PoliticsNation with Al Sharpton: 4/2/2017

Guests:
Ras Baraka, Yamiche Alcindor, Azi Paybarah, Ella Jones, Deborah Watts
Transcript:

Show: POLITICS NATION

Date: April 2, 2017

Guests: Ras Baraka, Yamiche Alcindor, Azi Paybarah, Ella Jones, Deborah Watts

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

 

AL SHARPTON, MSNBC HOST:  Good morning and welcome to POLITICS NATION.

 

Another busy week of news behind us, and a packed show for us this morning. 

We`ll talk about the latest on the Trump Russia connections, and we`ll tell

Fox host Bill O`Reilly what we think about his comments on black people`s

hair.

 

Also more unrest in Ferguson, Missouri, and a fight to keep a law that

promotes investigations of unsolved civil rights murders from before the

1980s.

 

But first, sanctuary cities have become a major battleground in the

immigration debate in the U.S.  Why does President Trump want to get rid of

them?  And what does his new budget tell us about his plans to help inner

cities with education, policing, and health care?

 

Joining me now, the mayor of one of those sanctuary cities, Newark, New

Jersey`s mayor, Ras Baraka.  Good morning, Mayor Baraka.

 

RAS BARAKA, MAYOR OF NEWARK, NEW JERSEY:  Good morning.

 

SHARPTON:  The president – let me start with sanctuary cities.  I want to

get into the budget and how it affects inner cities, but the president has

gone out of his way, Attorney General Jeff Sessions saying they – actually

threatened mayors like you of sanctuary cities off I turning off certain

funding.  Why are they targeting and how do you respond?

 

BARAKA:  Well, I think that them targeting sanctuary cities is a way for

them to tell mayors and other folks around the country, one, that they`re

sticking to what I think is a very unconstitutional an un-american policy

and trying to intimidate us into being what I`ve called fugitive slave

catchers, to run around and do their bidding in our cities.  And if we

refuse to do that, then it makes it difficult for them to continue their

policy because they don`t have the resources to kind of run down all the

undocumented residents locally.

 

SHARPTON:  Now, when we talk about undocumented residents locally that have

sanctuary in certain cities like Newark and et cetera, we are not just

talking about Mexican-Americans.  I mean, in Newark, we`re talking about

people from the Caribbean, we`re talking about people from Africa, we talk

about people – and I think that they tried to racial stereo type this as a

mention Mexican border issue when you`re giving sanctuary to people from

many places who have married and had children in your city.

 

BARAKA:  Absolutely.  Newark is pot city.  Which means that we`re a city of

immigrants.  We have Portuguese, Brazilian, Easter Europeans, Africans,

Caribbean, like you said, Haitian.  All over the world are in the city of

Newark who are undocumented and are terrified by what`s happening in this

country today.

 

SHARPTON:  What happens if they start cutting your federal funds because

you won`t break rank and do what you said a fugitive slave kind of –

 

BARAKA:  Well, there`s some entitlement funds that most cities get CDBG

dollars, home funds, dollars for federally qualified health care centers. 

Opportunities for us to fixing neighborhoods that had been run down for a

very long time.

 

This is going to probably hurt the most vulnerable in our community, which

I think is terrible, but we have to find creative ways to adjust.  The

irony of it is his budget says he`s going to cut the money anyway.

 

SHARPTON:  Yes, I want to get into that.  But before we go there, you said

that we`ll find ways.  So you are determined even with the threat of

federal funds being cut by the attorney general and the president, you`re

going to take a principle stand here?

 

BARAKA:  Absolutely.  We have no choice.  Newark is an immigration city. 

It`s an immigrant city.  I mean, it`s nothing – all of the economic wealth

that`s created because of undocumented and documented residents in our

city, that buy some clothes, that participate in the entertainment life in

our city, that walk every day up and down the streets of Newark, that make

sure that our stores stay open, it`s important for them to stay there.

