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Transcript: The ReidOut, 4/22/21

Guests: Brittney Cooper, Phillip Atiba Goff, Anna Eskamani, Stacey Abrams


Family holds funeral & memorial for Daunte Wright; Eric Garner`s mother speaks at New York Wright vigil; Citizen`s demand policing reforms after fatal shooting; Mother of 16-year-old girl killed by police wants answer. Interview with Stacey Abrams, the founder of Fair Fight.


ARI MELBER, MSNBC HOST: And you should keep it locked right here because she has a one-on-one interview with voting rights activist, Stacey Abrams, that`s next.

JOY REID, MSNBC HOST: Good evening, everyone. We begin THE REIDOUT tonight with the kind of Groundhog Day quality of what seems like every day in America right now, another funeral, another mother putting her black son to rest, a son taken too early at the hands of a police officer who chose violence. This time, it was the funeral of Daunte Wright, just 20 years old, who was shot at close range and killed by a veteran police officer in Brooklyn Center, Minnesota, who claimed that she thought she was holding her taser instead of her Glock pistol.

Daunte Wright, killed during the George Floyd trial, whose one-year-old son will now grow up without his father, his funeral coming just two days after the conviction of Derek Chauvin, a painful reminder that the verdict is only one small victory in the long road to meaningful police reform.

Something another mother underscored today during a memorial for Daunte in New York City, Gwen Carr lost her Son, Eric Garner, to police violence seven years ago and felt a familiar pain when she saw George Floyd crying out, I can`t breathe. Those same words, I can`t breathe, were uttered by her son 11 times after an NYPD officer grabbed him around the neck with his forearm and pressed him to the ground.


GWEN CARR, ERIC GARNER MOTHER: We can`t only sympathize with these families, we have to empathize with them. Put yourself in this situation, like I have been in this situation. I know how it feels to lose a child. I know how it feels when they come and then nobody is saying they`re sorry. Those police officers who killed my child, we never hear from them. In fact, they try to protect them.

So, this just has to stop. We are just not going to take it. We -- the George Floyd verdict, good, but we need more verdicts.


REID: Today, the Reverend Al Sharpton, who preached George Floyd`s eulogy last year, delivered a sharp rebuke of police brutality in his eulogy for Daunte Wright. The Rev, who has taken on many roles in the civil rights movement from leading marches to leading the Floyd family in prayer, today reminded us of his original calling as a preacher, giving us church on a Thursday at a time when we surely needed it.


REVEREND AL SHARPTON, MSNBC HOST: You thought he was just some kid with an air freshener. He was a prince and all of Minneapolis is stopped today to honor the prince of Brooklyn Center.

His tags had expired. Well, I come to Minnesota to tell you your tags have expired. Your tags of racism has expired. Your tags of police brutality has expired. Your tags of white supremacy has expired. Your tags of looking at us different than everybody else has expired. Your tags have expired. It is time to renew and get some new tags, a tags of righteousness, a tags of fairness or tags of treating everybody the same way or tags of no justice, no peace.


REID: Joining me now is Reverend Al Sharpton, President of the National Action Network and Host of MSNBC`S POLITICSNATION, Brittney Cooper, Associate Professor of Gender & Africana Studies at Rutgers University, and Phillip Atiba Goff, co-Founder and CEO of the Center for Policing Equity.

And, Rev, first of all, that sermon, that eulogy was powerful today, but I am saddened that you keep having to do them, to be honest with you. You preach them very well every time, but, Lord, when is it going to stop?

As I listened to Gwen Carr who I had the privilege of meeting through you, you know, I am reminded that Gwen Carr has a family relationship to Lieutenant Caron Nazario, who was pulled over in Virginia. She had that connection. Daunte Wright had a connection to George Floyd because George Floyd`s girlfriend was a teacher that taught him. The connections are painful, and I wonder if you can just reflect on that and on what you think the message is to us today having given that sermon.

SHARPTON: It is eerie in many ways that you see these connections because it shows that all of us somehow are available to be the next victim unless there is some strong legislation that will stop this at a federal level. That`s why George Floyd`s family was there, today. Philando Castile`s mother was there today. Oscar Grant`s family, many victims, because they`re saying that we need the federal government to step in like they did 50 years ago to break Jim Crow, the civil rights act. We need a police act at a federal level.

There`s two senators from Minnesota that was there today. We challenged them to help make their colleagues pass this George Floyd Justice in Policing Act because it must be where police understand that what they saw with Chauvin this week, walked out of court this week in handcuffs headed to jail, that will fall their lot if we don`t see this stop.

And you have to remember with George Floyd`s trial, we had a good prosecutor in Keith Ellison, the state attorney general, we had ten police, you`ve been talking about, Joy, every night, testify. We may not have a perfect storm like that for the next case.

