Melissa Harris-Perry | March 16, 2013
>>> the shooting death of a 6-month-old comes on the heels of what had been encouraging signs that the epidemic of gun violence in chicago was on the decline. feb's homicide rate was half of what it was a year ago and the lowest monthly level since 1957 . some have attributed this to renewed focus on public safety and yet concerns remain about the collateral damage done by ramping up policing in any of our nation's cities. just last weekend two undercover new york police officers shot and killed a 16-year-old boy in brooklyn. according to the nypd the officers were forced to shoot because the teen pointed a gun in their direction. but some witnesses say the young man was simply adjusting his belt when the officers opened fire. in response members of the community have gathered in memory and protest of the slain teen each night this week. the conduct in handling demonstrators has also been called into question. many claim excessive force is being used which speaks to larger concerns about the policing in our urban communities. representing the flat bush section of brooklyn addressed this very issue in a statement about the demonstrator this is week saying, quote, this action that some are calling an up rising spoke to the overwhelming frustration that people are living through day after day . this frustration and its life and death consequences is all too common in our cities and towns across the country. vince warren is joining us now. and right next to him is eric adams , a former new york state police officer and state senator. and with us, nancy giles and michael scolding, the director of hip hop director russell simmons . thank you all for being here.
>> thank you.
>> this is a situation that presents the fundamental tension in what we want in urban communities. you guys sitting next to each other is ideal. because on one hand we're so outraged when we see a kat like janila watkins. whether or not it's gang related is tragic. we're outraged when we see an innocent bystander shot to death because a gang member was looking for someone. it was mistaken identity. at the same time the urban communities are saying to the police , get in there and do something about it. but when police go in, the way they respond, the more force that is used, we're not happy with that either. you're saying stop and frisk is not the way to find the balance.
>> the most important thing is what any community wants is they want the police to police in a way that gets guns off the street. that targets the criminals. the problem is the increased police presence that we're seeing in new york as well is they're policing entire communities where everybody in the black or brown community becomes suspect. last how you see these situations. this is the classic narrative. we don't all know what happened. but this goes back to the harlem uprising in 1964 where a young black teenager was shot. a young man was shot for having a wallet. the police narrative is we shot him because had had a gun. the community narrative is he did not have a gun and the police shot him in cold blood . and the outrage and the tension that's happening in the communities now, this is not new. this didn't happen last weekend. this has been flooes a 50-year cycle that we've been in. the point is that police officers need to police guns. they need to police in a way that protects the community and not to police the communities themselves.
>> senator eric, talk about that a little bit. the police officers wrn will say you want us to get rid of the gang problem. you don't want us stopping people who may look too much like a gang member . is it damned if you do and damned if you don't?
>> i'm a visual person. violent crime in our communities are the berries. civil rights are the grapes. you can hate the berries and still want grapes. and so a young mother called me, she's a nurse. she said that's terrible what they did to this young man who may not have had a gun. why are innocent brooklynites or new yorkers or americans no longer trusting police ? not because of a particular incident. it's what happened leading up to the incident. when you're disrespected throughout the entire time in a particular community , then you're going to start no not only dislike the berries, you're going to dislike the people there to protect you against the berries.
>> i want to read a few statistics. i think it's pretty shocking when you look at the results of ston and frisk and how it impacts people in the communities. looking at the nypd stop and frisk policy. we have a stat about the people being stopped. 88% of those stopped were innocent of any crime, according to statistics. 87% were african-american or latino. we don't have evidence that these people are committing any crimes.
>> but instead, 780 guns were taken off the street in 2009 because of stop and frisk . that's 0.19%. we would have a better job if we had random checks. this is a 40-year problem or 50-year problem. this goes back to the war on drugs. we started a war against our own people. it simply did not work. we decembimated black and brown communities. the police job is to protect and serve.
>> i know. i remember when i was growing up in queens. a young man named clifford governor was killed in the '70s. we're both from queens. i didn't know that. represent. but it's very layered. there are all kinds of questions that i always had. you're a former cop. why does it seem the police are trained to shoot to kill and not just disarm, maim, shoot someone in the leg?
>> that's not possible. i'm going to explain it to you.
>> no innocent child should be approached by a person with a gun. doesn't matter if they're wearing blue jeans or a blue june form. it's an oxymoron to some to say black child and innocent in the same sentence.
>> and i think about the patrick morris case. you had undercover police in a lot of ways people felt were terrorizing the black community . he said he didn't have any. we don't know what happened but he was shot and killed. so we're worried about, yes, we do want people not shooting randomly. but police don't seem to have developed an approach to young black men in the communities that they don't feel threatened by the cops.
>> you're hitting the nail on the head. he was shot for nothing more than being black , standing in front of his building and having a wallet, which the police thought was a gun. this was an undercover group that was randomly stopping and frisking folks. we settled that case. the unit was disbanded and the police promised they would never do that again. and here we are from 2002 to 2011 , 600% increase in stop and frisks. the numbers we're talking about, 685,000 people were stopped in 2011 . 500,000 stopped in 20 # 12. 87% black . here's the thing. it's not about the number of stop and frisks. they're not stopping the people.
>> the police are not shooting white people . tham one white person who they killed.
>> and we were just talking before the show you don't have the police going after emo looking white men trying to stop massacres, even though the profile would suggest that. we're going to have much more on this. the question is the new york city police department in violation of 5 million people's civil rights ?