 

SHARPTON:  Let`s go to the budget.  President Trump said that he was going

to do amazing these things to bring America back and make America great. 

His budget is out.  Any budget is a road map to the priorities and policies

of a president.  He has really not shown a lot in that budget that will

help inner cities despite the fact he said that he was going to help black

people more than anybody, and that we had nothing to lose.  Well, it seems

like we lost something in this budget.

 

BARAKA:  Well, according to his budgets, he`s cutting billions from HUD

which affects us.  We have 20,000 people waiting on a list for housing in

the city of Newark alone to cut that would be incredibly detrimental to our

city.

 

SHARPTON:  He`s cutting HUD that you have 20,000 people on waiting lists

for HUD in Newark alone?

 

BARAKA:  That`s right.

 

SHARPTON:  Which Dr. Ben Carson is a HUD secretary and he`s cutting his

budget?

 

BARAKA:  Oh, absolutely.  HUD, I heard lately Meals on Wheels.  I mean, I

don`t know what kind of people it is.  I want to cut a food for senior

citizens.  I mean, this is a little dangerous.  All these cuts in his

budget shows what his priority is.  And his priority seems to be to really

hurt African-Americans, Latinos, poor people in the cities and make it

difficult for us to make a living here.

 

SHARPTON:  The resistance to this certainly came from many of us in the

civil rights community, some with the elected officials.  But what about

the pressure on the congress?  Have you and other mayors that want to

resist on sanctuary and that all feel short-changed on the budget, have you

been able to get your congressional delegations like in the state of New

Jersey to deal with this?

 

BARAKA:  Well, our congressional delegation has been on the forefront of

the sanctuary city issue, whether it`s Senator Menendez, Congressman Payne,

Senator Booker, all of them have been together around sanctuary cities and

protecting what we`re doing in Newark.  So I`ve been very positive about

that and very hopeful about our delegation and other mayors in the state

have been coming together talking about how do we resist collectively if

the president decides to defund some of the things that we need in our

cities.

 

SHARPTON:  Let me go a little New Jersey, but still dealing in national

realm.  Chris Christie.  Everyone was watching Chris Christie as he had ran

for president.  Didn`t do too well.  Then he had the Bridgegate scandal. 

Two of his people were sentenced to jail this week.

 

Does it seem ironic to you he does not have a major role in the Trump

administration?

 

BARAKA:  Well, for a minute there, I thought that he would even be a vice

presidential contender.

 

SHARPTON:  Right.

 

BARAKA:  I mean, there were a lot of people in New Jersey actually hoping

for that.  That we wanted him to get out of New Jersey.  But it is ironic

that he has not had a real kind of position in the forefront in that

administration.

 

SHARPTON:  now, let me ask you this.  I`ve known you a long time, most of

your life.  Knew your father before you who was one of the people we grew

up under as he set a course for the national black political convention.

 

So just between us, is Cory Booker going to run for president?  I mean, you

succeed Senator Booker as mayor.  So you know.  You can tell me.

 

BARAKA:  Well, it feels like it.  I mean, he said that he wasn`t thinking

about that now on a – I heard a couple of interviews where he expressed

that, but I don`t – anything is better than what we have now.  And I think

Cory Booker would probably make a good president. 

 

SHARPTON:  Well, anything is better than we have now, I think that when you

put the sanctuary situation, when you put the situation of the budget

there, it`s really a time to gear up and see.

 

Thank you, Mayor Ras Booker.  Let me remind people, the mayor will take

part in the National Action Network annual convention from April 26th-29th

in New York City.  It is our first convention and first national civil

rights gathering in the era of President Donald Trump.  We`re featuring the

best of civil rights leaders, grass roots leaders, elected officials,

business executives, activists, clergy and more.  GO sign up.  It`s all

free at www.nationalactionnetwork.net

 

Coming up, both President Putin and Trump insist that Russia did not

interfere in the 2016 election, but every day seem to reveal more

information that shows the opposite.  We`ll try to make sense of that. 

