The Rachel Maddow Show, Transcript 04/07/15
RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: Good evening, Chris. Thanks, man. And thanks
for that setup. That`s what we are waiting for at this point.
Thank you for joining us this hour.
We do begin with that breaking news out of South Carolina. It`s from the
city of North Charleston, South Carolina, and as Chris just mentioned there
– a police officer from North Charleston has been arrested and charged
with murder in the shooting death of an apparently unarmed civilian. At
any moment, we are expecting a press conference with the family of the man
would was killed. That`s a live shot showing there, the site where we
believe the family is going to be speaking. We`ll go to that as soon as it
This shooting happened on Saturday morning in North Charleston. Police
reports show that a North Charleston police officer stopped a Mercedes
sedan which you saw just there. The sedan reportedly had a brake light
that was not working.
The driver of that car was 50-year-old Walter Scott, you see him on the
right in that family photo. We don`t know the exact circumstances of what
happened after the immediate police stop, but Mr. Scott ended up at some
point running from the police officer who stopped him.
The police officer then chased Mr. Scott on foot. That North Charleston
policeman ended up firing eight shots as he pursued Walter Scott across a
grassy lot in North Charleston.
Mr. Scott was shot multiple times and died of his injuries. The officer`s
attorney yesterday told the local paper that the officer had used his Taser
on Mr. Scott during this encounter but that it had not subdued him. The
officer`s attorney said Walter Scott tried to overpower the officer and
take his Taser a away from him and he felt threatened and that he followed
all proper procedures before firing his gun eight times at Walter Scott.
That was the news as of yesterday in South Carolina. OK, the attorney for
the police officer in that fatal shooting defending his client. Things
changed late today when we got another side of the story. It turns out
there was a cell phone video taken by a bystander of what happened on
Saturday morning. The attorney for the family of Walter Scott got a copy
of that video and then gave it to “The New York Times”, which published it
And this very difficult video I`m not going to play this over and over
again, it shows a man being killed. I am going to play it now because it
is newsworthy in this instance so that you can see it for yourself.
(VIDEO CLIP PLAYS)
MADDOW: That cell phone video again was published just tonight by “The New
York Times.” The paper got it from the lawyer for Walter Scott`s family.
Walter Scott is the man who was shot and killed in that footage.
I want to show you one more thing from the aftermath of the shooting
depicted in that video. Remember that the officer involved in the
shooting, the officer who fired the shots reported that Walter Scott had
taken his Taser or was trying to take his Taser. After the officer shot
and then handcuffed Mr. Scott, you can see the officer afterwards jog back
to another spot a few feet away, where – this is where the tape had
The officer then reaches toward the ground and then he returns back to
where Mr. Scott is lying down shot with the handcuffs on. “The New York
Times” says that the officer returns to Mr. Scott and, quote, “drops an
object near Walter Scott`s body and that maybe that object is the
aforementioned Taser which he said that Walter Scott had taken from him.
The uncovering of this video appears to have radically changed the course
of the investigation of this police shooting in North Charleston. Today,
the officer in this case was booked on a murder charge.
The officer`s name is Michael Slager. He`s 33 years old. He`s been on
that force for more than five years. Officer Slager was arrested and
charged at the North Charleston police station where he works.
We have seen a string of police involved shootings recently where officers
have used deadly force against unarmed suspects and many of those cases,
the officers have not been charged and that is part of why those cases have
become such high-profile things. That was the case in Ferguson, Missouri
with the killing of 18-year-old Michael Brown. That was the case in Staten
Island, New York, with the killing of Eric Garner. Those police officers
and both of those shootings were not charged.
In the past few months, though, we have also seen cases where police
officers using force have been criminally charged for that use of force.
In February, it was a Colorado police officer who was arrested after he
stopped a man skateboarding, followed the man to his home and shot him to
death in front of his mother. It was the first time an on-duty officer in
Colorado had been charged with murder in over two decades.
We`re going to the live press conference being held by the family Walter
Scott in South Carolina.
L. CHRIS STEWART, FAMILY`S ATTORNEY: (INAUDIBLE) Atlanta, Georgia, along
with attorney Justin Bamberg. We have the family of Mr. Scott with us.
These are his parents right here. His brother, his children, all of his
family here to support tonight.
And we`re just here to say we have seen all of the developments that
happened. And as we watch the news where the mayor announced that the
officer would be charged with murder, everyone in the home just started
crying and hugging. It brought a short sense of relief and joy that the
distance that we have to travel to try to get justice was beginning. And
that for the first time in a long time, an officer was going to be charged
when something like this happened.
We can`t bring Mr. Scott back. But something like this today can have a
bigger precedence than just what happened here with Mr. Scott, because what
happened today doesn`t happen all the time. What if there was no video?
