Transcript 1/7/18 Politics Nation
Show: POLITICS NATION
Date: January 7, 2018
Guest: Tom Perez, Julian Castro
AL SHARPTON, ANCHOR, MSNBC: Good morning and welcome to Politics Nation.
Some burning questions I have today – what are the Democrats doing on the
ground to ensure a 2018 midterm`s election win?I n a moment, I`ll ask DNC
Chair Tom Perez just that and is former H. U. D. Secretary and San
Antonio Mayor Julian Castro, running for president? He`ll be here to give
us an answer. Also, did you know that nearly 1.5 million citizens in
Florida are not allowed to vote?
We may have the solution and later in the show, tomorrow I will eulogize at
the funeral of 27-year-old Erica Garner I`ve gotten to know well since the
2014 police killing of her father Eric Garner. Later the daughter of Eric
and sister of Erica will be here to discuss what we can do to continue
We start with the latest on President Trump. He`s making headlines with a
series of tweets and on-camera statements defending his mental fitness,
even calling himself a very stable genius.
Joining me now is MSNBC contributor and soon to be WhiteHouse correspondent
for PBS NewsHour, Yamiche Alcindor. Good morning, Yamiche.
YAMICHE ALCINDOR, CONTIBUTOR, MSNBV: Good morning, Rev.
SHARPTON: Yamiche, the President is tweeting, among other things, he`s
assuring us he`s a stable genius and I`ll deal with that later in the show.
But he`s also taking credit for the whole question of North Korea and South
Korea talking, even after he had himself ridiculed, his own Secretary of
State for meeting with him, saying you`re not going to get anything done
with rocket man. He`s meeting with republican leaders supposedly laying
out a plan for the midterm election for the Republican Party.
But through all of it, what he`s really been responding to is this book,
“The Fire and Fury” by Michael Wolff. What are you getting from the White
House and your sources about how this has seemingly rattled the President
and the White House, this book?
ALCINDOR: Essentially, it`s pretty easy in some ways to figure out what
President Trump is thinking because he`s been tweeting for over the last
day when he`s supposed to be laying out a legislative agenda with the
Republican leaders at Camp David. He`s been literally talking about this
book, writing about it, this idea that he`s been attacking this author and
really essentially calling more attention to this book.
And in a press conference that he had yesterday at Camp David, he literally
had the most – the longest answer to any of the question that he was asked
came when he was asked about this book and it came when he started
essentially trying to list off his resume saying that, ” I went to a great
school, I`m a very smart guy.”
And this idea that essentially, he`s trying to prove to the American people
that he deserves to be president even though he`s already been elected. So
there is this idea that President Trump is fuming about this and Michael
Wolff has essentially gotten under the skin of President Trump.
SHARPTON: Now, you know, the old adage, “Thou protesteth too much,” the
question becomes are we hearing a President that has been in many ways
insecure? Or are we hearing from someone that in this book when they talk
about all kinds of lack of administrative, let`s say administrative – the
character that we would expect of an administration. Let me use that
phrase rather than where I was going. Or the kind of administrative
continuity from one policy to another, one strategy to another that he`s
actually hit something here because they`re reacting to something because
there`s a seedof truth, if not the whole truthin what is in the book? What
are we seeing here, Yamiche?
ALCINDOR: What we`re seeing is essentially a president that is reacting to
parts of this book that are actually behind the scenes. I`ve been reading
through the book yesterday. I spent most of the day on my couch reading
through this book and what you find is that Michael Wolff, there are actual
typos in the book. You can tell that it was something that was rushed to
publication, because everyone was talking about it, but you also find that
he`s in different places. He`s in meetings. He`s at dinner with Roger
Ailes, the late Roger Aileswhen he was meeting with Steve Bannon.
He`s behind the scenes to these people who are close to Donald Trump are
talking about him and essentially, the conclusion is that everyone thinks
that this is someone who isn`t qualified to bePresident. Everyone, even
the people that supported him are shocked by hisPresidency and then they`re
also – Michael Wolff admits that there was no one to really give him a
green light to be behind the scenes, but there also was no one that was
able to actually shut him out of the White House because they had such
chaos thatthey really didn`t understand the consequences of Michael Wolff
hanging out and listening to allthese conversations.
SHARPTON: All right. I`m going to have to hold it there. Thank you,
Yamiche. We`re not hearing much of the2018 Republican strategy, but ahead,
what about the Democrats?With the New Year comes new purpose in politics.