 

And later, we go back to Ferguson, Missouri.  Still a symbol for civil

unrest in America.  They`re voting there in two days for a new mayor, and

we`ll talk to one of the candidates.  This is POLITICS NATION on MSNBC.

 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

CLINT WATTS, FORMER FBI AGENT:  What no one is really saying in this room,

which is part of the reason active measures have worked in this U.S.

election is because the commander in chief has used Russian active measures

at times against his opponents.  He denies the intel from the United States

about Russia.  He claims that the election could be rigged.  That was the

number one theme pushed by RTs, news, white outlets all the way up until

the election.

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

SHARPTON:  Welcome back.  There are now three investigations into possible

Russian meddling in the 2016 election.  And whether the Trump campaign

played a role.

 

But meanwhile, house minority leader Nancy Pelosi says she has no

confidence in house intel committee chair Devin Nunes.  She has no

confidence in him to lead a fair investigation.  And we`ve learned this

week that former Trump NSA Adviser Mike Flynn requested immunity from

prosecution in exchange for testimony on his Russian dealings.  The request

was denied.

 

Joining me now is New York Times national reporter Yamiche Alcindor and

senior “Politico” reporter, Azi Paybarah.

 

First of all, let me go to you, Yamiche.  The whole question that we are

faced with this week, three investigations.  We saw Nunes, the head of the

house intel committee, say first he had an unnamed person he met that

allegedly had given him some classified information or at least let him

view them.  Then we found out he was on the White House grounds.  Then we

found out it was people on the White House staff.

 

And then if he was on the White House grounds, it was White House staff

that showed him this.  Why did he have to be the one to bring it to

President Trump then?  Why wouldn`t the White House staff have given it to

Trump?  I mean, this all smells so fishy.

 

YAMICHE ALCINDOR, “THE NEW YORK TIMES”:  I mean, I think that`s the feeling

of a lot of democrats, that democrats have come out pretty strongly to say

that Devin Nunes should recuse himself or back away from this investigation

because they don`t have confidence in him and that`s also why you saw this

week that the top senator, the top democrat and the top republican for the

senate committee looking into this, came out in a rare joint press

conference and saying, you know what, we are going to take this very

seriously.  You have the republican on that committee saying, you know

what, as a sitting senator, I`m going to follow where the evidence takes

me.

 

So I think even the republicans are feeling as though this investigation

needs to really have more confidence.

 

SHARPTON:  Wasn`t that a little unprecedented, Azi, to see while the house

is supposed to be going forward in this investigation, for the senate to

almost big foot them and come out with a republican and democratic senator

saying we will be serious, we`ll follow this to the end?  That was a little

unprecedented, wasn`t it?

 

AZI PAYBARAH, “POLITICO”:  Well, it`s sort of easy to look like a grownup

and a responsible person in comparison to what`s happening in the house

with Devin Nunes.  Remember, he initially came out and said that Trump`s

accusations were wrong.  That was his first response to that information.

 

SHARPTON:  Nunes said that?

 

PAYBARAH:  Nunes said that.  Then he gets this call.  He hops out of the

Uber, goes to the White House, looks at something, and the first thing he

does is he goes and tells the president.  He doesn`t tell the leading

democrat on that committee.  He doesn`t tell the committee members.  He

tells the president who by presumption is one of the people that helped

gather the information to give to Nunes.

 

It all looks orchestrated like they`re covering their tracks.  And if

you`re using intelligence –

 

SHARPTON:  And wouldn`t you say if you`re getting the information from

someone on the staff, forget the fact that we didn`t know it – wouldn`t

you if you were objectively investigating it, say well, am I being set up

here?  So, why would I run around him unless this is some orchestration

that had been figured out that –

 

PAYBARAH:  It looks like it`s something orchestrated.  Remember, one of

Nunes` colleagues in a television interview was asked, well, who did Nunes

work for?  And this colleague says well, he works for the president.  And

this person was challenged and says doesn`t he work for his constituents? 

