tv Anderson Cooper 360 CNN July 19, 2013 5:00pm-6:01pm PDT
it may seem strange they are using ebay to auction it and some say it belongs in museum only. but it's a good thing because it keeps the story and the truth of the holocaust in the news. the holocaust in the news. "ac 360" starts now. -- captions by vitac -- www.vitac.com president obama breaks his silence on the trayvon martin, zimmerman trial. the sentiment familiar the speech it's such a surprise. president obama walked into the press room after 1:30 this afternoon taking care of a fee housekeeping details and speaking freely without tell prompter he talked for 20 deeply personal minutes. >> the reason i actually wanted to come out today is not to take questions, but to speak to an issue that obviously has gotten a lot of attention over the course of the last week, the
issue of the trayvon martin ruling. i gave a preliminary statement right after the ruling on sunday, but watching the debate over the course of the last week, i thought it might be useful for me to expand on my thoughts a little bit. first of all, you know, i want to ever sure that once again, i send my thoughts and prayers, as well as michelle's to the family of trayvon martin, and to remark on the incredible grace and dignity with which they have dealt with the entire situation. i can only imagine what they are going through, and it's remarkable how they have mhandld it. the second, to reiterate what i said sunday. there will be a lot of arguments about the legal issues in the case. i'll let all the legal analysts and talking heads address those
issues. the judge conducted the trial in a professional manner. the prosecution and the defense made their arguments. the jury was properly instructed that in a -- in a case such as this, reasonable doubt was relevant and they rendered a verdict, and once the jury has spoken, that's how our system works. but i did want to just talk a little bit about context, and how people have responded to it and how people are feeling. you know, when trayvon martin was first shot, i said that this could have been my son. another way of saying that is trayvon martin could have been me 35 years ago and when you
think about why in the african american community, at least, there's a lot of pain around what happened here, i think it's important to recognize that the african american community is looking at this issue through a set of experiences, and a history that doesn't go away. there are very few african american men in this country who haven't had the experience of being followed when they were shopping at a department store, that includes me. there are very few african american men who haven't had the experience of walking across the street and hearing the locks click on the doors of cars. that happens to me, at least before i was a senator.
there are very few african americans that haven't the experience of getting on an elevator and a woman clutching her purse nervously and holding her breathe until she had a chance to get off. that happens often. and, you know, i don't want to exaggerate this, but those sets of experiences inform how the african american community interprets what happened one night in florida, and it's inescapable for people to bring those experiences to bear. >> we'll play more of his remarks shortly. there was quick reaction from trayvon martin's parents quickly. we were deeply moved that president obama took the time to speak publicly and at length about our son trayvon.
what touches people is that our son could have been their son. they also applauded the president's call for dialogue and race and justice, dialogue we're continuing tonight with obama 2012 poster cornell booster, the former director, chief political correspondent cooly and michaela angela davis. cornell, let me start with you because you and i had a discussion about should the president say something, will the president say something, and the kind of dammed if you do, dammed if you don't difficulty in this. first of all, what did you ever of his comments? >> i thought it was iconic. back to the conversation we had, anderson, i thought it would be important for the president. i thought at some point he would come out and talk to the hurt. i think it was important for him to sort of explain and talk about why and put in context why
after c african americans were so hurt about it. he doesn't let off either side. i mean, he takes both -- he takes both sides, you know, the plus and minus on both sides then tries to bring together and it really was a we moment, we must bring bias out of ourselves, so giving it a positive direction. this is going to be a lasting mark of this president, sort of how he's handled racial issues. >> what is an extraordinary statement and surprising statement from the president, not one the press room and expected to hear today and incredibly personal statement from this president. you were one of the president's longest serving aids. did the personal nature of it surprise you? >> you know, it was surprising. i think the president's goal here was to create a bridge of empathy between himself and the rest of the country and a group of people that are too often left behind, that's low income, young african american men. he didn't just want to do that with policy or politics. he wanted to do it by telling a
