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First of All with Victor Blackwell

The Defining Issue To Rally Hispanic Voters In 2024; Navajo Nation Calls For Moon Mission Launch Delay; Biden Lays Out Threat To Democracy In 2024 Kickoff Speech; Comedian Katt Williams Unleashes On Hollywood, Fellow Comics. Aired 8-9a ET

Aired January 06, 2024 - 08:00   ET



VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN ANCHOR: First of all, it's January 6, three years since the attack on the Capitol, President Biden is framing his election as a campaign fight for democracy. He says that is what the 2024 election is all about. Sure. But with a new poll that shows that nearly half of independents say that too much has been made of January 6, and it's time to move on. Does that framework earn him a second term? We'll get into it with an advisor to the president.

Plus, a group that works to elect Latinos to Congress says if there's one issue that will define this election for Latino voters, it's not immigration. The leader of that group is here to explain what it is and why. And we have details of a last-minute meeting after the Navajo Nation asked the White House to delay a mission to the moon scheduled to launch on Monday. The president of the Navajo Nation is with us to explain why this mission would be a desecration of the moon. I'm Victor Blackwell. Let's start the show.

Republicans are 10 days out from their first caucus votes, but President Biden is looking ahead to the general election. He says that this will be about democracy and freedom. In his speech in Pennsylvania ahead of January 6, the president argued that Donald Trump and the GOP are threats to both.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Democracy is on the ballot. Your freedom is on the ballot. This is the first national election since January 6, insurrection placed a dagger at the throat of American democracy since that moment. We all know Donald Trump is a question we have to answer is who are we? That's what's at stake.


BLACKWELL: The president also called up his former boss, former President Obama for digital ad to further spread their warning via social media.


BARACK OBAMA, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Our democracy depends on you. BIDEN: It Really does, folks, that's no joke.

OBAMA: That's why we need you. We need your help to ensure Joe's leadership continues to guide us forward. We know the other side won't rest. So we can't either.


BLACKWELL: Both President and Vice President Kamala Harris, they head to South Carolina next black voters resurrected Biden's campaign and 2020 Harris speaks there today. And on Monday, President Biden will speak at Mother Emanuel AME Church in Charleston. You remember that's the historically black church where a man killed nine people during Bible study in 2015.

Let's talk about this with Pennsylvania State Representative Malcolm Kenyatta. He's a member of the Biden Harris campaigns National Advisory Board, and he joins us from South Carolina. Sir, you are the right person to speak with from Pennsylvania in South Carolina advising the campaign. Let me first ask you after I say good morning, the message of taking this next event to South Carolina to Mother Emanuel.

MALCOLM KENYATTA, MEMBER, BIDEN-HARRIS CAMPAIGN NATIONAL ADVISORY BOARD: Yes. Good morning, Victor. You know, the President yesterday, I think had a legacy-defining speech. It was powerful, it was substantive. And it continues to drive home the point that this next election is about ensuring that we can have elections, about ensuring that the promise of America that people get to decide not only their representatives but the direction of their government. And if Donald Trump is to be elected, again, the fundamental democracy that we've come to depend on as the bedrock of all of our other freedoms, that is really at risk. And I don't think it's hyperbolic what the President laid out yesterday.

This former President Donald Trump has made it very clear that he wants to be a dictator on day one. He is proud of the fact that he appointed the justices that overturned Roe v. Wade. He wants to go back to an economic system where he's given more and more of the benefits to the wealthiest Americans while working families like mine and North Philadelphia struggle to get by. And I think that as we continue to make this case, you mentioned it, I'm going to be here for a number of events, the vice president be here, the President will be here. He's speaking to every single part of his base every single part of our nation and coming back here to South Carolina to make it clear. He's not taking anybody or any vote for granted.

BLACKWELL: Let me ask you about what I said at the top of the show this now being framed as a fight for democracy. This now the third year since the insurrection. Washington Post University of Maryland poll found that and we're speaking specifically of independence, the president won that by 14 points according to our exit polls in 2020 they are split on this question of January 6. 46 percent say that too much has been made of January 6, that it's time to move on.

[08:05:13] How does the campaign navigate prioritizing that event, the fight for democracy, when that is what the independents who gave this election who chose President Biden believe about this, this argument, and that date?

