Melissa Harris-Perry, Transcript 1/9/2016
Show: MELISSA HARRIS-PERRY
Date: January 9, 2016
Guest: Vince Warren, Jonathan Metzl, Lucia McBath, Melissa Mark-Viverito,
Arthur C. Brooks, Angy Rivera, Jeanne Theoharis, Sam Andrews, Paul Berry,
Wesley Lowery, Ariell Johnson
MELISSA HARRIS-PERRY, HOST, MSNBC: This morning my question: Who gets to
defy the Federal government? Plus, the one-time “Oath Keeper” who tried to
arm Black Lives Matter activists. And a true comic book sheroe, straight
out of Philadelphia. But first, President Obama is literally moved to
HARRIS-PERRY: Good morning, I`m Melissa Harris-Perry. Police departments
around the country say they are on alert after a gunman attacked a
Philadelphia police officer on Thursday night, wounding the officer.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
Police say 30-year-old Edward Archer approached Jesse Hartnett in a car
late Thursday night and opened fire. Officer Hartnett was struck three
times and remains in critical but stable condition. Philadelphia police
say Archer claimed that he shot Officer Hartnett quote in the name of
Islam. He is in custody. Joining me now is correspondent Adam Reese in
Philadelphia. Adam, what do we know so far about this suspect, and who he
is, and how he got his hands on the gun?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
Oh, we – I think we maybe lost Adam on remote. So sorry about that. We
will come back to that story.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
It`s a critical question, in part because this sort of ongoing gun violence
that President Obama took head on this week when he announced several
executive actions designed to further regulate access to guns, actions that
he says will ultimately save lives. In his many public statements, the
President has addressed directly critics who claim to oppose strengthened
restrictions, based on their claims (inaudible) the Second Amendment, that
right to keep and bear arms. The President very clearly reminded us that
he was once a Constitutional Law professor. No, seriously. He really
literally reminded us.
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I believe in the Second
Amendment, no matter how many times people try to twist my words around. I
taught Constitutional Law, I know a little bit about this.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: Then President Obama went on to argue that a citizen`s
Second Amendment rights can be restricted without being infringed, just
like any other rights. There are limits on your free speech and on your
right to privacy. But he also made another nuanced Constitutional
argument, that the rights enshrined in the Second Amendment must be
balanced alongside the others rights guaranteed by the Constitution. Yes,
citizens have a right to bear arms. But that`s not the only liberty that
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: Because our right to worship freely and safely, that right was
denied to Christians in Charleston, South Carolina, and that was denied
Jews in Kansas City, and that was denied Muslims in Chapel Hill, and Sikhs
in Oak Creek. They had rights too. Our right to peaceful assembly, that
right was robbed from movie goers in Aurora and Lafayette.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: In fact, this was the argument he was making when the
President was brought to tears.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: Our unalienable right to life and liberty and the pursuit of
happiness, those rights were stripped from college kids in Blackburg and
Santa Barbara, and from high schoolers at Columbine. And, and from first
graders in Newtown, first graders.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: Joining me now is Jonathan Metzl, Director of the Center for
Medicine, Health and Society in Vanderbilt University, and Research
Director for the Safe Tennessee Project; and Vince Warren, Executive
Director for the Center for Constitutional Rights. So, Vince, I want to
start with you, with the President`s constitutional argument that he made
here. Is that just kind of soaring rhetoric, or is that actually a sound
argument about balancing the Second Amendment against these others?
VINCE WARREN, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, CENTER FOR CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHTS: It`s a
sound argument. The constitutional rights that we have that are enshrined,
they all can`t be implemented at the exact same level, and they all frankly
shouldn`t be implemented at the exact same level. And there has to be some
sort of balance, not only between what the rights are, how one right
affects another. Those are really key because at some level one
constitutional right can unconstitutionally infringe another constitutional
right. But I think also what`s important is that we have look at what`s
happening today, what`s happening – 30,000 gun deaths that happen a year.
That the President does have, and is entitled to have, regulatory
WARREN: .to be able to, to, to regulate how those rights are – how those
rights are implemented, so that we don`t have complete and total chaos with
this sort of blind constitutional mandate.
HARRIS-PERRY: So, you know, his moment, the President`s moment on Tuesday
– and, you know, obviously, he goes on and has an entire week – but I
want to pause on this moment on Tuesday in part because of the power of
seeing so many families who have experienced loss standing there together,
because he was making a constitutional argument, because there was so much
emotion, and I guess, Johnathan, part of what I`m wondering is do we know
anything about what actually moves the needle? What actually convinces
people to see this gun question somewhat differently?
METZL: Well, I think that Vince is absolutely right, that personally
what`s happening here is a misreading – I mean as an American citizen who
cares about the rule of law, I`m upset for the Constitution because I feel
like many of the arguments that are out there right now about what the
Second Amendment does and doesn`t say are being completely misrepresented.
The Second Amendment is about the right to bear arms.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
It says nothing about background checks, it says nothing about the right to
sell arms. And so in that regard, it the – one of the ironies here is
that in, in the press conference, for example, President Obama was actually
in part agreeing, ironically enough, with Justice Scalia in his 2008 and
the famous kind of Washington, D.C., versus Heller decision that basically
said, yes, we have a Second Amendment right, but that that is not across
the board, everybody can take, take guns everywhere.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
And so in that way I think that partially what`s happening in – after
Tuesday, and since then, is taking on some of these central myths. Beyond
what the executive action was, I think that in a way many of these myths
have been allowed to just sit and say, oh, my gosh, the Second Amendment
say everything. And I think partially what`s happening is we`re addressing
head on many of the central myths about gun ownership in this country.
HARRIS-PERRY: So it seems and feels to me like part of those myths are
rooted in kind of our imagined understanding about what our founders were
thinking about in each and every one of these moments, whether we`re
talking about the First Amendment, or the Fifth, or any of those. So give
us some insight into what that Second Amendment is meant to be.
WARREN: The Second Amendment, it`s, it`s designed to allow militias to be
able to thrive. And the, the constitutional discussion back then was
people were afraid that the Federal government was going to limit, limit
the State government from forming militias, and put everything into a
WARREN: And so the idea is that states have sovereign rights, so the state
should be able to have –
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
.to pull together militias without the Federal government interfering.
That`s essentially what it was. Now what is not contemplated is the notion
of the individual in that, in that context.
WARREN: This is really – this has shifted from a Second Amendment right
to this individual notion that individuals should be able to carry guns
anywhere that they want to have them, have them any place that they want to
WARREN: .to who they want to sell them. It`s actually been blown out of
proportion, mostly by the gun lobby, to try to stimulate gun sales, as
opposed to what it was really designed to, which was a balance of power.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: So, Jonathan, let me just ask this question that I think for
me is part of why we wanted to start with the conversation about the
Officer being shot in Philadelphia. Also a shootout in New York this past
night. Would reducing the number of guns owned by American citizens make
the work the police officer do safer?
METZL: Well, I think that you can state in a factual way that places that
have fewer guns have less gun crime. And so the direct answer is yes. I
think that in a way I just want to repeat what President Obama said many
times on CNN and in his press conference. The answer here, given where we
are as a society, is not taking away people`s guns. There are common sense
steps that we can do. So I think that another way to think about that
question is do background checks, a central component of the executive
action, do background checks reduce gun crime? And I think across the
board in states that have effective background check, background checks, in
place, you see about a 40 to 50 percent reduction or diminishment of
everything that we kind of care about. So there`s less gun suicide,
there`s less partner violence, there are lower rates of homicide. And so
in that regard, I think the question right now is, given where we are right
now as a society, what can we do to lower those rates of gun crime? And I
think that that system is what President Obama is trying to strengthen.
HARRIS-PERRY: And (inaudible) for the President to say that, that we can
go from 30,000 a year to 28,000, and that would be, you know, 2,000
families that matter. And it still, it kind of makes you feel like, isn`t
– we`re talking about the margin, such small margins, and so many people
in this country still dying at the hands of guns. Promise much, much more
on guns, but up next, I want to bring in the woman who was standing right
there with President Obama during Tuesday`s emotional address.
HARRIS-PERRY: President Obama was not alone when he announced his new
executive actions on guns this week, survivors of gun violence stood with
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
Many were parents who had buried a child and subsequently turned their
lives to activism, parents like Lucia McBath, right there behind the
President. Her son, Jordan Davis, was shot to death at a gas station in
Florida more than three years ago. He was 17 years old. Lucy McBath joins
us now from Atlanta and she is the Faith and Outreach Leader for Everytown
for Gun Safety. So nice to see you this morning.
LUCIA McBATH, MOTHER OF JORDAN DAVIS: Good morning, Melissa.
HARRIS-PERRY: So you were here us last week in, in what I think was
another extremely emotional conversation with Tamir Rice`s mother. And
then, and then this on Tuesday. Are you feeling more optimistic now?
