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PoliticsNation with Al Sharpton, transcript 3/26/2017

Guests: Brenda Lawrence, Annie Linskey, Julie Brown, Muriel Bowser, Matthew O`Neill, Jon Alpert

Show: POLITICS NATION Date: March 26, 2017 Guest: Brenda Lawrence, Annie Linskey, Julie Brown, Muriel Bowser, Matthew O`Neill, Jon Alpert (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

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

A lot to get into today`s show, including the Congressional black caucus meeting with President Trump.  But first, the health care drama.  The White House was delivered a major defeat on Friday, when facing a humiliating loss in the House, President Trump and Speaker Paul Ryan pulled their health care bill.


REP. PAUL RYAN (R-WI), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE:  You`ve all heard me say this before.  Moving from an opposition party to a governing party comes with growing pains, and, well, we`re feeling those growing pains today.  We came really close today, but we came up short.  I will not sugar coat this.  This is a disappointing day for us.  Doing big things is hard.  Ultimately, this all kind of comes down to a choice.  Are all of us willing to give a little to get something done?


SHARPTON:  All this came after the president demanded a vote and even delivered an ultimatum to Republican lawmakers.  So, what now?  Congresswoman Brenda Lawrence is a Democrat from Michigan, and Annie Linskey is national correspondent for the "Boston Globe."

Let me go to you first, Congresswoman.  This, no matter how they want to project it, was a major defeat for both the president and Speaker Ryan.  And if published reports are to be believed, there was the fight in the actual GOP caucus between the Freedom Caucus people and the more moderates, and they just couldn`t get it together in terms of what they wanted to support.  Is that what you`re hearing from your colleagues on the other side of the aisle?

REP. BRENDA LAWRENCE (D), MICHIGAN:  Absolutely.  As frustrating as it was for us as Democrats to be fighting against a law for health care that would take away health care benefits, essential benefits that we know are important, like maternity leave, emergency room.  It was almost sad to watch the other side, because they within their own party had never, it appears, sat down and tried to make law. 

And they did not, contrary to what the president and others have said, they never reached across the aisle.  They never included us.  They just went behind closed doors, created the bill, then called us and said vote on this.

SHARPTON:  So, they never really reached out to Democrats and never really tried to find areas of agreement with something as important as health care.  We are talking about the health care of the American people.

LAWRENCE:  Absolutely, Reverend.  And this is the thing that should have been a very big lesson, is that when you are doing -- when you`re creating laws and legislating, it`s about the people.  It`s not about your Republican agenda, it`s not about the arrogance of having the majority.  You must and you should -- we are all members of Congress -- sit down together, debate it, and do what we were sent there to do, cross the aisle, legislate and create the best law for the people of this great country.

SHARPTON:  Now, Annie, one of those things along those lines that is interesting to me is we`re told that when President Trump went to the hill and was trying to help the day before the vote, twist some arms, put a little pressure on the Republicans in Congress to coalesce behind the bill, that some of them were surprised he didn`t even know the particulars of the bill, that he couldn`t even argue for some of the elements in the bill that were disturbing to some of the people that were telling him, I`m voting no.

ANNIE LINSKEY, NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT, "BOSTON GLOBE":  Yes, you know, that`s a great point.  And my sources in the conservative wing of the Republican Party said that was particularly jarring to members, because these members were going to be taking really what people were talking about as a career-defining vote, a vote that could have led them, you know, to lose their seat.

And when they were confronted with a president who really, as you put it, seemed so unfamiliar with the details and the nuance of this legislation, they began to wonder, would this president really have their back, or is he willing to cut a deal with anyone just to get something done and to have a quote/unquote win?  And for the real ideologues on the right side, this became extraordinarily troubling to them.

SHARPTON:  And I stop you there when you say the real ideologues that really are committed to an ideology --

LINSKEY:  Sure, yes.

SHARPTON:  I may disagree with them, but if they really believe in what they have proposed and advocate, as we on the other side really believed this stuff, it`s insulting to them for somebody to sit there and say go along with this, and you begin to realize they don`t even understand what it is you object to because they don`t even understand what they`re telling you to go along with, if President Trump is sitting there and actually doesn`t understand the elements of a bill that he`s pushing.