After wins in Virginia andAlabama, pundits expect a blue wave of Democratic
victories inNovember`s midterms. But is that so?
Earlier I spoke with DemocraticNational Committee Chairman TomPerez.
SHARPTON: Thank you, Chairman Perez forjoining us this morning.
TOM PEREZ, CHAIRMAN, DEMOCRATIC NATIONAL COMMITTEE: Thank you.
SHARPTON: With all that we`re seeing, the Russian investigation, the book
on – quoting extensively,Bannon. The Republicans look in disarray. But
we hear everywhere we go, where is the democratic strategy?Are they going
to blow it?You know the old adage, if anyone could blow it, theDemocrats
will. What is the Democratic Party strategy this year as we go intothe
midterm elections what all of what looks like an easy platehanded to the
Democratic Party?Are they going to eat or are they going to break the
PEREZ: I feel optimistic about 2018,Reverend and here`s why. What we
learned in 2017 is that we win when we organize. We organize early, we
organize everywhere. Our motto at the DNC is every zip code counts. We
invested roughly a million dollars down in Alabama to helpDoug Jones win.
We worked with so many others. Our money was almost all spenton African-
We`ve taken the African-American community for granted all toofrequently.
That`s not happening anymore. We invested in Virginia and what we saw in
Virginia, thevictory there was, when youorganize early, when youorganize
everywhere, when youfield good candidateseverywhere, you can win.
And when we lead with our values,when we talk about what we standfor, the
Democratic Party believes that healthcare is atight for all and not
aprivilege for a few. The Democratic Party believesthat everybody should
haveaccess to a good job. We believe that everybody who iseligible to vote
ought to beable to vote. The voter suppression that we`veseen from the
Republican Party is not new and it`s unconscionable. These are the basic
principlesof voter empowerment – good jobs,health care for all
andorganizing everywhere. Taking no one for granted,leading with our
SHARPTON: Let me push you a little there because that`s the other part, it
is the message. Is that the message that we`rerunning for healthcare,
forvoter registration – I mean forvoter rights and for voterparticipation,
not to besuppressed or impaired?Is that the message?Because clearly, you
put a lotin Alabama and Virginia. The African-American vote cameout in
Alabama even higher thanit did for President Obama. But it was clear that
they werevoting against someone that wasantithetical to what theybelieve.
Every one of the races thisyear, you will not have a guylike that on the
other side,like Moore. So you`ve got to have more than amessage of the
other guy is bad. Why are your candidates good?What`s the message?What is
the thread message?
PEREZ: Sure. When we field good candidatesand we have a clear message,
wewin. Doug Jones was a good candidate. Ralph Northamand Justin Fairfax
were great candidates inVirginia. And what they did, Reverend Sharpton was
they talked about theissues that people cared mostabout. They were talking
about making sure we have a brightfuture for everyone. That every zip code
counts,that every person matters, thateverybody can realize theirhighest
and best dreams.
We`re talking about brighterfutures for everyone. We understand as
Democrats that education isthe great equalizer and when we invest in
education, weinvest in our future. We understand that when weinvest in
health care for all; that we`re investing in our futureand we`re investing
in everycommunity. That`s what the Democrats arefor and I think what we
saw in 2017,whether it was Alabama, whetherit was Virginia, whether it
wasNew Jersey, whether it was thethree seats we won in Oklahoma,we led with
our values, we hadgood candidates and we spoke tothe issues that people
People want a brighter futurefor their family and safecommunities. They
want to make sure that we`rebuilding more schools, notprisons. They want
to make sure thatevery person has a real chanceto succeed. That`s what
we`re talking aboutas Democrats. We`re fielding great candidatesacross the
country and when we field great candidates,when our candidates reflect
thediversity of our communities asthey did in Virginia, as theywill
throughout the country thisyear, that`s why I`m optimistic.
This isn`t just about sayingwhat Donald Trump is doingwrong. This is about
articulating whatwe are doing for the AmericanPeople. We`re fighting for
SHARPTON: Donald Trump is going toargue that this week, the
laborstatistics came out and thosestatistics say you were laborSecretary
under President Obama. Black unemployment, youmentioned taking blacks
forgranted. Black unemployment is down to6.8 percent, the lowest that it`s
beenin decades. How will the Democratic Party respond to that?
