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President Obama's All-Too-Familiar Post-Shooting Speech; Grief in Charleston After Brutal Murders; Shooter Faces Families At Bond Hearing; How the Media Covered the Charleston Tragedy; Interview with Martin Luther King III. Aired 9-10a ET
Aired June 20, 2015 - 09:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[09:00:05] MICHAEL SMERCONISH, CNN HOST: I'm Michael Smerconish. Welcome to the program. And please stay tuned for a very special hour dedicated to a deeper understanding of this past week's racially motivated massacre in South Carolina. After that tragedy, President Obama made an all too familiar speech. He's grown accustomed to offering reaction in the face of mass killings. In fact, he's made similar speeches nine times since he became president. Each time reflecting on the mass killing of innocent Americans. Take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I've had to make statements like this too many times. Communities like this have had to endure tragedies like this too many times.
We come together filled with sorrow for the 13 Americans that we have lost. With gratitude for the lives that they led and with a determination to honor them through the work we carry on.
I have come here tonight as an American who like all Americans to pray with you today and we'll stand by you tomorrow.
And the federal government stands ready to do whatever is necessary to bring whoever is responsible for this heinous crime to justice.
All of us are heartbroken by what's happened and I offered thoughts and prayers, not only of myself and Michelle, but also of the country as a whole.
And each time I learn the news I react not as a president, but as anybody else would as a parent. In our days to come that community needs us to be at our best as Americans, and I will do everything in my power as president to help.
The lives that were taken from us were unique. The memories their loved ones carry are unique and they will carry them and endure long after the news cameras are gone.
Well, any shooting is troubling. Obviously, this reopens the pain of what happened in Fort Hood five years ago.
The country has to do soul searching because of this. This is becoming the norm. And we take it for granted in ways that as a parent are terrifying to me.
The good news is I am confident that the outpouring of unity and strength and fellowship and love across Charleston today that indicates the degree to which those old vestiges of hatred can be overcome.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SMERCONISH: Now this is by no means a representation of all recent mass killings. Just those that warranted the personal reflection of the president.
We did the research, the numbers are staggering. Take a look at this. These are the faces of all 87 people who lost their lives in those nine mass shootings. 87 brothers, sisters, sons and daughters, mothers and fathers, people from incidents in eight different states.
At first we thought we could use one graphic to show the number of people who lost their lives. We couldn't fit them all on one screen. The sheer numbers are astonishing. 87 people lost their lives, their futures, their families, everything, gone.
Today I want to explore how this kind of tragedy happened yet again and I have the right guest. Marlon Kimpson is a South Carolina state senator. He was a very close friend with one of the victims you just saw, Pastor Clementa Pinckney.
Senator, will you react to the president's many attempts at giving us perspective. I noted that yesterday the president took issue with those who think that he's resigned to being powerless over guns. Your thoughts?
SEN. MARLON KIMPSON (D), SOUTH CAROLINA: Well, I don't think he's powerless. His words are very impactful and powerful. And I think that this tragedy is resonating with the American people.
Look, what happened is unexplainable, unimaginable. There are still people in this world and including this state in a great disbelief. But the president makes some very good remarks. It is time for us to do something. We are a civilized nation. Gun control, stricter gun control laws state by state need to be enacted. For example, in South Carolina, we just passed a criminal domestic violence bill.
You would think that most of the debate would be concerning the victims who suffered abuse, but when the bill and legislation called for the removal of guns of people who have been convicted, spousal and significant other abuse, the special interest groups time and time again all jammed the conversation with arguments about the Second Amendment.
[09:05:23] You know, listen, I understand their constitutional right to bear arms. That arises under -- when states have militias because states were more concerned about federal supremacy.
This is 2015. We have to move forward and recognize that there's a direct correlation between the amount of guns on the street and the deaths the president speaks of.
