The Rachel Maddow Show, Transcript 05/26/15

Guests: Annise Parker, Richard Gibson

RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: Thanks at you at home for joining us this hour. Houston, Texas, may be on higher ground in all sorts of metaphorical or even spiritual ways, but in a purely geographic sense, I mean to cast no aspersions on Houston -- in order to say that Houston is a low-lying city. Houston is technically about 50 feet above sea level. It is very flat -- really, really flat. One of the things that is unusual about Houston as a large city is that it is crisscrossed by basically a network of small rivers. And we`re sort of used to big cities in America being built around one big body of water, right, like Chicago on the shores of Lake Michigan or New York City along the mighty, mighty Hudson, or San Francisco the city on the bay, St. Louis and Minneapolis on the mighty Mississippi. But we`re used to a body of water being a figural point, a figural focal point for large cities and the way they`re laid out. But in Houston, that very, very large American city is instead crisscrossed with a series of small rivers that in Houston they call bayous. And it`s a reminder that even though Houston is in Texas, Houston is about as close to New Orleans as it is to Dallas-Ft. Worth and one of the many Houston nicknames is bayou city. Houston was founded in the 1930s along the banks of what`s called Buffalo Bayou. There`s a whole interconnected series of bayous that run through the city in all different directions -- Buffalo Bayou, and White Oak Bayou, and Brays Bayou, and Sims Bayou. And it`s important to understand that about Houston in terms of understanding, you know, how Houston`s basic infrastructural commerce works and shipping, right, the utility of the whole incredibly important Houston ship channel. Understanding the bayous is important for understanding the overall layout of the city and the way it works geographically. But those rivers, those bayous in Houston are also incredibly important in terms of climate because Houston is on low-lying ground. When there is an influx of rain, when Houston needs to drain out, it is those bayous that do that work. The bayous take on the extra water and they funnel it out into groundwater and Galveston Bay and into the Gulf of Mexico. The bayous do that heavy lifting for the low-lying city of Houston. Now, in recent years, Texas and big parts of the whole southwest have had the opposite problem. They`ve been way too dry. Texas has been coping with an extreme drought for the past few years. In the year 2011, 97 percent of the state of Texas was rated as being under extreme drought or even worse ratings than that. But over the past few weeks, somebody somewhere in the universe decided to flip a switch, rather more like turn on a faucet, and specifically in Houston that led to some pretty significant flooding just a couple of weeks ago. There`s been just some torrential rains over the last few weeks. But then over this Memorial Day weekend, this past weekend, yesterday and overnight, and into this morning, Houston and Austin and whole swaths of Texas and Oklahoma, that whole part of the country started getting not just torrential rains like they`ve had for the past couple weeks, they started getting multiple inches of rain per hour -- hour after hour after hour. In Wimberley, Texas, which is about three hours west of Houston, it`s in Hays County between Austin and San Antonio, in Wimberley, the incredible devastation was wrought mostly by the Blanco River, the worst of it this weekend rose 26 feet in one hour, almost impossible to imagine. More than 60 homes along the Blanco River were knocked clean off their foundations. Hundreds of homes were destroyed in Hays County, Texas, alone. At least a dozen people are still missing in Hays County, alone. Up near Austin, at the Lake Travis Reservoir, that reservoir has risen 21 feet. In Bastrop County, which is between Houston and Dallas, they`re watching and worrying now over the possibility of major Colorado River flooding. But in Houston, in the nation`s fourth largest city, when the bayous in Houston fill up, the city of Houston tends to fill up, too. That has led to these just remarkable and scary scenes of a big, modern, urban center, one of biggest urban centers in our country, fourth largest city in the nation, being up to its knees or some cases up to its neck, or some cases worse in this urban street flooding. Some of the most dramatic and most dangerous scenes out of Houston have actually been from the interstates. I-10 and I-45 converge in Houston, and with flooding like this, instead of those interstates serving as evacuation routes and arteries for people to leave, to escape the flooding, the interstates, themselves, have become places from which people have had to be rescued. Five people are confirmed dead in Houston, alone, so far, most of them found dead in submerged cars. A total of 19 people are believed to have been killed all together so far in Texas and Oklahoma combined. A number of people are still missing. So, the human toll of the disaster is yet to be fully known. The mayor of Houston, Annise Parker, says the city has impounded thousands of abandoned cars already. More than 750 at last count. They believe the number of properties destroyed in Houston, alone, stands at more than 4,000 destroyed properties. Beyond the five people confirmed dead in the city limits, there are, again, more