LINSKEY:  Yes, it made them really wonder, does this guy have our backs, and is he -- he`s somebody who we like, but is he somebody that we really respect?  And I think that became very troubling.  And I think when you sort of look forward, that`s a dynamic that is going to make his next few challenges all the more difficult.

I mean, quite frankly, it should be welcome news to Democrats on the hill on that he is showing this sort of lack of ideology, but he`s still got to work with his Republican caucus, and it`s going to make it much more difficult when you`re looking at his next big priority. 

SHARPTON:  Well, let me ask you, Congresswoman.  Does that make room for any comfort for Democrats?  I mean, when you think about, as you talked about, we`re talking about our seniors, we`re talking about our children, we`re talking about people with real medical needs.  And when you think about how this president campaigned on the whole idea of we`re going to repeal, we`re going to do this and that to the Affordable Care Act, or ObamaCare, and he really has not thought it out in details, that may make political hay for transactional politics, but it`s also frightening that you are really dealing in broad strokes, and we don`t know what you really, really believe.

LAWRENCE:  This has been the challenge of this administration.  He went through a marketing program in the campaign.  He found words that would excite people.  But when people say we need a businessperson to run government, there is a skillset, there is a necessary experience that`s needed to be an effective legislator.  And we have found a president that every weekend is playing golf, as if it`s dismissive and this is so easy.  To his credit, he admitted, wow, this is really complicated.  Why did you think being the president of the United States was a walk in the park?  This is a serious position of leadership that requires countless engagement and an intellect that will allow you to comprehend, what does it mean to make law?  And it also requires respect of so many levels and groups of people in America.

And then when you get inside of the House and the Senate, it requires you to have the ability to legislate, compromise, encourage, and not to intimidate, because what can you tell a Republican colleague in the House that if you don`t vote for this, you`re going to have my wrath and you only have 30 percent approval rating.


LAWRENCE:  And this person just won an election with 70 percent. 

SHARPTON:  Well, talking about that and his low approval rating and what he stands for.  Earlier this week, President Trump met with leaders of the Congressional Black Caucus, and after the meeting was over, he called reporters into the room to hear him praise African-Americans, but as you can see, as he spoke, the CBC six-member executive board were sitting on the other side of the table, out of the TV camera`s shot.  That was intentional.

Congresswoman Lawrence, you were there as a member of the caucus executive board.  Tell us about the meeting.

LAWRENCE:  We went to that meeting with an objective, an objective to answer his question that was so insulting -- African-Americans, you`re broke, you`re uneducated, you`re unemployed, you get shot as soon as you walk out your door.  What the hell do you have to lose?  We came with a 120-page document.  This is what we have to lose.  We have a lot to lose.

SHARPTON:  So, you actually had -- I know Cedric Richmond, the chairman, showed it to me.


SHARPTON:  You had actually a document that said this is what we have to lose?

LAWRENCE:  Absolutely.

SHARPTON:  And presented it to President Trump?

LAWRENCE:  We wanted to eliminate, whether it was his ignorance or his arrogance or disrespect, to the African-American community.  We told him eye to eye, this was not a fun meeting.  We were not there laughing and smiling.  Mr. President, the way that you talk about the only African- American president being the worst president, lying on him, accusing him of wiretapping you, and then to describe us as a people, as this homogeneous, pathetic group of Americans, where we -- you don`t even know where we live.  Forty percent of African-Americans live in rural America or either in the suburbs.

Mr. President, if you truly want to make a difference in the community and really address poverty that does not belong solely to African-Americans --

SHARPTON:  That`s right.

LAWRENCE:  -- then your budget does not reflect that.  Mr. President, you have to fund programs like Meals on Wheels.  You have to fund programs like after-school programs, Second Chance.  And this is something, too.  When you talk about this billions and billions of dollars investment in infrastructure, Mr. President, where`s the equal opportunity for those who live in those communities and walk past people getting jobs and contractors, and they`re not in their community?

SHARPTON:  People that are not from their neighborhoods.

LAWRENCE:  Exactly.

SHARPTON:  People that don`t look like them.

LAWRENCE:  Exactly.