story, telling his own personal story about people locking the doors on their cars and being followed in department stores. so i thought that was extraordinary that he approached it in such a personal way. >> candy, i thought it was interesting how he -- in a way he was explaining how some people in the african american community view the trayvon martin situation, for those who maybe don't understand the lens through which the history and experiences through which people judge things, but it wasn't like the president's 2008 speech on race, which was an address he kind of had to give at the time. this was something he really didn't have to address. he could have letter rick holder speak for him. >> yeah, i don't know. i think -- i think pretty much he was pushed into this, and there really was a feeling the first african american president needed to talk about a trial that people saw through different prisms. i thought what was particularly effective about his use of personal stories and we've heard a couple stories before he
talked about trying to hail cabs in new york city, we talked about -- he talked about his own grandmother who he loved dearly and she was white and talked about being afraid of young black men and that was painful for him. this was sort of pushed on him, the african american community did want him to speak out but i thought in large part it was a way to say let me show you my prism. if you can't relate to this 17-year-old african american boy in florida, you can relate to me because you know me and i'm your president. you elected me. here is things that have happened to me. so it was like he's the prism through which he tried to show why there is so much hurt, and so much anger on the part of some at this verdict. so i thought in that way, it was an amazing way to kind of show that prism. i'm not sure i thought he had a choice. sooner or later he would have to
talk about it and i thought he chose it perfectly instead of the 20 second sound bites interrupted by questions, he said i won't take questions. here is what's on my mind. >> i read his statement before i saw it and i assumed it was written out because the way he spoke was frankly very impressive to be able to speak extemporaneously for that amount of time on such an issue of that. >> i don't think he was pressed into it. i felt he was part of it. >> you felt it? >> yes, he talked not only about empathy and equality. that's really important to note. this isn't about racism but empathizing with trayvon martin. i am trayvon martin. i'm equal. we are all equal. so repetition conversation about equality is important but for the most powerful man, arguably, in the
world to not only acknowledge the pain and share the pain of the community is really -- really profound and i don't think he did have to do it. because politically it was really personally he was compelled to do it. he was connecting us saying i'm the president, i'm the leader so i have to do this because everyone is marching. i think he was -- he was compelled. like this was a moment that he was a part of, not reporting on. >> anderson, if i can jump in. i mean, he's taken a lot of criticism coming to this but the truth of the matter is these are issues of poverty that the president is working on for a long time. going back to even bump he got involved in political life after college one of the first things he was was a community organizers for churches and poverty areas. one of the major pieces of
legislation at the worked on in the illinois state senate was in fact a racial profiling bill. >> yes. >> this is something he's deeply rooted in. >> he wasn't taking a side in the case, and, you know, his initial statement was very clear in saying, you know, this was a case where reasonable doubt applied and the jury rendered the verdict and that's how the system works and he went on to explain the reaction of some african americans to this and the prism which they see it and not excusing one side or the other, which i just thought was -- i just thought it was ve very interesting. >> the problem started earlier when george zimmerman looked at trayvon martin and saw not a person, not a kid who had hopes and dreams but a nameless, faceless hoodie and the president today wanted to put a name and face on that hoodie,
not just on trayvon martin but african american men like him around the country. it wasn't just about the legal outcome but humanizing this group of people. >> michaela, you said something the other day during town hall and justice we're replaying tonight at 10:00, which is george zimmerman could have said to trayvon martin when he got out of the vehicle, hey, son, are you lost, can i help you as opposed to what ultimately happened. it would have been a different way of looking -- if he was a different person, if he looked at it in a different way. >> right. >> that might have been one. >> we'll talk about that when we come back. we'll continue the conversation after the break and how the president addressed the divide and how americans saw the trial and see the criminal justice system. later, my conversation with trayvon martin's parents. f-f-f-f-f-f-f. lac-lac-lac. he's an actor who's known for his voice.