McBATH: Absolutely. I`ve been on cloud nine ever since because this is a
monumental movement towards guns safety, gun violence prevention, in this
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
And having been a victim of gun violence, affected by this tragic, tragic
kind of gun violence in the country, and working with victims every single
day on this very issue, it was very profound for us to stand there with
President Obama. Gun violence victims, many that you never even saw in the
room, and know that everything that we`ve been appealing to our, our
Congress for in terms of, you know, creating some solutions in this country
towards stemming the tide of gun violence, that finally we were being
heard, and that President Obama was taking a very courageous, bold step
with his executive orders to create, you know, a safer community for all of
(END VIDEO CLIP)
So we were very, very excited and just – you could feel the electricity,
you could feel just people were just so excited about, you know, finally
moving forward in keeping our communities safe.
HARRIS-PERRY: In fact, let`s take a listen for a moment to the President
talking about all of you who were there in the room with him.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: In this room right here there are a lot of stories. There`s a lot
of heartache. There`s a lot of resilience, there`s a lot of strength, but
there`s also a lot of pain. And this is just a small sample.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: So you did get a sense watching it, for all of us who were
at home, that you all weren`t just props, you really had been working with
the administration over some period of time to try to get some movement on
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
McBATH: Absolutely. We`ve worked very closely with President Obama in
terms of messaging and providing policy information and research from which
they could utilize for him to make, you know, this very credible decision,
very important decision. So, and you know, actually working with all of
the Everytown survivor network victims that we`ve been pounding on the
doors of our Congressmen, we`ve been doing the work, we`ve been hitting the
pavement for years now, trying to really get our Congressman to understand
what`s been happening in the country is very critical, that they are
accountable to us. And so, yes, we`ve been very, very involved, deeply
involved in everything that has actually happened this week. So we`ve been
very proud about our momentum, how we`ve been able to impact President
Obama and his administration with the work that we`ve been doing.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: I want to ask you what you think Jordan would think of where
you were standing in that moment, and if you think he would be proud of you
and the work that you`ve been doing?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
McBATH: As I was standing there, I kept trying not to cry because I kept
saying that, you know, my child Jordan, as well as my father, would be so
very, very proud of the work that I`ve been doing and, and being able to
stand there with President Obama as he did something that was so critic for
preserving the sanctity and preservation of human life.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
And, and I could see Jordan saying, yeh, Mom, go ahead, Mom, you`re doing
it. And then my father understanding that everything that he worked for in
the Civil Rights Movement, that was all coming full circle for me, that I
now was standing behind President Obama as my father stood behind Lyndon
Baines Johnson when he was signing the Civil Rights Act. That I now had
come full circle, and that my legacy is tied to my son`s, as well as my
father`s, and really doing something that`s going to be meaningful for, for
the legacy of this country.
HARRIS-PERRY: Lucia McBath in Atlanta, Georgia, thank you, not only for
being here today, but for your continued work.
McBATH: Thank you very much.
HARRIS-PERRY: Up next, guns in the home.
HARRIS-PERRY: Terrifying mass shooting and high-profile officer-involved
incidents have dominated the national conversation on gun violence in
recent years. But most deaths by gun are not headline-grabbing massacres.
They`re more private, more intimate, and perhaps in that way, even more
horrifying. Domestic violence, make no mistake, domestic violence is a gun
issue. According to the CDC, more than one in three women and one in four
men in the United States have been victims of domestic violence. It is a
widespread public health problem, and every year 1,600 women and 700 men
are killed by their intimate partners. One of the biggest risk factors
that domestic violence will become fatal is the presence of a gun. Among
those who have an abusive partner, the risk of being murdered by that
partner increased 500 times if the abuser has access to a gun. Again, you
are five times more likely to be killed by your abuser if your abuser can
get their hands on a gun. That`s not a small problem. From 2001 to 2012
at least 6,410 women were murdered by an intimate partner using a gun.
That`s more than the number of U.S. troops killed in action in the wars in
Iraq and Afghanistan combined. Joining my panel now is Melissa Mark-
Viverito, who is the Speaker of the New York City Council.
HARRIS-PERRY: Thank you so much for the work that you have been doing here
in the city around this question. What do we not know about intimate
partner violence and guns?
MELISSA MARK-VIVERITO, SPEAKER OF THE NEW YORK CITY COUNCIL: Well,
(inaudible) unfortunately, this issue continues to be sort of a taboo
subject. The idea that this happens in the home, and therefore it`s a
private matter to be discussed. No, it`s a very much a public issue and
for the reasons you cited, right? In New York City the statistics from
2014, 20 percent of the homicides that we had in the City of New York were
related to domestic violence incident. And if someone has access to a gun,
as you were saying, it increases. It may lead to actual death. So that is
an issue that concerns us, right? Women that are in an abusive
relationship have the ability to be saved. Right now, if you`re talking
about the use of a gun, then we have reached the point of no return.
MARK-VIVERITO: .where the potential of that woman losing her life is much
more real. So there is an issue, and now domestic violence has become a
real priority. And that is why I recently spoke out on the issue of the
trade with the Yankees.
MARK-VIVERITO: When you have a, a, a sports figure who is now being
grabbed on the check because he`s being accused of a domestic violence
incident, who was – who acknowledged using a gun out of a domestic
violence situation, that concerns me. We have to speak out around those
matters and take those matters as an opportunity to make a statement. So
HARRIS-PERRY: The high-profile one gives a moment to talk about the more
ordinary moments. You know, I think, Jonathan, you and I talk about this
all the time that, when we have any kind of agreement in the public
(sphere) around gun restriction, it tends to be let`s get guns out of the
hands of the mentally ill. But in fact it would actually be perhaps even
more life-saving to have those who have been – who have stalking
misdemeanors and that sort of thing, right, not being able to have access
METZL: Well, this is why the background checks are effective when they
are, is that there are patterns to gun violence. So I think statistics are
pretty much overwhelming in this regard. That it`s not persons diagnosed
with mental illness that have a problem with gun violence. It`s persons
who have past histories of violence, the presence of substances, alcohol
and drugs, at the moment of encounter, people with histories of domestic
use and abuse, and people who are – the one mental issue is suicide
(validing). And so in that regard, even though it`s understandable why
this issue is being framed as the crazy strangers coming after you. In
fact, 85 percent of gun, gun incidents in this country happen within social
networks. You`re much more likely to be shot by your friend, your
neighbor, or the person you get in a fight with at a bar, than you are by
some crazy stranger. And, certainly, that`s been, that`s been borne,
that`s been borne out, I think, by statistics. It`s really looking at
these social networks that is important.
HARRIS-PERRY: Well, and (inaudible), you know, it`s interesting, as you
tell those stories events, I wonder how that shifts in part. You know, we
were talking about constitutional rights, and we think of those rights as
very public rights. Our rights vis-…-vis the government. But if we, if we
step back a little bit and think about unwilling we have been to enter into
private spaces, into homes, into these social networks, I wonder if that`s
part of the challenge that we face in reducing gun violence.
WARREN: That`s exactly the challenge because the constitutional argument
is used as a right to keep individuals having guns anyway that they want.
But the nature of the constitutional discussion is to protect the Federal
government from over – from overreaching.
WARREN: And it doesn`t get into the heart of what is happening in the
home. I also think part of the political debate is that the, the gun lobby
is really trying to get people scared about what they`re scared about. And
they`re afraid of terrorists, and they`re afraid of black crime, and
they`re of mental health issues.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
And those things in some ways have nothing to do with what is actually
going to keep people safer. And I think domestic violence is a perfect
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: And, Councilwoman, when we talk about domestic violence we
tend to think of it as an issue between two adults, the man and the woman
in the relationship, or, or two individuals in a same-sex relationship.
But in fact children are also the victims here between accidents and these
incidents. Every three days in this country.
HARRIS-PERRY: .every three days we lose as many children as we lose – as
we lost in Sandy Hook. What can we begin to do at local levels, at
national levels, to address this?
MARK-VIVERITO: You know, we have – come from a premise of we ex – we are
intolerant to violence in all aspects of our lives. And if it`s behind
closed doors, it`s not reason not to speak out. Not only is in terms of
the actual physical impact on the children, and who may lose their lives in
the process as well, but it is a cycle of violence. If we witness that, if
we accept it, if we tolerate that level of violence and don`t speak out
against it, we`re actually being complicit. And that repeating itself in
future generations. So we`ve got to be very public about not accepting
this. And when people say, well, this is an issue that should not be
discussed, I have absolutely no patience for that. And as a woman it
offends me because we know of it. And also the impact it has primarily in
communities of color. When you have 30 percent, according to the DOJ
statistics, of African-American women that are saying that in one aspect of
their lives they`ve experienced intimate partner violence, that`s
problematic. When 25 percent of Latinas are experiencing that too. And
then people that are hesitant to access services that may be available to
them. So it`s really problematic. That`s why the City Council has
invested millions of dollars towards organizations that are doing this work
on the ground. So we got to keep bringing it out and using opportunities
like the Yankee deal, for instance, as a way of highlighting what is wrong
with our society.
HARRIS-PERRY: When we come back I`m going to kind of do a little twist on
the Deborah Cox question. How did we get here? No country`s supposed to
be here. Will we be done with the gun violence at this point?
