IE 11 is not supported. For an optimal experience visit our site on another browser.

Transcript: The Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell, 4/22/21

Guests: Val Demings, Marty Walsh, Nadya Tolokonnikova, Gary Hill, Joseph Foster


Interview with Congresswoman Val Demings of Florida, a member of the House Intelligence and Judiciary Committees and a former chief of the Orlando Police Department. Interview with Labor Secretary Marty Walsh. President Biden`s infrastructure plan tackles climate change and creates millions of jobs. Yesterday, protesters filled the streets in cities all over Russia, "chanting Russia without Putin", "Putin is a thief", "freedom to political prisoners" and simply "let him go", meaning the jailed opposition leader Alexei Navalny. This year Lincoln University in Jefferson City, Missouri became the first historically black college and university to create its own police academy with a focus on a more community-based approach to policing.


LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, MSNBC HOST: Well, it`s a thing for me. It`s my favorite thing on MSNBC. And I, too, filled up with Moderna, I went out and bought a cup of coffee in a public place today, too.

Rachel, we have tonight, Nadya Tolokonnikova joining us. She`s a friend of Alexei Navalny. So, we will get her perspective on what`s happening.

And she, as you know, was imprisoned by Vladimir Putin herself. So, she has a very close feeling for what`s going on there.

We are also going to show Gabe Gutierrez`s extraordinary interview with one of the jurors in the Derek Chauvin murder trial. It turns out the jury was thinking exactly what we thought they were thinking. It`s always such a mystery. You always wonder what is going through their minds and you never know. And now thanks to Gabe Gutierrez today we do know.

And, Rachel, one more thing before you go. Very, very, very important thing.


O`DONNELL: I was listening to Gina McCarthy on your show, and it wasn`t easy, I noticed, it wasn`t easy for her to describe exactly what her job is because she is not secretary of and she is not EPA administrator as she was before.

So, she described it -- this chief kind of environmental advisor, climate advisor to the president, described it as hanging out with people. And she was talking about how she is hanging out because it`s the Boston way you describe working, hanging out. She was talking about she is hanging out with these people working on the infrastructure bill and she rattled off every member of the cabinet evolved and even beyond that.

Did you notice who she left out?

MADDOW: Who she left out of the cabinet description of the people she was hang outs with? No.

O`DONNELL: Yeah, hint: cabinet member. I could not believe my ears and I know Marty Walsh couldn`t believe his ears. Secretary of Labor Marty Walsh, former Boston mayor, was left out of that list by Boston`s own Gina McCarthy.

So, Rachel, I think we have the makings of a feud here, if I can get it started tonight, because there is nothing like a Boston accented feud. It`s just -- it`s a thing to be behold.

MADDOW: I would -- I would like to have Lawrence with his Boston accent on, moderate some sort of discussion between Marty Walsh and Gina McCarthy on cars in terms of what we are agency going to do about cars and electric cars when it comes to dealing with the climate change. I would pay serious money for that.

O`DONNELL: So, it turns out Marty Walsh and I are going to be talking about cars later in this hour because he is, of course, a key player in the infrastructure bill which includes stuff about electric cars and also sorts of other stuff. And, you know, we`ll see if he has anything at all to say about Gina McCarthy. He is going to join us later in the hour.

MADDOW: This is going to be -- this is going to be wicked fun.

O`DONNELL: Yeah. It`s a good day to come to work. Thank you, Rachel. Thank you.

Well, there really is nothing, and I mean nothing more mysterious than a jury. They never speak. You never know what they are thinking as a trial proceeds. You can only guess, and you can never be sure about the guesses. Not even close.

And so there is nothing more suspenseful than a jury verdict. There is nothing more suspenseful than that in our lives today.

And in an extraordinary interview today, NBC`s Gabe Gutierrez has taken us inside the jury in the trial of Derek Chauvin for the murder of George Floyd.

On this program, every night of the trial, we tried to highlight for you what we thought were the most important points for the jury that day. The points that really impressed the jury, and it turns out we were right. They were thinking exactly what we were thinking about that evidence.

And while Gabe Gutierrez was conducting that interview today with one of the jurors in that case, members of George Floyd`s family attended the funeral of Daunte Wright, the 20-year-old unarmed black man who was shot and killed by a police officer in Brooklyn Center, Minnesota, last week.

