tv All In With Chris Hayes MSNBC December 3, 2014 8:00pm-9:01pm PST
all different backgrounds feel faith in this city again. >> thank you very much for joining me tonight. >> thank you. >> our live coverage continues now with chris hayes. good evening from new york. i'm chris hayes. spontaneous protest erupted in new york city and continue to happen all over the country in response to a staten island grand jury decision not to indict police officer. a man whose chokehold, a tactic banned by the nypd causing the death of 43-year-old eric gardner on october 17th. they staged as a dyed-in and chanted and confronted police outside our windows at 30 rockefeller plaza.
they came to protest amongst the lighting of the christmas tree. they shut down a stretch of the west on highway, a main thoroughfare running the entire length of manhattan. 30 people have been arrested tonight, but the outcry is not just happening here. demonstrators in seattle. blocked traffic in washington d.c. . this was the scene in clayton, missouri, where last week a different grand jury announced there'd be no indictment in the shooting death of michael brown. . garner was stopped by police, apparently or allegedly for selling illegal, loose cigarettes. it starts with an exasperated corner and ends with him face down on the ground telling the cops can't breathe. >> he was just sitting here. >> i didn't do butt. i'm minding my business. the people fighting as i walk away. are you serious?
i didn't do nothing. come on. i don't have my it on me. take me down for what? i didn't sell anything. i did nothing. we were sitting here the whole time. to whom? >> this guy right here is trying to lock somebody up for breaking up a fight. >> everybody standing here. i didn't do nothing. i did not sell nothing. because, every time you see people, you want to stop me and talk to me. i'm minding my business, officer. i minded my business. please just leave me alone. i told you last time, please, just leave me alone.
>> hold on. >> don't touch me. don't touch me. >> whoa. he didn't do not often. >> dam, man. >> i can't breathe. i can't breathe. i can't breathe. i can't breathe. i can't breathe. i can't breathe. i can't breathe. >> new york medical examiner will his death a homicide caused by another person determining the cause of death was closed -- compression of neck, chest and prone position in during physical restraint by police. the grand jury was convened in september by daniel donovan to decide whether there was probable cause to indict the officers seen on that tape ignoring garner's cries that he couldn't breathe. like the grand jury in ferguson, this was unusual.
it was convened to consider this case, like the ferguson grand jury, it heard all the evidence gathered by prosecutors. like the fergusons grand jury, there was months of testimony, including two hours of testimony from the police officer whose indictment they were considering, which is pretty rare for a grand jury proceeding. they decided not to indict. speaking at a press conference tonight, his widow dog to continue to pursue justice. >> he should be here celebrating christmas and thanksgiving and everything else with his children and his grandchildren. and he can't. why? because a cop did wrong. somebody that get paid to do right did wrong, and he's not held accountable for it. my husband's death lobby in vain. as long as i have a breath in my body, i will fight the fight to the end. >> president obama addressed the decision in the sense of
distrust in law enforcement. >> we are not going to let up until we see a strengthening of the trust and a strengthening of the accountability that exists between our communities and our law enforcement, and i say that as somebody who believes that law enforcement has an incredibly difficult job. but that they are only going to be able to do their job effectively if people have confidence in the system. right now, unfortunately, too many instances where people do not have confidence that folks are being treated fairly. >> new york city mayor met today with his father in spoke emotionally about his own concerns as a father of a young african american man. his son dante, biracial. >> joy and i have had to talk to dante for years about the
dangers he may face. good young man, law-abiding gun man. yet, because of a history that still hangs over us, the dangers he may face, we have had to train him, as families have all over this city for decades, and how to take special care in any encounter he has with the police saw officers who are there to protect him. i have had to worry over the years. was dante states each night? so many families in this city feel that each and every night, is my child safe? >> eric holder announced a federal investigation into garner's death. >> now that the local investigation has concluded, i'm here to announce that the justice department will proceed with a federal civil rights investigation into mr. berner's death. our prosecutors will conduct an
independent, thorough, fair and expeditious investigation. >> joining me now, and thompson live at grand central terminal. protesters have been gathering. quite a few protesters were there a little while ago in the main chamber at grand central. >> they were. they came down here. i'm in the subway concourse now. here is where the trouble started. this is the turnstile and to the floor, 5 and 6 subway lines. protesters tried to block that. the protesters just relocated and went down the stairs here. they got to a 4 train, and some of the protesters got onto the train, held the doors open to try to stop the train. the police went, pulled the protesters off, and we saw them take one man away, the man who appeared to be the leader of this protest.
