PERRY, CNN: This morning, my question, how has policing
changed since Ferguson? Plus my exclusive interview with Attorney General
Loretta Lynch, and the stars of “Straight Outta Compton” come to nerdland.
But first, it happened one year ago today. Good morning, I`m Melissa
Harris-Perry. Today is August 9th. One year ago today Michael Brown was
walking home from a convenience store in Ferguson, Missouri. Ferguson,
Missouri, where 67 percent of the residents are black, but five of its six
city councilmembers were white.
Ferguson, Missouri, where the school systems and neighborhoods were
racially segregated and the police force was nearly entirely white.
Ferguson, Missouri, just miles from St. Louis where Dread Scott sued for
ownership of his own life and was told by the Supreme Court in 1857 that
black people, quote, “had no rights” which the white man was bound to
Michael Brown was walking home in Ferguson. He was 18, he was unarmed. He
was black. Little past noon, Michael Brown was dead, shot to death in an
encounter with a white police officer, Darren Wilson.
After he was killed, Michael Brown`s body was left face down in the street
for four hours. The next night the community held the candlelight vigil,
some protesters destroyed property.
The next night police met the still grieving and angry community with riot
gear, tear gas and rubber bullets. Within the week, nightly unrest grew,
police presence became more visibly militarized and the Missouri governor
declared a state of emergency.
Try to remember just how shocking those images were last year. How none of
us could be sure how deep and far this confrontation would go. Try to
remember Governor Nixon declaring a curfew as through drawing a line in the
Try to recall the National Guard arriving, the military vehicles in an
American city, the shock and the voices of reporters as they tried to
shield their eyes from the burning effects of tear gas, all because Michael
Brown was 18, he was unarmed, and walking home, and then he was dead.
To many it felt as if there was no justice and if there would be no
justice, there would be no peace. Then something shifted. On August 18th,
nine days after Michael Brown was shot and killed, President Obama
announced that the Justice Department had opened a civil rights
investigation into the death of Michael Brown, and that Attorney General
Eric Holder would be in Ferguson by midweek.
When Holder arrived in Ferguson, he made it clear that he was both the
attorney general and as he told residents, also a black man, he met with
students, with community leaders, with beleaguered Missouri State Highway
Patrol Captain Ron Johnson and with the family of Michael Brown.
When he left, the National Guard left with him and a relative calm settled
back over the city. The DOJ isn`t capable of wholly eliminating justice or
reversing the pernicious effects of inequality but that visit to Ferguson
was a reminder of the extraordinary often latent power of the Department of
Attorney General Robert Kennedy used this power in 1962 when he sent
federal troops to Oxford, Mississippi, to enforce desegregation of ole miss
and when he deployed investigators to find the bodies and prosecute the
murders of three civil rights workers in Mississippi.
The DOJ unleashed this power in March, 2015 with the release of their
scathing, comprehensive report on Ferguson, Missouri, a report that stated
clearly the Ferguson Police Department has, quote, “a pattern of
unconstitutional stops and arrests in violation of the fourth amendment”
and a pattern of first amendment violations and a pattern of excessive
This report is released just seven weeks before the day Loretta Lynch
became our nation`s 83rd attorney general, and the country`s first African-
American woman to serve in the role, a day when just miles away from her
swearing in, in Baltimore, Baltimore erupted in anger and grief over the
death of another unarmed black man after an encounter with police, Freddie
On the day she became attorney general, Loretta Lynch, asserted that we,
quote, “can restore trust and faith both in our laws and in those of us who
enforce them.” AG Lynch has made equitable policing a central tenant of
her DOJ agenda and has started a national community policing tour.
This week I sat down with the attorney general for an exclusive interview.
HARRIS-PERRY: A year after the death of Michael Brown, after all of the
sort of work of the “Black Lives Matter Movement,” after that, has anything
changed in the patterns and practices of the Ferguson Police Department?
LORETTA LYNCH, U.S. ATTORNEY GENERAL: Certainly the Ferguson Police
Department has changed dramatically, but I believe that they are actually
still undergoing a great change. We have opened a pattern of practice
investigation into them over a year ago.
Those results were announced by my predecessor, Eric Holder, with the
findings that we made that not only was there unconstitutional policing,
but that there was also a pattern of the municipality using the fine system
to generate revenue, not in a productive way for the citizens.
I think actually a lot of things have changed since Ferguson. I think that
the importance of that report was that it showed the world what people in
Ferguson and similar situations have been saying for years but they just
Because it was outside the consciousness or outside the reality of people
who didn`t share the situation or didn`t share their background, or hadn`t
had those experiences happen to them.
So I think it opened the eyes of America and frankly, the world, to what
many minorities are saying when they talk about feeling a level of
disrespect and a lack of inclusion in their own government, particularly at
the municipal level.
Certainly it was manifested in the police department of Ferguson, but we
saw it through so many other departments as well. Now, we have been in
talks with the city. We have proposed a consent decree to them where an
active negotiation and we proposed things that we think will actually help
Not only run their town in a way that is efficient and safe for the
residents, but is constitutional and addresses these important concerns.
So I think that a lot has changed since Mr. Brown`s tragic death.
Certainly our hearts still go out to his family because when you lose a
child, time really stops. It`s a year, but I`m sure for them it still
feels as if it`s 5 minutes ago, and that`s a pain that doesn`t go away.
But out of that, it is really our hope that we can illuminate the
conditions that led to the tensions that existed not just after Mr. Brown`s
death and the riots but long before that.
HARRIS-PERRY: I want to quote a little something that you said in the case
of Sandra Bland. You said that it highlights the concern of many in the
black community that a routine stop is not handled with the same
professionalism and courtesy that many other people get from the police.
Sandra Bland`s family wants the Department of Justice to investigate her
death. Do you have plans to do so?
LYNCH: Well at the moment, the investigation is still being handled by
local authorities, but the FBI has been monitoring that matter since the
beginning, so we are receiving reports. Right now, it`s still an open
matter in the case of the Texas authorities, so I`m really not able to
comment on that. We`re monitoring it and we`ll see what, if anything, we
need to do.
HARRIS-PERRY: You talk about professionalism and courtesy, the experience
that individuals have when they encounter police officers. What do you
hear from police officers themselves about this?
LYNCH: I am hearing a fascinating story from law enforcement in this
country as part of my six-city community policing tour. I`ve chosen cities
specifically that have had negative interactions or relationships between
the police and the community, and have come out on the other side.
They`ve had a police shooting similar to recent ones. They`ve had the
department come in and impose a pattern of practice investigation upon them
with findings of unconstitutionality so they have essentially been at the
idea of where a department can be in relation to the community.
And I`ve chosen those cities because they`ve all worked along with the
community and with the government officials to repair that relationship. I
would say that the change in the police view has really been dramatic and
one that they cite as positive.
When I was talking with the officers in East Haven, Connecticut, they
talked about how their focus had shifted from simply counting of numbers,
statistics, how many arrests did you make this month, how many stops did
you make this month.
That kind of policing to a view of how have you engaged with the community
and how have you made the community which is in East Haven, Connecticut,
not just African-American but also Hispanic and white, how have you made
the community feel safer?
How have you made the minority community know that you are here to protect
them also? And they talk, frankly, about the gratitude that they get from
the community and how that makes them feel, and how it has expanded their
view of what policing is, particularly for younger officers who are coming
in to policing now.
Many of them come into it with that very mind set. When I ask police
officers how long have you been on the force, you know, they range from one
year, two years, 12, 20, why do you want to be a police officer?
They will tell me the most compelling stories about wanting to protect
their own communities, about particularly the minority officers seeing
friends and family members go down a very negative path with law
enforcement and wanting to be in a position to intervene and create a
positive interaction or positive relationship.
So when I`m talking to officers now, it`s actually very gratifying to see
that after some of the most difficult and challenging cases we put
together, we can get to a place where the police in the community can work
together on these matters.
These are not perfect situations. Many of the cities, Cincinnati for
example, still continue to have interactions that have resulted in
fatalities, but what we`re looking for is a community police interaction
that sets up a process by which community members feel that their voices
They`re taken into account, they`re respected, and in which police officers
feel that they know the community, they understand the community`s fears
and concerns, and that they`re orienting policing towards those concerns
specifically and not in some general way of just racking up numbers.
HARRIS-PERRY: Stay right there. Coming up, more of my interview with the
attorney general and how she defines justice.
