Melissa Harris-Perry, Transcript 05/02/15

Guests: William Rhoden, Wes Smith, Kavitha Davidson, Dave Zirin, GauthamNagesh, David Zirin, Jon Shane, Marquez Claxton, Cherrell Brown, LesterSpence, Marc Steiner, Dayvon Love

MELISSA HARRIS-PERRY, MSNBC ANCHOR: This morning my question, are you going to watch the fight tonight? Plus don`t believe the hype. People protests are not the only engine of social change. And the NFL still sending mixed messages. But first, all eyes are still on Baltimore. Good morning. I`m Melissa Harris-Perry. Yesterday, six Baltimore police officers were charged with crimes in the death of Freddie Gray. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) MARILYN MOSBY, BALTIMORE`S STATE ATTORNEY: The findings of our comprehensive, thorough and independent investigation, coupled with the medical examiner`s determination that Mr. Gray`s death was a homicide, which we received today, has led us to believe that we have probable cause to file criminal charges. (END VIDEO CLIP) HARRIS-PERRY: That was Baltimore`s top prosecutor Marilyn Mosby announcing the charges ranging from false imprisonment and misconduct in office to manslaughter. And for one officer, second degree depraved heart murder. That`s the charge that claims the officer acted with an extreme disregard for human life. Mosby says officers illegally arrested Gray, repeatedly flouted department policy by failing to buckle Gray into the police van and repeatedly failed to get him medical attention. At one point, she said, officers placed Gray in the back of the police van face down and head first with his hands cuffed and his ankles shackled. Gray`s spinal cord was severely injured and his voice box was crushed. He died from his injuries a week later. After the charges were announced the officers` union, the fraternal order of police released a statement claiming the officers are not responsible for Gray`s death. The charges came after more than a week of demonstrations that at times turned to rioting with shops looted, cars set aflame and rocks thrown at police. The bulk of the protesters, however, were simply calling for justice. Prosecutor Mosby said yesterday that she`d heard the demonstrators` demands. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) MOSBY: To the people of Baltimore and the demonstrators across America, I heard your call for no justice, no peace. Your peace is sincerely needed as I work to deliver justice on behalf of this young man. (END VIDEO CLIP) HARRIS-PERRY: Now, that call for justice that is what is at the heart of the Black Lives Matter movement. The protests we`ve seen around the country, are about the number of unarmed black men and women who end up dead at the hands of police, but they`re also at least as much about a justice system that often fails to hold those officers accountable. We saw it in New York when the officers who placed Eric Garner in a chokehold, a maneuver banned by the NYPD were not charged with any crime. We saw it in Ferguson when the officer who shot and killed Mike Brown was not charged with any crime. We saw it in Chicago when a judge acquitted the officer who shot and killed Rekia Boyd of a legal technicality. And we`ve seen it in protests in cities around the country, thousands of voices demanding that officers who use unwarranted deadly force be held accountable in a meaningful way. And with Baltimore, neighbors of Freddie Gray burst into cheers when they heard that the officers would be charged. The man who filmed Gray`s arrest on his cell phone, Kevin Moore, told the "Baltimore Sun," "I`m exuberant, I`m happy, I`m every positive word you can think of. I finally made a difference in the world." With tears streaking his cheeks, Moore said "It feels so good that black people finally matter." After announcing the charges Mosby who comes from a family of law enforcement had this message for the Baltimore police force. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) MOSBY: To the rank and file officers of the Baltimore City police department, please know that these accusations of these six officers are not an indictment on the entire force. (END VIDEO CLIP) HARRIS-PERRY: But will it change how the police force does its job? Joining me now Jon Shane, associate professor at John Jay College of Criminal Justice and a retired captain from the New York Police Department. And joining me from Columbia, South Carolina, is Marquez Claxton who is director of the Black Law Enforcement Alliance and a retired NYPD detective. Marcus, I want to come to you in one moment, but I want to start with you, John, at the table, because I am very committed to the idea that structures matter, that people are good and bad and all those kinds of things, but that a lot of times what we see as human behavior is actually happening in the context of structures. And if I believe that for the communities that I`m reporting on and talking about, I got to also try to believe it for the police. So, help me to understand what are the structures that police officers face that might help us to understand the choices that these six officers made. JON SHANE, ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR, JOHN JAY COLLEGE: Look, policing is an exceptionally complex endeavor. There are four contexts, in which policing is generally set, political, economic, social and legal. And they all have different implications and the rhetoric that comes from the prosecutor is something that I don`t particularly care for. I don`t want her to make a social statement on the backs of police officers that have yet to go to trial because I think it`s a bit inflammatory. Just as they were - I believe so, a lot of the protesters were rushing to judgment about what had happened in the rioting, so too do I think it is going to happen when these officers go to trial. What`s going to happen when these police officers are found not guilty at trial? Someone`s going to say invariably . HARRIS-PERRY: You think they`ll be found not guilty at trial. SHANE: No, I really have no idea. I`m curious to know what - how the evidence is going to play itself out. But what interests me is that the term "accountability" is not synonymous with punishment. It is not an outcome. We can`t guarantee equal outcome. We can guarantee equal process. And that`s what the indictment suggests, that they`re going to subordinate themselves to a process; that they are answerable as public servants and during that process we`ll find out what the outcome is going to be. It is then that punishment may or may not attach. But it`s only then. And the structure in which that happens is one fraught with political, social, legal and economic contexts. HARRIS-PERRY: Marcus, let me come to you on that. So, you heard one of the response here from Jon at the table. What`s your response? MARQUEZ CLAXTON, DIR., BLACK LAW ENFORCEMENT ALLIANCE: Well, clearly, there is a culture within law enforcement and policing, but that culture has been kind of cultivated and we`ve seen a manifestation of that police culture which is really a shift away towards more community-based public service model into an enforcement model. As a result of that there are shortcuts that law enforcement has routinely been engaged in, that resulted in a type of tragedies that occurred nationwide whether it be Tamir Rice or Trayvon Martin or Freddie Gray, or Mike Brown, etc. You can`t ignore the fact - I mean if you look at it academically, it may seem clear and obvious to you. But I think there are certain subtleties and realities that we must face. And that is that in large part across the nation, enforcement of the law by police officers has become more race-based, statistics and photo (ph) driven than anything else. And that`s doing a disservice to the public that we`re supposed to be serving and protecting. HARRIS-PERRY: All right, so hold for me. Because this is an interesting point. When I saw the image of those six officers. There`s one woman officer, she`s a woman of color. There are several officers who are officers of color. It is a group of people who probably are pretty representative racially and demographically of the Baltimore police force itself. And that`s part of why I sort of really wanted to ask these structural questions. What is it that we don`t understand about the choices that they may be making that they`re facing? You know, there`s been a lot of conversation about potentially that when Martin O`Malley was governor he set a set of activities sort of in process of arresting every person who you see who is so and so so-called disrespectful. We know that this seemed to have happened when Freddie Gray made eye contact. But to go to Officer Claxton`s point, isn`t that the wrong kind of policing? Like why are we arresting people for eye contact? Can`t we have a little more internal capacity than that? SHANE: I can`t disagree entirely because I don`t know all the facts. But I will say this, Freddie Gray was not arrested because somebody looked at him with a cross eye. The law dictates how police officers can operate, the things they can and can`t do. The choices they make are predicated upon action versus reaction. Now, if they are going after somebody because they are investing drugs or some violent crime, and someone reacts to them in a way that`s consistent with the law, the police officers then follow up with that. Now, the federal law says that you can chase somebody and a wholesale flight is a legal reason and a legal basis to do that. In New Jersey, for example, that`s not the same case. Wholesale flight in New Jersey is not probable cause to make an arrest. So it depends where you are. I don`t know what the law is in Maryland. But if we`re following the federal standard, they can make that foot pursuit. And the reaction of the police officers is predicated upon how these events are unfolding. Sometimes they unfold with a lot more facts and circumstances. A lot of times it happens in an instant. And it is that moment that we pay police officers to make decisions on our behalf. Sometimes they`re inaccurate and they`re allowed to be mistaken about the facts, but they must be right about the law all the time. And in this case, perhaps, they were mistaken about the facts on what it was they observed, but we give officers the leeway and the discretion to make those decisions on our behalf. HARRIS-PERRY: But isn`t it in part because - and Marquez, let me come to you on this, because we believe there has to be some sense that once you are taken into custody by police officers, once your hands are handcuffed and you can`t, for example, control your own body in the back of a car, I mean, part of our belief is that even if they`re making bad choices they shouldn`t be fatal choices to the public. CLAXTON: Right, absolutely. And let me just say that, you know, I disagree with Mr. Shane in as far as giving officers leeway. We don`t give them leeway to violate the law or to disregard the law. Case in point, clear example of just how the quality of the professional standards of law enforcement has diminished so much. And representative of the FOP last week stated that this is a type of arrest that didn`t need probably cause. We can`t allow our law enforcement professionals to kind of freelance, if you will. There are laws, they are written down and every police officer should be familiar and aware of those laws. And you can`t skirt around them. No, you can`t -- we`re talking about an arrest situation. Not merely a chase situation or you are responding to a call for assistance, we`re talking about an arrest situation. Now, clearly a law enforcement professional should know the difference between the level of suspicion needed to chase someone and a level of suspicion required to arrest them. And that is probable cause across the board. But when you allow, when you expect and when you accept shortcuts around the law, when you give too much leeway to police agencies and police officers under the guise that they`re all noble and well meaning, then the result is tragedy. So the professional -- the level of professional standards has diminished greatly in large part due to the national trend away from a public service model into an enforcement model with people who are ill qualified to be in a position of police officers. Not everyone can be a police officer. HARRIS-PERRY: Marquez, I so appreciate you joining us. As we go out we`re going to actually play a little bit of sound from Baltimore`s current mayor saying similar things. Jon Shane is going to stay with us at the table here. We`re bringing some other folks in. But I do want to thank you so much, Marquez Claxton of South Carolina for joining us. Stay right there, because up next we`ll talk about the power of protests both when it`s peaceful and when it`s not. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) STEPHANIE RAWLINGS-BLAKE, MAYOR OF BALTIMORE: To those of you who wish to engage in brutality, misconduct, racism and corruption, let me be clear. There is no place in the Baltimore City Police Department for you. And as mayor, I will continue to be relentless in changing the culture of the police department. (END VIDEO CLIP) (COMMERCIAL BREAK) HARRIS-PERRY: This week, some of the people of Baltimore expressed their pain and outrage about the death of Freddie Gray by smashing windows, setting fires and throwing rocks at officers. In short, by rioting. Officials not only called for calm, many also insisted on lecturing the protesters and the public that only nonviolent protests can bring sustained social change. Allow me to disagree. Take the nonviolent direct action of African-American civil rights protesters. Their actions, like the march from Selma to Montgomery, were potent ingredients for policy change, but much of that change was still a result of violence. It was the violence done against their undefended bodies that pricked the conscience of the nation. Because a key aspect of so-called nonviolent protest is provoking violence. Now, if you still have - believe that disruptive and destructive actions on the part of protesters themselves can never bring about meaningful change, just look at the events of June 28, 1969, that`s the night Stonewall erupted. In the 1960s, the New York Police Department enforced anti-sodomy laws so aggressively that they were arresting 100 men a week. Police would burst into community spaces, threaten, harass, demean arrest and often abuse anyone who fit the profile. Acting with impunity against a group with no political or social power. But on June 28th, 1969, the New York City Police attempted a routine raid on a Greenwich Village bar, the Stonewall Inn. But instead of business as usual, the police encountered people who had had enough. That night the people of Stonewall fought back. Men refused to produce I.D.s, patrons refused to submit to arrest, gay patrons openly mocked the police performing kick lines in the face of the cops trying to arrest them. The resistance became physical, the crowd grew, bottles flew, fires burned, when the police barricaded themselves in the bar to await for backup, rioters uprooted a parking meter and used it as a battering ram. Rioters were beaten and arrested. Stonewall was not a non-violent action, it was a riot. And it was also the watershed moment in the movement for LGBT equality. The first-ever gay pride parades were held on the one year anniversary of the Stonewall riots, a tradition that continues more than 40 years later. President Obama himself has cited the Stonewall riots as evidence of Americans` commitment to the struggle for equal rights. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: We, the people, declare today that the most evident of truths that all of us are created equal is the star that guides us still just as it guided our forbearers through Seneca Falls and Selma and Stonewall. It is now our generation`s task to carry on what those pioneers began. (END VIDEO CLIP) HARRIS-PERRY: And this week, as Baltimore burned, the Supreme Court heard oral arguments in the case that might lead to marriage equality in every state in our nation. A decision that would represent one more victory in the struggle for equality that began decisively as a riot. Joining our table now Cherrell Brown, community organizer, Mark Steiner, host of the "Mark Steiner Show" and founder of the Center for Emerging Media, and Lester Spence, associate professor of political science at Johns Hopkins University and author of "Stare into the Darkness, the Limits of Hip-Hop and Black Politics." So, you`ve been on the ground organizing. I`m certainly not trying to incite or call for a riot, but I`m trying to complicate a little bit this idea that only sort of peaceful marching in line is the only thing that ever brings social change. CHERRELL BROWN, COMMUNITY ORGANIZER: Right. I think that this question of nonviolence versus violence, the analysis is often a false framing, right? I think it`s sometimes to dichotomize oppressed people resisting between good protesters or bad rioters. Never is this critic of violence put on white supremacy. Poverty is violence, predatory lending is violence, rough rides are violence. And the way that oppressed people navigate - the way they respond is resistance to me. And I think it`s interesting that those who have no vested interest in black liberation often call us to be political more like MLK. And what they mean, is more sanitized version or misunderstanding of who MLK was. HARRIS-PERRY: I want to pause just to underline this and listen to a man who was on the streets in Baltimore speaking to CNN about this exact idea. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When I was in the Marine Corps, they called me a patriot, a Marine. But now that I`m fighting for my people, they call me a [EXPLETIVE DELETED] thug. I`m not sweeping nothing up. They called me a thug when I fight for my people. (END VIDEO CLIP) HARRIS-PERRY: Lester, respond to that for me. LESTER SPENCE, ASSOC. PROF., JOHN HOPKINS UNIV.: Yeah, so as I was - as you were running the clip I was pulling - trying to pull up a quote from Donald Rumsfeld who talked about riots, as a form of political protest when it applied to Iraq, but not quite here. What we see here is an attempt to kind of castigate a wide range, a significant number of Baltimore`s people who are doing - for doing basically what needed to be done to bring an indictment in the Freddie Gray case. So, if you think about Marilyn Mosby. Marilyn Mosby is elected in large part implicitly because their concerns that her incumbent would not prosecute police. And when she ran for office, she was like, listen, I`ll do this. I`ll treat everybody fairly, right? And that`s an incredible moment. She - her incumbent outspent her three to one and she beat that as black political power in effect. But the thing is, without those protests and without the violent and nonviolent aspect coming together, there`s no mechanism to hold her accountable and to hold the city accountable for that. HARRIS-PERRY: And yet Jon Shane of a law enforcement officer you must be uncomfortable with this particular set of claims I`m making. SHANE: I can`t sit here and say that police departments around the country now have to back off and allow people to express themselves in a violent way. It doesn`t even make sense. It runs completely counter to rule of law society. HARRIS-PERRY: And there were officers who were injured in this. SHANE: Of course. HARRIS-PERRY: Some of them still hospitalized. SHANE: Of course. And my position has always been this. You meet with protesters ahead of time, you lay down the ground rules. You give them space to protest and demonstrate rationally and expressible within the context of the First Amendment right. I have no problem with that. That`s a legal context in which policing is set. The very first moment that a window is broken, a crime is committed, police enforce the law, that`s the end of it. We don`t say, well, we`re going to back up, we are going to take a hands off approach, we`re going to allow this to go because when police officers or law enforcement in general as a rule of law society hesitates like that it very quickly spirals out of control because the demonstrators almost always outnumber the police, they can always move in different directions against the way the police are set up. And we don`t set up society like that to allow those things to occur. HARRIS-PERRY: Marc. MARC STEINER: Let me describe to everybody`s watching who the people are. HARRIS-PERRY: They were teenagers, mostly, right? STEINER: And who they are, who they were on Monday night. And I`ve been out there every day. These young people out there are the children of the oppressed. These are the people whose grandfathers and great-grandparents didn`t - when segregation ended stayed behind, the industrialization happened, the police`s war on drugs and the government war on drugs happened. They were the victims of that. Before that - segregation. Before that, their parents lived in the South. Before that, it was reconstruction, before that, it was slavery, before that, it was the middle passage. These are those children, this is all they`ve ever known. So and when one of their own gets killed and nothing is happening about it and these are the ones who have been targeted, and harassed, and beaten, bullied and arrested by the police, they blew up. I don`t want to see them burn down the CVS while these old people have to get their prescriptions. Nobody wanted to see that. But you have to understand who these kids are. Our job now is to put our hands around these children and bring them in, not push them out and make them the criminals. HARRIS-PERRY: So, when you say the point about to see that - and no one wants to see that, so let me just - let me be clear about what I mean here. I don`t mean that anyone wants this to happen. But when it comes to what people want to see, the truth is that audiences prefer seeing spectacular things over seeing calm things. And if . STEINER: Right. HARRIS-PERRY: And if a part of a strategy of a social movement is to bring cameras, then spectacle is -- I mean, like, again I`m trying to take a moral evaluation out of it and just on a pure strategic perspective, we do send more cameras when things burn. I mean . SHANE: That`s the social context in which policing is set. HARRIS-PERRY: Right. SHANE: And that`s also the social context, in which television and media are driven, largely. I think everybody would agree with that. STEINER: But where were the cameras when 5,000 black, white, Asian, Latino students from every university and the high schools all over Baltimore marched down the middle of the city in complete peace saying we don`t - police brutality has to stop. Where were the cameras? They weren`t anywhere. HARRIS-PERRY: Because that`s what no one wants to see. STEINER: Right. HARRIS-PERRY: In terms of like, if you just - like if you are flipping through the channel and something is on fire, you stop to see what it is. I promise, we are not going to be done. I do want to say thank you to Jon Shane. The rest of the panel is sticking around. We have got more folks joining the panel. We are staying on this topic, because Baltimore`s state attorney has a special message for the young protesters who Marc Steiner was just talking about. When we come back, we`re going to hear their response. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) MOSBY: . of this city. I will seek justice on your behalf. This is a moment, this is your moment. Let`s ensure that we have peaceful and productive rallies that will develop structural and systemic changes for generations to come. You`re at the forefront of this cause, and as young people, our time is now. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That`s right! (CHEERS AND APPLAUSE) (END VIDEO CLIP) HARRIS-PERRY: That was Baltimore state`s attorney Marilyn Mosby speaking yesterday with a special message for the young people of the city who have been raising their voices this week in a response to the death of Freddie Gray. Joining my panel now in New York is Dave Zirin, sports editor of "The Nation" magazine. Also, one of those young activists is joining me now from Baltimore. Davyon Love is co-founder of Leaders of a Beautiful Struggle. (CROSSTALK) HARRIS-PERRY: Members of the Baltimore United Coalition. I`m sorry, my whole table is going crazy. Save on Martin Steiner and Lester Spence right here and apparently you all know each other a lot. (LAUGHTER) HARRIS-PERRY: So Dayvon, Dayvon, talk to me a little bit. What has been the response of young people in Baltimore? I think initially I would not have expected that while we were having this conversation there would be this kind of enthusiasm at the table. But in fact, it looks like the comments yesterday from Mosby really have changed the feeling and tenor of what`s happening. DAYVON LOVE, CO-FOUNDER, LEADERS OF A BEAUTIFUL STRUGGLE: Yeah, well, I mean, one of the things that I think was most beautiful about yesterday was just the display, the public displays of just love and camaraderie particularly amongst black folks. We went to Pennsylvania North Avenue where, you know, it`s a historic place, it`s a place where, you know, in the `50s you had a lot of, you know, black artists and social institutions that were there. And to me, what was so amazing was to see at Penn-North where now you see a lot of boarded-up housing, see a lot of the problems of people associated with urban America. But what you saw was you saw black people out in the streets, you know, celebrating, you know, hugging each other. You know, we actually went out there, were giving away food and giving away pamphlets that had information about how to deal with law enforcement, you know, just talking about the work that we`re doing and getting people this information. So, it was just such a beautiful scene. And to me, what was an amazing contrast was contrasting that with the level of militarization around it. So while you have all these black folks that are embracing each other, loving each other, affirming each other in the presence of that, it almost seems like, you know, the institution of civil society doesn`t want us to do that given all the military presence around. HARRIS-PERRY: Let me ask you about another kind of clear difference here. And that is, you know, from the early days from Monday and Tuesday there`s a lot of conversation of Ferguson, and Ferguson in the context of Baltimore. And it does feel to me like when you see this mayor elected in part by the black political power in this city, when you see this attorney who clearly has a sense of not only sort of personal, but electoral connection to this community, at least at the moment we`re having very, very different responses from that city government. We don`t know what it`s all going to end up being, but sort of the Ferguson comparison now falls apart completely. And I guess I`m wondering how you build on that in the activism, the kind of ongoing activism that will go on after the cameras leave. LOVE: I think there`s an important distinction to be made between the Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake and a city state`s attorney Marilyn J. Mosby. Many people, I think, would say that our mayor is someone who has capitulated to the corporate structure of the Democratic Party, the mayor of the corporate interests in this city. And I think as we see what happens in our society at large is that oftentimes individual black people are put in positions of power and leadership in white-controlled dominating institutions, which brings more black people into those institutional arrangements which undermines our ability to develop a kind of communal independent black institutional building at the basis of our work. And so, Marilyn Mosby being elected was important because she was elected, as it was alluded to earlier, for the purpose of prosecuting law enforcement officials. And she didn`t get the same kind of corporate support. You know, she was outspent tremendously by the incumbent, but she was able to get the grassroots support that she needed. And I think this is what kind of gives her -- and it was very courageous of her to do what she did yesterday, but I think she knows the kind of support she gets behind her. And that`s an important contrast. And I think - if I can just say something else really quickly because I think the Ferguson comparison is important because I think people reduce racism to individual white folks in leadership, black people who have succumbed to white folks, and I think Baltimore shows the sophistication of white supremacy and how it operates, how it takes black figures, put them in institutional positions to give the veneer of justice when really the same institutional arrangement exists. HARRIS-PERRY: Dayvon Love, you just dropped the mike so hard on that, original structural dissertation provided live on air. I ain`t even going to come to the panel. I`m going to let the panel breathe on the commercial break and I`m going to let them respond when we come back. Dayvon Love in Baltimore, Maryland, damn. (LAUGHTER) (COMMERCIAL BREAK) (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) GENE RYAN, FRATERNAL ORDER OF POLICE: Let me begin by stating how appalled and frustrated we are this morning advanced an information announced by the state`s attorney. We`re disappointed in the apparent rush to judgment given the fact the investigation into this matter has not been concluded. (END VIDEO CLIP) HARRIS-PERRY: That was Gene Ryan with the fraternal order of police in Baltimore yesterday. And obviously, we have a very different response there from Dayvon Love. I just want to throw it back out to the table here. DAVE ZIRIN, SPORTS EDITOR, THE NATION MAGAZINE: No, first of all, I think what you just saw what the police union had is on May Day, which is International Workers Day, says something about why police unions should not be seen as part of the labor movement or labor struggle. Because he`s talking about why can`t we crack down on the working people of Baltimore even harder. Why are we being held back from doing that? Dayvon Love, brilliant, by the way. That was unbelievable, that should be that clip should go viral. But at the same time I wanted to say that I think we still have a responsibility to press prosecutor Mosby and to speak about more demands that we should be talking about. Because as some person, I`ve been in Baltimore for two weeks. And one person said to me when the charges came, and they said, let`s remember that a crumb is not a cake, that this is just the start. And a couple of basic things real quick. Is one, lifting the curfew. Because we`re in a moment right now that is celebratory and it is the weekend and it`s very dangerous when you have angry police enforcing at gunpoint in highly militarized fashion people having to go back in their homes at 10:00 p.m. And two, we should ask for an investigation about why the police and the mayor were allowed to put out that the black family, the Bloods and the Crips had a plan to shoot and kill police officers. Not one bullet was fired at the police officer. That scared the holy hell out of thousands of people. And I want to know where that came from and there should be accountability for that. STEINER: The Baltimore Police Department is where it came from. (CROSSTALK) ZIRIN: Heads should roll for that. SPENCE: Can I stop in there? STEINER: It`s totally bogus. SPENCE: Just for a second. So I take the bus, ground zero for the riots in Mondawmin Mall. Baltimore City youth don`t have - the Baltimore schools don`t have their own bus system. STEINER: Right. SPENCE: So they take the city buses home. Mondawmin Mall is important transportation hub for Douglas High School and a number of the high schools. When they came out from school, the police were in riot gear . STEINER: Right. SPENCE: . keeping them from going home. There were people who slept in hotels. STEINER: They shut the subway. SPENCE: And shut the subway down. I take the subway home. So, when we talk about the riots, I understand we are talking about them as a political topic. But we also have to talk about the role of the city government in kind of deciding that, the role of police. And then secondly - the other thing that Marilyn, we need to push Mosby on, is a number of people have really, really high bails. ZIRIN: $500,000. SPENCE: $500,000 bail. ZIRIN: Yes. SPENCE: Right? HARRIS-PERRY: So, you mean of the rioters who . (CROSSTALK) ZIRIN: . pieces of bread. And Don Lemon might think that`s funny, but it`s not funny. He was laughing on TV about that. A slice of bread is not a pillow. People are emerging from jails with black eyes, bloody noses. I have pictures of it on my Instagram. People saying it was from police. There needs to be accountability for police brutality and amnesty for protesters who are behind bars. SPENCE: That`s the big thing they chat now in Baltimore. Amnesty for everybody who`s been arrested. They need to be out on the street and we need to be rebuilding and not putting these young people in jail. HARRIS-PERRY: Yes. SPENCE: It`s absurd. HARRIS-PERRY: So, I saw finally . SPENCE: The police officers were out - they are all out. HARRIS-PERRY: Right, so . SPENCE: I mean charge in the riot. M: So, here`s the challenge I find myself in, in part because we had two officers on earlier, they`re not here at the table right now. So, I hear what - I mean I hear all of you. That on the ground there this week, you know so much better than I do what`s actually happening in that moment. STEINER: It`s emotional. HARRIS-PERRY: But we`re also not about to live in cities that don`t have police officers. I mean even if we want to have a world that we`re imagining that at some point, that`s not about to happen. And so part of what I`m trying to figure out is, in a world where we are going to have police officers policing these cities, how do we generate some kind of structural