half hour before, the protesters and police were face-to-face, not two feet away, and the protesters were yelling at the police, letting their grievances out. in some cases, taunting and swearing at the police. the new york police department stood there. those men stood there and took it. they didn't react to the protesters. the protesters got fed up and moved down here, and now they have dispersed. >> there was also earlier today in grand central a fairly dramatic scene of a guy in. that was one of the first that we have photos of. that was one of the first spontaneous moments of protests that happened here today. >> we saw that not only here in grand central. that happened earlier around 5:00 this evening. that was repeated tonight by a few protesters. we saw that on the streets. we have been following protesters all around midtown
tonight. i would say about 20 of them had a spontaneous dial-in, if you will, at 43rd and sixth street. that is one of the symbols of the ferguson incident, laying down on the ground with their hands up, replicating the position they say of michael brown. in this case, there were protesting not only michael brown, but also the death of eric bernard. >> lives in grand central, where shegarner. >> lives in grand central, where she has been following ron, what have you been seeing? let's see if we have drawn a. >> we are out here at timesron. >> we are out here at times square right now -- can you hear
me? >> we've got you, ron. >> sorry to we are out here in times square. we have been walking around midtown trying to find protesters. they have been popping up here and there. there's a crowd coming in this direction right across the street, across 42nd street. there are a lot of police. it looks like they will try to block the street. let's go a little bit closer. the police have been trying to let the protesters do what they want around the city, but they have been trying to draw the line at blocking the streets. this just happened. this just popped up. it's been very somewhat disorganized, but people appearing here and there. this is what we are coming up to. you can hear them saying, shut it down, shut it down. they are right in the middle of the street, middle of times square. several hundred people or so a. this is one of the bigger crowds we have seen.
they were up and down the highway for a time. there have been about 30 arrests so far, but all of a sudden out of nowhere, this is what we have found. they are here. they are shutting down the middle of the street. we will see if the police tried to move them out or if theyy to move them out or if they stay here. >> you can hear them. shut them down, shut them down. this is much bigger here now. it's a lot different having a demonstration in new york city than in a small place like that. >> no justice! no peace in! >> can i talk to you for a second? >> can i talk to you for a second? >> no justice! >> we are from nbc. why are you out here?
>> people need to wake up to it. there are kids every single day, nobody is serious about it. >> you will try to block the street down? >> i'm going to do what i have to do to make sure this -- >> you feel they're passionate about this. >> yes, i do. >> do you know people who have been victimized? >> absolutely. let's get out of the street. okay. first will get out of the street because traffic is moving. the police are here. it's a bit of a crazy seen because there's a lot happening at the same time. over in this direction there are taxis trying to get through. protesters are walking slowly through times square. traffic is stopped. tourists are staring and trying to figure out what's going on. this is what we've got now, but it's all happening peacefully.
it's very disruptive. it's crazy out in the streets, but it's all peaceful. it's all calm. the police aren't confronting anyone. they are letting them walk through here. they're blocking traffic. >> ron allen live in the streets of new york city tonight. a peaceful disruptive, which has been awash for protests. they have blocked down numerous streets. no violence, but there have been people living down in the middle of the sidewalk, streets, blocking traffic. joining me on the phone, jason walker. protesting tonight here in new york. jason, how would you characterize tonight's protest? >> i wouldn't characterize it as too peaceful. they have been demonstrators voicing their concerns. very tense moments out there. the police are following closely with batons in hand, ready for
more aggressive demonstrations to take place. they are often having this threatening presence around. protesters say no justice, no peace. >> jason, can you tell me how this sort of thing came together? i know there were a number of groups calling for demonstrations downtown near wall street tomorrow. the protest we saw tonight seemed rather spontaneous. was this social media? was this group text, e-mails? how did it come together you had people walking through the city shutting down traffic in different places? >> definitely organic through social media. the a way to try to figure out a way where groups are. definitely, it appears to be sporadic and organic.