SMERCONISH: Senator, the rest of us did not have the privilege of knowing your good friend, but he recently sat down with PBS for an interview. Allow me to show this video.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REV. CLEMENTA PINCKNEY, EMANUEL AME CHURCH: The gram of this prayer, Lord, let me be free. If not me, my children. If not my children, my children's children. Deferred gratification. You know, so we have an obligation, we have a legacy to uphold. That the people who died so that we can have the right to vote. The people who sacrifice so that we could one day realize the dream of a black president. Black elected officials, you know, after segregation.
We have an opportunity. I think it does our -- it does the memories of our people a disservice when we do not vote, if we do not vote, and if we buy into this whole idea that other people have perpetuated and saying, our vote doesn't count.
We don't have that -- we don't have that choice. You know, we don't have that -- you know, we don't have that privilege to say our vote doesn't count because history tells us differently.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SMERCONISH: Senator, one of the more grotesque details to be released in the last 24 hours is that the shooter in this case apparently deliberately sought out Reverend Pinckney. I guess in a way that's recognition of his towering status in the world of civil rights and religion.
KIMPSON: Well, it's sad and it's a shame. We've lost a giant of a man who was the moral compass of the Senate. Quite frankly, I was listening to those comments by my colleague and good friend, and he would want us to honor his death by ridding this nation of hate. We have a lot of symbols of hate right here in South Carolina.
And he, in those comments, are talking to his audience and the listeners about mobilizing to make sure that the people who marched and our ancestors who fought so hard for our liberties, our right to vote, and our right to obtain and participate in public accommodations, that those efforts were not in vain.
I don't know much about this criminal, this thug who committed this massacre. But I can tell you I rest assured that the full power of the nation, the full power of law enforcement and the judicial power, we will hold him to the fullest extent possible including the ultimate --
SMERCONISH: Senator --
KIMPSON: -- penalty, the death penalty.
SMERCONISH: I was floored yesterday in watching that bond proceeding at the level of forgiveness that was put forth by victim family members. You lost a very close personal friend and colleague. Do you share that sense of forgiveness? And is it at odds with being desirous of a death sentence?
KIMPSON: Well, here's the thing. The most important thing is the families felt the need. And, you know, they are all god-fearing, church-going people. So it's really up to them to express their forgiveness to this man. I think that I'm pretty clear on the death penalty. We can forgive but not forget. But most importantly we have to make sure that we come away to make sure that these people who lost their lives because of hate, because of racism, do not die in vain. And that's the matter that I'm focused on.
SMERCONISH: May I show you an image? I'll describe it for you if you are unable to see a monitor, but it's of the South Carolina capitol. If we can put that up on the screen. The Confederate flag is at full mast. The Palmetto flag for South Carolina, the United States flags are at half mast.
[09:10:03] You would think that the optics of this alone would cause even the advocates of that Confederate flags to say, my god, take it down or at least reduce it to half-mast status. Is this incident going to finally be the death now of the Confederate flag?
KIMPSON: Well, I hope so. And let me be clear, I think the Confederate flag needs to be removed from the state -- in front of the state capitol. It's not -- it's there in front because it was a compromise. I was not in the legislature at the time of the compromise. I just got there two years ago. But my understand there was a compromise and the compromise was to take it off the capitol, off the top of the capitol and move it to the front.
The fact that it can't even be lowered because the pulley system doesn't allow it to be lowered is significant in it of itself. That it does not represent the state of South Carolina, should not be flying in front of our statehouse. It's a polarizing symbol that has divided the state. I do think that there are people of goodwill on both sides of the aisle that are beginning to have those discussions. And there's a growing demand across the country through social media and people who have shown up here in Charleston.
I would encourage pose people, businesses and presidential candidates, to weigh in on this issue. It will be an issue. It's not going away so let's all mobilized together and bring the flag down. We don't have time in this state for division.
SMERCONISH: A quick final question, if I might. My understanding is that it would require super majority status in your legislature for that flag to now be reduced to half-mast status. Is that something you'll try and initiate?