Reverend Al Sharpton delivered a eulogy at another funeral of an armed black person killed by police.


REV. AL SHARPTON, FOUNDER, NATIONAL ACTION NTWORK: When you see the blue wall of silence tumble in a courtroom in Minneapolis, when policemen understand that they are committed to the oath rather than to their colleague, that`s when we know a breakthrough is coming. That`s when we know we can pass the George Floyd bill because folk are not going to lie on you no more. And next time you get ready to pull your gun, next time you get ready to bend your knee, put in your mind the picture of the man taken in handcuffs and making Chauvin put his hands behind his back and walk into a penitentiary and learn that you will pay for the crimes you committed.


O`DONNELL: Today, NBC`s Gabe Gutierrez gave us a window into what the jury in the Derek Chauvin trial was thinking when he interviewed one of the alternate jurors who was not one of the 12 jurors who were chosen in the end to deliberate in the case and deliver those three guilty verdict.

Lisa Christensen said that if she had been chosen as one of the 12 jurors to deliver the verdict, she would have voted guilty. Her reactions to the evidence were virtually identical to the reactions presented on this program during the trial when asked, who was the most important witness, she immediately said Dr. Martin Tobin. Here`s why.


LISA CHRISTENSEN, ALTERNATE JUROR, TRIAL OF DEREK CHAUVIN: He did a good demonstration. I understood everything he said. I thought it might be over my head because of, you know, medical. But what was so powerful to me is he pointed out when Mr. Floyd actually lost his life, like pointed right down to that minute, explaining this is the point where he is having that seizure, and now he is not breathing anymore.

DR. MARTIN TOBIN, PULMONARY & CRITICAL CARE SPECIALIST: You can see his eyes. He is conscious. And then you see that he isn`t. That`s the moment the life goes out of his body.


O`DONNELL: We were not allowed to see the young eyewitnesses who testified but the jury saw them. Lisa Christensen described what she felt when she watched one of the young eyewitnesses testifying.


CHRISTENSEN: She was trying to hold back her tears. You know when your chin starts quivering? I could see that. My eyes started watering and I started tearing up. Just from that simple gesture, everything was so real and so genuine.

I mean, I felt their feelings. I felt their pain. I felt their guilt. Yeah, I could just feel it all.


O`DONNELL: The other witness who meant the most to Lisa Christensen and presumably the rest of the jury was 18-year-old Darnella Frazier who was 17 years old last year when she bravely aimed her phone at Derek Chauvin and George Floyd and recorded on video the murder of George Floyd.


CHRISTENSEN: What stuck in my mind, I was close to the witness stand and her words of apologizing to Mr. Floyd that night over and over that she couldn`t sleep and she was sorry she couldn`t do more to save his life. That was pretty impactful to me. It hurt me.


O`DONNELL: Here is that portion of Darnella Frazier`s testimony that Lisa Christensen just described.


DARNELLA FRAZIER, RECORDED GEORGE FLOYD`S DEATH: When I look at George Floyd, I look at -- I look at my dad. I look at my brothers. I look at my cousins, my uncles, because they are all black. I have black -- I have a black father. I have a black brother. I have black friends.

And I look at that and I look at how that could have been one of them. It`s the nights I stayed up apologizing and -- and apologizing to George Floyd for not doing more and not physically interacting in -- not saving his life. But it`s, like, it`s not what I should have done. It`s what he should have done.


O`DONNELL: Every trial has its what if`s. The biggest one in this trial is, what if Derek Chauvin testified?


GABE GUTIERREZ, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Would you have liked to have seen Derek Chauvin testify?

CHRISTENSEN: I don`t think, no. I don`t think it would have helped him at all.



GUTIERREZ: Were you surprised he didn`t testify?

CHRISTENSEN: No. I expected him not to testify. So, I think the prosecutor had a really strong case, and I think he would have incriminated himself even further.

GUTIERREZ: What was the biggest unanswered question that you had, if any?

CHRISTENSEN: Why didn`t you turn him over on his side at a certain point when you knew he was in distress? You know, why didn`t we start CPR? I think if they did, the outcome may have been different.


O`DONNELL: Gabe Gutierrez asked about her reaction to Derek Chauvin.


