Martin Bashir | March 23, 2012
>>> good afternoon. i'm karnt finney in for martin bashir . we start with a look at the stand your ground laws that played a part in the murder of trayvon murder. it has become a topic for both republicans and democrats and the president weighed in very personally today.
>> i think all of us have to do some soul searching to figure out you how does something like this happen. that means that we examine the laws and the context for what happened. as well as the specifics of the incident. if i had a son, he would look like trayvon.
>> trayvon was an unarmed young man brutally gunned down. but he now lives as a symbol of the true impact of the stand your ground laws which allow any person anywhere who believes himself or herself threatened to use deadly force . even if they know they're not in imminent danger. the tampa bay times estimates that trayvon is one of at least 130 people who have been attacked understand your ground. most of those have ended in death and only a handful of cases ever made it to court. so who are and where are the other trayvons? we don't know their names. but you're likely to find them, not only in florida but also in any of the other 30 states with similar laws. as the investigation of trayvon's murder has unfolded over the last several days, numerous flaws have been found in the law. so maybe the question then is, it wasn't a question of when a tragedy like this would make us pay attention to these laws. but who would make us pay attention to these laws. when the law passed in florida in 2005 , it was just the beginning.
>> it is common sense to allow people to defend themselves. and to have to, when you're in a position where you're being threatened, there is a life threatening situation to have to retreat and put yourself in a very precarious position, defies common sense .
>> that was then governor jeb bush of florida . he and his fellow republicans were ecstatic when the law passed. and as typical, they use fear and rhetoric about personal freedom without balancing second amendment rights with the safety of our communities. one florida state attorney who opposed the law even said that they decided to fix something that wasn't broken. how do we go from one state to 30? who was the typhoid mary for this horrible outbreak? try not to be surprised. the usual suspects, the coke brothers, the nra, the american legislative campaign, and remember this? these are the same people who stymied gun regulation at every point who funded and ghost write these laws and others that have become a core of the conservative agenda that is being implemented across our country. it's the same group that also wrote the voter i.d. laws which threaten to disenfranchise some 5 million american voters. many of them african-american. it's the same cast of characters and it's the same story. so we're going to get now to our panel. in sanford, we're joined by joy ann reid, managing editor and an msnbc contributor. in washington we're joined by a democratic strategist. and here with me, a professor at georgetown university and msmbc political analyst. thank you for being with me. i want to start with you. you've been there on the ground. there was that incredible gathering last night. how are things shifting? has the mood shifted between last night and the announcement from governor scott that he is going to put together a task force to look at these laws?
>> well, i don't know that governor scott is winning any thing with that. before the police chief announced he was stepping a side to a real sense of momentum. people don't necessarily feel that lee's stepping aside is closure but i think they feel like they're winning and they will keep pushing. the message we got last night, it was very peaceful. people are very unified. they're gratified by the support and the innational attention themselves want more. they want george zimmerman arrested and they want police chief lee to step down permanently.
>> a little surprising every time i think of the fact that george zimmerman is still out there with his gun and we don't actually even know where. one other question for you, joy- ann . the silence from gop marco rubio is kind of stunning. it seems like he cannot bring himself to say that these are bad laws or to weigh in. is anybody talking about that down there?
>> well, not only him but think about allen west who is one of only two african-american republicans in the congress right now. and his district in palm beach is not that far from here. maybe an hour and a half to two hours south of here. we haven't heard him weigh in. the republican party in general seems to have been silent. this state has an african-american lieutenant governor. she has not made a statement. governor scott has only now waded into it. but yeah. marco rubio who has made the gop star throughout the country and looked at as a potential vice presidential candidate , he hasn't said anything. he is positioned very strangely. he wants to be the mainstream national figure but he is positioned as this tea party conservative republican and there seems to be a reticence for republicans to speak about this.
>> it seems shocking that they feel this is something they can't even comment on. i did note thattalen west did make some comments. did he call the shooting a tragedy but he also commented that he was not going to head down to florida and be a part of the circus. exact words, that may be mine. that was the tone of it. i want to come to you, michael. maybe they just shont say anything. that's at least what geraldo rivera said this morning on fox and friends. let's take a listen.
>> i am urging the parents of black and latino youngsters, particularly, to not let their children go out wearing hoodes. i think it is as much responsible for trayvon martin's death as george zimmerman was.