KIMPSON: Yes. In fact, I've already begun a dialogue with some of the more conservative members. I'm optimistic that they are mostly people of goodwill. And we will -- just as we did in the aftermath of the Walter Scott, a historic thing occurred in South Carolina, we passed a body camera bill with super majorities in both bodies. So I think I was one of the co-sponsors of that bill along with a number of other people including Senator -- State Senator Paul Thurman, son of Strong Thurman. And we have to have that dialogue now as we -- as we consider removing the flag. Two-thirds of both Houses are required, the Senate and the House, but we have a roadmap using Senate Bill 47 which was the body camera bill.
SMERCONISH: Maybe if you really want to get rid of it, you'll leave it up as a subject of some embarrassment.
Senator, thank you so much for being here.
KIMPSON: Thank you for having me.
SMERCONISH: Next, we'll go to Charleston for new developments in the investigation into the shootings and we'll scrutinize the media coverage of this case.
Do white and black defendants get covered the same?
And later in the program, I'll talk to Martin Luther King III about what his father did when confronted with a crime as terrible as the one that we've witnessed in Charleston.
[09:17:17] SMERCONISH: Welcome back. The confessed gunman making his first court appearance Friday by video link. Officials are investigating the murders of those nine victims as a hate crime. And now new details about what happened that fateful night.
CNN's Martin Savidge has been on the ground in Charleston digging deeper into the investigation.
What are you finding, Martin?
MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Michael, a lot of the new information that we're gleaming is coming back from the day in which Dylann Roof was arrested. And remember, he was captured up in Shelby, North Carolina. And apparently when he was taken to the police station there according to our CNN affiliate WBTV he was speaking quite openly about what happened.
One of the first things he began talking about is that he said he'd been planning this for at least some time. And the reason that he chose Emanuel AME Church was because of its historic significance in the African-American community here in Charleston. It's a church that dates back to 1816.
And just reviewing some of the other notes I have. The handgun that he used, and we know this from the investigation, it is a Glock 41. It's a .45 caliber capable of firing initially 14 rounds. Each subsequent magazine would hold maybe 13 rounds. And we are told again that there may have been as many as seven reloads here. Seven different magazines. We don't know if they were all full but incredible amount of fire power.
At one point it is said that he considered backing out. Remember, he was in there for an hour meeting with these parishioners of the bible study. He thought they were so nice he almost didn't go through with it, but then apparently in his mind, something horribly clicked. He said to himself if he didn't do it, no one else would.
And then lastly, apparently, he only thought he shot a few people. When later he learned that it was nine, he seemed a little bit remorseful according to sources. And the reason he was headed where he was -- he said he was going to Nashville -- never been there before. Just some insight into a twisted mind -- Michael.
SMERCONISH: Martin Savidge, thank you.
Yesterday was the first of what will be a lengthy judicial process in this tragedy. The shooter's first court appearance brought a number of surprises that were remarkable on so many levels.
I want to dig deeper. Joining me now is criminal defense attorney and CNN legal analyst Mark O'Mara. He's joining me now.
Mark, allow me to run just one portion of the victim statements that were offered at a bond hearing. As a Pennsylvania attorney, I found this to be highly unusual. Let's watch.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
NADINE COLLIER, DAUGHTER OF ETHEL LANCE: I will never be able to hold her again. But I forgive you. And have mercy on your soul. You've hurt me. You've hurt a lot of people. May God forgive you. And I forgive you.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
[09:20:03] SMERCONISH: Mark O'Mara, intended to be part of a victim's right campaign the you would see that opportunity given so early in what will be a lengthy judicial process.
MARK O'MARA, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Well, again, victims have extraordinary rights. All states have passed what we call victim rights statutes which allow them to have involvement in every significant stage of a proceeding. And certainly a bond hearing is a significant stage. We just don't normally see this type of forgiveness, this type of emotion forgiveness on behalf of the victim's family towards the defendant. So very unique, very touching and very emotional, a bit unusual because we don't see it this early. But again victims have the rights no matter what their position would be.
SMERCONISH: Civil rights attorney Areva Martin also joining me.