people still missing. The weather forecast in Houston is for scattered thundershowers tonight and through the end of this week and then another storm system heading in next weekend. Joining us now is the mayor of Houston, Annise Parker. Mayor Parker, I know this is a very, very challenging time. Thanks very much for being with us tonight. MAYOR ANNISE PARKER (D), HOUSTON: Glad to talk to you. MADDOW: Let me just ask you the latest on how things are in your city right now, and what your biggest concern is immediately this evening. PARKER: We are very quickly returning back to normal. The -- as you mentioned in your intro, we are defined by ten small shallow rivers that go west to east across the city, and they were all out of their banks earlier this morning. They`ve been receding fairly rapidly, and water drains out of Houston quickly once it stops raining. The biggest problem now is going house by house, making sure that those that are in the floodway have been searched and that we make sure that all Houstonians are accounted for. As you mentioned, we believe -- and that is very much a pure swag, it`s kind of a guess, but right now based on where we saw flooding from overflights, we think we have about 4,000 homes. The challenge for us was that -- and it`s hard to parse this for the public. Large segments of the city were perfectly fine. But the areas that were hit were hit very, very hard. We`ve had two weeks of heavy rain. The ground is saturated. Our bayou systems were full. And then last night over a few-hour period, some places we had 11 inches of rain. Any city is going to have problems with that. Because of the nature of Houston, our street grid system is part of our drainage system. It is designed to hold water. It`s not designed to hold 6 feet of water in an intersection, however. That happened late at night. Cars kept driving into the water. We put messages out. We placed police cars to keep people from driving into flooded underpasses. We have flood gages on many of our underpasses because it`s not an unusual occurrence. But then something else happened this morning. It became a different type of crisis. And that is the bayous all of a sudden just started rising and that`s s what inundated structures. MADDOW: I see. In terms of that -- in terms of that last inundation that you`re talking about there and in terms of the scale of the flooding, it`s interesting to hear you say you`re designed for this in a way, the street grid is the way that Houston is designed to drain out. Was this big enough you think you`re going to have considerable infrastructure damage? I mean, looking at the major roadways and interstates and everything that we`re seeing flooding, is a lot of that stuff that will dry out and be fine or do you think you`re going to have large-scale rebuilding to have to do? PARKER: Most of what you saw across the world in the media today was the interstate system, and that -- most of it is completely drivable right now. We have -- the first thing we did, more than 750 cars, getting them off and getting the roads open, getting mud off the roads and it`s fine. We will do a critical infrastructure assessment tomorrow morning, you know, bridge by bridge, overpass by overpass, to make sure that nothing was undermined. Our -- it is unusual, however, for there to be structure flooding, and particularly structure floodings of this magnitude. The area, particularly Brays Bayou, where we had a lot of the overflow, the Army Corps of Engineers and our flood control district did a major overhaul of that bayou after tropical storm Allison. It`s wider, it`s deeper, it moves water better. It holds water better. And yet I hate to think what would have happened had we not done the billion dollars of infrastructure across the city we`ve done over the last 15 years. MADDOW: Do you, Mayor Parker, do you feel like you have the resources that you need in terms of doing that critical infrastructure assessment during the ongoing -- the still rescue operations you may need to do and recovery operations? Does Houston have what it needs heading forward? PARKER: We have what we need. We are a big city. We have a fairly well-honed emergency preparedness crew. Our emergency operations command kicked in middle of the night last night and has been operating at a very high level. Governor flew in today and met with me. We believe we`ll have full cooperation with FEMA and the federal agencies as we go through this process. We`re fixing the problem, and we`ll worry about the invoices later. But we`re moving forward very rapidly. We obviously are concerned to have lost five people. Four confirmed now from drowning. One had a heart attack as he was trying to move his car out of a flooded roadway. But there are two people still missing. MADDOW: Annise Parker, mayor of Houston, Texas, dealing with a big challenge tonight, ma`am. Thank you so much for your time. Continued good luck to you as you try to handle this disaster. Thanks very much. PARKER: Thank you. MADDOW: Interesting to -- you know, you think about the design of cities, geographic design of cities and Houston being on that low-lying plain that it`s on, knowing it`s got those waterways, the way they`ve overtly designed themselves to try to be able to handle flooding up to a certain point, but at some point, the problems like this one are so big that it becomes a life-threatening situation. Obviously, with people still missing, still a very serious situation tonight in Houston and throughout large parts of Texas and Oklahoma. All right. We got lots more ahead tonight. Stay with us. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: Welcome back. Hope you had a great holiday weekend however you spent it. I got poison ivy right here. I`m sure that`s not going to be the only place it ends up, but right now, it`s right there and it`s all I can think about. Hope you had a good holiday weekend. In Seattle, this person spent her holiday weekend attached to the anchor chain of a giant Shell Oil ship. She attached herself to the giant anchor chain to protest Shell`s arctic drilling plans. The activist`s name is Keara DeAngelo (ph). She climbed up there onto the anchor chain on Friday and then she just stayed up there. She just stayed up there all Friday night and all day Saturday and all Saturday night and all day Sunday and all Sunday night, until 9:30 yesterday morning when she kindly asked the coast guard for a little help in please coming down. Three nights spent clinging to the anchor chain of that giant boat in protest. Now, Shell, for its part, said on Sunday that this stunt with the activist being chained to their boat would not delay their plans to conduct Arctic oil drilling this summer. In part using that rig that that activist was chained to all weekend. That anchor chain protest was not a lone wolf kind of thing. Since Shell announced plans to park its Arctic oil drilling fleet at Seattle, there have been myriad protests in the streets of Seattle and at the port where all the Shell stuff is docked. Earlier this month, there was that flotilla of hundreds of kayakers swarming the water near one of Shell`s drilling rigs. The company keeps saying sort of with increasing evident annoyance that none of this stuff is going to slow them down. None of it is going to change their plans at all. They have to be wondering at this point, what`s going to happen next? (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: Last summer, last July, the "Washington Post`s" Tehran bureau chief Jason Rezaian published this story about the small but dedicated group of baseball players who call Iran home. It turns out Iran`s national baseball team is not that bad. They`re tied with Chile, Nepal, and Palau for 48th in the world in terms of national baseball teams, 48th in the world out of 124 countries that field teams. Even though virtually nobody inside Iran has ever heard of the game of baseball, the team`s not bad. On Iran`s national baseball team, they make their own bats. They try to conserve baseballs which are in very short supply. They say they hope one day, they might be able to play an exhibition game against an American amateur team somewhere, somehow. And that sort of article about Iran`s personality and its people was Jason Rezaian`s specialty. He spent the first 30-plus years of his life in the United States but in 2008, he moved to Iran which is where his father was from. He obtained dual citizenship and he spoke openly about his hope that Iranians and Americans could understand each other better just as people. That baseball story turned out to be Jason Rezaian`s last feature for the "Washington Post," at least so far. Five days after the baseball story was published, Jason Rezaian was arrested and imprisoned, along with his Iranian wife and two photojournalists. Now, Iran has done this before. Iran has arrested a lot of their own journalists and a lot of western journalists. Most famously and horrifyingly in 2003, a Canadian-Iranian photographer named Zahra Kazemi was beaten to death in an Iranian prison. She was arrested taking pictures outside Evin Prison, which is the notorious prison where they hold prisoners in Iran. It`s where Jason Rezaian is now being held. Nineteen days after she was arrested, she was dead. And even after Iran faced enormous international condemnation for her death, there were still other journalists imprisoned in Iran. In 2009, the American-Iranian journalist Roxana Saberi was arrested and tried and convicted of espionage. She was then suddenly released after 100 days in the Evin Prison. Later that same year, the Iranian-Canadian "Newsweek" correspondent Maziar Bahari was arrested and charged with espionage after he appeared in a skit on "The Daily Show." He was released after 118 days in which he was very badly treated. Jon Stewart depicted Maziar Bahari`s ordeal, the physical and psychological struggle he endured in custody in the film he made last year "Rosewater." Now, it`s the "Washington Post" Tehran bureau chief. The information we get on the outside, about these cases -- it`s scant, it`s hard to trust. They`re not trying him in public. Jason Rezaian`s wife and the two photojournalist arrested with him were released on bail. He was not charged with anything for the first nine months he was held, but then we learn from his court-appointed lawyer last month that he had been charged with four counts of espionage and propaganda. But it wasn`t clear that the lawyer had all the information or even that she was permitted to share what she did know. Today, Jason Rezaian`s trial began in Iran but Iran is keeping the courtroom closed to the public. His wife and his mother were both in Tehran both at the site of the trial asking to be let in to see him or to see some of the proceedings. They were not allowed in. They were not allowed to even see him even from afar. We hear that Jason Rezaian today was led into the courtroom by a