people are just going to the streets. >> what is being planned for tomorrow? my understanding is that there were already calls out for protests the day after the announcement of the grand jury decision. the grand jury decision is not the decision a lot of folks wanted to see. there is a rally of being called for tomorrow here as well. >> tomorrow at 5:30. >> foley square is downtown manhattan. >> not too far from city hall. >> what do you think, where does this go next? fascinating moment right now having all of these cases front and center back-to-back-to-back. where do you see this going now? >> that's a very good question. it's a question a lot of folks try to figure out. cameras might be the solution,
but it doesn't really help the situation. talking about police tactics, trying to figure out ways to create better policing systems. we know that broken windows, it's seen as a racist thing that caused the murder of eric garner. we are trying to figure out how to get rid of these practices that put a heavy police presence. >> jason walker is an organizer with vocal new york, one of the groups participating in tonight's spontaneous, organic protests. jason walker out on the streets of new york city tonight. thank you very much. i really appreciate it. >> thank you, chris. >> here with me now, one of the most outspoken critics of stop and frisk, of some of the
policing tactics used under mayor bluebird, some of which have ended and have been changed or continued. were you surprised? >> i have been vacillating between numbness and abject anchor. it took me a while to make statements because most of them work toward what i assumed would be charged, that they would throw something. >> will or charge indicted on. >> it blew me away that there was nothing there that we can say. this is not a trial of guilt. this was to say if there was enough evidence that we should go to trial, and of evidence that something wrong happened. looking at the video of an unarmed man who did not pose a threat to himself, police officers or others, i saw a chokehold used. the man said, i can't. 11 times and murdered by this officer. donovan said with the grand jury that there was nothing there
that lead anyone to believe something wrong happened. >> whose fault is this? this is what you heard in ferguson, we have the process. we got the fellow citizens. maybe you saw the video but didn't hear all the testimony. who do you hold responsible? >> the process doesn't work for black and brown people period. if for some reason people who say that and think that selling cigarettes, which no one prove he did it, or stealing a cigar should be a death sentence for a black man. two teenagers who were white massacred some people in columbine. the only thing i heard them talk about was that they were bullied. if only they could have gotten some help. the kind of sympathy i heard was amazing for people who massacred. for two black men who stole a cigar and the crime, the punishment should be death. that's amazing that we can say that in 2014.
that doesn't make any sense. >> you are an elected member -- you are part of the system. elected member of the government. a mere rant on stayor ran on st. what do you think about the system that you are part of? >> it is a problem. if there are some things that shouldn't happen, it shouldn't be in new york city because there are too many black and brown elected officials. these things should not be happening here. they are wrong to oppose that ban. how many commissioners must go before we have solved the problem? >> it's the for then the commissioner. >> deeper than the commissioner. the commissioner and the mayor, this man needs to be fired immediately. he broke protocol. >> the police officer in question. >> absolutely.