Areva, allow me to show you and everyone else something that the judge said from the bench yesterday that raised a lot of eyebrows. Roll that.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There are victims on this young man's side of the family. Nobody would have ever thrown them into the whirlwind of events that they have been thrown into. We must find it in our heart at some point in time, not only do we help those that are victims, but to also help his family as well.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SMERCONISH: Areva, presumably he's right in regarding the family of the shooter being victimized, but were those intemperate? Were untimely remarks for him to offer?
AREVA MARTIN, ATTORNEY AND LEGAL AFFAIRS COMMENTATOR: I thought they were incredibly inappropriate given that the victims' families were about to be allowed to give statements about how they felt with respect to the bond issue. And I also thought they were insensitive. You know, you have nine individuals who were shot, brutally murdered. Their families are there still grieving and to talk about the family of the defendant, particularly given that there's still lots of questions about how this young man, one, became involved in this what we now know to be this hatred and this racist tirade that he went on and still issues about how he got the gun that was used in this murder.
So too many unanswered questions. The -- the defendant's family in this case may actually have some involvement, some liability. So those statements were particularly troubling. Then we learned that the same judge used the N-word from the bench makes this very unsettling.
SMERCONISH: And used the N word in what context? Tell that story, if you can.
MARTIN: Well, what we are learning is that he was at a bond hearing with respect to an African-American defendant. And he repeated that there are four types of people in the world, black people, white people, rednecks and then using the N word to describe a group of people. The same judge also was reprimanded for showing favoritism towards another judge.
So given his prior conduct to make the statements that we need to be concerned about the defendant's family just seem to be incredibly inappropriate.
SMERCONISH: Mark O'Mara, what is the value of regarding this as hate crime given that there are nine victims, presumably there are nine cases of first-degree murder?
O'MARA: Well, hate crime enhancements are there to make a certain level crime more serious because of a particular focus on a group of people like race. It doesn't matter quite honestly as much in a case where you already have first-degree premeditated murder because it does not get worse than that as far as a crime. So it won't enhance the crime making a second-degree felony, a first-degree felony, for example. But it will have some impact because it can be used in what we call a penalty phase of a death penalty proceeding if he's found guilty of first-degree murder, then whether or not he should be put to death under South Carolina law, that would be a consideration there. So it's true effect as a hate crime enhancement it's minimized the more serious the offense but will still have some impact.
SMERCONISH: So, Areva, is it symbolically --
MARTIN: You know what, Mike?
SMERCONISH: Is it symbolically important then?
MARTIN: I think it's incredibly important. And I think we minimize the importance of this entire incident if we're not willing to call this out as a hate crime. You had a white man go into a historically known black church and target nine individuals. And he made statements about wanting to prevent black people from raping white women and needing to, you know, cleanse the world as you would of African-Americans.
And we're hearing from his roommate about wanting blacks and whites to be segregated and making other racially vile statements. So to not call this a hate crime and even perhaps prosecute him under domestic terrorism I think is an injustice to these families and to the victims.
SMERCONISH: Mark O'Mara, we just --
O'MARA: This is -- OK.
SMERCONISH: Go ahead. Go ahead.
O'MARA: Let's be clear. This is incredibly -- this is incredibly a hate crime. There's no question about that. He came out and said, I did this because I hate blacks. This without question is a hate crime. The question I was answering is statutorily what significance does it make under South Carolina law, which by the way doesn't have a hate crime enhancement, it is definitely a hate crime. We should be focused as such. It just that they're going to have less impact on sentencing.
SMERCONISH: Mark O'Mara, we've just seen, the nation has just seen two very high-profile attempts at utilization of insanity defense. If you were called upon to defend this individual in this case, you'd be seriously considering an insanity defense attempt, I take it.
O'MARA: Well, you have to. It's almost the only thing that's left. I do think, however, that Mr. Roof has done a wonderful job of dismantling any potential insanity defense that may have existed because he comes across quite rationally. He planned it out long in advance it looks like, he contemplated it, he premeditated it, he accomplished it, he left the scene and then when he was caught he gave the reason why he did it.
