WASHINGTON WATCH ROUNDTABLE: Pres. Obama Addresses Gun Violence In Chicago; What More Can Be Done To Stop The Violence?

After a lot of criticism, including from me on this show, President Barack Obama went to Chicago recently to address the issue of violence in his hometown, of course. And, unfortunately, there’ve been a couple of deaths of young folks who actually were family members who were attending that actual speech as well. So, it goes to show you how devastating what’s happening with gun violence there in Chicago and across the country is.

This week’s roundtable features Wilmer Leon, host of “The Issues with Wilmer Leon” on Sirius XM Radio; : Jamila Bey, host of “The Sex, Politics and Religion Hour;” Armstrong Williams, the host of “The Right Side” and Joe Madison, “The Black Eagle,” on Sirius XM Radio.

PRES. OBAMA:  Last year, there were 443 murders with a firearm on the streets of this city, and 65 of those victims were 18 and under.  So, that’s the equivalent of a Newtown every four months.


MR. MARTIN:  Folks, welcome back to “Washington Watch.”

After a lot of criticism, including from me on this show, President Barack Obama went to Chicago recently to address the issue of violence in his hometown, of course.  And, unfortunately, there’ve been a couple of deaths of young folks who actually were family members who were attending that actual speech as well.  So, it goes to show you how devastating what’s happening with gun violence there in Chicago and across the country [is].

And we’re back with our panel here.

And, folks, I was at the NBA All-Star game, and I caught up with Pastor Jolinda Wade, who is the mother of Dwyane Wade.  And, of course, the President – he went to Hyde Park Academy, which is nearby where he lives.  But she said maybe the President should’ve [gone] to other areas in Chicago besides Hyde Park.

Here’s what Jolinda had to say.



PASTOR JOLINDA WADE:  I think that would’ve been perfect, ’cause guess what?  He done came right down to the heart and the heat of the problem, and I believe it would’ve made an impact.  I really do.  I believe it would’ve made more of an impact.  [I’m] not saying that this is not going to be impactful, but we[’re] talking about more of an impact, ’cause he dared to come down where it’s really happening at.


MR. MARTIN:  What she was talking about is if the presidential motorcade had gone to the West Side of Chicago and gone deep into the South Side, gone into the heart of where a lot of this violence is taking place – what that message would have sent.

Your thoughts about that.

MR. WILLIAMS:  [The] Secret Service is not going to allow that.  Everything is mapped out, and it’s just not going to allow [it].  … while it makes sense in public opinion, from their perspective, it’s not going to happen.

But I tell you what.  In the President’s speech, he got it right.  He said to his audience, “You need to take more personal responsibility for your actions.”

MS. BEY:  I can’t believe I’m agreeing so strongly with you, Armstrong, right here.  Absolutely.  The problem is, look, the presidential motorcade can roll through the South Side.  It can roll through wherever –

MR. MARTIN:  I think he[’s] got enough –

MS. BEY:  — but –

MR. MARTIN:  — security.  He’ll be safe.

MS. BEY:  — yeah, he’ll –

MR. MARTIN:  Let’s be honest.

MS. BEY:  — be okay.  But the problem is those families that live there.


MS. BEY:  The problem is those policing policies that impact that area and areas such as it.

We need to have a conversation – yes – about, you know, who can have what weapon and Second Amendment rights and all that; but there is an issue of policing.  There is an issue of actual resources on the ground that are going to help protect everybody – not just children in Newtown, but children that look as you do and as I do all over this country.

MR. MARTIN:  But there’s a –

MS. BEY:  Those aren’t the conversations –

DR. LEON:  But this is –

MS. BEY:  — we’re having.

DR. LEON:  — this is also a matter of still playing politics, because the President says in his speech basically, “Well, we know that everybody has a Second [Amendment right] to carry a firearm.”  That’s not true.  If you understand the English language; if you understand grammar – semicolons and dependent clauses –

MS. BEY:  [Chuckles.]

DR. LEON:  — you know that the Second Amendment does not grant a right for everyone to own a firearm.

MR. WILLIAMS:  Really?

DR. LEON:  And – really.


DR. LEON:  And –

MR. WILLIAMS:  Revisionist –

DR. LEON:  — yeah, read – read –

MR. WILLIAMS:  — history today!

DR. LEON:  — the – read the – no.

MS. BEY: “A well-regulated militia” –

MR. WILLIAMS:  Oh, my goodness!


DR. LEON:  — first of all, read the Second Amendment.