So, we can`t depend on playing Russian roulette with their lives of people with police. We need to have a firm federal law, that they understand that they will be held, and they can`t play games with state deals or state unions that represent police.

REID: That is so important because, Brittney Cooper, the reason that you are on this show tonight is because you saved my sanity last night and stopped me from tweeting. I was like, let me just calm down and read your tweets because I was in a state last night. Because as the Rev just said, you have a perfect storm with George Floyd, somebody who was subdued, a black man who was brought down to the ground, silenced, unable to move, completely, you know, subdued and supine as he was being murdered for nine minutes.

But everything had to be perfect, because even in that case the defense tried to paint him as some sort of drug addled monster that was going to leap and rise from the dead. It has to be perfect. You last night were tweeting about someone who is being already, but, but, but, there`s all kind of dot, dot, dots after her murder. And this is Ma`Khia Bryant, where people are already flipping from, I have compassion for George Floyd`s family to -- yes, but that one, she deserved that.


REID: You know, she deserved to die. I just want to let you talk about that.

COOPER: Look. The argument for our movements has never been that black people have to be perfect in order for them to deserve dignity, for us to have good policing, for us to be viewed with humanity, for cops to take a breath before they literally get out of the car guns blazing. So that`s the first, right, that this is never what the argument for the movement for black lives has been, that you just get to kill black people, particularly when they`re not being perfect.

I think about how perfect, as Reverend Sharpton just said, the prosecution had to be in order to get the conviction for George Floyd. It had to be impeccable. They had to leave no stone unturned. And if that is the standard, then no black person is really, truly going to be safe if we cannot be having a bad day, if we cannot defend ourselves when we think we are going to get jumped, if we call the cops and they can`t show up and tell who the victim is and who the perpetrators are and they can`t use their training to adjudicate regular, old, everyday community conflict.

But beyond all of that, what are we going to do about the way that we don`t understand black girls as girls. Ma`Khia Bryant was a child like Tamir Rice was a child. And the way that she has been talked about as this, you know, because she was a big girl, right, and so people just see her as the aggressor. They don`t see her humanity. They have adultified her. We turn black girls into grown women, before they even are able to vote and then, you know, and are unable to see them as children until I have watched folks across the political spectrum really defend this and say -- and empathize with the officer, say that he didn`t have any other set of choices.

What are we training police to do if they are not actually showing up on the scene and making the situation better for all involved? If you can`t figure out how to de-escalate a 16-year-old even with a kitchen knife when you have a gun and you`re a grown man, you shouldn`t be a cop. That`s --

REID: Let me play Ma`Khia Bryant`s mom. This is her birth mother, Paula Bryant. And she was asked what her daughter she thought was up to. Take a listen.


PAULA BRYANT, MOTHER OF MA`KHIA BRYANT: Ma`Khia was a sweet little girl. She didn`t deserve what happened to her. Something happened that should not have happened. She was, you know -- she must have been scared, scared for - - I mean something was wrong with that picture.


REID: And you know, Philip, we don`t know the details of what happened beforehand, but I am bothered that no one is asking what could have scared a 16-year-old girl enough that she felt she had to grab a kitchen knife, facing two adult women, right?

People are just -- no one is asking, what would have scared a kid who is in a foster situation so much that she felt that she needed to defend herself or pick up a knife? No one is asking that about her. They`re just saying, people with this sort of concern trolling, pretending they care so much about those other two women. And Brittney pointed that out on social media last night. Do we really think those people are so concerned about those other two black with black women? Your thoughts, Phillip.

PHILLIP ATIBA GOFF, CO-FOUNDER & CEO, CENTER FOR POLICING EQUITY: It is as if they only want to provide context that would allow it to be damning for a black child, right? So when we see something that`s awful, where law enforcement are executing someone, all I hear is, well, we don`t know what happened before the video started. Like you know what happened before the video started. We had a whole bunch of policies that made it okay to defund medical attention, to defund schools, to defund housing assistance, and now you want to talk about the three minutes beforehand that allow you to demonize somebody`s character.

So, absolutely, we don`t know the specifics of this particular incident, but, as you said, it`s not like someone in foster care has never had a bad experience before. I`m tired of folks talking about, well, what else do you want the officer to do instead of talking about, well, how else can we imagine a society, so a 16-year-old girl doesn`t have to be dead. Can we just be there?

A 16-year-old black girl doesn`t need to be dead. She didn`t need to be scared. She didn`t need to be in a situation where she felt like she was engaged in potentially protecting herself, right? We can imagine a situation like that, then we can imagine ourselves holding the police accountable.

REID: And here is the thing, Rev. The thing is that, by definition, if police are being called, then something has taken place that is either criminal, right, or is either frightening to someone in the community. And that`s whether the person is white or black. So don`t give me the, you know, police didn`t have a choice. If they`re being called to a situation where they believe a crime is committed, that`s true whether the person is white or black.