HARRIS-PERRY: On Tuesday, President Obama pointed out that his gun control
measures were once politically palatable on both sides of the aisle, citing
Ronald Reagan, George W. Bush, and even the NRA.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: Even the NRA used to support expanded background checks. And, by
the way, most of its members still do. Most Republican voters still do.
How did we get here? How did we get to the place where people think
requiring a comprehensive background check means taking away people`s guns?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: Joining us now from Washington, D.C., is Arkadi Gerney, who
is Senior Fellow at the Center for American Progress, whose work focuses on
crime and gun policy. So, Arkadi, can you answer the President`s question?
How is it that we got here?
ARKADI GERNEY, SR. FELLOW, CENTER FOR AMERICAN PROGRESS: Well, it`s a
tough question to answer, but, but in a country where we have 33,000 people
who are dying from gun violence every year. But you can definitely see
some trends over the last several decades where, you know, the debate has
become more polarized.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
And what you see among gun owners, and surveys of gun owners, is that over
all in the U.S. gun ownership is going down. So 40 years ago, 47 percent
of homes in the U.S., according to the General Social Survey, had guns in
them. Now it`s down to 31 percent. But the number of guns that are being
sold each year is going up. So what you see is more and more guns
concentrated in fewer hands and, to a degree, gun owners have become
somewhat more extreme. But, even among gun owners, you see that majorities
of gun owners, even majorities of NRA members, support expanded background
checks. So there is, I think, this opportunity for a breakthrough.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
But there`s no question that there are several million gun owners who are
very extreme, very anxious about the Federal government and have bought
into the NRA`s argument that any change, no matter how modest, is a
slippery slope towards getting rid of all the guns.
HARRIS-PERRY: Arkadi, stay with us. I, I don`t want you to leave, but I
do want to come back out to my panel for a moment. I want to play for you
a little sound from the CNN town hall this week in which the President
talked about this language of conspiracy theories around the idea that
these background checks would be about taking away guns.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: I`m sorry, Cooper, yes, it is fair to call it a conspiracy. What,
what are you saying? Are you suggesting that the notion that we are
creating a plot to take everybody`s guns away so that we can impose martial
ANDERSON COOPER, ANCHOR “ANDERSON COOPER 360 ,” CNN: Not everybody, but
OBAMA: .is a conspiracy? Yes, that is a conspiracy. I would hope that
you would agree with that.
(END VIDEO TAPE)
HARRIS-PERRY: So this idea of taking guns away versus background checks –
so, Vincent, help me for a second here. What is it that a background check
WARREN: The background check is, it`s regulation that allows people before
they`re purchasing a gun and before they actually have access to the gun,
to take a look at their background to see what kind of indicators that they
have, to make sure that they`re the type of person that will not be using
that type gun, the gun in a terrible way. It`s a fairly standard thing.
We have background checks and licensing for a variety of things. You
can`t, you can`t be a lawyer without having a background check and, you
know, there`s probably a good reason for that. It`s the same thing with
HARRIS-PERRY: So, Jonathan, are they effective? Because the other side,
you`ll sometimes hear, is well, they`re not effective enough. They, they
won`t actually make a difference.
METZL: Well, the problem so far, and I think Vince is exactly right, we
background – you have a background check when you buy an air plane ticket.
METZL: .and when you get your driver`s license, and issues like that.
And, and you`re just passed through a data base to see your particular
history. And, and I think that, in a way, the problem with background
checks – so states that have strong background checks do see dramatic
reductions or lower values of again things we care about. Forty percent
fewer cops shot on the job, for example, with states that have stricter
background checks. Less, less partner violence, less suicide. The problem
with the background check system is that there are gaping holes. So people
who should not have guns, people who we don`t want to have guns, people
with histories of domestic violence, for example, or people with criminal
records, people on the no-fly list, they`ve been able to get guns because
they can buy them from private sellers, at gun shows, on armslist.com, and
these Facebook groups. So in a way what President Obama`s doing, but I
think it`s going to be effective over all, is saying we need a more uniform
METZL: .because we don`t want those people to be able to get guns.
HARRIS-PERRY: So, Congresswoman, part of the challenge in making these
kinds of policies, at least at the Federal level, has been this kind of
polarization ideologically. At a local level, are people able to come
together to make decisions based on sort of what`s good for the public
health of a community that might not be as polarized as the discourse we
see at the top.
MARK-VIVERITO: Well, listen, you know – first of all, I`ve got to say I`m
extremely proud of our President and the steps that he`s taking. I think
that leadership he`s demonstrating is really going to lead us in a new
historic direction. And, and I thank him for that. New York City
thankfully has, when it comes to background checks, a very thorough
process, where every aspect of your history is looked at, and the NYPD
actually has to interview people that are requesting licenses. But at a
very high local level, there are communities that are unfortunately living
the reality of violence every day. You just alluded to an incident this
morning which (actually) was in my District in the South Bronx, where,
thankfully, Officer Stewart is fine. But the first things I got from the
officers when I got on the scene, the first comment, is there`s too many
guns on the – in the streets.
MARK-VIVERITO: So we could have a very strict background process here in
New York City, but guns are being accessed through other areas and are
hitting our streets each and every day. So this is a real concern. We are
united, you know, to have officers, and to have lay people, and everyone
being united in saying we want to limit, and thanking the President for his
leadership. I think that this is a unifying moment right now. And too
many young people are losing their lives, and it really is something that
needs to stop.
HARRIS-PERRY: So, Arkadi, let me come back to you – we kind of asked the
question of the history of how we got here in terms of a space where there
is now this concentration of guns. I wonder if there is alternative
histories, any other streams of history that belong to us as Americans,
that give you some hope about the possibilities of also changing this tide.
GERNEY: Yeh, no question. And the President mentioned this in his remarks
on Tuesday, which is the example of where we`ve come on cars and car
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
Look, we have a car culture in America, people love their cars. They like
big cars and fast cars, and cars of (inaudible) every colors. But we found
a way to preserve our car culture and make cars much, much safer. You`re
80 percent less likely to die for every mile you travel in a car today than
60 years ago. It`s saved tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands of
(END VIDEO CLIP)
And it wasn`t one thing. It wasn`t just seat belt laws, and it wasn`t just
technology, and it wasn`t just drunk driving enforcement, and culture
change. It was all those things together. I think that is the model for
guns. If we can do all those things, step by step by step, it will save
lives. And it may save just a few number of lives, but in a problem that,
you know, kills more than 30,000 people. As the President said in his
remarks, if we get it down to 28,000, that`s 2,000 extra people every
single year. And if we can just keep chipping away at it, the, the
benefits will be really, really significant, but it`s going to take a
movement, and we`re going to really need people to really say that this is
a litmus test issue.
GERNEY: Because it is for some people on the other side.
HARRIS-PERRY: Thank you to Arkadi Gerney in Washington, D.C.
And up next, the brain behind the conservative response to poverty.
HARRIS-PERRY: Right now in Columbia, South Carolina, top political leaders
are gathering to discuss poverty in America. And they`re all Republican.
House Speaker Paul Ryan and Senator Tim Scott are moderating the Kemp Forum
on Expanding Opportunity, named after the late Republican Congressman Jack
Kemp, who was clearly committed to fighting poverty.
Seven Republican presidential contenders are expected to attend, Senator
Marco Rubio of Florida, Ben Carson, Carly Fiorina, Governor Chris Christy
of New Jersey, Governor John Kasich of Ohio, and former Florida Governor
Jeb Bush. Also former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee. The Forum is aimed
at showcasing the GOP`s outreach to low income voters in the presidential
race. The American Enterprise Institute, which focuses on public policy,
is one of the co-sponsors of today`s event, and joining me today from
Columbia is the President of AEI, Arthur Brooks, who`s really been a
driving force behind getting the GOP to focus on poverty. Nice to have you
ARTHUR C. BROOKS, PRESIDENT, AMERICAN ENTERPRISE INSTITUTE: Hi, Mellissa,
how are you?
HARRIS-PERRY: Pretty good. Look, we`ve seen a resurgence of interest in
this conversation about poverty among Republicans in recent years. And I`m
wondering why you think that has happened?
BROOKS: Well, it`s happened because it`s really necessary, and a lot of
Republicans, just from a sheer political interest standpoint, figured out
that it`s, it feels pretty bad to lose because people think that
Republicans don`t care about people like them. And so, as a practical
matter, they needed to start talking in a way that reflected what was
written on their hearts about less fortunate Americans.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
But it also has been an opportunity for a new generation of candidates and
leaders in the Republican Party to, to feel liberated to, to indeed say
what they care about. So it`s beyond self-interest. It is something that
a lot of Republicans deeply care about. I think it`s kind of a new day,
and I`m optimistic we`re going to hear more along these lines.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: So one of the things I know that you talk about a great deal
is the importance of the free enterprise system as a best solution for
poverty, which certainly seems to be true in a kind of comparative,
aggregate sense, you know, over time. But on the other hand, if you take
something like elderly poverty in the post-World War II era here in the
U.S., it`s not more free enterprise. It`s actually a safety net, it`s the
implementation of Social Security that seems to drive down poverty for the
elderly. So talk to me a little bit about how you see that relationship
between, on the one hand, robust free enterprise and, on the other hand, a
BROOKS: Well, I think it`s really important for Liberals and Conservatives
to recognize that there shouldn`t be antagonism between the safety net and
free enterprise. I would really like to see – and I encourage Republicans
all the time in my capacity as President of AEI – to declare peace on the
safety net. My view personally is that the free enterprise system has as
one of its greatest accomplishments the achievement of the safety net.