MR. WILLIAMS:  I have – like you have.

DR. LEON:  Read the Second Amendment –

MR. WILLIAMS:  I [crosstalk] –

DR. LEON:  — and

MR. WILLIAMS:  — I have.

DR. LEON:  — and not only with that, there’s 40 years of judicial precedent that says that the Second Amendment doesn’t say that.  So, the President, as a constitutional scholar, needs to come out and first of all say that the NRA is wrong – you do not have a Second Amendment right to carry a firearm – and move the conversation from there.

MR. MARTIN:  Now, here’s the mistake that I think … we’re making right now, which is what happened in this conversation.  We have taken – see, you did not hear me say “gun control.”  You heard me say “gun violence.”  And the reason I said that is … if you make this a gun control conversation, it is simply a matter of Second Amendment, NRA, “keep a gun,” “take a gun.”

Gun violence is broader.  What’s happening in Chicago and New Orleans, and happening in Florida, other parts of the country is that this goes beyond gun control.  It’s gun violence.  And so when the President talked about taking responsibility, that was one aspect, but also it goes to … what kind of real policies do you want to see.  You can’t say, on one hand, “I don’t want the cops in my neighborhood,” but then you say, “Get control of this problem.”  You might have to have a surge – like we saw in Iraq and Afghanistan – take place in some areas to confront what’s actually happening with gun violence.

MR. WILLIAMS:  A surge of what?

MR. MARTIN:  A surge of police, a surge –


MR. MARTIN:  — of wha- — no, look, I ain’t got no problem –

MR. WILLIAMS:  I agree with you!

MR. MARTIN:  — with cops.

MR. WILLIAMS:  I agree!

MR. MARTIN:  No, but also –

MR. WILLIAMS:  Yeah, yeah.

MR. MARTIN:  — but also a –


MR. MARTIN:  — surge of individuals who’re reminiscent of the Deacons of Defense from the Civil Rights Movement –


MR. MARTIN:  — who said, “We’re going to protect our neighborhood from the Klan.”  You need to have folks who are “deacons” today who don’t just show up on Sunday, but also say, “We’re going to stand on street corners with our bibles and also be able to affect young people as well.”

MR. MADISON:  We used to –


MR. MADISON:  — we used to refer to them, as a community organizer, as “orange hat patrols.”  I mean I was laughing this week about this guy in Houston, Texas.  He’s a grad student … he’s handing out shotguns with the argument that more guns create less crime.

Well, I would’ve rather spent that money on organizing orange hat patrols, because when you take over a street corner –

MR. MARTIN:  That’s right.

MR. MADISON:  — you eliminate the crime.

But the one thing that was funny, listening to this conversation – I don’t want the President to drive through the community with his motorcade.  You’re right.  You know, “Hey, there goes the President.”

I’d rather the chamber of commerce drive through with some jobs.  Maybe when you go through a community with some jobs, you have less crime because people are too busy working.  You know, the problem we have with these communities is that there’s tremendous unemployment.  Jobs used to be in these –

MR. MARTIN:  Right.

MR. MADISON:  — communities.  Jobs are now gone.

Mr. Conservative, you now have corporations that are taking their jobs offshore and going to Caribbean islands, paying people pennies on the dollar, and these jobs used to be in the West Side and the South Side –

MR. WILLIAMS:  You know –

MR. MADISON:  — of Chicago.

MR. MARTIN:  I want to –

MR. WILLIAMS:  — you know what?

MR. MARTIN:  — real quick, because we’ve run out of time.  I want to get to this.  You talk about jobs.  Somebody who no longer has his particular job and is now about to be in prison and be a felon.  Former Congressman Jesse Jackson, Jr., pled guilty this week to misappropriating $750,000 –

MR. WILLIAMS:  [Chuckles.]  Unbelievable!

MR. MARTIN:  — in campaign funds.  You have the jury right now in Detroit who is making a determination whether or not former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick is innocent or guilty of widespread corruption.

To me, what speaks out is that these are two individuals who were part of this new generation, and I’ve heard from a lot of young people who said, “Man!  These are folks I was looking to – the next-generation leaders,” and all of a sudden – in Junior’s case, going to prison.

OFF CAMERA:  He’s going to prison.

MR. MARTIN:  He’s going to prison.


MR. MARTIN:  We’ll see what’ll happen with Kilpatrick.  Many say he’s going back to prison.

What do you make of these two, prominent politicians; but, specifically, former Congress Jesse Jackson, Jr.?

