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Transcript: The Beat with Ari Melber, 5/27/22

Guests: Frank Smyth, Donell Harvin, Benny The Butcher, Mark Thompson


Officials admitted police were wrong to wait while shooter killed children inside the classroom in Uvalde, Texas. Survivors of the school shooting and 911 calls revealed pleas for police to come even as police were already at the site waiting. NRA hold convention in Texas just days after 19 children and two teachers were killed at a shooting in Uvalde, Texas. There`s gut-wrenching new details showing failures by law enforcement and Gov. Abbott on the school shooting in Uvalde.


NICOLLE WALLACE, MSNBC HOST: Not just another number. This is enough. No one else needs to go through this.

Thank you so much for letting us into your homes during these excruciating week. We are so grateful to all of you. THE BEAT WITH ARI MELBER starts right now.

Hi, Ari.

ARI MELBER, MSNBC HOST: Hi, Nicolle. Terrible week. Appreciate the reporting you`re sharing. Hope you have a great weekend.

WALLACE: You too.

MELBER: Absolutely.

Welcome to THE BEAT. I am Ari Melber. And I want to just tell you exactly what`s going on.

The nation is ending a week marked by the second worst school shooting ever but we continue to get these new details out of Texas which show mistakes, misinformation and in some places, lies. It shows that the ongoing tragedy has become clearly a full-blown scandal especially for Texas` Republican Governor Greg Abbott who now says he`s, quote, "livid" about how he received what was false information about aspects of this attack and response and then how he spread it.

A lot of this is unfolding and coming out over the course of today so depending on what you`ve been up to, you may or may not have heard some of the gruesome details but he`s also using this as a time to take his platform within a crisis to lie about gun safety and gun control. So we`ll get into that. Late today, the governor used a damage control press conference repeatedly push false claims about public safety policy.

Now here are the new details that are emerging about the failed police response to this shooter and some of them are just absolutely gut wrenching. We are learning the timeline which has now been updated because of the misinformation I mentioned. We`re learning that 19 police officers erroneously waited 45 minutes outside the classroom without ever breaking in to confront the killer inside.

We are learning that the killer was able to thus continue to repeatedly fire weapons again while the police were outside the door. These are facts that are terrible but they are also significant. They are not the kind of facts that as a society we would benefit from ignoring. We are learning that more calls to 911 kept pouring in from inside the classroom, from the children inside who`d watched their fellow students murdered.

And those new calls were begging for police who we now know were just a few feet away and we know those police continued to wait and fail to act. Experts say this is a total breakdown failure and that it was a, quote, "wrong decision." Days later, Texas officials do not even have words to try to explain this response failure. Pressed just today the public safety chief just reiterated that officers on the scene made a decision to wait for more armed tactical officers to arrive rather than confront the armed shooter who was murdering children.


STEVEN MCCRAW, DIRECTOR, TEXAS DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC SAFETY: It was a 40- minute gap and if the 911 operators were aware that children were alive in that classroom, why weren`t officers notified of that and if that`s the case, why didn`t they take action? That`s the question. Then I`ll go back to the answer. But right now, it was considered, OK, the decision was made on the scene. I wasn`t there. But the same point in time, you know, a decision was made that this was a barricaded subject situation.

There was time to retrieve the keys and wait for tactical team with the equipment to go ahead and breach the door and take on the subject at that point.


MELBER: If you listen closely, you`ll notice that was mostly a regurgitation of the problem as described, that they waited while children were killed, while there was enough time for children to actually use phones to continue to call 911 and then more children were killed, and then the individual there, you saw, that`s the Texas Public Safety Department chief saying, well, he wasn`t there. Other officials are more clearly stating what has become obvious that this was the wrong call.


MCCRAW: Obviously, you know, based upon the information we have, there were children in that classroom that were at risk. For the benefit of hindsight where I`m sitting now, of course it was not the right decision. It was the wrong decision. There was no excuse for that.


MELBER: Wrong decision, no excuse, and we`ve heard from other experts that go through why this violates what is current policy for confronting active shooters. I will get to that. But we always want to give you the facts as we have them. You can interpret them how you see fit. But here are the new details about the timeline. The shooter entering the school at 11:33. Officers getting inside 30 minutes later, followed by those 911 calls I mentioned from inside the classroom.