BROOKS: It is the largesse of capitalism that`s made it possible for the
first time in human history. But I think it`s important for Liberals to
declare peace on free enterprise as well.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
We`re looking for the balance between those two things to create a better
for people so they can`t fall too far, so they can earn their own success
as well. You need both.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: So this is really interesting to me because it does feel to
me like those two things working together have been when we`ve seen of the
greatest reduction in poverty, at least in the U.S. context. And yet you
have, for example, Governor – former Governor Bush calling for an end all
together of the Supplemental Nutrition Program, or what some people call
food stamps program, as part of an overhaul. I want to hear from you a
little bit, both about that, but also about the expansion of the earned
income tax credit.
BROOKS: Right. So I think that it`s important to remember, even though we
are declaring peace on the safety net, that not every single program in the
safety net is good all the time. They are experiments.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
Some of them fail. We need a safety net that works better, and staying
with old ideas, with programs that haven`t worked, actually hurts the poor
a lot. So I think that we shouldn`t condemn people that are talking about
getting rid of some things and helping others. My own view is that the
food stamp program has been fantastic. We need with the food stamp
program, and many other parts, a work requirement because that`s more
helpful to poor people. And, and work is a really a central component of
how the safety net can integrate with a free enterprise system. The EITC,
the Earned Income Tax Credit, you just brought it up, is a perfect example.
This sine qua non, the highest state we can get to in the safety net is
coming up with programs that reward work, so that people can earn their
success. That`s a question of dignity and potential. Melissa, you and I,
we think so much about the dignity that we get from our work, and poor
people deserve that too. The Earned Income Tax Credit is the best possible
program to make that happen, to make work pay, and we should expand it,
especially to single men. That`s something that conservatives and
President Barack Obama agree on. We really should get that done soon.
HARRIS-PERRY: So let me ask you a final question. You know, Jack Kemp is
a model of a version of Republican leadership, and maybe even of Democratic
leadership – you know, relative to the kind of moderate leadership that we
don`t see nearly as much in our more polarized discourse these days. And
I`m wondering, when you`re looking currently at the primaries of both
parties, if you feel optimistic about the capacity to find common ground,
rather than polarization on the question of inequality?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BROOKS: Yeh, you know, I love this question. Inequality for sure is
something we should be able to unite around. Inequality of opportunity,
not necessarily inequality of income. And here`s the big way we can
actually bring the country back together again between (inaudible) and
conservative. When there`s a competition of ideas that has a common moral
consensus, then it doesn`t become a holy war of politics. And the common
moral consensus must be in the American experiment pushing opportunity to
people who need it the most. Look, we got to examine our consciences here.
We don`t have very much time.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
We should make sure that all of our work goes to the benefit of people who
have less power than we have. If we can do that, then we can – then we
can have a competition of ideas between right and left because we`re trying
to help people who don`t have power to have a better life. And that is not
a holy war. That is a common crusade as Americans, and I think we can get
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: Thank you, Arthur Brooks, in Columbia, South Carolina. I
hope next time you`re in the New York area you`ll stop by nerd land.
And up next, the President`s immigration raids.
HARRIS-PERRY: Back in November of 2014, one of the most politically
controversial decisions of his presidency, President Obama announced major
changes to the way the government would enforce immigration laws.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
Under the President`s plan of deferred action about 45 percent of
undocumented immigrants would be allowed to stay in the U.S. He said come
on out of the shadows, because the plan gave legal status to 3.8 million
people, including 3.5 million parents of U.S. citizens who`d been living in
the country for at least five years. However, this past weekend, I.C.E.
agents started conducting raids, detaining at least 121 undocumented
immigrants in Georgia, North Carolina and Texas, including dozens of
families with children. Secretary of Homeland Security, Jeh Johnson, said
this. “The focus of this weekend`s operations were adults and their
children who were apprehended after May 1, 2014, crossing the southern
border illegally, having exhausted appropriate legal remedies.” What in
the world? Isn`t this the exact thing the President said was going to end?
The 2014 plan failed to provide protection for 6.2 million undocumented
immigrants. It also applied only to people who entered the U.S. before the
beginning of that year. And the raids have sparked outrage from immigrant
advocates who question the detainment and deportation of hundreds non-
violent people, many of them minors, children.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
Back when he announced his plan, November 2014, President Obama told the
country that deporting waves of people is quote not who we are. So, who
are we then? Joining the panel now is Angie Rivera, an undocumented youth
advice columnist and a core member of the New York State Youth Leadership
Council. What are people in communities saying this week?
ANGY RIVERA, COLUMNIST “ASK ANGY”: Well, we`re seeing a lot of things,
right? We`re definitely scared, angry, frustrated, and I think it, it`s
one of the biggest hypocrisies, right, to save that we`re going to give
undocumented youth this deferred action program because we love immigrant
youth and their families, and then go on and deport four-year-olds, right,
and their parents. And to say that these raids have just started happening
is not true. We`ve seen these raids happen for years under the Obama
administration. We have deported more than two million people, right, in
his whole presidency. And so like (trans) immigrants, black immigrants,
people with convictions, have been saying this is happening, we are being
targeted. And it shouldn`t have taken this for us to be outraged.
HARRIS-PERRY: I guess for me, this was a hard week because I was feeling
so good about the President`s decisions and, and public statements around
restricting access to guns, around background checks, and then this
happening. And I keep thinking, how is this a security priority for the
MARK-VIVERITO: And I was, I was saying the same thing, that we can praise
him on this one, but on this one definitely it`s a wrong move. New York
City, we take pride in the work that we have done to embrace our
undocumented immigrant communities, because we know the vast majority come
here and are looking for refuge and to provide for their families, and are
contributing positively to our city. So not to see these children, who are
refugees – they`re seeking asylum from extremely violent, horrific
situations – now being rounded up and sent back. It is not who we are.
And so the City of New York has invested resources, the Council has taken a
leadership, to provide legal resources to every single undocumented and
unaccompanied minor that is here and facing deportation proceedings. We
have been buffered to a certain extent from these round of raids, I believe
because of the work that we`ve done, despite the inaction at the Federal
level. So this deplorable. It is horrific. And it is sending hysteria
and real concern across communities, and it is putting people back into the
shadows. So this is very counter-productive, and I thank all of the
Democratic leaders who have stood up and said this has to stop, and stop
HARRIS-PERRY: And the word you just used there to me is so critical, and
it`s critical even from the perspective of a, of a legal status. Many of
these folks are refugees, right? Which is a different sort of story than
kind of an economic immigrant, someone coming looking for opportunity,
which is its own, I think, potentially at least morally neutral kind of
thing. But, as a legal matter, trying to escape a circumstance of
extraordinary violence in Central and South America, that – shouldn`t that
provide some protection here?
WARREN: Oh, abso – and it does provide detect – protections, if you do
it right. We have always in this country been very willfully confused
about people who are coming for economic opportunities and people who are
refugees. They are two entirely different categories.
WARREN: It happens in Central America, it happens in South America, it
happens in the Caribbean. And we just close our eyes to this and we short
of see the brown coming in. Are they going to work for us? No. Then
we`re going to send them back. It, it`s crazy. But here, here`s, here`s
what needs to be – what people need to understand, and I believe – I
completely agree with the speaker. In New York, in New York City and New
York State have done an outstanding job because a lot of the communities
that we take care of our people, and that for a community coming from
Honduras and some of these places, a lot of these places, they settle in
New York State, and they don`t just need to be warehoused somewhere. There
needs to be family reunification, there needs to be mental health services,
there need to be help figuring out how to document what`s been happening to
them. And I would point out that we shouldn`t believe the rhetoric that
this is just because of gang violence in Central America.
WARREN: This also because of political instability. And let`s go back to
the 2009 Honduras coup.
HARRIS-PERRY: I was going to say, and who`s responsible in part for that?
WARREN: I`m just saying we had a whole lawsuit about that at the Center
for Constitutional Rights. So we need to unpack what`s happening, but we
should not – and I`m happy to hear people on this panel say this – we
should not give the President a pass on this. This is really one of the
most outrageous and one of the saddest parts of his, of his presidency.
HARRIS-PERRY: Then how do you address the question of political
accountability for a community that, of course, doesn`t actually have the
vote? How do you hold the, the administration accountable for these
efforts which are creating such fear and terror in communities?