back door and that the judge simply read out his four-count indictment and did nothing else. They adjourned and set no date for further proceedings or notice when this is going to reconvene. That is what we hear. Ha through family members who are hearing it from Iranian officials. None of it is official. None of it firsthand. The Rezaian family says they kept the courtroom closed because the lack of evidence against Jason would be embarrassing if the world were able to see it. We hear from Jason Rezaian`s brother, Ali, that the Iranian government is presenting two pieces of evidence against Jason in terms of these espionage charges. The first reportedly is an American visa application for Jason`s wife. He was trying to get his wife a visa to visit the U.S. he apparently met with some American consular officials about that and maybe Iran finds that incredibly suspect. The second piece of evidence against him reportedly is a form letter sent by Jason Rezaian to President Obama`s White House transition team in 2008 when President Obama had been elected but not yet sworn in and the transition team put a form letter up on their website that people could fill in to offer any help they may be able to suggest to the transition team -- and Jason Rezaian reportedly offered, use that form to help improve relations between Iran and the United States. And maybe Iran finds that incredibly suspect, too. But we don`t know because the trial will be held behind closed doors. Supporters of press freedom in general and Jason Rezaian in particular have been clambering for the American government to do something to somehow get him freed but the Canadians cannot do anything for Zahra Kazemi or for Maziar Bahari. The U.S. could not really do anything for Roxana Saberi. So far, nothing has worked for this "Washington Post" journalist, either. The ordeal here is almost as impressive as the courage it takes to report from Iran. We`ll continue to follow this case, of course. Many days there`s nothing new to hear about the case of Jason Rezaian but as we do learn more, we will let you know. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: For nine months, Jason has been imprisoned in Tehran for nothing more than writing about the hopes and fears of the Iranian people, carrying their stories to the readers of "The Washington Post" in an effort to bridge our common humanity. As was already mentioned, Jason`s brother, Ali, is here tonight. I have told him personally we will not rest until we bring him home to his family safe and sound. (APPLAUSE) (END VIDEO CLIP) (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: Famously, presidents do not drive themselves, anywhere. But President George W. Bush found a way around it. He drove. He drove the Japanese prime minister. He drove the German chancellor. He drove the Colombian president. He drove anybody he could load into his white pickup truck on the ranch that he bought as part of the process of running for president. As long as the cameras were running, George W. Bush cut brush with a chainsaw and he walked around in dry grass and he talked about his love for the land. The time that he spent where he supposedly lived out there in Waco, President Bush set modern records for vacationing, as commander in chief. That ranch was not his favorite prop, exactly, but if Juliette had her balcony, George W. Bush had Crawford, Texas. And then, three weeks after Barack Obama was elected to succeed him in the Oval Office, before he actually even left the White House. George W. Bush instead of going home to Crawford bought a house in Dallas, so he wouldn`t actually have to live in that place out in Crawford once he was no longer president. It`s not that the whole Crawford, Texas, thing was a stunt exactly, but we might have known something was up with that when George W. Bush somehow found time to buy and build that house in Crawford, Texas, while he was running for president for the first time. Well, today, we learn that his younger brother, Jeb, has just done exactly the same thing. And his "I`m running for president stunt house" isn`t in Texas. Where it is and why, that story`s coming up. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: It was 10:30 at night, November 29th, 2012. An officer with the Cleveland police department pulled over this couple. Timothy Russell was at the wheel. Malissa Williams in the passenger seat the couple pulled over. And then, for whatever reason, before the officer could approach their car for the traffic stop, they took off, they sped away. They happened to speed past Cleveland police headquarters and just as they did that, their car backfired. It happens. It was an older car. It was a 1979 Chevy Malibu. It apparently backfired. Officers mistook that car backfiring for a gunshot. And what happened next, all hell broke loose, a high-speed chase ensued, 62 police cars chased those two suspects in that one car through the streets, 62 police cars. More than 100 Cleveland police officers involved in that one police chase. This is how the police officers involved recalled what happened that night. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) REPORTER: After a 22-minute chase, pursuing officers told investigators they arrived on scene with the idea one or both suspects were armed, pointed weapons during the chase, and fired a gun to start it. Officer Wilfredo Diaz told investigators the passenger reached toward something, produced what he perceived was a gun. Officer Scott Sistek feared he would be struck by the suspect`s vehicle. Detective William Salupo heard gunfire and saw Sistek go to the ground believing he`d been run over. Officer Cynthia Moore believing the subjects were firing at her, returned fire through the windshield of her cruiser. Partner officer Michael Brelo said, "I`ve never been so afraid in my life." He climbed on top of cruiser CPD-38 and fired downward through the windshield. Officer Brian Sabolik thought he was in the suspects` line of fire. He shot two rounds. Officer Michael Farley described the scene as the scariest thing I`ve seen in my whole life. Officer Randy Patrick was taking fire. He got up and let some rounds off. Office Paul Box said it was a major shootout. Something shot Officer Box in the vest. He thought it might be a ricochet. Detective Michael Rinkus believed he saw an officer fall. Detective Michael Demchak believed the suspects were wearing bulletproof vests. Partner detective Erin O`Donnell thought the driver was shooting and passenger reloading. And Detective Christopher Ereg said someone was on the radio saying they`re shooting at us, or shooting at officer. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: Nobody was shooting at those officers. Nobody was shooting except the other officers. There were so many police officers there, so jacked up, and so many of them were shooting. Police did turn it into a huge firefight, an incredible shooting gallery. They were the only ones. Timothy Russell and Malissa Williams were unarmed. They were not wearing bulletproof vests. They fired zero shots because they had zero weapons. All 137 shots fired that night were fired by Cleveland police officers. More than a dozen officers fired their weapons that night. Timothy Russell and Malissa Williams, again, unarmed were each shot more than 20 times. One of the officers who fired shots that night did so from the top of a squad car. Officer Michael Brelo got up on top of a squad car, stood on top of a car, and then shot 15 rounds down at the suspects through their windshield. He was up on a police car firing down at them. He`d already emptied a previous clip. He`d reloaded in order to do that. Officer Brelo was the only officer charged with a crime following that completely, completely bizarre incident. The officer was charged with voluntary manslaughter. And this past weekend, Officer Brelo, the one who climbed up on top of the car to shoot down into the windshield, he was found not guilty. A hundred thirty-seven shots fired into the car. Two unarmed people both shot more than 20 times. Only one officer charged and that officer acquitted of everything. The verdict was announced on Saturday. The resulting demonstrations in Cleveland were mostly peaceful. Although there were some skirmishes. Ultimately, 71 people were arrested for things like blocking streets or not obeying police orders. Today, religious leaders and faith leaders in Cleveland led another demonstration on the same issues. And this has all been happening over these last few days. Leading up to what was expecting today to be a major announcements by the U.S. Department of Justice about how broken policing is in the major city of Cleveland and maybe how to try to fix it. That massive police chase, those 137 shots fired at the unarmed suspects back in 2012, more than 60 police cars. That was one of the use of force cases that led to the Justice Department -- led the Justice Department to come into the city of Cleveland to review that department`s standards and practices. Well, today, the Justice Department announced their recommendations and reforms. This is not the first time the Justice Department has tried to step in and reform the Cleveland Police Department. They tried to do it a decade ago as well. But this is the first time that Cleveland legally has to abide by the Justice Department`s prescribed fixes. This is a legal settlement. It is not voluntary. This time, a federal judge will be in charge of making sure Cleveland actually does what Justice Department has recommended that they do. The recommendations are legally binding. And some of the recommendations announced in the more than 100-page long report, they sound promising. The Cleveland Police Department, for example, will have to hire somebody who`s never worked for the police department before, who`s not an insider, but who will have the authority to investigate the department, including any wrongdoing within the department and the person will be empowered to make the results of his or her investigations available to the public. They`re calling that person an inspector general. There will also be a federally appointed monitor separate from the inspector general role who will not only go to the judge about whether Cleveland abiding by this decree, that federal monitor will also have access to all of the department`s data, who they`re stopping and searching, who they`re using force against. Their internal reports about use of force incidents, that monitor will be reporting straight to the judge on whether Cleveland is making enough progress in a timely way. So, there are some recommendations mostly in the oversight department that do seem promising. If nothing else, we`ll get more information about what new horrible things they`re doing in terms of policing in Cleveland. There are, however, some recommendations in this report that I, reading them, found surprising and a little bit