Another 15 minutes until that tactical team finally arrived. Another call detailing that at least eight kids were allegedly still alive inside. Please, to send the police, 12:47 p.m. is when you get that call that`s been noted here from the updated timeline. This is some of what Governor Abbott referred to that was not known or shared accurately earlier, although it was on 911 logs. Reading from the yellow there, 12:47, please, quote, "send the police now." It was not until about 50 minutes of police waiting outside, though, that they entered and killed the shooter.


This police inaction means that scenes like these newly released photographs were allowed to continue. These are the pictures from that day of people fleeing from a shooting that according to authorities, including what I just played for you went on far longer than it had to.

We`ve also reported on people and parents who spent time outside the school, and this is so harrowing if you just think of them as people, human beings outside the school, their kids are inside and it`s become clear that things aren`t happening. It`s become clear that the police are spending efforts outside the school restraining parents rather than going in and that`s why some began yelling and agitating for some action to maybe save their children`s lives because they could see that many police were not acting.


MELBER: That`s what was going on outside. Now we have the timeline with more detail insight. And we have seen some authorities acknowledge or discuss a challenge here, which in American society particularly around legal and law enforcement communities, is sometimes difficult to say. We don`t have time for that here. I`m going to say it. We`ve seen authorities talk about the challenge of taking on active shooters who are armed for war and will be able to easily and swiftly kill any police who first come through the door. That`s part of this reality.

We covered the Buffalo massacre, which until this one was the largest mass shooting of the year, and I told you then and I`ll remind you tonight what the Buffalo police said. They did say something accurate. They said they were outgunned by that single killer with weapons of war and body armor. And now we`re seeing the evidence that some of these Texas officers were allegedly acting like they would do anything other than lean into a firefight this outgunned against these kind of legal weapons of war in America.

Now there is also evidence that some of these actions would violate their obligation and job duties and current policy. We can get into that. That`s part of this. But others say this kind of response underscores why, wait for it, yes, let`s talk about it, talking about policy and law and the danger to children, I`m not talking about politics. This is so much more important than politics. That`s why a lot of people who study this and work on this full time in a lot of different countries say if you don`t want cops that scared of having to face off against someone armed like that, you have laws and rules where criminals can`t get weapons of war that can outgun a whole group of officers.

Now when the police finally did act, their supervisors apparently later would mislead Texans and the public about some of the details of that initial response so we are again doing what happens in this grim process in America and we`re doing the reporting and the work and we`re hearing including from reporters on the ground who are taking the time to talk to people. We`re hearing from some of the surviving children recounting the final horrifying minutes of the shooting.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I was telling my friend do not talk because he`s going to hear us. The cop said help if you need help and then they got one of the persons in my class said help, the guy overheard and he came in and shot her, and then the cops barged into that classroom and the guy shot the cops and the cops just started shooting.


MELBER: That`s some of the eyewitness account. Obviously, the child being maintained anonymous from a local interview.

What`s Texas` chief executive, the governor doing about all this? I mean, the response here is engulfing his entire governorship. We have more on aspects of that later in the program but let me tell you what he`s doing. Governor Abbott took time today to make a political gesture during this period of essential crisis management for Texas. He recorded a brand-new video to address and tout the NRA, National Rifle Association convention in Texas.

It`s all out in the open, A fear by police of criminals because criminals can legally buy war weapons on the open market. It`s all out in the open. The cowardice of politicians more concerned about losing an election than losing lives. It`s all out in the open, their priorities.


The galling grim priority of taking time away from working on this crisis where Abbott says authorities misled him. His past briefings he says were inaccurate because of that. This crisis where funerals are still being planned right now for children, picking out the small coffins you need when you have to bury kids after this kind of school shooting. He took time away from all that to make a political appeal today to the political gun lobby that fight so hard to make sure anyone, anywhere can get their hands on a weapon of war in America, apparently capable of holding back over a dozen cops while children are slowly murdered.

These are the literal facts as we end the week. Our coverage begins with Julian Castro. Julian Castro, former San Antonio mayor and a former Obama official.

Your thoughts on what we`ve learned and what we around the nation are learning about Governor Abbott.

JULIAN CASTRO, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, it`s absolutely heartbreaking, Ari, to learn this new information today. I mean, the story has changed about the response over these last four days and to understand what those parents must be going through, the agony of knowing that their children in that classroom were alive and were calling police over and over, and that those police were right outside the door and could have helped but made a terrible decision not to go in there.