RIVERA: Yeh. Well, I think something that`s, that`s been really amazing
about the immigrant rights movement is that undocumented youth has stepped
out of the shadows, and have conducted actions. Even just yesterday,
right, they were blocking detention centers and being arrested here in New
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
And so it`s so critical for us to hold elected official(s) accountable, all
of them, right? Because we were so focused on the comments Trump was
making, while not holding this administration accountable, that allows
these mass raids to happen.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: Will, will the immigrant rights community, like the Black
Lives Matter community, inject this into the conversation, particularly for
the Democratic primary?
RIVERA: Yes, most definitely. I think the immigrant rights movement and
Black Lives Matter have so much in common to fight for right now.
RIVERA: .because all of our communities are under attack. And this, this
enforcement, right, it`s not just immigration, but it`s also NYPD, it`s
also the FBI. And so all of us are definitely working together to make
sure that this does not happen, because one deportation is too many.
HARRIS-PERRY: Thank you so much for joining us. Thank you to Melissa
Mark-Ritone – oh, excuse me. Vivaritone.
HARRIS-PERRY: Vivarito. I`m sorry, the way it`s spelled was bizarre. And
not `cause it`s actually spelled that way, but it was on my prompter odd.
And Angy Rivera, Johnathan Metzl, and Vince Warren. I`m going to be back
on our next hour, but coming up, the stand-off in Oregon, and the comic
book store owner who`s a sheroe in her own right. There`s more nerd land
at the top of the hour.
HARRIS-PERRY: Welcome back. I`m Melissa Harris-Perry.
It`s been one week since a group of armed protesters started their
occupation of a federal government building on a wildlife refuge in Oregon.
The group is led by Ammon and Ryan Bundy, the sons of Cliven Bundy who you
may remember from 2014 in Nevada, where he led his own armed opposition
against the federal government in Nevada over a beef, you know, about cows
This time around, the Bundy brothers picked up where their father left off,
launching their standoff on a similar claim against the ownership and
management of public lands by the federal government. The protesters were
initially part of a rally in support of Dwight and Steven Hammond, Oregon
rancher and his son convicted arson in 2012. The elder Hammond received a
three-month sentence. The son received a year and a day.
Federal prosecutors appealed the sentences and convinced the judge to abide
by the five year mandatory minimum for burning federal property.
On Monday, the Hammonds surrendered and began serving out the remainder of
their sentences. After an initial rally, a group of men traveled 60 miles
to Oregon`s national wildlife refuge where according to the U.S. Fish and
Wildlife Service, they broke into an unoccupied building and vowed to
remain there indefinitely, calling for the release of the Hammonds in
recognition of what they say is a government war on ranchers.
Friday, Ammon Bundy and his group tried to make their case to the local
sheriff, who is more interested in bringing resolution to the siege.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DAVID WARD, HARNEY COUNTY SHERIFF: I`m here because the citizens of the
county have asked me to come out and ask you folks to peacefully leave. I
think that you respect their wishes. And I want to help you guys get out
of here. I`ll get you safe escort out.
AMMON BUNDY, PROTESTER: We`re getting ignored again, sheriff. Sheriff –
WARD: I didn`t come to argue, I just came –
BUNDY: I`m not either.
WARD: I just came to ask for peaceful resolution.
BUNDY: OK, I appreciate it, thank you very much.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: Man, he`s just so calm and peaceful. That exchange is
indicative of what has generally been law enforcement`s approach to this
The FBI, which has been erring on the side of caution, telling MSNBC there
is no information regarding arrests of any of the protesters. Not confirm
a claim by the sheriff that they would face federal charges.
But in the midst of heightened national tensions issues involves police use
of force and communities of color, this strategy of peaceful engagement
with this group of armed white men has prompted questions from many who see
a disparity in the law enforcement response. Why a wait and see approach
to these protesters, and an immediate militarized police response to
Ferguson protesters in 2014? Why a more talk, less action policy for men
armed with real guns and what appears to be a shoot first, ask questions
later with people like John Crawford and 12-year-old Tamir Rice?
All valid questions as we seek ways to reduce the likelihood of interaction
with police ending with a death because of the police.
But as “Slate`s” Jamelle Bouie reminds us this week that the law
enforcement reaction to Oregon`s ranchers is rooted in its own very unique
history of violence. He writes, “It`s also worth noting the extension to
which the Rice shooting and many others are fundamental different from that
of a standoff between armed fanatics and federal law enforcement. It`s not
just that these are different organizations and local city police versus
the FBI and other federal agencies, and different kinds of confrontations
with different procedures. But also there`s a different history involved.
Confrontations at Ruby Ridge and Waco, Texas, ended with scores of dead
white civilians and inspired the Oklahoma City bombing, the deadliest
terror attack on American soil prior to September 11th, 2001.”
It isn`t the only different history involved. NPR reported earlier this
week that Bundy said of the occupation that this was a fight about the
Constitution. And that the federal government has no right over these
lands unless the states cede those rights to them.
At the heart of this claim is an old tension around federalism that has
existed over the sharing of powers between federal and state governments
and this attention of the institution of slavery ultimately forced the
country to confront and bloodily resolve. The civil war was a turning
point in the history of American federalism.
And although we emerge from the civil war as a single nation, as we have
seen just in the events of this past week, that tension between the
division of state and federal powers, it was there in the anti-government
occupation in Oregon and it was there in this week when Alabama Chief
Justice Rory Moore stood in opposition to the ruling on same sex marriage
and it was there in the responses to president`s executive action on guns
articulated most notably by House Speaker Paul Ryan who said the
president`s proposals amount to, quote, “a dangerous level of executive
Joining me now, Jeanne Theoharis, distinguished professor of political
science at Brooklyn College and author of “The Rebellious Life of Mrs. Rosa
Parks”, Jonathan Metzl, director of the Center for Medicine, Health and
Society at Vanderbilt University, and Vince Warren, executive director of
the Center for Constitutional Rights.
Vince, you said the Second Amendment is there to protect militias. Well,
here, we have one. Is it doing a good job in its protection Oregon? Is
that how you agree what`s happening here?
WARREN: Apparently, it`s doing a great job. They`re just having tea.
Here`s what`s at stake here. The state`s rights discussion that is running
through all the pieces we have here has been historically important.
From the civil rights perspective, the question is how do you get states
who have decided they`ve created their own legal ecosystems to keep
oppression going forward? How do we move that to a federal level and allow
the government to create federal standards below which states can go, to be
able to keep civil rights people stay safe.
Imbedded in that is intention, because we see in this in the militia, where
a lot people feel like, wow, the federal government can`t do anything with
respect to the states. That`s been the battle cry of a lot of these
militias. It`s a legitimate constitutional tension. Not necessarily in
this particular scenario. There`s little real no scenario in which the
federal government isn`t allowed to create national parks.
I want to point out if we`re going to talking about who has the right to
what, nobody`s – there are no Native Americans in this story –
HARRIS-PERRY: Oh, except that there are. In that, in fact, the Paiute
chairwoman Charlotte Rodrique has said that the protesters have no claim to
this land, that it belongs to native peoples who continue to live there and
the refuge is an important place and they have no sympathy for those trying
to take the land from its rightful owners.
So, they have an objective here. I think in part this is what is difficult
for me, Jeanne, on the one hand as a supporter of the kind of history of
the civil rights movement, I`d like a little occupation here and there,
right, a little sort of push back against the government. But this feels
really quite different.
JEANNE THEOHARIS, PROFESSOR, BROOKLYN COLLEGE: Part of what I actually
like about this is the police chief we just saw is modeling how we want the
police to deal with protesters. And I actually would like him to be a
model for how, then, we deal with protesters, whether they`re in Ferguson,
whether they`re in New York, whether they`re in parts of the Pacific
HARRIS-PERRY: Rather than calling for the violence of Ferguson on this
community, on these protesters, to call for this reasonableness.
THEOHARIS: To understand these people have rights. To understand a
peaceful resolution is the paramount thing, right? And that`s what I
think, when we see him shaking hands, what we want is for police all across
the country with all sorts of communities in all sorts of protest
situations to adopt that same reasonableness, to adopt that same respect
for the rights, to adopt the same long view. That we want for this to stay
peaceful, not to, as you said, shoot first, not to suspect first, not to
fan out and surveil first.
So, I guess that`s – to me, that`s one of the interesting lessons, if
there`s going to be a lesson this week from us.
HARRIS-PERRY: If we like this model if we want to see more, Jonathan, why
in Ferguson do we not get that? I don`t like to do, oh, it`s just race. I
mean, is it? Or is there something different about what`s happening here?
JONATHAN METZL, RESEARCH DIR., THE SAFE TENNESSE PROJECT: Well, I think
there`s a strong history of race that runs through this. I loved Jamal`s
piece but I would say the history of race and firearms makes this very
distinct. For example, in the 1960s, when Robert Williams and Malcolm X
and the Black Panthers wanted guns for self-resilience, all of a sudden,
oh, gosh, we want gun control.
I think there`s a different iconography of black protesters having guns.
It just elicits a different cultural anxiety than this particular issue. I
think there are two other issues, getting back to Vince`s point, is the
question of the militia, and the constitutionality particularly of the
white militia, which I think is another important race point.