incentive that improves the reasons and the ways -- I mean, so I`m hearing with the heads roll and accountability, but then I also wonder that`s just like - heightened tensions create a way in which officers then feel even more desire and interest to kind of intervene in black lives. BROWN: That`s a difficult question because when I envision a world where black lives matter the police as we know it don`t exist. HARRIS-PERRY: We said that here, right. (CROSSTALK) BROWN: We have to navigate this system in the meantime. So a lot of that looks like civilian review board who actually have like subpoena power with some teeth. That looks like demilitarizing the police. One of the things that I felt was really encouraging about Mosby`s statements, that she said two things that were really important. She said, systemic, and she said system structural. So, it lets me know that she`s thinking this is not just about the individual bad cops, bad apples but that there`s a culture here of misconduct that we need to be addressing. So I was really encouraged by that. HARRIS-PERRY: So, I`m wondering, if the police officers are standing there as young people are coming down, but they`re there to help give them safe passage home, is that a different story, right? So, if we are going to imagine they`re going to be police officers and if - even if there is an underlying current of what we think maybe they`ll do - but if they go with the spirit of hey, I know you all have got to get home, can we be there to help you get home as opposed to showing up in riot gear. STEINER: Police are going to be here for a long time to come. But there are other ways of doing this. A, Baltimore has to have - a police civilian control board of the police with teeth to either propose indictments, or let police - but we have investigative powers. We need that. The mayor doesn`t seem to want it. Mosby it seems, doesn`t want it. We need that in Baltimore City. That`s one thing we need. That`s part of political push. The other is reforming a policeman`s bill of rights, which says that you can`t question a police officer for ten days and they can get their stories together and they don`t have to talk to the prosecutor. And that has to change. But C, you don`t need the police to take these kids home. Baltimore is one quick example. There`s a group called Safe Streets, it`s run by the city government, but these are all ex-cons, people who come out of prison, ex-felons, they run with one part of the east side, where they work for people on the streets. There used to be murder capital. In 1 1/2 years not one murder - that happened. Because they know how to talk to the people. We have a different structure. You can have people, you can hire them out of prisons for the community, who know the communities, who patrol their communities, help people with their problems, work with kids. You don`t need a policeman for everything we do in the society because they`re enforcers, they are not protectors. HARRIS-PERRY: Stay with us. So much more because why everything you think you know about Baltimore, you may know even though you`ve never even been there. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) HARRIS-PERRY: Long before protests and social unrest attracted the attention of the news media to Baltimore this week, the city occupied a space in the public imagination informed in large part by a TV series that has been called the greatest television show ever. Viewers of "The Wire" during its original run on HBO more than a decade ago or those who`ve discovered and binge watched the show since it first aired think they know Baltimore through the lens of the show`s raw nuanced and intimate portrayal of the city and its people. The images and sounds coming out of Baltimore this week may have felt familiar to "The Wire" fans because the show captured details like Baltimoreans` unique accent and the city`s abandoned boarded up row houses so authentically. But the stories that unfold over the course of "The Wire`s" five seasons were about much more than just aesthetics because at the heart of the series was an often bleak commentary on how the city`s institutions have failed the people they were designed to protect. The frustration and despair of individuals who try to resist those institutions and push against them to change. "The Wire" used compelling narratives to explain the often conflicts ways, in which systemic failures at every level from the war on drugs and de- industrialization to policing, public education and dysfunctional politics helped to replicate inequality and limit opportunity for the city`s most marginalized people. In fact, the real world reach of the show was so influential that then- Senator Barack Obama declared "The Wire" to be his favorite show when he was running for president in 2008. And just recently when President Obama wanted someone to come to the White House to talk criminal justice policy that was David Simon, the creator of "The Wire" who got the invitation. But there`s realistic and then there`s real. A real young man who died and was buried this week. A real family and community awaiting justice for his death. And real people demanding recognition of the fact that their vulnerability to police violence is no fiction. So up next, I`m going to ask my guests what the art of a fictional show can tell us about real life. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Unless you live within that own communities and you understand their own lifestyle, you really can`t judge. You can voice your opinion, but you can`t judge. So, I even said some things, but when I came down here and I see - and you feel the hurt and you feel the pain, you understand where they come from. You understand the anger, you understand the pain, you understand the relief of the stress that was built up. (END VIDEO CLIP) HARRIS-PERRY: That was a protester in Baltimore reacting to yesterday`s announcement of charges filed against officers accused of causing Freddie Gray`s death. So I think that`s what I want to open up for you all, what is it that we need to know? All of you have spent so much time there. Dave, I know you wrote a piece about Makayla Gilliam-Price . ZIRIN: Yes. HARRIS-PERRY: And this kind of intergenerational struggle for justice. Maybe you can . ZIRIN: I mean I think it`s just if you understand the Gilliam Price family, you can understand why people are in the streets of Baltimore. First and foremost, the state of Maryland stepped up its executions in the major way in the late 1990s after going 20 years without executing anybody. Where was the death house, where was the death chamber? Right in the middle of a poor neighborhood in Baltimore. You know, in many states the death houses are in the middle of nowhere. Because they don`t want people going out there, they want to isolate death row prisoners. They put it right in the middle of a neighborhood that was defined by urban decay in the 1990s, it`s since even gentrified a little bit. But even though it`s defined by decay, the death house and the super-max prison, brand new. So, the only new building in the neighborhoods, the death house. Tyrone Gilliam was executed in 1998, November 16 for a crime that a lot of us thought he didn`t commit. The mother of the murder victim in the case begged the governor not to execute him, and yet the governor, a Democrat Parris Glendening, went ahead and executed him. Tyrone Gilliam-Price. There was a movement for him, Tyrone X Gilliam, I`m sorry, the movement for him was led by Zelda Gilliam, his sister. And Zelda Gilliam would march with her husband John Gilliam-Price and her one year-old daughter whose name was Makayla Gilliam-Price. And I marched with this baby girl. And I never saw her again until I saw her earlier this week as a 17-year-old member of City Block, Baltimore block, dyed red hair standing in front of a room of 300 people in Baltimore, speaking without notes. And you know what she said, she said, we need a movement for black lives matter. It can`t be a black deaths matter. In other words, did you love Freddie Gray when he was alive? That`s the question I asked you. You can`t love these brothers and sisters only when they`re dead. And she said we need a world where we all see the humanity in each other. And the idea that she could say that after the blood that her family has spilled in the city of Baltimore, that to me is amazing. So, what I wrote about, it was Makayla Gilliam-Price, people might look at her and say that`s the revenge of Baltimore`s racist history. I think Makayla Gilliam-Price is the potential redemption of Baltimore and a new kind of city. STEINER: She is, I mean, she`s -- something that in Baltimore people don`t get, I think, a lot. SPENCE: Yeah, that`s right STEINER: And there`s a lot of organizing going on. There are -- what Makayla part of the Baltimore block, this came out of two years ago, three years ago Tyrone West was killed by the police two years ago, right? When Tyrone West was killed by the police, his family stood up. They`ve been on my show over and over again. And every Wednesday they had West Wednesday. They stood in front of the City Hall, they stood in front of the state attorney`s office, they stood in front of the police department demanding accountability for the death of their loved one. And a movement began to build. SPENCE: It was that energy that put Mosby in office. STEINER: It was that energy that put Mosby in office and the movement began to build. And the out of the project kids, and the LBS, Leaders of Beautiful Struggle, that Dayvon is part of. Heba (ph) Brown who is a minister, a Baptist minister in town who has been the leader of this struggle as it`s been organizing across the city. You got that. You have got tenants` rights group working in a neighborhood called Park Heights. But they`re all part - they are not all part of an organization, but they`re all connected. And they need and they come together and they - that`s why when people came in from the outside like Malik Shabazz, who is coming into Baltimore, Baltimore leaders say, folks saying . SPENCE: Yeah, we got this. STEINER: We got this. SPENCE: It`s all good. STEINER: Because Baltimore`s moving. And you`re seeing it now, I think there`s going to be a huge movement building -we`ll see what happens in the 2016 elections and more. SPENCE: Now, before the break, what we talked about was the idea of what we need to do. We can`t just stop with this. And the thing is, as Dayvon - I`m sorry, language. (LAUGHTER) HARRIS-PERRY: That`s all right. (CROSSTALK) SPENCE: They want to know about - have been organizing to kind of repeal and pull back the law enforcement officials` bill of rights for a while now, right? And that`s going to continue that work. But more importantly it`s not just about the political violence, it`s not just about anti-black police violence it`s also about economic violence. Right? So, if you think about - it`s a thing they spend $47 million per year incarcerating residents of the Western district. $17 million per year incarcerating people in Freddie Gray`s neighborhood. STEINER: Winchester. SPENCE: Right. 