Show: POLITICS NATION Date: January 7, 2018 Guest: Tom Perez, Julian Castro
AL SHARPTON, ANCHOR, MSNBC: Good morning and welcome to Politics Nation. Some burning questions I have today -- what are the Democrats doing on the ground to ensure a 2018 midterm`s election win?I n a moment, I`ll ask DNC Chair Tom Perez just that and is former H. U. D. Secretary and San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro, running for president? He`ll be here to give us an answer. Also, did you know that nearly 1.5 million citizens in Florida are not allowed to vote?
We may have the solution and later in the show, tomorrow I will eulogize at the funeral of 27-year-old Erica Garner I`ve gotten to know well since the 2014 police killing of her father Eric Garner. Later the daughter of Eric and sister of Erica will be here to discuss what we can do to continue their legacy.
We start with the latest on President Trump. He`s making headlines with a series of tweets and on-camera statements defending his mental fitness, even calling himself a very stable genius.
Joining me now is MSNBC contributor and soon to be WhiteHouse correspondent for PBS NewsHour, Yamiche Alcindor. Good morning, Yamiche.
YAMICHE ALCINDOR, CONTIBUTOR, MSNBV: Good morning, Rev.
SHARPTON: Yamiche, the President is tweeting, among other things, he`s assuring us he`s a stable genius and I`ll deal with that later in the show. But he`s also taking credit for the whole question of North Korea and South Korea talking, even after he had himself ridiculed, his own Secretary of State for meeting with him, saying you`re not going to get anything done with rocket man. He`s meeting with republican leaders supposedly laying out a plan for the midterm election for the Republican Party.
But through all of it, what he`s really been responding to is this book, "The Fire and Fury" by Michael Wolff. What are you getting from the White House and your sources about how this has seemingly rattled the President and the White House, this book?
ALCINDOR: Essentially, it`s pretty easy in some ways to figure out what President Trump is thinking because he`s been tweeting for over the last day when he`s supposed to be laying out a legislative agenda with the Republican leaders at Camp David. He`s been literally talking about this book, writing about it, this idea that he`s been attacking this author and really essentially calling more attention to this book.
And in a press conference that he had yesterday at Camp David, he literally had the most -- the longest answer to any of the question that he was asked came when he was asked about this book and it came when he started essentially trying to list off his resume saying that, " I went to a great school, I`m a very smart guy."
And this idea that essentially, he`s trying to prove to the American people that he deserves to be president even though he`s already been elected. So there is this idea that President Trump is fuming about this and Michael Wolff has essentially gotten under the skin of President Trump.
SHARPTON: Now, you know, the old adage, "Thou protesteth too much," the question becomes are we hearing a President that has been in many ways insecure? Or are we hearing from someone that in this book when they talk about all kinds of lack of administrative, let`s say administrative -- the character that we would expect of an administration. Let me use that phrase rather than where I was going. Or the kind of administrative continuity from one policy to another, one strategy to another that he`s actually hit something here because they`re reacting to something because there`s a seedof truth, if not the whole truthin what is in the book? What are we seeing here, Yamiche?
ALCINDOR: What we`re seeing is essentially a president that is reacting to parts of this book that are actually behind the scenes. I`ve been reading through the book yesterday. I spent most of the day on my couch reading through this book and what you find is that Michael Wolff, there are actual typos in the book. You can tell that it was something that was rushed to publication, because everyone was talking about it, but you also find that he`s in different places. He`s in meetings. He`s at dinner with Roger Ailes, the late Roger Aileswhen he was meeting with Steve Bannon.
He`s behind the scenes to these people who are close to Donald Trump are talking about him and essentially, the conclusion is that everyone thinks that this is someone who isn`t qualified to bePresident. Everyone, even the people that supported him are shocked by hisPresidency and then they`re also -- Michael Wolff admits that there was no one to really give him a green light to be behind the scenes, but there also was no one that was able to actually shut him out of the White House because they had such chaos thatthey really didn`t understand the consequences of Michael Wolff hanging out and listening to allthese conversations.
SHARPTON: All right. I`m going to have to hold it there. Thank you, Yamiche. We`re not hearing much of the2018 Republican strategy, but ahead, what about the Democrats?With the New Year comes new purpose in politics. After wins in Virginia andAlabama, pundits expect a blue wave of Democratic victories inNovember`s midterms. But is that so?