Also later in the program, we`re coming straight out of nerdland with the
stars of “Straight Out of Compton.”
HARRIS-PERRY: Loretta Lynch grew up in the Jim Crow South eventually
working as a school librarian and marrying a fourth generation Baptist
preacher named Lorenzo. Six years before the passage of the Voting Rights
Act, they had a daughter, Loretta who would go on to become the chief law
enforcement officer of the nation.
Loretta Elizabeth Lynch went from high school valedictorian to Harvard
graduate where she was a charter member of the first black sorority on
campus, Delta Sigma Theta and then on to Harvard Law.
Her impressive legal career includes being U.S. attorney of the eastern
district of New York, special counsel to the prosecutor at the
International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda and a partner at the law firm,
Hogan and Harsted where she met her future husband, Steven.
Lynch prosecuted police officers for the beating and sexual assault of
Admiral Louiema and indicted top FIFA officials for bribery and corruption.
In November of 2014, she was nominated by President Obama to be the next
attorney general of the United States.
She was sworn into office, the first black woman to hold the post with
Frederick Douglas` bible. More of my interview with the attorney general
HARRIS-PERRY: On Wednesday the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals issued a
ruling on Texas` Voter I.D. Bill, one of the strictest in the country
finding that it has a discriminatory effect in violation of Section Two of
the Voting Rights Act.
The decision is a victory for voting rights advocates following the Supreme
Court`s decision to strike down Section Four of the act in 2013. In my
interview this week, I asked Attorney General Loreta Lynch about protecting
voting rights and how she defines justice.
HARRIS-PERRY: Yesterday as we were marking the 50th anniversary of the
Voting Rights Act as you were concluding your remarks you said, “We cannot
guarantee the absence of discrimination or the end of ill will, but we can
guarantee the presence of justice.” What is justice?
LYNCH: You know, justice can mean a lot of different things for a lot of
different people. I think that to find the true definition of justice, you
need to talk to someone who feels most aggrieved at the time and see what
it is that they truly need.
And I`ve spent a lot of time talking to people who do feel aggrieved by
their government, by law enforcement, by actions that law enforcement has
taken against them, and they`ve suffered a loss of a life or they`ve simply
have had a very negative interaction.
I`ve also spent a lot of time talking to the victims of crime who have come
to me seeking justice even when there`s no racial component. That loss,
that sense that someone has failed them is very, very sharp and keen.
And people have said to me consistently, obviously they may want a certain
verdict or a certain result, but what they said to me consistently is they
want to be heard. They want their loss to be seen as important, and they
want the criminal justice system to investigate the loss they have
Whether it`s a child, a brother, a parent, whatever it is, they want that
investigation to be done thoroughly, efficiently, and as transparently as
possible because they want that process that they feel that other people
take for granted.
People want to be heard and want to be respected. When I talk to families
and sometimes had to deliver news that we may not be able to bring charges
or the charges that we`re bringing may not be what they had anticipated.
They will often say to me obviously we`re disappointed, but we appreciate
you shared with us what`s happening at every step along the way. People
want to know that their government looks out for them, that the role of law
enforcement in my view is to protect and it is to serve.
And everyone wants to have that feeling that when they are in trouble, they
can call upon law enforcement or their government to help them and that
they`ll be listened to.
HARRIS-PERRY: The one really big headline win that occurred this week for
the Department of Justice comes out of Texas.
LYNCH: Yes, it does.
HARRIS-PERRY: And it is a win around the Voting Rights Act.
HARRIS-PERRY: That despite all of the challenges of the split decision,
there`s still some teeth left in this thing with Section Two. Is section
two sufficient for protecting voting rights in this country?
LYNCH: Well, obviously Section Five was very important. The pre-clearance
provision of the Voting Rights Act allowed the department to review
potential changes to laws and to determine whether or not they were going
to have unconstitutional effect.
And frankly, it saved countless resources, not just for the Department, but
for municipalities who would have had to defend against cases they
ultimately would have had to realize still need to be modified.
So it was a very helpful tool, not just for the department, but frankly for
the country. Obviously that`s a loss, a blow, but not a death nail to the
Voting Rights Act. We still review those actions.
We now look at them in the context of the impact as well as the intent
behind them where we have evidence that there`s a discriminatory intent as
we put forth in the Texas case so our enforcement of the Voting Rights Act
will continue to be vigorous and continue to be strong and in-depth. We
will do all that we can to protect this most fundamental American right.
HARRIS-PERRY: So you are still relatively new in your tenure as the
attorney general, but someday you will pass the baton to the next attorney
general. What is the legacy that you want to leave?
LYNCH: Well, the legacy that I want to leave is one of inclusion, of one
of advancing my main goals of protecting the most vulnerable members of our
society and making sure that everyone has a voice and understands that the
Department of Justice`s main goal is the protection of the American people
and I want to make that real for people.
I want to make that real for the individual, so that the next attorney
general inherits a department that is looked upon as one that is not only
supportive of individuals, but is one where they can turn to when they are,
when people feel like there`s no one listening to them or when they feel
like there`s something threatening them.
HARRIS-PERRY: Recently the first lady was asked what job she would like to
have if she weren`t first lady and she responded Beyonce.
LYNCH: Great job.
HARRIS-PERRY: I wanted to ask you the same question, if you were not
attorney general, what job would you want to have?
LYNCH: Well, you know, if I actually had not been attorney general, or
even a lawyer I probably would have been a journalist, and that`s the job
that I would want to have. That was actually my first goal was to be a
journalist, because I find people fascinating. I find their stories
And I think that the combination for me has been the fact that both through
journalism and through law you take someone that society or the world may
overlook and their voice gets to be heard.
As a law enforcement officer, I can take a victim who is going to, may feel
that they`ve been ignored or no one is listening to them, and say yes,
someone is listening to you.
I initially wanted to be a journalist, and that`s what I perceived, in
college I worked with friends on a student television show and did
interviews around the Boston Cambridge area about public interest issues
and student issues.
And ended up having internship at one of the networks for summer, and was
always torn between law and journalism, and ultimately decided that I could
be, I felt, more effective as a lawyer in doing that.
And I thought maybe I would combine the two and do communications or first
amendment law, but was always drawn toward the issue of opening up the
system for people who may have felt locked out, you know, opening up the
process for people who either didn`t understand it or felt that it wasn`t
there for them.
HARRIS-PERRY: I want to thank the attorney general for taking the time to
speak with me this week. You`ll be able to read more of my interview in
“Essence” magazine in September.
Still to come, my interview with the stars of one of the summer`s most
anticipated movies “Straight Out of Compton.”
HARRIS-PERRY: Chicago has one of the country`s highest rates of homicide
by gun violence and it takes its toll on the communities of color. In
2012, 75 percent of gun deaths victims in Chicago were black or Latino and
despite having some of the nation`s strictest gun laws, the city struggles
to keep firearms from flooding in.
The 2014 report by the city found that four gun dealers near the city
border, three in the suburbs and one in Gary, Indiana, provided 20 percent
of the guns recovered in crime scenes by police between 2009 and 2013.
Two Chicago moms who lost their teenage sons to gun violence have decided
to do something about it. They are joining local activists in suing the
three suburbs for allegedly not having tough enough gun laws and they`re
using an unconventional legal tactic.
They arguing that these laws or the lack thereof constitute a civil rights
violation, specifically the cause of the Illinois Civil Rights Act
targeting institutions that, quote, “utilize criteria or methods of
administration that have the effect of subjecting individuals to
discrimination because of their race, color, national origin or gender.”
We`ve reached out to the villages for comment. The attorney for the
village of Lincolnwood said, “We don`t diminish the importance of the issue
of gun violence, however, they are operating within the wrong forum in
their efforts to address the issue.
There`s no law adopted by the village alleged to be unconstitutional or
unlawful. The plaintiff would like the village to adopt new laws that may
or may not have second amendment implications but you don`t ask the court
to do that.
And the statement from the village of Lyons says they have, quote, “not
been served or seen the lawsuit so we cannot comment on the specific
allegations in the lawsuit. However, it is obvious the city is looking to
pass the blame onto outside communities and businesses for the crimes and
shortcomings in dealing with the crimes in neighborhoods within the city of
The village of Riverdale did not respond to requests for comment. Joining
me now from Chicago one of the moms filing the lawsuit, Pamela Bosley, and
her attorney, Michael Persoon.