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continuing the conversation president obama entered this afternoon about race and justice in light of the george zimmerman verdict. here is more of what the president had to say. >> the african american community is also knowledgeable there is a history of racial disparities in the application of our criminal laws. everything from the death penalty to enforcement of our drug laws, and that ends up having impact in terms of how people interpret the case. now this isn't to say that the african american community is naive about the fact that african american young men are disproportionally involved in the criminal justice system, that they are disproportionally both victims and perpetrators of
violence. it's not to ever excuses for that fact, although, black folks do interpret the reasons for that in a historical context. they understand that some of the violence that takes place in poor black neighborhoods around the country is born out of a very violent past in this country, and that the poverty and dysfunction that we see in those communities can be traced to a very difficult history, and so the fact that sometimes that's unacknowledged adds to the frustration, and the fact that a lot of aftrican american boys are painted with a broad brush and the excuse is given there are these statistics show
african american boys are more violent, using that as an excuse to them see their sons treated differently causes pain. i think the african american community is not naive in understanding statistically someone like trayvon martin was statistically more likely to be shot by a peer than he was by somebody else. so folks understand the challenges that exist for african american boys, but they get frustrated, i think, if they feel there is no context for it, and that context is being denied, and -- and that all contributes, i think, to a sense
that if a white male teen was involved in the same kind of scenario, that from top to bottom, both the outcome and the aftermath might have been different. >> back again with our panel. joshua, you are also a pastor. you led president obama's fatherhood and black male outreach program. how important do you think it was for him to acre knowledge the struggles facing african american men the way he did today. >> it was very important. the president acknowledged there is two dynamics that can happen, there is black on black violence where it can be prevented and possible and prosecuted when necessary. far too many african american men being convicted at higher rates for the same crime and
when they come back to the communities after incarceration, they can't get a job, health insurance and support families so they go back into a life of crime. the president wanted to acknowledge there is a context around the violence that we're seeing in communities. it's not an excuse but the realty of the situation. >> cornell, the president talking about a history of racial disparity, which a lot of times seems to get swept under the rug. some people say, well why talk about that? that's something that happened in the past. the president talking about how the past informs the present. >> two things about that. one is look, if you are, i think if you are really a middle of the road american out there in middle america, not sort of hyper partisan like on television, if you listen to what the president said, i think you come away with a better understanding of why this community feels this way, and
why the reaction is that. i think ultimately that's what the president wanted to do, to speak to middle america and have middle america come to an ending and moving us forward. on the responsibility thing, you know, and joshua knows as well that the president has always gotten a lot of flak for that. going back to '08 in the primaries when he first did the fatherhood responsibility thing, the chatter in class gave him a hard time talking about responsibilities in the communities but something the president felt passionate about and guess what, something african americans felt passionate about because he starts talking about personal responsibility and us gaining momentum in the polls with african americans when hillary clinton was kicking our butts with him. if you go to any church in the south, this personal responsibility is being preached by every church in the south, so something that real he rest nates with the community. >> candy, also was interesting that often when the president spoke about race in this way, he sometimes has become the issue.
do you think there is a danger to that here? >> you know, the president sort ash a president is sort of the issue when they chime in on something. i think they know very well that this an issue, race is an issue that kicks up so much stuff. i agree, by the way, he is compelled to do this but i would say there is a lot of pressure on him to do this, including from trayvon martin's parents who said something the day before. so absolutely, i think he wanted to chime in on this but there was a lot of pressure to do so. having said that before, you know, prior to his reelection when the president spoke about race with jeremiah wright and i was there both when he sort of cut ties with jeremiah wright and when he gave the speech in philadelphia, it was a little more cautious, the cautious man
we've come to know. this is now a man that can lead whatever way he wants to. now, you know, you can say it will affect next year's elections but i doubt it, but this is a man who has a freedom now to come out and do this sort of thing, and i don't think even though they were aware this would kick up racial divides, i don't think that was part of the calculations. >> he tried to stress the positive towards the end of the speech, and i want to play that. >> as difficult and challenging as this whole episode has been for a lot of people, i don't want us to lose sight that things are getting better. each successive generation seems to be making progress and changing attitudes when it comes to race. it doesn't mean we're in a post racial society. it doesn't mean racism is
eliminated but when i talk to malia and sasha and i listen to their friends and i see them interact, they are better than we are. they are better than we were on these issues. and that's true in every community that i've visited all across the country. >> michaela, listening to your own daughter who is, extra, 22? >> yes. >> do you agree with president? >> yeah, aletti is better than i am and her friends are better. what was really interesting when he said -- he had that moment about can we use this moment to also bolster our boys, our sons? these are our beloved babies and i feel like there has been an incredibly successful image campaign on the crimization and the demonization of black boys. half the images we consume in
media black related are sports or criminal related. that's who people hold. that's who they see, unless trayvon was lebron, he's seen as a criminal. we have to start to change that dynamic. who was interesting about today, we are our stories, right? you know people by telling stories and getting to know them. for the president to tell his story about purses clutched, doors locked, suspicion, that piece charles blow wrote about what precise pace. what precise pace does the president walk? it's about having to negotiate who you are, what you're wearing, how fast you're talking, when you talk, when you don't talk, what's enough? what is not enough? >> considerations which a white person -- >> never has. >> has not entered into my mind. >> all these voices whether it's charles or quest love or anyone, we get to see now a human in a breathe of voices but saying
kind of the same thing. when you say that it's knew onsed, yes it is. so not letting us off the hook is a natural way to talk about a community, right? like it's not one way or the other. so i think this was very powerful in the way that he spoke to our humanity, the leader of our world, in a way, spoke to our humanity, and gave our boys a sense of value that they are worth investing in. and i contend they are worth protecting, and that's what we didn't see anyone think about. we didn't see george think he might need -- he might have needed to be protected from the perpetrators, you know. that's a new conversation. >> i wanted to continue this conversation. we'll take another quick break. stand by. the president spoke of several ways we as a country can learn from the trayvon martin case and ever improvements going forward.