Earlier I spoke with DemocraticNational Committee Chairman TomPerez.
SHARPTON: Thank you, Chairman Perez forjoining us this morning.
TOM PEREZ, CHAIRMAN, DEMOCRATIC NATIONAL COMMITTEE: Thank you.
SHARPTON: With all that we`re seeing, the Russian investigation, the book on -- quoting extensively,Bannon. The Republicans look in disarray. But we hear everywhere we go, where is the democratic strategy?Are they going to blow it?You know the old adage, if anyone could blow it, theDemocrats will. What is the Democratic Party strategy this year as we go intothe midterm elections what all of what looks like an easy platehanded to the Democratic Party?Are they going to eat or are they going to break the plate?
PEREZ: I feel optimistic about 2018,Reverend and here`s why. What we learned in 2017 is that we win when we organize. We organize early, we organize everywhere. Our motto at the DNC is every zip code counts. We invested roughly a million dollars down in Alabama to helpDoug Jones win. We worked with so many others. Our money was almost all spenton African- American outreachthere.
We`ve taken the African-American community for granted all toofrequently. That`s not happening anymore. We invested in Virginia and what we saw in Virginia, thevictory there was, when youorganize early, when youorganize everywhere, when youfield good candidateseverywhere, you can win.
And when we lead with our values,when we talk about what we standfor, the Democratic Party believes that healthcare is atight for all and not aprivilege for a few. The Democratic Party believesthat everybody should haveaccess to a good job. We believe that everybody who iseligible to vote ought to beable to vote. The voter suppression that we`veseen from the Republican Party is not new and it`s unconscionable. These are the basic principlesof voter empowerment -- good jobs,health care for all andorganizing everywhere. Taking no one for granted,leading with our values.
SHARPTON: Let me push you a little there because that`s the other part, it is the message. Is that the message that we`rerunning for healthcare, forvoter registration -- I mean forvoter rights and for voterparticipation, not to besuppressed or impaired?Is that the message?Because clearly, you put a lotin Alabama and Virginia. The African-American vote cameout in Alabama even higher thanit did for President Obama. But it was clear that they werevoting against someone that wasantithetical to what theybelieve.
Every one of the races thisyear, you will not have a guylike that on the other side,like Moore. So you`ve got to have more than amessage of the other guy is bad. Why are your candidates good?What`s the message?What is the thread message?
PEREZ: Sure. When we field good candidatesand we have a clear message, wewin. Doug Jones was a good candidate. Ralph Northamand Justin Fairfax were great candidates inVirginia. And what they did, Reverend Sharpton was they talked about theissues that people cared mostabout. They were talking about making sure we have a brightfuture for everyone. That every zip code counts,that every person matters, thateverybody can realize theirhighest and best dreams.
We`re talking about brighterfutures for everyone. We understand as Democrats that education isthe great equalizer and when we invest in education, weinvest in our future. We understand that when weinvest in health care for all; that we`re investing in our futureand we`re investing in everycommunity. That`s what the Democrats arefor and I think what we saw in 2017,whether it was Alabama, whetherit was Virginia, whether it wasNew Jersey, whether it was thethree seats we won in Oklahoma,we led with our values, we hadgood candidates and we spoke tothe issues that people care mostabout.
People want a brighter futurefor their family and safecommunities. They want to make sure that we`rebuilding more schools, notprisons. They want to make sure thatevery person has a real chanceto succeed. That`s what we`re talking aboutas Democrats. We`re fielding great candidatesacross the country and when we field great candidates,when our candidates reflect thediversity of our communities asthey did in Virginia, as theywill throughout the country thisyear, that`s why I`m optimistic.
This isn`t just about sayingwhat Donald Trump is doingwrong. This is about articulating whatwe are doing for the AmericanPeople. We`re fighting for everyone.
SHARPTON: Donald Trump is going toargue that this week, the laborstatistics came out and thosestatistics say you were laborSecretary under President Obama. Black unemployment, youmentioned taking blacks forgranted. Black unemployment is down to6.8 percent, the lowest that it`s beenin decades. How will the Democratic Party respond to that?