KENYATTA: You know, I will say this. This, you know, three years since this attack, which we all watched, and I could never imagine that I would see a day where a president of the United States would encourage folks to come to the Citadel of democracy or U.S. Capitol, and to file it in the way that they did using, not just armed with -- with weapons, not just using violence, but also armed with lies pushed to them by the President. So I think what's very clear, and this President understands that his key responsibility is to make sure that democracy doesn't die on his or our watch. And he has to make that case. That's the point of -- of campaigning. You make your case to the American people.

And I think that because too many folks in the Republican Party, who've either you know parroted directly the talking points of the former president and other Republicans who said it was just a peaceful tour, or others who've said nothing and been complicit in the reframing.

We have to -- we have to push back and remind people of what happened on that day of how close we came to losing our democracy. We can't continue to have the economic growth that we've seen under this president without a strong democracy. We can't continue to lower -- lower the debt burden for it -- for students, borrowers like myself. We can continue to do things like cut the cost of insulin, which 90 percent of Americans support. Both my parents died by the time I was 27 because they didn't have access to the type of health care that everybody deserves.

And so what the President has made crystal clear is that this is going to be an election about the work that he's done about finishing the job. But you don't get to do the critical work that's necessary on the economy, on protecting abortion rights, on expanding the right to vote on doing criminal justice reform. None of that is possible if our democratic republic ceased to exist.

BLACKWELL: Let me ask you about voting rights because we understand that the Vice President will be here in Atlanta on Tuesday to speak with local activists about protecting voting rights. And I have followed your fight in Pennsylvania, against these so-called voter integrity laws that have been attempted to be passed. Brendan Center says it in 2023 alone, 14 states passed laws that made it harder to vote.

In that context, how different will the 2024 election look, from your perspective than the 2020 election before a lot of these voter restrictor laws were passed?

KENYATTA: You know what? You know, it continues to be, you know, a perennial challenge that folks who don't feel like they can win the argument, want to make it more difficult for people to weigh in and to exercise their most fundamental right, and freedom to vote. And so here in Pennsylvania, you know, we took the house majority by one vote. And you're absolutely right. I've been on the House State Government Committee, which oversees Pennsylvania's election. And we've pushed back and the majority and the minority on attempts to make it more difficult to vote. And I'm grateful for House Democrats who have continued to make it clear that we're going to make sure we have free and fair elections, but also that we have secure elections, I think, you know, across the country where these barriers have been put in place, you see folks using a strategy of litigation, a strategy of education, and really a commitment and a determination to show up and make their voices heard. And that's why this election and what the President laid out yesterday, was so critical. We have a choice. And this choice is between continuing the democratic experiment, which has had bumps along the way where too many folks who look like me and come from neighborhoods like mine have not always had the type of access to the American promise that they deserve. But we have never, as the President often says, walked away from it.

And Donald Trump has made it clear not only does he want to walk away from it, but he does not respect the Constitution. He's not in this race for any of the issues that are motivating people to show up to the polls other than the small Maga days. And he's not the type of person we need. Leading us in a you know, in a fraud world right now, when so much is on the line. We need President Biden's leadership.

BLACKWELL: Pennsylvania State Representative Malcolm Kenyatta, thank you so much for starting the show with me.

KENYATTA: Thank you so much.


BLACKWELL: A democracy is on the ballot so our reproductive rights. On Friday, coalition of abortion rights supporters in Florida announced that they now have enough signatures to put a state constitutional amendment protecting the right to an abortion on that state's ballot this year. And we know abortion will come up before the Supreme Court this year too. Democrats rallied around the issue during the 2022 midterms. And now political action committee for the Congressional Hispanic Caucus says that they see reproductive rights as a key to their outreach to Hispanic voters for 2024.

Joining me now is Congresswoman Linda Sanchez. She's a member of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus and chairs the bold pack. Congresswoman, good to have you. Up next, let's start here with why this is the issue. The President says this is about democracy. We saw the success of arguing reproductive rights in 2022. Why is this the issue that should be the center?

REP. LINDA SANCHEZ, (D) CONGRESSIONAL HISPANIC CAUCUS: Sure. Well, we saw because of the results of the 2022 election, that it was a very motivating factor, particularly for Latino voters. And I think where the republican party gets it wrong, they have this blind spot that they don't understand that women, and Latina women in particular, see that as a fundamental right, that is being slowly taken away from them. And it is a very motivating factor for them to show up to knock doors to turn out and to vote. And Latino voters were made a difference in critical states like California and Pennsylvania and Arizona, in the last election cycle, and we expect that it will be a very motivating factor for them in the 2024 election.