alarming. Surprising because it was not self-evident to me that in a year like 2015 a major city police depart like the Cleveland P.D. would need to be told to do things like this in the first place. For one thing, Cleveland police as of today must stop frequently pistol whipping people. Pistol whipping, or as "The Cleveland Plain Dealer" helpfully spelled it out in their headline, pistol whipping is hitting people on the head with guns. That must now be considered deadly force in Cleveland. In the past, Cleveland police have apparently not really considered pistol whipping to be a super dangerous thing. They filed pistol whipping under the lesser lethal force category on a -- that`s what they called it, less lethal force -- even though a gun obviously can quite easily and accidentally go off when it is used to whack somebody in the head, and accidental discharging of an officer`s gun while the officer was using the gun as a baton, that has happened in Cleveland several times. Another reform, officers in Cleveland will now be retrained to give suspects first aid. If they see that the person is hurt and needs first aid. Again, why is that not already the standard protocol? Cleveland police will also no longer be allowed to shoot at moving cars unless the car is about to cause lethal damage. That`s apparently not the rule already. Even though don`t shoot at moving cars has been standard at, say, the NYPD since 1972. Perhaps the top of the list in the obvious reforms category is this one. The Cleveland Police Department now pledges that they will read the personnel files of their new police recruits before they hire them. Check the file of the person you`re about to hire. This is something that Cleveland is being ordered to start doing because they have not been doing that, which is, itself, amazing but it also specifically gets to one major unknown still hanging over the city of Cleveland, and that police department and in a sense the country as a whole when it comes to policing, because it was in Cleveland last November that 12-year-old Tamir Rice was shot and killed in a police encounter with the Cleveland P.D. that lasted a couple of seconds start to finish, start to death, because 12-year-old Tamir Rice was hanging out at a playground playing with a pellet gun and there`s grainy surveillance footage that I`m about to show you, shot from far away, but it is disturbing. Officers approach 12-year-old Tamir Rice and shoot and kill him almost instantly. The entire interaction lasts less than three seconds. When the name of the officer who shot and killed Tamir Rice in that interaction was made public, it was revealed that officer had a, quote, "dismal performance record" with the previous suburban police department in which he had served. That officer`s previous boss had basically recommended that guy be forced to leave policing, that no amount of training could help him. That was in his personnel file from his previous police job but Cleveland police didn`t care because they never bothered to read that guy`s personnel file and they hired him anyway. And that guy ended up shooting and killing 12-year-old Tamir Rice less than three seconds after first laying eyes on him at that Cleveland Park last November. So, yes, new rule, read personnel files from their old job before you hire somebody to be a Cleveland police officer and hand them a gun. That one seems doable. That one maybe will help. No officers have yet been charged in the shooting death of Tamir Rice. That investigation is still ongoing. But the results of that investigation whether anybody involved, any of the officers will be ultimately charged, that is a big unknown still hanging over Cleveland right now. Even with that big announcement today about reforming the police department and, of course, it hangs over the protests, the peaceful protests in the streets of Cleveland. And in the meantime, while we wait to learn what will happen in the Tamir Rice case, the Cleveland Police Department and Department of Justice say they will get to work implementing these changes right away, these fixes for what is broken at the Cleveland P.D. They will get to work on it right away, and yet, soon enough, not even close. Joining us now is Pastor Richard Gibson from the Elizabeth Baptist Church in Cleveland. He`s one of the co-chairs of the greatest Cleveland congregations which organized a march today in response to the acquittal of Officer Michael Brelo. Pastor Gibson, thank you for being with us tonight. PASTOR RICHARD GIBSON, ELIZABETH BAPTIST CHURCH: Thank you for having me on the show. MADDOW: I had to narrow it down today when I was thinking about ways to talk about Cleveland policing gone horribly wrong. I feel like every city has its challenges when it comes to the relationship between the police and the community, but the horror stories in Cleveland would be the worst thing that had ever happened in any other city, and there are about six or seven of them just in recent years that are as bad as anything that you hear anywhere else in country. Do you have a basic understanding of what`s been so wrong in Cleveland? GIBSON: So certainly we have, as the consent decree shows, a pattern in practice of excessive use of force. Certainly, there`s also a culture where the police department has not really been connected with the community. So, we`ve arrived here today with that problem, certainly hoping to move forward. It`s our time to really bring about