PEREZ: Sure. Well, again, I will respond with thefacts because you look at what happenedover -- when Barack Obama tookoffice. We inherited the worst recessionof our lifetime and now we`vehad, under Barack Obama, thelargest uninterrupted streak of private sector job growth in our history.
And what happened over the last year, under Donald Trump. When you look at the statistics,Reverend Sharpton, the pace ofjob growth across this countryhas actually slowed. When I was the Labor Secretary and Donald Trump was running forPresident, he claimed that therewas a 40 percent unemployment rate. That`s bunk. What isn`t bunk, ReverendSharpton, is that the averagenumber of jobs created per monthhas actually slowed under thisPresident.
And I`m happy that the stock marketis moving up, but for so manypeople, that`s irrelevant. And what we`re focused on, asDemocrats, are making sure thateverybody succeeds. This tax cut is a boon for largecorporations and for the 1 percent. And it does next to nothing foreverybody else. And it mortgages our nation`sfuture. You watch. This year the Republicans aregoing to try to cut Medicare,they`re going to try to cut Medicaid. They`re going to talkabout critical programs thatthey can`t invest in, whetherit`s Meals on Wheels or education. Why?Because they just gave a totallyunnecessary tax cut to the megawealthy people across thiscountry. That`s not fair.
SHARPTON: Will there be a strong voterregistration?Because as I travel a lot, I am not seeing registration on theground in many of thesecommunities. Will there be a real effort toregister and bring out newvoters? Because you`ve got to overcome a lot ofthings like gerrymandering andvoter ID laws. You need new voters and you needbig turnout. Where is the resources aroundvoter registration?
PEREZ: Yes, the short answer to yourquestion is absolutely. I think historically -- and by thatI mean over recent years, theDemocratic Party frankly, hasn`tdone enough to register voters and we have to work and redouble ourefforts with our partners outthere who are doing God`s work. But we need to do more of this. We need to make sure -- I mean, what was it? Seven million peoplewho didn`t vote in thePresidential in 2016 and what we saw in 2017 is that whenwe mobilize, when we organizeearly, we can win elections inevery corner of this country and what we`re going to be doing in2018 as the Democratic Party, isworking with our partners outthere in the ProgressiveMovement, working with faith leaders tomake sure that every eligiblevoter gets out there andregisters and then we get themto the polls.
SHARPTON: Let me.
PEREZ: Our issues are their issues.
SHARPTON: Let me ask you one lastquestion before I let you go thismorning.
SHARPTON: One of your predecessors, HowardDean, who was Chairman, said the old guys ought to stepout of the way and let newleadership to come in to the Democratic Party. Former Vice President Joe Biden took a little issue with that. Where do you stand on that? With the old guys out?I don`t know what age he wastalking, but where do you stand on that?
PEREZ: Sure. Well, you know what, we have leadership of allages that continues to do greatthings. Joe Biden is one of my heroes. I think he is a remarkableleader across this country. I see people, mayors across thiscountry, the next generationleading. I see people in Congress doingthe same thing. What we have to make sure we doas democrats, regardless ofwhether we`re 70 years old or 30years old or 25 years old orsomewhere in between, likemyself, is to make sure we`rearticulating our values, tellingpeople what Democrats stand forbecause that`s how we win.
I believe that we were able towin in 2017 because we werespeaking to the issues thatpeople cared most about. They want a good job for theirfamily. They want health care for theirkids and their families. They want good schools. They want safestreets. They want affordable housing. They want to make sure that zipcode never determines destiny. They want to make sure thatpeople can get a second chance. That`s what we`re going to continue tofight for and we need leaders of all ages tostand up.
I have great respect for NancyPelosi. I have great respect for the mayors andgovernors and members ofCongress and the Senate that areemerging out there, and I think as Democrats, when wemobilize and when we lead withthose values, when we talk aboutthe environment, when we talkabout good schools, when we talkabout raising wages and not justgiving benefits to the megawealthy, but giving benefitsacross Main Street, that`s whenwe`re at our best.
SHARPTON: I have to stop you there. We`re going to have to let it go there thismorning. Thank you for joining us, DNC Chairman Tom Perez.
PEREZ: Always a pleasure.
SHARPTON: Thank you so much.
PEREZ: Thank you.
SHARPTON: Coming up, will Democratsrunning in local and stateelections take to heart what theChairman just said?I`ll ask former mayor and H.U.D. Secretary JulianCastro. This is Politics Nation onMSNBC.