What if there was no witness or hero, as I call them, to come forward?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Thank you, lord.
STEWART: Then this would not have happened. The initial reports stated
something totally different. The officer said that Mr. Scott attacked him
and pulled his Taser and tried to use it on him. But somebody was watching
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hallelujah.
STEWART: There was a witness that came forward with the video and the
initial reports were wrong. And that doesn`t happen all of the time across
this country. It doesn`t happen if you`re African-American, it doesn`t
happen if you`re Caucasian.
If things happen when nobody is watching, would we be here today? Or would
it have just been another victim?
We`re going to have a representative from the family speak, his brother.
ANTHONY SCOTT, VICTIM`S BROTHER: My name is Anthony Scott. And from the
beginning when it happened the first day, all we wanted was the truth.
And I think through the process, we received the truth. And we can`t get
my brother back and my family is in deep mourning for that. But through
the process of justice being served – and I don`t think that all police
officers are bad cops. But there are some bad ones out there. And I don`t
want to see anyone get shot down the way that my brother got shot down.
We have all seen the video. If there wasn`t a video would we know the
truth? Or would we have just gone with what was reported earlier?
But we do know the truth now. And I just ask that everyone just continue
to pray for my family, that we get through this because we do need prayer
because prayer changes things. It changes things, and justice will be
JUSTIN BAMBERG, FAMILY`S ATTORNEY: First, I just want to thank everybody
for coming out. I`ll be brief. Right now, what I want to request of you
and everyone watching is that you keep this family in your thoughts and
prayers. We will be with them every step of the way.
What is done in the dark typically comes to the light. And this is an
example of what can happen when people are willing to step up and do the
right thing for the right reasons.
And it all goes back to this videotape. It has been pointed out time and
time again and sometimes even today, as I stand here today, I step back and
think, where would we be without that video? And, fortunately for the
family, fortunately for the SLED as the investigating agency, and
fortunately for the solicitor`s office, we don`t have to ask that question
So, with that said, again, keep the family in your thoughts and prayers.
And we will continue to work and make sure that justice is served. And if
possible, prevent this from happening to somebody else, because things like
this do not have to happen and they should not happen.
Thank you very much.
REPORTER: Sir, what was your name?
BAMBERG: Sorry, my name is Justin Bamberg. I am with Lanier and Burroughs
in Orangeburg, South Carolina. And I`m also the state representative for
House District 90 representing Bamberg, Barnwell and Colleton –
MADDOW: That`s Justin Bamberg. As he just said there, an attorney
representing the family of Walter Scott who was killed in North Charleston,
South Carolina, on Saturday morning. We also heard from another attorney
from the family, and from Walter Scott`s brother.
Again, the story here is that Walter Scott was shot multiple times by a
North Charleston police officer during an altercation that began with a
traffic stop for what was reportedly a burnt out taillight Saturday
morning. The initial story from the officer who explained the fatal
shooting of Walter Scott after that traffic incident was that there had
been an altercation involving the officer`s Taser and that the officer had
followed all procedures and felt he was threatened and had to use deadly
force against Walter Scott.
That narrative changed somewhat after the – changed somewhat after a
bystander to that incident apparently had shot the video one that happened
on Saturday morning, turned that video over to the family, the family`s
attorneys then turned that video over to “The New York Times.” “The New
York Times” posted that video on their Web site tonight.
And we`ve got a little bit of tape I want to play from just earlier this
evening. The mayor from North Charleston, Mayor Keith Summey explaining
what had had happened in terms of the turning over of this video, and the
decision made to bring murder charges against this police officer.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MAYOR KEITH SUMMEY, NORTH CHARLESTON, SC: We do not look at the
responsibility we have lightly. We take the role that when do wrong, we do
wrong. The lesson that we take out of this and hopefully the general
public takes out of it, is that when an incident occurs, give us the
appropriate time to investigate, find out exactly what happened, and we
will act accordingly.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: The mayor of North Charleston, South Carolina, Keith Summey, today
explaining that the officer in this case made a bad decision. The city has
done the right thing by arresting him. There have been a number, of
course, of high profile police shootings of unarmed civilians in recent
months in this country. Shootings like that honestly very rarely result in
police officers being criminally charged.
It has happened a few times in the last few months, in February, there was
a Colorado police officer who was charged. The same week, New York City
police officer was charged again February. In January, two Albuquerque
officers in New Mexico were charged. But it is the rare incident when a
police officer does find themselves as a criminal defendant after a
shooting like this.
I want to bring into the conversation Andrew Knapp. He`s a public safety
reporter at “The Post & Courier” in Charleston, South Carolina.