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in breaking his relative silence in the killing of trayvon, president obama talked about where we can take the issues raised by the case beyond protests and vigils. he's talking with staff where attention can be focused. he said it's worth it to give them a second look. >> i think it would be useful for us to examine some state and local laws, to see if it -- if they are designed in such a way that they may encourage the
kinds of altercations and confrontations that we saw in the florida case, rather than diffuse potential altercations. i know that there's become men tarry about the fact that the stand your ground laws in florida were in the used as a defense in the case. on the other hand, if we're sending a message as a society in our communities that someone who is armed potentially has the right to use those firearms, even if there's a way for them to exit from a situation, is that really going to be contributing to the kind of peace and security and order that we would like to see? and for those who, who resist that idea that we should think about something like the stand your ground laws, i just ask people to consider if trayvon
martin was of age and armed, could he have stood his ground on that sidewalk? and do we actually think that he would have been justified in shooting mr. zimmerman who had followed him in a car because he felt threatened? and if the answer to that question is at least ambiguous, then it seems to me that we might want to examine those kinds of laws. >> an interesting question he raises. with me former oba ee ee eer -- panel. paul, you are not fan of the stand your ground laws. as a prosecutor, what do you ever out president's comments? >> i thought they were interesting and elevating the conversation from my perspect e perspective. i like that he didn't just approach it from a
one-dimensional prospective of just racial implications because i believe that investigation is on going and we already know where a lot of those statistics will lead us. i like that he elevated the approach and the elevated the observations about stand your ground and asked about the measured outcomes associated with stand your ground and asking everyone across the racial divides what do we get with stand your ground and are these laws elevating violence? are they reducing conflicts, because those are the questions that we need to ask and those are the answers we need when we examine the laws because i think that will take us to a place where we're being more hash in our critique of the stand your ground laws in general and that will take place across the nation. i loved his approach. i love that presentation and i think it elevated the conversation about the top pick. >> michaela, i thought it was interesting the question he asked at the end would trayvon
martin have been justified if he was armed and he was scared, could he stand his ground and shoot george zimmerman? i saw on a website somebody took a photo of trayvon martin and george zimmerman and made trayvon white and george black and i think it's interesting to change around the races of these situations and see how that impacts the view. >> i thought it was brilliant that he reached into the collective imagination and said just give this a second, think about it, and think about what you would see and he said if you were am b- -- am bieg use at be this empathy again is what we brought to the table. >> cornell, where do things go from here?