But we have seen police tussle with and beg white defendants who even have a gun, who even have a knife, because in that case too, somebody was called because something was criminal. And they seem to have figured out an alternative to killing that person. Kyle Rittenhouse, the police knew he just shot two people. They knew he was behind it. They figured out something else to do.

SHARPTON: Kyle Rittenhouse is the best example. This man who have killed two people and was armed and they were able to take him, full health and no bodily harm at all. When you look at the data, that is why we are challenging the U.S. Senate, the data shows that they handle whites that are violent, that are criminal, that have even, in many ways, threatened that bodily harm on police, and they don`t kill them. Why is it for any excuse at all they end up doing this when they`re black or brown?

It is something that we cannot tolerate. It is something that we have to deal with as the civil rights issue of today. We need the federal government to step in and start acting like they promised. We stood up and voted as a community in unprecedented numbers and put Democrats in the White House, in the Senate and in the House. Now it is time for you to return our investment of protecting our lives against bad cops. We are not saying all cops are bad but stop acting like all blacks are bad and out of control and the only thing you can do is execute them before a trial and a jury.

REID: Very quickly, we have a little bit of time. I want to let Phillip and then Brittney. We have another case, a guy named Andrew Brown Jr. Again, police coming to serve a warrant, he gets in his car, he drives away. There`s supposedly a fleeing felon rule that you`re not supposed to be able to shoot someone unless they pose imminent danger. They still shot him. We don`t know the details of that. You work with these police departments. Do police understand the fleeing felon rule because running away and driving away seem to be fatal activities for black people when it comes to police?

GOFF: So, I will tell you the police departments where we have worked, they understand the fleeing felon rule, they have been taught that. They also understand you need to kneel on somebody`s neck for more than nine minutes before you`re going to get convicted of murder, right? So, they understand the letter and the spirit of the law.

And so, if we don`t have actual accountability for folks who literally are shooting people in the back and, by the way, endangering folks in that community because you don`t always hit a car, and if you do hit that car, you might hit somebody else along the way. So, when that is happening, if we don`t have consequences there, then we will continue to see it again and again and again.

And I hear what the Rev is saying, we need federal action, we also need to be supporting the local communities, because a lot of policing, it is state and local. That means the organizers and activists in local communities were demanding change, need to be supported, right, and the folks stepping out there, the elected mayors and city councils need to be supported as they do something that`s different than what we have done historically.

REID: Yes, I can`t breathe. Brittney, to very two second, last word, very quick.

COOPER: Fight for black girls. Black girls matter, and when we build a world that is safe for black girls we build a world safe for all of our communities. And that`s not just in Ma`Khia Bryant`s name. It`s in Darnella Frazier`s name, too.

REID: Yes. Amen.

GOFF: Yes.

REID: Reverend Al Sharpton, thank you so much all the time. Brittney Cooper, Phillip Atiba Goff, you guys are great. Thank you all very much.

Up next on THE REIDOUT, the rather sick Republican response to the policing crisis in America make protesting a crime and hand out legal protections to drivers who run over protesters with their cars. Seriously?

Plus, Stacey Abrams joins me after taking her fight against voter suppression right to the Senate Judiciary Committee and shutting down Republican Senators like John Kennedy.

Plus, the definition of progressives, Democrats are thinking big on issues like voting rights, D.C. statehood and the environment while Republicans are fighting to turn back the clock to the bad, old days in America.

THE REIDOUT continues after this.


REID: Republican state legislatures across the country are responding to the demonstrations over George Floyd`s murder with punitive new measures intended to discourage protests altogether.

In the 2021 legislative session, lawmakers in 34 states have introduced more than 80 anti-protest bills, the vast majority of them drafted by Republicans. And so far, four Republican governors have signed the measures into law, including in the state of Florida.

And if it wasn`t already clear that this is a direct response to the Black Lives Matter protests, Governor Ron DeSantis actually cited the Derek Chauvin trial when he enacted what he`s calling an anti-rioting law.

As NPR reports, the law creates a new crime called mob intimidation. And it requires that anyone arrested at a protest be denied bail until their first court appearance, likely making for overnight jail stays. In other words, it would punish anyone at a peaceful protest who might be swept up alongside a minority of bad actors.

Unbelievably, that law also grants civil immunity to drivers who run their cars through protesters if those protesters are blocking roads. Worse yet, a new law signed just yesterday in Oklahoma grants criminal immunity to motorists if they -- quote -- "unintentionally injure or kill" protesters on roadways.

It comes after the driver of a pickup truck did exactly that on a highway in Tulsa last May, leaving one protester paralyzed after he fell from an overpass.

These are the kinds of wacky provisions that some critics say might have protected the neo-Nazi who was convicted of murdering Heather Heyer with his vehicle in Charlottesville. Likewise, in Kentucky, the fierce guardians of the Second Amendment are taking aim at the First. The Republican state Senate there wanted to make it a crime to insult or taunt a police officer with offensive or derisive words or gestures.