Ms. Bosley, can I start with you? Can you tell me a little bit about your
son, Terrell, and how he was lost?
PAMELA BOSLEY, SON KILLED BY GUN VIOLENCE: My son, Terrell Bosley,
actually was a gospel bass player, a college student. He was working a
job, doing all the right things, me and my husband, we did all we could to
protect him from gun violence.
And on April 4th, 2006, he was at church, came out to help his friend get
drums and somebody came by shooting and shot my son and took his life.
Since then the music stop, his life was ended and mine was, too.
But just to tell you a little bit about Terrell. When Terrell walked into
the room he`ll light up a room. He had friends, family, he loved his
family, you know, his siblings, his mom, of course, me and he was a good
child, doing everything right and positive.
HARRIS-PERRY: So when I hear that story, Mr. Persoon, it`s a hard one to
hear, a young man who wasn`t even targeted. He was standing at his church.
You have parents who were doing everything right. Help me to understand
how this lawsuit might keep this from happening to another young man.
MICHAEL PERSOON, ATTORNEY FOR PAMELA BOSLEY: Sure, Melissa, thanks. One
thing that this lawsuit is designed to do is to try to stop or reduce the
flow of illegal guns or flow of guns to the wrong people in Chicago.
The numbers are just outrageous when you look at how many guns are being
used in Chicago. It`s unlawful uses of guns, not lawful. These three
villages that were suing, when you look at the shops within their borders,
the number of guns is outstanding.
You know, one report showed that between 1999 and 2003, I think it was,
roughly 2500 guns from these three villages were recovered in Chicago crime
scenes. Each one of those guns is a problem that we need to stop.
HARRIS-PERRY: So explain to me how it is that you can target
municipalities as opposed to individual gun sellers in this case.
PERSOON: Sure, Melissa. Now you talked about the Illinois civil Rights
Act and Section Five of that act creates a legal obligation, it says that
units of local government in the state of Illinois can`t have criterias or
method of administration that have the effect of subjecting persons to
discrimination because of their race.
It`s a very broad standard. It doesn`t tell you specifically what you have
to do but it says you can`t have rules or law, can`t enforce rules or laws
in a way that disproportionately impacts people because of race.
What led to this lawsuit is whatever these villages are doing it`s not
stopping the flow of guns to being used for crimes and unlawful purposes in
Chicago and primarily African-American neighborhoods on the southwest side
of Chicago. So they have to do something more.
HARRIS-PERRY: Miss Bosley obviously your son is gone, but what would
justice look like for you now?
BOSLEY: What I`m looking for is we have to stop the flow of guns coming
into our city, killing our black kids. Just this year, we had 1700 people
shot and 290 homicides, murders. We have to do something about the gun
flows that`s taking over our neighborhoods.
We hear gunshots all the time. So that`s why we are going after the
villages on the outside of Chicago that`s allowing these guns to take over
HARRIS-PERRY: Thank you to Pamela Bosley, the work you are doing is a
great way of continuing to parent your beloved son, despite the fact that
he is gone and thank you to Michael Persoon in Chicago.
Up next, the stars of “Straight Outta Compton” are coming to nerdland.
HARRIS-PERRY: In the late 1980s, black America was struck by the double
forces of economic key industrialization, which eliminated millions of
working class jobs were created and massive investment in job training and
food and housing assistance ushered in by the Reagan administration.
Poverty, crime, drugs and urban decay became the structural realities in
which much of black America lived, which is part of why the voices of Ice
Cube, Dr. Dre and Easy E. became among the most influential rap voices of
NWA refused to be silent about the devastating consequences of racism and
systemic disinvestment while asserting their first amendment right to make
art their own way.
NWA released their debut album “Straight Outta Compton” in 1988 and were
swiftly labeled the world`s most dangerous group. The song that caught the
attention of the FBI was of course “At The Police,” which was unyielding in
its criticism of police brutality, but even as NWA pushed back against
racial inequality, they deepened sexism and misogyny.
Founding member, Dr. Dre was accused in several cases of assault against
women including one case in which Dre attacked Dee Barnes, a young woman
rap show host. In late 1989, Ice Cube left the group. In 1992, Dr. Dre
left as well.
The three rappers embarked on solo rap careers. In 1995, Easy E died of
complications related to AIDS. Ice Cube went on to become a film actor in
a number of family friendly movies and Dr. Dre became a super producer and
has a reported net worth nearing $1 billion.
It is these deeply imperfect men whose artistry intervened at a deeply
troubling moment in America who are the subjects of the new film “Straight
Outta Compton,” which is produced by our parent company, Universal.
I was joined in studio recently by O`Shea Jackson Jr. who plays Ice Cube,
Cory Hawkins who plays Dre and Jason Mitchell who plays Easy E in “Straight
Outta Compton.” We began by asking Jackson about how he prepared to
portray his father on screen.
O`SHEA JACKSON JR., ACTOR, “STRAIGHT OUTTA COMPTON”: It was a two-year
process of auditioning before I got considered for a chemistry test where I
met these guys and Universal selected –
HARRIS-PERRY: We got to pause and dig into that. There`s going to be a
lot of people watching, this didn`t take you no two years to get a role to
play your father. You should have walked into it.
JACKSON: Not a studio like Universal isn`t going to appease to nepotism
just to please a producer and Gary Gray has put his name on this movie.
This is a big time film that could make or break him. He`s not going to
just let it go to just appease his friends so they put me through the
ringer and all that hard work is building confidence within me, if they
needed me I`d do it again.
HARRIS-PERRY: So I love the way that you portray Cube in those moments.
It feels very familiar to me, the Ice Cube I remember from the music that I
know and also the portrayal of Dre who is very different now, the person
who is Dre now and who has been in the game such a long time.
COREY HAWKINS, ACTOR, “STRAIGHT OUTTA COMPTON”: Right.
HARRIS-PERRY: How do you enter into and find that Dre at that moment?
HAWKINS: That`s a great question. I was lucky enough to just have him on
set every single day. I remember the first time I met him, we all went out
to dinner and we didn`t talk about the movie at all. We got to know each
other as people first and we actually have a lot in common in terms of
parallels in our lives and the drive and determination.
And I hope to one day become a genius like him and do what he`s doing. But
we were given sort of all the tools we need. We had, I had to learn how to
deejay and produce for this film. I`ve never done that before.
I was also coming, you know, from Juilliard and Shakespeare and Broadway
and going to Compton, I grew up in D.C. so that music sort of represented,
you know, that era, sort of a national thing, a worldwide thing, anybody
could relate to it.
HARRIS-PERRY: Let`s take a listen to a moment in the film between the
characters who are Dre and Easy E.
HARRIS-PERRY: So that moment is beautifully acted, but there`s maybe
nothing quite like having to capture the death of Easy E.
JASON MITCHELL, ACTOR, “STRAIGHT OUTTA COMPTON”: There were things that I
had I think bottled up and so many things that I could, that I had to kind
of add to the circumstances already, you know what I mean, because it was
`95, it was somebody who didn`t think that you could get AIDS like that.
It was taboo at that time, you know what I mean? He was an example for a
lot of people, a lot of people didn`t even consider AIDS real for somebody
who wasn`t homosexual at the time, you know, so for him to be in that
position at all, to have to take that serious.
It was heavy circumstances and your girl is pregnant, you know what I mean,
things about to happen. Good things about to happen. Lot of things went
bad, but in that period of time, good things were about to happen.
So there was, there were a lot of layers in the scenes, and I`m very
thankful for Gary Gray for making me feel that safe to pull out all my
creative guns, you know what I mean and it really came across pretty well.
HARRIS-PERRY: Because we felt that loss. I mean, let me just say as
someone who graduated from college in `94, that loss in real time in `95
when that happened, we felt it in a real way and you were able to capture
MITCHELL: Thank you.
HARRIS-PERRY: I basically play nothing but NWA on my iPod for about three
days as I was prepping because I was thinking through it about you all and
I was wondering is that the only thing you`re playing on the set? Were you
playing any of today`s music or only NWA on set?
MITCHELL: We were playing NWA, but we were playing a lot of old music.
HARRIS-PERRY: By old you mean the music of my generation – classic.
HARRIS-PERRY: Let`s listen to Ice Cube and Dre talking about passing the
torch to a new generation of artists.
HARRIS-PERRY: I have been in an on-going fight with one of my producers
whether or not today`s hip-hop which even that which is meant to have a
message can hold a candle to the `90s. So just work through that with me.