BLACKWELL: So let me challenge the premise here. When we examine CNN exit polls, and this is the national picture of the House races. This is 2022 Latino voters were 11 percent of the national electorate same in 2018. However, Democrats won 69 percent of Latino's votes, Republican's 29 percent in 2018. So that's a 40-point, gap there.

And 2022, and this is months after the (inaudible) decision reverse Roe. Democrats won only 60 percent of Latino votes, Republicans 39 percent. So if reproductive rights is the message that -- that brings in Latino voters, why wasn't that the case in 2022 because we saw a 19-point narrowing.

SANCHEZ: Because there is a big gender gap between Latina and Latino voters. Overall, for the Latino community, that's men and women, economic and kitchen table issues are what is foremost driving their vote. But for Latinos, in particular, reproductive care and access to reproductive care is foremost in their mind. Half of Latina women in the United States, half of them are of childbearing age, and they want to have the full range of access to reproductive care. They do not want the Republicans telling them what they can or cannot do with their bodies.

They do not want State's Attorney General deciding how sick or close to dying they have to be, in order to access abortion care. There already is a huge discrepancy in terms of access to health care for Latinas to begin with. And now they see it as a critical issue for their own health and well-being. If Latina women don't have access to that care, 42 percent of them live in states that are taking away that right or heavily restricting that right. And they don't have the economic means to be able to travel out of state should they need that kind of care. So it's a very motivating factor for Latina women. We will be bold PAC, which is an all-female lead this year. I'm the I'm the first woman to head Bold PAC. We'll be focusing in on that issue specifically for Latina voters because it's a winning issue.

BLACKWELL: And the campaign has said that they know that reproductive rights is important to voters. They saw the success of 2022 overall and in subsequent elections across the country. But the President has told reporters told CBS News that he is quote, "not big on abortion because of his Catholic faith". He didn't say the word abortion for the entire first year of this term.

What's your degree of confidence that the President will personally make the case for reproductive rights and abortion rights as aggressively as you and others think is necessary to get reelected?

SANCHEZ: Well, listen, the 2024 election is not just about the presidential election, although that is very important. But we have, you know, an opportunity for the Democrats to retake the majority in the House and to defend seats in the Senate. And so in our -- in each of those districts that are competitive we are going to be using that messaging. It's not all on the President to carry that message to the voters. [08:15:07]

BLACKWELL: But aAre you confident that he will as aggressively as many believe that he will need to?

SANCHEZ: I think so, yes. And, you know, I think that there will be many other people echoing that and amplifying that message, where -- where it is six out a successful message, which is pretty much everywhere across the United States. If you look at what's happened in Virginia and Ohio, and some other states, Kansas, it is a winning message. And I -- and again, there doesn't need to be just one messenger. That's what Bold PAC's work is focused on. It's focused on, you know, recruiting Latinos and Latinas to run for Congress, combating misinformation, and getting the right messaging out the accurate messaging out to the Latino community.

BLACKWELL: Congresswoman Linda Sanchez, chair of the Bold PAC, thanks so much.

SANCHEZ: Thank you, Victor.

BLACKWELL: CNN will host the next Republican presidential debate live from Iowa. Jake Tapper and Dana Bash will moderate. That's Wednesday, 9:00 p.m. Eastern, just days before the Iowa caucuses.

Still ahead, a woman in Los Angeles called 911 for help. Her family says she needed rescue from domestic abuse. Seconds after deputies walked in, they shot and killed her. Her father joins me and we're getting a first look at the body camera footage of that shooting.

Plus, Katt Williams shook the table this week, he made all kinds of claims about some of the biggest black entertainers. We have reaction now from some of those stars he called out.

KATT WILLIAMS, AMERICAN COMEDIAN: You never have to flex when you earn every one of your best and furious checks. Afro with the sideburns. And that's my signature, addiction is on the rise. Comedians check in temperature.



BLACKWELL: A woman in Los Angeles called police for help after she said a man would not leave her alone that he wouldn't leave her apartment. This was a domestic abuse call. Her name is Niani Finlayson. Her name was Niani Finlayson. She ended up being killed by one of the sheriff's deputies who responded.