Today at his news conference Governor Abbott looked more frazzled than I`ve ever seen him during his time here in Texas in public office. There is good reason for that because he must certainly understand how badly his administration, the public safety agency bungled not only the incident response but the explanation of that incident response after that.

This is probably the most incompetent, misguided response to a mass shooting we`ve seen in a very long time. Even now we don`t have all the answers that we need so the through line here is basic incompetence in Texas government. Whether we`re talking about the response to the power storm, to the storm, ice storm last year or the COVID response or the foster care system that`s had its own panoply of problems over the years under Governor Abbott and Perry, or what happened in Uvalde.

You can`t put people in charge of government who don`t care about government, who fundamentally don`t care about establishing a well-run strong government, and that`s what we`re seeing on display in Texas.

MELBER: Mayor Castro, stay with me. Interesting what you said about the context since you guys have been around each other there in Texas government.

On the enforcement and response side, I want to bring in retired ATF special agent in charge Jim Cavanaugh who has covered many of these grim stories.

And Jim, we rely on you sometimes day of to go through things, day after. Here we`re several days after. We`re still tracking the response and I showed the new details but we`re also looking at why officers may wait for a tactical team, whether that was wrong or not, and I have information on that I just want to read from -- do I have that somewhere? Pardon me. We had somewhere the fact that might be later in the show. But basically paraphrasing this current policy says to confront and kill the shooter immediately, not to hold back.

But even putting that out to the wider perspective, Jim, do you think that the level of armament that these shooters sometimes have is itself part of the problem that police are facing?

JIM CAVANAUGH, RETIRED ATF SPECIAL AGENT IN CHARGE: No, it clearly is. I mean, these weapons are devastating. They fire a round at 3,000 feet per second. They go through an officer`s body armor and through the officer out the back of the body armor. They penetrate brick walls, steel doors, wooden doors. Yes, it`s devastating and firing those inside a hallway of a school, the sound is disorientating alone. A lot of mistakes here, Ari, for sure, but the on-scene commander waited too long.


CAVANAUGH: Now it`s wrong to say he should have charged in. That`s also wrong. I`ve handled these hostage barricades. The secretary -- remember Waco, I was in the shootout at Waco, I negotiated with David Koresh, I`ve worked with DPS and the rangers. I was assistant agent in charge in the Dallas division. These things get real wild real fast.

But the incident commander should have made a stutter step when he reached the breach point, which was the locked classroom with children inside with a killer. He had to take a stutter step because people say that`s not a hostage barricade are wrong. That is a hostage barricade but it`s a hostage barricade in the middle of an active shooter situation.


CAVANAUGH: But now you`ve got to get in there and you`ve got to kill this guy. He can kill 30 people in 30 seconds with the weapon he`s holding. He`s got a 30-round mag.


He can kill 30 people in 30 seconds. So you can`t just charge in there with your --


MELBER: It`s a process. But let`s dig into that point.



MELBER: I want to make sure we heard you right earlier and we`ve been hearing a lot of tough stuff this week. But you said these kind of bullets with these kind of weapons that people can get easily in places like Texas, you`re saying they shoot through the officer`s armor and out the back?

CAVANAUGH: Through the armor, through the officer and out the back.

MELBER: Wow. And so let`s keep that in mind because, again, my job here as a journalist is to help gather the facts. I`m not here to get inside the mentality of any individual officer or claim that I know what was in their mind. But I will in gathering the facts take what you said about the physicality of the weapon combined with what we know about the policies of Texas, easy to get the weapon, combined with what one of the officials overseeing this on the ground did say, which is their concern about what the officers were up against. Take a listen.


LT. CHRIS OLIVAREZ, SPOKESPERSON, TEXAS DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC SAFETY: One thing that, of course, the American people need to understand is that officers are making entry into this building. They do not know where the gunman is. They`re hearing gunshots. They are receiving gunshots. At that point, if they proceeded any further not knowing where this suspect was at, they could have been shot. They could have been killed.


MELBER: Jim, that goes to the weaponry side of this. And again, that`s Lieutenant Chris Olivarez. Can you speak on that point, that if you`re confronting any dangerous situation, which police routinely do, but it might be handgun, might be someone behind a door? How is it different if they already know the person has an AR like this?

CAVANAUGH: No, you`re already losing if you have a handgun. If you have three officers with a handgun, you`re already losing just like the retired cop was killed in Buffalo. He had a handgun, he faced the AR-15. He`s dead. I mean, you`re just losing already.