and more than just the police officer. we witnessed a murder on tape from people who violated protocol for someone they believe was selling cigarettes. the sentence for him was death. they need to be fired immediately. we need to have a national discussion, because we have to stop sending only police to these communities to solve a multipronged problem. if we don't stop that, the people cry out. they want police. they also say, we want jobs, better housing, youth programs. they also -- the only thing we hear is police. that is a problem in the black and brown communities. >> thank you for making it appear tonight. >> thank you. >> joining me from staten island, melissa is the democratic speaker of the new york city council. speaker, your reaction to the verdict today -- not the verdict, to the decision of the grand jury. >> to say that one is angry or
exasperated would be a blatant lie. there was a sense of real frustration, and maybe some of us had a glimmer of hope that justice would be served. to hear that there was no decision, no indictment was to be made when we witnessed a murder on tape. we saw not only from the police officer that used the chokehold on the air garner, but also so many other cops around him that took no action or did not ask him to stop. you have to ask what will it take to get justice. you understand the frustration that exists. this is an issue that doesn't only cut across the african american community. we have communities across the city, latinos and asian-americans that have experienced the same excessive use of force. we need to take a serious approach to route this out. >> let me ask you this. there are a lot of people who
voted for the mayor, a strong ally of yours. who voted for him on a platform of changing the way this city was police. what are you saying to them today when they say, we came out, we voted, we voted for change, and we are looking at this decision from the grand jury and felt we got fed a bill of goods. >> this is a systemic issue. we are talking about biases that exist systematically. that is not something that will be rooted out or changed overnight. i know of that community pressure and mobilizations and actions that meet and other colleagues across the city had engaged in. we have seen some decisions at the federal level. when it comes to stop and frisk, we have seen some changes taking effect within the nypd. the reality is, as much as i want to see those changes take
effect overnight, that will not happen. that doesn't mean we should not still be inspired and motivated to continue the pressure on the ground to organize and galvanize around the injustice that exists. that is what we need to do, and that is what the family has asked us to do as well, to continue to struggle in a peaceful way. we need to be mobilized and continue to express and channel the frustration in a way that will change the system, and that's where we need to end up. >> melissa, thank you very much. new york city police department and choke holds over 20 years ago, so how could they have not indicted daniel? we will talk about that ahead. no justice, no dream! which encourage people to take their medications regularly. so join us as we raise a glass
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when you watched the video in the eric garner case, it looked that what >> new york city police department banned choke holds in 1993. and procedure 203-11 reads in part, members of the new york city department will not use choke holds. a choke hold shall include but not limited to any pressure to the throat or windpipe, which may prevent or hinder breathing or reduce intake of air. in 1994, anthony baez was killed
when a police officer employed a choke hold following an altercation after a induststray football hit a police car. the medical examiner concluded that his asthma was a contributing factor. the officer was later indicted and charged. two years later he was acquitted by a bronx judge. in a separate federal trial, he was sentenced to 7 1/2 years in prison after being found guilty of violation of civil rights. we do not have access to all the evidence because those proceedings are secret. but we have all seen the video, and a whole lot of people across the political spectrum are finding it difficult to understand how the police officer was not indicted.
you have been litigating with police in new york for decades, 50 years combined between the two. how surprised were you by today's decision? >> as a lawyer, i was shocked. as a human being i was saddened. as a black human being, i'm angry about it. >> i wasn't shocked. the process is secret, it's not adversarial. we should abolish the grand juries when we have these kinds of cases and go to an open adversarial preliminary hearing. >> how does this happen? we all just -- look, we're not saying this -- we're talking about, can you charge a person. from what we saw on tape do this, explain to me how this came about. obviously you weren't in the grand jury room, how did this
come about? >> what happens is, the grand jury, which at one time historically is a work of liberty against an oppressive government is outdated. it becomes an instrument of manipulation by the prosecutor. usually it winds up with a probable cause indictment. >> because that's what the prosecutor wants. >> but not when it's a cop. the cop needs the police hour to hour on all his 98% of his criminal prosecutions. >> the prosecutors. >> if the prosecutor goes against the cops, he won't get the cooperation on his cases. so the prosecutor behind closed doors, is able to manipulate the grand jury to not get an indictment. >> this is -- it's like if you went to work tomorrow and i said your job today is to sue the pants off the guy that sits next to you. police, grand juries and
prosecutors, they all work together every day. the prosecutor's office is talking to the police, we're getting them, handing over the cases and they're on the same team. >> right. they are on the same team. what happened here very clearly was, it's the prosecutor's job to get an indictment. if there's no indictment, the prosecutor has failed and we have to ask why is that? >> how did this happen in everyone's noses? >> i'll tell you how, here's how that grand jury process should have gone. they should have shown the videotape and taken the vote. but what went on, they gave all of this information to the jury and shifted the responsibility from securing an indictment with the evidence that would support a charge to one where they were making sure they could bring in -- >> the prosecutor never should have had this case. this should have been a special prosecutor appointed by the governor. he was asked to do that and he did not do that.