According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, we`ve seen about a 50 percent
rise in these kinds of white militias over the last three or four years,
particularly as people fear that their guns are going to be taken away and
also in the aftermath of some of the debates about the Confederate flag.
So, there is, I think, more of this particular issue on the horizon. I
think we need a broader policy.
The central irony is if we did what the protesters want, if the government
did just go sell that land, first of all, their grazing fees would go much
higher. They couldn`t afford it. It`s also like they`re not going to buy
the land. If they privatize this land, which is what happened, I think the
private sector would actually make this problem much worse for them. I
don`t think what they`re advocating is necessarily the right situation.
HARRIS-PERRY: So let me dig in on that. You said there`s a legitimate set
of arguments -maybe not in this, but around this tension between state
authority and federal authority. And there are Republican office holders
and candidates for the Republican nomination for the presidency saying that
we ought to have a constitutional convention to basically undue some of
what the civil war did in the sense of actually rebalancing the balance of
powers back towards the states.
WARREN: Yes, can I just tell you how much that really needs not to happen
HARRIS-PERRY: Yes, thank you.
WARREN: Really should not happen. Just getting to the question of the
tension, there is a legitimate governing tension between whether this is
really a federal discussion or whether this is a conglomeration of
independent and sovereign states. And that`s always going to raise
tensions and those are good tensions to raise. I agree with Jeanne that
you protest, that is the way you move these pieces forward.
The constitutional convention is a disaster because really what we`re
talking about here is that the states rights argument that`s picked up by
the right wing, that`s picked up by these militias which are neither well-
regulated nor really focused on the federal government, that they do very
much act like vigilantes in some ways, which frankly creates in black and
brown communities a sense that we should be pushing back against them. But
the idea that overall that these communities that we`re – that the state
rights argument is a shill for going back to the way that it was, where
black bodies and brown bodies and women were controlled.
It was much better and easier that way. Even if the rest of the country
doesn`t want to do it, that`s how we do it here at home. And he only way
to get there is through states rights.
HARRIS-PERRY: Indeed, that`s what it sounded like to me when Alabama sort
of stood the proverbial school house door with Judge Roy Moore this week.
I appreciate you with the nerd joke.
HARRIS-PERRY: The big story out of Alabama this week might have you
checking the dateline to make sure it says 2016. Because right around this
time, beginning of 2014, it was the same story involving the same Alabama
judge trying to deny the same rights to same sex couples.
You remember this guy, Roy Moore. He`s the chief justice of the Alabama
Supreme Court. Last February, he was doing his own version of George
Wallace standing in the school house door. It was Moore who threw the
state of Alabama into a state of confusion by telling probate judges not to
issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples in defiance of a federal judge
who said the marriages could proceed.
We all know how that story ended. Most of those probate judges went ahead
and allowed the couples to marry in accordance with the federal court`s
Then, the U.S. Supreme Court ultimately made any lingering confusion
crystal clear with its June decision that made same-sex marriage the law of
the land – a constitutionally protected right in every one of these United
But on Wednesday, Roy Moore decided Alabama should be the exception to the
rule of law when he, once again, issued an order to the state`s probate
judges not to issue marriage licenses to same sex couples. What is at
stake here, Jeanne?
THEOHARIS: What is at stake is do we want judges sort of acting in their
own religious views, in their own political views? So, certainly, it has
these historical resonances that feel very scary.
I also think there`s a tendency to focus on those incidents and miss a kind
of larger climate that allows it, right? So whether it`s George Wallace or
whether it`s Roy Moore, that these become flashpoints for people, like
these are the real bad guys. As opposed to – just to pick another
example, right, last year, they said that New York City is the most
segregated school district in the nation. You don`t have a George Wallace
in New York City.
HARRIS-PERRY: You don`t have a story you can go get from the `50s and
THEOHARIS: Right. There`s both a huge danger I think when Roy Moore did
this, right, and feels like he`s entitled to do this, right, and is not
worried that – I don`t know, he`s going to be put in jail for doing this.
On the other hand, I think there`s a danger in these stories because
they`re so personalized, what injustice or bigotry look like that we miss,
in fact, the structure. I guess I would caution us a bit in our sort of
the ways that these stories, you know, we –
HARRIS-PERRY: Yes, this is a claim I keep making about some of the
discourse that is critical of Mr. Trump, is one can be critical, but if you
sort of put it all there, then you miss how all these other inequities are
METZL: Well, I think George Wallace, first of all, is an apt – kind of
metaphor – for what`s happening here. I think the rhetoric of Judge Moore
and Trump plays into is a particular kind of wide anxiety about social
change, but I think is being given a voice at this particular moment in
ways I think we need to be wary of.
Ultimately, though, I think that, you know, I think that Jeanne`s point is
exactly right. Imagine a judge who`s doing something that you completely
don`t agree with. Maybe it`s not about gay rights. Maybe it`s about
something else. This is where the U.S. attorney and federal government
actually comes in and says no, there is a law of the land here. In that
regard, this is a point where the federal government is very useful because
we don`t want judges just making up their own minds about what the law is
HARRIS-PERRY: It`s interesting because just that little part of the
sentence, right, we don`t want judges making up law. I mean, it depends,
you could turn on – you can go to your web browser and find conservatives
and liberals kind of making these same claims about activist judges
depending on where they`re standing ideologically. So, Vince, if we were
to take ideology, or partisanship out of this, how can we tell if judges or
if courts are behaving in ways that appear to be in accordance with what we
think of is good practice versus sort of behaving outside of it?
WARREN: Well, I personally think it is a fallacy to ever go back to the
original intent, particularly constitutionally, 1789, for anything, because
the best you`re ever going to be able to do is figure out what those guys
thought about what they thought about trying to apply it to you.
There is a moral and a political question that is embedded in the law all
of a time and I`m actually very comfortable with the messiness of our
democracy. I`m also very comfortable with judges that do really stupid
things, as long as we`re able to say that they`re really stupid things,
that we can convince higher courts to look at parochialism and
discrimination in a broader context. As long as the framework allows us to
be able to course correct, you know, that kind of discrimination, I`m
comfortable with it.
HARRIS-PERRY: I actually think it`s such an important point to be able to
keep saying, yes, that`s right. You live in a country where people
disagree with you. That`s right, democracy is messy. That`s right, you
know, about half the time, democracy is going to win.
And so, what you want is a system that protects, right, your capacity, even
when you`re a minority voice, right, even if you didn`t win your right to
continue to speak.
Thank you to Jeanne Theoharis and Vince Warren. Jonathan is going to be
back a little later in the program.
But up next, new details on one of the most wanted men in the world.
HARRIS-PERRY: Familiar surroundings this morning for the Mexican drug lord
El Chapo. He`s back in the same prison he escaped from six months ago.
NBC`s Gabe Gutierrez is in Mexico with the very latest – Gabe.
GABE GUTIERREZ, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Melissa, good morning.
It has been an embarrassing few months ever since El Chapo Guzman managed
to escape from that maximum security prison six months ago. That escape
was right out of a Hollywood movie, but it turns out a different kind of
movie may have ultimately led to the drug kingpin`s capture.
Mexico`s attorney general said in a news conference late last night that El
Chapo Guzman was actively trying to reach out to actors and producer
through intermediaries because he wanted to make a biographical movie about
himself and that helped authorities track him down to the Mexican state of
Sinaloa, the home of El Chapo`s notorious drug cartel.
Now, he was captured after a bloody shootout. Five suspects were killed.
Six people were arrested. Even a Mexican marine was injured.
El Chapo and his head of security managed to briefly escape for a while.
He did not go easily. But he was eventually captured after he tried to
escape through a sewer system, was caught on the road and then flown back
here to Mexico City, where he was paraded in front of cameras late last
night. Now, the big question remains, will he remain in Mexico or will he
be extradited back to the United States?
He faces drug charges in at least six American cities. This morning, he is
waking up in the very same maximum security prison that he escaped from six
months ago – Melissa.
HARRIS-PERRY: Thank you to NBC`s Gabe Gutierrez in Mexico City.
Still to come, when movements meet.
HARRIS-PERRY: Now for a fascinating story with a bit of a twist on guns
Let`s go back to August 2015 to Ferguson, Missouri, one year after Michael
Brown was fatally shot by Officer Darren Wilson. On the first anniversary
of Brown`s death, Ferguson was tense, as both peaceful demonstrators and
Into this tension came a group of heavily armed white civilians. Their
presence triggered confusion, fear and anger from many. Who were these men
roaming the streets in body armor and holding semiautomatic weapons? Some
thought they were plain clothed officers. Others pegged them as members of
It turned out they are the Oath Keepers, a group of mostly current and
former military police ands first responders, who professed to defend the
Constitution, especially the Second Amendment.
One of those Oath Keepers at the time was Sam Andrews who that week led a
team of partially made up of Oath Keepers to protect some of the local
residents and businesses in Ferguson who felt vulnerable during the
During those two-day mission, Andrews spoke to many Ferguson residents and
learned black protesters believed they could not openly carry firearms
despite Missouri being an open carry state. They believed if they carried
guns the way Andrews did, they would be shot by police.