700,000 (ph) to Winchester. STEINER: 7 million in police brutality claims paid out since 2011. SPENCE: Right. And so, and people have been organizing about the economic violence as well. HARRIS-PERRY: Because you are thinking about if those dollars go into the public schools, if those dollars go into the - this is the loving Freddie Gray while he`s alive. SPENCE: Right. So thinking about day`s work, for example, $9 million, think Camden Yard is a $215 million stadium, they only pay $9 million. What 220 or whatever that is, you know, math is -- HARRIS-PERRY: So, I - I so appreciate you all being here. Lester, I appreciate you keeping it so real in Nerdland, MHP show where construct - Dayvon in denim. (LAUGHTER) HARRIS-PERRY: Dave, will be back in the next hour. I want to say thank you to Cherrell Brown, to Marc Steiner and to Lester Spence. I hope that all of you will continue to be voices for Baltimore as we move forward. Coming up next, the fight of the century and its knockout price tag and the NFL`s number one draft pick. Does his talent trump his troubled past? Now you know why Dave Zirin is staying with us because there`s more Nerdland at the top of the hour (COMMERCIAL BREAK) HARRIS-PERRY: Welcome back. I`m Melissa Harris-Perry. The six Baltimore police officers charged in the death of Freddie Gray are out on bond this morning. And not due back in court until May 27th. They`re charged with crimes ranging from manslaughter to misconduct in office. And in the case of Officer Caesar Goodson, the second degree murder is the charge. When Baltimore state`s attorney Marilyn Mosby announced the charges yesterday, she said Gray never should have been arrested in first place. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) MARILYN MOSBY, BALTIMORE STATE`S ATTORNEY: Lieutenant Rice, Officer Miller and Officer Nero failed to establish probable cause for Mr. Gray`s arrest as no crime had been committed by Mr. Gray. Accordingly, Lieutenant Rice, Officer Miller and Officer Nero illegally arrested Mr. Gray. (END VIDEO CLIP) HARRIS-PERRY: Following that announcement, crowds cheered in the streets, mostly in the same intersection that had been the scene of protests all week. As night fell and the city`s curfew set in at 10:00, the streets grew quiet and all tactical police units left by midnight. Only 15 people were arrested overnight for curfew related violations. Joining me now from Baltimore, Maryland, is NBC News correspondent Ron Allen. Ron, what`s expected today in Baltimore? RON ALLEN, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Well, Melissa, there`s a big gathering happening here in the city hall plaza in the next couple of hours. It`s a demonstration, protest, victory rally, it`s any number of things, but it`s very upbeat, which is what`s striking about all this. You can see behind me. There`s still significant police presence here, but they`re very relaxed. There`s no tension at the moment. There were a few arrests for curfew violations but all that is becomes sort of almost like a -- it`s been very well-choreographed. A number of protesters stayed out late past 10:00, but by 10:45, 11:00 streets were cleared. And it`s only happening in a couple of small areas of the city. So, things are moving peacefully, of course, because of the very serious and sweeping charges leveled against the six officers. So, imagine what it would be if that had not happened. Things are much more upbeat and positive going forward today. The event today, I think is about a lot of things. One of the issues of police brutality, one of the issues is the Freddie Gray case. When you talk to activists here, there`s a whole range of things that they`re trying to focus the attention of the public on now that they`ve got momentum and now they`ve got a big victory, they would call it. I talked to people who are interested in issues like education, housing, jobs, voter registration. One young man pointing that to me, that had there not been a voter registration push that got Marilyn Mosby elected back in November, we wouldn`t be at this place where we are today because of the change in leadership. She has a much different approach to criminal justice than her predecessor. So, that`s where we are now. People are trying to seize this moment, seize the momentum, seize the victory they got, although they point out in is a first step, a big step towards getting justice for the Gray family but still a long way to go. But activists are trying to seize this moment to make further sweeping changes on a whole range of issues, and trying to get the public organized and engaged and moving and moving forward at tackling these other long range systemic issues that are at the heart of the problem here in Baltimore and across the country -- Melissa. HARRIS-PERRY: Ron Allen in Baltimore, Maryland. Thank you so much for your reporting this morning. Now, we`re going to shift gears. Now, it`s the fight of the century. Finish word century. But it is happening tonight. Floyd Mayweather will face Manny Pacquiao at the MGM in Las Vegas. It`s a long awaited bout that matches the two best fighters of the era. Now, boxing isn`t the mainstream attraction it once was when Muhammad Ali faced archrival Joe Frazier in the Thrilla in Manila. Or when an estimated 100 million listened on their radios to Alabama native Joe Lewis knocking out Germany`s Max Schmeling in their 1938 rematch. It was called the largest history for anything. And the first time many people heard a black man referred to simply as the American. Still, boxing has a way of grabbing the public`s imagination as well as our wallets. Tonight`s welterweight championship fight proved that Mayweather who weighed in yesterday at 146 pounds and Pacquiao who weighed in at 145 aren`t heavyweights, but they`re commonly regarded as the two best fighters in any weight class even as they`re nearing retirement age. Mayweather, 38, undefeated, and nicknamed "Money", well, because he has a lot of it, is the pound for pound king and the master of defense. Then, we have 36-year-old Pacquiao, aka Pacman, a southpaw reknown for his quick feet and in an out style and constant pivoting -- UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Go, Melissa. HARRIS-PERRY: Yes, thank God I have these producers. For a sports that`s fueled by theatrics and spectacled, it also helped that this was a fight that almost didn`t happen. So, after five years of torturous negotiations involving Mayweather`s unprecedented request for random, Olympic style drug testing, Pacquiao`s refused last icons finally set a date, but not without a defamation lawsuit that Pacquiao flattened Mayweather with in 2009 when Mayweather accused him of using performance- enhancing drugs, and Mayweather`s legal troubles continued, his controversial life outside the ring includes five convictions in domestic battery or assault cases involving four different women. Yet none of this seems to have damaged the hype because the fight of the century is also the highest engrossing, tickets sold out in one minute and the two contenders will share a reported $300 million purse for a record $100 a pop and three to four million expected pay per view buys, Mayweather and Pacquiao are the first boxers to cross the billion dollar threshold in career pay-per-view revenue. When it`s all said and done, tonight`s bout could generate $400 million in revenue, making this the richest fight in boxing history. In fact, in fact, Pacquiao will make at least $2 million off the sponsorship on his boxing shorts alone, which is a lot for anybody but especially for a man who grew up in crushing poverty in the Philippines only to leapfrog two weight classes and dominate the much larger Oscar de la Hoya in 2008. The statesman has said, "There is a God who can raise people from nothing into something and that`s me. I came from nothing into something." Mayweather, 38, also grew up poor but in Grand Rapids, Michigan, with a father Mayweather says physically abused him. "Boxing is easy," Mayweather has said, "but life has never been easy." Tonight as they attempt to best each other in the sweet science, we are reminded how much boxing is tale of two men because that`s exactly what boxing has always been about, the sort of heroes and anti-heroes, what it meant to be an American, an icon, a game changer or the strongest man in the world. Tonight, that story continues, and it could be where the story ends. Joining me now, Dave Zirin, sports editor at "The Nation" and author of "Brazil`s Dance with the Devil: The World Cup, the Olympics and the Fight for Democracy." Kavitha Davidson, who is a sports columnist at `Bloomberg View". Wes Smith, founder and principal of Pro Art Management Incorporated and executive producer of "Forgotten Four." And Gautham Nagesh, sports writer for "The Wall Street Journal" and founder of stiffjob.com. Also joining me now from Las Vegas, Bill Rhoden, sports columnist at "The New York Times." Bill, how crazy is it in Vegas right now as the world has been waiting on this fight that is finally going to happen? WILLIAM C. RHODEN, SPORTS COLUMNIST, THE NEW YORK TIMES: First of all, I have to tell you how impressed I am in you. When are you coming here? HARRIS-PERRY: Let me explain. That research comes from Kyma (ph), who is a little tiny producer but very invested in boxing. RHODEN: I`m like, Melissa`s got game. Come on. But, you know, so excitement is still sleeping. You know, this thing is -- I drove in from Los Angeles and there was like a caravan of people coming. So in about two hours, three hours, this place is going to be permanently crazy because, everybody loves a fight. We can talk all about the peace and the love and the concussions and the hand wringing. People love a big fight particularly in one of the great fighters is an American, somebody born in the United States. And, you know, boxing is just such a great morality play. You know, you mentioned both of these guys come from poverty. I mean, that`s sort of been the history of this sport from Tom Mono (ph) who was a slave who wound up being champion. So, yes, this is really going to be a crazy moment for all the reasons that you mentioned, domestic abuse and the whole thing makes it great. HARRIS-PERRY: OK. So, stay with us, don`t go away. But I want to come out on exactly that -- we`ve been talking a lot on the show so far about structure and inequality of the system. But, man, boxing really is -- it is two warriors, two people in there together. But let me just say this. I outweigh both those guys and so I`m a little bit -- what I don`t quite understand, if you can help me -- RHODEN: How is your jam? HARRIS-PERRY: Well, I would lose. But why do we care about little guys fighting? RHODEN: Because that`s all we have right now. Clearly, if they were heavyweights, it would be big. But right now this is the best we`ve had for a long time. The last time I was here for a fight was when Tyson bit Holyfield`s ear, you know? But that`s what we have. And these -- you know, Mayweather`s 47-0, Pacquiao we`ve been waiting for a great fight for a long time. This is a legacy fight. Mayweather could not retire unless he fought this guy. HARRIS-PERRY: All right. Let me ask the same of Wes here. WES SMITH, PRO ART MANAGEMENT: You know, these are the two most compelling figures in the sport of boxing and it`s been that way really since you go back to the heavyweight division, Lennox Lewis and Evander Holyfield. You haven`t had any personalities that have commanded the public`s attraction the way these