SHARPTON: Right now, President Trump is hostingRepublican leaders to map outtheir political agenda in 2018. That agenda has the inside trackof getting voted on withRepublicans in power on CapitolHill.
As for Democrats, Chairman TomPerez just laid out his party`splan here on Politics Nation. The question is, can Democratsmake that happen after gaining momentum fromvictories in Alabama andVirginia.
This week we learned oneprominent democrat has launcheda political path to, well,possibly run for president. Let`s ask him.
SHARPTON: Joining me now is former H.U.D. Secretary and Obama Administration official, Julian Castro. Thank you for being on, Mr. Castro.
JULIAN CASTRO, FORMER H.U.D. SECRETARY: Good to be with you, Reverend. You staying warm there in NewYork?
SHARPTON: I am a little warm inside, but it is a little cold outside. Are you going to help take thenation out of the cold?Are you running for president in2020?
CASTRO: You know, I`ve said -- you know, I have beenstraightforward and said thatafter the 2018 cycle that I`m going to think about that. But right now, what I`m focusedon and what you`ve mentioned ismy effort called OpportunityFirst.
I believe that we need a newgeneration of leadership up anddown the ballot in 2018. Young folks that areprogressive, that are willing tostep up and run for school board, city council, stateassembly and congress. And I am going to spend this 2018cycle supporting folks whobelieve in opportunity foreverybody.
I got involved in public servicewhen I was 26 years old. I ran for city council in myhometown of San Antonio becauseI felt very, very blessed withgreat opportunity in my life. And now I want to go supportother young people who aremaking that same commitment topublic service if they have avision to also expandopportunity for everybody.
SHARPTON: So if you help the otheryoung folks, the new generation and I agree, weneed a new generation ofleadership that can really lead,not just gifted in one area, butcan fundraise, can go door todoor and can handle media. If you help to build thisgeneration and bring it to theforefront, why not be theircandidate in 2020?I mean, why equivocate?Just put it out there, "I`m going for it."
CASTRO: Because I haven`t made thatdecision. I haven`t made a decision about2020 and so it would be disingenuous ofme to say that I have.
SHARPTON: All right.
CASTRO: But I have made a decision tomake sure that people who havestepped up in 2018 who are youngand who are progressive have theresources that they need,whether they`re running for citycouncil or running for Congress,to succeed.
You know, the advantage that I have thisyear of staying off the ballotin 2018, because some folks hadtalked about whether I or mybrother would run for senator orfor governor here in Texas, but the advantage that I haveisthat I can spend my time andenergy helping other people whoare running here in Texas and inother parts of the country.
SHARPTON: Now, one thing that I ammissing and I am going to behonest about it. You and I have always beenstraight. Where is the fire in theDemocrats?I mean, one of the things that I hope we`ll see is some fire andpassion. I hear some of the rhetoric, butwhere is the fire that wouldmake me want to get out thereand knock on doors, make me wantto do what is necessary? Because you`re going to need the linesas long as we saw for Obama.
This is not going to be easywith gerrymandering. You`re going to need themessage, the slogan. One of the things I know inCivil Rights, slogans helpgalvanize people, "No justice, No peace.""Black lives matter."The democrats have no slogan, nofire. You have the kind of personalitythat has brought about passion. Where is the message?Where is the fire, Mr. Castro?
CASTRO: Well, the fire has been therefor Democrats for a long time, but the fire during thisadministration started the dayafter the inauguration in theWomen`s March when hundredsof thousands of people throughout the United States.
SHARPTON: But the Democrats didn`t dothat march. That was indigenous people that was organic people all over theworld. It wasn`t (inaudible).
CASTRO: I agree with you there, but it doesn`t need to be a"Democratic event."What`s going to happen is, Ithink a lot of those folks comeNovember are going to go outthere, still fired up, stillmotivated and they`re going tovote Democratic. You see the fire in town hallsall across the country wherethey`re trying to hold theseRepublican Congressmen andCongresswomen accountable for these terriblepieces of legislation that they`repassing. So the fire is there and I believe that the message that we need to embrace is two things: Number one, that as Democrats, westand for opportunity foreveryone, for all Americans inthis 21st Century. Whether that`s health care oreducation or jobs. Across the board, we stand foropportunity for everyone.