>> does he have the pow tore do that? >> yes, and he didn't do it. it's a political decision, and we have to get beyond putting cameras on the police officers, which creates a whole 1984 issue. and we have to deal with bold, systemic change. >> bold, systemic change looks like an institutionalized procedure. >> what we have to do is create a system that makes sense, that's transparent and that we can trust. as we've all pointed out, there is a built-in conflict of interest. every time a prosecutorer has a police officer in his clutches, will almost always turn out no indictment. >> let me play devil's advocate. >> i don't like the devil. >> that's how the devil works. police are -- have the job of taking risk, physical risk. they are imbued by the state to use force in ways that normal
civilians are not. that's part of their job. the latitude therefore for them to use force is far greater. maybe the grand jury heard a lot of testimony we don't have access to and we would have come to the same decision. >> the process is not fair. it is not fair, and it frustrates justice because you don't see the process. it's secret. in new york, it can't even be made public as it was done in ferguson. so what you now have to do is recognize every state should have a special prosecutor for police misconduct. we should go to preliminary hearings, integrate the police departments so they reflect the racial makeup of the city or the town. and you need some real training with undoing the stereotypes. without that, putting a camera on a cop. we had the video here and look at the result. >> there's another piece to this. the camera situation doesn't
solve the systemic racism problem. we have a systemic racism problem. there are two things that happened in that grand jury. number one, the prosecutor presented a case where he was advocating his authority. number two, the grand jurors see police officers as almost like super humans. they can't imagine police officers can commit crimes. >> thank you both. all right. you're looking at live footage of some of the protests here in new york city as people are congregating. there are folks on the streets to see the tree lighting, which is happening just outside these windows and folks are protesting the decision not to indictment eric garner. i'm going to talk to the man who blasted the st. louis rams players who held up their hands. .
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the officer who was not indicted today, daniel pantaleo released a statement in which he offered condolences to the garner family. just a few moments ago, the widow of eric garner was asked how she'd respond to the condolences expressed by the officer. >> hell no. the time for remorse would have been when my husband was yelling to breathe. that would have been the time for him to saw some type of remorse or some type of care for a another human being's life, when he was screaming 11 times that he can't breathe. so there's nothing that him or his prayers or anything else would make me feel any different. no, i don't accept his apology. no, i could care less about his condolences. no, i could care less. he's still working. he's still getting a paycheck.
he's still feeding his kids. and my husband is six feet under. and i'm looking for a way to feed my kids now. >> be back with much more with eric garner decision in a break. turn the trips you have to take, into one you'll never forget. earn points for every flight and every hotel. expedia plus rewards. i just received a text from ddiscover hq?.
yep. we check every purchase, every day and alert you if anything looks suspicious. nice. i'm looking into some suspicious activity myself. madame that is not a changing table. at discover, we treat you like you'd treat you. get the it card at discover.com one of the most stalwart defenders of police conduct in ferguson has been democratic state representative jeffrey roorda. he's the man who released this blistering statement blasting rams football players for adopting the hands-up pose on sunday calling it unthinkable that hometown athletes would so publicly perpetuate a narrative that has been disproven over and over again about the last moments of michael brown's life. joining me now is jeff roorda business manager for the police officers association and marq claxton director of black enforcement alliance. mr. roorda, do you understand why there are so many people upset about the eric garner decision today?