>> so my read is, it wasn't the gun. it wasn't george . it was the hoodie. it was trayvon's fashion choice that is to blame.
>> sartorial selection has led to selective execution. how ludicrous is that? look, i've been on geraldo's show in the past. i've enjoyed engaging him but that is the most ludicrous argument to justify cold-blooded murder of a young man without any ability to have him arrested. that is, mr. zimmerman to have just due process in the courts. and for this man to stand trial for the murder of a young man. this man had skittles in his hand. a hoodie. millions of white people wear hoodies every day.
>> and it was raining.
>> they make them not for people who are gang members them make hoodies for most americans who want to cover themselves up. to suggest that this hoodie was the source of this is to ignore the racial dynamics that involve themselves. when we talk about who is wearing a hoodie. when a young black man is wearing one, it is a problem. when a white man is wearing it, it is not noticed.
>> i didn't want to interject but i think it is important to note when the 911 call was made by george zimmerman . he didn't say i see a guy in a hoodie that looks suspicious. he didn't point that out. in his previous 46 calls, it didn't seem to be a hoodie that triggered his response that there was something wrong. but in six of those calls that had been released he did seem to find a black guy through his neighborhood alarming.
>> incredibly ridiculous comment.
>> they weren't all in hoodies.
>> we're learning more and more about the involvement of alec, the nra, the koch brothers. we're now seeing it through the state legislatures and republican governors. were you surprised to hear that those groups were involved?
>> no. i had very personal experience with it in 1999 and 2000 after the columbine shootings when the same group wanted to fight basic back ground checks for people buying gun at gun shows. these are terrible laws. they encourage shoot-outs them encourage conflict when conflict avoidance makes sense. as bad as these laws, are i think you're likely to see zimmerman arrested. even under the florida statute, it requires that zimmerman had to have been attacked and he faced grave danger . even though some of the facts are sketchy, we know pretty convincingly that zimmerman was the pursuer in this case. he was told by the police to stop pursuing. he continued to pursue. the applausibility of zimmerman facing grave bodily harm is very, very implausible even under the statute. the likelihood is that you will see an arrest in coming weeks. secondly you will see a very strong possibility with the federal government getting more involved. under 241 of title 18 , if there is racial animus, you give cause --
>> 241 of title 18 for those of us who don't know --
>> it's the federal civil rights criminal statute. it allows for the federal government to get involved. particularly if state governments fail to prosecute a case. there was evidence at least in the case that there was some considerable racial animus. and i think as far as robert lee resigning or temporarily resigning, yong i don't understand the temporary part. you know they've had problems in the past but under the sister statute to 241, 242 allows for the federal government to investigate whether the local police department had some racial animus. the fact of the matter that the police department not only failed to arrest zimmerman when all of the evidence shows right now that he should, at a minimum be released, he can make the stand your ground offense in a court of law . the evidence shows that he should be arrested, rather, for murder. the fact that the police also administered a blood test only to trayvon martin and not to zimmerman really betrays, i think, a very, very questionable bias on the part of the police department . so i think it is not only -- i think the possibility of an investigation as well.
>> i'll going to stop you there. i want to come back to dr. dyson for a minute. the idea that zimmerman , and joy- ann , i want to get to you, is still out there. i don't hear a lot of people talking about that. we doengt what his mental state is. we know he has a gun. he may be seeing this attention coming his way.
>> for his own safety. for your safety, mr. zimmerman , people may want to execute vigilante justice against you. we want to protect you and put you in jail and under cover of the law. nothing is reasonable here to suggest that mr. zimmerman should continue to go free. we don't know exactly where he is. he is out there with a gun. we don't know how much he is inclined to be self-destructive or to ultimately assault somebody else. it seems common sense to lock him up.
>> hold on, hold on.
>> quickly, we're running out of time i want to end with you. is anybody asking that question at these press konkconferences? we've talked about the police chief , we've talked about trayvon but i have not heard about the actual question, where is this man?
>> believe me, that's the question on the minds of everyone out here. everyone on the street is saying where is george zimmerman ? that is question on the minds of people. what the police are saying, and they're not really, they can't hold him because they didn't charge him with a crime so he is a free man. he isn't charged with anything. the fact of where he is, he is free to go wherever he is and he has a legal gun permit. everyone here is asking that question. somewhere george zimmerman ?
>> thank you very much for