PEREZ: Sure. Well, again, I will respond with thefacts because you look
at what happenedover – when Barack Obama tookoffice. We inherited the
worst recessionof our lifetime and now we`vehad, under Barack Obama,
thelargest uninterrupted streak of private sector job growth in our
And what happened over the last year, under Donald Trump. When you look at
the statistics,Reverend Sharpton, the pace ofjob growth across this
countryhas actually slowed. When I was the Labor Secretary and Donald
Trump was running forPresident, he claimed that therewas a 40 percent
unemployment rate. That`s bunk. What isn`t bunk, ReverendSharpton, is
that the averagenumber of jobs created per monthhas actually slowed under
And I`m happy that the stock marketis moving up, but for so manypeople,
that`s irrelevant. And what we`re focused on, asDemocrats, are making sure
thateverybody succeeds. This tax cut is a boon for largecorporations and
for the 1 percent. And it does next to nothing foreverybody else. And it
mortgages our nation`sfuture. You watch. This year the Republicans
aregoing to try to cut Medicare,they`re going to try to cut Medicaid.
They`re going to talkabout critical programs thatthey can`t invest in,
whetherit`s Meals on Wheels or education. Why?Because they just gave a
totallyunnecessary tax cut to the megawealthy people across thiscountry.
That`s not fair.
SHARPTON: Will there be a strong voterregistration?Because as I travel a
lot, I am not seeing registration on theground in many of thesecommunities.
Will there be a real effort toregister and bring out newvoters? Because
you`ve got to overcome a lot ofthings like gerrymandering andvoter ID laws.
You need new voters and you needbig turnout. Where is the resources
PEREZ: Yes, the short answer to yourquestion is absolutely. I think
historically – and by thatI mean over recent years, theDemocratic Party
frankly, hasn`tdone enough to register voters and we have to work and
redouble ourefforts with our partners outthere who are doing God`s work.
But we need to do more of this. We need to make sure – I mean, what was
it? Seven million peoplewho didn`t vote in thePresidential in 2016 and
what we saw in 2017 is that whenwe mobilize, when we organizeearly, we can
win elections inevery corner of this country and what we`re going to be
doing in2018 as the Democratic Party, isworking with our partners outthere
in the ProgressiveMovement, working with faith leaders tomake sure that
every eligiblevoter gets out there andregisters and then we get themto the
SHARPTON: Let me.
PEREZ: Our issues are their issues.
SHARPTON: Let me ask you one lastquestion before I let you go thismorning.
SHARPTON: One of your predecessors, HowardDean, who was Chairman, said the
old guys ought to stepout of the way and let newleadership to come in to
the Democratic Party. Former Vice President Joe Biden took a little issue
with that. Where do you stand on that? With the old guys out?I don`t know
what age he wastalking, but where do you stand on that?
PEREZ: Sure. Well, you know what, we have leadership of allages that
continues to do greatthings. Joe Biden is one of my heroes. I think he is
a remarkableleader across this country. I see people, mayors across
thiscountry, the next generationleading. I see people in Congress doingthe
same thing. What we have to make sure we doas democrats, regardless
ofwhether we`re 70 years old or 30years old or 25 years old orsomewhere in
between, likemyself, is to make sure we`rearticulating our values,
tellingpeople what Democrats stand forbecause that`s how we win.
I believe that we were able towin in 2017 because we werespeaking to the
issues thatpeople cared most about. They want a good job for theirfamily.
They want health care for theirkids and their families. They want good
schools. They want safestreets. They want affordable housing. They want
to make sure that zipcode never determines destiny. They want to make sure
thatpeople can get a second chance. That`s what we`re going to continue
tofight for and we need leaders of all ages tostand up.
I have great respect for NancyPelosi. I have great respect for the mayors
andgovernors and members ofCongress and the Senate that areemerging out
there, and I think as Democrats, when wemobilize and when we lead withthose
values, when we talk aboutthe environment, when we talkabout good schools,
when we talkabout raising wages and not justgiving benefits to the
megawealthy, but giving benefitsacross Main Street, that`s whenwe`re at our
SHARPTON: I have to stop you there. We`re going to have to let it go
there thismorning. Thank you for joining us, DNC Chairman Tom Perez.
PEREZ: Always a pleasure.
SHARPTON: Thank you so much.
PEREZ: Thank you.