JACKSON: My – my father`s philosophy on this whole thing is that at a
certain point in the `90s, all the media outlets as far as, you know, rap
goes, at a certain point knocked out the artist who had, you know,
something to say or were speaking on political issues, if you will.
And it turned into, you know, the money music, the rams and that starts to
get played on the radio only, and so those who want a career in music think
that this is the model of which they should go, and so that, you know,
begins to really filter out all those groups that have something to say
that are speaking to the people in a different manner.
You still have artists today, Kendrick is one of them, J. Cole, Sean. They
got something to say. They`re working to inspire, speaking on issues.
They as artists find a balance within it and you know, that makes them
HARRIS-PERRY: Let`s take a look at a scene in the film, which really gets
to the heart of these ideas.
HARRIS-PERRY: What I love the most is watching you guys watch this film.
JACKSON: We already established we can`t sit next to each other at the
HARRIS-PERRY: I think you must sit next to each other at the premiere.
JACKSON: We`re yelling too much.
HAWKINS: Fans, man, fans of them and fans of each other, we`re fans of the
work and Gary and everybody that went into making this film.
HARRIS-PERRY: Clearly you had a great time actually making the film.
MITCHELL: Absolutely. Absolutely, they had some moving times that I
clearly remember. One time we had, we rapped after scooting Skateland and
we come outside, sunglasses on, you know, just a really, really good time.
And to see that many people especially black people in a majority in one
space and it`s all good vibes. Everybody is all smiles.
JACKSON: The morale on set was so high that everything from our
performances is our support team and just the natural camaraderie we have
with each other. The five of us are brothers. We have a brotherhood
working on here.
HARRIS-PERRY: You guys are still really young and I wonder do you realize
what you`ve done here, like the cultural product that is NWA their music is
one thing, but now you all have participated in it. You have now created
this thing which is going to mean across the world so much to so many
people. So you now are part of the big story that is NWA. That is huge.
HAWKINS: Gary used to say to us on set you guys are making history about a
group that made history. Those words always resonated, always came with a
little bit of pressure, but it`s funny, when we talk to Dre, they were just
having fun. They wanted to be hood stars, they wanted to make music for
the neighborhood and they ended up touching a nerve and they pushed their
foot on the gas and went forward. That`s what we hope to do with this.
HARRIS-PERRY: Coming up, the cast talks about making a movie about NWA in
the context of the Ferguson and the “Black Lives Matter Movement.” That`s
HARRIS-PERRY: In my interview with the stars of the new NWA biopic, we
talked about the relevance of the ground-breaking hip-hop group in the era
of Ferguson and the “Black Lives Matter Movement.” The movie “Straight
Outta Compton” could be straight out of today`s headlines that seem like
HARRIS-PERRY: There`s no way to watch that scene as though it is just
historical there. You have to watch it in the moment that is Ferguson,
that is Texas, that is Ohio. How much was that weighing on your minds as
you were making?
HAWKINS: Heavily on our minds. There were days when we shot the Detroit
riots, when we shut down I think lower Canyon Boulevard in Los Angeles and
shot those riots after the Rodney King incident and we would go home and
those images that we were shooting were on the TV, so it was eerie. It was
eerie. It was really nerve-racking and kind of scary and sort of confusing
and, but it just laid in the responsibility that we had to do with this
film, you know?
HARRIS-PERRY: So then how were people in Compton responding, if you`re
there and they were filming, you`re reproducing these painful riots of
previous decades even as fresh riots are occurring around the country.
What kind of response were you all getting?
JACKSON: Well, the city had nothing but love for us, you know, they knew
what we were trying to do, making this film, and they definitely wanted to
see it right. Of course, you have your NWA fans, heckling you, you know,
making sure you get it right.
MITCHELL: Easy E memorabilia.
JACKSON: And they were with open arms. They want to see this right, just
like we do. They have people camping out on their roofs, you know.
HARRIS-PERRY: Marco Rubio tweeted not once but twice – to go see it.
HAWKINS: That was crazy.
HARRIS-PERRY: Would you invite him to the premiere?
JACKSON: All politicians.
HARRIS-PERRY: All of them, yes, no debate, just come watch the premiere
with you guys.
JACKSON: We finished filming and doing the press tour and everything, but
we know we can`t exhale yet because it still has to be released to the
world and the world still has to get it. You know, they still have to
understand that we need to find just how NWA took all their pain and anger
and used it in a creative manner. We need to find a creative way of
solutions for these problems.
JACKSON: Protesting and all that is cool, but we need to start finding
HARRIS-PERRY: My favorite idea of the week if you guys end up watching
this film together with all of the candidates on the left and the right,
Democratic and Republican Party, I will – man, that would be some kind of
O`Shea Jackson Jr., Corey Hawkins and to Jason Mitchell, these guys have
been a riot. Thank you.
HARRIS-PERRY: “Straight Outta Compton” opens in theatres this Friday.
Coming up, we`ll go live to Ferguson, Missouri, one year after the death of
Michael Brown. There`s more MHP show at the top of the hour.
HARRIS-PERRY: Welcome back. I`m Melissa Harris-Perry. Today Ferguson is
remembering the one-year anniversary the day Michael Brown was shot and
killed by Officer Darren Wilson. The community is commemorating the
anniversary with a weekend long series of events that begin Friday and will
continue through tomorrow.
Yesterday, Brown`s father, Michael Brown Sr. led a march that began at the
memorial on Ferguson`s Canfield Drive that marks the place where his son
was killed. Another march planned for today will stop just before noon
local time for a moment of silence at the time Brown was killed.
MSNBC reporter Amanda Sakuma has been covering the anniversary events all
weekend, she joins me now from Ferguson. Amanda, what have you been
hearing and seeing from people there this weekend?
AMANDA SAKUMA, MSNBC NATIONAL REPORTER: Good morning, Melissa. Folks are
already gathering at the site where Michael Brown died. At that memorial
side, there are candles, there are teddy bears that are lining the street
where his blood had stained the pavement there, has since then been paved
over. And folks are gathering after meeting for church early this morning.
They are ready for the silent march that will move on to greater St. Mark`s
Church later this afternoon. Now, this is really a marking point for the
black lives matter movement that really began here after Michael Brown`s
There have been a number of different events over the weekend. Yesterday,
there are another march in the St. Louis area that block the major
thoroughfare there folks, by the hundreds were gathering and this is really
the protest groups that began in Ferguson, these are the grassroots
organizers that in the most purist sense that they`re not organizers,
they`re not trained, they didn`t have any leadership. And so, yesterday
was really a point where they were looking book and seen how far they`ve
come and really galvanizing this movement to make it a national movement.
As we saw yesterday, we saw black lives matter where there in Seattle to
block, democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders. So, you can see
just how far this movement has come but today is really a day to
commemorate Michael Brown and his death and what it really means and where
this all started.
HARRIS-PERRY: So, Amanda talk to me a little bit about what other kinds of
events are planned. We`ve also heard that there are some direct action
protests over the course of the next couple of days that we should be
SAKUMA: They are pointing at the Moral Mondays as we`ve seen in other
acts, and it`s a 12 hour from midnight to midnight, series of actions,
they`re keeping a tight lid on what exactly they want to do. But we do
expect sit-ins, we do expect acts of civil disobedience, really harkening
back on the civil rights movement and really meshing the two movements
together with Black Lives Matter and we have many members of the clergy who
have been leading these actions. We expect Dr. Cornell west to be in town
later this evening, he will be speaking to many of these issues. And so,
we`re seeing members of the clergy also leading training courses for folks
here, learning how to deescalate any situations if they get in any tense
clashes with police. They`ve really emphasize that they want folks to
deescalate any type of situation so that they keep the movement and the
message forward without anything mattering or cluttering that message.
HARRIS-PERRY: Thank you to MSNBC`s Amanda Sakuma in Ferguson, Missouri
One year ago today Ferguson took its place among the definitive spaces in
the struggle for racial justice when the shooting death of Michael Brown
prompted a movement to articulate and amplify a call for change. Out of
the weeks of chaos following Brown`s killing by Ferguson police officer
Darren Wilson, emerge the set of demand from activists who called for
action and institutional reform from both local and national government
officials. And over the last year, some of their agenda items have been
realized, their meaningful changes in Ferguson. Others remain unaddressed.