So, that motivated Andrews to organize a rationally integrated open carry
march during which black citizens would carry weapons with white Oath
Keepers marching right beside them. The story is reported in depth and in
detail in a piece posted this week on rollingstone.com. He says his goal
was putting firearms into the hands of black residents as it was their
right to bear them and to, quote, “have every black child in America see
law abiding black citizens carrying weapons and not being attacked by
According to Andrews, the Oath Keepers were resistant to these efforts led
Andrews to withdraw from the organization, and the Oath Keepers did not
respond to multiple request for comment.
The march was held on a rainy in November. Fewer than a dozen black
marchers took part. But one of them was Paul Berry of St. Louis County.
His motivation for joining the march, he told us, was to combat the erosion
of constitutional rights for African-Americans who are in fear for their
The two men central to this story join me now, Paul Berry, a St. Louis
County resident, who`s also considering running for office as a Republican.
He joins me here in studio this morning. Also former Oath Keeper now, Sam
Andrews, is joining us from St. Louis. Also, Wes Lowery, political
reporter for “The Washington Post,” and there`s Wes` chin, from Washington.
Hi, nice to see you.
Sam, I want to start with you. I understand that you were a member of the
Oath Keepers. You`re now completely separated from the group as of August.
But if you can go past that time, can you tell me what was the motivation
for initially coming to Ferguson?
SAM ANDREWS, ACTIVIST: Well, originally, we came to Ferguson to help the
residents and protect them. There were people sleeping on the second floor
of buildings above the small businesses. And there were also people hiding
amongst the protesters trying to burn those people out of their apartments
and burn the buildings down.
HARRIS-PERRY: I know you`ve said media have tended to portray that there
were kind of protesters and police and that you actually see there is four
groups, not two. What are those four groups?
ANDREWS: Yes, the lie is that there were two groups. The truth is there`s
four groups in Ferguson. There criminals hiding amongst the protesters
trying to burn buildings down and steal. And there are criminals wearing
badges, some of them white shirts in management, that are hiding amongst a
lot of lawful good policemen. And they`re violating people`s rights in a
serial way and it has to stop.
HARRIS-PERRY: Sam, stick with us. Don`t go away.
So I want to come to you because I think that`s an interesting nuance that
also goes to this whole sort of question around race. Why did you make a
decision in that context to go ahead and be part of an interracial march
that was open carry?
PAUL BERRY (R), EXPLORING CONGRESSIONAL RUN: Well, being in the open state
of Missouri, it seems to me there`s an erosion of rights not just with the
Second Amendment but all rights in this area. If you have a constitution
that affords a person gun rights, how is it that there`s such a discrepancy
between Ferguson and the rest of Missouri. I think that that`s a problem.
I`m not for arming people. Open carry, conceal carry, no carry. That is
the option that every citizen has. I just take issue with there being such
a disparity, just going five miles down the road.
HARRIS-PERRY: Right. So, for you, the issue isn`t sort of whether or not
there`s an open carry, it`s that whatever the rights are, everyone should
be able to enjoy them equally.
BERRY: Exactly. I think you should be able to make – when we did this
march, it`s very interesting, about a quarter of a mile from where we did
the march, there was an individual that was actually – tried to rob
somebody and a person defended themselves with a gun. What Sam and myself
and the “Rolling Stone” article sort of portrayed and understands is that
African-Americans are fearful of open carry. It`s not about arming people,
it`s about the fact that you cannot – you don`t have a right if you`re
fearful of utilizing it. I just think that every citizen should have that
HARRIS-PERRY: Stick with me here, both of you guys.
Wes, I want to come to you as a reporter for a moment. Obviously, everyone
knows you spent a lot of time on the ground there in Ferguson. We did a
lot of coverage. Yet, this “Rolling Stone” piece, my producers and I were
like, wait a minute, what. Tell me, was this kind of part of what people
were talking about happening there? Is this like a peace that we missed?
WESLEY LOWERY, POLITICAL REPORTER, THE WASHINGTON POST: Certainly. I
mean, there was some coverage. There was a little bit of coverage when the
Oath Keepers first came. What became complicated with Ferguson is there
was such a whirlwind of action and information that a lot of subplots got
I remember when the militia groups got there in 2015, rather in 2014, as we
awaited the grand jury decision there were many groups, the Oath Keepers
included, who came in with this idea of guarding the buildings and the
businesses. They took up shop on the rooftops of many of the buildings in
Ferguson, Missouri, with this understanding that, you know, they want to
keep any looting from happening. This happened again 2015 around the
anniversary, as well as during the –
ANDREWS: Not true.
LOWERY: As well as during the anniversary protest. So we saw several
militia groups at multiple times that spent time in Ferguson.
In addition to this, I mean, I don`t know that I was on the ground when it
occurred but I remember hearing about this march. And the image you keep
showing, one person who sticks out is Dhoruba Shakur (ph), who is a pretty
prominent local protester. He`s been very involved in organizing a lot of
the civil disobedience.
I remember hearing from him when this happens. Seeing his picture on
Facebook. Saying, here I am, open carrying outside of Ferguson PD. We
have these rights. We need to exercise them.
HARRIS-PERRY: Sam, I can hear that you want to jump in. You want to get
in on this?
ANDREWS: Well, there`s been a lot of misinformation. We weren`t there
just to guard businesses. We put firemen with buckets of water and a
Special Forces guy armed right next to him with a fire extinguisher next to
his feet to protect the people sleeping in the apartments.
You know, there were human lives at stake. It wasn`t like these businesses
were abandoned because of the violence. There were actually human beings,
women and children and men of all races sleeping in the apartments on the
second floor. And that`s where we stationed our men. It wasn`t to prevent
looting. It had nothing to do with that. It had to do with protecting
HARRIS-PERRY: Right, there was a real human component here as opposed to
being just about businesses.
Stick with us, don`t go away. Jonathan, I want to let you in. In part
because you brought up this question, probably last hour, when we were
talking about sort of the difficulties of thinking about what constitutes a
right, if everyone doesn`t get to access it equally.
METZL: Right, I`m very sympathetic to the argument. If fact it does make
sense that people who are actually being surveilled, having violence
propagated against them, those are the people who actually, unlike many of
the pro-gun protesters right now, these are people who have a reason to be
armed. So I do understand the impetus behind this.
I think there are two important things to keep in mind though that I think
really trouble us and make us think critically of it. One is just the
historical context, which, of course, as we know there`s a long history of
open carry being racialized. It goes back to the writing of the Second
Amendment and the passage of the Second Amendment and its own particular
In the 1960s, when NAACP leader Robert Williams wrote a book, “Negroes with
Guns”, about African-American`s self-reliance through guns. He was
basically, you know, surveilled by the FBI and it was a huge issue.
So, black people don`t have the same right to open carry. We see this in
the present day with people picking up guns in Walmart.
Number one is historical context. Point number two is just what guns do,
back to the first hour. Guns protect us from strangers. That`s certainly
But, again, most gun violence is everyday violence. Must gun violence is
being shot by your domestic partners, home suicides, issues like that. So,
I worry about the spread guns in that regard, because even though in
particular context guns might be useful in a way, what we`ll see if that
regard is a spread also of everyday shootings and I think that`s a point of
HARRIS-PERRY: All right. Everybody, stick with us, because when we come
back, I want to dig into this a little more deeply, because I also think in
addition to the gun story, there`s just an interesting story here about
interracial movement building. Maybe we can learn something from it, when
we come back.
HARRIS-PERRY: We`re back on our continuing education about an interracial
open carry moment that occurred in Ferguson, Missouri.
And, Sam, I want to back to you, in part because I`m interested in the idea
you actually learned something about the experience of African-Americans in
those early conversations that you were having. And that that`s part of
what moved you to action.
HARRIS-PERRY: Can you tell us a little bit about that?
ANDREWS: Well, initially, some of the younger protesters came up to me and
said, what kind of gun are you carrying? I told them, that`s the kind you
should carry so people stop abusing your rights.
And then I talked to some older educated guys that were Black Panther
members. One man was a history teach, brilliant guy, told him the same
thing. He was afraid to open carry because he feared for his life.
Then, I spoke to this 65-year-old woman who wanted to carry a revolver to
protect her and her family, but she was afraid to, because she was afraid
the police would kill her. And I called this policeman over to explain to
her that she had the right to open carry, and he was more than willing to
come over and tell her she had that right.
And when he walked over, she had a fear-based reaction from his uniform and
badge, started sweating and shaking and her hands and legs were shaking and
her voice quivered. And she literally was so afraid of that policeman she
couldn`t even engage in conversation with him.
And it was at that point I realized, we really have a problem here.
HARRIS-PERRY: All right. So talk to me about that then. So, Sam is
saying something that I think is an experience many people have of not
seeing the police as approachable, as friendly, and it`s, in part, driven
by these experiences like Ferguson or at least what Ferguson`s come to
represent, how would kind of an open carry movement, if this had been
bigger if this had really happened, could it have made a difference?