And the bill`s sponsor may reintroduce that legislation this session.

These are stunning examples of how Republicans think that they can legislate away your First Amendment right to protest. It`s the same strategy that they have used on voting rights. When they lose elections, they vote to make it hard -- they want to make it harder to vote.

And joining me now is Florida state Representative Anna Eskamani and Brittany Packnett Cunningham, MSNBC contributor and host of "The Undistracted" podcast.

And Representative Eskamani, in Florida, you had a sheriff that -- DeSantis did this signing ceremony with the Polk County sheriff named Grady Judd. And this was the warning that he issued.

This is cut three for my producers.


GRADY JUDD, POLK COUNTY, FLORIDA SHERIFF: This is riot. And this will get you locked up before quick in the state of Florida.

Pay attention. We have got new law. And we`re going to use it if you make us.


REID: And I doubt he was showing a picture of the January 6 MAGA insurrection, which was the siege of the Capitol. I`m sure he doesn`t think that was a riot.

"The Washington Post" points out that now in Florida taking down a monument -- if you take down a Confederate monument -- will get you 15 years in prison, which is the same sanction as rape.

Your thoughts?

STATE. REP. ANNA ESKAMANI (D-FL): It`s disgusting how we`re protecting Confederate monuments more than we`re protecting everyday people here in Florida.

And the fact that these sheriffs were given such a platform to continue to instill fear in people across the state on a law designed to suppress our First Amendment rights is incredibly offensive. And I was proud to vote no on this bill.

REID: You know, Brittany this feels like it`s directed at you all. This is directed at Black Lives Matter. It feels so George Wallace that I`m shocked that George Wallace didn`t actually think of it back when he was governor of Alabama.

BRITTANY PACKNETT CUNNINGHAM, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: Oh, this is straight out of the Jim Crow textbook.

And let`s contextualize Jim Crow, shall we? When black people got more free, there were new laws created to make us less free. This is exactly what is happening right now.

What this actually shows me, Joy, is that white supremacy is scared to death of us, and it absolutely should be. This is what you do when you cannot win fair and square. You suppress votes and you suppress voice.

So, we have to pay attention here, because the GOP plays the long game, and they play the expansive game. They plan far in advance. They gerrymander states, so that they can control statehouses. And then they use all of that power to maintain their power and suppress us from multiple angles.

So, then they make it illegal to engage in the two most democratic practices you have got in this country. And they make sure to target black folks when they do it. That way that, among other things, you can leverage the police that you have militarized to protect your systems and to continue to terrorize us.

So, it`s our job to keep them on the ropes, because this is what desperation looks like. And I want them to stay desperate. They know how powerful we are. That`s why we`re seeing this.

REID: You know -- and Representative Eskamani, the racist Miami sheriff who coined the term when the looting starts, the shooting starts, was from South Florida.

Donald Trump then turns around and quotes him. Ron DeSantis appears to really want to reenact the entire George Wallace history. I guess he wants to be the modern-day George Wallace, because he is enacting a slew of laws that essentially try to make it illegal to protest in the state of Florida, illegal to touch their precious Confederate statues from the losing side of the Civil War, right?


ESKAMANI: Correct.

REID: But then also -- but you also can`t vote.


REID: This is Jim Crow in your state. What can Democrats do about it?

ESKAMANI: Well, I think both you and Brittany have made some excellent points, because it`s not just the right to protest.

And we have called House Bill 1 Hate Bill 1 because it`s absolutely designed to continue to divide our state and to pit people against each other, when, really, we have so much in common that we can work towards.

And not only do we see this anti-protest legislation, but, as Brittany said, we also have a voter suppression bill on deck here in Florida. We see efforts to make ballot amendment initiatives, which is how we got medical cannabis and a $15 minimum wage, more difficult in the Sunshine State.

We`re preempting local governments from doing their own policies on areas like clean energy and gun safety. All of this is part of a collective effort to stifle democracy, so that the -- those in power can maintain in power.

And what Democrats need to do is, first of all, call out the B.S. on these bills. Don`t be shy about saying it is what it is. This is white supremacy in policy. And, at the same time, we have got to organize. We have got to win elections, because I will tell you, Joy, we fought hard on the House floor with Hate Bill 1.

We don`t have the numbers to win.

REID: Yes.

ESKAMANI: So, we have to organize, win elections.

REID: And the Kentucky bill, Brittany, it literally tries to criminalize what those witnesses did in the George Floyd trial, that they stood there, and they tried to face down that officer and berated him.

They will make that illegal in Kentucky. Is Black Lives Matter prepared? And how are you all preparing to deal with this, particularly when you have police officers donating to Kyle Rittenhouse, showing support to him, and making him a cause celebre among law enforcement?