>> you know, i don't claim to know as much about that situation, chris. i've watched it from a distance like much of america has, but i heard some folks in your last block talk about and it's kind of a weird subtext that we've heard that it's the prosecutor's job to indict, the prosecutor's job is to seek justice and to seek the truth. and we don't know what happened behind closed doors in the grand jury, but i sure hope that's what happened. >> do you think that's how a prosecutor normally operates? i mean, when it is reversed, right, when a police officer has been shot, when a civilian has been burgled, you know, i don't hear a lot of police officers talking about how much discretion prosecutors have to offer, how they should be restrained, how they should offer all the evidence. >> well, i think that's exactly what happens. i don't think prosecutors -- we're upset all the time when we
bring good cases to the prosecutor where we believe there's clear cause to charge and prosecutors don't pursue charges. >> are you telling me that if michael brown had shot and killed darren wilson, bob mcculloch would have used an identical process where he would have presented all the evidence without recommending charges? >> well, that's a hypothetical. >> but clearly he wouldn't have done that, we can agree on that. >> well, i mean, if there was evidence that michael brown killed the police officer, yes, i think that bob mcculloch would have pursued charges vigorously. he didn't believe there was evidence that darren wilson acted in a criminal way. >> mr. claxton, let me ask you this, one of the things we're seeing here is it feels like there's a kind of falling in line that's happened among police officers in police culture. i was just looking at some common threads on police one that were very unnerving.
how do you address the cultural aspects of how police think of themselves in relationship to the community? >> i think what has occurred throughout the nation is occurring in these cases that we're seeing more recently is that the police -- within the subculture there are these vows and these strong bonds that supersede even the vows that they've taken to withhold their respective positions and their agencies. it becomes a matter we're all in this together, hell or high water, regardless of the circumstances and individuals who represent police officers do that blindly, unabashedly, unashamed, and they put on the back burner the vows that they took to uphold the constitution and the state laws and their department of regulations. that should supersede all, but it naturally doesn't. >> mr. roorda, do you agree with that? >> give me a break.
these guys go out and put their lives on the line for these communities every single day. >> do you think it's true that police officers don't cover for each other, they don't ever spin things or say false things for each other? >> i think it's fun to say that and to perpetuate this distrust of police, but let's not forget that both in the garner case and the brown case, that if either of them had complied with the police, that these might have had different outcomes. not that the outcomes are not tragic and that other than a police officer dying, the worst outcome that could come from these interactions. but let's not lay all the blame at law enforcement -- >> mr. claxton, you're talking about compliance in the case of mr. garner. mr. claxton is a former new york city police detective. what's your response to that? >> i think what mr. roorda is doing is what a lot of people make the mistake of doing and presupposing things as facts when they haven't been established by facts neither in the grand jury or in reality.
to go further in specifically dealing with this garner case which he's indicating he may not have as much information on, it's on videotape. we don't have to presuppose so many of these items and issues, but we can review what happened over in ferguson and quite clearly, you know, there is a bias that mr. roorda and many police officers have accepted and have put out in the media and just treated as if it's fact, when it is not established fact. even the grand jury process did not establish facts. they examined evidence and made their own judgments based on a faulty presentation made by the prosecution, which has set precedent throughout this nation. >> how is it faulty? >> well, the process itself. when the process for all of these years and all of the cases -- >> this is a prosecutor that put every single piece of evidence. >> let me answer your question. >> and then he's criticized for giving too much information to the grand jury. >> let me just answer your question. you asked me how it was faulty.
the process all of a sudden became a new process. all of the cases previous to it and probably all the cases since that time did not follow this pattern where basically throw everything in the pool and let the grand jury -- >> mr. rooda, if this is the best process that will be offered, will you commit here on air for calling for bob mcculloch to review this process in all subsequent cases? >> the method he used in this cass was different. it was to oblige the public outcry. he didn't believe that the evidence led to the conclusion that the officer violated a law, but he still took it in front of a grand jury and still provided all the evidence to the grand jury. and they reached the came conclusion he did. >> if the process -- >> he shouldn't have used it in this case. he should have never taken it to the grand jury. >> we'll be right back.