And secondly, the only true way that you`re going to get accountability inWashington, DC is to putDemocrats back in charge ofCongress.
If you want accountability foryour government, that`s the onlyway that you`re going to do it. And so I think that come November,here in Texas and other placesacross the United States, you`regoing to see an unprecedentedwave that`s going to go theDemocrats` way.
I think it`s going to be theflip of 2010 and for Democrats,like 1974.
SHARPTON: All right. That we will be watching. You know I will. Thank you so much, JulianCastro, for coming on thismorning.
CASTRO: Thank you.
SHARPTON: Coming up, I`ll ask VirginiaGovernor Terry McAuliffe whyrestoring voter rights andvoting rights to tens ofthousands of ex-felons in thisState is good for the rest ofthis country. Be right back.
SHARPTON: I have mentioned allmorning, both parties are sharpeningtheir knives for the NovemberMidterm elections. And in the swing state of Florida,nearly 1.5 million citizens arepermanently disenfranchised dueto past felony convictions.
An anachronism in theState`s constitution that while notunique to the deep south, has itsroots in Jim Crow and the post (Velum) push to keep black people in theirplace. Those roots flowered during the2000 presidential election whenGeorge W. Bush defeated Al Gore by just over 500 votes. A slim margin enabled in part bythe disenfranchisement of mostlyblack and brown former felons.
The grass root activists in Florida are pushing for a constitutional amendmentdubbed "The Voting Rights Restoration Initiative" that if successful, it could restorethe franchise to former felons thathave completed their sentences.
We`ve seen the good that can come when voting rights are restored to ex- offenders whether in Alabama`s Senate race last month or in Virginia, the month before where turnout for the state`sgubernatorial race was thehighest it had been in 20 years.
When we come back, I`ll ask the outgoing Virginia governor whoseenfranchisement of thepreviously incarcerated helpedthe old dominion push backagainst the tactics that madethis administration possible.
The Department of Commerceis gearing up for the 2020Census and along with the allocation ofnearly $700 billion in Federalfunds to the states, it willalso determine how votingdistricts are represented wellinto the next decade and to keepthose districts as red aspossible, the TrumpAdministration has tappedconservative professor, ThomasBrunellto head the CensusBureau as Deputy Director, a historically nonpartisanposition, it seems an odd fitfor one of the RepublicanParty`s go-to minds fordefending suppression and votersuppression schemes in heavilyblack southern states likeAlabama, North Carolina andVirginia.
The goal, of course, being tocontinue to the gerrymandering,the drawing of districts basedon political affiliation andthus, race. That has enabled Republicans to dominate State houses as demographics shift. Court rulings and even resultsof a statewide elections havepushed back against thismanipulation.
Joining me now is DemocraticGovernor of Virginia, TerryMcAuliffe. This is his last week in office,who along with restoring votingrights for tens of thousands offormer prisoners while inoffice, he has recently joinedforces with former AttorneyGeneral Eric Holder to combatGOP rigging the electoral map. Thank you, Governor McAuliffe and I need to ask you at the outset,are you thinking about runningfor president in 2020?I`m hearing it all over thecountry. Terry, are you going to run?
TERRY MCAULIFFE, GOVERNOR, VIRGINIA: Reverend, if you`re on theticket with me.
SHARPTON: That is called a duck and abait and a switch. But I`ll get back to that. Let me go to something near anddear to your heart. You have restored voting rights for ex-felons in Virginia. You`ve been on the road withEric Holder to deal with thequestion of gerrymandering. The census, though, the censusis the determining factor in howwe redraw lines and how theywere able to maneuver out of the2010 Census to deal with statelegislatures that really did thegerrymandering and cut thesedistrict lines.
Now, we see them put someone inthat will, in many ways help, inmy opinion, raise real questionson whether we`re going to get aneffective real census push,particularly in areas that weneed to be counting.
MCAULIFFE: Could not agree with youmore. This is probably the mostimportant thing facing us rightnow. We do have gerrymandereddistricts all over the country, but what they`re going to try todo is undercount votes, undercount Democratic voters,citizens in this country. So it doesn`t matter what themap looks like, because they`re notincluding the people who shouldbe in it.