SHARPTON: Coming up, will Democratsrunning in local and stateelections
take to heart what theChairman just said?I`ll ask former mayor and H.U.D.
Secretary JulianCastro. This is Politics Nation onMSNBC.
SHARPTON: Right now, President Trump is hostingRepublican leaders to map
outtheir political agenda in 2018. That agenda has the inside trackof
getting voted on withRepublicans in power on CapitolHill.
As for Democrats, Chairman TomPerez just laid out his party`splan here on
Politics Nation. The question is, can Democratsmake that happen after
gaining momentum fromvictories in Alabama andVirginia.
This week we learned oneprominent democrat has launcheda political path to,
well,possibly run for president. Let`s ask him.
SHARPTON: Joining me now is former H.U.D. Secretary and Obama
Administration official, Julian Castro. Thank you for being on, Mr.
JULIAN CASTRO, FORMER H.U.D. SECRETARY: Good to be with you, Reverend.
You staying warm there in NewYork?
SHARPTON: I am a little warm inside, but it is a little cold outside. Are
you going to help take thenation out of the cold?Are you running for
CASTRO: You know, I`ve said – you know, I have beenstraightforward and
said thatafter the 2018 cycle that I`m going to think about that. But
right now, what I`m focusedon and what you`ve mentioned ismy effort called
I believe that we need a newgeneration of leadership up anddown the ballot
in 2018. Young folks that areprogressive, that are willing tostep up and
run for school board, city council, stateassembly and congress. And I am
going to spend this 2018cycle supporting folks whobelieve in opportunity
I got involved in public servicewhen I was 26 years old. I ran for city
council in myhometown of San Antonio becauseI felt very, very blessed
withgreat opportunity in my life. And now I want to go supportother young
people who aremaking that same commitment topublic service if they have
avision to also expandopportunity for everybody.
SHARPTON: So if you help the otheryoung folks, the new generation and I
agree, weneed a new generation ofleadership that can really lead,not just
gifted in one area, butcan fundraise, can go door todoor and can handle
media. If you help to build thisgeneration and bring it to theforefront,
why not be theircandidate in 2020?I mean, why equivocate?Just put it out
there, “I`m going for it.”
CASTRO: Because I haven`t made thatdecision. I haven`t made a decision
about2020 and so it would be disingenuous ofme to say that I have.
SHARPTON: All right.
CASTRO: But I have made a decision tomake sure that people who havestepped
up in 2018 who are youngand who are progressive have theresources that they
need,whether they`re running for citycouncil or running for Congress,to
You know, the advantage that I have thisyear of staying off the ballotin
2018, because some folks hadtalked about whether I or mybrother would run
for senator orfor governor here in Texas, but the advantage that I
haveisthat I can spend my time andenergy helping other people whoare
running here in Texas and inother parts of the country.
SHARPTON: Now, one thing that I ammissing and I am going to behonest about
it. You and I have always beenstraight. Where is the fire in
theDemocrats?I mean, one of the things that I hope we`ll see is some fire
andpassion. I hear some of the rhetoric, butwhere is the fire that
wouldmake me want to get out thereand knock on doors, make me wantto do
what is necessary? Because you`re going to need the linesas long as we saw
This is not going to be easywith gerrymandering. You`re going to need
themessage, the slogan. One of the things I know inCivil Rights, slogans
helpgalvanize people, “No justice, No peace.”“Black lives matter.”The
democrats have no slogan, nofire. You have the kind of personalitythat has
brought about passion. Where is the message?Where is the fire, Mr. Castro?
CASTRO: Well, the fire has been therefor Democrats for a long time, but
the fire during thisadministration started the dayafter the inauguration in
theWomen`s March when hundredsof thousands of people throughout the United
SHARPTON: But the Democrats didn`t dothat march. That was indigenous
people that was organic people all over theworld. It wasn`t (inaudible).
CASTRO: I agree with you there, but it doesn`t need to be a”Democratic
event.”What`s going to happen is, Ithink a lot of those folks comeNovember
are going to go outthere, still fired up, stillmotivated and they`re going
tovote Democratic. You see the fire in town hallsall across the country
wherethey`re trying to hold theseRepublican Congressmen andCongresswomen
accountable for these terriblepieces of legislation that they`repassing.
So the fire is there and I believe that the message that we need to embrace
is two things: Number one, that as Democrats, westand for opportunity
foreveryone, for all Americans inthis 21st Century. Whether that`s health
care oreducation or jobs. Across the board, we stand foropportunity for
And secondly, the only true way that you`re going to get accountability
inWashington, DC is to putDemocrats back in charge ofCongress.