GUTIERREZ: What did you make of Derek Chauvin in the courtroom?

CHRISTENSEN: I felt bad for him. I really did. I felt sorry for him.

I guess what stood out for me is that video they took, a still photo of him on Mr. Floyd`s neck with his hand in his pocket, and I felt like the message I was getting from that, that photo, was, like, I`m here to do my job and nobody`s going to tell me how do to do it.

I felt like he was being defiant on what anybody or everybody was trying to point out to him.


O`DONNELL: We knew that one unnamed juror lived in Brooklyn Center and was subject to the curfew after nighttime protests of the police killing of Daunte Wright. Now we know that juror was Lisa Christensen.


GUTIERREZ: I know you live in Brooklyn Center.


GUTIERREZ: That came up once. There was a discussion, the defense attorney at one point wanted the jury sequestered because of what was happening here. When the protests were underway, when Daunte Wright was killed, did you hear about any of that? Were you at all privy to what was going on?

CHRISTENSEN: I did hear about it. Whether I wanted to or not, the helicopters were over my house. So like one in the morning I could hear the press helicopters.

Also, I could hear the flash-bangs going on. I could, if I stepped out on to my deck there, I could see the smoke if I looked over there. It`s --

GUTIERREZ: You were that close to it?

CHRISTENSEN: Yeah, the police station is seven, six, seven blocks from my house.

GUTIERREZ: And what impact did that have on you at all, or nothing with regards to this trial?

CHRISTENSEN: It had an impact on me, but not as far as this trial. They were two separate things.


O`DONNELL: And there you have a picture of the American jury system working at its best. Lisa Christensen did not cite anything that the lawyers said during the trial. She made up her mind based on what the witnesses said based on the evidence presented by witnesses as she was instructed to do by the judge. She disregarded any outside influences, even the helicopters flying over her house.

Joining us now is Congresswoman Val Demings of Florida. She`s a member of the House Intelligence and Judiciary Committees and a former chief of the Orlando Police Department.

Thank you very much for joining us tonight. We really appreciate it. I wanted to get your reaction to something that Reverend Sharpton said actually today in that painful eulogy he had to give once again at a funeral of someone, unarmed person killed by police.

He said, when police understand that they are committed to the oath rather than to their colleague, that`s when we know a breakthrough is coming. What is your reaction to that?

REP. VAL DEMINGS (D-FL): Well, Lawrence, great to be with you. And while that was absolutely powerful when I heard it earlier, I talk a lot about taking the oath and, you know, we all can agree that police work is tough. It can be dangerous. It`s difficult.

But the men and women in blue, which is always remember that the oath that they take when they raise their hand and they swear that they will protect and defend the Constitution against all enemies, that they will protect and serve. It`s not an oath to their individual departments. It`s certainly not an oath to their colleagues. It is an oath to the United States Constitution that is designed and built to protect citizens.

So that was a powerful moment. And, you know, Lawrence, out of every tragedy can come some good. I am hoping that every man and woman who is wearing the uniform listened to that today and will reset and be reminded that their oath is to the Constitution and their commitment is to the men and women, boys and girls in the communities in which they serve.

O`DONNELL: You know, the good cops know how to follow their rules. They know how to follow the laws of their state. Let`s talk about the bad cops and what gets through to the bad cops. What about that photograph, the video of Derek Chauvin having those handcuffs put on him in those final moments in the courtroom before leaving that courtroom, is that the kind of message, those handcuffs on that former police officer, is that the message that gets through to bad cops?

DEMINGS: Well, there again, you know, I`d like to say everybody counts, but everybody is accountable. And certainly that includes the men and women in the profession that I spent 27 years in.

You know, I made a lot of arrests and every officer does. To see a former police officer being led away in handcuffs certainly gets everyone`s attention, but it -- you better believe it gets the attention of the men and women who do that job. It gets the attention of everybody, all of the officers. But those who, the bad ones, the ones who never should have been hired in the first place, the ones who don`t have the mind for the heart to do the job, you better believe that image got their attention.

O`DONNELL: Politicians posture over their support for police all the time and it happens in Congress, as you well know. It seemed to happen the other day in the house judiciary committee. I want to take a look at a moment that you had with Republican Jim Jordan.