Last hour, we talked about one of the biggest checkmarks on their list, the
demand for the Department of Justice to investigate the shooting and
broader claims of police civil rights violations. The report effectively
ended hopes of one of the movement`s most immediate demands for the
prosecution of Officer Darren Wilson. After a grand jury decided against
indictment, the DOJ concluded that he was not in violation of any federal
civil rights laws but the release of the DOJ`s damning Ferguson report did
lead to another of the movement`s priorities. The removal of Ferguson
police Chief Tom Jackson. Jackson resigned along with string of other
Ferguson officials who were implicated by the DOJ report.
He was replaced by interim Chief Anderson and he joined other new African-
American city official in Ferguson including an interim city manager, a
municipal judge and two city councilmen was elected in April. The new
judge Don McCullin has made significant strides towards the movement`s
demand of the decriminalization of poverty. He leads (INAUDIBLE) some that
has replaced the crippling times and the jail terms for some minor offenses
with being like community service and more manageable fines and at the
state level, Missouri Governor Jay Nixon signed a sweeping municipal reform
bill ending predatory practices against impoverished people but the
movements demands for policing reforms have been met with mixed results.
Their call for front-facing cameras was answered last year in September
when Ferguson officers began wearing them on their uniforms and President
Obama partially addressed their critiques of police militarization when he
announced a policy in May to end some of the transfers of combat gear to
local law enforcement. But changes in the racial makeup of the Ferguson
Police Department have fallen far short of the movement`s desire for a more
representative police force. And according to the Associated Press, the
Department has increased the number of African-American officers from three
out of 50 to five. Including the interim chief. And those still living in
the community where Michael Brown died say, they haven`t seen much
difference in their day-to-day interactions with the police.
The “New York Times” reports people in Ferguson`s African-American
neighborhoods, quote, “Say the police still treat residents suspiciously,
still bark questions, still make arrests for what they consider trivial
charges.” All of which tells us that if the past year provided proof that
this movement is effective, the present reminds us that it is also still
Joining me now is Marc Steiner, host of “The Marc Steiner Show” and founder
of the Center for Emerging Media. Jelani Cobb, associate professor of the
University of Connecticut and staff writer at the NewYorker.com. Phillip
Atiba Goff, professor of social psychology at UCLA and president of the
Center for Policing Equity. And Reverend Dr. Jacqui Lewis, senior minister
for the Middle Collegiate Church. And in Ferguson I`m joined by Antonio
French, Alderman, the 21st ward in St. Louis.
Alderman French can you help me, if you had to say what is difference in
Ferguson one year later, how would you characterize it?
ANTONIO FRENCH, ALDERMAN, 21ST WARD IN ST. LOUIS: Well, I`d say the main
difference is that our conversation was started a year ago that has helped
move the region forward a bit. We have not seen the kind of progress that
we would hope to have seen a year later. It is still a fight that many
people are engaged in and try to make this city and this entire region more
representative and more inclusive of the entire population. But there has
been some progress.
HARRIS-PERRY: So Alderman French, you know, one of the things I was
talking about here is the new judge and the new police chief, but these are
very tenuous positions. This judge is right at the age where he will be
forced into a position of retirement. You know, obviously you`re talking
about an interim person and the police chief role. Are people feeling like
there have been changes but that they`re not really instantiated yet?
FRENCH: Well, we`ve seen some new faces in different positions, but what
the DOJ report really showed was a system that in fact really preyed on
African-Americans and poor citizens. And that system has not been
dismantled or change to any degree that is satisfactory yet. And so, we
have some different people in the system but the system itself remains, and
so even in the court system, though we have a different judge in Ferguson,
the court system is still vigorously prosecuting people who were arrested
last year for instance for noise violations during the protest. Those
people are still being prosecuted today. People are still being arrested
and ticketed in large numbers, and so the system itself still needs to be
HARRIS-PERRY: So, stick with us Alderman, don`t go away. But Jelani, just
before we sort of came on air, you and I were chatting about New Orleans,
because we`re almost at the ten years since the tragedy that is hurricane
Katrina. And you know, I remember these markers when people would say it`s
one year later, what`s changed? Five years later, what`s changed? Ten
years later, that`s right, something happened and I guess part of what I`m
wondering is whether or not even in our system about asking what has
changed we`re missing kind of the point of what the Ferguson story was.
JELANI COBB, ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR, UNIVERSITY OF CONNECTICUT: Well, I think
in some ways and even 50 years after Watts which is also this month people
asking the question what has changed and what remained remarkably
consistent is the ways in which we treat poor people in the country. And
until we can address the root causes of the poverty, so we look at Ferguson
wrongly as a kind of exceptional circumstance, the highlighted that the
Police Department was largely dependent upon revenue that it was raising,
extracting from poor people.
That that is consistent when we go through lots of poor communities. And
somebody in Ferguson was unfairly singled out. Because if the problem were
merely isolated to them, we would not be in bad shape but the very same
dynamics that started the Watts riot in 1965 with a growing black
population and previously before World War II been a largely white
population, white largely community, the same kind of thing happens, you
know, last year in Ferguson and this is what we find is like incredibly
consistent for the same reasons.
HARRIS-PERRY: So, Alderman, let me come back to you on that because I was
also, you know, now we`ve talked about Watts, we`ve talked about New
Orleans. I also have been thinking about it, almost like Selma, you know,
we were all back in Selma so recently marking that 50th for the voting
rights act, Selma which changed the country. But then when you actually
look at Selma itself, still a place of so much economic and racial dis-
privilege. And I guess I`m wondering, you know, a year after this sort of
the dis-nascent Black Lives Matter Movement begins in Ferguson, whether or
not Ferguson has changed the rest of the country but then not itself in the
sense of being able to do it right there locally.
FRENCH: Right, right. So there have been a lot of municipalities and
cities across the country that learned from the lessons of Ferguson from
last year, but unfortunately in many ways Ferguson and surrounding
municipalities have not yet. And so, these things never happen quickly.
Those of us who were out here last year knew that we were signing up for
the long haul and the year`s long battle and movement here. And so, you
know, I`m excited about some of the progress that has been made, most
excited about the kind of activitism as I was saying especially among young
people, which gives me a lot of hope that we`re going to really push
through and better our community because of it.
HARRIS-PERRY: Stick with us. Don`t go away. But Marc, let me come out to
you. Because the last time you were here, you were sitting on the other
side of me. We were talking about Baltimore.
MARC STEINER, HOST, “THE MARC STEINER SHOW”: Right.
HARRIS-PERRY: Which is where you are. You know, again, I have my
interview with the attorney general who was sworn in on the day but your
beloved city exploded. Talk to me about how Ferguson and the Black Lives
Movement has informed what have been happening in Baltimore since the death
of Freddie Gray.
STEINER: Well, it seems to me as we speak, there are 15 people in
Baltimore City now in Ferguson. The family of Tyrone West, family of
Freddie Gray are in Ferguson, activists in Baltimore working where they are
working to meet the folks from Ferguson. Because one of the things that is
interesting, is that what spawned is an organizing movement. We might not
be seeing the changes. After a year or two, Black Lives Matter is only two
STEINER: Right? And what we see though –
HARRIS-PERRY: Well, I would make a claim that is older, it`s just – I`m
going to let that go. So, yes.
STEINER: The movement, the new movement Black Lives Matter after Trayvon
died, Trayvon Martin died. Anyway, so what happened is people are
organizing on the ground, they`re creating their own counter institutions,
they`re beginning to organize politically, socially, culturally, that`s
where the change is going to come from. You`re not going to see it
necessarily in terms of municipality but you`re going to see it in terms of
what`s happening in the community out, that`s where the changes is going to
HARRIS-PERRY: All right. So, Phillip, but I want to get into the
institutional piece though because what we just heard from the Alderman was
okay, you know, the immediate changes, the changes that can come in a year
are those of changing the characters who are playing these roles, but the
roles themselves, and it is meaningfully difficult to say let`s shift this,
but the power of that DOJ report was this thing is rotten. It is a mess in
terms of its structure. How close are we to making change there?
PHILLIP ATIBA GOFF, PROFESSOR OF SOCIAL PSYCHOLOGY, UCLA: In terms of the
structure of policing in America, we have only just begun to sniff at what
a beginning would look like. And so, I appreciate that we`re honoring the
one-year anniversary and honoring the 50-year anniversary. I want to go
back just a little bit further and make sure we have the 150th in place.