But look, let`s talk for one point, the extreme bravery. These officers went in. They didn`t stay outside like Columbine. They penetrated to the breach point. They went in all the way. The guy is shooting at them. A couple were wounded and they got to the breach point. So they had bravery in the face of the rifle. And it`s really extraordinary bravery, but once they get to the breach point, the incident commander just has to make the decision.

Time we consider in these to be neutral and then it falls against you and it falls with you. And you have to read that time. An on-scene commander would read this as getting a hostage barricade that`s basically already bloody. In other words, hostages have already been shot. You know they`re going to bleed out. They don`t have time. This is a standard SWAT commander mindset. You know that`s going to happen. You know you have to breach.

You set up an emergency assault. That`s going to take you probably 10 or 15 minutes. You got to get your stack right. I would have sent two officers around the back maybe to get a shot through the window. We would call this a sniper initiated emergency assault. If you`re the chief of the school police, you should have a key. Probably would have went in both doors. A key in both doors, had a long rifle man and on the radio, shoot the killer, sometimes you hit him, sometimes you miss, sometimes he`s wounded.

So it`s not, you know, everything but when that shot is fired, the assault teams go ahead and kill him that doesn`t give him the 30 seconds to kill the children in there, but that takes a few minutes to set up and the incident commander needed those few minutes so when people say he shouldn`t have paused, and said it was a hostage barricade, they`re wrong. He should have paused and said it was a hostage barricade.

But he had limited time to set up an emergency assault and he took too much time. It was too much time to go to 12:50. People are bleeding. So that`s the mistake. And Bortac was on the scene at 12:15. So looking at the timeline, Ari, that you just showed, Bortac on the scene, you`re at the breach point. You should know you need to make an emergency assault. You should be able to do that within 10 to 15 minutes.

The latest they should have entered there by about 12:25 or 12:30. Yes, people are bleeding but they`re -- you can save them and you can kill this guy. So there is a lot of nuances to it and we`re asking a lot for, you know, a chief of police who supervises six people. These are decisions that the federal service we train constantly for.


CAVANAUGH: We experience the big city SWAT team commander, the country SWAT -- you know, they experience these things. I`m sure this chief never did. But they were brave. The other just -- I`ll close with this. The other thing American policing has got to do is you`ve got to be prepared to breach and they`re not prepared to breach on the patrol side. I`m telling you they`re not.

MELBER: Right. And that goes --

CAVANAUGH: And they should be.

MELBER: And that`s why there`s multiple pieces. I appreciate your precision. That`s exactly why you`re here because anyone can stand a long ways away and assess it, and potentially misevaluate it. And yet, it`s very clear if you wipe away as I said all the politics and crap rhetoric, having criminals with access to these level of weapons is a big part of what constrains the police action.


And that goes to the societal question of, what`s the tradeoff, the value, pro and con, of whether those weapons should be easily accessible which is what we do --


CAVANAUGH: Until America --

MELBER: Go ahead. I`m running out of time but go ahead.

CAVANAUGH: Ari, until America votes for their kids instead of for their guns, this won`t change.

MELBER: Well, and that`s a fitting point to pause on.

I want to thank Jim Cavanaugh and Julian Castro both.

But coming up, we look at the crashing rhetoric around good guys with guns. Also emotional push back of this NRA convention that I mentioned. They`re still going forward with that in Texas as protesters speak out and Ted Cruz under new heat. Stay with us.



MELBER: Conservatives and Republicans are barreling ahead with this NRA convention. Houston, miles from the Uvalde shooting, Texas Senator Cruz and Trump will be speaking today.


SEN. TED CRUZ (R-TX): Tragedies like the events of this week are a mirror forcing us to ask hard questions, demanding that we see where our culture is failing. Looking at broken families. Absent fathers. Declining church attendance. Social media bullying. Violent online content. It`s never been about guns.


MELBER: Well, that`s the argument. But this is a time when you look at a major deadly shooting like this where the country can actually decide what they think happened, and if you look at the data when there is easy and widespread availability of guns, you have more gun violence. In the lower left, you have a bunch of countries that are Western democracies, some of them diverse, some of them have all of the problems of America including things Cruz alluded to.