If you want accountability foryour government, that`s the onlyway that
you`re going to do it. And so I think that come November,here in Texas and
other placesacross the United States, you`regoing to see an
unprecedentedwave that`s going to go theDemocrats` way.
I think it`s going to be theflip of 2010 and for Democrats,like 1974.
SHARPTON: All right. That we will be watching. You know I will. Thank
you so much, JulianCastro, for coming on thismorning.
CASTRO: Thank you.
SHARPTON: Coming up, I`ll ask VirginiaGovernor Terry McAuliffe
whyrestoring voter rights andvoting rights to tens ofthousands of ex-felons
in thisState is good for the rest ofthis country. Be right back.
SHARPTON: I have mentioned allmorning, both parties are sharpeningtheir
knives for the NovemberMidterm elections. And in the swing state of
Florida,nearly 1.5 million citizens arepermanently disenfranchised dueto
past felony convictions.
An anachronism in theState`s constitution that while notunique to the deep
south, has itsroots in Jim Crow and the post (Velum) push to keep black
people in theirplace. Those roots flowered during the2000 presidential
election whenGeorge W. Bush defeated Al Gore by just over 500 votes. A
slim margin enabled in part bythe disenfranchisement of mostlyblack and
brown former felons.
The grass root activists in Florida are pushing for a constitutional
amendmentdubbed “The Voting Rights Restoration Initiative” that if
successful, it could restorethe franchise to former felons thathave
completed their sentences.
We`ve seen the good that can come when voting rights are restored to ex-
offenders whether in Alabama`s Senate race last month or in Virginia, the
month before where turnout for the state`sgubernatorial race was thehighest
it had been in 20 years.
When we come back, I`ll ask the outgoing Virginia governor
whoseenfranchisement of thepreviously incarcerated helpedthe old dominion
push backagainst the tactics that madethis administration possible.
The Department of Commerceis gearing up for the 2020Census and along with
the allocation ofnearly $700 billion in Federalfunds to the states, it
willalso determine how votingdistricts are represented wellinto the next
decade and to keepthose districts as red aspossible, the
TrumpAdministration has tappedconservative professor, ThomasBrunellto head
the CensusBureau as Deputy Director, a historically nonpartisanposition, it
seems an odd fitfor one of the RepublicanParty`s go-to minds fordefending
suppression and votersuppression schemes in heavilyblack southern states
likeAlabama, North Carolina andVirginia.
The goal, of course, being tocontinue to the gerrymandering,the drawing of
districts basedon political affiliation andthus, race. That has enabled
Republicans to dominate State houses as demographics shift. Court rulings
and even resultsof a statewide elections havepushed back against
Joining me now is DemocraticGovernor of Virginia, TerryMcAuliffe. This is
his last week in office,who along with restoring votingrights for tens of
thousands offormer prisoners while inoffice, he has recently joinedforces
with former AttorneyGeneral Eric Holder to combatGOP rigging the electoral
map. Thank you, Governor McAuliffe and I need to ask you at the outset,are
you thinking about runningfor president in 2020?I`m hearing it all over
thecountry. Terry, are you going to run?
TERRY MCAULIFFE, GOVERNOR, VIRGINIA: Reverend, if you`re on theticket with
SHARPTON: That is called a duck and abait and a switch. But I`ll get back
to that. Let me go to something near anddear to your heart. You have
restored voting rights for ex-felons in Virginia. You`ve been on the road
withEric Holder to deal with thequestion of gerrymandering. The census,
though, the censusis the determining factor in howwe redraw lines and how
theywere able to maneuver out of the2010 Census to deal with
statelegislatures that really did thegerrymandering and cut thesedistrict
Now, we see them put someone inthat will, in many ways help, inmy opinion,
raise real questionson whether we`re going to get aneffective real census
push,particularly in areas that weneed to be counting.
MCAULIFFE: Could not agree with youmore. This is probably the
mostimportant thing facing us rightnow. We do have gerrymandereddistricts
all over the country, but what they`re going to try todo is undercount
votes, undercount Democratic voters,citizens in this country. So it
doesn`t matter what themap looks like, because they`re notincluding the
people who shouldbe in it.