And the guy says, well, he sort of works for both.  No.  You`re elected

independently.  The White House has their own people who are appointed to

do their job for the president. 

 

Nunes and the other members of the house are supposed to work for the

public.  We`re seeing that a lot more happening in the senate than in the

house.

 

SHARPTON:  Yamiche, also I think it goes to the Michael Flynn question. 

Michael Flynn who was going to be the national security adviser until we

found out that he misled Vice President Pence and others on his meetings

with Russians.

 

Now he`s saying that he would testify if given immunity which has now been

turned down.  Now, a lot of people are saying that, well, if you need

immunity, you must be afraid that you have done something. 

 

In fact, Flynn himself said that no one asked for immunity as, I think he

was referring to former Secretary Clinton, unless you had done something

criminal.  Are we taking too much of this?  Is this a routine thing to ask

for immunity, or does this seem as though he is concerned about something

and possibly going to reveal something that will shake us all again?

 

ALCINDOR:  Well, the republicans I`ve been talking to are very

uncomfortable with the fact that he asked for immunity.  And it doesn`t

bode well for Michael Flynn that the only way he would sit down if he had

some sort of immunity.  It adds more spoke to this issue of Russia, and

what he knew.  And the fact that he was close to the president that he was

hired into this cabinet.

 

Just even today, we`re reading stories now that you can go online on our

paper and see that he also didn`t reveal that there was money that he was

making giving speeches.

 

SHARPTON:  $150,000.

 

ALCINDOR:  Yes, that he didn`t disclose it on his personal finance form. 

So the idea is that Michael Flynn seems to have all these different

connections to Russia, and he`s saying essentially that I need to be

cleared of all wrongdoing in order for me to actually talk very openly

about this.  So it doesn`t bode well for him.  And again, it adds

definitely more smoke.

 

SHARPTON:  Now, one of the things that was very interesting to me this

week, Azi, which is hard to, you know, decipher through all of this drama

and theater.  But when you had formal special FBI agent Watts testify, and

he said that the goal of Russia, looking big picture now.  Not in the

reality show filings that we`re going through, is that they wanted to

meddle with this election.  They even hacked in the republican primary,

they went after Senator Cruz, and then, of course, Mrs. Clinton, because

they really want to bring down the faith of the world and American people

in the electoral process, and this was not just about doing favors for some

kind of business dealings which may exist.

 

It was about really the fight against American democracy and embarrassing

and bringing it down in the face of the world and people feeling democracy

can`t work.  It`s a big picture, gently saying?

 

PAYBARAH:  Right.  And I don`t think many people could have planned for a

Trump presidency.  This was sort of like a Hail Mary pass that somehow

worked.  They wanted – the expectations were that Hillary Clinton was

going to win.  So the idea was –

 

SHARPTON:  To mock us?

 

PAYBARAH:  Well, to mock us, but if we can – if the Russian plan appears

to have been Hillary Clinton is going to win.  So the only thing we can do

and the best thing we can do is to sew distrust, and have people feel like

somehow not legitimate.  That`s just democracy doesn`t work, and in

response to her questionable victory, you have Vladimir Putin on the other

side.  And therefor they won`t be on equal plains.

 

Trump overplays his hand.  He somehow wins and now we have seemingly

Russia`s very best friend in the White House.

 

SHARPTON:  Yamiche, then Mrs. Clinton starts coming out public this week.

In the middle of all this confusion, in the middle of all revelations going

maybe two or three times a day, I mean, 12-hour news cycle has become 12

minutes, where does she fit in now that she`s gone public, or does she play

a role of?  Does she just step back and let them ruin themselves?