In the upper right, you have a combination of more gun violence and easy access to guns. The United States alone in that. That is on your screen, courtesy of the "New York Times," the direct fact check of these claims from Cruz and others that this is about only mental health or only problems in the family. Those are real problems. They sometimes intersect with violence but not like this in any other country.

Protesters today were outside of the convention, one group walking around a child-sized casket, others chanting.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Shame on you! Shame on you!

UNIDENTIFIED PROTESTERS: Shame on you! Shame on you!


MELBER: We also saw some minors and younger people participating. This is some of the footage. These are people who choose to show themselves so we`re showing you a little bit of that. It`s a grim type of activism but one that many minors say they don`t care about. They don`t have a vote but they are holding up signs of other children killed. One child held up a tragic sign for our current era that asks, am I next?

Frank Smyth has been covering the NRA for over 20 years, we`ll get into all this when we`re back in one minute.


MELBER: We`re back with Frank Smyth, the author of "The Unauthorized History of the NRA."

What do you see here in the convention going forward and the NRA`s impact on these issues?

FRANK SMYTH, AUTHOR, "THE NRA: THE UNAUTHORIZED HISTORY: The NRA is going to dig in like they did before after the Sandy Hook massacre and after Columbine. They`re going to concede nothing about gun policy and they`re going to do what Ted Cruz is already starting to do, to blame it on the culture, the decay of the culture.

Everything the NRA has gone is to raise mental illness or video games, or red flag laws, all sorts of other things to deflect away from any discussion about restricting access to guns. The reason the United States has 25 times on average more gun violence than other advanced nations is that chart you showed illustrated is because every one of those nations has a mandatory policy of registering weapons to the degree that they allow for civilian ownership of guns at all.

The United States is the only advanced nation or nation in the world that leaves it up to regional governments or our states to determine the retail gun policy, retail gun sales to consumers, and this is why you have guns flowing from states like Ohio and West Virginia, to states like New York and New Jersey that have strict gun laws.


Up to one-third of guns seized in crimes come from other states as well as going to Mexico, and why more than three out of four active shooters that have committed mass shootings in the United States bought their guns legally? So we seem to be asking all the wrong questions, the question we should ask is why do we not address the easy access to guns? That is the obvious problem. And the reason is not because of the NRA`s money. This is -- this has been in years past perhaps but now it`s beyond that.

If the NRA dies tomorrow, which may happen in the years to come, it`s the ideology they helped generate, along with the gun industry that is going to remain. And this ideology is a fantasy. And this is a fantasy that if you have a little gun control, it`ll be a slippery slope right to genocide.

Many other advanced nations have gun control, and they`ve had no tyrannical takeover and no genocide. But this fantasy is having the real-world consequence of these children and others being murdered. And that is a fact. And it`s time to change the conversation and flip the script, if you will, on the NRA and the gun industry.

MELBER: Do they speak for most gun owners?

SMYTH: I don`t think they speak for most gun owners. Data polls show they don`t speak for most gun owners, whom they speak for our hardline Republicans who support Trump or Trumpism and the leadership of the Republican Party. But most gun owners -- I`m a gun owner, I own a Glock and it`s registered in New Jersey and I`m happy with this.

The problem is the NRA has convinced the great many gun owners that gun ownership and gun control are incompatible. And that is simply not true and what we need are for Democrats to think about policies that would appeal to gun owners, and at the same time, would restrict access to weapons. And I think there`s been so much confusion going on for so long. We really have to go back to the drawing board and reevaluate how we got here, and how we can get out of it.

MELBER: Yes. Frank Smyth, the author of The NRA: The Unauthorized History, quite striking as the convention goes on. Thank you for your time.

And coming up tonight, we have more details on the revelations about the handling of the shooting. And later, today was also an emotional day in Buffalo victims` families their funerals. We have some very special guests for a wider conversation in the week. Stay with us.




UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Sir, you have people who are alive, children who are calling 911 saying, please send the police. They are alive in that classroom. These are lives that are at risk.

STEVEN MCCRAW, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, TEXAS DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC SAFETY: We`re well -- we`re well aware of that. It was the wrong decision period. There`s no excuse for that.


MELBER: No excuse. This is where the story has turned today with those new details about the bungled response to the Texas School shooting. I`m joined by Donell Harvin. He was chief of Homeland Security and Intelligence. He was the first responder to the Sandy Hook Elementary shooting, who`s also at the 911 attack on the World Trade Center. Thanks for being here.