the president talked about this isn't necessarily that politicians need to -- the laws maybe need to look at. this is something that you look into community groups and church groups and people locally as opposed to politicians making grand statements? >> i think when we talk about, you know, pushing back on the biases that we all have, it is something that we have to -- the thing going on, however, i will say this and probably just because i'm a political hack and mean that with love. there is a political side to this and, look, when i think back to our history, i think what would fanny lieu hamer do and benny rusten do? this is what i wrote, those marchs and vigils that are going on are for them but they old organize at them. they would why not have voter registration drives at them? why not give people, you know, and again, i'm a campaign guy, why not give people in tse communities they are going into, ever sure you cover areas and
ever sure the people are registered. turn this protest in organizing and demobile wising when you apply pressure to elected officia officials. these are state laws. you know what? you can win a senate seat in a lot of states with 5,000 votes. >> paul -- >> anderson -- >> go ahead. >> if i can jump in. in audition to the mobilization, this is a huge shot in the arm of the field of black male achievement. there is echo systems investing in and empowering young african american men but operating out sid of public view. the president watched up their profile a lot in this speech and i think you'll get a lot more funders, foundations, elected officials paying more attention to the black field achievement after his remarks. >> he asked could all of us wring out some more bias. this speaks to everything whether race, gender, marriage
equality. it was very broad and all of us thinking can we ring out bias acknowledging that we all have it. >> i love it. my panel, thank you, great discussion. >> thank you. as you heard, president obama said he and the first lady send their prayers to trayvon martin's parents. their reaction to the verdict and what they want the world to know about their son. that's next. >> there were times not necessarily the testimony but a lot more the pictures for me, the 911 call where it just seemed so final. the pictures that the medical examiners, the pictures at the site, those things were more hurtful to me and sometimes i could sit through it, and at times i just needed to just go by myself and just say a prayer and ask god to strengthen me. and drop offs los begins with arthritis pain... and a choice. take up to 6 tylenol in a day
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tonight a mother and father who lost a son. at the end of the day for sabriybrina fulton and trey vea martin it's that simple and sad. tonight as we talk about greater implications of the death of trayvon martin, we don't want to lose sight of the simple fact a mother and father lose a son. tonight joining me sybrina fulton, tracy martin and benjamin crump.
how are you holding up? >> it's very difficult. but i'm just taking one day at a time. it's very difficult. >> trey vacy for you? >> it's tough. we trying to stay strong. we understand we have to stay strong for each other, our families. >> you were there in the trial every day, and at times you had to leave because of some of the testimony was too hard to hear. >> there were times not necessarily the testimony, but a lot more the pictures for me, the 911 call where it just seemed so final. the pictures that the medical examiners, the pictures at the site, those things were more hurtful to me and sometimes i could sit through it, and at times i just needed to just go by myself and just say a prayer and ask god to strengthen me. >> when i talked to dsaryl park one day and he said y'all talked
ahead of time about not being there when the verdict came down, why didn't you want to be there that day? >> we didn't want to be there because we were told by the court system that there were -- you couldn't do any outbursts, so i think by us not being there, it took the sting out of people seeing us react to it because it literally broke us down. >> juror b-37 when she spoke on 360 said she had a clear picture from george zimmerman from the trial but only a hazy one of martin. listen. >> you call george zimmerman george. do you feel like you know him? >> i do. i feel like i know everybody. >> you call trayvon, trayvon, as well. >> i did. trayvon wasn't as well-known by uz because there wasn't as much said about him. >> ben, do you think it would have made a difference with the jury, i don't know, if sympathized is the right word or felt they connected with him?
>> the thing that was so troubling when i watched that interview, was how she said in their community, they. she almost said like they were from a different world. if this was one of their children, five of them had children. what would they say about their child running from a strange person and minutes later there's a bullet in his heart? >> i want to play that for our viewers because it was in relation to rachel jeantel who testified. let's just place what she said. >> so the term creepy ass cracker that rachel jeantel said trayvon used and -- you are saying that simply is how trayvon and rachel talk to each other? >> sure, that's the way they talk. >> and did you see that as a negative statement or a racial statement as the defense suggested? >> i don't think it's really racial. i think it's just everyday life,
the type of life they live and how they are living. >> i got an enormous amount of tweets from viewers that watched that interview and overwhelming they were -- the people tweeting me were saying there were an awful lot of theys in that statement, they, they and the viewers weren't sure whether she was referencing they trayvon and rachel jeantel or they african americans in general. i'm wondering as you hear that what do you think? >> i think it speaks for itself. she's definitely has a disconnect. she's not saying that's the way teenagers talk in our community. she's saying in their community that's how they talk. >> different than her community? >> different from her community. so she evers sure that it was a accept brett community that she was speaking about. >> you know, in the wake of this, ben the other day was on a town hall we did in race and justice in the country and there was a man named charles blow and one of the things he said to me the other day and this stuck in my mind since, he's african
american and has teenage sons and said, you know, i've always told my sons don't run when the police are around because you don't want to be viewed as s suspicious but now i feel like i have to tell them don't walk too slow because -- and charles blow asked the question, what is the speed with which an african american male should walk to not be suspicious and to have to have that conversation with your child, i just found stunning. when we come back, we'll talk a little bit about what people should tell their kids now and what you would recommend people tell their kids now about something like that. we'll be right back. as. i felt like my feet were going to sleep. it progressed from there to burning... to like 1,000 bees that were just stinging my feet. [ female announcer ] it's known that diabetes damages nerves. lyrica is fda approved to treat diabetic nerve pain. lyrica is not for everyone.