Because what the 150th anniversary of the civil war ending and almost in
December the 13th amendment. So immediately after emancipation what
happens? We have people who are put into an economic form of bondage and
we start the beginning of swearing in police officers to do the job of
putting these folks in their place, keeping them there, both economically
and physically. When have we reckoned with that? We talk about slavery as
an original sin of the country, then how we atoned for it if we replaced
one set of slavery with a different set of slavery. That is not to say
obviously that that`s –
HARRIS-PERRY: You know –
GOFF: I`ve been working with police departments.
HARRIS-PERRY: Yes. All right.
GOFF: That`s not to say that officers are, you know, signed up for that
job, but if we`re only now getting the first federal documents that say,
there`s a kleptocratic component to what some law enforcement are doing,
GOFF: Right? Then, we`re only now beginning to figure out what got put in
place 150 years ago.
HARRIS-PERRY: Yep. So, Alderman, let me come to you on exactly on that
economic piece, because part of what`s happened is we`ve heard officials
there in Ferguson say, look, DOJ, we`d be happy to put this in place but it
will bankrupt our city. The way that we form revenue is by giving three,
four, five tickets for every stop and actually rejecting the consent
FRENCH: Exactly. So it is about this system in place, and the system
right now relies upon revenue generated by basically a system of taxation
by citation of poor people and that system has to be transformed and
remodeled and so for cities the size of Ferguson, even smaller in the St.
Louis region, that means looking at how your income is generated, looks at
the system of taxation, replacing taxation by citation or perhaps higher
property tax or another form of taxation or in some cases dismantling. You
know, the city the size of 900 people perhaps doesn`t need its own police
department or doesn`t need its own city government and should perhaps merge
with some other governments. So, these are conversations that have to
happen on a local level here in St. Louis. They have started, but we have
not seen them reach fruition or any kind of level of satisfaction yet.
HARRIS-PERRY: Thank you to Alderman Antonio French in Ferguson, Missouri.
It has after all only been a year. And as Phillip just reminded us, it
took us 150 years after the civil war apparently to bring down the
confederate flag, so who knows. But thank you for joining us.
Stay right there. We have so much more this morning.
Up next, policing in America.
HARRIS-PERRY: The new requirement for Ferguson police to wear body cameras
was among the reforms won by activists after Michael Brown was killed. And
President Obama and Attorney General Loretta Lynch helped to promote
national adoption of that reform with the December announcement of $75
million grant program that would allow police departments across the
country to adopt body-worn cameras for their officers. But as we have seen
in the years since Mike Brown`s death, cameras have often been a tool to
show us just how much things have remained the same. It was an officer`s
body cam that just three weeks ago captured the shooting death of Samuel
Debose during a traffic stop in Cincinnati.
And it was a dash cam that just the week before recorded the violent police
interaction that Sandra Bland endured. Also during a traffic stop before
she died in a Texas jail. In April an officer-worn camera showed us the
fatal shooting of Eric Harris, shot by an insurance executive moonlighting
of a Tulsa Reserve deputy who said he accidentally pulled his gun instead
of his taser. Just this Wednesday a civil lawsuit filed in the Los Angeles
superior court claims videos from police body cameras disputes the LAPD`s
account of a fatal shooting of a homeless Cameroonian national on LA`s
skidrow in March. Philip, you are the policing guy. So, cameras was what
we thought would help, I mean, that was like the media demand, if only we
have cameras and then what the cameras have done is mostly show us a lot
more of it.
GOFF: Yes. This is not and I told you so, sort of moment, but I`ve been
pushing back on camera since the very beginning because of the
accountability structures aren`t set up, that all we`re going to show is
police doing exactly the things that they think they can. I think Ferguson
is the exact perfect example. Because in one case you have the civil
rights saying, we cannot charge the individual, but look at how feted and
disgusting that the department is. Right. We in this country are really
much better at figuring out patterns and practice than we are coming to
terms and grips with the ways in which our character has been tainted by
the stain and the sin of this stuff.
And so body cameras will be helpful in raising awareness, and growing
public will, but unless they are connected with the actual accountability
measures such that money that`s gotten from communities goes back to
communities, and that the standard is proportional to the offense and not
proportional to my fear, which by the way is the case in the UK, which is
one of the many reasons why there is less officer-related violence in the
UK, until we get to that, then body cameras are just going to be a
reflection of our current character, not of our aspirational one.
HARRIS-PERRY: Reverend Jacqui, he spoke this useful language of how our
character is stain by the sin of the institutions in which we find
REV. DR. JACQUI LEWIS, MIDDLE COLLEGIATE CHURCH: I`m so glad to hear you
say that. Because that`s exactly what we`re talking about. To me what`s
going on right now, it`s the revealing of the spiritual issue at work here,
which is that the deepest issue in America right now is the sin of white
supremacy, and all the ways it is propagated and I know we don`t all like
the word white supremacy, so we can call it racism and some people like to
call it unconscious bias and conscious bias, but that sounds nicer or white
But in fact, our nation is built on this lie that Thomas Jefferson puts
into place when he has a suspicion that the negro is less and we have a
whole infrastructure or whole state-run corporations around the idea of
black folks lives actually don`t matter, and as a Christian pastor I`m
saying that`s a sin that we need to confess and address. If every church
this morning isn`t talking about this just a little bit, if the synagogues
and mosques don`t talk about this a little bit, that racism in America is
what kills. Racism in America is what kills, and just to say if you could
have, if you could have Eric Garner choked to death on camera, and Officer
Pantaleo still works there, I`m deeply concerned about that sin.
HARRIS-PERRY: Well, again, you know, it`s hard for me to think about any
of it outside the context of the tenure of Katrina but I just, you know, I
kind of want to say we all watch Katrina happen live on air. We know that
the broadcast of human suffering especially of black bodies does not
inherently or necessarily bring with it justice, but the two of you have
done an interesting thing here by talking about this kind of institutional
position, and then also bringing us back to a kind of internal ethical,
moral question. You do work at “The New Yorker” Jelani and so probably if
you`re sitting here, I should ask about the fact that one of the ways that
this moment has been marked is that “The New Yorker” did a profile of
Officer Darren Wilson that I think many people have a lot of angst about.
COBB: I mean, it`s interesting. I read that profile before it was
published. And I kind of suspected that people would have the reaction to
it although that was not the reaction that I had. Because people thought
it was somehow of an attempt to humanize him but when I finished –
HARRIS-PERRY: Well, he is human.
HARRIS-PERRY: It is important, he`s human. Yes.
COBB: When I finished the story, I didn`t think he looked better for it.
Like what it seemed like, this was a person who had a tremendous absence of
self-awareness, and a very kind of emblematic American innocence wherein he
just kind of says, well I can`t think about this, this person is gone, I`m
not going to engage this but then says black people are concerned about
trying to use excuses, that racism happened to their grandparents, while
working for a police department that is actively exploiting people on the
basis of their skin color.
HARRIS-PERRY: Okay, and so that for me was the most interesting part of
the profile, Phillip, and part of why I wanted to hear because when I read
the profile, yes, there is the back story on Wilson but the part that I
zeroed in on is in the academy what he was taught, right? And this idea
that over and over again these young men show up in the academy, and they
are taught if you don`t pull that gun, you`re dead. If you don`t take the
shot first, you`re dead. When you shoot, shoot to kill, like this fear,
intensity driven it and I just keep thinking no, training alone is not
going to solve but I also feel like we got to talk about this structure
that they`re part of.
GOFF: Right, but the training, the way in which it makes the biggest
impact, training will communicate the values and the culture of a
department. So, if you have a culture that believes you`re geared up for
war every day. Right?
HARRIS-PERRY: And give you more gear to carry around.
GOFF: Give you more gear and then prepares you with the soldier`s
mentality that says, you need to be prepared to kill people in order to go
home safe. When you do that, the you have a department that does that. I
have to say it`s always important to get the other side of that, which is
that the training does a particular kind of work. In July I read the
profile and I thought similar sorts of things but the training is happening
within a context where I have to go back to the Alderman`s comments.
Ferguson depended on economic exploitation of black people.
HARRIS-PERRY: Say it again.
GOFF: Ferguson is depended on the economic racism, it put out through its
Police Department and when we`re still depending on that, how on earth can
anybody claim innocence and protest innocence as a kind of moral self-
GOFF: That for me is the biggest issue.