There was just a guy fired in Virginia for this. A bunch of other officers have been doing it too. Do you feel -- how under siege does Black Lives Matter feel, knowing you`re facing these kinds of politicians, but also some folks in law enforcement that are supporting people like Rittenhouse?

PACKNETT CUNNINGHAM: Well, the broad network...

REID: Who shot Black Lives Matter protesters.

PACKNETT CUNNINGHAM: Absolutely, let`s be clear. And he was taken alive. He and his AR-15 are doing just fine right now, while Ma`Khia Bryant is dead.

Look, the broad network of individuals and organizations that are a part of this racial justice movement are disciplined, organized and thoughtful. We know that white supremacy, to paraphrase Rick James, is a hell of a drug. And once you get high on it once, you keep wanting to attach yourself to it.

So, we understand what we`re working against here. That is part of the reason why, if you look across the country, people are not just pressuring the federal government to do things like pass the For the People Act. People are also working as organizers with those elected officials who have our back, people like Park Cannon in Georgia, people like the new mayor of my hometown, St. Louis, Tishaura Jones, who has been on our team since day one.

We want to make sure that we are in every single place, so that we are setting the policy and that we are holding people accountable. I guarantee you that, all over this country, organizers from the top to the bottom are ready for this fight.

REID: Yes, amen.

Well, they`re not only getting high on it. They are getting high on their own supply, which you`re not supposed to do.

Florida state Representative Anna Eskamani, thank you very much. Brittany Packnett Cunningham, thank you very much.

Still ahead, Stacey Abrams will be here to talk about Republican efforts to suppress the vote across the U.S., after Trump`s ignominious defeat, and how Democrats are fighting back.

Stay with us.


REID: Since even before the 2020 election, people on the right, led by the Florida man, warned of massive voter fraud, the likes of which we have never seen before.

Of course, five months since the election, we`re still waiting for them to produce any actual evidence. I mean, have you seen it yet?

Well, now one Pennsylvania House representative who led multiple hearings in an attempt to have Congress reject the state`s results says fraud was indeed found. Republican Seth Grove told "The Pennsylvania Capital-Star" that it was Republicans in Pennsylvania who were found to have committed election fraud.

Grove added: "But it`s still election fraud. It doesn`t matter who commits it. We don`t want that fraud to occur. And to say there wasn`t any is a lie. Now, I will say there`s not, like, this mass amount of fraud that`s going to shift hundreds of thousands of votes. But there was election fraud."

Duh-dun-duh. Tip your waiters.

We all know that there was no massive fraud. But that has not stopped congressional Republicans from continuing to spout the big lie in an effort to change voting laws and to suppress the votes of Americans, especially people of color.

That was on full display during Tuesday`s Senate hearing on voting rights, with Republican after Republican trying to upstage one another, displaying their true ignorance on the issue.

But the absolute worst of them was Louisiana Senator John Kennedy, who thought he could get the best of Stacey Abrams, a mistake that I`m sure he is still trying to recover from today.


SEN. JOHN KENNEDY (R-LA): You`re against the Georgia bill, I gather. Is that right?

STACEY ABRAMS, FOUNDER, FAIR FIGHT: I`m against certain provisions of it, yes.

KENNEDY: OK, I think you`ve called it a racist bill. Am I right?

ABRAMS: I think there are provisions of it that are racist, yes.


Tell me specifically -- just give me a list of the provisions that you object to.

ABRAMS: I object to the provisions that remove access to the right to vote, that shorten the federal run-off period from nine weeks to four weeks...


ABRAMS: ... that restrict the time that a voter can request and return an absentee ballot application, that eliminate...


KENNEDY: Slow down for me, because our audio is not real good here.

OK, what else.

ABRAMS: It bans nearly all out-of-precinct votes.

KENNEDY: Bans what? I`m sorry?

ABRAMS: Out -- it bans nearly all out-of-precinct votes.


ABRAMS: Meaning that, if you get to a precinct, and you are in line for four hours, and you get to the end of the line, and you are not there between 5:00 and 7:00 p.m...

KENNEDY: OK, what else?

ABRAMS: ... you have to start all over again.

KENNEDY: Is that everything?

ABRAMS: No, it is not, no, sir.

It restricts the hours of operation, because it now -- under the guise of setting a standardized timeline, it makes it optional for counties that may be -- may not want to see expanded access to the right to vote.

They can now limit their hours. Instead of those hours being from 7:00 to 7:00, they`re now from 9:00 to 5:00, which may have an effect on voters who cannot vote during business hours during early voting.

It limits the voting hours...

KENNEDY: OK, I get idea. I get the idea.



REID: Oh, Mr. Kennedy. Oh. Oh, you poor thing.

Coming up next is the one and only Stacey Abrams.


REID: Lord.


