MSNBC "The Beat with Ari Melber" - Transcript Interview with Barbara Lee



This is about, when police act in a criminal and apparently intentional

matter, they have to be dealt with like any other criminal.

MELBER: Congresswoman?

REP. BARBARA LEE (D-CA): Yes, first, let me just say, we grieve the loss

and the needless killing, murder of Mr. Brooks.

And just seeing this video again, my heart is so heavy, and I just want to

send my condolences, first of all, to his family, his friends and the

entire Atlanta community.

Secondly, when you see what is taking place as it relates to just this

video and what happened with Mr. Brooks, this is a process that has been

going on for 401 years, as it relates to the dehumanizing of African-


So, the police officers in this instance thought it was OK to do what they

did. I mean, here, there was no crime committed. And this -- Mr. Brooks is

dead as a result. And so we have to do something.

And I want to just say, the protesters in the street and what is taking

place now is forcing this country to address not only police brutality and

misconduct, but systemic racism. And we have got to understand that enough

is enough.

And we -- this has to stop, and we have got to get to the underlying

reasons of why this is happening. And we have got to break that chain in

terms of systemic racism in every aspect of American life.

MELBER: And, Reverend Sharpton, the DA laid out the case. That`s one side

of the case. As we all know, there are two sides, and this will be


One of the assertions that he made regarding whether the arrest itself was

conducted properly was about how Mr. Brooks was treated. He outlined, as I

mentioned, his view that it was largely Mr. Brooks being cooperative until

the end, and that, during the arrest, they were didn`t really inform him

that he was under arrest.

That may be debated in court. Let`s play -- we pulled that actual exchange

from the camera footage we do have. Let`s take a look.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He had about one-and-a-half drinks. You don`t remember

what kind of drinks they were?



BROOKS: I really don`t, Mr. Rolfe.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All right, I think you have had too much to drink to be

driving. Put your hands behind your back for me. Put your hands behind your



MELBER: What did you think was important in the DA`s presentation about

both -- obviously, there`s the killing itself, but he also went into some

great detail about whether this transpired in a lawful manner as an arrest

and in a manner that didn`t really control the situation, but rather seemed

eventually to escalate.

SHARPTON: I think that it was very important that he did that, because, as

we just watched the video, at no point did that officer say that you are

under arrest for these reasons.

He said, I think you had too much to drink, and he then started handcuffing

him. Well, the reaction from anyone would be, well, why are you handcuffing

me? I have not even been arrested. You have not pronounced an arrestment.

You have not said what I`m being arrested for. What is the charge? What is

the suspicion?

You think I have had too much to drink them for? Therefore, boom, I`m going

to put handcuffs on you. This is absolutely not only against the law. It is

dehumanizing, like we can be just handled any kind of way.

And you don`t even have to worry about the law books or procedures, because

we don`t matter. That`s what this whole movement is about. We do matter.

MELBER: Congresswoman?

LEE: Yes.

And let me just say that that`s what our Justice in Policing Act is

addressing. We have to have accountability, transparency. We have got to

make sure that there`s no immunity for police officers as a result of the

police murders.

And so I think, legislatively, what you see taking place with the House and

with the Congressional Black Caucus, our Chairwoman Bass and our Democrats,

we`re moving forward to try to make some real systemic changes, not just


We need to make sure that police officers are held accountable. No one is

above the law. And as this video shows, that can`t -- we cannot have

immunity as part of the case that would allow these officers to get off the


MELBER: And, Congresswoman, while you`re here, given that we`re both

covering what`s out of Atlanta and the national implications, there has

been, of course, much attention what Congress can do.

Do you see these protests as advancing a potential bill that still, of

course, has to make it through the Senate? What do you see as the update

there in your work?

LEE: Absolutely.

I mean, this bill is a great first start. And I think what you can see,

though, and what you`re hearing on the streets of America is that we have

to really restructure, divest, and we have to put resources on the front

end, so that policing in our community is -- becomes similar to policing in

affluent white communities, where shoot first is not the option for public


We have to make sure that our community has the proper equal education,

housing, mental health services, health services, the quality of life issue

that every American deserves.

And we have to put more resources into those efforts and really stop

funding the transfer of military weapons, for example, to local police. We

have to stop funding these efforts that militarize our police forces.

MELBER: Congresswoman Barbara Lee and Reverend Al Sharpton, I want to thank

you both on clearly a big news night.