So he may have to try an insanity defense and good defense attorneys will give it their best shot. But when he talked to those officers and said I killed them basically because they were black, that is a rationale, that is an insane decision. And sane people drive in wrong sides of roads, kill people because they're Martians. This man with hate in his heart and in his mind decided to kill people
because they were black. And as an insane thought, as we think of it socially, criminally, that did away with the insanity defense in my opinion.
SMERCONISH: Areva Martin, in other words, the distinguishing factor here is whether he knew right from wrong. And as sick as it sounds apparently according to what Mark has said, he did.
MARTIN: Yes. Absolutely. Legal insanity is just that, the ability to know what you're doing and to determine whether your actions are right or wrong. And I agree with Mark with respect to the contemplation in all of these planning that went into the murders. And even him saying that while he sat in that church, he had to think about whether he would go through with his plan. All of that shows the ability to distinguish between right and wrong.
But despite that, it's interesting that so many in the media want to quickly characterize this as a young man who had mental health issues, mental illnesses that we're not detected. Unlike when we look at the Boston bomber and others who've been involved in such horrific crimes were clearly ready to label them, particularly if they're Muslim as terrorists. But in this case of a white male we want to talk about mental health issues in a way that distinguishes and somehow lessens the seriousness of this crime. And again that's why I go back to why it's important that the DO continues its investigation.
SMERCONISH: I am -- I'm about to get into exactly that.
MARTIN: Because a hate crime, not a terrorist.
SMERCONISH: Areva, I'm about to get into exactly that. How the media regards black versus white defendants.
Thank you, both. Mark O'Mara, as always we appreciate both of you being here.
O'MARA: Thanks, Michael.
SMERCONISH: Coming up, the South Carolina shooting dominated the news over the past few days and many viewers were angry about how the story was covered. Did the media, as Areva just said, report this story irresponsibly?
The man who runs one of the country's best journalism programs joins me to weigh in, in just a moment.
[09:32:15] SMERCONISH: Welcome back.
The media coverage this week sparked a lot of debate. Many in the viewing audience were angry about how this story was presented. Should reporters call the gunman a terrorist? And do we treat white perpetrators more gently than we do African-Americans? I know the man to ask. Frank Sesno is the director of school of media
and public affairs at George Washington University. He's also an expert on media ethics.
Frank, I was just having a conversation with attorney Areva Martin. And she was pretty much making this point, than when the alleged perpetrator is a white guy, we start talking about medications, mental illness and video games. And if it's an African-American, parenting seems to be the word choice.
Does the media cover different types of defendants differently? And how has the media acted in this case?
FRANK SESNO, DIRECTOR, SCHOOL OF MEDIA AND PUBLIC AFFAIRS, GEORGE WASHINGTON UNIVERSITY: Well, there are always dangers of the way the media covers the candidates differently because it depends on who you are and what you're seeing. We have way too little diversity in my view in the media, and that's why some of these frames get projected the way they do.
But, but, I have heard very little to no sympathetic coverage of this perpetrator. I have heard of this deranged racist criminal. I'm not using the word alleged in this case because I don't think there's allegations in this particular case. It seems there's a legal process we have to adhere to.
But I think the most important thing, Michael, you raised an important here, is how we look at perpetrators really does reflects where we come from and how we're programmed. And what we saw in Baltimore, what we've seen with these police shootings and what we see here tends to reflect that. We have to be very careful about this.
Is he, Roof, a terrorist? Yes. Is he a racist? So, it certainly appears worse than that. And he's a murderer.
You can use whatever word you want or you can mix them. But we need to be careful as to what we're projecting.