Mr. Knapp, thanks very much for being with us.
ANDREW KNAPP, POST & COURIER PUBLIC SAFETY REPORTER: Thanks for having me.
MADDOW: What it seems like is the publication of this video changed the
trajectory of the investigation and maybe even the speed of action around
this case. Is that fair to say? How do you see this as having involved –
having unfold the over the last few days?
KNAPP: Absolutely. Once the video came out today and once we knew of it,
once the authorities knew of it last night, I think things moved fairly
quickly. And like the family said, like many city officials have already
said, without the video, there`s no telling if investigators could find out
truly what happened.
But fortunately, for getting to the bottom of this, there was a witness
there who happened to be filming it, and that video really resulted in this
arrest of this officer today.
MADDOW: What do we know? What can you tell us about how the video arose?
Obviously this incident happened on Saturday morning. You can tell from
the person remarking to themselves as they are shooting the video that they
know exactly what it is that they are seeing. They recognize the gravity
of what they have caught on film.
Do we know anything about how the video eventually got to the family and
then into the public record?
KNAPP: Well, I know the person who shot it was a young resident of that
area and he brought the video to the family, like you`ve already said, and
then the family turned it over to us and some other media outlets, as well.
But I think there was some hesitation or apprehension on the part of the
resident who filmed it as far as bringing it forward to the authorities who
are actually investigating the shooting.
And here in South Carolina as the state law enforcement division which
typically investigates officer-involved shootings, it`s not the police
department itself, the force on which this officer served. So – but there
was still some hesitation there by this resident, but he eventually brought
it to the family, and I don`t know what the time line was but I know it was
in the authorities` hands at least by last night. So like I said things
have moved fairly quickly.
MADDOW: Andrew, one of the reasons I wanted to talk to you is I know that
you have reported previously on relationships between this police
department and the local community. Is this a high pressure relationship
or is this an anxiety-ridden relationship between the police in that
particular community and local folks?
KNAPP: It really depends on who you ask. A lot of the residents of –
mostly black, poor communities in the city will say that there are some
strained relations as far as their relationship with the police department.
But the city officials in the past few years have tried to address that by
opening a line of communication with community leaders, activists and those
people, those leaders say that the communication with the police commanders
have gotten better, but at the same time the rank and file members of the
police department still – there`s still some strained relations there with
residents in the community.
I don`t recall any incident like this in my memory, but there have been
other controversial shootings in the past involving the North Charleston
police department. And this has been an ongoing thing for the department.
It`s been something they`ve been trying to address and I think this
shooting tonight over the weekend was a culmination of that.
MADDOW: Andrew Knapp, public safety report for “The Post & Courier” –
thanks for helping us understand the context here. I appreciate you being
MADDOW: MSNBC national correspondent Joy Reid is not only here but she`s
been in contact with representatives from Walter Scott`s family tonight.
Joy, thanks for being here. Appreciate that.
JOY REID, MSNBC NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Thank you. Thanks for having me.
MADDOW: Remarkable press conference, their attorneys and direct relatives
of the man who was killed. What have you heard in terms of the family and
their concerns and what they think has happened here?
REID: The initial concerns were that for four days the officer`s story in
their mind was a fabrication. The initial story by the officer was that
Walter Scott posed a threat to him, attempted to take his Taser and was
violent toward the officer.
And that essentially was allowed to tan as the story. It was the story
that his then attorney also told and then you have –
MADDOW: The officer`s attorney.
REID: The officer`s attorney told who is not representing him we
And so, the family felt that over the course of that time, that story was
just bought hook – it was just bought without question.
MADDOW: I see.
REID: Then you had this person come forward. We don`t know yet who this
person is, but they filmed so much of this encounter, later in the tape, if
you keep going, you see the second officer comes up. There is an
interaction between the other officer.
So, you wonder what did that second officer see, what did that other
officer report happened? There is the question of whether or not the
officer in question dropped or put something down near the body.
So, there are a lot of questions that this videotape at least appears to
begin to answer.
MADDOW: And in terms of the rebutting of the case that stood for four days
with the officers` then attorney saying this was – the officer`s actions
were warranted because he felt threatened, has there been any rebuttal to
that officer`s perspective other than this videotape? Any other witnesses
come forward? Does the family have any reason to rebut that case?
REID: Well, there wasn`t any other independent evidence. But what`s
interesting and when I saw the tape, Rachel, what I thought about was the
question of this fleeing felon rule. These old laws that used to be on the
books that allowed an officer to use deadly force simply because a suspect
MADDOW: Whether or not they pose a threat.
REID: Whether or not they pose a threat.
