The Ed Show | March 22, 2012
>> good evening, americans , we are live in new york . you are looking live at the rally for justice for trayvon martin . and the state attorney has just announced a task force to respond to the trayvon case. this story is far from over and many americans are still hungry for justice.
>> i have come to the decision that i must temporarily remove myself from the position as police chief .
>> sanford 's police chief is out and the rally for trayvon martin is under way.
>> i only want one thing. it's real simple . i want an arrest.
>> tonight , turner clayton junior of the naacp , the huffington post , lee, and dr. james peterson on america 's perfect storm of injustice. the etch-a-sketch candidate is changing the facts again.
>> i keep hearing the president say he's responsible for america not going into a deep depression. no. that was president bush .
>> the latest romney delusion.
>> karl rove and newt gingrich come down with a case of obama derangement syndrome.
>> he's a christian whose policies are to apologize to muslim extremists while they're killing.
>> the american hero versus the american zero.
>> there's already messiness in place. this [ bleep ] me off.
>> tonight , tammy duckworth is my exclusive guest.
>> thanks for watching. it's been 25 days since the killing of teenager trayvon martin and no developments on the shooter. governor rick scott has changed the state attorney on the case. he has also announced a task force to convene after the investigation is complete. sanford police chief , bill lee , has temporarily stepped down.
>> i stand by the sanford police department , its personnel and investigation conducted in the trayvon martin case . it's apparent my involvement in this matter is overshadowing the process. therefore, i have come to the decision i must temporarily remove myself from the position as police chief for the city of sanford . it is my hope the investigation process will move forward swiftly and appropriate ly through the justice system and a final determination in this case is reached.
>> a temporary move. what does that mean? the killing of trayvon martin has led to calls for the police chief to resign. trayvon's parents says the police chief 's action is not enough.
>> i think since the chief has stepped down, it's a temporary relief but we need a permanent relief. i still say we need an arrest.
>> we want an arrest and conviction and want him sentenced for the murder of our son.
>> just moments ago, thousands converged in sanford , florida , the rally, led by my founder here, reverend al sharpton . earlier today, trayvon's parents met with u.s. justice department officials. it included robert o'neil and the official from the civil rights division . the effects of florida 's stand your ground law are coming to light like never before and under scrutiny. reports of homicide have tripled in florida after the law went into effect in 2005 . the law has been invoked in 93 cases with 65 deaths. the law has been used as an excuse to shoot in deadly arguments between neighbors, in bar fights, in road rage incidents and gang shootings. u.s. congressman hastings has called for the repeal of florida 's stand your ground law. self-defense is being twisted into a license to kill . it's worse when race iches is added to the mix. opponents of florida 's stand your ground law predicted it would lead to racially motivated killings. today, congressman john lewis said this.
>> it reminded me of that awful day, august 28th , 1955 , when emmitt teal was lynched in mississippi. there should be a sense of righteous indignation in america , the same way we had during the days of lynching and when people had been beaten in the streets during the height of the civil rights movement .
>> the lynching of emmitt till was in a different era before the civil rights act . the killing of trayvon martin is another turning point in the nation's long history of coming to terms with race relations and simple justice. his death has caused a national outrage at an exponential level. social media has galvanized, shocked and sadness in a way we haven't seen before. americans are in sensed by this killing. we are also taking a good hard look at those so-called laws that are in the way, like the stand your ground laws. the law passed in florida in 2005 , under pressure from the national rifle association , and was later adopted by 19 other states. it took a citizen's right to self-defense and twisted it into a license to kill in many respects. the effects of this law have been building since 2005 and it took the death of a 17-year-old, trayvon martin , to shine a light on it. what we are witnessing here, i think we are witnessing the perfect storm of injustice in america . what we have here is a very poorly written law . we are living in a time when law enforcement is getting slashed to fit state budgets. it's not happening in a vacuum. this is what these budget cuts are all about. we have vigilantes out on the streets when we should have more cops on the street. cops are on the beat and under attack across this station and departments are understaffed. overtime, we will have a new atmosphere being created in this country. you know what it's going to be? every man for himself. is that what we want in america ? we are truly becoming because of all these budget cutbacks across america , acting as if none of this will affect anything? you know what we're becoming? we're becoming leaner and becoming meaner. it's happening so fast we can't even get justice in our system. whether you are for or against your laws out there that say stand your ground , you will never see it in the same way again. the killing of trayvon martin draws a line of demarcation. those in favor of these laws are forced to defend it. we may be witnessing a sea change . but, again, only time will tell. get your cell phones out. i want to know what you think. tonight 's question. should the stand your ground laws in america be repealed? text a for yes, b for no. you can always go to our blog at ed.msnbc.com and leave a comment. i'll bring you the results of the poll later in the show. i am joined tonight by turner clayton junior, president of the seminole naacp . good to have you with us tonight . i appreciate your time. i want your reaction tonight , first to the news of the day to the sanford police chief , bill lee , temporarily removing himself. what does proposer metemporary mean to y ou?