SMERCONISH: God forbid an incident like this should take place in August or thereafter. The face of the breaking news at MSNBC for this story, we have just learned this week will be Brian Williams. Yesterday, I have the opportunity to question one of his colleagues, the moderator of "Meet the Press", Chuck Todd, about exactly that. I want you to hear what he had to say on my radio program and then react.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
CHUCK TODD, MEET THE PRESS: I'm proud of how the network dealt with this -- took it seriously, took issues of credibility and integrity seriously, and made Brian pay a heavy price. MSNBC needs a strong person who can sort of deftly handle covering a live event as it's unfolding, which is --
[09:35:00] SMERCONISH: Right. TODD: This is something MSNBC needs. This is something that Brian is very good at. Let's see if he can earn back the credibility and trust of the viewers to make this marriage work.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
SMERCONISH: Chuck making the observation that this is Brian Williams' forte. Has he suffered in terms of credibility that will damage his ability to tell a story like this?
SESNO: Yes, he has. And he's going to move back to the farm leagues. This is where he started, MSNBC, when he was in training to be an anchor on NBC. It's where he's being sent again. Maybe he can earn trust back.
I think the story that we're talking about here really drives why this is such an important thing, Michael. You have a huge public trust sitting in front of the camera, as you do, in front of the microphone as you do. So does Brian Williams. I've actually liked to flip the coverage now and the focus and talk about Lester Holt. A moment ago, I was saying how important it is that we have diversity in our media. Lester Holt brings that with a rock solid track record.
And that's what we need. We need to get over the fact that, you know, this is all about fame, and glory and ego, and whatever Brian Williams wanted to talk about, and get on to the fact that this is a public trust. We are talking about issues and words and people from Charleston and, you know, men and women backing from Iraq and elsewhere this matters.
So, maybe Brian Williams can earn his trust back, I actually don't very much care. I think the more important is, how we move forward, how we address these issues and wish Lester Holt all the best.
SMERCONISH: How am I exercising the public trust if I refuse to say the name of the shooter in this case, which is the way in which I try to handle it both on radio and on television?
SESNO: You know, that's your call and you're going to define your role with respect of the public trust as you do, and people will love or hate you or respect you accordingly, Michael. So, I think that it's all about your own transparency and the integrity that you bring to the conversation.
I have this heard this discussion about, oh maybe we shouldn't spend so much time focusing on the perpetrator here. And that's what always disturbing. But we need to understand this. Is this one deranged mind? Does it plug into a bigger culture? What are the stars and bars flying near the capitol say about our symbols and our culture and our society? I come down on knowing more. I want to understand as much as we can. I want the public do, too.
SMERCONISH: And I respect that, I just don't want and I know you don't want to incite the next one. Hopefully, there won't be one.
Frank Sesno, thank you as always. SESNO: Absolutely not.
SMERCONISH: Thank you, sir.
SMERCONISH: Coming up, times like these, we could really use Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. I've got the next best person to weigh in on this. His son, Dr. Martin Luther King III, joins me next.
[09:41:57] SMERCONISH: Welcome back.
Right now, this country could really use a King, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., that is. In his place, though, carrying on his incredible legacy, his son Martin Luther King III. And I look forward to getting his insight on all of this.
SMERCONISH: Your father had to make speeches like those that the president has made so often. React to the president's words.
MARTIN LUTHER KING III, PRESIDENT AND CEO, REALIZING THE DREAM: The president's words were certainly heartfelt but honest in relationship to where we are. We have to really examine deeply in our culture as to what is creating this climate of hatred and hostility and terrorism that is domestic terrorism.
SMERCONISH: And you use the t-word. That itself became a flash point this week of some who said, why aren't we using the word "terrorism" to describe this?
KING: Well, it's just my personal view that this is terrorism just as in 1963 when members of the Klan went into the 16th Street Baptist Church and bombed that church and four little girls lost their lives. And my father, of course, was the person who eulogized them.
So, there have been any number of incidents of terrorism, but we choose not to frame it that way from time to time. But that is exactly what it is.