So, I called Kendall Coffey who we both know the former U.S. attorney for
the southern district in Florida to ask whether or not, even if there had
been no videotape, whether it would be problematic for a police officer to
shoot someone who was clearly running away, and he essentially said as a
constitutional matter, as you look up the case, the case is Tennessee
versus Garner, 1985 Supreme Court case, that actually the only circumstance
in which a fleeing suspect can be shot, you know, an officer can use deadly
force, is if that person clearly posed some violent threat. They were
accused of a violent felony.
Well, in the case of Mr. Scott, he was like this was a traffic violation.
He had nothing in his record that was more serious than failure to pay
child support. Things like that that were in his record. So, there was
nothing obvious about him that made him an obvious danger to the officer,
so then you had the officer say he attempted to attack me. I was in fear
of my life because of the Taser.
So, there`s a lot I think about the story that even independent of the
video, you`d have to ask whether a suspect like this person posed enough of
a threat clearly running away, I think that is the question that the
videotape actually obviously brings up.
MADDOW: And that gets you to the legal – that gets you to the legal
question and then, of course, there`s just the narrative and human
incredible drama of having this videotape dramatic and ultimately deadly
encounter and having that change what apparently is going to be the path of
accountability or a search for justice in this case.
MSNBC national correspondent Joy Reid – Joy, thank you for being here. I
REID: Thank you.
MADDOW: All right. We got lots more ahead. Stay with us. Very busy news
MADDOW: So, there`s lots to come tonight still, in this show, in this
hour. It has been an absolutely packed news day. We`ve got news tonight
on the latest entrant into the 2016 Republican race for president, a man
you may have heard of named Randall Paul. He prefers you not called him
There`s news out of Chicago tonight where we`re awaiting election results
on the mayoral race that features President Obama`s former chief of staff,
Rahm Emanuel, keeping an eye on that tonight.
We also have a special guest tonight, I`m very excited about, a man in
politics whose life and career is so legendary, it has literally been
turned into a best-selling graphic novel. Congressman and civil rights
hero John Lewis is going to be here live on set tonight.
There is lots still to come. Please stay with us.
MADDOW: OK, it was illegal to make your own salt. The British passed a
law in 1882 that made it illegal for anybody in India to make their own
salt. It was a criminal offense to make it. You were only allowed to buy
it and you were only allowed to buy it from the government, as a monopoly
seller. You had to buy yourself at a government depot, and salt was taxed
This wasn`t like, you know, anti – you know, high blood pressure 19th
century thing where they were trying to get people to eat less salt. It
was an excise tax or something. They were just trying to make money.
And the salt tax, their monopoly control of the salt market and their high
taxes on it just made it possible for the British empire to make a lot of
money off this commodity that people could readily make for themselves if
they were allowed to but they were instead forced to buy it, at a premium.
Almost 50 years after the salt tax law was passed, Mahatma Gandhi chose the
salt tax as a basis for a protest against British rule in India. Everybody
needed salt. Everybody hated the stupid rule that only served to make
money for Britain off the backs of regular Indian people.
And so, Gandhi in 1930, he led a 24-day march from his ashram to the sea
and when he got to the sea, he defiantly made salt, thus freaking out the
whole British empire, and delighting and inspiring Indians who treated this
as a starting gun to not only start making their own salt and defying that
stupid expensive rule but also to disobey British rule more broadly, the
It was the first of many but in that first month 1930 what started as
Mahatma Gandhi and 80 others ended up with 80,000 being arrested, and the
police attacking people and the movement for Indian independence not only
being catalyzed, but being dramatized to the world and for the British
public back at home as something that meant British police thousands of
miles away were beating peaceful unarmed people in the streets for the
crime of boiling seawater to get salt.
But you can`t say they weren`t warned. Check this out. Before he started
the salt march, Mahatma Gandhi wrote to the British ruler of India, wrote
to the viceroy, and told him he didn`t want to do this thing, but he felt
like he might have. Fair warning.
March 2nd, 1930. Dear friend, before embarking on civil disobedience and
taking the risk I have dreaded to take all these years I would again
approach you to find a way out.
In this letter, Gandhi makes his case for what`s wrong with British rule in
India. He says, quote, “The conviction is growing deeper and deeper in me
that nothing but unadulterated nonviolence can check the organized violence
of the British government. Many think that nonviolence is not an active
force. My experience shows that nonviolence can be and intensely active
force. It`s my purpose to set in motion that force against British rule.
If you cannot see your way to deal with these evils and my letter makes no
appeal to your heart, on the 11th day of this month, I shall proceed to
disregard the provisions of the salt laws. If the people join me as I
expect they will, the sufferings they will undergo will be enough to melt
the stoniest hearts.
This letter is not in any way intended as a threat but as a simple and
sacred duty peremptory on a civil resister.”