The person who should head upthe census should be nonpartisan, someone
whounderstands statistics. You want fair maps, and this goes to what money
you getfrom the Federal government forcharity. Even though we had a very
good censusdone in 2010, we undercountedyoung – zero to five year old
children by 10 percent. We undercounted theAfrican-American community. We
undercounted the NativeAmerican community by nearly (inaudible) percent.
This is a very serious issue.
We have fought hard here in Virginiato make sure everybody gets that right
to vote. I am proud that I have restored more felonrights than any
governor in the history of the United States of America, 102,000 people and
it was just heartwarming last election in Virginia to go online and to go
on Facebook andsee people, grown men and women cryingsaying, “This is the
first timeI`ve been able to vote in 50 years.”It is heartwarming. It is
the right thing to do and we need to continue doing this all over the
country. That`s why I am working very closely with EricHolder and
President Obama and Leader Pelosi and I havetraveled the country. Putting
a program in place forthe Democrats finally to dealwith the
gerrymandereddistricts. We`re raising money to make surewe have fair maps.
We are going to do ballotinitiatives. We are filing lawsuits in states
where we have gerrymandered unconstitutionaldistricts to date.
We sued in Virginia two yearsago. We have a new democratic memberof
Congress, Don McEachin.
SHARPTON: Now, the seriousness of theCensus, one of the things wepushed
and got a lot of help inthe Obama Administration was toreally push on – in
terms ofradio, social media and otherthat that would hitcommunities that
wereunderserved and undercounted of the importance of it because the Census
will determine thedistricts. If you don`t have the rightcount, you get
districts thatare carved certain ways ordistricts that are not evenreally
laid properly in terms oftheir population.
And it is those state legislatorsthat decide the Congressionaldistricts
that decide all theway up to the top. People don`t understand that. But
if you have somebody thathas an agenda over the Census,they will not be
advertising onBlack radio, they will not beadvertising on Latino media.
They will not go to social mediabecause they don`t want uscounted so they
can maintainthese safe districts for rightwingers. That`s the threat
MCAULIFFE: That is the plan. And that`s why we`ve got to step upand
that`s why all of us are very vocalon this topic and I thank you, Reverend,
fortalking about it. People need to wake up. This is what is going on
right now. We have got to stop this Brunellfrom being Deputy – that`s
whywinning the Congress this yearis so important to make surethat adequate
funding is put inplace. It`s absolutely critical. But here is the issue
So many rollback of individualrights are going on, whether itbe rights of
women, LGBT members, rollbackrights as it relates to theenvironment, pro-
gun,anti-voting. That is happening in the states andthat`s why we, as
Democrats, have got to understand, we focus on thePresident every four
years. We`ve got to focus on state andlocal.
MCAULIFFE: Today in America, two-thirds of theChambers are controlled
byRepublicans and if we don`t win a bunch of thegovernors coming up, we
have 36governors` races. A governor can (inaudible) a badlegislative map
that comes out of a Republican chamber and if we don`t do that, then in
2021, they`re going to drawlines to protect.
SHARPTON: That`s right.
MCAULIFFE: . they`re going to hurtDemocrats and we need to wake upas
Democrats. This is the battle and for ten years, we will be out ofthe
game. So we`ve got to get going. We`ve got all of these
Republicanchambers. We`ve got to win these big governors` races –
Florida, Ohio, Michigan. We`ve got to win these. Wisconsin.
SHARPTON: We`ve got to go. You know, in 2004 when I ran forPresident, you
were the Chairmanof the party. I`m not going to ask you againare you
running? I am going to ask you, will you rule out that you won`t run?
MCAULIFFE: No, I don`t rule anythingout.
SHARPTON: I thought I would get youthere. Thank you, Governor McAuliffe.
MCAULIFFE: I`d like to be (inaudible)…
MCAULIFFE: I`d like to be Tom Brady`s backupquarterback. A lot of things
I`d like to doin life.
SHARPTON: I`ll leave it there. Up next.
MCAULIFFE: Thank you, sir.
SHARPTON: The sister of fallen social activist leader, Erica Garner joins
me. She`ll tell us why Erica`s will tochange this world will not stop.
Tomorrow I will be givingthe eulogy at the funeral ofErica Garner, who
passed awaylast week after falling into aheart attack induced coma at
theage of 27 years old.