change. MADDOW: Greater Cleveland congregations, congregations like yours, churches and faith communities have made themselves very visible in terms of this issue in an ongoing way and also trying to channel peaceful response when people are angry about these things happening. What do you see as your role in trying to be constructive moving forward in Cleveland? GIBSON: So, greater Cleveland congregations came together after the Tamir Rice incident and we were resolved really to be involved with this issue for the long term, because we know that the problems that exist now did not come to this community in the short term, so it real requires a long-term solution. Greater Cleveland congregations is a part of the industrial areas foundation which is a national group that organizes people. So, we didn`t protest today, but we had an action with specific solutions. We`ve also worked with the mayor and the U.S. attorney to bring them specific solutions for the consent decree. MADDOW: In the consent decree today, it is striking the breadth of the suggestions, or the recommendations that will now be binding recommendations on the city. Some of them, as I said, I find shocking because they identify things that it`s very surprising to learn the Cleveland P.D. was already not doing. Things like training their officers in basic de-escalation techniques, giving them basic mental health training, telling them not to use their guns as batons. Some of that stuff is very surprising. There`s also a lot of very wide-ranging recommendations in terms of community accountability and sort of re-knitting the police department into the community. That sounds like that`s one of your major concerns. Do you feel like the consent decree really gets at the heart of the problem? GIBSON: So, I`ve only had a chance to glance at the consent decree. There were four areas that we were particularly concerned about. So, we`ve advocated for bias-free policing. So, if one is in Cleveland, it doesn`t matter what one`s race is or what one`s zip code is. The policing should be the same for all of us. There should also be accountability. There`s not been accountability. There`s been a dual system of justice for some time now. We also need transparency. With the accountability, there has to be a panel that looks at these cases going forward, and that panel has to be adequately staffed and funded. And so, we`re looking at that closely. We also think that there needs to be community engagement so this is an opportunity even though we`ve had some horrific tragedies in our community, this is a time for government to come together with the business community, with the philanthropic community, with the faith community, and civic leaders to really bring about change. And then, the last area that we`ve talked about that we`ve advocated on is financial sustainability. Whatever changes are implemented have to be implemented for the long term. Otherwise, we`ll revert back to the conditions that exist today. MADDOW: Pastor Richard Gibson, one of the co-chairs of the greater Cleveland congregations, pastor of Elizabeth Baptist Church -- thank you for helping us understand what`s going on in your city. Appreciate it. GIBSON: Thank you. MADDOW: It will be interesting to see in Cleveland what the pastor was talking about there in terms of financial sustainability. These are binding recommendation on Cleveland to radically change the way they police and train people. The mayor has been explaining to the local media that he has absolutely no idea where any of the funding will come to do any of that training, any of that new equipment, any of the things they are now legally bound to do. They have no plans for how they`re going to pay for it even though they legally must do it. So, that`s not exactly step one, but it`s up there. All right. Much more ahead tonight. Stay with us. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: There`s only one 2016 story in the country right now which involves free ice cream for everyone. But the free ice cream for everyone story happened today and it was glorious and delicious and that story is straight ahead. Plus, Jeb Bush`s new house. All ahead. Stay with us. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: In international news, dictators are known for putting up extravagant statues on themselves, right? It`s a dictator thing. Dictators in Turkmenistan do it better than most. The last leader of Turkmenistan built thousands of statues of himself all over the country, most of them covered in gold leaf. In this one, he`s wearing a fancy super dictator cape. This one is a giant monument of a book that he wrote which he thinks is a very good book. The covers of this book swing open every night at 8:00 p.m. and sing out a passage from the book. But he was most famous for this. A rocket shaped tower with a golden statue on himself mounted on top. No self-esteem problems here, buddy. This one even resolves slowly throughout the day so the great leader`s face would show to the sun. Well, yesterday, even with that for context, Turkmenistan got a new dictator statue that makes all the older ones that went before it looked like hemmels. The new one is 69 feet tall. It shows the country`s current dictator carrying a dove and riding a horse. It`s covered in 24 karat gold leaf and perched on top of a giant cliff of white marble. It`s very subtle. This is a guy who is most famous internationally for having very publicly falling off a horse in 2013 -- most famous for falling off a horse. But now, there he is, 70 feet tall -- him on a horse with a dove on him and him and a horse on a dove all on a giant marble mountain. Ta-da! Dictatorship has its privileges. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: In 2002, a Republican state legislature from Connecticut decided she wanted her state to pay tribute to the new president of the United States, George W. Bush. She wanted Connecticut to put up signs along the interstate leading into New Haven, Connecticut, that read, quote, "Welcome to New Haven, birthplace of George W. Bush, 43rd president of the United States." Although George W. Push is most often thought of and affiliated with the great state of Texas, where he was governor, President George W. Bush was actually born in New Haven, Connecticut. But those signs that called attention to him being from there turned out to be kind of an awkward grand gesture on Connecticut`s part. They weren`t actually welcomed. George W. Bush didn`t really want to be known as being the president from New Haven who was born at the Yale Hospital. His official White House bio at the time made no mention of where he was born. No mention of New Haven, no mention of Yale, no mention of Connecticut. It just raised that he was raised in Midland, Texas. The "he`s from Texas" line turned out to be one of the more interesting psychological sidebars of the George W. Bush presidential era. Just before he started running for president in 1999, they decided they ought to build him his very own Texas ranch palace on a 1,500-acre parcel a few miles outside of Waco. He didn`t even move in until he became president, but that ranch, at least while it was under construction, helped him sort of define himself as super duper Texan and kind of outdoorsy during the campaign. That was part of the George W. Bush presidential rollout, building the ranch in Texas especially for his run for president. He didn`t even move into it until after he started being president. And then, once he was no longer going to be president, he didn`t move back in, he just moved to Dallas. But now, 16 years later, his younger brother, Jeb, has decided to do his own version of that. He has decided to build his very own second home on the occasion of him running for president, although in his case he is not building it in Texas. Nor is he building it in Florida where he spent eight years as governor. No, Jeb has decided that he is going back to mom and dad`s. "Boston Globe" first reported over the weekend that Jeb Bush is having a house build for him at the family compound on Walker`s point in Maine, Kennebunkport. The wrap around porch, expansive views of the Atlantic Ocean. George W. Bush tried to run as a different kind of Bush from his dad. Jeb Bush is running as a different kind of Bush from his brother who is the exact same Bush as his dad, at least if you want to read psychology into the geography. Who has time to build a house while they`re running for president? Maybe it`s part of running for president. Meanwhile, on the Democratic side, the next 2016 contender is going to formally enter the race, the former Governor Martin O`Malley made it obvious before anybody else on either the Republican or Democratic side, that he was very interested in running for president. On Saturday, he will make it official. Today, though, today belongs to Bernie Sanders, the independent senator from Vermont. Bernie Sanders has technically already announced that he was running but today was his first big campaign event and it was big. Beltway media has been treating Bernie Sanders as almost a gadfly, somebody who exists only to fester Hillary Clinton to move to the left during the primaries. But Bernie Sanders, you know what? Has been bucking that, both with his arguments now and also the description of how he has campaigned in the past. He`s running an aggressive campaign now. He`s launching a full court media press, bigger than almost any other media, Republican or Democrat. He`s already raised $4 million so far in just the first few weeks since he officially launched, which is a lot more than some of the top tier Republican candidates raised in their first weeks. And then, today, his big campaign kick off in his home state of Vermont, aggressive, spirited, he spoke for about 45 minutes straight. He used paper notes, no teleprompter for him and the crowd was very amped to hear from him. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I-VT), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Today, we stand here and say loudly and clearly -- enough is enough. This great nation and its government belong to all of the people and not to a handful of billionaires. (CHEERS) This type of rigged economy is not what America is supposed to be about. This has got to change, and as your president, together, we are going to change it. (CHEERS) (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: That was Bernie Sanders, Democratic candidate for president of the United States giving a big campaign kickoff address today in Burlington. In a speech sure to quell any fears that this will be a boring Democratic primary, also because it`s Vermont, there was free ice cream. Yes, it was Ben & Jerry`s. That does it for us tonight. We`ll show again tomorrow. Now, it`s time for "THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL". Good evening, Lawrence. THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED. END