(TALKING OVER EACH OTHER)
HARRIS-PERRY: Stick with us, I promise, we have the whole rest of the hour
on this side. I`m going to say good-bye to Phillip Atiba Goff at this
point, but the rest of the panel is going to be back later in the program.
Up next, I`m going to talk about a new story, the report of an unarmed
teenager shot and killed by a police officer in Arlington, Texas. Don`t go
away, much more on Ferguson.
HARRIS-PERRY: Early Friday morning in Arlington, Texas, an unarmed
teenager was shot and killed by a police officer in training. Officer Brad
Miller who is now on administrative leave shot and killed 19-year-old
Christian Taylor around 1:00 a.m. Friday. Police say, Miller was
responding to a burglar alarm at a car dealership after Taylor crashed the
car through the showroom window. This is surveillance video from the
dealerships Security Company shows Taylor in the minutes before police
arrived. The exact sequence of events that followed is still unclear.
Barely a week ago, the teenager tweeted, quote, “I don`t want to die too
Joining me now from Arlington, Texas, MSNBC`s Adam Reese. Adam, the video
we saw of Taylor shows what happened before his encounter with the police.
Do we know if any other video exists in this case?
ADAM REESE, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT: We don`t. Good morning, Melissa. We
don`t at this point. We have reached out to the Police Department to see,
we have video outside as you`ve seen. We have a 911 call but we don`t know
if there`s video inside the show room that would show the struggle and the
shooting. The police chief here in Arlington has asked the FBI to join the
investigation. He said it will be thorough and transparent. Now that
video that you`ve seen outside, it shows Christian Taylor ramming the front
gate. He`s then jumping up and down on a car. He rips off the windshield,
he then rams his car into the front plate glass window of this show room.
That is when the 911 call goes in, burglary in progress. Police show up
here, they surround the perimeter. Officer Miller chases Taylor to the
back of the showroom. There`s some struggle, and that is when he is shot
four times after he had asked him to lie down, police say he didn`t lie
down, Christian Taylor was not armed at the time.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WILL JOHNSON, CHIEF ARLINGTON POLICE: Equally important to the
investigative process is an acknowledgment in this instance, has not
occurred in isolation. But rather it has occurred as our nation has been
wrestling with the topics of social injustice, inequities, racism, and
police misconduct. We recognize the importance of these topics, the impact
these issues have on communities throughout our nation, and we pledge to
act in a transparent manner in an effort to alleviate these concerns.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
REESE: Now Officer Miller`s 49 years old, he was a Rookie, just joined in
September. He had graduated from the academy in March. He`s technically
still an officer in training, going around with a training officer. He is
now on administrative duty. He has not been questioned yet. That is part
of the process here, they give him a few days. I can tell you, as you
mentioned earlier, Melissa, Christian Taylor tweeted just a week ago, “I
don`t want to die too young” – Melissa.
HARRIS-PERRY: Thank you MSNBC Adam Reese in Arlington, Texas.
And up next, the psychological impact of the movement.
HARRIS-PERRY: Thursday marked the 50th anniversary of President Lyndon
Johnson signing the voting rights act into law. I had the honor of joining
President Obama, Congressman John Lewis and Attorney General Loretta Lynch
in commemorating that anniversary. And before the President spoke about
the VRA, he shared some words about Congressman Lewis who was brutalized on
the Edmund Pettus Bridge in 1965 at the training point moment of the civil
rights struggle that we now referred to as bloody Sunday.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PRES. BARACK OBAMA (D), UNITED STATES: I love john Lewis.
(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)
And I don`t know where he gets the energy, where he gets the drive what
stores of passion, he`s still labeled to muster. After fighting the good
fight for so long.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: Lewis` leadership was pivotal on that bridge. But his
contributions did not cease in 1965. Jon Lewis is not some icon. He`s an
active, accountable and engaged today as he was five decades ago. During
the 1970s Lewis worked to register millions of voters as the director of
the voter education projects. In 1981, he was elected to the Atlanta City
council and since 1986, Lewis represented Georgia`s fifth Congressional
district in Congress where he has separated substantive legislative efforts
to alleviate poverty, expand health care and protect the voting rights.
He`s a “New York Times” bestselling author of graphic novels based on his
civil rights activism.
All this – who was arrested 40 times and subjected to brutal physical
violence all in an effort to access the most basic rights of citizenship.
It`s no wonder a man as accomplished as President Obama still stands in awe
when in the presence of John Lewis. But sustaining the struggle can exact
an emotional, physical and spiritual cost from activists.
Joining my panel in New York is Dante Barry, executive director of the
million hoodies movement for justice. And joining me from Ferguson is Dr.
Marva Robinson, licensed clinical psychologist and president of the St.
Louis Chapter of the Association of Black Psychologists. Dr. Robinson,
maybe I can begin with you. You`ve been with us really from the beginning
days there a year ago. How would you assess the community`s mental health
at this moment?
DR. MARVA ROBINSON, LICENSED CLINICAL PSYCHOLOGIST: I would say that it
has been very trying it`s been very difficult. We`ve definitely have seen
some of the results that we may have expected, such as children struggling
in school families having a difficult time coping and trying to move
forward, a lot of mental fatigue and overabundance of toxic stress. So,
it`s been very difficult. But what I can say is that it hasn`t slowed down
the spirit of the activists here, they still continued to move forward,
they still continued to march onward. And so, you have, you know,
organizations like mine that continue to be here to offer the support
HARRIS-PERRY: Stick with us. I`m going to come to the table for a second.
Donte, I want to play for you. I asked John Lewis about Black Lives Matter
movement because sometimes as a weird generational thing that happened, as
I wanted to hear what his thoughts were on it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: The young people in the Black Lives Matter movement are not
being quiet. They`re getting in the way all over the country. I`m
wondering what do you think about that movement.
REP. JOHN LEWIS (D), GEORGIA: I`d like to see more of them get in the way.
LEWIS: I like to see all of the one with us getting in the way, and it
doesn`t matter, whether they are Black, White, Latino, Asian-American,
Native American, we`re all, let`s get in the way.
HARRIS-PERRY: Here`s the one who`s been in this game for 50 years, saying,
oh yes, more, more Black Lives Matter movement, thank you. But it`s
taxing, it`s real, the effects.
DANTE BARRY, THE MILLION HOODIES MOVEMENT FOR JUSTICE: Absolutely. I
think after every single time we share from the media about another black
person getting killed by a police officer or a shooting happening at a
church or another burning or a confederate flag and it`s taxing and it`s
exhausting and part of this being an organizer, being an activist in the
movement is thinking about how do we create self-care for ourselves and
also, how do we heal through this process. I think John Lewis is a perfect
example of someone who has been able to heal through a process and also be
in a leadership inside the institution along with this process. So I think
it`s a really, really important for activists all over the country to
really think reflect over the times that we have right now, and also remain
strong because it`s going to be a long, long time before we actually get
the freedom that we want.
HARRIS-PERRY: Marc, you`ve been engaging about as long as Lewis in these
moments, as long as we`ve always love having you here impart of because of
the stories you tell and yet, I just keep thinking, you do this and we
lionize people without saying, know when someone abuses you when you`re in
fear for your life, these are real traumas and lasting ones.
STEINER: They are real traumas. Anybody who went through the civil rights
movement and they get affected by it, I was arrested, you know, beaten by
the police, put cigarettes out on my body to make me do things I wouldn`t
do, and so that`s very real. This is not something people make up and it`s
terrifying and it`s part of this terror of America but I think what`s
happening here, to me what gives me hope seeing John Lewis, seeing Dante
here, I saw the first time but I saw – show the other which was inspiring
is that something is afoot here in America and I`m inspired by it. What`s
afoot here is, after hundreds of years of exploitation on black bodies in
this country, some people are waking up.
The Black Lives Matter movement, the new one, the last two years is waking
people up in America and people are being confronted by racism that they
have never been confronted with before in America, never, not this way. In
your face all the time, on the TV, in every tweet, everything goes out.
And what`s happening is that people, we`re forcing people to wrestle with
it, to deal with it, to look at you in the eye. I think things are moving
and I hate seeing pictures of people dying, Sandra Bland being pulled out
of the car makes me sick. They`re beating my babies, you know what I`m
STEINER: But what it does say is we are moving ahead. This is the pain
that`s riding to something new in this country that I feel that`s
happening. Maybe I`m being overly optimistic and naive.