SHARPTON:  If you`re going to build the infrastructure, where are we guaranteed to at least participate in the cities we live in?

LAWRENCE:  Absolutely.

SHARPTON:  And the places in our community, as well as having some of the contracts.

Thank you, Congresswoman Brenda Lawrence.

LAWRENCE:  Thank you so much.

SHARPTON:  Thank you, Annie Linskey.

LINSKEY:  Thank you.

SHARPTON:  Coming up, an inmate in a Florida jail dies after being forced into a steaming hot shower for two hours, and no one is charged for this so-called accident.

Later, is there an increase in the number of teens gone missing in our nation`s capital?  I`m going to ask Washington, D.C. Mayor Bowser to answer what is going on with the girls in Washington, that question.  That`s next on POLITICS NATION.


SHARPTON:  Last week, prosecutors for Miami-Dade County in Florida determined that no criminal charges would be filed against four correction officers in the 2012 death of mentally ill inmate Darren Rainey, who was serving a two-year sentence for cocaine possession.  This despite the testimony of six of Rainey`s fellow inmates who testified that he was left screaming for two hours in a scalding hot shower, a punishment they alleged was frequently used by correction officers.

This video shows the moment prison guards respond to a medical emergency regarding Rainey.  We`ve learned that the key whistleblower in the case was abruptly transported to a Tennessee prison last Friday, the same day that State Attorney Katherine Rundle`s office issued a controversial memo that Rainey`s death was a result of his own poor health, along with "confinement in a shower."

Rainey`s family is "disappointed and heartbroken" with the lack of charges.

Joining me now is Julie K. Brown, investigative reporter for "The Miami Herald," which broke the story as part of a three-year investigation into corruption in the Florida prison system.  Thank you for being with me this morning.


SHARPTON:  Julie, let me ask you, first of all, it took all these years to come back and say this, that this man`s poor health and, by the way, his confinement, when you have six inmates testifying?  How do they justify not charging any of the officers that puts this man in a scalding hot shower for two hours?

BROWN:  Well, keep in mind that they didn`t start investigating this case until two years after this happened.  It was largely because we started writing a story about it that they finally went and interviewed the people involved, the corrections officers as well as the inmates.

SHARPTON:  Wait a minute, let me stop you there, because I think this is important.  They never investigated this for two years until "The Miami Herald" started raising it as a public issue?

BROWN:  That`s correct.

SHARPTON:  All right, go ahead.

BROWN:  And when you think about it, in any police investigation, time is very important.  And if you wait two years to investigate something, a lot of the evidence by then is really gone.

SHARPTON:  Absolutely.

BROWN:  And even the recollection of people is gone.  The corrections officers had time to get their stories together, for example.  And one more thing, these inmates had been scattered by then all across not only in Florida prisons, but some of them had been released, so they had to track down a lot of these inmates, some of whom, quite frankly, if you`re transferred around like that, you realize that it`s probably not in your best interests to talk about what happened back then.

SHARPTON:  And it shows a complete disregard for the value of human life, whether you`re incarcerated or convicted of a crime or not.  How do you have someone just die and no one cares about it until it becomes a public issue?  But let me go to the six inmates that gave testimony or gave evidence or statements saying that, in fact, this happened all the time.  How do they justify putting inmates, whether they have mental issues, as Rainey was reportedly had, or not, in a scalding shower for two hours?  I mean, how is that not illegal and abusive?

BROWN:  Well, the biggest problem, I would say, with the case is the medical examiner`s report.  The medical examiner ruled and she did do the autopsy right after it happened, and it was sort of set aside because she wanted to do more tests, and quite frankly, because the police weren`t doing their due diligence.  This case was just languished for a while.

But when it was all said and done, the medical examiner ruled that this was an accident, that he died from complications from schizophrenia, heart disease, and what she called confinement in a shower.  And she listed it as an accidental death.  So, that`s the first problem in the case.  Although we have interviewed some noted forensic pathologists who have looked at this for us and have said that the condition of Rainey`s body, which no one disputes -- he had skin peeling off his body when he was pulled out of the shower, literally sloughing off his body, falling off his arms, his legs, his neck, his chest.  His skin was falling off.  And most --

SHARPTON:  His skin was falling --

BROWN:  Pathologists say --

SHARPTON:  His skin was falling off his body, the heat had caused it so that he was actually having -- was peeling from the heat that had hit his body, and the medical examiner is saying this had something to do with his schizophrenia?  I mean, I don`t even understand how you can even write that in a report.  I understand what your forensic pathologists are saying, but this is absolutely outrageous.