DEMINGS: It`s interesting to see my colleagues on the other side of the aisle support the police when it is politically convenient to do so. Law enforcement officers risk their lives every day. They deserve better and the American people deserve -- I have the floor, Mr. Jordan!

Did I strike a nerve? Law enforcement officers --

REP. JIM JORDAN (R-OH): The gentle lady --

DEMINGS: -- deserved better than to be utilized as pawns. And you and your colleagues --

JORDAN: The gentle lady --

DEMINGS: -- should be ashamed of yourself.


O`DONNELL: You know, Congresswoman, a lot of us watch you in those situations and we don`t know how you do it. We don`t know how you to do it without, on the moments when you aren`t calling people like Jim Jordan to task, and then when those moments come and you`re not allowed the full breadth of what you want to say, what it`s like in those moments? What do you wish people like Jim Jordan understood?

DEMINGS: What would Jim Jordan, what he wants us all to try to remember or the Black Lives Matter protests when he tried to remind us how he stood by law enforcement. It appears to me that he only felt motivated to stand with law enforcement during that time because the majority of the protesters were black or brown.

But when it came to people who look like him breaking into the Capitol, trying to undermine our democracy, stop a free and fair election, the certification of the votes, Jim Jordan and many of his colleagues on his side of the aisle were silent.

And so, you know, we have a lot of critical issues, Lawrence, that we are dealing with in this country -- COVID-19, criminal justice reform, infrastructure, putting people back to work, saving our small businesses. We just don`t have time for shenanigans and political games. And I would really hope that Mr. Jordan and my colleagues on the other side of the aisle would remember their oath and be committed to their oath. We could do so much better.

O`DONNELL: Congresswoman and former police chief, Val Demings, thank you very much for joining us tonight. We always appreciate your perspective on government and police work. We appreciate you sharing that with us tonight. Thank you.

DEMINGS: Thank you.

O`DONNELL: And coming up, former Boston Mayor Marty Walsh will make his first appearance on THE LAST WORD as the Labor Secretary Walsh, who has been assigned by his boss, Joe Biden, to get the infrastructure bill through Congress. Marty Walsh joins us next.


O`DONNELL: I am so eager to talk with Marty Walsh that all I want to say right now is "joining us now is Marty Walsh".

But before I introduce the secretary of labor with the most significant legislative agenda of any recent secretary of labor, let`s listen to Joe Biden naming the key players of his team charged with getting the Biden/Harris infrastructure package through Congress.


JOSEPH R. BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Working with my team here in the White House, these cabinet members will represent me in dealing with Congress, engage in public and selling the plan, and help work out the details as we refine it and move forward. These five members will be Pete Buttigieg, Jennifer Granholm, Marcia Fudge, Marty Walsh, and Gina Raimondo.


O`DONNELL: Today, President Biden stressed the jobs component of his infrastructure bill at a virtual summit of world leaders on climate change.


BIDEN: When people talk about climate, I think jobs. Within our climate response lies an extraordinary engine of job creation and economic opportunity ready to be fired up. That`s why I propose the huge investment in American infrastructure and American innovation to tap the economic opportunity that climate change presents our workers and our communities, especially those too often that have left out and left behind.


O`DONNELL: Joining us now, America`s new secretary of labor, Marty Walsh.

Thank you very much for joining us tonight, Mr. Secretary.

MARTY WALSH, SECRETARY OF LABOR: Thank you, sir. It`s great to be on with you again.

O`DONNELL: Now, I`m trying to get a little Boston accented feud going between you and Gina McCarthy because she was just on with Rachel Maddow in the last hour, and she rattled all the people who she said she was hanging around with on climate change and this subject, and she somehow forgot the secretary of labor.

WALSH: Wow, man. Well, I was hanging with Gina the other day. Yesterday, we had a meeting. We hung out.

And, you know, she is from JP. So, she might have forgotten the Dorchester guy. But it`s okay.


WALSH: I need to get (ph) to her tonight. You know --


WALSH: -- we were hanging (ph) with John Kerry. So, John Kerry at Beacon Hill. So, those are a few of us in the room from Boston talking about the climate.

O`DONNELL: Yeah, I`m not sure someone from Jamaica Plain knows how to get to Dorchester. So I can understand it.