BERRY: When you look at what the president`s doing with his gun bill, the
biggest problem is we`re not addressing the real issue. The real issue is
we have a country where there`s some people who see African-Americans and
they`re getting scared with a gun or without a gun.
And, look, if 10 percent of the people, African-American, open carried in
Ferguson, would that help dispel whatever fears that we have? I just
believe that we have to get back to the constitutional basis and this idea
that if you live in this jurisdiction, your rights aren`t there and you
live here – I just think we need to take this head on, instead of cutting
We have serious crime in Missouri. We are the number one per capita murder
capital of the world year in, and year out. We were in 2014, we will be in
Until we address what`s causing – it`s not the gun. It`s the person
that`s utilizing the gun. Where is that social will coming? Is it because
of poverty? Because you go into rural Missouri, you have more guns per
capita than you do in St. Louis, however, St. Louis is where the crimes
HARRIS-PERRY: So, Wes, let`s let you in here. Because this is challenging
for me, right, on the one hand, I`m a Southerner. I grew up in a household
where my father always had guns. In part having grown up in the Jim Crow
South, seeing gun ownership as being, in part, about racial self-
On the other hand, I keep thinking – I just, it`s hard for me to imagine
more guns would make us feel safer.
LOWERY: Certainly, you know, this idea of more guns in the hands of people
who are seen as suspicious very often. What we know, you know, research
shows this. We know this, and this isn`t just a black/white thing. Even
black people find other black people more suspicious because we`ve been
trained and it`s becoming socially engrained. We know black men
specifically are seen as more suspicious. They`re seen as older. They`re
seen as more likely to be criminal no matter who they are.
You know, it`s hard to listen to this conversation and not think of, you
know, for example like Corey Jones, a black man shot and killed in Palm
Springs Gardens, Florida, last year, car breaks down, on the side the road,
waiting for a tow truck and is legally holding a weapon. A police officer
pulls up and goes, I saw a gun and got scared, and shots and kills him.
This is a man holding a gun for this exact situation. You`re broken down
on the side of the highway, some guy you`ve never seen before, by the way,
in an unmarked car, un-uniformed officer pulls up. If a police officer has
– is afraid for his life, they can shoot and kill you.
And the idea that having more guns in the hands of people who are seen as
more suspicious by police officers, it`s hard to not imagine that not
leading potentially to more Corey Joneses.
HARRIS-PERRY: Sam, this is so interesting to me, in many ways, there`s a
lot of agreement about the definition of at least sort of what some of the
problems are here. What do you see as a core solution to these inequities
and how we can express our constitutional rights?
ANDREWS: Well, as far as the guy that just commented, he`s not really
getting to the heart of the issue. The heart of the issue is that the
police have a violence problem within their culture. And they have a code
of silence problem that exacerbates that violence problem.
The police are wholly incapable of rejecting the criminals that are wearing
badges in their ranks. And we`re not holding police accountable. And it
doesn`t matter if it`s the Bundy Ranch where they`re abusing a white
rancher, or if it`s Tamir Rice where they`re killing a 12-year-old innocent
little boy. It doesn`t matter.
It`s all government abuse and a complete total lack of accountability. And
if you believe the premise that 99 percent of police do the right thing,
which I`ll grant you that premise, why is it so hard to prosecute the 1
percent who gets it wrong? We need to be asking that question.
It`s not about if you`re open carrying or exercising a right, it`s about
getting the police squared away and getting them to do proper threat
assessments, time, distance and cover, not violating those three
fundamentals, and not shooting our citizens.
HARRIS-PERRY: Sam, I hope at some point you will have an opportunity to
come to New York and join us at the table. I find this fascinating because
we keep talking about this as a kind of ideological or even racial
polarization. But so much of what I just heard you articulate is precisely
what I`ve heard, sort of Black Lives Matter, activists articulate, and yet
it ends in this different ways. I am fascinated by this.
I want to say thank you to Sam Andrews –
ANDREWS: It`s not.
HARRIS-PERRY: OK, thank you, but –
ANDREWS: It`s not racial, it`s not racial, what it really is a violence
problem in our police culture. It doesn`t matter if it`s a white mental
health patience in Albuquerque, New Mexico, who gets shot, or Tamir Rice,
the police have a violence problem and we need to hold people accountable.
HARRIS-PERRY: Sam Andrews, again, I hope you will be able to join us here.
Thank you for joining us from St. Louis today.
ANDREWS: Thank you.
HARRIS-PERRY: Also, thank you to Wes Lowery in Washington, D.C. Here in
New York, thank you to Jonathan Metzl and to Paul Berry. Thank you for
this very complex story.
And up next, the newest comic book shero out of Philly.
HARRIS-PERRY: If you were tuned into Nerdland last week, you witnessed our
annual tradition of giving a shoutout to all of the wonderful nerds who
make this show possible. Each year we choose a different theme for our
credits and this year, the theme was heroes and sheroes.
And our core team of producers is made up mostly of women, and I noticed
that several of the African-American women on my team did not have any
specific heroes they identified with.
Eeyore is not a super hero, Belinda.
Our foot soldier this week knows about the diversity in nerd culture. She
is a self-proclaimed geek from Philadelphia. Her name is Ariell Johnson.
She is the founder and president of Amalgam Comic and Coffeehouse in
Philly. She`s the first black woman to own a comic store on the East
So nice to have you.
ARIELL JOHNSON, FOUNDER, AMALGAM COMICS & COFFEEHOUSE: Hi, how are you,
HARRIS-PERRY: I`m great.
So, tell me, why combine comics and coffee?
JOHNSON: The idea behind that was really more of creating a community in a
community space, and I think that it is pretty common that coffee shops and
neighborhoods become that community space, and the third space where people
can work and meet and kind of join together, and have fun without being at
home. So, I felt like the best way to make a comic bookstore a community
space is to pair it with coffee and seating and things like that, and just
giving the people time and space to make those connections with each other.
HARRIS-PERRY: I would say it is really distressing to me how many of the
women of color on my team felt like when we asked, oh, what is the
superhero that you identify with, and it was like, well, are there is
nobody who I identify with and looks like me or who makes me feel like,
that is me. So, why does that matter?
JOHNSON: Well, it`s empowering to see yourself and to see yourself, you
know, represented, when you don`t see yourself, it is without anyone saying
it, you will feel like you don`t matter, and matter enough to have your
story told or your story shared or that you are not worth learning about.
So, I think that this is true of everybody, and anybody like when you see a
character that is a direct reflection of you, and your life experience, it
is a good feeling. You know what I mean? It lets you take immediate
interest in the story.
HARRIS-PERRY: I know that you sell a lot of the mainstream comic, and what
are the other kinds of things that you sell there?
JOHNSON: So, we are just starting out, and lot of what we have is the
mainstream, and we are working diligently to get some more independent
titles in, some diverse titles in, and we just got titles from Annie Mock
who is part of the LGBTQ community and we will be carrying her comics in
store. We also are the exclusive Philly retail store of Regina Sawyers`
books at the moment, and we are happy to have her on the racks and looking
to reach out to those individuals in the comical game, but not a part of
the mainstream comic books necessarily and representing diversity and in
the many forms.
HARRIS-PERRY: We call ourselves nerds here on the MHP SHOW, but I
understand you use the word geek. What is the difference between a geek
and a nerd?
JOHNSON: You know what, I don`t know if there is a solid difference. I
mean, I think that geek is more associated with more like the pop culture
things, so you know, the TV, movies, comics, gaming and things like that.
And when I think of nerd, I think more of scholastic.
HARRIS-PERRY: We actually don`t know a lot of what is happening in pop
JOHNSON: Right. And so it is like the science people and the math people.
But I think what you`ll find is that there is a lot of overlap there. And
I think that they do go hand in hand, and it`s just different that you are
getting excited about, you know, different things slightly, but even though
things, again, they overlap. So, I don`t think they are like mutually
HARRIS-PERRY: Real quick, what is the comic that you are most excited
about these days?
JOHNSON: So, I actually have two with me. I hold them up for you. One is
“Magik”. It`s Storm and Ilyana magic, this is actually a really old comic,
but it is the first comic book that I purchased.
And this one is Niobe, a book written by Amandla Stenberg, and I hope I did
not mispronounce her last name. It`s really excited because it`s – you
know, it`s fantasy and the protagonist is a black woman, and she has got
locks, and she is – just very exciting to see that happening in the
fantasy world, and yes, I am just excited to see that. And the first book,
you know, of course, features Storm who is my personal super hero.
HARRIS-PERRY: Absolutely, and we had a chance to talk to Amandla alone
when we were there in L.A., and she is extraordinarily very excited about
her work as well. Thank you to Ariell in Philadelphia.
That`s our show for today. Thanks to you at home for watching. I`ll see
you tomorrow morning at 10:00 a.m. Eastern.
We will have the latest as the countdown to Iowa, New Hampshire, and South
Carolina are under way. We`re going to cover it all and we`re going to a
cover it all head to toe to, oh, boot.
Now, it`s time for a preview of “WEEKENDS WITH ALEX WITT”. Richard Lui is
filling in today.
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