BROWN:  Well, you know, this has been a problem in Florida prisons for a long time.  There has been -- they are having a record number of deaths in Florida, which is -- by the way, Florida has the third largest prison population in the country.  And they have, you know, as you mentioned earlier, we`ve done a lot of work in studying some of these deaths, and they have a pattern of knowing how to cover them up.  They get together, the reports are all worded exactly the same.  There are some key patterns of things that they do in order to cover these cases up.

And that in itself is enough that you would have thought that if this case wasn`t looked at right away, they should have pulled it from Miami-Dade police, they should have had some other agency outside of that area who they all know each other -- these are all police officers, essentially.


BROWN:  And that`s part of the problem.  You have police officers investigating police officers.

SHARPTON:  People investigating themselves in law enforcement is something that we`ve raised a long time.  You cannot trust that.  Not that they are automatically distrusted, but it certainly smells to the public like there is no accountability there.  And when you have a man that dies, whose skin is peeled off him, is dropping off him, and people don`t even look at it for two years until you write about it.  This is not a country that should tolerate that.

Thank you, Julie K. Brown for being with me this morning.

BROWN:  Thank you.

SHARPTON:  Up next, I`ll tell you why the case of the frozen trucker is one of the reasons to postpone the vote to confirm Trump Supreme Court nominee Gorsuch.  That`s coming up.



SEN. AL FRANKEN (D), MINNESOTA:  Courts should depart from the plain meaning.  It is absurd to say this company is in its rights to fire him because he made the choice of possibly dying from freezing to death or causing other people to die possibly by driving an unsafe vehicle.  That`s absurd.  I had a career in identifying absurdity, and I know it when I see it.  And it makes me -- you know, the -- it makes me question your judgment.


SHARPTON:  This week I called on Congress to postpone any vote to confirm Trump`s Supreme Court pick, Neil Gorsuch, citing the ongoing FBI investigation into ties between Trump staffers and various Russian interests.  But to the surprise of many, it was the case of the frozen trucker that became a sticking point in Gorsuch`s confirmation hearings.  The back story in brief.  While driving through Illinois in January 2009, the brakes on commercial trucker Alphonse Maddin`s trailer froze, forcing him to wait for more than three hours in freezing temperatures for vehicle assistance.

As his limbs began to numb from the cold, he decided he could not wait any longer and left the truck`s cargo trailer behind, despite his employer`s insistence that he stay until a repair team arrived.  For this, he was ultimately fired from his job.  The case got to the U. S. Court of Appeals, and it ruled for the truck driver.  Maddin won it by the vote of 2-1.  And, yes, Gorsuch was the one dissenting vote against the driver.

Senate Democrats have been using this case to portray Gorsuch as a judge who more than often not only sides with big companies, but sides even when it`s just him voting that way.  He`ll vote against the little guy.  Judge Gorsuch?  I get it, this president`s a billionaire whose cabinet is made up of millionaires, so it`s no surprise that his Supreme Court pick would be the lone vote to leave the frost-bitten trucker in the cold, and for that, Neil Gorsuch, I got you.



More than a dozen teens, mostly African-American and Latino girls, are currently missing in Washington, D.C.  According to police in the nation`s capital, this after more than 500 cases of missing children were logged in the first three months of this year.

But D.C. police officials say there has been no increase in the number of missing persons in their jurisdiction, but rather, new leadership has taken to social media to increase public awareness of these cases.  The tactics has worked, but the community is concerned, and now the Congressional Black Caucus is calling on the justice department to help police investigate.

Joining me now is Muriel Bowser, mayor of Washington, D.C.

Let me go right to it, Mayor Bowser.  You and I have always been straight shooters with each other.


