MSNBC "The Ed Show" - Transcript: Ferguson, Missouri



SCHULTZ: Many other lawmakers are coming forward to express concern. Missouri Senator Claire McCaskill said that police response in Ferguson have become the problem instead of the solution. Congressman Hank Johnson of Georgia said that he will introduce legislation to curve the trend of arming police with military weapons.

A report by the American Civil Liberties Union found the amount of goods transferred through the military surplus program rose in value from $1 million in 1990 to nearly $450 million in 2013. With officers using equipment designed for the battlefield on city streets, the citizens of Ferguson feel like they`re being treated like the enemies.

Senator Bernie Sanders is calling for a stop to it. He recently posted on Facebook, "The shooting of an unarmed person is unacceptable. I support calls for a thorough federal investigation. In the meantime, people have a right to peacefully protest. Police must be seen as part of the community and not an occupying force." And Senator Sanders joins me tonight here on the Ed Show. Senator, I appreciate your time.

Police are treating residents of Ferguson like they`re the enemy. That`s the comments that`s coming back to us here. How can this dynamic be changed when there is such a show of brute force and of course the State National Guard has been called out another show of force? What about all this, Senator?

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS, (D) VERMONT: Well, Ed, if there`s any silver lining in the tragedy of Ferguson is that I hope we learn some very important lessons. When I was a mayor of Burlington, Vermont and all over this country, what mayors are trying to do is develop community-based policing, where police officers are seen as part of the neighborhood, they know people in the neighborhood, they are trusted by people in the neighborhood.

When you see the kind of force that`s been used in Ferguson, it really does make an appeal that the police department there is an occupying army in a hostile territory and that is absolutely not what we want to see in the United States. So, I think we`ve got to rethink a lot of this heavy equipment that police departments around the country are utilizing.

Second point, Ed .


SANDERS: . I -- I`m sorry, go ahead.

SCHULTZ: Well, no, your second point is, sir?

SANDERS: The second point is I hope that what Ferguson teaches us is that not only the violence being perpetrated against young black men but also the economic crises facing black youth in this country.

Ed, youth unemployment in America is tragically high, it is 20 percent. African-American youth unemployment is 35 percent. In St Louis area, it is significantly higher than that. And if we are going to address the issue of crime in low-income areas and in African-American areas, it might be a good idea that instead of putting heavy equipment into police departments on those areas, we start creating jobs for the kids there who desperately need them.

SCHULTZ: Senator, what about the equipment. The president said that this maybe addressed by Congress on a bipartisan level. But the Department of Homeland Security recently came out with a report saying that the biggest threat to our security is here within our own borders. There`s a lot of anti-government groups that have propped up in this country, hate groups that have propped up in this country and law enforcement in many respects feels pretty much outgunned and they want to be prepared. Is it the equipment or is it the use of the equipment that`s the issue in your opinion?

SANDERS: I think it`s the latter end. Look, clearly, you know, police departments all over this country had very difficult times dealing with drug pushers and people who are very well off. And we want to make sure that our police department has the effective tools and equipment to combat those threats.

But on the other hand, I do not think you need tanks and heavy military looking equipment in low income communities in America. I think that it essentially makes a difficult situation, a dangerous situation much more provocative and much more difficult. Again, police departments should not be perceived as occupying ominous (ph). So, I think this is an issue along with the economic issue of having to create jobs for our young people that Congress should be addressing when we return.

SCHULTZ: Does the curfew block the citizen`s right to peaceful protest? What do you think?

SANDERS: Well, of course it does, on some circumstances it may be a valid response. I don`t know enough to tell you about the circumstance in Ferguson.

SCHULTZ: You would be in favor of reducing the amount of equipment and the use of this military equipment that we have seen?

SANDERS: I think I would be absolutely in favor of taking a hard, hard look at that program. I don`t know that you could make 100 percent generalization but I do not want to see communities and small towns and small cities all over America have heavy equipment which makes people in
those communities just feel like they are an enemy. That I think is not appropriate.

SCHULTZ: Senator Bernie Sanders, good to have you with us tonight, sir. Thank you so much for joining us on the Ed Show.