 

ALCINDOR:  Well, to tell you the truth though, a lot of the republicans –

a lot of the democrats that I`ve been talking to are saying that it`s too

soon to hear from Hillary Clinton.  That while it`s true that she feel

someone who has legitimacy and is someone who a lot of democrats can rally

behind.  At the end of the day, the Democratic Party is in some ways in

turmoil and looking for a new leader, and that leader is going to be likely

someone who`s more progressive than Hillary Clinton and someone who seen as

maybe for a fresher face in Hillary Clinton.

 

So for her to be coming out every 12 hours or coming out and commenting on

Donald Trump, it`s in some ways problematic for the democrats who are

really trying to get a facelift and really trying turn a page here.

 

SHARPTON:  Thank you very much Yamiche Alcindor and Azi Paybarah.  Now a

quick update.  Last month, I had on this show Michael Lomax, the president

of the United Negro College Fund.  It was on the same week he and other

leaders of historically black colleges and universities, met with President

Trump at the White House and asked him to increase funding for their

institutions.  Many were skeptical about that meeting.  But Mr. Lomax told

me to wait until President Trump`s budget is out.

 

Well, it`s out, and we did some looking into it.  The budget calls for,

quote, “maintaining $492 million in appropriation for HBCUs and minority

serving institution, and that is below the spending for those schools right

now at $577 million.

 

For the record, there`s no mention in the budget of any federal investment

in scholarships, summer grants, technology, or campus infrastructure for

historically black colleges that the leaders requested.  Here`s Mr. Lomax`s

reaction.  Quote, “President Trump pledged to do more for HBCUs than any

other president has done before.  However, this budget is not reflective of

that sentiment.  Without strong federal investments, President Trump`s

commitment to HBCUs and the rebuilding of African-American communities will

be promises unfulfilled.

 

So Donald Trump got his photo op, but did not create more funding for

HBCUs.  Just keeping your posted and keeping it real.

 

Coming up, Bill O`Reilly makes comments on a black woman`s hair.  Yes, he

did go there, and I`ll tell you about what I think about it, next.

 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

 

SHARPTON:  Now for this week`s gotcha.  The shade heard around the world.

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  So what does that mean, Bill?  We`ve been listening all

morning.

 

BILL O`REILLY, FOX NEWS HOST:  I didn`t hear a word she said.  I was

looking at the James Brown wig.

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

SHARPTON:  Yup.  Yup.  That was Fox News Channel`s Bill O`Reilly Tuesday

morning retaliating against Congresswoman Maxine Waters, consistent

criticism of the Trump administration by reporting to what many called

racially insensitive name-calling.

 

I don`t have to tell you that Mr. O`Reilly was dragged by social media and

feeling the heat.  He did apologize on his show that night.  Well, kind of.

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

O`REILLY:  This morning on “Fox and Friends” I said in a simple jest that

the congressman`s hair distracted me.  Well, that was stupid.  I apologize. 

I had no place in the conversation.  But in order to succeed in this

country, you must be self-reliant, not dependent on the entitlement system

that Maxine Waters loves so much.

 

(END VIDOE CLIP)

 

SHARPTON:  Even those parting shots, even with those parting shots

Representative Waters was not fazed by the comments as she told our own

Chris Hayes.

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

REP. MAXINE WATERS (D), CALIFORNIA:  Let me just say this.  I`m a strong

black woman, and I cannot be intimidated.  I cannot be undermined.  I

cannot be thought to be afraid of Bill O`Reilly or anybody.

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

SHARPTON:  Wow.  Well, now with that mike drop, you`re thinking there`s not

much left to be said, right?  Well, let me clear one little thing that

might have been misunderstood.  As a close personal friend to the late

godfather of soul, James Brown, I can tell you that may have been confused

that his signature perm was no wig.  I know this because for 30-plus years

I was around the same hairstylist that he used and he would have me use. 

As you can see, his sense of style rubbed off on yours truly.  But please

believe me.  This is no wig either. 

 

So Mr. O`Reilly, let me share three things with you.  One, you`re never,

ever speak ill of a black woman`s hair.  Two, James Brown`s unique style

was many things, but it was always authentic.  And what`s the third thing? 