SHARPTON:  We have a lot of people -- I`m near the top of the list -- extremely concerned about missing girls, black and Latino, or any girls in Washington, D.C.  People have called on the justice department.  What is going on in your city, Ms. Mayor?

BOWSER:  Well, Reverend Al, we certainly are concerned about all missing children as well, and I think we should be concerned about it across the nation.

What we`ve done in Washington, D.C., is changed how we talk about missing children.  Before the beginning of this year, Reverend Al, we would only publicize children who were missing who we suspected were kidnapped, abducted, or there was some other form of foul play.

Since the beginning of the year, we decided to publicize all missing children, regardless of circumstances.  So, what we have found is a number of children have left home, and what we know is that they are not safe when they`re not in the care of their parent, guardian, or another caring adult.  So, we want the public to help us locate these children and bring them back home.

SHARPTON:  So, it`s a matter now that you`re talking about all children, rather than a confined group that were publicized in the past.  Has this worked?  Has any of these young people been found and brought back?  Are we seeing an epidemic, as some are warning, of a real uptick of the amount of young girls and women that are missing in Washington, D.C.?

BOWSER:  No, actually, Reverend Al, what we have seen over the years is that actually, the number of missing person reports has gone down.

What we see with adding publicity to this, getting the public talking about it, are people that the children who we don`t know where they are right now.  They`re calling friends and family.  They`re getting in touch with people, and they come home.  We locate missing persons every day and now what is important is that they know that there are going to be resources to help them and get them in a safe place.

But more than that, Al, we want the young people, vulnerable children and families who may be thinking about leaving home, to reach out to a teacher, a counselor, to call on some of our trusted non-profits to get the help that they need.

SHARPTON:  Now, so, there will be resources, you`re saying.  You`re saying as the mayor of Washington, this is not going to be ignored, and whether the numbers are going down or not, that you are looking into this and the D.C. police are really asking for the help of the public to find any missing girls.

BOWSER:  That`s correct.  And not only are we saying that this is not going away, it was our police department that said we need to shine a different light on this, that we should not have young people, 12, 13, 14, teenagers that are out, they may be couch surfing, they may be wandering the streets, they may be at a friend`s house, but their parent, their guardian or caring adult who`s responsible for them needs to know where they are.

What we think is that in jurisdictions all across our country need to rethink how we treat missing persons` reports when it comes to children.  So, our department is out in the forefront on this issue.  We hope not only will it help locate the kids, but we hope that it`s going to encourage children who may be having an issue at home to reach out for help so that we can help them before they separate from their home or a caring adult.  What we know --

SHARPTON:  And we need the public.  I mean, I think it is something --

BOWSER:  Absolutely.

SHARPTON:  -- that we all ought to be very concerned, very involved in.  And you understand, Mayor Bowser, why there`s such a sensitivity, particularly in the African-American and Latino community, when you think this could be all kinds of things from sex trafficking to all kinds of things that are real ---

BOWSER:  Absolutely.

SHARPTON:  -- and that have a history in our communities, which is why many of us are very much concerned about this.

BOWSER:  And I recognize that.  And what we know, Reverend Al, is that we don`t want any child that is away from home to become a victim of any type of adult that`s going to lure them into sex trafficking or anything else.

While we don`t see any evidence of any of the children who haven`t been located yet being involved in that type of behavior, we don`t want them to fall prey.  That`s why it`s so important that they come home, they call their parent or guardian, so that we can put them in the care of a responsible adult.

SHARPTON:  Well, we`re going to stay on it.  I`m very disturbed a lot of the major media or mainstream media has not focused on it, which is why I wanted to have you on this morning to address the nation on exactly what`s going on, and we need to help you get to the bottom of it.  If it`s one child, we need to make sure that child is located and found and brought to safety.  Thank you.

BOWSER:  Absolutely.  Thank you, Reverend Al.

SHARPTON:  Thank you, Mayor Muriel Bowser.

BOWSER:  Thank you.

SHARPTON:  Up next, Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson goes to jail.  I`ll explain when we come back.


SHARPTON:  21st-century Renaissance man Dwayne Johnson is many things to many people.  To pro wrestling fans, he`s a legend, simply known as The Rock.  And for everyone else, he`s a Hollywood institution, an actor, producer, and bona fide icon.  But he`s also a man who knows the other side of life and talks candidly about his troubled youth in Hawaii, which included several arrests by the time he was 17.