So, Mr. Secretary, Joe Biden, when every time I hear him say climate change, somewhere, very close to those words, I hear the word "jobs." That is a new approach to presenting this issue to voters. It`s your job to make the case that this is about jobs.

How do you make that case to members of the Senate, members of the House?

WALSH: Well, it is about jobs. There`s no question about it.

When you -- when I was the chair of the U.S. Climate Change Mayors or I was the mayor in the city of Boston and we were talking about climate change, it was about jobs. It was about resiliency. It was about creating opportunities.

And what the president is talking about, he came up with his goal today to reduce carbon emissions by the year in half -- cut them in half by 2030. And the way to do that is by building a green infrastructure, clean infrastructure, creating opportunities. There is no other way -- there is other ways of looking at it, but oftentimes, we look at the issue of climate and reducing carbon emissions and having a clean economy or clean environment, but the way you get there is by having people work in these sectors.

And we`ve already -- in the American Rescue Plan, we already invested money in training veterans for green jobs. We`re working with labor unions now. We`re working with individual organizations around the country.

The American Jobs Plan has other money in there for workforce development, for green jobs and green technology. We have a green infrastructure grid in that plan. Who is going to build the grid out is going to be workers, and that grid is going to be -- is going to be green, clean energy all across the country.

O`DONNELL: So the job you have been given by the president is to pass the biggest infrastructure bill in history at $2.25 trillion. Senate Republicans countered today with their version of an infrastructure bill at about a fourth of that, $568 billion.

What do you say to your former Massachusetts Republican governor, now senator, Mitt Romney, about their -- the $568 billion proposal he is advancing now?

WALSH: You know, it`s good to see there`s a dialogue happening now. And certainly, we`re going to take a look at the plan they proposed today. That plan is for road and bridge infrastructure, and what the American Jobs Plan is goes deeper than that. But it`s worth looking at. It`s worth having conversations.

I know the president is willing and hopeful to get bipartisan support. I`m working on it. All the secretaries that the president mentioned to work on this. We`re looking and trying to get a bipartisan bill.

This American Jobs Plan is not a Democratic program. It`s not a Republican program. It`s an American program. It`s about the American worker and about the American infrastructure.

And there`s lots of components to the American Jobs Plan that was not unveiled today by the Republicans. The Republicans took a piece of it. I am happy to see that, we will look at that.

But what`s missing in that was the CARES economy. What was missing in that was job training money, what was missing is 2 million homes to be built around the country. What`s missing in that was broadband access for every American, clean drinking water, clean pipes, eliminating lead pipes.

So, there`s lots of conversations that we need to have before we finalize any type of package that will go to Congress.

O`DONNELL: When I was working in the Senate, one of my jobs was a chief of staff, staff director of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee where all of the infrastructure bills had to pass through. And in those days, we simply called them the "highway bill" because everybody thought of infrastructure then as pavement. Just rolling out pavement, bridges, highways.

And because Senator Moynihan was a Northeastern senator representing New York, we also had an awful lot of rail and subway infrastructure support. But it was basically all transportation and very little other than transportation. You are trying to broaden that definition in a Congress that has been thinking narrowly about this subject for decades.

WALSH: Yeah. It`s true. And I think when you think about the CARES economy, that`s infrastructure for a child care economy. That`s infrastructure for the folks that are taking care of our most vulnerable older adults.

You think about the infrastructure, the broadband network across the United States of America. Many young people this year when we had to shut schools down, including in Boston, because of COVID-19, they didn`t have the infrastructure for Wi-Fi.

Clean drinking water around the country. That`s infrastructure, pipes.

All of the things that the president is talking about is infrastructure and that infrastructure is building people and getting them into the middle class. That`s the intention behind this.

And I think when we think about the moment in time that we`re living in, we have an opportunity here. We saw a lot of -- a lot of damage that the coronavirus has caused, and the president has talked about Building Back Better, and that`s what he wants to do here. That`s his goal and his intention.

And when you think about this, this is once in a generation opportunity that`s in front of us right now to rethink and re-create the infrastructure for the American worker and how we create pathways for the American worker back into the middle class.