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a standoff between protesters and police on the west side highway. the response of the decision of the grand jury not to indict the police officer who put a choke hold or arm around the neck of eric garner as he said i can't breathe 11 times before dying. joining me now is senior editor for "the atlantic." where do we start with this? what was your reaction today when you heard the news? >> i was -- i would like to say i was surprised, i was not surprised. i was not shocked at all. we expect our grand juries to operate outside of the ways that affect ordinary citizens. laws, grand juries, our hallowed institutions they are what the people make them to be ultimately. they don't exist on some other plane immune from other forces like american racism.
so i like to say i was shocked and surprised. i was not, regrettably. >> i saw you saying earlier today or you may have tweeted this, the way we're having this discussion is about the intersection of policing and racial bias. >> right. >> you're saying let's not hold the police out as an institution that is the one institution in american life particularly tainted by racial bias. >> right. well, i mean, the history of this country is, you know, we have this long history of racism in this country. and as it happens, the criminal just system has been perhaps the most prominent instrument for administering racism, but the racism doesn't come from the criminal justice system, doesn't come from the police. the police are pretty much doing, you know, what the society, you know, they originate from want them to do. you know, you can look at any number of studies on how african-americans are perceived in terms of criminality versus other americans. you can look at the long history of criminalizing black people in this country which did not begin
with eric garner, which did not begin with tamir rice and did not begin john crawford. this is a very old tradition in this country. we have to come to some sort of terms with the country we're living in. >> if that's true, how do you avoid either fatalism or impotent rage? so what is -- what do you do -- >> i don't know that you avoid infinite rage. infinite rage, i walk around with it. baldwin talked about it, being black in america is to walk around enraged constantly. i don't know if you can avoid that. in terms of avoiding fatalism, listen, i'm the descendant of enslaved black people in this country. you could have been born in 1820 if you were black and looked back to your ancestors and saw nothing but slaves back to 1619
looked forward another 50, 60 years and saw nothing but slaves. and there was no reason at that point in time to believe that emancipation was 40 or 50 years off. yet folks resisted. so fatalism isn't really an option. even if you think you're not going to necessarily win the fight today in your lifetime, in your child's lifetime, you still have to fight. kind of selfish to say you will only fight for a victory that you will live to see. as an african-american, we stand on shoulders of people who fought despite not seeing victories in their lifetime or even in their children's lifetime or even their grandchildren's lifetime. so fatalism really isn't an option. >> as we're talking there's an image of folks that are marching down what i believe is the west side highway. they've shut it down. there's been a wave of protests ever since that grand jury decision was announced in ferguson over a week ago. . and one of the things that i think you keep pointing out in your writing is that at the time that protests happened, a lot of
people are talking about how they're not the right kind of protests. they're too disruptive or not accomplishing the right thing, then 40 years later the people organizing them get put on stamps. but we forget when they were actually happening people thought they were too disruptive. >> the protest is against the policies, you know, or the inaction of policies by the american state. to expect the american state to then approve those protests at the same time is a little insane. it's easy to approve the protests 40 years later when you're not bobby kennedy and worry about balancing federal laws and state laws, but people in that time, in the time of the actual protest don't -- in fact, i mean, if a protest that's approved of isn't kind of defeats -- >> it isn't a protest. >> it's not a protest. at a protest, what are you protesting if everybody agrees? >> ta-nehisi, do you think right now there is something about
this moment that's kind of -- i mean, just feels today like on the heels of what happened in ferguson, with the video of the shooting of 12-year-old tamir rice, with the way that social media operates and the camera phone's operating, we have a consciousness of what's happening that we weren't able to get before in quite the same way and whether that galvanizes something nationally. what do you think? >> maybe, maybe. i don't know. i hope so. i would like to think so. i would like to think that the drive-by killing of an 11-year-old child would galvanize something, but chris, i really hate to keep going back to this. but we are under the weight of some 350 years of state-sanctioned racism and about 50 years of just halfway trying to dig our way out of that. to expect things to change because, you know, a few cases over the past few months i think is to expect too much.