He recently put his life experience to use for this upcoming HBO documentary, "The Rock and a Hard Place," where he participated in a one- of-a-kind military-style boot camp for incarcerated youth in Miami.


DWAYNE JOHNSON, ACTOR:  So, you`re probably thinking right now, what have I got myself into?  When I was your age, I was getting in trouble, started getting arrested.  I know what it`s like.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  He`s facing up to life in prison.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  You`ve been running in and out of jail half of your life.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  What are your charges?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Two armed robberies, ma`am.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  You`re going into the boot camp program as an alternative to 20 years in prison.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Don`t squander this opportunity.

JOHNSON:  You`re lucky because you`ve got another shot.  Don`t (BLEEP) this thing up.  I mean that.


SHARPTON:  The film premieres tomorrow night, and joining me now are the co-directors of "The Rock and a Hard Place," Matthew O`Neil and Jon Alpert.

Jon, you and I go way back to my James Brown being like a dad to me.

JON ALPERT, DIRECTOR:  Way, way back.

SHARPTON:  So, here you are with The Rock, and The Rock has the benefit of having had troubles in his youth.  Now he goes in and not only does this one-of-a-kind documentary, but really deals with some kids that are facing -- some are not kids -- that are facing being incarcerated.  And he gives them boot camp and shows it to the world. 

Explain to us what we`re going to see tomorrow night and why it`s important we all watch it.

ALPERT:  Well, it`s a once in a lifetime for these young men who often haven`t had many opportunities at all.  You know, you`ve been arrested, but --

SHARPTON:  For civil rights.

ALPERT:  Yes, I understand.

SHARPTON:  I never did all that time, but go ahead.

ALPERT:  Right.  But we all know people that when they go to jail, whatever happened to them in jail doesn`t rehabilitate them at all.


ALPERT:  And they come out -- 70 percent of people who go to jail are back in jail in a very short period of time.  It`s a revolving door that doesn`t help the people who are being locked up, it doesn`t help us either, because nothing`s changed and they`re going to come out and if they need to commit a crime, it`s going to happen.

This is an opportunity, a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for these young felons, if they can survive four months of in-your-face, the most rigorous, intense boot camp you could ever imagine, they get out of jail.

SHARPTON:  And for kids that have not gotten in trouble, even young adults or adults, watching this also is a wake-up call to them. 

MATTHEW O`NEILL, DIRECTOR:  I think young people watching this will realize just how intense incarceration can be.  You know, boot camp is about shock incarceration.  This is an alternative to the sort of dead-end prison system that our country is mired in.

And what`s really interesting about this program is these young men, it`s not like for low-level drug offenses or jaywalking.  These young men were facing 10, 20, in some cases life in prison for crimes ranging from armed battery to home invasion to assault.  And instead of that hard, long time, they go through this brutal, intense, six-month process.

SHARPTON:  You know what impressed me about it is that it wasn`t sugar- coated.  It was really, really the way it is, not romanticizing prison life or the boot camp.  Let me show another clip.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  when you get to boot camp -- it`s going to be the sock of your life.  We are going to beat that demon out of you than have you on the streets committing crimes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  We have one mission and one mission only that`s to take you from boys to men!  This is where your way got you.  Up!  So now things are going to change!

JOHNSON:  I know this boot camp program, I believe in it, and I want the world to see the importance of this program.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Boot camp gave us a second chance.  You all gave us a second chance.

JOHNSON:  You may not be able to see it right now, but that`s your new life.


SHARPTON:  Well, one of the things that I noticed traveling around speaking at a lot of places around the country, Jon, is a lot of young people get this romanticized view.  I did time, I`m tough.  And there is nothing romantic about going to jail.  I mean, I`ve been arrested for civil rights, one time had to do three months for a protest in Puerto Rico.  But that wasn`t in real jail.

I think this documentary shows them what real jail is, and then boot camp gives them a way out, because it`s so touching when their families are sitting there in court and they have an opportunity to rejoin life with a new look on life after going through boot camp, and this is what Rock shows us.