Oh, yeah.  I gotcha.

 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

SHARPTON:  Michael Brown does not want to be remembered for riots.  He

wants to be remembered as the one that made America deal with how we are

going to police in the United States.

 

(APPLAUSE)

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

SHARPTON:  In two days, the town of Ferguson, Missouri will hold its first

mayor election since the 2014 shooting death of teenager Michael Brown and

the protests that made Ferguson a shorthand for racial tension in America

after Brown`s death.

 

The relationship between Ferguson`s overwhelming white city government and

its predominantly black residents came under fire and change has, indeed,

come.  Ferguson`s police chief is now black as are the majority of the city

council members, but some are insisting that in order for the town to fully

move forward, it needs to elect the first mayor of color in its history.

 

Earlier, I talked to Ella Jones who became Ferguson`s first black city

council woman just seven months after the shooting of Michael Brown.

 

She`s currently challenging incumbent James Knowles for the office of

mayor.

 

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

 

SHARPTON:  Tell us why you want to be the mayor, the election is two days

from now.  Tell us why you want to be the mayor, and tell the nation what

is the state of conditions in Ferguson today?

 

ELLA JONES, COUNCILWOMAN, FERGUSON, MISSOURI:  Thank you, Reverend Al

Sharpton, for giving me an opportunity to come on this show.

 

The reason why I want to be mayor, because Ferguson need to be more

inclusive instead of exclusive.  We are a city that is divided, and we can

no longer move forward if we are divided.  It comes very important that we

close that gap between the haves and the haves not.  And right now the city

of Ferguson, the people are hurting.

 

We just had a flashpoint a couple weeks ago when they brought out the

Michael Brown taping, and people took to the streets again.  We`ve got to

work to the point that we must unite and change and become one Ferguson. 

It is very important that the mayor be the symbol of the city, and when you

are the symbol of the city, people should be able to trust you.  People

should be able to believe in you.  People should be able to know that the

leadership that you demonstrate in front of them is for the good of all of

Ferguson.

 

SHARPTON:  Now, let me stop you right there, Councilwoman Jones.  Because

you brought up a point that is very critical to me.  Just a couple of weeks

ago, we saw a new tape that we`d never seen before in all of the activities

that went around the 2014 shooting, and as you know, I was very involved,

and I remained in touch with the family and involved with people, and then

when this tape came out just two weeks ago, things we had not seen,

activists called me.  I`m hearing from people.  People are back in the

streets.  Some of our people from National Action Network there.

 

So even though a lot of people around the country don`t know what`s going

on in Ferguson, there has not been the kinds of changes that we wanted to

see.  There`s been some forward movement, but clearly there`s not been the

fundamental difference that people wanted to see in 2014 going forward.

 

JONES:  OK.  That flashpoint, it gave – it awakened the people again to

let them know that they still have more work to do.

 

SHARPTON:  Yes.

 

JONES:  And it`s very important that we pay attention to the activists,

because they are on the front line.  And they know what is going on.  And

right now they are out there every day.  I had an opportunity to go out

there with them yesterday and talk with them, and that Ferguson market

allegedly does a lot of illegal things, and people want that type of

business shutdown.  We want neighborhoods that are free of liquor stores. 

We shouldn`t have to drive two and three miles to go to grocery store when

there is two liquor stores there.

 

Ferguson people want to know that they have a place – a grocery store in

their community that`s going to serve milk.

 

SHARPTON:  That`s important.  People don`t understand that, what you just

said, because that was one of the alarming things to me when I was rioting

around Ferguson as we were dealing with a lot of these issues.

 

They don`t have a grocery store in the community, but have two liquor

stores.  People around the country couldn`t fathom, you can`t go buy a

carton of milk for your child in the neighborhood.  But you can get booze.

 

How does the mayor and those in the city not try and repair that and try to

deal with that and address that?