MR. WILLIAMS:  You know, I actually believe that it’s just a lot of pressure that we don’t realize when you come from a family – a political dynasty like that.  But I also – and I don’t make excuses for him.  I actually believe that there’re some mental issues, because you just don’t casually, over six years, not file your – include it on your taxes and steal $750,000 as if there’s no – it’s almost [as] if … it’s an entitlement.  So, obviously, something deeper was going on that he was not held accountable.  And somebody in his campaign had to know, but they created an environment where it was okay, and now he’s paying the price for it.

DR. LEON:  Jesse Jackson, Jr., got caught up in the mistake that, unfortunately, a lot of us make.  We believe that we can do what others do –

MS. BEY:  Um-hum.

DR. LEON:  — and the spotlight – [chuckles] – is –

MR. WILLIAMS:  Who are the “others”?

DR. LEON:  — many white politicians who have found themselves in similar circumstances.

MR. WILLIAMS:  And black politicians.

DR. LEON:  Well, Jesse Jackson, Jr., is a black politician.

MR. MARTIN:  Well, you[’ve] got some white folks who also went to jail.  The congressman –

DR. LEON:  No, no, no.

MR. MARTIN:  — out in California –

MR. WILLIAMS:  Thank you!

DR. LEON:  I understand that.  I – I –

MR. MARTIN:  — I mean he’s – he’s –

MR. WILLIAMS:  He’s in jail – yes.

DR. LEON:  — understand that, but – but one of the lessons – to those who are looking up to Jesse Jackson, Jr., and Kwame Kilpatrick – is that when you get in those positions, you have to be cleaner than clean.  You have to always be sure your I’s are dotted and T’s are crossed.


MR. MADISON:  I speak as one who – [chuckles] – may be a little older with some kids that are grown.  And the one thing I’ve always taught them:  learn to live within your means.


OFF CAMERA:  Um-hum.


MR. MADISON:  Work for what you want.


MR. MADISON:  It’ll come to you.


MR. MADISON:  Success will come.  Be honest.  Be careful, and recognize people are always watching you.



MR. WILLIAMS:  That’s great advice!

MS. BEY:  It’s great advice –

MR. WILLIAMS:  Yes, great advice.

MS. BEY:  — but that’s just –

MR. WILLIAMS:  Great advice.

MS. BEY:  — that’s just not – unfortunately, not what we see.  We see that there are banks that are “too big to fail”; that there are people on Wall Street who get away with doing whatever they want, including laundering drug money.  And a lot of people look to that and go, “Well, they can get away with it.  I just need to be smarter.”

And what you’re doing is you’re creating a breed of people who are better criminals, who are more cunning and crafty; and they’re looking –


MS. BEY:  — not necessarily to Jesse Jackson, Jr., or Kwame Kilpatrick.

MR. WILLIAMS:  — so, you’re –

MR. MARTIN:  I will –

MS. BEY:  They’re looking to Wall Street.

MR. MARTIN:  — I – I –

MS. BEY:  They want to be gangsters, big-time, and own banks.

MR. MARTIN:  — I’ll close this out.  Look, I know the former congressman very well, and we’ve had many conversations over the years –

MR. MADISON:  I’ve known him since he was 15.

MR. MARTIN:  — and this is also one of the most important issues in that, look, there are limits to public office.  There are restraints, if you’re remember of Congress, to –


MR. MARTIN:  — outside income.


MR. MARTIN:  And if there is a need or desire for additional money, you know what?  You leave public office.  You go to the private sector, where you can be able to make hundreds of thousands of dollars and millions of dollars.  But there’s a reality that when you choose public service, there’s a limit to what you can actually do.

It is unfortunate.  His wife also [is] facing prison time.  They have children –

MR. MADISON:  That’s right.

MR. MARTIN:  — in this case as well, and I think it is certainly a sad case; but it also says that when you do wrong – no matter if you are a public official who’s white –

MR. WILLIAMS:  Thank you.

MR. MARTIN:  — who’s Republican –

MR. WILLIAMS:  Thank you.

MR. MARTIN:  — or who’s black, and your last name is Jackson, yeah, you are going to have to pay the piper.  And he’s going to have to face prison time.

MR. MADISON:  It’s always easier to do the right thing.

MR. MARTIN:  Always.

MR. WILLIAMS:  [Crosstalk.]

MR. MARTIN:  Wilmer, Jamila, Armstrong, Joe, we appreciate it.  Thanks a lot.

MS. BEY:  Thank you.