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Melissa Harris-Perry, Transcript 01/25/15

Guests: Nikole Hannah-Jones, Vince Warren, Shanna Smith, Jasmine Rand,Jonathan Metzl, Chang Kee Jung, Kavitha Davidson, Jason Page, ChrisValletta, Don Rondeau, Russell Barnes, Earl Catagnus Jr., Alicia Quarles,Jeremy Scahill

MELISSA HARRIS-PERRY, MSNBC HOST: This morning, my question: when is the next Bill Belichick conference? Because I really cannot wait. Plus, race, guns and mental health. And the controversy over "American Sniper." But first, the fight for fair housing goes to the Supreme Court. Be very afraid. (MUSIC PLAYING) HARRIS-PERRY: Good morning. I`m Melissa Harris-Perry. Early Wednesday morning, my husband, James, caught a flight to Washington, D.C. Y`all know James. He sometimes joins the MHP show table to share his professional expertise earned through a decade of advocacy on behalf of fair housing. Protecting hard-earned victories in fair housing is what took him and dozens of other activists and advocates to Washington, D.C., on Wednesday morning, to D.C. and to the steps of Supreme Court. Because on Wednesday the Supreme Court heard oral arguments in the case Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs v. The Inclusive Communities Project. I know, it`s not exactly a snappy title, but this case is really, really important, so stick with me. When the court rules on this case, the one that got those activists out in the cold with their hand-lettered signs, when the court makes this decision, it could be among the most historic and consequential choices ever made about an issue at the heart of American lives and dreams, the place we call home, because at the core of this case is the Fair Housing Act of 1968. Now, see the Fair Housing Act was the final piece of civil rights legislation resulting from that fraught but productive partnership of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and President Lyndon Johnson. Johnson signed the Fair Housing Act just seven days after the assassination of Dr. King amid riots that gripped the segregated communities of American cities and altered our urban landscape for decades. Johnson insisted even as cities burned in the aftermath of shock and mourning for the loss of King that this piece of legislation was the necessary capstone of civil rights. Quote, "Now, with this bill, the voice of justice speaks again. It proclaims that fair housing for all, all human beings who live in this country, is now a part of the American way of life." Johnson and King had been working on the issue of housing for years. The president`s Kerner Commission had found that housing segregation was a root cause of previous riots in 1967 and urged, quote, "opening up opportunities to those who are restricted by racial segregation discrimination and eliminating all barriers to their choice of jobs, education and housing." At the time, property owners and realtors and banks and local governments and even the federal government explicitly discriminated against African Americans, restricting which neighborhoods they could live in and preventing them from buying homes, even if they had the means and money to do so. The federal housing act ended all of that. And yet more than 45 years later, residential segregation remains a serious obstacle to equality. Now discrimination is rarely so explicit as it was before the fair housing act. Most people, although certainly not all, know better than to publicly refuse to rent or sell to someone because of their race. Still, enforcement of the Fair Housing Act has proved nimble enough to adjust to the more subtle forms of discrimination. Rather than needing to prove intent, most cases provide evidence of disparate impact. A housing policy of practice can be found to be discriminatory if it has a disparate impact -- that is, a different and negative effect on one racial group or if the policy or practice perpetuates or deepens segregation. Disparate impact looks at the effects without having to prove intent. That`s where the Supreme Court case comes in. In the case the court heard on Wednesday, a group in Dallas has claimed that the State of Texas was being discriminatory when it gave incentives to build affordable housing almost exclusively to developments in poor minority neighborhoods. The group argues that the practice violates the Fair Housing Act because it keeps those who need affordable housing, disproportionally people of color, in minority neighborhoods and thus perpetuates residential segregation. But the State of Texas, even though it`s already agreed to change its practices, disagrees. Texas claims that the Fair Housing Act only prohibits discrimination, quote, "because of race and therefore that it only bars intentional discrimination and, therefore, that the disparate impact standard is invalid. And even though every federal circuit court that has heard a challenge to the disparate impact standard has upheld it, the Supreme Court has been trying to get a clear shot at it for years. And now it has one. That is pretty scary. Joining me now, Nikole Hannah-Jones, ProPublica reporter, contributor to "The Atlantic" and author of "Living Apart: How the Government Betrayed a Landmark Civil Rights Law" and Vince Warren, executive director of the Center for Constitutional Rights. Thank you both for being here. Vince, I want to start with you because, you know, as we were listening to those oral arguments, one of the things that we heard was Justice Alito saying should we be concerned here about the use of Chevron to manipulate the decisions of this court? Help people to understand what the Chevron deference is and what that might mean for where this court is going to go. VINCE WARREN, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, CENTER FOR CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHTS: Several years ago there was a case called Chevron versus NRDC. And in that case what the court found was that it was very important for judges to defer to administrative authorities when there was a question about the statute`s clarity, about the statutory interpretation. So here where you have Texas arguing that this only covers intentional discrimination and not disparate impact, saying that that`s not clear, it`s not in the statute, what Chevron tells the court to do is actually defer to HUD, the Department of Housing and Urban Development, for them to fill in those gaps, to fulfill the broader mission of that statute. So it`s very important to see how the Supreme Court pivots. Are they going to listen to HUD or are they going to listen to what they think the society is ready for in terms of housing discrimination? HARRIS-PERRY: And so Nikole, I want to follow this up because obviously there`s this kind of legal set of questions that will emerge. Some of that I think will be hard for people -- I mean, to start using words like "deference" and, you know, "administrative rules." But just at its core, why does disparate impact matter as a standard for the enforcement of fair housing? NIKOLE HANNAH-JONES, JOURNALIST AND AUTHOR: Well, because much of the discrimination that happens now is very systemic. It`s not about the individual landlord denying housing to an individual person. HARRIS-PERRY: Although that happens too. HANNAH-JONES: It happens all the time. And the law very explicitly addresses that. But what this gets at is the way discrimination really happens in a systemic way, which are banks that charge different groups of people higher interest rates and they can`t explain why. It`s in the way that insurers might charge different rates for types of housing that is usually only available in black communities. And without disparate impact, you don`t have a bank that`s saying we`re charging black buyers higher rates because we don`t like black people. You have them oftentimes not even giving an explanation, just saying, oh, we`re just charging this part of town a different rate and it just so happens a lot of black people or Latino people live there. What disparate impact does is it gets at that. It says if you have this practice that is hurting or harming or disproportionally harming a protected class, you have to justify that. If you can`t justify that with a legitimate practice, you may be violating the law. HARRIS-PERRY: And it feels to me, Vince, like because this is about housing and because housing goes to the very heart of the notion of the American dream that we have to be able to build a coalition. People have to think that this matters not only to, although critically importantly to communities of poverty and to communities of color, why should this matter if I`m a middle class white American? Why should I care about disparate impact and about this case? WARREN: Well, because in our society we recognize that for years we segregated people based upon race and we still do. But let`s look at the intergenerational effects of this. This is not something that happened before 1968 and we`re over with now. It impacts the very fabric of our society, the ability of people to get to jobs, the ability to form schools that are full of life of energy and good connection. It all has to do with how we segregate ourselves as a society so we all should be concerned about it. HARRIS-PERRY: There`s this piece in "The Washington Post" with this incredible graph showing that from 1992 to 2000, both white families and black homeowners, you know, they`re all kind of losing value. But then -- then it just splits and you just see black families continuing to go under water. In what way is that related to housing segregation? HANNAH-JONES: Well, what they found is that housing segregation makes it easy to discrimination against certain groups of people because you have entire communities that are locked out of the standard credit market. And so lenders can just go into those communities. They don`t even have to mention race. But segregation makes it easy. It`s like shooting fish in a barrel. If you have entire communities that in the past were red lined, they don`t have traditional banking, then you go in and offer them exorbitant rates and either they don`t know or they feel like they don`t have a choice but to accept them. Then what`s happened is during the recovery then is those neighborhoods were the ones that suffered most from foreclosures, their property values went down the highest and they have not been able to recover. HARRIS-PERRY: And it`s so important for people to know that this piece was about Prince George`s, right? It`s like the middle income kind of black American dream of this suburb that would be close by and yet we see this happening. Stick with us, we`ll bring in more voices to the table when we come back. But speaking of voices, as we go out, I want us to listen to President LBJ on the day that he signed the Fair Housing Act. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) LYNDON JOHNSON, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Democracy`s work is being done. In the Civil Rights Act of 1968, America does move forward. And the bell of freedom rings out a little louder. We have come some of the way, not near all of it. There is much yet to do. (MUSIC PLAYING) (COMMERCIAL BREAK) HARRIS-PERRY: Your home is not an island. Well, I mean unless you`re super rich and you`ve actually bought yourself an island, which sounds nice. OK, I digress. Your home, let`s say this is your home, well, it exists within, say, a neighborhood, right? There are other homes around it, you know, a district, a hamlet, whatever you want to call it. And here`s the deal. When you have that neighborhood, there might be good jobs around it within commuting distance -- or not. The schools that your kids go to, they might encourage and challenge them and give them a strong foundation for the rest of their lives -- or not. The air that you breathe in your neighborhood might be good and clean or not. You might have healthy, affordable food at your grocery store or not. You might be able to walk down the street without fear of crime or not. You might be able to walk down the street without fear of police or not. Your political representatives might be a powerful force for their constituents` interests or not. Where you live affects everything, your opportunities economically, your health, your safety and your children`s and all of theirs all depends on the place that you call home. Fair housing is at the very core of every other civil right and the Supreme Court may be poised to knock down our best tool to fight fair housing discrimination. Still with me, Nikole Hannah-Jones and Vince Warren. And joining the table, Shanna Smith, who is president of the National Fair Housing Alliance and Jasmine Rand, civil rights attorney at Rand Law. Shanna, you at NFHA have been doing this work for a long time. What would be different if, say, for the past 15 years you had not had disparate impact as a standard? What things as you see as foundational would simply not have happened? SHANNA SMITH, PRESIDENT, NATIONAL FAIR HOUSING ALLIANCE: Well, let`s just use your house. Lending discrimination is both overt and subtle, with policies and pricing issues. So in the past 15 years, African American and Latinos got loans, but they got bad loans. And the result was that the Department of Justice looked at that and saw that equally qualified credit qualifications between African American, Latino and white borrowers, the African American and Latinos were higher priced, higher fees, predatory loans. So if the Justice Department couldn`t use disparate impact to challenge that pricing model, well, they didn`t right away and so we ended up with this, but the insurance companies, once you get that house, you want replacement cost coverage so if there`s a loss you get to rebuild your house. You get to have everything put back in your house, your clothes, your furniture. But we challenge the insurance industry because they had a policy based on the age or value of your house, you couldn`t get replacement cost coverage. HARRIS-PERRY: So if you are living in an older, established, African American neighborhood was your home but then you wouldn`t have that coverage. Part of then what I want to think about here, when we think about all of this -- and Jasmine, when we think about a court that has brought down Section 4 of the Voting Rights Act, that has entered into the conversation about affirmative action to reduce the capacity to use it. If they come for disparate impact, have they -- and during the administration of the first black president, have they managed to dismantle the entire civil rights legislative agenda of the 1960s? JASMINE RAND, CIVIL RIGHTS ATTORNEY: I think we`re coming very close to that. In fact I think the Supreme Court has a decision to make and they`re going to be able to go either way on it. So the decision will really be a reflection of what they want to see for our nation. There`s a very easy way to uphold disparate impact. Under the Chevron principle, all that you have to do is look to HUD and the administrative policies that they put in place allowing disparate impact. HUD, as we know, governs the Fair Housing Act. You can also look to Title VII, employment discrimination, which allows for disparate impact. That`s persuasive authority. And then you want to look at the public policy. You just heard from President Lyndon B. Johnson on the matter. The whole policy of the Civil Rights Act was to uphold these fundamental civil rights, not just in the vacuum of the voting context or the vacuum of employment discrimination, but to look at the broad impact of the nation, which really begins in the home, it begins in housing. Housing is fundamental in upholding civil and human rights in this nation. HARRIS-PERRY: Nikole, you have written so beautifully about this. I made it into a funny little chart, but you`ve written beautifully about this and I think also uncovered some of what we find to be a bit of a surprising history here. So yes, it`s LBJ who first articulates it, but the first presidential administration who gets a chance to do anything with this act is actually the Nixon administration and the HUD secretary at the time is George Romney. What was his vision for how to actually use this act to bring about a more fair and just circumstance of housing? HANNAH-JONES: I think it`s important to know that LBJ actually wanted to introduce the Fair Housing Act much earlier and they understood that housing of all of the other civil rights that they were fighting for was the most toxic. This was a Northern civil rights bill. This was a bill that went into the homes or the backyards of the Northern congressmen, who were very much in favor of civil rights that affected the South. So we`ve always had very uncomfortableness (sic) with dealing with housing and I think that`s reflected now. So Nixon appointed George Romney. And George Romney is kind of the unlikely hero of fair housing. He was a huge champion of using it to actually -- the Fair Housing Act to break up housing segregation. So when the court is kind of looking at what did -- what did the -- what was the -- what did the Fair Housing Act intend, what they`re showing is that one of the biggest cases initially was blackjack. In that case it was looking at zoning and the administration was saying, yes, the Fair Housing Act covers disparate impact. It covers policies that have an effect on a large group of people, usually African Americans. HARRIS-PERRY: And Romney himself, George Romney, let`s be clear, who was at the time secretary of HUD, actually called the patterns of housing discrimination "a white noose around the black inner city." This reflection of an understanding of that connection and thought that the federal government ought to really aggressively use its power. Vince, when we come back, I want to talk to you about other protective classes and to think a little bit about where the fair housing fight goes after this. And up next, the mandate to affirmatively further fair housing. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) HARRIS-PERRY: Local and state governments that receive federal funds are required to do more than not discriminate. They are also obligated to affirmatively further the purposes of the Fair Housing Act. So, Shanna, how we doing on that? SMITH: Well, if you look at the Fair Housing Act, it was passed to eliminate housing discrimination and promote residential integration. So in order to do that, you have to combat intentional discrimination in policies and practices. And then you have to affirmatively take steps to rectify the results of that discrimination. But the Fair Housing Act doesn`t require quotas; it doesn`t require you to have set-asides for people, it just opens up the door so everybody has that same opportunity. HARRIS-PERRY: And when you talk about everybody, you know, we`ve been focused very clearly on race here in part because that`s the crucible in which this was formed. But there were other protected classes under the Fair Housing Act. And in fact, my mom talks about having experiences of housing discrimination in the late `70s as a result of being a single mom, right? And it wasn`t that it was race; she was showing up as a white woman, but she was a white woman alone with children and people who didn`t want to rent or sell to her. WARREN: Exactly. So this is much broader than race, which I think speaks to the societal nature. There is -- gender is a protected class. Familial status as we talked about, that you can`t discriminate on people based upon single parent status and things like that. Religion is something that also happens. When you begin to look at it in that context, there are a range of things that a government or a state can do, not focusing particularly on those things but can make for devastating consequences, things like building -- not being able to build housing next to or around particular religious communities or in a religious context or creating income guidelines that single people can`t meet. So there are a range of things that society wants to have happen, which is have people have fair housing and affordable housing, that gets thwarted if the Supreme Court decides to take away discriminatory impact. HARRIS-PERRY: And I get the feeling like we are missing what actual -- what produces inequality -- and the Don Sterling thing for me is the clearest example. The whole country gets all revved up about him saying words that are bad and negative words towards people of color, but he already had a settlement in which basically it was clear that, in his housing practices, he had discriminated against people. But that seemed to be less relevant. And I wonder is this right at the core of how the court is thinking, that it`s not quite sure what it is we think discrimination is anymore? Anybody on that one? RAND: I mean I think when we`re talking about discrimination, nobody -- and Don Sterling is a rare example because he actually vocalized his discriminatory behavior. But before that you made an important point, he had already demonstrated this pattern which may have been perceived to be nondiscriminatory at that point, although it had a discriminatory outcome. That`s what`s happening within our nation. Most people are intelligent enough not to vocalize their hatred of another person based on race or religion or class. And what happens is find these ways to systematically deny people the right that the Fair Housing Act meant to protect, which is the right to live where you want to live in a community where you have opportunity. HARRIS-PERRY: Can you imagine if we had to wait for every disparate impact to have their Don Sterling public moment? To have to get into the brains of people? And I also wonder, Shanna, if part of what happens is once you see disparate impact, it doesn`t have to be then you sue the person. Like if you see that a policy has a