HARRIS-PERRY: Dr. Robinson, I want to come back to you. I heard from
Dante the word self-care for activists. What does that hook like in a real
way, like if you had to write the little textbook about how to provide some
self-care for activists?
ROBINSON: Some of the basic things that we talk about is making sure that
activists track how much sleep they`re getting. Oftentimes we have
activists that are out for 48 hours straight without ever stopping to even
take a nap. We make sure they track how much water they`re drinking, if
they`re eating three meals a day. Some of those basic self-care things to
just make sure it can stay functioning and then we offer other tools and
tips like journaling. So, if you have thoughts that you want to get out
but there`s no one there that can listen to you. You can write it down and
then process later, and then we offer a lot of listening groups and opening
sessions for activists, so we always encourage them to come out and share
with like-minded people about what they`re feeling, what the struggles are,
how real it is and being able to process that with inclinations where a
culturally confident to do so.
HARRIS-PERRY: Dr. Robinson, I know, I mean, it must sound basic to people
to hear water and sleep but as you were talking, I just want you to know
that Dante was here at the table just basically having an amen corner about
the fact that apparently he has not taken a nap or had any water or three
meals probably since the death of Trayvon Martin.
I want to say thank you Dr. Marva Robinson in Ferguson, Missouri. Please
do continue to care for yourself. We`ve got much more at the table here
when we come back. Because up next, keeping Black Lives Matter at the
forefront of the political discourse.
HARRIS-PERRY: Yesterday just under a month after protesting on stage at
the annual Netroots Nation Conference Black Lives Matter protesters took a
stage at the rally for democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders in
Seattle. Just as Sanders approached the podium to address the crowd two
young demonstrators jumped on stage to take the microphone.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MARISSA JOHNSON, BLACK LIVES MATTER PROTESTERS: Right now we are going to
honor this space and we are going to honor the memory of Michael Brown, and
we are going to honor all of the black lives lost this year, and we`re
going to honor the fact that I have to fight through all of these people to
say my life matters!
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: This is not the first time Bernie Sanders and other
presidential candidates liked Martin O`Malley have faced Black Lives
Matters protesters while campaigning. What do we make of this particular
interaction? I know what my table makes of it.
Joining me now from Ferguson, Missouri, is Tef Poe, St. Louis native artist
and co-founder of Hands Up United. Nice to have you, Tef. Can you talk to
me a minute about the kind of direct action strategy here, the idea of
interrupting and sort of what value that has and what kind of action that
TEF POE, CO-FOUNDER, HANDS UP UNITED: Well, I believe that on a certain
level, when we say Black Lives Matter there`s still a demographic of the
country of the world of this society that just doesn`t hear us, they don`t
understand us. So at this point in time, at this particular point we`re at
in history, disruption is so valuable to the movement, it`s so valuable to
having our voices heard. Essentially you`re looking at a community of
people that remains voiceless, unless someone does something over the top
like throw a brick through a window or some form of civil disobedience.
So, I think that when you see peaceful demonstrations like this, this is
simply nothing more than people trying to be heard and trying to go about
it the right way.
HARRIS-PERRY: This point of disruption, Jacqui feels critical to me. That
at every point, movements that have made a difference had to disrupt.
LEWIS: That`s exactly right. I like to call it an ethical spectacle.
HARRIS-PERRY: Ethical spectacle, I like that.
LEWIS: Isn`t that great? And one of the things that I`m really loving
about the young people that are leading this movement, this young queer
black people, these amazing activists, they`re showing us prophetic grief.
So they took their rage, they took their disappointment, they took their
anger. Yes, they went to the streets, much of it peaceful but they also
got smart and popped the ideological bubble. This is a lie. Our lives
don`t matter enough, and let`s make strategies and tactics to make it
happen. And so, now this movement is everywhere. I feel hope, old white
people in a group called surge, a whole bunch of older white clergy always
working together against racism seek Muslim Jewish colleagues at the auburn
seminary working together even today to put a call out for a thing that we
all can do, which is to sign on to the end racial profiling act, you know,
it got introduced in April.
LEWIS: Is there`s a lot of momentum now so if everybody can go to the
NAACP website and make a thing, make a letter, so that disrupts, what`s
HARRIS-PERRY: A thing that actually like – and Jelani, what I – yes, and
part of what I love about this disruption is that it is disreputable.
Like, if you watch that without the sound, you`re like what in the world is
going on? What is happening? But like so much, I mean, again we talked
about the `80s earlier, NWA and the disruption that that was. Sometimes
you have to be able to just jump in there and be like I`m not following the
COBB: I agree. I think that it`s a matter of targets though. Like I
would be inclined to say, somebody like Bernie Sanders so you can actually
get into a room with and say, these are what our demands are, these are
what our issues are as opposed to someone like Donald Trump, someone like
Marco Rubio, someone like Ted Cruz who is actually –
HARRIS-PERRY: But they`re not really disrupting Bernie Sanders, right?
It`s the camera, right? It`s the hype for the camera.
BARRY: I think also it`s important to know about – for the left side,
it`s that Hillary Clinton, and Bernie Sanders, Martin O`Malley, no one is
safe. Right? It`s guaranteed that way, not all black people are going to
go to Hillary, not all black people are going to go to Martin O`Malley, not
all black people are going to go to Bernie Sanders.
HARRIS-PERRY: You have to earn our vote.
BARRY: You have to earn your vote. And particularly for black women.
Black women turn out the most votes. So, like I think –
HARRIS-PERRY: Amen! Yes! Why doesn`t anybody in the Democratic Party
BARRY: Exactly. All of their talking points, all of their rhetoric and
all of their issues are in the face of black women.
BARRY: And I think ultimately, when we get into this conversation about
policing, we need to have more transformative ideas and lots of reactionary
ideas. So, I think what we`ve seen over the last year, we`ve seen task
forces been formed, we`ve seen funny for body cameras, but none of it is
actually changing the relationship between the police and –
HARRIS-PERRY: So, Tef Poe, in this last moments here, give me a sense then
of what – this is a call for more creative, more intense way of thinking
about change. Give me a sense of what that might look like.
POE: I mean, if you look at the actions in Bernie Sanders, for example,
they moved Hillary Clinton. Prior to this, Hillary Clinton came to St.
Louis, Missouri and she literally quoted all lives matter. The next week
she wrote on Facebook with three paragraphs saying, Black Lives Matter. My
question to her is, did they matter when your husband bombed the hospital
in Somalia? And this is the type of things that we`re dealing with. We`re
trying to move targets with concrete political analysis. And it`s just not
a matter of picking people for the sake of picking people, to disrupt, but
actually being very calculated and very strategic about what targets we
HARRIS-PERRY: Tef Poe, you have a shirt on that says, “This ain`t your
mama`s civil rights movement,” is that right?
POE: Yes, it is.
HARRIS-PERRY: So just, again, we have about 20 seconds, tell me how this
movement is different.
POE: I mean, it walks different. I mean, I`m on national TV with a bunch
of tattoos on my hands and my bull cap on backwards.
HARRIS-PERRY: That`s right.
POE: Had Ferguson never occurred, this would never happened. I mean, the
voiceless would still be voiceless. So, I mean, we would not have a space
or any capacity to be heard whatsoever. And I think that in the wake of
this anniversary, we should remember that.
HARRIS-PERRY: Tef Poe in the Ferguson, Missouri. Thank you so much for
joining us here in New York.
POE: Thank you.
HARRIS-PERRY: Thank you to Marc Steiner, and to Jelani Cobb and to Dante
Barry and to the Reverend Dr. Jacqui Lewis.
Up next, remembering Michael Brown.
HARRIS-PERRY: Michael Brown, Jr. was born May 20th, 1996. His mother is
Leslie McFadden. His father is Michael Brown, Sr. He grew up surrounded
by loving parents, grandparents, and his younger sister. As a teen,
Michael played video games, he chilled out with friends and cousins and
dreamed of a music career. He liked Kendrick Lamar, he had even begun to
create some music of his own in early 2014. After struggling in an
underperforming Ferguson area school system that overwhelmingly served
black students, Michael found a way to finish up and graduate. He received
his high school diploma on August 14, 2014. Eight days later he was shot
dead. Shot and killed by a police officer. Michael Brown was 18 and
unarmed. Black Lives Matter.
That`s our show for today. Thanks to you at home for watching. I`ll see
you next Saturday at 10:00 a.m. Eastern. Now, it`s time for preview of
“WEEKENDS WITH ALEX WITT.”
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