And so, the viceroy was warned but the viceroy blew him off and Gandhi led
millions and the salt march did not lead directly to any immediate British
climb-down on the stupid salt tax, but the march against it led ultimately
to a new nation and the British being overthrown and they were warned.
And the principle of warning them ahead of time, telling your adversary in
advance who you are, what you plan to do, why you plan to do it, where to
find you, when you`d be there, how you intend to achieve your goals, this
radical openness and honesty about what you`re doing, that was part of
Gandhi`s theory of how to win without using any force other than moral
A generation after Gandhi did that. The warning went up again but here.
This from the JFK Library, April 1961, a letter sent to President John F.
Kennedy. The letter was basically a friendly open heads-up to JFK.
Quote, “My dear, Mr. President, we expect you will be interested in our
Freedom Ride in 1961. It is designed to forward the completion of
integrated bus service and accommodations in the Deep South. About 15 of
our members will travel as interstate passengers on Greyhound and Trailways
routes from Washington, D.C. to Virginia, North and South Carolina,
Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi heading to New Orleans. We propose to
challenge on route every form of segregation met by the bus passenger.
We are experienced in and dedicated to the Gandhian principles of
nonviolence. Our plans are entirely open.”
And they were. They gave this detailed itinerary of everywhere they would
be every day. They gave their full explanation for why they were doing
this and how they thought it would succeed. They also gave this complete
list of names and biographies of every person who would be participating,
saved them the trouble of having to investigate all these folks and look at
them up, right?
Here you are, here`s who we will be, here`s what you need to know about us
and on that list of names, you see a name you might recognize John Lewis,
then the student body president of the American Baptist Theological
Seminary in Tennessee.
At that point in 1961, John Lewis was a 21-year-old who`s already a veteran
protester, who had been arrested five times in various protests. That
letter in advance of the Freedom Rides went to President John F. Kennedy.
It also went to the attorney general at the time, Robert F. Kennedy, the
president`s brother. It went to J. Edgar Hoover, the head of the FBI. It
went to the president of Greyhound bus lines and Trailways bus lines.
They were all warned. They knew it was going to happen. Hold that
MADDOW: The interview tonight is Congressman John Lewis. That`s next.
Stay with us.
MADDOW: When Congressman John Lewis and Andrew Aydin and the artist Nate
Powell did a book a year and a half ago about John Lewis` history in the
civil rights movement, that book went on “The New York Times” best-seller`s
list for 47 straight weeks. Absolutely incredible. It is a graphic novel,
first graphic novel ever done by a member of Congress. It was just a
Well, now part two is out. Book two, there`s John Lewis at a crystal
hamburger stand in Nashville, Tennessee, asking to be served at that
segregated restaurant. The restaurant staff closed the restaurant, locked
him and the other protesters in, in the dark, turned on the fumigating
machine they used to pump out pesticides basically trying to kill them
inside that building. The fire department broke down the door and dragged
There`s John Lewis and the other students in the Nashville student movement
politely standing in line at the whites-only movie theater in Nashville,
asking for a ticket being told no, going to the back of the line. Getting
to the front of the line again, asking for a ticket, being told no –
ultimately being beaten by police, getting arrested for that protest.
The movement debated whether the violence was getting so dangerous,
particularly the violence from police officers that maybe the moral thing
to do was to protect people from that violence by stopping their
demonstrations, stopping the marches, trying to find some other way.
There`s John Lewis stubbornly again and again in those debates saying, no,
we`re going to march, we`re going to march. We`re going to march. We`re
going to march no matter what.
When John Lewis became a Freedom Rider in the summer of 1961 he was beating
very badly at Rock Hill, South Carolina. It was sheer happenstance he
wasn`t there when the bus – from the Freedom Riders` bus he was firebombed
and ambushed in Aniston, Alabama. John Lewis was a devotee of Mahatma
Gandhi and Gandhi`s principles of nonviolence.
Young John Lewis was not on that bus right there in Aniston, Alabama, when
it got firebombed that day because he was interviewing for a fellowship to
go to India to follow in Gandhi`s footsteps there. He got the fellowship
but he didn`t take it. He didn`t go.
After the Freedom Riders were greeted with such violence and so many were
hurt so badly and there were calls to call off the Freedom Rides, John
Lewis was one of those saying no. They had to go on. And he got back on
himself. He went on to Birmingham, where they were dragged off to jail and
then they were driven out into Klan country and dumped off on the side of
the road in the middle of the night left to fend for themselves.
They went on to Montgomery where they were beaten by a mob outside the bus
station there. A mob that also beat up the press. A mob that also beat up
John Seigenthaler who had been sent from the attorney general`s office,
sent from Bobby Kennedy`s office in Washington to try to make peace with
local authorities in Montgomery.