MELBER: We`re talking about this difficult part of the response I mentioned earlier in the show, and I wanted to share with viewers something you`re well aware of, which is, what current policy best practice states about an active shooter situation like this. The trainings teach police to "stop the killing."

Officers are taught their response should focus on stopping the killing and stopping the dying according to a training program based in Texas, which is actually the national standard. You neutralize the gunman. And then, of course, try to aid the wounded, those who have not already been murdered. Given that and what we`re learning, your analysis of what went wrong there and Uvalde.

HARVIN: More is still coming out but I think it`s safe to say that this was a botched operation. It`s really sad. I actually had a conversation earlier in the day with the Lieutenant that taught me tactics when I was in the police department. Just to make sure that I was saying the right thing.

When you go in, when you arrive at the active shooter scenario, you don`t wait for a SWAT team. Heck, you don`t even wait for backup. You go in and you -- and you locate you hunt and you engage. If you take fire, you return fire. And that`s what we`re trained. As you mentioned, Texas is the model.

Additionally, you can identify the injured, you can try to extract them, you can communicate their locations, we have a rescue Task Force in many, many cities. And after this, every city should be having a discussion about having a rescue Task Force, which are highly trained tactical paramedics that go in with the police officers and extract and treat these victims in the hot zone because they don`t have much time when you`re bleeding out from an artery wound.

MELBER: Yes, for sure. We`re seeing also the parents and the families speaking out. I want to play a little bit of what we`re hearing. This is the brother of one of the victims.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE1: Are you guys frustrated at all about the way the police handled this?



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE1: What frustrates you the most?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE2: They didn`t do -- they didn`t do anything.

MATA: The terrorist is staying around the whole time.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE1: You think maybe if they`d acted sooner, Xavier would be alive? (INAUDIBLE)


MATA: If they`re here, everybody would have been alive.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE2: Everybody would.

MATA: Everybody would have been alive. Granting none of this would have happened if they actually would have done their job right.


MARLBER: Donell?

HARVIN: Yes, I`m not going to argue with the family members. I think they have a really good point. I would like to point to you that there`s another larger story here. This shooter was 14 when Parkland happened, eight years old when Sandy Hook happened, and so, you know, it is quite possible that he`s participated in active shooter drills in schools.


We`ve had this conversation for a long time in the Homeland Security space. Are we training the next active shooter and the tactics? The other thing is the access to lethal weapons. I mean, you had on your previous segment.


HARVIN: When I was a law enforcement officer, most law enforcement officers are not issued tactical vests with trauma plates. And so we`re outgunned at the start.


HARVIN: We understand that when you go in you, you sacrifice your life, even if you just distract this shooter for a few seconds, help people get out, make them think about something else and other than killing innocents. And so there`s a whole lot of questions that need to be answered.


HARVIN: I think we`re getting a lot of that now. Every press conference we see, it creates more questions than answers.

MELBER: Donell, I appreciate your candor on that. And as you say, you`re outgunned, and people who put on the uniform are here to serve the public. The public has to govern itself with the democracy and decide what is the value out of having these weapons of war easily available to randos, to sick people, to criminals, to child killers? What`s the value out of that?

And what`s the value out of restricting them so that we might make it harder on them and give, as you said, the people in the uniform a more of a fighting chance? Some of this sounds straightforward. The question is, what whether people care enough and that`s we`re going to keep reporting so people can make up their own minds. Donell Harvin, thank you, sir.

HARVIN: Thank you.

MELBER: It has been a long week. Here at the end of this week, we`re going to do something a little different. We`re going to touch on what we saw out of Buffalo, remember Buffalo, Tucker Carlson pushing replacement theory, accountability for all that, and how we can actually have solidarity together. Mark Thompson is here for a special conversation. You know, Mark, we`re going to get into this so stay with me.



MELBER: This weekend`s mass murder in Texas, the deadliest shooting of the year, eclipsing the ongoing mourning for what was the deadliest shooting of the year when a suspect citing racist replacement theory, killed 10 in a Buffalo supermarket. The mourning continues as three victims from that attack were laid to rest today, Andre McNeil, Geraldine Tally, and Marcus Morrison. And now two more far-flung communities are inexorably linked by what we`ve been discussing this week, this uniquely American tragedy where access to guns drives this kind of mass shooting violence.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The final goodbyes beginning in a broken-hearted Buffalo.