REID: The push by Republicans across the country to enact new restrictive voting laws continues to grow. According to the Brennan Center for Justice, as of March 24th, lawmakers in 47 states have introduced 361 voter suppression bills just this year alone. That`s 108 more than was tallied just one month earlier, a 43 percent increase.

I`m joined now by one of the women leading the fight against such law, Stacey Abrams, the founder of Fair Fight.

And, you know, Stacey, it is breathtaking to see just the breadth and the number of laws and ways that Republicans are throwing bricks in front of voters. And I wonder if -- and when you look at it, as somebody who`s been a politician, who`s been an elected official, is this more straight-up just sort of racist attempts to reconfigure the electorate? Or is it more GOTV?

Because part of me thinks that at least some of it is GOTV, an attempt to get their voters to vote at all because their voters no longer believe in the system because they don`t always get their way.

STACEY ABRAMS, FAIR FIGHT FOUNDER: I actually think it`s more of an existential panic and cowardice and laziness.

What they realized in the last election was that a confluence of possibilities came into being. Communities of color that had largely not fully recognized their power became part of the electorate. Young people who had largely kept themselves at a more diminished capacity, participated in elections. And because of COVID, more Americans, especially those Americans who are the most vulnerable and disadvantaged understood there were alternatives for participating in elections, and they did so.

And rather than confront and grapple with what it means to have a more engaged and expanded electorate, they are instead working as hard as they can to not only throw up those bricks but also to, to your point, to use this GOTV strategy to create a new boogieman for their own people -- for their, you know, for their constituents. But at the same time, they`re expressing their hostility towards those communities that changed the outcome in 2020 and 2021, and those are largely communities of color. And so, racial animus is absolutely a part of it.

But I think overall, it`s an existential crisis and existential panic that is leading to the tactic that has worked well for so many other parties and that is voter suppression.

REID: You know, what`s so fascinating is that, you know, as a country we`re still trying to modernize everything, right? We made it easier to watch movies, you can just get Netflix. We make it easier to do everything. We tried -- and voting was going in that direction.

One of my favorite parts of your exchange in the hearing, it was all fascinating with Senator Kennedy, was when you said, they did 15 years of vote-by-mail and thought there was nothing --


REID: -- absolutely nothing wrong with it, it`s convenient until black people used it, and they said, oh, yeah, we got to get rid of that.

So, I mean, in a sense -- let me show you some polling. Automatically registering all citizens to vote, 61 percent of people agree with that.

Allowing convicted felons to vote after serving their sentence, 70 percent. Requiring government-issued photo ID, OK, 76 percent want that. Making early in person voting available for these two weeks. Those things that go to convenience, other than the ID part are popular with most voters, writ large.

Things that are unpopular are the things they did in Georgia, only a third support allowing the state to take over these county election officers. Only 30 percent support a ban on giving out food. Going on and on and on, 72 percent believe the laws are just about Trump.

At some point, is there a diminishing return in your view to what Republicans are doing, where they make it so hard that even their own voters get constricted from voting and they start to lose among independents and others who say, you`ve gone too far?

ABRAMS: And I think they are reaching that inflection point. Today in Arizona, we saw the rejection of SB-1485, which had the exact purpose of eliminating their permanent early voting list. And it was going to disproportionately harm communities of color, but apparently, they realized that their voters are on the list, too, and they risk the likelihood of losing access to voters.

But the challenge I see and the reason federal legislation is so necessary is that we don`t know what that inflection point is in every single state. And as long as states have the ability to engage in voter suppression, to react to communities of color increasing their participation by putting up these barriers, then we are all in danger and our democracy is in danger.

REID: You know, I think hysteria is not too strong a word to talk about the way --

ABRAMS: It isn`t.

REID: -- Republicans seem to feel, right, about electorates of color who demographically are just coming. You know, 5 year olds are already in a majority non-white world.

And so, there is an hysteria, but I wonder if on the Democratic side, there`s not enough alarm. We`re still seeing people like Kyrsten Sinema, like Joe Manchin say they`re not in favor of removing the filibuster to put, you know, a federal law in place that would stop this.

I wonder if you think that there`s not enough urgency on the pro-democracy side at this moment.

ABRAMS: Well, I will say that Senator Sinema has actually cosponsored S-1, which is the For the People Act, and Senator Manchin has signaled that he`s interested in and understands the importance of voting rights. He was secretary of state in West Virginia. He was governor in West Virginia.

And so, I think that there is an understanding. I think that this is a broader conversation about how to make this urgency converted into action, but I do think that where we stand today is a vast difference than where we were in 2016, 2018, when voter suppression was really picking up steam and we were still trying to convince people that they could use that language out loud and create change.

What we saw happen in Georgia in 2020 and again in 2021 has, indeed, led to hysteria from Republicans. But the reaction should not be to hold on to power by diminishing the power of citizenship. It should be, let us evaluate our policies and do our best to convince these voters that they can join us.