They went to Jackson, Mississippi where they were beaten and jailed. They
were ultimately sent to the state penitentiary, to parchment farm in
John Lewis did not take that fellowship and go to India. He stayed in the
South. He was obstinate against one side and refusing to back down on the
face of violence. He was obstinate against another side, in refusing to
stop being nonviolent himself.
He became the head of SNCC, the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee.
He became one of the architects of the 1963 march on Washington. And at
age 23, he was the man who spoke just before Martin Luther king gave his “I
Have a Dream” speech. He was 23 years old. He was the youngest speaker
that day, and he was the one who had beaten and arrested more frequently
and more recently than anyone else who spoke that day.
He was the man whose speech worried everyone the most that day. He writes
now in the new book about the frantic up to the last second appeals to John
Lewis to please, please, for that speech at the march in Washington, please
tone it down. And he did tone it down a little.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ANNOUNCER: Reverend John Lewis.
JOHN LEWIS, CIVIL RIGHTS ACTIVIST: To those who have said, be patient and
wait, we must say that we cannot be patient. We do not want our freedom
gradually. But we want to be free now.
We are tired. We are tired of being beaten by policemen. We are tired of
seeing our people locked up in jail over and over again, and then you
holler, be patient. How long can we be patient? We want our freedom and
we want it now.
We do not want to go to jail. But we will go to jail if this is the price
we must pay for love, brotherhood and true peace.
I appeal to all of you to get into this great revolution that is sweeping
this nation. Get in and stay in the streets of the every city, every
village and hamlet of this nation until true freedom come, until the
revolution of 1776 is complete. We must get in this revolution, and
complete the revolution.
By the force of our demands, our determination and our numbers, we shall
splinter the segregated South in a thousand pieces and put them together in
the image of God and democracy.
We must say, wake up, America. Wake up. For we cannot stop and we will
not and cannot be patient.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Joining us now for “The Interview” are Congressman John Lewis, his
co-writer Andrew Aydin, and the artist Nate Powell, who together did this
Congratulations, fellows. This is amazing stuff.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you.
MADDOW: You are doing a trilogy. This is book two. What did you guys, I
guess, collectively, and you can`t speak in unison, but what did you learn
when part one was so successful? What did you learn about telling this
history and how much people knew about it and what they can still learn
LEWIS: So many people didn`t know the history, and we felt we had an
obligation to tell the story, the whole story, the complete story, the
interest in the part of children, young children, elementary school
students, high school students, college students, and adults. They wanted
MADDOW: Did you – were you surprised by this? I mean, Nate, you had been
in the graphic novel world for a long time. You were a very accomplished
artist in this field. Andrew is the writer here. You knew the subject
matter back and forth. But obviously, you`ve never been in a project like
Were you guys surprised it was taken up, in particular by so many schools?
Book one and book two is being taught nationwide?
ANDREW AYDIN, WRITER: I think when we look at the kids and how much we
want to know, right? It`s not just that they read it the first time, but
then they asked us question. What did it end? What happened after that?
They want to know about the tactics.
I mean, my favorite moment of all of this was when a reporter called us and
said he gave a book to his 9-year-old son and his son red it and he put on
his Sunday suit and started marching around his house demanding equality
MADDOW: Congressman, one of the things I didn`t understand before reading
this is why they need to talk you out of some of your more incendiary
rhetoric that you had planned for that speech, just seeing you as a
congressman, learning about you as a figure in terms of what I know of your
history, I didn`t understand why you would ever have to be talked out of
something like that.
I feel like reading this book now, I understand more about the coexistence
of nonviolence and anger inside of you.
LEWIS: Well, I tried to express a sense of righteous indignation. People
did say, you need to wait, you`re going too fast. You cannot use said
words. But I want today insist that we need to do it here question need to
do it here and now. The urgency that people could not wait, people
couldn`t be patient, with the philosophy and the discipline of nonviolence.
MADDOW: Did you feel frustrated when the other civil rights leaders came
to you and said, no, we have a problem with your speech, your tone is going
to hurt our political efforts? I mean, in the book, it is clear that
you`re surprised, you are taken aback that you`re controversial at the
moment. Were you resentful?
LEWIS: No, not resentful. But I did say on occasion took one or two of
the leaders, older than 23. And I said, this is our speech. And we
prepared for the people that we`re working with, the people that we
represent in the heart of the Deep South in rural Alabama, in the delta in
Mississippi, in southwest Georgia. We understand their suffering, their
pain, their hurt, and their disappointment.