MARK TALLEY, MOTHER SLAIN IN BUFFALO SHOOTING: I never would have thought my mother would be shot dead. Have a bullet go through the right temple on her head.

LESTER HOLT, NBC NEWS ANCHOR: Breaking news tonight, the horrific shooting rampage at an elementary school in Texas. This comes just 10 days after the mass shooting at a supermarket in Buffalo.

JERICKA DUNCAN, CORRESPONDENT, CBS NEWS: Mourners gathered yesterday to honor a retired police lieutenant killed trying to stop the gunman. It is clear that this community will not forget about these 10 lives loss.


MELBER: And as national attention now shifts from Buffalo to Uvalde, and then experts warn to what would be statistically likely the next mass shooting. We`re faced with this sort of grim displacement of one community shooting victims, their stories, and their situation for the next.

Well, tonight, we have a conversation about all of this. We bring in Buffalo artists Benny the Butcher who has a home near the Tops Supermarket, he knows people who are mourning victims from that attack. And Benny has actually proudly been rapping his community long before these tragic headlines.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Ready to Butcher. The Butcher.

BENNY THE BUTCHER: The Butcher coming. I`m a Buffalo -- damage as far as crazy.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Over the last 18 months, Benny has just turned into a star of his own

BENNY THE BUTCHER: The LA hot they want to hit a true phone record since a boom off the face got through off direction. I`m too small to catch me in and Tupac professional.

I`m from Buffalo I talk with a Buffalo accent, not a New York City accent.


MELBER: Not a New York City accent. We`ll get into what that means. We`re also joined by Make It Plain host Mark Thompson. He was recently in Buffalo working on a project for a farmers market for residents there to have access to groceries after the tragedy. Thanks to both of you for being here for this conversation.

BENNY THE BUTCHER: Yes, sir. Thank you for having me.

MARK THOMPSON, HOST, MAKE IT PLAIN: Thank you for having us, Ari.

MELBER: Benny I mentioned how tough it is because we would still be focused on Buffalo if not for this thing and this thing of course is horrific. We`ve been covering that all hour. What it mean to you coming from Buffalo to see that happen there?

Man, it`s, you know it hurts me, you know, I`m saying to be at the point that I`m -- that I`m mourning. I`m living at a high height right now and for my family and for the city to be going through that, I just want to let them know the city that city knows we`re here for them. You know what I`m saying. And I`m happy that the world gets to see what kind of community Buffalo is. I`m saying that we`re a close-knit community and we`re always there for each other and it`s really the city and neighbors. You know I`m saying, sir.

MELBER: Yes. We have a school shooting, Mark, where people are targeted partly because of their kids whatever the killers deranged thoughts about that. In Buffalo, according to what was cited by the suspect they were targeted because they`re black.

THOMPSON: Yes. There was a great man and a mentor to many of us here in Harlem, Dr. John Henry Clark. And he used to say that a nation can really be judged by how it cares was very young, and it`s very old. So you have elders at a grocery store in Buffalo kill, and you have young people, essentially babies who were killed in a school within the span of a few days. What is going on in this country that nothing can be done about that and this continues to be allowed to happen?


And then politicians, on the one hand, you can`t be against Roe and say you value -- pretend to value babies in the womb and then not have value for babies who was sitting in middle school getting shot and getting killed. So something has to happen. This country needs to change otherwise, we not only do we no longer have a democracy. We have was really a gunacracy (PH) we are living and it`s no longer post-trauma. It`s pre-trauma. All of us now. Even though we`re where we might lead get off the air tonight and hear about another shooting right.

MELBER: Correct.

THOMPSON: Everybody has anxiety about that and being in Buffalo the brother`s right. That community is in pain.

MELBER: Yes. And, Benny, we cover this all the time those in politics. You know Tucker Carlson is lying to people and trying to get them divided and hate people because of the color of their skin or they`re going to be "replaced." This really nasty theory. In Buffalo, do you know people were they kind of surprised where they had they been heard about this kind of stuff or people are trying to live their lives and work and then they`re like, wait, you`re coming for me?

BENNY THE BUTCHER: Yes, it`s like people are afraid to go to the grocery stores. It`s -- my daughter hasn`t been going to school since they happened. And I`m saying so it`s like, that`s the last thing we need. You know, I mean, and that`s why we got to -- we need brothers like this and platforms like this, where we can speak our piece and let people know what`s on our mind and what`s going.