The person who should head upthe census should be nonpartisan, someone whounderstands statistics. You want fair maps, and this goes to what money you getfrom the Federal government forcharity. Even though we had a very good censusdone in 2010, we undercountedyoung -- zero to five year old children by 10 percent. We undercounted theAfrican-American community. We undercounted the NativeAmerican community by nearly (inaudible) percent. This is a very serious issue.
We have fought hard here in Virginiato make sure everybody gets that right to vote. I am proud that I have restored more felonrights than any governor in the history of the United States of America, 102,000 people and it was just heartwarming last election in Virginia to go online and to go on Facebook andsee people, grown men and women cryingsaying, "This is the first timeI`ve been able to vote in 50 years."It is heartwarming. It is the right thing to do and we need to continue doing this all over the country. That`s why I am working very closely with EricHolder and President Obama and Leader Pelosi and I havetraveled the country. Putting a program in place forthe Democrats finally to dealwith the gerrymandereddistricts. We`re raising money to make surewe have fair maps. We are going to do ballotinitiatives. We are filing lawsuits in states where we have gerrymandered unconstitutionaldistricts to date.
We sued in Virginia two yearsago. We have a new democratic memberof Congress, Don McEachin.
SHARPTON: Now, the seriousness of theCensus, one of the things wepushed and got a lot of help inthe Obama Administration was toreally push on -- in terms ofradio, social media and otherthat that would hitcommunities that wereunderserved and undercounted of the importance of it because the Census will determine thedistricts. If you don`t have the rightcount, you get districts thatare carved certain ways ordistricts that are not evenreally laid properly in terms oftheir population.
And it is those state legislatorsthat decide the Congressionaldistricts that decide all theway up to the top. People don`t understand that. But if you have somebody thathas an agenda over the Census,they will not be advertising onBlack radio, they will not beadvertising on Latino media. They will not go to social mediabecause they don`t want uscounted so they can maintainthese safe districts for rightwingers. That`s the threat here,Governor.
MCAULIFFE: That is the plan. And that`s why we`ve got to step upand that`s why all of us are very vocalon this topic and I thank you, Reverend, fortalking about it. People need to wake up. This is what is going on right now. We have got to stop this Brunellfrom being Deputy -- that`s whywinning the Congress this yearis so important to make surethat adequate funding is put inplace. It`s absolutely critical. But here is the issue forDemocrats.
So many rollback of individualrights are going on, whether itbe rights of women, LGBT members, rollbackrights as it relates to theenvironment, pro- gun,anti-voting. That is happening in the states andthat`s why we, as Democrats, have got to understand, we focus on thePresident every four years. We`ve got to focus on state andlocal.
MCAULIFFE: Today in America, two-thirds of theChambers are controlled byRepublicans and if we don`t win a bunch of thegovernors coming up, we have 36governors` races. A governor can (inaudible) a badlegislative map that comes out of a Republican chamber and if we don`t do that, then in 2021, they`re going to drawlines to protect.
SHARPTON: That`s right.
MCAULIFFE: . they`re going to hurtDemocrats and we need to wake upas Democrats. This is the battle and for ten years, we will be out ofthe game. So we`ve got to get going. We`ve got all of these Republicanchambers. We`ve got to win these big governors` races -- Florida, Ohio, Michigan. We`ve got to win these. Wisconsin.
SHARPTON: We`ve got to go. You know, in 2004 when I ran forPresident, you were the Chairmanof the party. I`m not going to ask you againare you running? I am going to ask you, will you rule out that you won`t run?
MCAULIFFE: No, I don`t rule anythingout.
SHARPTON: I thought I would get youthere. Thank you, Governor McAuliffe.
MCAULIFFE: I`d like to be (inaudible)...
MCAULIFFE: I`d like to be Tom Brady`s backupquarterback. A lot of things I`d like to doin life.
SHARPTON: I`ll leave it there. Up next.
MCAULIFFE: Thank you, sir.
SHARPTON: The sister of fallen social activist leader, Erica Garner joins me. She`ll tell us why Erica`s will tochange this world will not stop.
Tomorrow I will be givingthe eulogy at the funeral ofErica Garner, who passed awaylast week after falling into aheart attack induced coma at theage of 27 years old.