MADDOW: Nate, I want to ask you about how much there is really graphic –
I mean, it`s not gory, but a graphic depiction of violence here. Did you
make a deliberate decision about showing so much of the violence that he
was subjected to?
NATE POWELL, ARTIST: Well, a very conscious focus that all of us as a team
determined early on was in Congressman Lewis`s words, we simply have to
make it plain, we have to tell the whole story, and as opposition to the
movement intensifies, the natural consequence of the story telling is that
graphic violence and verbal violence are made much more plain and much more
So, a lot of that is sort of dealing with it, as the book is published and
received by readers, by schools, by libraries. But that`s the kind of
thing that cannot be swept under the rug, especially at this juncture, at
this time and place, allowing people to connect both as victims and
perpetrators of violence within the book is very powerful, and –
MADDOW: And you don`t see it very often. We have all db we`re all steeps
in the iconography of the movement, it is mostly an iconography of what it
meant to be a protester, a very little of it was about what it meant to be
a perpetrator of violence.
I mean, I guess I wonder if because it has been adopted so aggressively and
so enthusiastically by educators, people of all ages, there is this one
scene in the book which is not central to the narrative, there is not a
discussion about it, but it is depicted very viscerally, which is in
Montgomery, the mob of people attacking you, attacking the protestors
there, and there is women holding babies, screaming racial epithets at
people, and one woman who very graphically tells her young son, eggs him
on, tells him to physically attack a man on the ground. She has maybe a 6
or 7-year-old son, cheering on her son literally to get literally blood on
What kind of decision-making process did you guys go through to decide that
that was an important part of the story? And where did that story come
AYDIN: Well, that story was in the congressman`s recollection and from
other places it is cited. For us, I mean, think about that kid, he was
just a few years older than Barack Obama right now, President Barack Obama
right now. I mean that is a real person that has to live with that.
When you confront these stories, we`re confronting not just things from the
past, but things that people are living with in their own shadows today.
We can`t hide any of that. That`s the only way we can a true conversation
about where we are going as a country and as a nation.
MADDOW: Congressman, are you looking forward to finishing this trilogy?
LEWIS: Oh, yes, I am. But the struggle was – might just a struggle for a
few days, a few weeks, a few months, a few years. So, to finish, it`s
going to take a little time, but we`re going to work together and we`re
going to finish it.
MADDOW: Congressman John Lewis, Andrew Aydin, Nate Powell, great job,
guys. I know you`re taking the world by this stuff. I don`t need to
complete you more than you have been by the world already. But well done.
It`s great to see you.
LEWIS: Thank you. Great to see you.
MADDOW: We`ll be right back.
MADDOW: Breaking news. Polls closed a little more than an hour ago and
Chicago`s runoff election for mayor, incumbent Mayor Rahm Emanuel, former
White House chief of staff, who`s trying for a second term tonight, in what
turned into a surprisingly close race against a progressive Democratic
county commissioner named Jesus Garcia.
Six weeks ago, it was the first round of voting in this election. In late
February, none of the contenders managed to finish with more than 50
percent of the vote in late February. That`s what automatically triggered
tonight`s runoff between the top two finishers.
But the breaking news tonight is that the “A.P.” has now called this race
for Rahm Emanuel. The incumbent Mayor Rahm Emanuel, “Chicago Tribune” says
his opponent Joey Garcia has conceded. Mayor Rahm Emanuel, again, the
apparent winner of a second term tonight in Chicago, after a little bit of
a scare earlier on.
More news to come. Please stay with us.
MADDOW: So, it starred Ethan Hawke and Uma Thurman.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
NARRATOR: In the not too distant future, our DNA will determine everything
about us – a minute drop of blood, saliva, or a single hair determines
where you can work, who you should marry, what you`re capable of achieving.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: The movie “Gattaca” came out in October of 1997, did terribly.
But 16 years later, in October 2013, “Gattaca” made an unusual comeback or
at least the Wikipedia page about “Gattaca” had an unusual comeback.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIPS)
SEN. RAND PAUL (R), KENTUCKY: In the movie “Gattaca”, in the not too
distant future, eugenics is common. DNA plays a primary role in
determining your social class.
MADDOW: The weird thing about that line from Senator Paul`s speech today,
in the not too distant future, eugenics is common and DNA plays a primary
role in determining your social class, is that line appears almost verbatim
in the Wikipedia entry on “Gattaca.” Quote, “In the not too distant
future, liberal eugenics is common and DNA plays a primary role in
determining social class.” Hey, that`s what Rand Paul said.
(END VIDEO CLIPS)
MADDOW: That was October 28th, 2013. We were reporting on a Rand Paul
speech in Virginia that day and we discovered kind of by accident that he
had ripped his speech off from Wikipedia. He just copied the Wikipedia
page word for word and that made up a big chunk of his speech.