ALPERT:  Yes.  You know, it`d be nice if we could transform society and to give job opportunities, educational opportunities, the things that we really need.  If we could have that, it would be great. 

America great again, but it`s not happening tomorrow.  And the people who are caught in the claws of what America is are going to have to transform themselves.  Maybe it`s not fair, but they don`t have any other choice.  And if they don`t -- listen, I was driving a taxicab and I became something else.  The Rock was -- he was living in his car, seven bucks in his pocket.  That`s why he has the production company Seven Bucks.  He was at the end of his rope.  Disciplined, hard work, dedication, he transformed himself.

And so, the objective of this program, break these kids down.  Get rid of that street behavior.  Give them self-pride and discipline so that when they`re back on the streets, they can accomplish something.

SHARPTON:  And, Matthew, I think that part of the magic of this is here`s The Rock, who lived it, and then look at what he`s become.  So, this is not somebody dropping from the heavens down to earth preaching to us.  This is somebody that came up out of that hard place and says "The Rock and A Hard Place" and shows you what life really can be.

O`NEILL:  I think that`s what drew Dwayne to this boot camp.  You know, there aren`t a lot of second chances in life, and too often, we`re writing off these young men who are accused of these horrible crimes.  And what you see in this is that if you give these young men a second chance, you give them a chance, some discipline, some time to transform themselves, they can follow Dwayne`s path and they can be a success.

SHARPTON:  And you know, you say that there aren`t a lot of second chances in life, and that`s absolutely true.  And for some communities, there`s not even a first chance.  You have to make your way and you have to make your chance.  And if you`re really tough, you`ll do that.  Tough doesn`t mean just turning on others.  And I think people should watch this, make their children watch it, it`s tomorrow night.  It`s going to premiere.  And it`s on HBO.

I think all of us should say, let`s check out "The Rock and a Hard Place."

ALPERT:  I think so, too.  How many push-ups do you think the Reverend Al could do?  How many can you do?

SHARPTON:  We`ll talk about that next time you`re on.  Matthew O`Neill and Jon Alpert, thank you both The Rock for me.

ALPERT:  Thanks for having us.

O`NEILL:  Appreciate it.

SHARPTON:  Up next, for my final thoughts, why we must fight any signs of hate crime.  Stay with us.


SHARPTON:  For the past several weeks, we have seen hate displayed all over this country.  We`ve seen Jewish synagogues violated, we`ve seen Jewish centers subject to threats and subject to bomb scares.  We`ve seen Islamophobia rising and people targeted because they`re Muslim, and we see the continual harassment, attacks, and outright discriminatory practices against African-Americans and Latinos.

Just this week, a man 66 years old, homeless man -- we called him Big Tim - - was killed by a 28-year-old white male who rode from Baltimore, Maryland, to New York, and said I came to kill as many black people as I could, according to prosecutors.  This happened just a few blocks from my office in National Action Network.

We can`t sit back and not stand up against hate.  We can`t sit back and make it normal because we don`t do something.  Oh, I know you say, Reverend Al, we can`t stop people from hating.  No, we can`t, but we can make sure that there are laws in place and enforcement that make people understand, if you behave in a hateful way, you will pay and you will pay dearly.

We`re having a national convention at National Action Network in New York April 26th through the 29th, where leading people from former Attorney General Eric Holder to Spike Lee and others are talking about how we protect everything from voting rights to health care, and a major part of those three days, all three sessions, is how we are going to continue to fight against hate.

Next Sunday, April 2nd, as we prepare to remember how Martin Luther King Jr. was killed April 4th.  New York Governor Andrew Cuomo and myself and others will be at Riverside Church where Dr. King spoke, having a service against hate.  Go to a service, go to a convention, go to a rally, call or e-mail your legislator and say we cannot normalize acts of hate against Jews, against Latinos, against Muslims, against blacks, against anybody, because the minute we start acting like news of hate crimes is just normal in the news cycle, we begin to accept something that will eventually come and visit all of us and our loved ones.

That does it for me.  Thanks for watching.  And keep the conversation going.  Like us at, and follow us on twitter @politicsnation.  I`ll see you back here next Sunday.