two athletes. HARRIS-PERRY: The heavyweight champion is white and has been for a long time. And a lot of people have wanted that for a long time, Wes. How is he not like a big deal? SMITH: He fought last week in Madison Square Garden, last Saturday night, and that story just got glossed over because everyone is preparing for this day. You know, these two men -- really when you have two men in the ring and even with team sports, it`s about competition, and the competition that drives passion from the fans. And these two men have been successful doing that over the past 10, 12 years. HARRIS-PERRY: What do you think we`ll actually see? KAVITHA DAVIDSON, SPORTS COLUMNIST, BLOOMBERG VIEW: What we`ll actually see? It will be obviously the biggest spectacle in boxing that we`ve seen in years. You know, as Wes is saying, the issue of not having an American- born heavyweight is really kind of one of the driving factors and why boxing has declined. Frankly, I`m not excited for this fight. I can`t -- I`ve written very openly about how I can`t have any dollars supporting a guy like Floyd Mayweather given his history and given the fact that more directly than in any other sport, the dollars are going into his pocket from the fans. So, you know, that`s kind of my position on this. DAVE ZIRIN, THE NATION MAGAZINE: Yes, I spend a lot of time arguing that, despite the many hypocrisies in sports that we should engage with sports because it`s how we communicate with each other in this nation. And it`s worth it, no matter how dirty the sport might be. Mayweather and Pacquiao is a bridge too far for me. I`m not watching it tonight. Not when I look at the actual rap sheet of Floyd Mayweather, 21 calls from come from his home begging for police intervention because he was beating women, 21 calls and that`s what we know about. He has an elaborate operation of actually paying off whether it`s attorneys, whether it`s women, whether it`s police, to get out of these situations. So, the idea of subsidizing his serial abuse of women is tough for me. It`s also tough for me because I was at a Black Women`s Lives Matter rally this week. That`s where the hypocrisy gets too much. Like how can I be there and Rekeya Boyd (ph), you know, remember her name, now, I`m going to watch Floyd Mayweather. It`s -- I usually am fine in rectifying these parts of my life -- HARRIS-PERRY: Too far for you -- ZIRIN: With Baltimore, with everything that I`ve been dealing with this week, it`s too much. HARRIS-PERRY: Bill Rhoden, out in Las Vegas, Nevada, I feel like I should put my producer on a plane to come out to hang out with you -- RHODEN: Please. HARRIS-PERRY: -- for the evening, because clearly, clearly -- RHODEN: Please. We don`t have to go to the fight. HARRIS-PERRY: Oh, Bill. RHODEN: We can have our cake and eat, too. HARRIS-PERRY: Oh, Bill. Bill Rhoden in Las Vegas, Nevada. Thank you for joining us. We`re going to have more on tonight`s big fight when we come back. But first, a very different kind of story -- the announcement of a big arrival across the pond. Early this morning, Kate, the duchess of Cambridge, gave birth to a little girl. This is the second child for Kate and her husband Prince William. Just moments ago, Prince William left the hospital to check on their first child, Prince George, who will turn 2 in July. The new baby girl will be the fourth in line to the throne. Congratulations to the royal family. I wonder if they`ll be watching the fight tonight. We`ll be right back. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) MANNY PACQUIAO, BOXING CHAMP: Long before I became a boxer, I used to live in the street starving and hungry. Now I can`t imagine that the Lord placed me in this position and blessings that I can`t imagine. FLOYD MAYWEATHER JR, BOXING CHAMP: It`s time to fight now. You know, you guys came out here to see excitement. You guys came out here to see a great event. And I think that`s what both competitors bring to the table, excitement -- the biggest fight in boxing history. (END VIDEO CLIP) HARRIS-PERRY: That was Manny Pacquiao and CNN`s Marc Lamont Hill -- I mean, Floyd Mayweather on a Wednesday, just before the MGM showdown that is promising the biggest payout in the history of sports. Gautham, I`m wondering about that narrative. Both of them have of a kind of up from poverty narrative. And, you know, Dave was killing our sports joy, as he often does, just before the break, by -- you know, by reminding us of the kinds of inequalities that we face when we look at Mayweather`s history is really about this question about violence against women, but there`s still -- there`s this kind of like up from poverty story that I think leaves people still really rooting for both of these guys. GAUTHAM NAGESH, STAFF WRITER, THE WALL STREET JOURNAL: Well, I think not just these guys. Boxing is historically a sport that`s been populated by people from rough backgrounds, very impoverished. Most boxing gyms are not in the Upper East Side or neighborhoods like that. HARRIS-PERRY: Just kickboxing for the stay at home moms. NAGESH: Exactly, or fitness class. HARRIS-PERRY: Yes. NAGESH: Sugar Ray Leonard called boxing the sport of the poor man. For a lot of people who box, I covered quite a few local fighters in the D.C. area, teenagers and really young adults. For them, boxing is a sanctuary. They come from violent backgrounds where violence is just a fact of life. Boxing is positively civilized compared to some of the things that they have to deal with. It can teach people self-discipline, it can teach self- control. I wouldn`t prescribe it as a panacea for the other ails of society. But there`s no doubt that boxing has a tradition of taking people who have criminal backgrounds, who have questionable backgrounds and offering them a positive outlet for, you know, the various things that they have to deal with in their lives. HARRIS-PERRY: Yes, it`s one of the few sports where that was possible for folks with those kinds of backgrounds as opposed to the major league sports, the NFLs, the MLBs, right, especially for those of color wouldn`t have been accessible. ZIRIN: Yes, there`s this famous line where Buster Mathis Jr., who`s a fighter, asked his father, Buster Mathis Sr., he said, daddy, should I play football or box. And his father said, son, please play football because nobody plays boxing. And that`s the thing about the sport is that it takes a chunk out of you. I mean, you`re signing over a part of yourself. And I think there`s a lot of positive that comes particularly from youth boxing. But the sport itself institutionally is so corrupt, so decentralized and so thoroughly messed up in terms of how it treats fighters that it makes the NFL, seriously, look like a Quaker convention. DAVIDSON: Well, at the same time, you know, we talk about, you know, the NFL and the future of football and parents not wanting their children to play youth football because of the concussion and everything. The same thing has already happened in boxing, so that you do see kind of a pool of fighters who really only come from these impoverished backgrounds. HARRIS-PERRY: But is that a shift or has it always been true? DAVIDSON: It`s always been true but we`re more aware of it now. And we see this as a problem in football. We don`t see this as a problem in boxing but that`s the state of how the sport`s always been. HARRIS-PERRY: So, let me then kind of dig in on that a little bit, because, you know, part of what happened, if you have people from a disposed space coming to be wealthy is what we saw happen with Muhammad Ali, right, which is in a part a use of exactly that space, a use of boxing as a way to have a kind of political story, as way to tell a story about -- in fact, he`s even in on this fight, "Mayweather apparently said that he was better than Ali. I`m saying that no one can ever brainwash me to believe that Sugar Ray Robinson and Muhammad Ali are better than me." And, well, Muhammad Ali tweeted back to him, "Don`t you ever forget, I`m the greatest." Right? So, the fact that even now his voice is relevant in the context of boxing. SMITH: Well, Ali came up in a time of social unrest and change in our country, and his voice was much needed to galvanize people and to show them that they can work within a system but yet still maintain their values when he was a conscientious objector to the Vietnam War, stayed true to being a Muslim and converting to Islam, he was able to follow that path and prove that he was going to stay true to his principles in light of everything happening around him. I don`t think you have a lot of athletes that are willing to do that for their principles because of the commerce and the amount of commerce that surrounds them. HARRIS-PERRY: What if it was just money, though? What if -- I mean, you say he comes up in a time of social unrest. Well, we`re in a time of social unrest. Would Mayweather be more of a sort of likable guy, even if for money alone he was willing to say, I`m giving a portion of to this purse to Black Lives Matter? ZIRIN: Well, check this out, Floyd Mayweather last year, according to several tax returns gave $7,000 to charity, $7,000. He has a nonprofit. Guess how much that nonprofit gave out last year? $37,000 is what the nonprofit distributed. I mean, that`s what the thing about it is that Floyd -- HARRIS-PERRY: That may be about poverty. So let me just -- but the most charitable I can be. Sometimes when you really grow up in a circumstance of poverty, kind of hoarding instinct to keep it all just in case. ZIRIN: I don`t want to in any way be casting stones at Floyd Mayweather, that`s his decision what he wants to give. But there`s another layer with Floyd Mayweather, in that he`s never been held accountable that he`s a serial abuser of women. This isn`t Ray Rice caught in his worst moment in an elevator and all of us passing judgment and bringing fury down upon him. I mean, this is someone, I said three dozen times calls have gone in about abuse, and the stories that you hear -- and I`ll tell you who`s the hero for me that I`ve learned about this fight is Floyd Mayweather`s 13-year-old son Koraun who walked in on a "USA Today" interview with his mom, who used to be married to Floyd, Josie Davis, who said she was abused constantly in their relationship, he walked out there and he said, "My dad is a coward," that`s what he said. It`s a "USA Today" report. He said, "My dad is a coward". HARRIS-PERRY: Wow. ZIRIN: They held up the letter he wrote at 10 where he swore out a complaint and described in detail how his dad beat his mom. That`s another level to me. DAVIDSON: Him and his brothers reported to the cops. ZIRIN: Right. HARRIS-PERRY: We`ll talk more on this topic when we come back. But up next, what has 3,000 emeralds and will be center stage at tonight`s fight? The answer is next. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) HARRIS-PERRY: We talk about the money at stake in the showdown between Mayweather and Pacquiao. But the winner don`t just get a big paycheck, they also get a really big belt. The actual championship belt is adorned with more than 3,000 emeralds and 800 grams of gold. It is made of the same kind of letter used in Ferraris and is decorated with 165 hand-painted flags. The belt alone is worth around $1 million. And it looks like it could weigh more than either of the men fighting for it. I`m sorry, I`m still hung up on why it`s teeny, tiny men fighting is so exciting to us. I am -- I do want to think a little bit about the money piece here. Because you know, there`s on the one hand the kind of judgment that we can bring to it, but you know in a market, you sell what you can sell. In this case, the idea that we still have this desire to see this kind of fighting again between two guys almost 40 years old. I`m fascinated by this. NAGESH: So I wouldn`t -- I always say that boxers earn their money perhaps to a greater sense than anyone else. This fight is unique in the fact that Mayweather has taken control of his own career, his own finances, so he sees the vast majority of the money that comes into him. This is actually a departure because Muhammad Ali, Mike Tyson, we`ve seen a lot of boxers that have earned a tremendous amount of money over their careers -- HARRIS-PERRY: And they don`t keep it. NAGESH: And they end up practically broke. Even today, boxing has always got a history of exploitation. The various sanctioning bodies, promoters, they typically take advantage of these less educated, less financially sophisticated boxers. And so, in that sense, Mayweather is a step forward to some extent because he`s really the one who benefits on the bottom line. Even Pacquiao has had some tax troubles in recent years despite earning hundreds of millions of dollars. ZIRIN: I mean, you could correct me if I`m wrong. I believe he owes $75 million in tax money. So, we`re talking about Pacquiao is fighting to pay his tax bill, which has a layer of pathos to it as he talks about coming out from poverty. Is he really out? HARRIS-PERRY: Well, it`s also just, in part, people saying, oh, there`s not athletes like Muhammad Ali, but Pacquiao is a statesman. He`s actually elected -- I was having this conversation with Kyle (ph), I`m like, wait a minute, he`s not in the Congress, right? And some people even talking about wanting to push to run for president. Like, is that an indication that Pacquiao actually is the athlete like that in this fight? DAVIDSON: I think absolutely. I mean, if you talk to people in the Philippines after they`ve had tragedy after tragedies, tsunami and things like that, but he is the face of, you know, the international kind of galvanizing people around raising some money for the Philippines. You know, it`s really interesting, the money is part of what was holding this fight up for so many years, right? The split between what Mayweather and Pacquiao, how they would split the purses is what was holding it up. And Pacquiao actually at some point suggested, hey, let`s just play this fight for charity. Let`s just get it out there. And get money for charity, this guy who owes $75 million. HARRIS-PERRY: Yes, and Floyd Mayweather is like uh-uh. (LAUGHTER) ZIRIN: I`m not trying to rain on everything here. Particularly the dichotomy of bad Mayweather, good Pacquiao. HARRIS-PERRY: Right, right. ZIRIN: But Pacquiao`s most significant accomplishment as a politician in the Philippines was denying contraception to poor women. HARRIS-PERRY: Yes, it`s Catholicism, right? ZIRIN: Part of his political belief, he says that even though he grew up in poverty with a lot of brothers and sisters, that was a blessing and other people should be able to go include that blessing. It`s just to say that I find it interesting when people say, I`m for Pacquiao because this is a morality play about women`s rights. And it`s like, well, no, both people`s ledger if we really want to talk about women`s righting being represented in a boxing match, which is bizarre -- HARRIS-PERRY: Yes, I was going to say, could we begin by just saying, OK, boxing, feminism, likely two separate spaces. I mean, I`m down with the idea of like a feminist boxer just bringing the noise. DAVIDSON: Shields, you know? (LAUGHTER) HARRIS-PERRY: Stay with us. We`ve got more. I want to actually talk a little bit about the way in which sports welcome such a big deal as they are right at the center of the other big political story of the week. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) HARRIS-PERRY: Take a look at the eerie scene at Oriole Park in Camden Yard on Wednesday as the Orioles played the Chicago White Sox to an empty stadium, is believed to be the first major league game ever played without spectators. Team officials had declared that the game would be closed to the public amid protests that had been taking place in the streets of Baltimore. So, for me, I wanted to set these two things next to each other, this idea that everyone in the world was going to be watching the fight tonight on pay-per-view, on everything else. And then in Baltimore, the other enormous and important story, here we had a major league game that was happening -- no one there, except you. DAVIDSON: I was. I was there. It was absolutely bizarre. And you know, you talk to players and managers in the stands and everyone seemed kind of resigned to this reality but obviously not very happy with this decision. What this did really was send the message that Baltimore is not safe and not open for business. And that`s really not what I found when I went there. I know that David`s been there longer than I was and David`s been there all week. But, you know, people were very willing to talk. They wanted the real story of what was actually happening in Baltimore to be told. ZIRIN: It`s so interesting, like I thought the scenescape at Camden Yards with the empty stadium was actually both poignant and appropriate. Not that it was intentionally done this way, but there`s something to me very powerful about it, because it sent the message that, you know what, it`s not business as usual in the streets of Baltimore right now, so why should it be business as usual in the stadium? Freddie Gray is not cheering and not yelling, so why should anyone the stadium be cheering and yelling? In an odd way, this was not the intent, it drew a lot of attention to the fact that these are special times like Baltimore Oriole Adam Jones one of only two African-American starters on the team. He said, they asked him, are you worried about your schedule and the empty stadium? He said, I`m much more worried about the city of Baltimore healing. And I felt like it sent that message oddly. DAVIDSON: Right, the optics and the metaphor of having the national anthem played in front of 45,000 empty seats was very, very poignant. ZIRIN: Wow. That`s deep. HARRIS-PERRY: I kept feeling we make decisions about this show and what`s going to go on and what`s a reasonable set of conversation for us to be having in the context of the world. And, you know, we`re really battling with do we turn to talking about the fight, the thing that everyone is talking about, do we turn to talking about sports in the context of Baltimore. Now Baltimore shifted, but if it were still burning, I mean, there`s a question, would the fight have gone -- kind of obviously, I wonder if it should have. SMITH: Well, the whole week, you have a number of sporting events that are taking place. You have the Kentucky Derby today. HARRIS-PERRY: Yes. SMITH: You have the NFL draft taking place. It really -- I`m glad that Baltimore and the orioles in particular kept the fans out of the stadium to make it seem like this is really more important what`s going on in the city than the actual event, but I think it goes to a larger point that for Americans generally -- talent trumps character, you know? In the case of Baltimore, I think they actually placed the right emphasis on what was taking place in the streets and the community there with Freddie Gray. I think that was important for them to do. ZIRIN: It`s so interesting. I mean, the COO of the Orioles, Johnny Angelo, made a long statement about the roots of the problem, the manager of the Orioles, Buck Showalter, was asked, what advice do you have to give to young black men? And he said, "I have no advice. I`m a white person. I don`t know what it`s like to be a young black man." HARRIS-PERRY: Actually, I love listening to him. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) BUCK SHOWALTER, MANAGER, BALTIMORE ORIOLES: A lot of times, you hear people trying to weigh in on things that they really don`t know anything about. I tell guys all the time when they talk about, you know, you`ve never -- you know, I`ve never been black. OK? So I don`t know -- I can`t put myself -- I`ve never been faced with challenges that they faced, OK? So, I understand the emotion, but I don`t -- you know, I can`t -- it`s a pet peeve of mine. Somebody says, I know what they`re feeling, why don`t they do this? Why don`t somebody do that? You have never been black. OK? So, slow down a little bit. (END VIDEO CLIP) HARRIS-PERRY: Just slow down a little bit. When we come back, I want to talk about this question of talent trumping character in the context of the NFL draft. We`ll also give everybody a chance to weigh in more on this, because up next, the number one pick in the NFL`s draft -- will his past trouble affect the already troubled league? (COMMERCIAL BREAK) HARRIS-PERRY: On Thursday, Chicago rolled out the gold carpet to welcome 28 perspective NFL players to day one of the 2015 NFL draft. The number one overall draft pick was none other than Florida State University quarterback Jameis Winston. Winston famously became the famous person to ever win the Heisman Trophy in December of 2013, after passing for 41 touchdowns and more than 4,000 yards that season. But Winston is also notorious for some of his actions off the field. In September, Florida State suspended the player from one game after learning that he made vulgar comments about female anatomy while standing in the middle of campus. About two years before that, one of his Winston`s FSU classmates Eric Kinsman accused him of rape. A year later, the state attorney general decided against prosecuting citing insufficient evidence. And Winston has maintained that the sex between him and Kinsman was consensual. In December 2014, Winston faced a Florida State code of conduct hearing involving the Florida sexual assault allegation. The campus found that he was not in violation of the code. Winston is now facing a civil suit that Kinsman filed in April. For these reasons, Winston`s status as the number one NFL draft pick has been controversial especially since several players were accused of violence against women and children last season. Ray Rice was released from the Baltimore Ravens and suspended indefinitely after the now famous elevator video released by TMZ showing Rice punching his now-wife Janay. Rice`s suspension has been overturned but he has yet to find a new team. Vikings star Adrian Peterson pleaded no contest to a felony charge of injuring his four-year-old son. He said he was disciplining a child with a switch. Most recently, Greg Hardy who last week was suspended for 10 games without pay for the 2015 season because the league found that he violated the personal conduct policy by assaulting his ex-girlfriend in 2014. This upcoming season will be the first full season for the NFL`s new personal conduct policy, which is supposed to clarify standards of behavior and impose stricter repercussions on offenders. Is this a new beginning for the NFL? Or does this week`s draft send a mixed message about the league`s