While my heart is heavy, I amhonored that the Garner family,who I`ve gotten
to know wellsince the 2014 police killing ofErica`s father, Eric,
whotrusted me to help send thisyoung warrior home. And a warrior is
precisely whatErica Garner was. Fighting the systemic culturalracism that
took herfather fromher.
Her anguish transforming herinto a policing reform activistwho refused to
let her daddy`sdeath be in vain. But as anyone in this fight cantell you,
there are wounds thatyou can`t see, wounds of heartand mind that, when
added to thestress of the movement, can bedevastating, even to a younglife
like Erica Garner.
I`m honored to have known her,just I have those of us thatremain are
honored to continueher work here on earth.
Joining me now is the sister ofErica, Emerald Snipes Garner who honor us
with herpresence in this time of grief. And also with us is KashanaCauley,
who this week wrote an update in the New York Times, entitled, “Erica
GarnerandHow America Destroys BlackFamilies.”
Emerald, you and your mother haven`t doneinterviews, so I`m really honored
you came and talked this morning. I know your mother is under theweather
and really gathering herstrength, to – Esaw will be at the
funeraltomorrow. Share with the nation Erica. I mean, because I met you
all a day ortwo after the choking death bypolice of your father. And I got
close to you all.
But people don`t know you all likeI`ve got to know you. You all really
became activists. I mean, you actually worked with us in National Action
EMERALD SNIPES GARNER, SISTER OF ERICA GARNER: Overnight. Yes. I worked
at National Action, I worked for about a year andthen I went back to school
forHuman Service and Social Work. I`m just still in a state ofshock
because me and my sister,same mother, same father, grewup in the same
house. She was my first best friend. You know, tell each other secrets.
Of course, sisters fight, sisters argue. But there was also you have to
take care of each other, you have to takecare of each other. You have to
take care of each other. You have to take care of each other. And it`s
SHARPTON: But Erica became thisfighter. You know I know she was.
SHARPTON: . very opinionated. She called me, “Rev, I would chill on that.
I don`t like your friend and this one. You know I am with you, but your
boy writer, I am going to Bernie Sanders. I don`t care what he thinks.
GARNER: She`s going to say, “Are you going with Bernie or not?”
SHARPTON: I understand that, yes. But she never really could deal with
not being active. And I think that people don`tunderstand that this is
real. This is your father that youwatched on video.
GARNER: This is like a burningPassion of Erica`sbecause shewould be out
there like, “I amgoing out there, I don`t care.” And I am like, “Erica,
you know, it`s cold outside and I`ve got asthma and I can`t be outside with
no coat on yelling and screaming.” She was like, “Well, I`ll go out there.
You go sit down. Go sit in the car,” or she would like, “I`ll go do this.
You go sit down.”
The march that we had on StatenIsland for her when she did her march, she`s
like,”I don`tcare, I am going to jail.” She said, “I am going to jail.” I
said, “Well, Erica,you know, I`ve got a job and I can`t go be going to
SHARPTON: Well, she called me, “They won`t arrest me, Reverend.”
GARNER: Yes, she said, “Well, they would not arrest me.” I said, “Erica,
you give me the signalwhen you`re ready to getarrested and I`ll go the
other way. Don`t worry, I`ve got the kids.”
SHARPTON: But the main thing was keepthe (inaudible).
GARNER: Yes, that was the main thing. She wanted to make up – she wanted
to make apoint. And she said, “The only way I canmake a point is if I go
to jail. Now, if I go to jail and they arrestme, then that`s going to be
theheadline and then that`s going to be my platformto say, this is why I
gotarrested and this is for myfather.”So that was her way of making apoint.
SHARPTON: Kashana, I picked up the”NewYork Times” and I workoutbefore
dawn, and read your (article) about how America destroys Blackfamilies with
these kinds ofthings. And it really spoke to my heart because in the
decades I`ve beenout here, I`ve gotten close to the families I fightfor. A
lot of people see families asjust some pawns as to whateverissue or image
they want tobuild. But I have become – I am still close with thefamily
from Howard Beach. And you really captured that.
Explain to people what you mean. Because they forget the humanside. This
was a 27-year-old womanthat had a heart attackthathad no history of these
kind ofproblems. This is a young woman, I mean,Esaw saw – I mean, it
really – these are humanbeings who never become thesame, because they
becomevictims. I plan to be an activist andall. They didn`t plan to be
victims. They didn`t plan to be sittingup on television.