Fifty years ago, many -- many of the young people that are in this country now, whether before they were born or just born, their parents lived in the middle class. Today, we don`t have a middle class. We need to continue to rebuild the middle class.

We may have a middle class, but there`s not enough people that have an opportunity to get into that middle class. So, we have to look at that.

We also have to look at communities that have been disadvantaged, communities of color and women. Two million women out of the workforce. The black community, the black rate of unemployment right now is far too high.

So, we have to Build Back Better. And this is a great opportunity to do that.

O`DONNELL: Labor Secretary Marty Walsh -- Mr. Secretary, thank you very much for joining us tonight. We really appreciate it.

WALSH: Thank you, Lawrence. Anytime you want me on, I`ll be on.

O`DONNELL: OK, and I say hi to Gina McCarthy next time you`re hanging with her.

WALSH: I will. I give Gina a text tonight.

O`DONNELL: OK, thank you very much. Really appreciate it.

Coming up, these words, "There are more of us." That`s what Alexei Navalny said today in a written statement from his hospital bed, which could soon be his death bed as he continues his hunger strike.

Nadya Tolokonnikova, a friend of Alexei Navalny, who was imprisoned herself by Vladimir Putin, will join us next.


O`DONNELL: Yesterday thousands of brave Russians did something that Donald Trump has always been desperately afraid of doing. They criticized Vladimir Putin. Protesters filled the streets in cities all over Russia, "chanting Russia without Putin", "Putin is a thief", "freedom to political prisoners" and simply "let him go", meaning the jailed opposition leader Alexei Navalny.

The most prominent political prisoner in Russia, Alexei Navalny continues his hunger strike after having been moved from his prison cell to a prison hospital and now to civilian hospital in a city 110 miles east of Moscow.

With his lawyers saying he could die at any moment, Alexei Navalny released this statement today. "I will sincerely say two feelings are raging inside me, pride and hope. People are marching in the street. It means they know and understand everything. They won`t give up their future, the future of their children, their country.

Yes, it will be difficult and dark for some time, but those pulling Russia back historically are doomed. There are more of us in any case."

Yesterday`s protesters came -- yesterday`s protests came immediately after Vladimir Putin delivered the equivalent of the Russian state of the union address in which he never once mentioned Alexei Navalny.

In that speech Putin threatened retaliation for crossing a red line, but never said where the red line is or what crossing the red line might look like.

Joining us is now Michael McFaul, former U.S. Ambassador to Russia under President Obama and an MSNBC international affairs analyst; and Nadya Tolokonnikova, founding member of the Russian protest collective Pussy Riot.

Michael McFaul, let me begin with you quickly about that red line in Vladimir Putin`s speech. What it could possibly mean and what you think these protests mean.

MICHAEL MCFAUL, MSNBC INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS ANALYST: Well Lawrence, you just said it. Red lines are strange if you don`t define what they are. It was very mysterious to me.

A lot of tough talk as there always is in these speeches, a lot of mention of all their nuclear new weapons and nobody is going to boss us around. But it was very ambiguous what he meant.

I think he may have been referring to maybe Ukraine. He mentioned an alleged plot to kill Mr. Lukashenko in Belarus that he somehow had thwarted. I haven`t seen any evidence of that.

But I think he was making a statement about his region -- stay out of our business or we will strike back.

O`DONNELL: Nadya -- go ahead, Michael.

MCFAUL: I was incredibly impressed. Lots of people came out. Remember, these people are risking being arrested. There is -- and last time there was 10,000 arrested. I thought it was extremely well done on a very short amount of time. Mr. Navalny should be very thankful that all those people care so much about him.

O`DONNELL: Nadya, I know you are very friendly with Alexei Navalny and friendly with his family. What do you know tonight about his medical condition?

NADYA TOLOKONNIKOVA, FOUNDING MEMBER, PUSSY RIOT: I know that his health is quickly deteriorating. And I know that we are watching how a person is dying in front of our eyes.

So I am really incredibly thankful to everyone when joined the streets yesterday because they have a chance to say Alexei Navalny, he is on hunger strike for 20 days and he is still experiencing health, serious health problems because he was almost murdered in 2020.

O`DONNELL: But Nadya, what -- it is strange for us to watch this because it seems like Vladimir Putin`s not going to do anything to stop this. And Alexei Navalny is committed to his hunger strike. So this could end with his death.