 

JONES:  It`s very important that we have a mayor that`s going to look at

all these grocery stores with these liquor license that are planted in the

African-American community and say enough is enough.  We are not looking to

put nobody out of business.  But we`re looking to have quality stores that

are going to service our people.

 

When a mother need pampers or she need milk for her babies, she don`t want

to step over all the liquor and everybody loitering in front of the store. 

She needs some milk for her babies, so we want to attract stores that are

going to be able to serve the people in that area.

 

SHARPTON:  Now, you are running a very basic campaign, a very basic issue. 

I remember there were no blacks on the city council.  You became the first. 

Now there are three.  Are you confident that on Tuesday there`s enough

blacks and whites that can come together and bring a new day to Ferguson

and then bring about the change that you want to see happening there in

your town?

 

JONES:  I know that I am going to win this election.  Ferguson is 70

percent African-American.  We have boots on the ground.  We are doing a

grass roots campaign nature we are canvassing every day, every Saturday,

every Sunday after church.  We are knocking on doors.  We are asking people

what do they want to see different happen in their neighborhoods.

 

So people are unifying.  We are knocking on doors, and we will bring home

the win on Tuesday night.

 

SHARPTON:  All right.  Well, Councilwoman Ella Jones running for mayor.  A

lot of people may have forgotten about Ferguson.  I won`t let it go, and

I`ll be watching what happens there on Tuesday.  Thank you for being with

me this morning.

 

JONES:  Thank you.

 

(END VIDEOTAPE)

 

SHARPTON:  Coming up, should we investigate unresolved civil rights murders

predating 1980 like the outrageous one of Emmett Till?  This is POLITICS

NATION on MSNBC.

 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

ERIC HOLDER, FORMER U.S. ATTORNEY GENERAL:  His death spurred the civil

rights movement that made me possible.  Attorney General of the United

States to make Barack Obama possible, President of the United States.  All

that is directly tied to the death of Emmett Till.

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

SHARPTON:  The murder of Emmett Till was one of the most definitive and

shocking moments of the early civil rights movement.  While visiting family

in Mississippi in August, 1955.  The black Chicago teenager was kidnapped

and tortured to death by two white men.  His body thrown into a river

wrapped in barbed wire.  His alleged crime?  The now debunked claim that he

had sexually accosted this woman, Carolyn Bryant Donham, who in recent

years has admitted she had lied about the charge that resulted in the

teen`s death.

 

When newspapers picked up the image of Till`s mangled body, black America

was outraged with thousands attending his funeral.  Where despite the

horrors inflicted on his body.  Till`s mother insisted on an open casket so

the world would see what had been done to her son whose killers, by the

way, were not – were found not guilty.

 

Earlier this week members of Till`s family met with Attorney General Jeff

Sessions to press for the enforcement of a law allowing prosecutors to

investigate unresolved civil rights murders predating the 1980s, authorized

by President Obama last year.  The law is named for the slain teen whose

death helped spark a movement.

 

Joining me now is Deborah Watts, Emmett Till`s cousin and head of the

Emmett Till Legacy Foundation.

 

Let me first go, Deborah, I remember when we were funeralizing Rosa Parks

who did the Montgomery Boycott, Bus Boycott.  It was raised at the funeral

that she said that when she refused to give her seat on the bus up, when

ordered to go to the back where blacks had to sit, all she could think of

is Emmett Till, what they had done to him a year before that.

 

He sparked a movement, because he was falsely accused of looking at a white

woman who has now taken it back.  But the viciousness of his killing, and I

remember when his mother visited us at National Action Network, she talked

about how she wanted to open that casket that`s now in the Smithsonian

museum to show the world what they did to her son and to show the world how

vicious it was based on just a black kid in Mississippi, and a white woman

saying something that wasn`t true about a look, and they would kill him

just for appearing to have looked at her when it didn`t happen.