We were first to report that that night. Then it sort of blew up in part
because it turns out Rand Paul did this thing all the time. A reporter
Andrew Kaczynski at “BuzzFeed” reported out that Rand Paul plagiarized
whole sections of the Wikipedia entry from another movie for a different
speech on immigration reform. That was Wikipedia entry for the movie
“Stand and Deliver.”
I don`t know if you liked that movie but he definitely liked that because
it turns out he copied and pasted that “Stand and Deliver” Wikipedia page
into his speech without attribution more than once.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIPS)
MADDOW: The Wikipedia entry for “Stand and Deliver” describe the main plot
this way, quote, “In the area of East Los Angeles in 1992, in an
environment that values a quick fix over education and learning, Jaime
Escalante is the new teacher at Garfield High School,” that`s Wikipedia.
Here`s Rand Paul.
PAUL: In the area of East L.A. in 1982, in an environment that values a
quick fix on education over learning, Escalante was a new math teacher at
Garfield High School.
MADDOW: Ah, just like “Gattaca”! Rand Paul was just reading Wikipedia and
passing it if it was his own words.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: A few days after that, “Politico” reported on two more instances
of Rand Paul plagiarism. One time he ripped off the “Associated Press” in
his State of the Union response in 2013. That takes chutzpa in a national
address like that.
And then again in a speech at Howard University in 2013, he ripped off a
passage from the conservative group called Focus on the Family. Also,
there was him plagiarizing in an op-ed he wrote for “The Washington times”,
also pages and pages of his book were just copied and pasted for some
conservative think tank.
He did a lot. And all these stories started to break. And Senator Rand
Paul at first just refused to answer any questions about them. Look, Rand
Paul mum after plagiarism allegation.
But then ultimately he decided to talk about it. His explanation for all
those instances where he had found up to be straight up ripping people off
and copying big portions of people`s work and presenting it as his own, his
explanation when he finally decided to talk about it was that it was very
unfair for people to be point thing out. People were only reporting this
sort of thing because they hate him.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PAUL: I take it as an insult and I will not lie down and say people can
call me dishonest, misleading or misrepresenting. I have never
intentionally done so and like I say, if dueling were legal in Kentucky, if
they keep it up, you know, it would be a duel challenge. But I can`t do
that, because I can`t hold office in Kentucky.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: After saying he wished to duel with the people reporting on his
many instances of public plagiarism as the U.S. senator, Senator Paul then
sat with an interview with “National Review”, where the interviewer
described him as, quote, “furious.” He told them, quote, “It annoys the
hell out of me. I feel like if I can just go to detention after school for
a couple of days, then everything would be OK. But do I have to be in
detention for the rest of my career?”
He then sat for an interview with “The New York Times” who described him as
“drawn and clearly shaken” during the interview. He told “The Times”,
quote, “What are we going to do from – what we`re going to do from here
forward if it will make people leave me the hell alone is we`re going to do
them like college papers. We`re going to try to put out footnotes.”
There then followed where he sent out footnotes of a sarcastic page of
footnotes of things he talked about. He doesn`t do that anymore.
When it came to finally explaining why he had plagiarized so many times,
Senator Paul blamed it on the stress of his heavy workload, as a junior
senator. Quote, “Things are done quickly and in a hurry and sometimes I
get things sent to me while giving a speech. I`m looking down on my phone
saying, read this for approval in 20 minutes.”
He said, quote, “We write something every week for `The Washington Times`
and I`m riding around in a car in between things, trying to figure out if I
can approve it.” Quote, “We need to get stuff earlier but it`s hard. We
probably take on more than we should be doing.”
Being a junior senator probably is hard, plus a once a week column. It`s
probably tough. If it is tough enough for you that you cannot handle that
kind of a workload without plagiarizing your speeches and columns wholesale
and threatening to duel with people who report on you for doing that and
people`s concerns about issues like that drive you so far the distraction
that it makes you threaten to quit politics forever and go home and back to
being an eye doctor – then maybe being a junior senator is not for you.
Maybe you`re not up to it.
Well, today, Senator Rand Paul announced that he would like to be
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PAUL: I have a message – a message that is loud and clear and does not
mince words: we have come to take our country back.
Today, I announce, with God`s help, with the help of liberty lovers
everywhere, that I am putting myself forward as a candidate for president
of the United States of America.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: In the span of about a year and a half, Rand Paul went from saying
that being a junior senator was too much for him, to today declaring he`s
ready to be president of the United States, which is technically a bigger
job than the one he has now.
That does it for us tonight. We will see you again tomorrow.
Now, it`s time for “THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL”.
Good evening, Lawrence.
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