Voters of color are just like any other voter. We will pick the people who will represent us best and deliver for our needs. And what we have failed to see from Republicans is a willingness to confront that reality and adjust accordingly. And so, instead, we are seeing voter suppression, which is the coward`s tactic when it comes to winning elections.

REID: I want to ask you about Georgia specifically, because one of the things that I feel that Republicans -- I mean, 306 bills, part of it feels like they`re trying to exhaust the nonwhite electorate, exhaust the liberal white electorate and say, we`re just going to exhaust you with throwing so much at you.

How exhausted do you feel Georgia voters are at this point? They`ve already essentially delivered an election, you know, to Joe Biden, two Senate seats, and now people are going to go back to them again and say, you want to keep Warnock in there? You`ve got to go back again. You want to get rid of , you know, Margie, the QAnon lady Greene, you`ve got to go back in there.

There`s so much on Georgia`s plate right now. How much exhaustion do you think? Also, there might be a governor`s race with maybe you in it, my friend. How much exhaustion do you think has kicked in in your home state?

ABRAMS: I think there`s resignation. They were -- voters were exhausted in 2018 when we had hours-long lines and when we had a secretary of state who with impunity took over -- you know, conduct his own election for governor. We had exhaustion in 2020. We had exhaustion in 2021 as we had to fight over and over again to make certain that votes were cast and counted, after eight-hour lines in June of 2020.

But what is so remarkable about Georgia`s electorate, about voters of color in particular, is that exhaustion has been met with success and victory has a way of reinvigorating you and preparing you to stay in the fight.

REID: And we`ve seen, you know, the Asian-American community suffer this horrific attack. You know, obviously we`ve seen ongoing police brutality issues. There are still cases that are open there. These communities are facing these multiple stressors, right?

And I`m wondering how you think that winds up intersecting as people like you, from Fair Fight and others, are coming in and saying, get back and get into the political process?

ABRAMS: Well, one of the most important ways to engage voters, there`s absolutely the responsibility of registration, but it`s connecting the dots. It`s making certain as we saw with these horrific murders that if we do not have the right people in power, then they will not stop men from murdering women of color. If we do not have the right people in power, they will not take action to protect our environment. If we do not have the right people in power, district attorneys will not charge, and police officers will be left to immunize themselves from accountability for their actions.

What we are seeing happening, especially in Georgia, is that people are connecting the dots between, here`s why we vote and here`s what we get. I fight for voting rights not simply for the act of casting a ballot, but for the act of being able to craft my future, and that can only happen if I`m allowed to participate fully in our elections. And that`s the message that we carry to every community of color, to every disabled community, to all young people, to any voter who seems marginalized and disadvantaged because we have proven to them in 2020 and 2021 that if we try it, if we work hard enough, it can work.

REID: Stacey Abrams from the heroic state of Georgia, who also happens to be a Nobel Peace prize nominee, which I won`t embarrass you by making you talk about that.

ABRAMS: Thank you.

REID: But we`re going to be looking at how that trajectory goes, too.

Stacey Abrams, you`ve been doing this a long time, sister. Keep it up. Thank you very much. Really appreciate you spending time with us this evening.

ABRAMS: Thanks, Joy.

REID: Thank you.

All right. And up next, a study in contrasts. Biden opens a key climate change summit with ambitious new proposals and goals. Meanwhile, conservatives are still, like, climate change? What climate change?

I`ll be right back.



JOSEPH R. BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The United States sets out on the road to cut greenhouse gases in half by the end of this decade. All of us, particularly those of us who represent the world`s largest economies, we have to step up. Scientists tell us that this is the decisive decade. This is the decade we must make decisions that will avoid the worst consequences of the climate crisis.


REID: Well, today is Earth Day. Happy Earth Day.

And President Biden just committed to cut greenhouse gas emissions in half by 2030 as part of rejoining the Paris Climate Accord. Biden`s infrastructure plan could be key to making that happen.

But not surprisingly, good old Moscow Mitch, Mitch McConnell, went after Biden`s plan today for de-carbonizing the electric grid, which is what actually needs to happen for the U.S. to begin to address climate change.

It`s been a banner week for Republican obstruction. You would think setting up a commission to investigate what led to the insurrection on January 6th would be a no-brainer. But, no, Republicans want to expand the scope to include so-called political violence by the far left, even though the far left had nothing to do with January 6th.

Meanwhile, today, the House passed a bill entirely along party lines that would make Washington, D.C. a state. There`s been plenty of Republican hysteria about this over the past few months, ranging from D.C. doesn`t have a car dealership, false, to Steve Scalise using D.C.`s crime rate as a reason why the district`s 705,000 people, more numerous than the entire populations of Wyoming or Vermont, 46 percent of whom happened to be black, don`t deserve representation in Congress.