commitment to change? What do you think? NAGESH: Well, I think that the Jameis Winston case in particular has drawn a lot of attention because, one, there`s been a series of incidents involving him, but two, because Jameis is sort of not shrink in the spotlight. HARRIS-PERRY: No, he trolled the whole internet with crab legs. Yes, uh- huh. NAGESH: So, it does speak to character concerns that are often cited by executives at sports teams. And we often see that among those concerns, domestic violence tends to rank fairly low on the offense scale. We see players who are punished through the draft much more severely for things like drug use like marijuana or something to that effect. But we have a whole host of athletes who have in the past been accused over, convicted of domestic violence from Jason Kidd to Robert Parish to -- just a whole bunch of people, this has really only something that has been highlighted I think in the wake of the Ray Rice investigation. They`ve also been people who paid attention to it. I think Wes is exactly right, the better an athlete you are, the more you can get away with. And there`s nothing like sports to make people lose perspective of what should and shouldn`t be allowed in society. HARRIS-PERRY: But should we say, look, this is a kid who, yes, there were the accusations but there were multiple hearings and trials in which he was found -- where there was a decision not to press charges and so why shouldn`t his talent be the only thing making this decision? ZIRIN: Well, because above it all, just the basic issue of maturity. I mean, Jameis Winston, you`re talking about two different women accused him of rape and he chooses that moment with everybody looking at him to stand on a table in the middle of campus and say, bleep her in the bleep and bleep her in the bleep. You know? So, it`s like -- so, that`s one issue. So, it`s not just about talent, it`s also about character if you are going to invest that much money in somebody. The second issue, though, big macro issue, is what a message the United States has sent to young black men this week. It`s -- if you are going to be a young black men, in this country, be Jameis Winston, don`t be Freddie Gray, because if you`re Jameis Winston, the police will cover up what happened. I don`t know if Jameis Winston is guilty of rape. I do know and I`ve read enough to say that the Tallahassee Police Department covered up this allegation, made allowances for Jameis Winston. So, think about this -- a Southern police department protected someone guilty or innocent from being charged with a felony. And then, in Baltimore, they break a young man`s back. DAVIDSON: Well, I mean, if you want to talk about talent trumping character, you know, what we`re talking about with Floyd Mayweather and Jameis Winston, it`s all very similar. Floyd Mayweather still being issued a boxing license despite what he`s convicted of. Jameis Winston, having police department not only cover up any kind of investigation, they didn`t even talk to him when he was initially being investigated, because, you know, the police department and campus security are very much in bed with each other and it`s because of the high profile that these athletes have. NAGESH: And both of these cases, also, these are very parochial interests. The Tallahassee Police Department, these communities where college football is the main industry, they rely on college football as their economy for a large part of the year. Similarly, Nevada needs Floyd Mayweather to fight there. So, that`s why they`re not going to slap -- at most a slap on the wrist, because if they don`t give them a license, then New York or California, someone else is going to take that $400 million fight, and have it here. That`s one of the reasons boxing needs national oversight. SMITH: Well, again, it all comes down to commerce, right? How much revenue you can generate for an organization or a team or a community -- that`s what it`s all about. So, that`s the equation that society has to deal with, whether or not they want to place more emphasis on the character variable of that equation or the talent which leads to revenue. HARRIS-PERRY: When you say commerce, all about commerce, and also as you point out the parochial interest about the needs economically of those communities and ways even hearkening us back to the Ferguson report about the ways in which policing those black bodies is also related to the commerce and parochial interests of those communities. But it also feels like, and maybe we just can`t miss this. That it`s also about the vulnerability of black women`s bodies or women`s bodies in general, this idea that there would be some kinds of violation or some kinds of character issues which, as you point out, for example, the drug war right around marijuana, that would potentially but not balance against women`s bodies -- ZIRIN: Right. HARRIS-PERRY: -- which are consistently seen as kind of an acceptable part of this. ZIRIN: And just, if we want to ask, where is the NFL in all this? This to me says it all. Tampa Bay Buccaneers have been all over the sports media, talking about the hundreds of hours they spent investigating Jameis Winston`s character and how confident they are that he`s the person to be the face of their franchise. Guess who ne never reached out to speak with about Jameis Winston? HARRIS-PERRY: The accuser. ZIRIN: Erica Kinsman. HARRIS-PERRY: Yes. ZIRIN: Not one call to her. Not to say she would have wanted to talk to them. But to me, it speaks volumes that they didn`t even want to hear what she had to say. HARRIS-PERRY: I am -- I feel, you know, lost in a moment like that because there`s so -- you know, on the one hand when I heard you say the character, there`s a part of me that thinks, ah, being able to use that character discourse particularly against young black men can also run counter, can run the exact opposite way. But I don`t want to miss if we`re giving many tens of thousands, millions of dollars into -- because we want to these young men play, like it has got to connect somehow. SMITH: I didn`t mean it to say that talent should trump character. HARRIS-PERRY: Yes. SMITH: I mean, what I want to see is that society come together and really reprioritize our values so that character trumps talent. HARRIS-PERRY: Yes, no, I just wonder -- what worries me is sometimes when I say character, that we then take a whole group of people who are just, you know, bravado and braggadocio and we`re like, oh, they have bad character, right, as opposed to actual -- in this case claims at least, allegations, we don`t have convictions in this case of real violence against people. DAVIDSON: Well, part of the problem is actually -- I know you didn`t mean it this way -- but using euphemisms like character issues, behavioral problems, off the field issues, which, you know, if you read the scouting reports on Jameis Winston not one actually said sexual assault allegations. ZIRIN: Right. HARRIS-PERRY: Like that word. DAVIDSON: The language used, the lack of specificity that we use to talk about violence against women especially in the sports world is really a big problem, that allows us to skate by that, the fact that there are no pictures, the fact that there are no videos when an attack comes by, allows people to say, well, she`s automatically a liar. HARRIS-PERRY: That`s very useful. DAVIDSON: Crab legs, rape, they talk about it. It`s all the same thing. HARRIS-PERRY: It`s all the same thing. Right. Getting money for autographs, all the same thing. ZIRIN: Rape -- SMITH: Tattoos. ZIRIN: Rape. HARRIS-PERRY: Thank you to Dave Zirin, and Kavitha Davidson, to Wes Smith and to Gautham Nagesh. Up next, our foot soldier of the week showing us a new face of bravery. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) HARRIS-PERRY: The Ebola crisis that began in 2014, is easing. It`s not completely over. Cases are still being diagnosed in Sierra Leone and Guinea. There were 33 new cases confirmed last week. But the numbers thankfully are on the decline. Overall, more than 26,000 people have been infected by the Ebola epidemic, close to 11,000 people have died. International health care workers traveled to the affected areas to help combat the highly contagious disease and we`ve all seen the protective gear they wear. They look like giant space suits. But while doctors are working on healings the physical bodies of those affected by Ebola, our foot soldier of the week was focused on helping the spirits. Mary Beth Heffernan is an artist and an associate professor at Occidental College in Los Angeles. When she saw the images coming out of West Africa, she tried to imagine being one of the patients. She asked herself, what would it be like to go for days on end without seeing a human face and only engaging with people in those biohazard suits while suffering through physically wrenching symptoms? The suits the health care workers wear are called personal protective equipment or PPEs for short. They`re very important for preventing the spread of Ebola, but they can be very impersonal, maybe even downright frightening. But Mary Beth had an idea. What if health care workers who wore the PPEs had big photos of their faces ob the outside of their suits like a sticker of their smiling faces so that patients can see that behind the scary protective gear, is a friendly, warm person, someone who wants to help. Mary Beth got to work. She turned to her kitchen table into a command center and she spent months there testing cameras, printers and paper types all in an effort to create photos that would adhere to a PPE suit without compromising the suit`s integrity. She did research on the disease and the effects of isolation on patients. She secured funding from Occidental College and from the Arnold P. Goldman Foundation. And Mary Beth then reached out to 75 people hoping to find someone interested in her project. The chair of Ebola case management for Liberia loved her idea and asked her to travel to Liberia. So, in February, Mary Beth left Los Angeles with 12 boxes of equipment and an Occidental College photographer Mark Campos who went along to document the process. Mary Beth and Mark went to one Ebola treatment center in Liberia with the greatest amount of patients and began printing on water resistant vinyl labels. She trained the staff on how to use the equipment and donated a full kit to the hospital. The pictures were an instant hit. Health care workers loved them. The images improved their relationships with their patients and they could now see their own colleagues and work better as a medical team that way. The patients loved it, too. Instead of seeing the, quote, "white ninja suits" they have been called in Liberia, now they can see their caretakers are members of their own community, no longer an unknown quantity. For thinking about the emotional suffering of those already suffering physically, and for coming up with a Creative Solution, Mary Beth Heffernan is our foot soldier of the week. And that`s our show for today. Thanks to you at home for watching. I`ll see you tomorrow morning at 10:00 a.m. Eastern. We`re going to take a much closer look at the messaging around the mom who made headlines in Baltimore this week. Coming up, "WEEKENDS WITH ALEX WITT." THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED. END