GARNER: No. No one should ever have todie at 27. Erica should be here
today, sheshould be spending time with herkids. She should be doing
whatever it isthat she wanted to do. I mean, I haven`t been 27 for awhile,
just to be quite honest,and it is not a great age todie. There is so much
more that shecould have accomplished in life. There are so many more
moments she couldhave with her family and with herchildren.
I don`t think people see thefamily side of this issue. I think people go,
“Oh, well, Idon`t know what they think aboutBlack families or Black
people,” but not necessarily that we`re fully people or thatwe have
families or are leavingpeople behind or that we deserveto be treated fairly
And so I am angry that Erica had to become an activist. I think really, I
am glad that she did good in the world, but she should have been allowedto
be 27. Her dad, Eric, should never havebeen killed and she should stillbe
here with us here today doingwhatever she wanted.
SHARPTON: The trauma, Emerald of youand your sister and the wholefamily
having to watch thatvideo of police choking yourfather and him saying 11
times,”I can`t breathe,” and theywouldn`t let go, and it was thefirst of
the series, becausefrom Eric Garner to MichaelBrown and on and on. But it
really started that wholewave. We had started in Trayvon and then a lot of
people don`tunderstand that with us marching and all the rallies I did.
But it was your daddy you werewatching choked.
GARNER: And that`s what hurt us the most. Erica and I really close to our
father like, you know, my father called me Baby Girl. Erica was you know,
his twin, because shelooked just like him. So to us, it was like I am
watching somebodythat I grew up with – I had 20-plusyears with his father.
My sister, I only had 26 yearswith him. I am only 26, she`s a year older
than me so I only had 26 years with her, so like this is hard. And then
like, my niece and my nephew,my nephew is only four months. So he don`t
have that bond and.
SHARPTON: She had two children.
GARNER: Two children.
SHARPTON: A four-month-old boy and.
GARNER: And every day I look at them,it`s like, I see Erica in both of
them. And when I look at them, I ask them, “Are yousad? Are you not
sad?Talk to me. What do you want to talk about?”So I am trying to walk
herthrough the process and we`re trying to still bestrong at the same time.
Because, like, you know, we werealways a close family. Like, twice a year,
familyreunions, Six Flags every year. Like, we always did
So that`s the major thing that I amgoing to miss. So it hurts to see my
father onTV and to see all of that, so it`s like, I didn`t want to –
that`s the reason why I didn`tdo interviews because I didn`t want to see
Erica onthe TV every five minutes likemy father.
So that`s why I was like, I`ll wait when the Reverend comes back,that`s
when we`ll do aninterview. But I don`t want it to be,Erica`s on the TV
every fiveminutes like how my father was. Because it`s hard. It`s less
than three years. So it`s like, she didn`t really getto mourn and to have
her time tomourn. It was straight from, “I amgrieving, the next day I aman
So it was, she never had thattransition. So it was like she never had that
transition, so it was a lot of depression thatcame with it. So like after
my father, it wasa lot of depression and it was like a Jenga just taking
outpieces, taking out pieces, taking out piece andit was like – it was
ripping her apart. She just finished a book andstuff, so it was a lot.
SHARPTON: We`re going to be withyou not only tomorrow, but I will tell
you, we will be with you for the long haul when the headlines are
gone,we`ll be there. Thank you.
GARNER: As you have.
SHARPTON: Thank you for being here thismorning.
GARNER: Thank you.
SHARPTON: Thank you for joining us.
GARNER: Thank you.
SHARPTON: Up next, I many finalthoughts. Stay with us.
If you`re 71-year-oldgrandfather comes in the livingroom this morning and
tells you,”I am stable,” you might be a little concerned. And if he comes
back and says, “I am a stable genius,” you may want to call the rest of the
family and then have a meeting.
There`s something a little disturbing when a 71-year-oldman that claims to
be a billionaire and goes all the way to become President has to tell us
he`s stable and a genius. But I am concerned about those of us that have
to live by his decisions. That does it for me. Thanks for watching. I`ll
see you back here next Sunday. Now to my colleague, Alex Witt.
ALEX WITT, ANCHOR, MSNBC: As always, Rev, your point well taken. Thank
you so much and a happy Sunday to you, my friend.
SHARPTON: Happy Sunday.
WITT: Good morning to all of you, I am Alex Witt here in New York at MSNBC
World Headquarters. It is nine o`clock here in the East. It`s 6 a.m. out
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