SMERCONISH: I want to show the audience how your father reacted to the situation you just described. It was 1963, four Klansmen, they bombed the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham. Dynamite was the agent they used. Here's what your dad had to say.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR., CIVIL RIGHTS ICON: What murdered these four girls? The apathy and the complacency of many Negro who will sit down on their stools of do-nothing and not engaged in creative protest to get rid of this evil system. What murdered these four young girls was a Negro business and professional individual who is more concerned about his job than he's concerned about freedom and justice. (END VIDEO CLIP)
SMERCONISH: That choice of the incident, of the Klansmen, the four Klansmen, dynamite today, of course, it's all about weapons, it's all about guns. Mr. King, when I watched the president speak this week in the aftermath of South Carolina, to me he seemed resign to the fact that he has limited time on the clock and frankly won't be able to do anything about that aspect, the gun issue.
KING: That did appear to be the way he framed it in relationship to going back and say, well, I don't think, I have raised this issue several times and I don't know that I can do anything about it. The question we need to be asking is, why are we fascinated as a nation with guns?
SMERCONISH: But you heard some say this week that the solution to this, I was -- I thought it was mind-boggling, that the solution would have been for each of those who lost their lives to have a weapon of their own.
[09:45:10] I mean, that kind of thought process has no end.
KING: That is correct, because an eye for an eye in my judgment would leave all of us without eyes and teeth. So, obviously, that can't be the solution.
What we can do is create a different climate to suppress hatred. And when you have kids playing video games all day long, when you have some of our cartoons being violence in them and you have movies that are violent. It's no wonder that our society is violent.
We've created and accepted a culture of violence. We must find a way to create a culture of nonviolence. That's what my father and others have worked to help create, along with my mother throughout her life.
SMERCONISH: The nine incidents that the president personally reacted to involved different cases of motivation. Each one of these incidents is different. This time it seems clear it was race and, my God, it happened in a church. You have family experience and history in that regard.
KING: I do. My grandmother in 1974 was gunned down in Ebenezer Church in Atlanta while playing "The Lord's Prayer." That was just a few short years -- dad was gunned down in '68. So, just six years later, his mother was gunned down. It was not necessarily a racial incident, but it was more of a deranged man to come to kill my grandfather. But he killed my grandmother and two other members in our church.
Unfortunately, there's no safe place it seems. And people have to always be on alert. But I don't believe that every member needs to arm himself. And I'm sure that those in the faith tradition are not going to allow incidents like this. In fact, South Carolina has shown us that people have the propensity to come together and ultimately will overcome these very, very tragic situations. SMERCONISH: Finally, Mr. King, not that it makes it worth the price
that was just paid, and not that I'm insinuating that there was a silver lining, but there was a sense and there is a sense today of togetherness in South Carolina and indeed across the nation, that you wish you could bottle so as to prevent the next incident.
How do we make that last?
KING: Well, absolutely. I think the way we do that is American public has demand something different in education. What I mean by that is in kindergarten, we need to be learning about diversity, human relations and sensitivity. And I think if children are taught those things from kindergarten through 12th grade, by the time they get to college, you have a whole different kind of spirit because you have the ability to appreciate everyone because everyone, every human being, every ethnic group makes a contribution to our nation.
SMERCONISH: Martin Luther King III, thank you so much for being here and being so gracious with your time.
KING: Thank you.
SMERCONISH: Coming up, we remember all nine victims of this senseless tragedy, each strong in faith and family. You'll see how each made a difference.
[09:52:45] SMERCONISH: Welcome back.
Last night at a Charleston arena, thousands of people from all over the city gathered to remember each of the people that died at the hands of a 21-year-old gunman, black and white, young and old. They held hands.
And in a shared moment of grief, they sang the anthem of a civil rights movement, "We Shall Overcome."
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SMERCONISH: Thank you so much for joining us for this special hour.
One final thought. It's terribly sad to think that of the nine we lost, Clementa Pinckney was the father of two daughters. Daniel Simmons, both a father and grandfather. As a matter of fact, his granddaughter spoke at yesterday's hearing. And, of course, tomorrow is Father's Day. They will be in our prayer for that additional reason.
Thanks for being here. Don't forget, you can follow me on Twitter if you can spell Smerconish. I'll see you next week.