MELBER: Absolutely.

BENNY THE BUTCHER: And what we need to do to move forward because we got to -- we got to find a way to protect ourselves from situations like that. I think that`s number one, you know I`m saying.

MELBER: Absolutely. So you mentioned this platform. It`s nice also to be with you guys in person, I haven`t done one of these in person a minute. Then we have you blowing up. I`m telling our viewers about you in the link to Buffalo and I know you care about that, then there`s just in general, I`ve been following you for a couple of years.


MELBER: Plugs I met, we got tanner talk for your new project out. And you like other rappers have been really interested in Scarface that figures into the art. So as a way to kind of jump into this, That`s a movie a lot of people remember money power speak, let`s take a quick look at then tell me.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What do I try to do?

TONY MONTANA, FICTIONAL CHARACTER: This country, you got to make the money first. Then when you get the money, you get the power. Then when you get the power, then you get the woman. That`s why you`ve got to make your moves.


MELBER: Tell me what this speaks to for you and why you weave it in because we see it`s even on the album cover. I want you to try to explain.

BENNY THE BUTCHER: Yes, I use that a lot. It`s the pure underdog story. You know, I`m saying. A guy like me coming with that Buffalo spirit and our Buffalo mentality, the pure underdog spirit was inspired by Tony Stark. It`s like the Rudy movie from Notre Dame. You know, I`m saying.


BENNY THE BUTCHER: This is like underdog. We love to see that. And I think, you know, a lot of people, they follow me in it because they see what I`m into and they know that I rose from the bottom and just pure grit and hard work, you know I`m saying the same thing. That`s what I took from that movie.

MELBER: Yes, I don`t know that anyone`s ever mentioned Rudy and Tony together.

BENNY THE BUTCHER: I thought about that -- I thought about. It`s the same thing.

MELBER: So, can we get into some Benny bars real quick?

BENNY THE BUTCHER: Oh, yes. Once we use it, let`s go.

MELBER: All right, you said what`s the stage with no mic and no voice of a poet? What`s more important, the flower or the soil to grow?


MELBER: Don`t get caught up in the moment. What does that mean?

BENNY THE BUTCHER: That just means is that without the stage without the mic or without the poet, you know, man, this is synergy. You need one thing to exist for the other thing to exist. And I`m saying it and don`t ever get caught up in a moment of what`s going on around you. Sometimes you can`t stop and smell the roses you just got to focus. That`s the goal is to be focusing that pure greatness.

MELBER: All right, we`re going to do another one. Less lofty, OK?


MELBER: You want to cry on that Toyota, or this may back.

BENNY THE BUTCHER: Right. Everybody -- if you have to cry it should be a mar back, you know I`m saying.

MELBER: Mark, do you agree with that?

Why not? Why not?

MELBER: Then you talk about your struggle. And this is interesting because some people misunderstand hip hop. There`s -- there is bravado.


MELBER: And then you have this other line that really caught my ear because you were talking about actually just selling your own stuff. Not the Benny we see maybe today.


MELBER: And you said I remember selling merch dolo.


MELBER: Like mantling your own ship.


MELBER: First of all, is that true?

BENNY THE BUTCHER: Definitely very true. Going to the post office myself and messing up a lot of orders and having to do them over and which a lot of fans, they helped me through that. They told me like, yo, man, you need to use different packaging because when I got it, it was messed up. So they kind of got me through that. But I remember those days.

MELBER: So the final thing is we end the week. If somebody young is watching this thing, you know, they might like to become either one or you vote tonight doing your own work successfully but they think man, I don`t want to go have to go to the post office UPS. They think they`re like there`s no above that. What would you say to them?

BENNY THE BUTCHER: I say -- I would say don`t be afraid to be your own person and don`t be afraid to take risks. And don`t be afraid to be a leader. That`s most important. You know, it`s easy to follow everybody but don`t be afraid to be a leader and do what`s outside the norm so you can make a way for people because people need leaders so can`t be afraid to do that.


MELBER: I love that. Appreciate you coming on.


MELBER: First time, Benny. Mark Thompson, many times.

THOMPSON: Thank you.

MELBER: And we will be right back.



MELBER: Wherever you are, however you get your news, whatever you`re thinking about. We do appreciate you spending time with us during what we all know is such a difficult week. And I have one program announcement before we go tonight.