disparate impact, there`s possibilities for active working together as organizations. SMITH: Absolutely. We now continue to work with insurance companies all the time as they`re developing policies. They run it by us, saying, do you think this could have a disparate impact and we tell them, run these tests. See -- if it does have a disparate impact, let`s sit down and talk about a less discriminatory way you can do this. It is not about -- disparate impact isn`t about intent; it`s about the result of your policy. And the remedies are not race conscious. The remedies are to open up the door, to treat everybody fairly so everybody gets the same shot. And I think the Supreme Court understands that -- well, members of the court understand that it is not a race-conscious remedy, it`s a remedy that removes a barrier that has a disparate impact. Now some policies, though, sometimes people do develop a policy. Banks have said we`re not going to make loans in Indiana to homes that had 1,200 square feet. Well, those homes and the bankers knew that that was an African American community that was built after the war for veterans. So sometimes they make a policy and they understand what they`re doing, but I would say a lot of times the actuaries at an insurance company, the underwriters, they haven`t been trained in fair housing so they just go, this is a good policy. HARRIS-PERRY: Nikole, just briefly. You`ve been reporting on this for a long time. Are you optimistic? When you think about what this court is likely to do, are you optimistic that disparate impact holds on the back end of this? HANNAH-JONES: It`s hard to be optimistic because the court has been fighting so hard to get this case. This is the third time it`s tried to take it up in the last three years and you can be pretty sure it`s not the liberal justices who want to take it up. But with that said, Scalia has been a bit of a surprise. HARRIS-PERRY: He said Chevron like 15 times. HANNAH-JONES: He`s been very opposed to disparate impact. He has said that he doesn`t believe disparate impact -- that he believes that violates the equal protection clause of the Constitution. At the same time he`s deferred to regulatory agencies. And his line of questioning surprised a lot of people. So I don`t tend to be optimistic about these things in general, but it looks like Scalia may have something in surprise for us. HARRIS-PERRY: Love that. Thank you to Nikole Hannah Jones and to Shanna Smith. Vince and Jasmine are staying with us. Up next, the president who tries something different with the media that even made reporters say, you sure that`s a good idea? (LAUGHTER) (COMMERCIAL BREAK) HARRIS-PERRY: On this day in 1961, President John F. Kennedy launched what would become a staple on the office, the first live televised presidential news conference. He`d already proved his natural affinity for the relative menu phenomenon of television during the 1960 presidential debate with Republican opponent Richard Nixon. While Kennedy appeared well-groomed and in control, Nixon was seen as sweaty and flustered, that debate would be a game changer for Kennedy and every politician who followed him. Five days after taking the oath of office, Kennedy demonstrated that same calm, cool demeanor as he faced more than 400 reporters and 65 million viewers from a podium in the state department auditorium. For 37 minutes he took questions on issues president are still being asked about today, everything from bone rights to Cuba. But in 1961 that kind of presidential calendar on live T.V. was so rare even the press express concerns. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. President there has been some apprehension besides the instantaneous broadcast of Presidential press conferences such as this one, the contention an inadvertent statement no longer correctible, as in the old days, could possibly cause some grave consequences. Do you feel there is any risk or could you give us some thought on that subject. JOHN F. KENNEDY, FMR U.S. PRESIDENT: I don`t think that the interests of our country are -- it seems to me they`re as well protected under this system as they were under the system followed by President Eisenhower. And this system has the advantage of providing more direct communication. (END VIDEO CLIP) HARRIS-PERRY: Despite that initial skepticism, Kennedy would hold 64 press conferences during his brief presidency, attracting on average 18 million viewers. Now, more than 50 years, later another media savvy president is once again facing questions about the appropriateness of his engagement with the viewing public. Thursday, President Obama sat down with three YouTube stars to discuss his State of the Union Address. Many of the questions were insightful, but there were also some amusing moments including this exchange with YouTube sensation, GloZell Green. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) GLOZELL GREEN, GLOZELL GREEN: I have green lipsticks. One for. BARACK OBAMA, U.S. PRESIDENT: Yes. GLOZELL GREEN: -- your first wife, I mean. OBAMA: My first? GREEN: I mean, I mean. OBAMA: You know something I don`t? GREEN: Oh boy, for the First Lady. OBAMA: One for the First Lady. GREEN: .and the First Children. OBAMA: And the First. I`m teasing. (END VIDEO CLIP) HARRIS-PERRY: Film media critics wondered if the YouTube sessions were worthy of the Office of the President. But consider this, the three YouTube stars combined have nearly 14 million subscribers also known as potential voters. It was on flick Mr. President`s proof that sometimes trying a new way to reach a new audience may be just as worth it today as it was for the young president who took a chance on live T.V. on this day, January 25th, 1961. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) HARRIS-PERRY: A jury pool of 9,000 is slowly being whittled down to a mere 24 people, 12 jurors, and 12 alternates for the trial of James Eagan Holmes, the man accused of killing 12 people and injuring dozens more inside a Colorado movie theater. Some of the largest jury pools in U.S. history. Police say, two and a half years ago Holmes sacked into a movie theater in the Denver suburb of Aurora and open fire on 421 people watching a midnight showing of the Batman movie, "The Dark Knight Rises". According to police, Holmes used three different types of gun, a semiautomatic variation of the military`s M16 riffle, a pump-action 12 gauge shotgun, and at least one 40-caliber semiautomatic pistol. Witnesses say he walked calmly and silently through the theater as he fired. Holmes says -- pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity but he could be sentenced to death on multiple counts of first-degree murder and attempted murder. It is a rare occurrence to have a person accused of a deadly mass shooting to go on trial and face a judge and jury. As the Washington Post points out, "An FBI study of active shooter situations looked at 160 incidents between 2000 and 2013, a list that named the Aurora shooting as the deadliest during that period. More than half ended when the gunman stopped shooting, often because he committed suicide or fled, nearly half of the shooters looked at by the study ended their own lives." Joining the table, Dr. Jonathan Metzl, who`s Director of the Center for Medicine, Health and Society and professor of psychiatry at Venderbilt University. He also has a new article in the American Journal of Public Health, "Mental Illness, Mass Shootings and the Politics of American Firearms." And so, I want to start with -- Jonathan, you have kind of some assumptions that we often work from in moments like this, and one of them is this idea that mental illness causes gun violence. What`s wrong with that assumption? JONATHAN METZL, PROFESSOR OF PSYCHIATRY, VANDERBILT UNIVERSITY: Well, and let me just say, first of all, they`re talking about the Aurora shooting. Of course, the Aurora shooting like all mass shootings is an unconscionable tragedy? 12 people lost their lives, 70 people were badly injured, and a whole community, a whole country were traumatized. The problem we get into with focusing so much on the mass shootings and I think it`ll be at the case on this trial, is that it reinforces the notion that there are crazy people running around the country kind of trying to shoot people. And what we know from -- with research we did in the article with my colleague Ken MacLeish and I, we looked at the cases of shootings across the country over the last 50 years. And what we found was that, first of all, persons with mental illness are far more likely to be the victims of crime, than the perpetrators of crime overwhelmingly. And the second, that if you really want to stop then violence, not in terms of mass shooting but in terms of everyday violence, you know, one of the main factors we argue is that there are factors associated with sanity not with insanity. So things like, are there guns in bars, do you have a loud neighbor, all these kinds of every day factors and the availability of guns. And so, really, the problem with these trials is that we just focus. This trial is entirely going to be on the question of mental illness. But really we should be asking at the same time, how can we stop every day violence, and that is not linked to mental illness. HARRIS PERRY: I mean, there just is a way that a moment like that shooting is not just horrifying in the moment but terrorizing. In fact, like it makes you feel like at any moment we could be victimized in a random way. But the realities are that, particularly for a woman for example, you`re much more likely to be victimized by an intimate much more. If you`re going to die with gun violence, probably not in a movie theater, it is much more likely to be because your partner, your spouse and you`re in a circumstance of domestic -- with the thing that`s domestic violence. How do we certainly seek justice there, but also look for just rules that are actually much more likely to impact us on a day-to-day basis? RAND: I think you have to start with overall gun policy. Because if we`re placing these guns into peoples hand so easily, then, you know, we can`t blame it solely on mental illness. You know, that`s an easy escape goat to say, "Oh, well, it is just metal ill people that are using these guns." But it`s not always mentally ill people. You know, we`ve seen the issue with officers, and we have culture that promotes the use of guns. You know, we have this movie that just came out called, "American Sniper." And that`s -- the name alone is indicative of how our nation feels about the use of guns. HARRIS-PERRY: Yeah, we like them. I mean, we like, we own them, we romanticize them. You know, we were just sort of, you know, looking at this amazing image from Colorado. A waitress says who, you know, sort of open carries, you know, they`re carrying their side arms while working, you know, waiting tables. And I, you know, I get the reasons why that might be sort of a fun