What would happen then? The opposition would lose a great leader. And so what would happen?

TOLOKONNIKOVA: Honestly, it`s really strange for us to watch this as well, because I have never seen anything like this in my life before, even though I spent two years in jail, right.

I think -- well, when I have heard about Alexei Navalny starting hunger strike, I was scared because it`s the last instrument. It`s the last tool you have when you are a prisoner. It means that as an experienced prisoner and, unfortunately, Navalny is one. he knew that it is the only one tool he has right now to save his health and to potentially change the (INAUDIBLE) situation.

And he is an extremely courageous person. And he knew the reason that he can make with our help, you know, a beautiful Russian future. And he always remains positive, even now, him and his family, they are spreading positivity.

And like how on earth would you spread positivity when you are dying, when your husband is dying? But they are still believing that they can have this beautiful Russian future. And it`s definitely contagious. I feel it and millions of other Russians feel it as well.

O`DONNELL: Michael McFaul, we are watching a drama of stunning bravery by Alexei Navalny, like nothing we have ever seen. Willing to die and, in effect, die publicly for this cause of freedom in Russia, and just stunning cowardice by Vladimir Putin, who dares not mention his name, pretends he knows nothing about it, and apparently is willing to sit there in his cowardly corner as this continues possibly to Alexei Navalny`s death.

MCFAUL: You`re right, Lawrence. I agree. And I want to be clear. I hope Mr. Navalny does not die. I hope he listens to the doctors that put out a letter today saying, please, stop this, save your life. That is more important, I think, than dying and becoming a martyr. He is a very charismatic leader that I think Russia needs.

And with respect to Mr. Putin, you are absolutely right. This is not a move of strength, Lawrence, right? If you are strong and you are popular as all the alleged opinion polls say, why do you arrest some allegedly marginal figure and then allow him to die like this in custody? This is a sign of weakness, not of strength.

O`DONNELL: Nadya, I`ve discussed this with you on this program. I`ve discussed it with you privately. Your bravery, Alexei Navalny`s bravery is just stunning to watch. It`s not something that I can comprehend. It`s not something that I can imagine feeling myself and acting on.

Where does it come from? What in the Russian character or in Russian life takes you to this point?

TOLOKONNIKOVA: I bet you would do the same in our place. We just want to be on the right side of history and we are driven by ethics. And we all, at the bottom of our hearts, we all want to be good human beings.

So it`s just -- we want to see better Russia. We see amazing talented people who are not able to fulfill their full potential. A lot of them are leaving. And there is whole generation of young Russians and a generation of my kid and a little bit older who are growing up seeing just Putin.

And most of them, they don`t like him because they see that -- they don`t have -- they don`t have a lot of chances in their life just because of one person who holds the power for 21 years.

O`DONNELL: Nadya Tolokonnikova, an honor to have you back on the program once again tonight. Ambassador Michael McFaul, we always appreciate your invaluable perspective and experience with this subject. Thank you both very much for joining us tonight.


MCFAUL: Thanks, Lawrence.

O`DONNELL: Thank you.

And coming up, the only people who can change policing in a America are police officers. We need more good cops. And one historically black college and university is trying to do something about that. We will be joined by the police chief, who started the first police academy at an historically black college and university, and one of the his recruits, and they together, will get tonight`s LAST WORD.


O`DONNELL: This year, Lincoln University in Jefferson City, Missouri became the first historically black college and university to create its own police academy with a focus on a more community-based approach to policing. The academy is run by Lincoln University Police Chief Gary Hill, who convinced the university to create the program.

Chief Hill served for 18 years in the Cole County Sheriff`s Office and is now using recent police killings of unarmed black people as teachable moments in the Lincoln University Police Academy.

One of the black women students in the police academy Ti`Aja Fairlee (ph) told "Time" that the killing of George Floyd made her begin to think she needed to be part of the change that she wanted to see in police work. "It kind of pushed me to do better," she says.

A recent study showed that black and Hispanic officers use force less frequently than white officers, especially against black people.

Joseph Foster is one of the students at the Lincoln University Police Academy who wants to be the change that he wants to see in policing.