 

You, therefore, brought that to the Attorney General Sessions this week,

not just about Emmett about a law named for Emmett saying that they are to

continue investigating a lot of murders like Emmett`s that predates 1980s. 

Why?

 

DEBORAH WATTS, EMMETT TILL`S COUSIN:  Yes.  Well, it`s important.  There

are so many unresolved issues, unsolved crimes, families out there like

ours that have experienced pain.  For our family, 62 years.  For some of

those, it`s been even longer than that.  Even shorter than that, but any

amount of pain with an unresolved issue, a murder, a disappearance, the

injustice that many of our families have experienced, we need to right

those wrongs.

 

And the justice department, this is a bipartisan effort, a bicameral effort

led by Congressman John Conyers along with John Lewis, I should say and

John Conyers along with Senator Burr out of North Carolina, Senator Blunt

as well, Simpson & Brenner, McCaskill and Leahy have been very instrumental

in making sure that this bill has received the attention that it`s

received.  And now we`re moving forward, because it`s important to

implement this bill.  No longer should it just sit in the law books or as

just a law.  It needs to be implemented.  It needs to come to life.

 

SHARPTON:  What did Attorney General Sessions say to you in your meeting? 

How did he respond?

 

WATTS:  Well, you know, that meeting was solely for the purpose of talking

about the bill.  Our initial invitation or my initial invitation was

extended by Alvin Sykes who leads up the Emmett Till justice campaign.  And

as a family member, of course it was a wonderful opportunity for me to sit

there and provide a face to how important this bill is.

 

Our objective there was to open the lines of communications with the

justice department and our Attorney General Jeff Sessions.  The second

piece was to make sure that we impressed upon him how important this bill

was, what other families are out there that need to achieve justice, and

then to talk about implementation and how important it is to make sure that

this bill is implemented and that the funding is appropriated and that

there`s a line of communications and a way forward for the cases to be

presented.

 

This was an initial meeting that Alvin set up and one that I think we were

able to open those lines of communications and I believe Attorney General

Sessions was very open to that and positive in a sense because he was

familiar with the Till case.  He`s familiar with the issues surrounding

other families.  He was familiar with some of the cases that had been

opened and closed and then those that had received some sort of justice,

and that was the historical one with – that started the Selma March for

voting rights.

 

SHARPTON:  All right.  Well, we`re going to see if he and others have a

firm commitment and move forward on this.

 

Thank you for being with me this morning, Deborah Watts.

 

WATTS:  Thank you so much for having me.  Thank you.

 

SHARPTON:  Up next, my final thoughts on the 49th anniversary of the

assassination of Martin Luther King this Tuesday, and why he matters today

more than ever.  Stay with us.

 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

 

SHARPTON:  This Tuesday, April 4th will be the 49th anniversary of the

assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King.  He had gone to Memphis, Tennessee

to support and aid striking garbage workers.  He was involved at the time

in a national campaign around the poor people`s march that he had conceived

to bring the question of income inequality and racial inequality to

Washington D.C.

 

I remember that night he was assassinated like it was yesterday.  I was 13

years old and had just been appointed the youth director of his New York

City chapter where I was born and raised.

 

Here, I look 49 years later and see the Washington he was on his way to now

dealing with the issues of income inequality like Martin Luther King never

lived, ignoring the continued racial disparities, ignoring the fact that

life in America if you`re white or if you`re black or Latino, or Asian, is

much different, if your woman is much different, if you`re LGBTQ.

 

Martin Luther King changed this country.  Martin Luther King put laws on

the book that changed the very nature of what this country was about, but

we are not where Martin Luther King wanted us when he died 49 years ago. 

We even see them threatening to take away some of the laws he made

possible.  That we can`t stand by and allow to happen. 

 

That does it for me.  Thanks for watching.  And to keep the conversation

going, like us @facebook.com/politicsnation and follow us on Twitter

@politicsnation.  I`ll see you back here next Sunday.

 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

 

 

 

 

 

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