Colorado Western moment, but there`s also, I think in their -- the sense of like that it`s so deeply entrenched in our culture that we would never talk about making guns less available but much more likely than simply talk about crazy people doing the bad thing with them. WARREN: No. I think that`s right and I agree that this type of cataclysmic event causes people to focus on the wrong things. So, what we are talking about with this case is what is the problem that we`re really trying to solve as a society. And I think that surely this case is going to deal with the problem with this particular person in that particular shooting. But the broader question really is, as we are talking about, is how do guns actually play out on a day-to-day? What is the sort of hidden effect in -- of having so many guns in our society? And I`m, you know, thinking about this example that it does make sense to have sort of guns as a natural -- national heritage symbol. But the heritage historical symbol doesn`t imply what`s happening now which is that we use them to kill each other. We`re not shooting elk, we`re not, you know, out there pioneering. We are shooting each other in almost bizarrely mundane ways that we need to be talking about. HARRIS-PERRY: But that mundane is not -- I mean, instead, we don`t focus on the mundane but the spectacular. And then we want you to become our frontline. So, you are practicing psychiatrist. Shouldn`t you be telling us which of your patients are likely to turn into Mr. Holmes? METZL: Well, there have been roughly 200 mass shootings since the 1970s in the United States. Meanwhile, there have been 32,000 gun deaths on average a year. And so, I think psychiatrists and public health scholars really have a very hard time predicting even among the many patients they see which one of their patients is going to be violent. And certainly, they can`t predict this 200 awfully tragic but statistically random events which are mass shootings. Psychiatrists can say there are things that are risk factors for gun violence such as the past history of violence, a past history of assaults, substance use, these are all the things that unfortunately many legislators are enabling rather than making more difficult. HARRIS-PERRY: Yeah. When we come back, one of the thing that we`ll talk about is the fact that actually Michigan Governor Rick Snyder made a decision go against the NRA on exactly on issue like that. We`ll check that it was sort of fascinating. The other thing we want to talk about is what happened to this African- American man who was carrying a gun for which he had a legal permit. When we come back. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) HARRIS-PERRY: A 62-year-old man in Florida was tackled and held to the ground in a chokehold as he try to shop inside a local WalMart because he was carrying a gun lawfully. In this video, you can see the African-American man, Clarence Daniels, knocked to the floor by Michael Foster, he`s a 42-year-old white man you see there. As Foster tackled Daniels, he yells to other that Daniels has a gun to which Daniels yells back, "I have a permit." According to police, Foster side Daniels in the parking lot placing the handgun underneath his coat and try to take matters into his own hands. Daniels did indeed have a permit to carry. Foster was arrested and charged with battery. Is the second amendment only for people who are not African-American men? METZL: We`ll, I think that there -- with our two competing discourses right now. On one hand there is this second amendment conversation, we want though -- we want -- firearms we have open carry, we want, you know, dudes walking around, you know, coffee shops and burrito restaurants with their weapons. And at the same time there`s a historical in there that taps into the longstanding fear of the black gun owner. And as we show in the paper you mentioned before this actually goes back to the 1960s when the moment of the civil rights, you know, that the Black Panther`s wanted guns and Malcom X wanted guns for self defense. All of a sudden, everybody is like no, no, no we need gun control. And so all of the sudden, you know, the NRA supported the Gun Control Act of 1968 for example. And so there are these competing discourses that play to racial stereotypes really about a bigger conversation about the raise of firearms. HARRIS-PERRY: And this is a tough one in part of me because I do think I`ve spent a fair bit of time on the show, you know, trying to think about more sensible, more reasonable gun legislation. On the other hand I grew up in a household -- my father`s household had guns. My father believes that people should know how to shoot a gun. I have a gun in my household. And yet the open carry in particular, it never makes me feel safer. I don`t care the race of anyone when I see guns in my chipotle, in my Starbucks it is, you know. WARREN: Right. HARRIS-PERRY: In any public space. It only makes me feel more nervous. WARREN: I don`t blame you. And I think the discourse narrative plays out like this there`s nothing more American than an American with a gun. And there`s nothing more dangerous than an African-American with a gun. Like -- So that`s how that plays out. And, you know, I think the equality paradigm and I`m not conflicted by it. But part of what we do as civil rights attorneys is we`re trying to say that African-American folks have the same -- the right to do things -- stupid things that white folks do. HARRIS-PERRY: Yeah, right. WARREN: Right. So that`s part of the analysis. HARRIS-PERRY: Yup. WARREN: But I think we`re elevating this is that let`s look the stupid thing that we`re doing nightly and really ask this question. Should we be doing it at all? HARRIS-PERRY: Yup. WARREN: And I think that`s where I think I will agree with your analysis. RAND: I think this case is, it`s really fascinating because what we an African-American man expressing he`s rights to open carry gun and I agree with you. I`m not comfortable with anybody of any race carrying gun inside stores, I believe in the home. But, you know, what very interesting is you`re seeing this vigilante behavior once again with majority white man in the WalMart attacking this black man who has a right to be there with his concealed weapon. But on the back end I`m really kind of proud of the local sherif because he said this type of vigilante behavior will not be tolerated and this man was charged with a battery. And didn`t -- as a civil right attorney, I didn`t expect to see that outcome. WARREN: Yeah. RAND: So when I started looking at this case I`m saying, "Oh, and he wasn`t arrested," and then when I find that he`s charged with a battery, I think that`s good sign of progress. HARRIS-PERRY: Yeah. You know, at this point there`ll be kind of three big stories that have been headlines over the course of the past few months. First it was the WalMart killing of John Crawford, right? John Carwford III the young African-American man who was walking around the WalMart with an item that is sold in the store, right? The 911 call comes in and we`re able to see on that surveillance tape where officers come in and shoot him. And then the other kind of tragedy where a mom in WalMart with her two- year-old and her two year old pulls the gun out of the diaper bag and shoot him, you know, obviously accidentally shoots and kills his mother. And every point I think who are we kidding about this idea that we are being made safer by this. METZL: No. I think that`s absolutely right. I mean, like Walmart has I think has some issues. HARRIS-PERRY: Yeah, right. But then they`re usually labor practice issues not like gun violence issues, right. METZL: I mean, I would also say that this is a microcosm of I think the bigger gun issue which is on one hand, you know, we -- as much as we have the rhetoric and we want to -- the crazy person, it`s really the everyday violence that is at issue here and in a way. I think this illustrates in the other point is that in emotionally charged moments when people feel threatened, they fall back on stereotypes. WARREN: Yeah. METZL: Racial stereotypes very often. And so, having a gun present at that moment just leaves to these kind of outcomes. HARRIS-PERRY: But you want to give everyone in those circumstances the feeling of threatened. You want to give them five more seconds. METZL: Exactly. HARRIS-PERRY: Right? To pause to make a decision, because I have to say this is how low my expectations have become. I mean, (inaudible) that I was just so happy no one was shot in that video like I thought, "Oh, thank God they tackled him" I mean, like please don`t tackle someone with the legal rights to carry a gun but I just kept thinking of John Crawford III and how it could have turned out so differently. Thank you to Vince Warren and to Jasmine Rand. Johnson is going to back in the next hour. But before we go to break I do want to update you on the next major winter storm set to wall up the East Coast over the next 36 hours. The historic storm is expected to bring blizzard-like conditions to New England. Some areas could get up to two feet snow. It comes as residences are still cleaning up from Saturday snowstorm. The first significant snow fall so far this winter. Stay with MSNBC for the latest on the weather conditions. And still to come this morning, the debate over American Sniper. my letter of the week, and the news conference from Saturday afternoon that had been Freeman touchdown. More Nerland at the top of the hour. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) HARRIS-PERRY: Welcome back. I`m Melissa Harris-Perry. And by now, you have undoubtedly heard about the case of the under inflated footballs used by the New England Patriots during last Sunday`s AFC Championship Game. First, the Indianapolis Colts sensed something wasn`t quite right with the game balls. Then the Pat`s coach told reporters he has never even had a conversation about ball pressure in his whole career. Then the Pat`s quarterback told us all about how he likes his footballs but claims he didn`t do anything unusual or untoward to his balls last Sunday. By yesterday afternoon, we figured that our inner 12-year-old would have been sent back to our collective subconscious because surely, there was no further ball talk possible from this particular kerfufflel. But all of that changed when the Patriots` head coach Bill Belichick held yet another press conference Saturday afternoon. But this time, he took a very different approach. This press conference was about the science of footballs. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) BILL BELICHICK, NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS HEAD COACH: We found that once the balls -- the footballs were on the field over an extended period of time, in other words, they were adjusted to the climatic conditions and also the fact that the balls, you know, reached an equilibrium without the rubbing process that after that had, you know, run its course and the footballs had reached an equilibrium that they were down approximately 1.5 pounds per square inch. (END VIDEO CLIP) HARRIS-PERRY: Could life be better? It`s about the balls and the rubbing process. That`s right. The Patriots conducted their very own simulation to review the way that their game footballs are prepared to meet league requirements. Through their experiment they found that after the footballs are conditioned to meet the standards of both the NFL and the quarterback, once the footballs are used outside, climate and atmospheric pressure can result in substantial deflation. The hypothesis Belichick ultimately rendered is that the climate could be responsible for the footballs` under- inflation. Belichick did qualify his hypothesis with this, though. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) BELICHICK: I`m embarrassed to talk about the amount of time that I`ve put into this relative to the other important challenge in front of us. I`m not a scientist, I`m not an expert in footballs, I`m not an expert in football measurements, I`m just telling you what I know. I would not say that I`m Mona Lisa Vito of the football world, as she was in the car expertise area, all right? (END VIDEO CLIP) HARRIS-PERRY: Man, I love him. Kudos to Belichick for working in a performance of Marisa Tomei Oscar winning performance in "My Cousin Vinny." Listen, he`s not an expert, I thought it might be useful to talk to some people who are. Here at the table, Professor Chang Kee Jung, who is a professor of physics at Stony Brook University who, in fact, teaches a course entitled "The Physics of Sports." Kavitha Davidson who`s sports columnist at Bloomberg View. Jason Page, host of the week night NBC Sports radio program "Up Late with Jason Page" and Chris Valletta who is a former NFL player and author of "Team Works: The Gridiron Playbook for Building a Championship Business Team." Professor -- CHANG KEE JUNG, PROFESSOR, STONYBROOK UNIVERSITY: Yes. HARRIS-PERRY: Was that a solid hypothesis? Seriously. Like, is the process he went through like a reasonable experiment to get us to some kind of conclusion about what may have happened. KEE JUNG: So I`m a physicist, I`m trying to be factual as much as possible. HARRIS-PERRY: Yes. KEE JUNG: To have that kind of effect of just atmospheric pressure alone, you need to have some kind of condition of tornado when initial measurements are made and then, you know, on the field. But actually the things that makes more influence is the temperature. So if your initial pressure was pressured at higher temperature, room temperature, say 80 degree Fahrenheit, and then on the field it was a 51-degree Fahrenheit, and that will make at most one psi difference. So the big question here is all of these theories, however, is a moot because the physics is universal. HARRIS-PERRY: Yes. So why would it be 11 in footballs and not 12. KEE JUNG: Right. If there is 12 footballs, if it`s subject to any kind of theory, I don`t care whatever difficult theory, but it has subject to all 12 footballs as well as to another 12 footballs the Colts had. So I would like to know what are those measurements are. Why is there one particular football measured normally and 11 measured under? HARRIS-PERRY: So that of course -- that was my very first thought. Okay. Physics doesn`t work differently for some footballs and then for others and yet, so I don`t want to miss this. So you played in the role of center, right? So that means that before your quarterback gets the football, you get the football. CHRIS VALLETTA, FORMER NFL PLAYER: Yes. HARRIS-PERRY: For my mother who`s watching who may not, right? VALLETTA: You`ve grabbed a lot of footballs. My fair share. HARRIS-PERRY: So the way the whole thing starts is it`s an interception and the defensive player is like this doesn`t feel right. If you`re the center, would you notice, right, before you hike the ball -- would you have noticed this ball is a little squishy, it`s soft. VALLETTA: Not necessarily. But look, I will say this, this whole thing is being exploded to proportions that are completely unbelievable. HARRIS-PERRY: Because it`s so great! VALLETTA: It is. But let me tell you this. Tom Brady makes his living knowing every square inch of that football. Every stitch, every single piece of it, he knows how they feel, he knows how they carry in the air, he knows when they have been broken in versus when they haven`t. The equipment managers, the staff, the coaches, including Belichick, they all know exactly what kind of footballs Tom Brady likes to use on the sideline. And, I`d like to add, when footballs come off the field, they`re usually dried off in in -- weather, they`re usually put in places that keep them warm so that they don`t stiffen in the cold weather. HARRIS-PERRY: Everyone is very kind to the footballs. VALLETTA: I will say. This is clearly an issue that is much larger than deflate gate. This is an issue that`s addressing the integrity of the NFL, the integrity of Belichick and many more issues. HARRIS-PERRY: So, I agree. I actually think that -- I mean it`s fun because we get to say balls over and over and we get to learn things like you guys really know one another`s balls and take care of them and that kind of thing. But I want to go back to the science for a bit because instead of going to an ethical question which was the first response was, I am not a cheater. And then it was like, are you guys just being ridiculous. But ultimately yesterday when Belichick comes out and decides to kind of go through a long, you know, pseudoscientific discourse, then he draws us right back in. We have to ask, you know, his response to the 11 out of 12 was each is an animal and each one is made out of leather that could be different and may have been rubbed or manipulated differently and that`s why you wouldn`t have a universal outcome. KEE JUNG: I think that`s very unlikely. And then again, I will say that what is a measurement of the other 12 balls Colts used. Okay? So it just -- it`s highly unlikely just one particular ball. JASON PAGE, HOST, "UP LATE WITH JASON PAGE": Well, it obviously fell -- it obviously fell, the Colts footballs obviously fell between 12-and-a-half and 13-and-a-half because they fell within regulations. If they hadn`t, then we would have known it by now. HARRIS-PERRY: Right. Because they surely must have checked all of those as well. PAGE: Correct. And it`s important to note this too. The Patriots footballs, there was talk that there`s 11 of 12. There`s still some people that are suggesting it may have been all 12 footballs. So, while we`re all assuming it`s 11 of 12, there`s still a chance that all 12 footballs may have fallen below the league`s standards by at least two psi and maybe more. And that`s the thing right now. We`re still in a waiting game. We still don`t have all the information from the NFL. They`re staying very quiet on this. HARRIS-PERRY: So, I am not at all surprised to discover that there is psi shrinkage in cold weather, but that said, does it matter, right? Like should -- would this have had any ultimate outcome changer? Why should we care so much? KAVITHA DAVIDSON, SPORTS COLUMNIST, BLOOMBERG VIEW: So I think on the one hand people are saying, you know, the Patriots totally blew out the Colts and this didn`t actually have a meaningful effect on the game. And while that`s true, we can also look back at other games against the Ravens, for example, that were closer and wonder what the actual effect there is. The overarching question that still hasn`t really been answered though is how common of practices actually is. There are players and there are equipment managers who are saying that this really isn`t that a big deal. Yes, in the rule book. But you know, it`s kind of just look the other way, that people don`t really comply by this, that deflation happens often. That quarterbacks are very specific about how their footballs are handled. HARRIS-PERRY: Does it affect -- from a physics perspective, does it affect how that ball flies? Does it affect, I mean, obviously in bad weather if it`s softer, it`s going to be easier for the quarterback to grip and for the receivers to catch, but is there anything else about the physics of this ball that changes with that kind of deflation? KEE JUNG: Oh, sure. It really for the optimal conditions, if you want to throw the ball long or kick long, you would like to have more proper inflation. Okay? So if you make it a little bit softer, really is it good for the bad weather, you have good grip so that you can throw it with a tight spiral which accuracy is the most important thing at the time. Especially teams like the New England Patriots, who lives with short passes. I don`t know what is the statistics of that particular game. I bet there was not that many long throws. And not only is it good for throwing, but also receivers like it when it is softer and also running backs like it because it prevents them fumbling. So it is all good for in a bad weather a little bit softer. One thing I go back is that it measured psi was indoor when the officers measured it. It was indoor at 10.5. That could have been 9.5 on the field. So that would have made -- VALLETTA: Not by the time they went back in. PAGE: And the tighter the spiral, the further the football is going to go as well, right? KEE JUNG: Yes. The tighter spiral will get you more accuracy and further. So in bad weather it really helps in terms of having good grip. HARRIS-PERRY: Thank you, Professor Chang Kee Jung for mostly putting up with our silliness. And man, I would take that class. Up next, what we learn from the Black Sox of 1919 stance on deflate gate. Ballgazi when we get back. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) HARRIS-PERRY: NBC Sunday night football is one of the most watched primetime programs on television. On any given Sunday, more than 21 million people tune in to watch their teams take the field and take part in some good ole competition. Some fans still even relinquish the comforts of the couch and choose to root for their players in person, sometimes during brutal weather conditions, all because of the love of the game. And that love of the game has to do with the competition. A competition that hinges on one central assumption that the game is actually competitive. That it`s fair. So what happens if it`s not? Consider one of the most infamous sports scandals in history, the 1919 black sox scandal when eight Chicago White Sox opted for big bucks over fair play and conspired to throw World Series games, ensuring a win for the Cincinnati reds. After news of the scandal broke, the league appointed the first baseball commissioner Kenesaw Mountain Landis. One of his first tasks was to decide what the league should do about the eight alleged conspirators. He banned them all from the game forever. Legally the eight were indicted on counts of conspiracy to commit fraud and faced trial. In the end, however, they were acquitted and nothing really happened to the league or to the game itself. In fact the Chicago White Sox were seventh in the league in 1921 and baseball lived to fight and thrive another day. Years later, some of those days even included a series of steroid scandals with players are officially increasing testosterone levels to get a competitive edge. But the sport of baseball, fine. This year the NFL has seen scandals involving individual players and their lives off the field, mainly the infamous allegations of domestic violence and child abuse. Fans still watch the game every week. But the NFL news this week is different. This scandal has to do with the way the game itself is played down to down, end zone to end zone. How does a scandal on the field impact the game, if at all. Back at the table is Jonathan Metzl, director of Center for Medicine Health and Society. And professor of psychiatry at Vanderbilt University. I want to ask about this. Is this a moment when again, nobody is turning it off, everybody is going to watch the game. You know, this is the pro bowl and then they`ll all going to watch the Super Bowl. But does this like do a thing because it`s different, even if it`s small, it`s different that off- field scandals when you`re talking about something on the fields. DAVIDSON: I think that that`s a more important distinction to make. That fans are a lot more willing to express outraged when they feel like the integrity of their game is been compromised than necessarily the personal integrity of their athletes, let`s say. That said, I think that we tend to be both very moralistic and very idealistic when it comes to the actual fairness of our sports. Right? I mean, there are all of these unwritten rules that we don`t really acknowledge in the open and there are a lot of inconsistencies that exist. Baseball stadiums aren`t regulated for their dimensions, for example, so I think that there are many ways that there isn`t actually an even playing field that we kind of overlook because we like to think of sports as the ultimate competitive arena. HARRIS-PERRY: Look, as a Saints fan, it`s not fair that we have to play outside, ever. Why would one have to play football outside? Right? PAGE: Listen, I don`t think fans care as much about fairness as you think, and here is why. I think sports is entertainment. And entertainment is entertainment, whether there`s fixing -- boxing is still enormously popular worldwide. Boxing matches, how many people talked about boxing matches being fixed. One of the most popular things on the planet is WWE wrestling. Everybody knows it`s fake, but everybody still goes and watches it anyway. HARRIS-PERRY: Well, it`s not -- PAGE: It`s entertaining. HARRIS-PERRY: It was not fake. In fact there`s a lawsuit right now with some of the folks about the injuries they sustained. PAGE: But the outcomes are fixed. HARRIS-PERRY: Right. Right. But I do get your point that entertainment is a different question than whether or not it`s sports-like competition. And so, then maybe it goes to the question of what part of the sports world we`re talking about. So, you know, one of my favorite new reality shows is the Friday night tykes and the idea that like the kids engaged in football. So whenever we think about the NFL, like at the core it teaches you something about competition and teamwork. VALLETTA: So I`ve spent my entire professional career outside of the game on that exact topic. I believe wholeheartedly that athletes represent the skills, the tools, the methodologies to be excellent not only in life but in business and their relationships. I think what we`re talking about here is the one percent that make the mistakes and that`s what we tend to focus on. I truly believe the NFL is a league of integrity. I believe that the game is a game of integrity. It`s built on sportsmanship, it`s built on integrity, it`s built on honor and code. I believe in it so much that I think that the skills that you learn in that sport, especially at the young age to the show that you just talked about, are translatable to every single facet of your life. I think that athletes represent the best business people. I think they represent people that can hold the highest level of standard. Because you look at people that are being focused in the media right now and that is what`s giving this halo effect to the entire NFL. It`s unfortunate, but I truly believe the NFL is in a power position right now to represent those qualities and broadcast them to the public in a way that they have never seen before. HARRIS-PERRY: So this is fascinating. I wish Dave Zirin could just like pop down in the middle because I know that a fight would occur. But like there`s such a part of me that knows all the guys who are those guys and who like, you know, I have core experiences where I`m like, yep, that`s exactly, you know, the guys I know who played. I want to show this because it went to it in an interesting way that sesame street got in on it because it did feel this was the childhood part of it. I want to see Sesame Street planting a shade tree over the NFL. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: We`re here to tell you all about the word inflate. UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: Inflate, baby. UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: Now, the word "inflate" means to fill something up with air. UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: Inflate. (END VIDEO CLIP) HARRIS-PERRY: So that was the word of the day on Friday, right? I mean I just -- at least it wasn`t ball. I mean, it`s great. METZL: I want to be that wind sock guy for Halloween next year. So, I`m honored to be at this table as a psychiatrist, a profession that really has a long history of thinking about what men will do in competition with each other and also about balls. But I would say that when I watched the Bilts, I have no horse in this race at all, I`m from Kansas City and we never even make it this far for the most part. But when Belichick started saying, we follow the rules to the letter, it was almost a textbook kind of, you know if you look at the letter charm on the psychology of cheating, that`s the kind of language people used is to be very, there`s a kind of slippery slope -- HARRIS-PERRY: The kind of the technical. METZL: The technical point and the fact that basically if winning supersedes everything, people will start to kind of fall down that slope where they won`t see the ethical implications. And the other idea goes back to what you`re talking about before which is this idea that everyone else is doing it. That was the rationale people used during the steroid era. VALLETTA: Absolutely. METZL: So I think that, you know, there`s a lot of insight into that press conference that told us maybe about -- you know, I`ve never met the man and again, I`m rooting for the chiefs, but I think that there was a lot going on that was interesting. HARRIS-PERRY: There is one thing, because I did feel like you evoked the spirit of Dave Zirin here, and made me think about one of the piece. This notion of the technical letter of the law, which we`re saying, you know, whatever that is. But in the NCAA, take it out of the NFL. In the NCAA it has ruined young men and women. This technical letter of the law and the way the NCAA acts about tiny infractions that don`t impact the outcome of games, I guess part of what I`m wondering, what feels unfair to me is the idea that the rich, powerful guys get away with tiny infractions when often like the kids who are making millions for their schools and nothing for themselves end up losing scholarships over things like this. DAVIDSON: Right, exactly. And I think that that -- it`s really important to separate the idea of sports and the fantastic things that athletes do for us and sports teach us as human beings from the professionalization and the organization of sports and the corrupting power that that absolutely has. Because, you know, I think that holding an entire organization of professional athletes and coaches to the standard that athletes are the best businessmen and the best people really makes us overreact when they don`t live up to that ideal. So when we kind of -- when the glass kind of shatters a little bit, we`re not prepared for just how human these people are and just how flawed some of these people can be too. HARRIS-PERRY: And humanity is what pushes them toward making choices that are sometimes bad ones around the competition. Chris Valletta, I am keeping you at this table at some point. You are coming back. We`re going to have a fight about whether or not it is good for your mind and your soul and your spirit. VALLETTA: Let`s do it. HARRIS-PERRY: To play sports. Because I think it is and then Dave Zirin tells me it`s not. It`s just very confusing. Thank you to Kavitha Davidson and to Jason Page and to Chris Valletta. Jonathan is sticking around because I like him hanging out here. But up next, why no one is being held accountable in the murder of a 16- year-old girl. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) HARRIS-PERRY: I wanted to tell you about a homicide case that caught my attention. In December of 2010 Phylicia Barnes, 16-year-old honor student, suddenly vanished while visiting her older half-sister in Baltimore. Phylicia had everything going for her. She was beautiful, smart, she was set to graduate from high school early and was applying to college. In April of 2011, Phylicia`s body was found in a river about an hour from her sister`s home. She had died of asphyxiation. Police ruled it a homicide. For more than a year Phylicia`s family waited for answers. Finally in April of 2012, a man named Michael Johnson was arrested and charged with Phylicia`s murder. Johnson was Phylicia`s sister`s ex-boyfriend and had been staying at the home when Phylicia disappeared. Johnson pleaded not guilty and the case went to trial. One key witness, a man named James McCray, testified that Johnson called him to ask for help disposing of Phylicia`s body. McCray`s testimony was so crucial because he could tie Johnson directly to the murder. The jury found Johnson guilty of second-degree murder, but at the sentencing the judge threw out the conviction on the grounds that the prosecutors had withheld information about McCray from the defense. A second trial began in December of last year without McCray`s testimony. After the prosecution rested its case, the judge, a different judge this time, granted the defense request for a mistrial. This time on the grounds that the prosecutors had exposed jurors to material they weren`t supposed to see. Then this past week, the judge dropped all charges against Michael Johnson. All charges. The judge cited insufficient evidence calling the prosecution`s case unarguably circumstantial. The district attorney vowed to appeal, thing the judge had, quote, "no jurisdiction to