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back again with tracy martin, say briybrina fulton an benjamin crump. the pace of which you can walk, i've been thinking about it since. is this a conversation you had with trayvon and your other son? >> definitely. by us living in a diverse community, diversified community, we -- we really don't have the -- have to have the
conversation where you have to be afraid of every different race because they go to school. they grew up going to school with other nationalities. so the conversation that you have -- that we have is, you know, we try to prepare them to become teenagers, to become up standing citizens and how to conduct themselves in public. when you have a situation such as an unarmed teen gets shot in the heart for doing absolutely nothing, you know, you have to -- you have to say to yourself, what is it that i can tell my child now? what kind of conversation do i tell him as far as going outside and conducting himself? >> it's not just about police, it's about unidentified neighborhood watch people or unidentified security guards. what do you tell parents? what would you tell parents out there? >> that's a very difficult
subject for me because my older son, he likes to go out with his friends. he likes to go to the movies and things like that. i'm very afraid right now because i have no clue what to tell him. i have no clue if i should tell him to run or walk, if i should tell him to defend himself or just lay there. i have no clue what to tell him. that's some of the conversations that we need to have and also about the laws. we need to deal with the laws, as well, because my son was unarmed and the person that shot and killed him got away with murder. >> and yet, as you know, juror b-37 and i'm assuming other jurors, as well, didn't discuss race in the jury room according to juror b-37. she clearly does not believe race played any role in the profiling of trayvon martin and any level in this case. let's play that.
>> do you feel george zimmerman racially profiled trayvon martin? do you think race played a role in his decision, his view of trayvon being suspicious? >> i don't think. i think george thought he could be a robber or trying to do something bad in the neighborhood because of all that had gone on previouspreviously. >> so you don't believe played a role in this case? >> i don't think it did. i think if there was another person, spanish, white, asian, if they came in the same situation where trayvon was, i think george would have reacted the exact same way. >> what do you think of that? >> i think that's a joke. because he clearly said in the 911 calls that it was a black teenager, an african american
teenager. so that was the profile. that was the person that he was looking for because that was the person or people that were breaking in in the area. unfortunately, trayvon was not one of those people. trayvon had every right to be in that community. trayvon had every right to go to the store and come back in peace and safe. so i think that's really a joke. i don't understand why she wouldn't see that, but then again, there's the disconnect. there's definitely a disconnect. >> do you believe the system works? i mean, having -- you've had this horrific experience. you've seen the justice system up close. do you believe it works? >> well, we have faith in the system, but it's -- it also goes back to what you have to work
with, and for me and our case, we just felt as though that the state did all they could do with what they had. had it been investigated properly from the beginning, it would have been more overwhelming evidence. do the system work? it didn't work for us, but we remain prayerful that the system through this injustice that we can build some type of -- that we can close that gap and hopefully that the system can start working for everyone equally. >> your strength is amazing throughout all this and the face of this and it continues to be. thank you very much for talking to us tonight. appreciate it. >> thank you. >> we'll be right back. all business purchases.
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martin foundation.org. tonight at 10:00 eastern we'll continue the conversation with a 360 special town hall at 10:00 eastern time. that's it for us. that's it for us. thanks for watching. -- captions by vitac -- www.vitac.com tonight the interview everyone is still talking about, my one on one with the star witness of the george zimmerman trial, rachel jeantel. >> racial, let's be honest, racial. >> a combatted teenager. >> are you listening? i had told you are you listening? >> you got to see this. what is your view of george zimmerman? >> weak. scary. >> rachel jeantel answers every question i put to her. she even answers questions from the studio audience. >> do you feel that your testimony strongly impacted the case at all? >> yes. >> in a negative way? >>