this is a long, long fight. i'm not calling for fatalism, i'm not calling for giving up. but we've got to be tougher than to just expect that because suddenly we're aware, those of us who watch and love msnbc are aware that that necessarily means change is around the corner. >> i want you to stay with me and i want to bring in former rnc chairman michael steele into this conversation. today i was happy to see a kind of cross-ideological bipartisan unanimity, charles krauthammer, andrew napolitano and people on red state saying this is ridiculous. here's my question for you. is that going to last? i remember people reacting that way to the trayvon martin death and i remember people reacting that way to the s.w.a.t. teams in ferguson, then it didn't last. then when it happened lo these many months later people on the twitter feed saying the most vile stuff i could imagine. can this be a moment where there
is bipartisan consensus where the criminal procedure in this country is broken? >> i come at this with a mixed answer. and that would be, i don't see this strictly in the political lens, chris. so this idea of will it last if republicans engage or democrats engage, i think this is really about what the american people need to do at this point. i've been saying for some time we fundamentally have to deal with the quintessential issues around race. the black and white of race in this country. this isn't about hispanics, this is not about asians or women. this is about black people and white people in this country. mr. coates just noted 350 years of this struggle. bring it down to what republicans and democrats do to me doesn't really get to where we need to go, but having said that, i will say that the idea that you do have this bipartisan recognition, the republicans along with others recognizing that we need to move on this, rand paul being one of the
leading voices with respect to criminal justice reform, looking at our justice system as a whole i think is an important step. >> ta-nehisi, given the weight of all the history we know we have and given out the criminal justice that's laid out in the book "new jim crow" as being a part of institutional life that controls the boundary of racial power and hierarchy, we could have that same history and have half as many people in prison as we have now with some fairly straightforward reforms to the kinds of laws we have and policing we do. >> yeah, but i think the question that has to be asked is why haven't those reforms happened. and i just, again, that takes you back to the society itself. you know, so i think in many ways this conversation about policy, about policing practices, you know, even extending it out to mass incarceration, i think that we should not let ourselves as a society off the hook. there are reasons why, you know,
these policies exist. either we live in a democracy or we don't. you know, maybe some would argue that we don't, but if we're going to accept that we do, we'll accept that votes matter, that the process matters. you know, we can't avoid fundamental truth about people who are deciding what the government will be justice, that the people get the government they deserve. i think that's kind of where we're at. >> michael -- >> hey, chris, can i dovetail on to that? and it goes back to your last conversation. the prosecutors in both the ferguson case and in this case prosecuted to the extent that they wanted to, and at the end of the day they either will vigorously apply this process on behalf of the victim or they won't. and if they're out to protect a class of individuals, this system will not survive. and i think we're seeing evidence of that. >> you don't think they were trying to vigorously prosecute this? >> no, come on, look, at the end
of the day, just in looking at the video itself, i mean, you may not want to go for first degree murder, but then you've got assault, you've got all sorts of other issues. >> you've got options. >> you have a new york statute that makes it illegal to choke people. >> right. >> you had other options. >> so if you don't want to vigorously prosecute the system for the benefit of the victims, then this system will not work. >> and that -- what the essential nature of this system is, right. >> exactly. >> do we have equal justice under law or don't we? there's a lot of people asking some pretty profound and deep questions about the nature of that. you see some of them walking through the streets tonight in new york in spontaneous protest, walking up the west side highway with cars there, they've fanned out across the city, you see protests in philadelphia, some in ferguson as well, all in reaction to this very shocking, i might say, decision from the grand jury not to indict the police officer that led to the death of eric garner. ta-nehisi coates and michael
steele, thank you. that's "all in" for this evening and rachel maddow show starts now. good evening. it is midnight in new york city. we have a picture of grand central station. this is the main hall at grand central usually looks like. but this is what the main hall at grand central station looked like tonight. look at that. protesters flooded the main hall tonight. they staged a die-in, which in this iteration you would think as a sit-in, but this is a die-in. protesters chanted, who do you protect? who do you serve? at one point they moved