judge the acquittal." For now, Phylicia Barnes` family will have to wait even longer for justice. We don`t know if there will be another trial. What we do know is that we have another case of a young black woman killed and no one being held accountable. All lives matter. Phylicia`s life matters. Joining me now from Baltimore, Maryland, is Barnes family spokesman Don Rondeau and Phylicia`s father, Russell Barnes. Mr. Barnes, thank you for being with us. Can you talk to me about how you and your family are responding to this latest judge`s decision? RUSSELL BARNES, FATHER OF PHYLICIA BARNES: Myself and my family, we`re really in disbelief on what has happened in this case. We just -- our hearts are like shattered, you know. We just don`t understand how the judge has just ruled that this person can walk out of the jail on Tuesday. HARRIS-PERRY: Now, obviously, you know, you have a beautiful 16-year-old daughter and she just goes missing. I know that you all -- you put up purple ribbons because purple was her favorite color, that you organized people in the community to try to find her before her body was found. During all of that, were you at all or any members of your family suspicious of Mr. Johnson or were you as surprised as anyone to find that he was the person charged with your daughter`s disappearance? BARNES: When we first started looking for Phylicia, this person seemed, he showed signs that he knew something about her whereabouts. Because at that particular time we were just looking for Phylicia. We thought she was just missing. This person did not help search, he did not do anything, lift a finger to help with the community and with the police and anyone in just helping us find Phylicia. So, in the beginning, we just knew something was not right with this individual. DON RONDEAU, BARNES FAMILY SPOKESMAN: If I might add, you hit on a key point though that all lives do matter. And early on the Barnes family really drove interest in this case and so, you know, we really are certainly disappointed by the current turn of events. The many trials and mistrials and dismissals. But to be frank, that`s how things have progressed from day one for us. That from day one we`ve had to fight to get attention to our case, we`ve had to generate interest in the community. We, the people, rose up and made sure that the process started and that she wasn`t just another no-name girl of color that has fallen through the cracks. And myself and others, I`m here representing not just the Barnes family but a coalition of people who all have vowed to not stop until Phylicia receives justice. And so, you know, while we are disappointed in how things have progressed, we are not surprised that we are sitting here because this has been five years of this. From day one to right now. Melissa, we`re certain -- I am certain that if -- that our system may have to change so that we have resources dedicated towards protecting and serving children and not just incarcerating them. HARRIS-PERRY: Actually it`s on exactly that topic I want to ask you about. Tell me about Phylicia`s law. Because in addition to trying to get justice in this one case, you`re also -- you all have been working to try to make a more just system. RONDEAU: Well, certainly. You know, there came a time when after searching with great groups, pastors, local politicians in the city of Baltimore to search for her, we drove that search. We, the people. Well, we found -- we were informed that she was murdered and so there came a critical point where we had generated all of this good will and developed all of this expertise and resources, did we just go back to our lives as individuals and leave Russell to fight and not do anything to affect permanent change or do we stand as a community and say, hey, we`re going to make sure that going forward there will be an expectation that we will, you know, we will go after -- we will seek justice for any kid anywhere, any color, any time. And so we drafted legislation and with the support of a real great street-fighting delegate, Joel P. Carter out of Baltimore, we passed Phylicia`s law and we past Phylicia`s law before, you know, there was justice, obviously, for Phylicia, the name sake. HARRIS-PERRY: Yes. Don Rondeau and Russell Barnes from Baltimore, Don Rondeau, thank you for your advocacy. Mr. Barnes, we are all grieving with you in your loss and we do hope that you and your family find some measure of justice. Thank you both for joining us this morning. BARNES: Thank you. RONDEAU: Thank you. HARRIS-PERRY: Up next, my letter of the week. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) HARRIS-PERRY: On Friday evening, while potential republican presidential contenders scurried to Iowa to court support, an East Coast residents hurried home to beat the snowstorm, and those of us in cable news cracked ourselves up with underinflated balls jokes, a "New York Times" op-ed columnist was on twitter sending some of advice to activists. Tweeting, quote, "activists perhaps should have focused less on Michael Brown and more on the shooting of 12-year-old Tamir Rice in Cleveland." And that is why my letter this week is to Nicholas Kristof. Dear Mr. Kristof, it`s me, Melissa, just wanted to say thanks for the strategic advice you offered Friday afternoon. It was a great reminder of how important it is to endure injustice until just the right victim comes along. Back in 1955, it was Claudette Colvin who had to learn this hard lesson. She was 15 years old when she refused to move when the driver on a segregated bus in Montgomery, Alabama ordered her to get up. She endured arrest and eventually challenged the law in court. But civil rights leaders felt the working class pregnant teen was the wrong symbol for the movement. So they waited nine months for the unimpeachable Rosa Parks to do exactly the same thing Colvin did. Then they launched a movement. After all, what`s nine months of injustice if it ensures you have just the right symbol for organizing? I presume that is the point of your tweet, Nick, to encourage activists to find palatable and pitiful victims so that skeptics will be forced to admit a wrong has been committed. After all, who can be sure that Michael Brown didn`t deserve to be shot? Six times while unarmed. Who can say for certain that it was a bad thing for his body to be left lying under the sweltering Missouri sun for four hours? Who has the right to label that a travesty? Apparently not a community of mostly black people whose schools remain effectively segregated, whose voices feel silenced and who are policed by a department of mostly white officers. And clearly not the prosecutor or grand jury who refused to even bring the officer to trial for Brown`s death. And not the thousands of allies and organizers who stood in solidarity with the people of Ferguson for months. No, no, no, no, no. The Michael Brown slaying was far too murky because he was no angel. Activists should not have organized against the brutality they perceived or drawn attention to the militarized response of police they endured. Your tweet was a reminder that they should have waited. Waited for more than three months after the August 9th death of Brown until November 22nd when Cleveland police would offer a more perfect victim. A more palatable protagonist to dramatize the fragility of black lives. Tamir Rice was just 12. He was killed in a playground within seconds of officers arriving. And he was killed in full view of a video camera, a camera that even captured the horror of his 14-year-old sister being wrestled to the ground and handcuffed. If only those impatient activists had waited. And while I`m sure you must be right, because after all you`re Nicholas Kristof, I was just thinking about how hundreds of activists did organize in Cleveland just days after Rice was killed. They actually didn`t need to wait for "The New York Times" to tell them a wrong had been committed in a January 22nd article that you helpfully tweeted along with your advice. And I was thinking about how many of those activists were activated because of their outrage over the events in Ferguson months earlier and I was thinking about how those activists articulated connections rather than distinctions between the cases of Michael Brown and Eric Garner and John Crawford III and Tamir Rice. And I was thinking how many of them even saw links with the killings of Trayvon Martin and Renisha McBride and Kajieme Powell and Jonathan Ferrell and even Emmitt Till and Jimmy Lee Jackson. And I was thinking how unlike you, Nick, these activists were not searching for perfect martyrs to tell a neat story. They were responding to the realities of loss and experiences of injustice as they happened. And these activists, who you felt the authority to counsel on Friday afternoon, didn`t wait for Rice because they were dodging tear gas in Ferguson and stopping traffic in New York and disrupting shopping in Minnesota because they did not want another unarmed man or woman or child to be killed, because they believe that justice delayed is justice denied. And because they took Martin Luther King seriously when he said we cannot wait, because there comes a time when the cup of endurance runs over and men knows longer willing to be plunged into the abyss of despair. And because these activists are wildly foolish enough to believe that all black lives matter. Thank goodness you set them straight about that. Sincerely, Melissa. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) HARRIS-PERRY: The movie "American Sniper" is drawing big crowds at the Box Office and creating a big controversy. The film directed by Clint Eastwood starring Bradley Cooper is the true story of the real life Navy SEAL Chris Kyle dubbed the most lethal sniper in U.S. military history. He has served four tours in Iraq. Since opening in wide release less than two weeks ago, "American Sniper" has raked in more than $154 million. The bulk of that during its record-breaking opening weekend. It`s also been nominated for six Oscars, including best picture and best actor. Along with accolades came controversy. Most immediately high profile figures began offering opinions on social media. Seth Rogen tweeted "American Sniper" kind of reminds me of the movie that`s showing in the third act of "Inglorious Bastards," fake and Nazi propaganda film. And while not mentioning, the movie by name, filmmaker Michael Moore, who reports that his uncle was killed by a sniper in World War II said, quote, "We were taught snipers were cowards will shoot you in the back. Snipers aren`t heroes." Both Moore and Rogen would later walked back their comments clarifying that they do not intend to offend anyone. Sarah Palin put liberals on their place writing on Facebook, "just realized the rest of America knows you`re not fit to shine Chris Kyle`s combat boots." Just how did this film, "American Sniper" become such an American controversy. Joining me now, Jonathan Metzl, director for the Center for Health Medicine and Society and professor of psychiatry at Vanderbilt University. Earl Catagnus Jr., assistant professor of history and security studies at Valley Forge Military College and veteran of the Iraq war. Alicia Quarles, correspondent for E! News and Jeremy Scahill, investigative reporter for The Intercept, and author of "Dirty Wars, the World is a Battlefield." Did you actually like the movie? Not the controversy, the movie itself. ALICIA QUARLES, E! NEWS CORRESPONDENT: I actually liked the movie itself. And I`ve got to say, full disclosure, I interviewed Clint Eastwood, I`ve interviewed Bradley Cooper several times, and I interviewed Taya, Chris`s real-life wife and also Sandy Miller who plays her and I like the movie itself because it`s very different from the book. The book is controversial. The movie, Clint cut out a lot. He cut out 44 pages of dialogue so it`s hard to get everything that`s in the book in the movie in two hours. This is Hollywood. And also Bradley Cooper said, this is not meant to be a political film, this is meant to be a film telling a soldier`s story. HARRIS-PERRY: Okay. So that moment, this is not to be a political film, I think is right where the angst lies, Jeremy, the idea that you can tell a story about this particular moment and that it can be somehow personal and not political. JEREMY SCAHILL, INVESTIGATIVE REPORTER: Of course it`s a political film. I mean, I view this sort of as a non-objective fairy tale that represents how certain people in the special ops community and their fans view their role in the world. It was totally void of any context. Why were we in Fallujah, why was the U.S. in Iraq? You know, the term savages is used a number of times during the film. And if you read Chris Kyle`s book, of course he refers to Iraqis as savages regularly throughout the book. He brags about having a crusader tattoo on his forearm that he had put in red, you know, to symbolize blood. You know, I didn`t know Chris Kyle personally. I know people who trained him that are friends of mine and have talked to him. He`s a beloved figure in that community which is part of why there`s the high-stakes emotion here. But as a film, of course, it`s pure America first propaganda. In the end I think it does a disservice to the people in the U.S. military because of the cartoonish portrayal. All he needed was a captain America shield to sort of solidify its role as that kind of a film. HARRIS-PERRY: Earl. EARL CATAGNUS, JR., IRAQ WAR VETERAN: I completely disagree. This film really could have been me, could have been any of the other brothers that I served with. Chris Kyle was with me for two weeks in Fallujah and I cannot tell you how much of the purity that he had for love of country and the patriotism. He was -- he talked like that. He believed it. He was the real deal and he was a true warrior. And many of our warriors are like that, and that`s what I`ve been trying to say over and over. You will not understand. This is not a -- this is it. This is the way we think. This may -- the combat scenes are obviously Hollywooded up. This isn`t propaganda, this is Hollywood. They make money. So this is about, and mentioned in the break about sniper -- you sit there for days just looking for glass, just glassing targets or glassing potential targets and not seeing anything for weeks, so you can`t sit there and show that. But there is frustration -- HARRIS-PERRY: But actually, on the movie making of it that is actually what I had hoped for. So, I was saying that I have someone in my life who is in the role of a sniper. And when I asked this young man about it, the first thing he said to me was that experience of the long, drawn-out, sometimes even boring and then suddenly having to make decisions. And I thought -- I guess what I was so surprised at again as a movie is that I felt a sense of disconnection from that, from that sense of, like, angst and of human experience, but as I listened to you talk, Earl, I guess I`m wondering is it just because my human experience is so removed from this one that it doesn`t read to me as a kind of authenticity. QUARLES: Can I jump in because I want to defend my comments and what you said earlier? It`s a political movie by nature, but that`s not what Bradley intended it to be. He fought for this movie. HARRIS-PERRY: He bought the -- QUARLES: He bought the rights to it. Steven Spielberg was supposed to direct it. Steven had a very different vision, pulled out and that`s when Clint Eastwood came aboard. Clint Eastwood almost didn`t do the movie because he didn`t want to be associated again with another war movie. Especially after, you know, all the controversy during the republican convention and all of it, but that`s what he got. I say it`s not purely a political movie because this is Chris`s pointed of view. This came from his book. This is his story-telling. Bradley did this as an actor and tell his story. HARRIS-PERRY: I get it. But I will just suggest and yet our points of view do have political meaning. So "12 Years a Slave" is also a point of view film told from a memoir, but it has enormous political meaning. Stay with us, more on "American Sniper" when we come back. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) HARRIS-PERRY: All right. Earl, I want you to again express some of this, and Jeremy, I want to hear you respond. CATAGNUS: So it was a movie, and that`s what we have to put it in context. Hollywood makes movies to make money. It`s not propaganda. You can attach all of that on top of it from your perception, but for me being a sniper, being a warrior for six years and being in combat and being wounded, that`s how I felt when I come home. It`s a very touching movie to me and my family. SCAHILL: And I, I mean, I respect that. And that`s part of -- when I say that I think it`s a fairy tale to some of that perception, what I mean is that, you know, everyone that I talk to who worked in special ops or worked in Fallujah on the military side of it says the same thing you do, that it resonates with them. I`m not military, and I experienced that war as a journalist on the ground from a very different perspective. And one of the most troubling things to me about the film -- and this is the director`s prerogative is that there is no context of why the U.S. is in Iraq or why the U.S. was in Fallujah at that time. To not even reference the fact that there was basically no al Qaeda presence in Iraq before the U.S. invaded is and that it was U.S. policy that facilitated Fallujah, which I spent time in before the Iraq war, becoming this hot bed of al Qaeda in Iraq, al Qaeda in Macedonia (ph) to not explain that and then just have it as he`s shooting all the bad guys, including kids. In his book, he says the rules of engagement early on were kill any male 16 to 65. You don`t get any sense -- QUARLES: You just hit a major point. HARRIS-PERRY: All right, Earl? CATAGNUS: So the rules of engagement are there for us literally to -- one, they come from the Pentagon. So, it`s legal for us, so we don`t get prosecuted. But more importantly, it`s for psychological purposes. QUARLES: You just hit on a major point though. CATAGNUS: I`m saying, that is not the rule of engagement. So, the rule of engagement would be military age males that were showing either aggressive actions, different things that were stipulated, including cell phones. If you actually monitored them and actually saw them and where they would trigger IEDs, but they were the trigger man was a cell phone saw a certain behaviors. So we`re taught as a sniper to pick up on these behaviors. And there`s a sort of psychological component to it. And we have to build that evidence in our heads and justify every single shot. And that`s why you can see that. HARRIS-PERRY: I want you to jump in on this Jonathan. METZL: Well, it seems to me like there`s a slippage between the rules of engagement for what soldiers are actually doing and the movie. So, this is a movie. And I think the problem is potentially it kind of reproduces the book`s lack of moral anguish, about what it means to kill people in short span of time. I think that`s the debate that people are having. CATAGNUS: You didn`t think there was moral anguish in there? METZL: Well, I think that the movie oversimplified Iraqis. I think it lacked -- HARRIS-PERRY: Well, right, right. And so the moral anguish is coming home. And that`s part of what I heard you say here. METZL: Exactly, that`s my point the moral anguish is coming home. HARRIS-PERRY: That for your family, this mattered because that sense of distance from the experience, the home experience versus the war experience. And I think for me, maybe that`s part of why I was having trouble relating to the film. Even though I know those who have had those experiences, once they`ve come home, because that part that`s happening away from home is so shrouded. But then for Jeremy, you were in those places. You just weren`t there as a combatant. SCAHILL: Well, I mean, you know, as someone who has struggled also with post-traumatic stress disorder from, you know, seeing kids blown up and dead bodies in Somalia, Yemen, Iraq, Afghanistan, you know, I did actually relate to some of the scenes. And I think -- in fact, to me it was one of the most important parts of the film was these allusions to Chris Kyle really struggling with his own demons, from what it would been a part of an Iraq and how it affects the family. And, you know, when Chris Kyle was killed -- and, you know, the ending of the film actually is quite powerful. When you see him getting into his car with this young guy who ends up killing him at a shooting range, this is a highly under addressed issue in our society. The domestic violence that occurred as a part of PTSD but also lack of really good support for people that -- (CROSSTALK) QUARLES: I`ve got to say this. Surprisingly, I`m defending this film. Surprisingly because I agree. If you watch the film, you think, gosh, this film seems just completely, you know, racist. It seems ridiculous. But again, this is Chris Kyle`s interpretation. This film is based off of his book, his experiences. I`m not saying it`s right, it`s wrong. I actually don`t agree with a lot of the things that he felt, but it`s based on his experiences. As journalists, right, we`re open to everyone`s experiences. Hollywood didn`t say -- I mean, but this was his experience. People don`t know -- (CROSSTALK) SCAHILL: Read the counts of Muslims who have gone to the theater to read this. People think this was real. HARRIS-PERRY: All right. Jonathan Metzl, Earl Catagnus, Jr., Alicia Quarles, and Jim Scahill are going to continue to do this work in the commercial. But that is our show for today. Thanks to you at home for watching. I`ll see you next Saturday at 10:00 a.m. Eastern. Now, it`s time for a preview of "WEEKENDS WITH ALEX WITT." Hi, Alex. THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED. END