After this break Joseph Foster will join us along with University Police Chief Gary Hill, who has created the first police academy at a historically black college and university. And they will get tonight`s LAST WORD.

That`s next.


O`DONNELL: Last night at this hour, I made the point that the only people who can really change the way police work is done in America are the people doing that police work. The time has come for good cops to step up and prove that their loyalty is to the people who they are sworn to serve.

Joining us now two people who want good cops to dominate police work in this country. Lincoln University Police Chief Gary Hill, he`s the director of the Lincoln University Police Academy. And Joseph Foster, who is a student in the first class at Lincoln University Police Academy.

Thank you both very much for joining us tonight.

And Chief Hill, let me just start with you and why you decided an historically black college and university needed a police academy?

GARY HILL, DIRECTOR, LINCOLN UNIVERSITY POLICE ACADEMY: It came to me in the sense of we have a large minority community on our campus. And in order to increase our minority footprint in law enforcement, I thought this would be a great place to start recruiting people for the police academy for our local agencies and agencies around the state.

I just thought it would be perfect because of Lincoln University`s history, because of our criminal justice program that is already in place. It just only made sense.

O`DONNELL: And Joseph Foster, what drew you to the police academy?

JOSEPH FOSTER, STUDENT, LINCOLN UNIVERSITY POLICE ACADEMY: What drew me to the police academy is first and foremost -- and the bible tells us that we need to be servants first. And I always wanted to serve people and serve others in the community and just around me to be just an impactful person that people can look up to, somebody they can draw inspiration from.

And so joining the police academy is the first stepping stone in being able to do that and getting into a career in the future in law enforcement.

O`DONNELL: And, Chief Hill, you are using now some of these cases like the George Floyd case and others as teaching elements in your police academy. How do you use the murder of George Floyd in your training?

HILL: So what we usually do is we`ll talk about current events. And so we will use those videos, whether it be from body cam or someone`s cell phone footage and that`s what the recruits will write their reports on.

They`ll write their reports for their report writing exercises based off of what they`ve seen on those videos. So we use those as teachable moments so after they write the report, then we discuss what happened and then we discuss how it affects what we`re actually teaching them in the training program.

So we try to make sure that they understand this is how we teachy. This is what happened, how is that applicable to what we`re teaching here at the academy.

O`DONNELL: Joseph foster, we`re going to see in the summer, August 23rd another trial of the three other officers who were there when George Floyd was murdered. And they`re on trial basically for not stopping what Derek Chauvin was doing, for not intervening and getting that knee off George Floyd`s neck.

When you look at that video, do you think about what would I have done if I were there?

FOSTER: Yes because it all takes accountability on all of our parts. They are just as guilty as the person that they allowed to do that because, you know, in order to prevent something like that, somebody has to be able to be the one to say that, hey, that`s not right. Hey, I need to step up and do the right thing.

And that`s where I feel accountability comes in, not just for yourself but as the people that you surround yourself with and that you have given the oath and the duty to sworn and protect. And yes, it just feel accountability should have shown them -- should have given the intuition to say that hey, this isn`t right, we need to do the right thing and not, you know, do an improper violation of putting our knee on this neck.

O`DONNELL: Chief Hill, we are constantly seeing failures of police training in these videos that we see including body cam videos. The department has a good rule on deadly force. It has good training on deadly force. but when the moment comes out there in the street, the training doesn`t work, including that case we`ve seen recently where this officer apparently thought she was reaching for her taser when she was reaching for her pistol.

HILL: Yes. and again, you`re right, Lawrence, we`ve seen that time and time again. And the issue that we have to address is what was that officer`s mindset at the time of the incident. We would hope that when an incident like that happens, we would resort to our lowest level of training and we hope that that lowest level of training is our basic training that we receive in the in the academy and our in service.

But it`s an individual`s situation. Where was that officer`s mind at that point in time that the incident was going on that we have to address?

O`DONNELL: Chief Gary Hill and Joseph Foster, thank you both very much for joining us tonight.

And Joseph Foster, stay safe when you get out there behind the badge. We really appreciate you joining us tonight.

HILL: Thank you, Lawrence.

FOSTER: Thank you, sir.

O`DONNELL: That is tonight`s LAST WORD.

THE 11TH HOUR WITH BRIAN WILLIAMS" starts right now.