So, here is the thing. Republicans seem to be all about liberty but only when it benefits their pecuniary political interests, such as when Americans want to stockpile guns or not wear masks. But the right to protest is suddenly limited when people want to protest police brutality.

Republicans love to focus on the Founding Fathers, but when D.C. residents fight for taxation, fight against taxation without representation, apparently, they don`t have the right. They claim they are for democracy. Not Mike Lee who says democracy is bad. But democracy, not so much, if it means Americans have the opportunity to vote for Democrats.

We`re joined now by Dean Obeidallah, host of "The Dean Obeidallah Show" on Sirius XM, and an MSNBC columnist.

And, Dean, it is a weird party. I mean, Josh Hawley being the one guy to vote against anti-Asian-American hate crimes bill for whatever -- it`s a weird thing. He claims it`s too broad. Too broad. Former prosecutor, too broad, don`t want to define a new class of federal hate crime.

What? What is wrong with this party?

DEAN OBEIDALLAH, MSNBC COLUMNIST: Joy, it`s not a political party as we know political parties. It`s an authoritarian white nationalist movement that as of January 6th, they embrace violence, which is now fascism.

One point I thought the GOP were going to distance themselves from Donald Trump, instead, there`s a poll showing 80 percent of Republicans in the recent polls approve of Trump. So, how are we going to understand that -- they are on board with the use of violence to retain power?

This is not normal. Joy, look, I challenge people at home. Joy, you, you know everything. Name one policy the GOP is championing that will tangibly help working class Americans. Nothing. Zero. Everything is about their wealthy donors. That`s what they care about.

What they give the working class is figurative red meat, they give them white nationalism. They give them voter suppression just like Jim Crow saying to poor white people, hey, your life might suck, but look, we are not letting black people vote, so feel better about yourself. To these extreme abortion laws like in Arkansas where if a woman is raped, she has to carry the fetus to term. If anybody helps her get an abortion, it`s a felony. That`s the law in Arkansas.

REID: Yes.

OBEIDALLAH: Democrats, look at our red meat, it`s real red meat. We`re going to give you food for the table. And if you don`t want read meat, you`re going to have a veggie burger, whatever you want. With the COVID relief bill, infrastructure, which is a jobs program, to protecting our climate for our families, our children and our grandchildren going forward.

REID: To your point, Ron DeSantis is like, let`s tax Internet sales so that people who shop online have to pay more, and then we`ll use the money to give business a break. Like that`s what he`s literally doing.

You know, I think there is a political analogy, and I keep making it, which is the nationalist party in South Africa sort of went. This is what they were when they enacted apartheid. They were like -- we don`t do politics or things to help you economically. We do black people can`t have anything.

And as long as we do that, you keep -- you are for us. And I feel like that is what Republicans are offering. They are offering, you know, sort of white Christian men, they`re saying, we will just keep you on top somehow.

OBEIDALLAH: It`s toxic white identity politics. It`s not normal. It`s toxic because it incited a January 6th terrorist attack on our Capitol, incited by Donald Trump. And the question we all is, why is he not under arrest yet? That`s a different story.

But the reality is, we are in a time where you have Tucker Carlson, who I call on my show Tucker Klansman, talking about the replacement theory. You have Congressman Scott Perry repeating that in Congress last week. Marjorie Taylor Greene wants to start Anglo-Saxon caucus which she would have if there wasn`t a pushback, and Matt Gaetz is to happen to join.

And where are the Republican voices loudly denouncing it? Nowhere. Yet, again, as a Muslim and it`s Ramadan, Joy, so it`s a Ramadan miracle I`m on after Stacey Abrams. It`s a dream come true. That we`re -- they demanded every Muslim denounce every bad Muslim or they were going to say they were complicit.

Where are the good Republicans standing up to white nationalist GOP? Good Republicans, why are you silent? We have to assume you are complicit and you`re dialing with white nationalism. I don`t see any other commonsense approach other than believing that.

REID: Well, no, it`s true. Marjorie Taylor Greene thinks she`s going to debate AOC, which you don`t want that smoke (ph), which is crazy.

I guess, the final question is, you are going to write about this. They also are, as you said, looking -- trying to pretend the January 6th siege on the Capitol didn`t happen but then trying to make normal protests illegal. You are a lawyer. Explain.


OBEIDALLAH: Right. The Republicans quietly, while we were watching the Derek Chauvin trial, introduced 81 bills in 34 states for their war on free speech. They have gone from the war on voting to the war on free speech. It`s all part of the war in democracy to criminalize it.

In Minnesota -- it`s from -- the lists are outrageous. My article comes out tomorrow. You can read all the details.

REID: We`ll have everybody read your article. This is a guy who is a broadcaster. He knows when you have to close.

Dean Obeidallah, that is -- thank you for being here.

That`s tonight`s REIDOUT.