While my heart is heavy, I amhonored that the Garner family,who I`ve gotten to know wellsince the 2014 police killing ofErica`s father, Eric, whotrusted me to help send thisyoung warrior home. And a warrior is precisely whatErica Garner was. Fighting the systemic culturalracism that took herfather fromher.
Her anguish transforming herinto a policing reform activistwho refused to let her daddy`sdeath be in vain. But as anyone in this fight cantell you, there are wounds thatyou can`t see, wounds of heartand mind that, when added to thestress of the movement, can bedevastating, even to a younglife like Erica Garner.
I`m honored to have known her,just I have those of us thatremain are honored to continueher work here on earth.
Joining me now is the sister ofErica, Emerald Snipes Garner who honor us with herpresence in this time of grief. And also with us is KashanaCauley, who this week wrote an update in the New York Times, entitled, "Erica GarnerandHow America Destroys BlackFamilies."
Emerald, you and your mother haven`t doneinterviews, so I`m really honored you came and talked this morning. I know your mother is under theweather and really gathering herstrength, to -- Esaw will be at the funeraltomorrow. Share with the nation Erica. I mean, because I met you all a day ortwo after the choking death bypolice of your father. And I got close to you all.
But people don`t know you all likeI`ve got to know you. You all really became activists. I mean, you actually worked with us in National Action Network.
EMERALD SNIPES GARNER, SISTER OF ERICA GARNER: Overnight. Yes. I worked at National Action, I worked for about a year andthen I went back to school forHuman Service and Social Work. I`m just still in a state ofshock because me and my sister,same mother, same father, grewup in the same house. She was my first best friend. You know, tell each other secrets. Of course, sisters fight, sisters argue. But there was also you have to take care of each other, you have to takecare of each other. You have to take care of each other. You have to take care of each other. And it`s just hard.
SHARPTON: But Erica became thisfighter. You know I know she was.
SHARPTON: . very opinionated. She called me, "Rev, I would chill on that. I don`t like your friend and this one. You know I am with you, but your boy writer, I am going to Bernie Sanders. I don`t care what he thinks.
GARNER: She`s going to say, "Are you going with Bernie or not?"
SHARPTON: I understand that, yes. But she never really could deal with not being active. And I think that people don`tunderstand that this is real. This is your father that youwatched on video.
GARNER: This is like a burningPassion of Erica`sbecause shewould be out there like, "I amgoing out there, I don`t care." And I am like, "Erica, you know, it`s cold outside and I`ve got asthma and I can`t be outside with no coat on yelling and screaming." She was like, "Well, I`ll go out there. You go sit down. Go sit in the car," or she would like, "I`ll go do this. You go sit down."
The march that we had on StatenIsland for her when she did her march, she`s like,"I don`tcare, I am going to jail." She said, "I am going to jail." I said, "Well, Erica,you know, I`ve got a job and I can`t go be going to jail."
SHARPTON: Well, she called me, "They won`t arrest me, Reverend."
GARNER: Yes, she said, "Well, they would not arrest me." I said, "Erica, you give me the signalwhen you`re ready to getarrested and I`ll go the other way. Don`t worry, I`ve got the kids."
SHARPTON: But the main thing was keepthe (inaudible).
GARNER: Yes, that was the main thing. She wanted to make up -- she wanted to make apoint. And she said, "The only way I canmake a point is if I go to jail. Now, if I go to jail and they arrestme, then that`s going to be theheadline and then that`s going to be my platformto say, this is why I gotarrested and this is for myfather."So that was her way of making apoint.
SHARPTON: Kashana, I picked up the"NewYork Times" and I workoutbefore dawn, and read your (article) about how America destroys Blackfamilies with these kinds ofthings. And it really spoke to my heart because in the decades I`ve beenout here, I`ve gotten close to the families I fightfor. A lot of people see families asjust some pawns as to whateverissue or image they want tobuild. But I have become -- I am still close with thefamily from Howard Beach. And you really captured that.
Explain to people what you mean. Because they forget the humanside. This was a 27-year-old womanthat had a heart attackthathad no history of these kind ofproblems. This is a young woman, I mean,Esaw saw -- I mean, it really -- these are humanbeings who never become thesame, because they becomevictims. I plan to be an activist andall. They didn`t plan to be victims. They didn`t plan to be sittingup on television.