>> well, this means he is stepping aside just for the time it takes to conduct this investigation. we here in the city of sanford do not agree with that. we think this man should be terminated or he should tender his resignation.
>> and what's the reaction of the people there when they heard this news today? did they think this was some kind of window dressing to the situation or did they think this was a real move forward?
>> they just take it as a temporary move forward. it's no real fix. because the city commission had a 3-2 vote on last night, that they had no faith in the chief, it was up to the city manager to make a decision. the city manager didn't want to make a decision on that. so at 12:00 noon today, myself, along with a few other people, had a meeting with the city manager and we told him we wanted this man off the job as of today, no if and buts about it. so they decided they would talk with him and force him into tendering a simple resignation of temporary.
>> it wasn't until your meeting today at noon that this decision was made for the police chief to step aside for a while?
>> that is correct. they had said that they was not going to make any decision about the chief until all the reports have been completed and in. like i said, we talked with him today. we told him if he did not make a decision today, that we would go to the city commission and we would ask for his resignation. and of course they also have the power to remove the city manager as well. so he realized that this was coming so he decided he would go to the chief and force him to temporarily step aside until the investigation is complete.
>> mr. clayton , what you're telling us tonight is that all of this pressure is having an effect. what do you expect this rally tonight to have an effect on the community and on what is being handled in law enforcement and the operation of the city?
>> well, it's had -- this rally is definitely having an effect. because of the number of people that showed up here " tonight show "ed their support for the martin family and the fact that we are looking for justice. we want to make sure justice prevails in this case. by having the chief of police step aside , that is only a small portion of the justice. now, the governor of the state of florida has appointed a special prosecutor because we don't really have faith in the state attorney in this circuit to actually do the right thing. he wanted to pass the buck to a grand jury and have the grand jury make the decision for him. i applaud the governor for stepping in and appointing a special prosecutor in this case.
>> you applaud the governor but is he also slow to the punch here on this?
>> could you repeat that? i have a lot of background noise behind me.
>> i know you do. i appreciate you being with us. i just want to know if you think the governor is doing a reactionary move here, to all of this pressure, because it seems like the governor has been slow to move on this?
>> yes, she was very slow to move on it. the pressure of these rallies has definitely got to the governor. he saw we will not stop until justice is served . as i told the city commission last night, the line has been drawn in the stand and we will stand our ground. we know law enforcement is improperly using this particular law because it does not apply in this case. is there too much probably cause and the city police department failed to collect major evidence that was needed in this case.
>> turner clayton junior, how many people are there tonight ? can you tell us?
>> we estimate there has to be at least 30,000 people here toda today.
>> the head of the chapter of the naacp from florida , we're joined tonight by turner clayton junior. i appreciate your time, thank you, sir.
>> now, let's turn to dr. james peterson , director of african na studies and associate professor of english at lehigh yuchuniversity and tremaine lee, from the huffington post at the rally in sanford as well. thank you for your time. professor, let me ask you first, what are your impressions of what you're seeing on television tonight , 30,000 people, and also what's your take on the fact this police officer , this police chief was not going to step down until he was pressured at a noon meeting today.
>> first, i'm inspired by the show of support for the community there in sanford and also the rally they had, the hoody rally they had in new york city , the one planning in philadelphia friday for 7:00 p.m . i'm inspired people throughout this nation and around the world are rallying around this cause because is the probably the most e egregious example of justice i have seen in my lifetime and happy we're rising to the call to address this issue. in terms of the police chief , that temporary needs to go. he needs to step down permanently and not temporarily. he's conceding the fact his presence in this investigation is impeding the investigation. with that knowledge, if he was a really good criminal justice law enforcement officer , he would step down permanently so he could be removed from this situation and we could take one more step towards justice for trayvon martin .
>> what's the mood of the crowd tonight ? is there a real sense of something has to happen?
>> you can actually feel it under your feet. i talked to one young man earlier. he said it reminded him of the million man march, the feeling of excitement and exuberance. the wave of energy coming across the crowd is amazinamazing.
>> will the sanford police department sit back and wait for the grand jury to make a determination instead of doing its job and arresting george zimmerman?
>> even before we get to that point, community leaders are hoping the department of justice will get into the roots of the sanford police department and start looking at past cases of abuse. in town hall meetings the past few days, folks have talked about being humiliated and abused by the police unjusticely. there is a lot of hope in the community once the department of justice gets in, they will be able to turn this place upside down.
>> you and i talked about a sea change last night. we saw the police chief move today, the governor move today. is this now starting to get some wheels and move faster?
>> that's what we're seeing actually. the will of the people seems to be bending. i'm not sure who wants to be on the wrong side of history on this one. i wouldn't be surprised if we see developments in the coming days. it's the will of the people . as the reverend al sharpton said, it's a movement now. we'll see how it goes.
>> tremaine lee and dr. peterson, thank you for being with us tonight on "the ed show." wish we had more