GARNER: No. No one should ever have todie at 27. Erica should be here today, sheshould be spending time with herkids. She should be doing whatever it isthat she wanted to do. I mean, I haven`t been 27 for awhile, just to be quite honest,and it is not a great age todie. There is so much more that shecould have accomplished in life. There are so many more moments she couldhave with her family and with herchildren.
I don`t think people see thefamily side of this issue. I think people go, "Oh, well, Idon`t know what they think aboutBlack families or Black people," but not necessarily that we`re fully people or thatwe have families or are leavingpeople behind or that we deserveto be treated fairly likeeveryone else.
And so I am angry that Erica had to become an activist. I think really, I am glad that she did good in the world, but she should have been allowedto be 27. Her dad, Eric, should never havebeen killed and she should stillbe here with us here today doingwhatever she wanted.
SHARPTON: The trauma, Emerald of youand your sister and the wholefamily having to watch thatvideo of police choking yourfather and him saying 11 times,"I can`t breathe," and theywouldn`t let go, and it was thefirst of the series, becausefrom Eric Garner to MichaelBrown and on and on. But it really started that wholewave. We had started in Trayvon and then a lot of people don`tunderstand that with us marching and all the rallies I did. But it was your daddy you werewatching choked.
GARNER: And that`s what hurt us the most. Erica and I really close to our father like, you know, my father called me Baby Girl. Erica was you know, his twin, because shelooked just like him. So to us, it was like I am watching somebodythat I grew up with -- I had 20-plusyears with his father. My sister, I only had 26 yearswith him. I am only 26, she`s a year older than me so I only had 26 years with her, so like this is hard. And then like, my niece and my nephew,my nephew is only four months. So he don`t have that bond and.
SHARPTON: She had two children.
GARNER: Two children.
SHARPTON: A four-month-old boy and.
GARNER: And every day I look at them,it`s like, I see Erica in both of them. And when I look at them, I ask them, "Are yousad? Are you not sad?Talk to me. What do you want to talk about?"So I am trying to walk herthrough the process and we`re trying to still bestrong at the same time. Because, like, you know, we werealways a close family. Like, twice a year, familyreunions, Six Flags every year. Like, we always did everythingtogether.
So that`s the major thing that I amgoing to miss. So it hurts to see my father onTV and to see all of that, so it`s like, I didn`t want to -- that`s the reason why I didn`tdo interviews because I didn`t want to see Erica onthe TV every five minutes likemy father.
So that`s why I was like, I`ll wait when the Reverend comes back,that`s when we`ll do aninterview. But I don`t want it to be,Erica`s on the TV every fiveminutes like how my father was. Because it`s hard. It`s less than three years. So it`s like, she didn`t really getto mourn and to have her time tomourn. It was straight from, "I amgrieving, the next day I aman activist."
So it was, she never had thattransition. So it was like she never had that transition, so it was a lot of depression thatcame with it. So like after my father, it wasa lot of depression and it was like a Jenga just taking outpieces, taking out pieces, taking out piece andit was like -- it was ripping her apart. She just finished a book andstuff, so it was a lot.
SHARPTON: We`re going to be withyou not only tomorrow, but I will tell you, we will be with you for the long haul when the headlines are gone,we`ll be there. Thank you.
GARNER: As you have.
SHARPTON: Thank you for being here thismorning.
GARNER: Thank you.
SHARPTON: Thank you for joining us.
GARNER: Thank you.
SHARPTON: Up next, I many finalthoughts. Stay with us.
If you`re 71-year-oldgrandfather comes in the livingroom this morning and tells you,"I am stable," you might be a little concerned. And if he comes back and says, "I am a stable genius," you may want to call the rest of the family and then have a meeting.
There`s something a little disturbing when a 71-year-oldman that claims to be a billionaire and goes all the way to become President has to tell us he`s stable and a genius. But I am concerned about those of us that have to live by his decisions. That does it for me. Thanks for watching. I`ll see you back here next Sunday. Now to my colleague, Alex Witt.
ALEX WITT, ANCHOR, MSNBC: As always, Rev, your point well taken. Thank you so much and a happy Sunday to you, my friend.
SHARPTON: Happy Sunday.
WITT: Good morning to all of you, I am Alex Witt here in New York at MSNBC World Headquarters. It is nine o`clock here in the East. It`s 6 a.m. out West and.
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