Well now her family is suing for $70 million and calling for accountability. The claim was against L.A. County and the sheriff's office. They released audio of Finlayson's 911 call. Here's some of it.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Well who is (inaudible).

NIANI FILAYSON, VICTIM: His name is -- and he will not leave me alone.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: My -- my -- ma'am, my question -- ma'am, my question is, who is he to you?


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: My question is, who is to you? Hello?

FILAYSON: Get off of me.


FILAYSON: Yes, I'm going to leave here right now. No, because he won't get his hands off of me and I told him a thousand times, get a (inaudible) me.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Okay. Ma'am, walk away so I can talk to you.


BLACKWELL: Well, deputies say when they arrived, Finlayson was holding a kitchen knife. They heard a threatened a man. He was her former boyfriend and then they shot her as she was holding the man with one hand and the knife with the other.

Joining us now is Niani's father, Lamont Finlayson and the family's attorney Bradley Gage. Thank you both for being with me. We have two angles of body cam video here. Mr. Finlayson, I'm first going to warn you that we will hear the shots although we will not see them. And you can see Niani Finlayson on the left side of your screen, so let's play that and then talk.



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hey, come out, come out.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes. I'm going to stab him because (inaudible).

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hey, hey. (Inaudible).


BLACKWELL: That's within seconds of walking into that apartment. Mr. Finlayson, when you saw that, what did you think? What did you feel when you saw that -- that body cam footage?

LAMONT FINLAYSON, NIANI'S FATHER: Well, you know, there's just like what you said in seconds is like he did it in one second. Horrific, a nightmare. A total disaster, a train wreck. You see the lady Sheriff hands him a taser. He throws the taser down and automatically start shooting firing his weapon. This is the worst feeling in the world over the holidays to lose your baby from a cop who has no training, who has a history of killing. Justice has to be done.


FILAYSON: There is no word.

BLACKWELL: I do want to mention, and show that moment because we have it where the officer who fired the -- the fatal shots, asks the other officer, the female officer for the taser. So let's just isolate that portion and watch it.

And we can see from another angle where he discards that almost immediately. Attorney Gauge the significance of the request of the taser and then discarding it, what in your perspective -- from your perspective, what does that mean?

BRADLEY GAGE, ATTORNEY: It's terrible tactics. They eliminate less lethal force and create a situation where the only gets murdered. It's atrocious.

BLACKWELL: I want to read for you, L.A. County Sheriff's Office use of force policy. Considering what we've just watched. The department members are justified in using deadly force upon another person only when they reasonably believe based on the totality of the circumstances, that such force is necessary for either of two reasons. And the first reason is to defend against an imminent threat of death or serious bodily injury to the member or another person. So Niani answers the door with a knife in hand and says I'm going to stab him. And officer says, come this way instead she walks in the opposite direction towards the man on the sofa, holds him with one hand and the knife with the other. Attorney Gage, is it not a reasonable belief that she will then use that knife to do what she said she would to stab him?


GAGE: It was not a reasonable belief to do that. First of all, they knew that over 16 minutes Niani was on the phone with 911 screaming and holding a knife during that timeframe. She was going to use it inflicts serious injury, she would have done that 16 minutes before these deputies arrived. That's the first thing.

Secondly, the commands issued by the deputies were far from clear. They keep saying hey, hey, hey, that's not proper, that does not comply with the policy. What they should have done is said, put down the knife, come out, we're here, we'll take care of the situation or words that affect. Third, they could use less lethal force, including a taser or pepper spray, that they throw it away instead. So they wound up using deadly force when it was not necessary.

BLACKWELL: Mr. Finlayson, we did not show her and we certainly didn't play the audio of Niani's daughter, a nine-year-old who was in the room, your granddaughter? How is she after watching this, this shooting of her mother?

FILAYSON: She's -- she's -- she's terrible. She's she's she's going to need counseling, a lot of counseling. And the reality of it is that my daughter is not coming back. And how do you tell a child you know, at nine years old that your mom is never coming back? And especially after witnessing, you know, the horrendous ordeal that she went through, you know, in that apartment, you know. So she'll never be the same. Of course, I'll never be the same and none of us never be the same.

You know, that our heart is shattered. Her heart is broken. She -- she's trying to handle it the best she can. But mind you, she's nine years old.

BLACKWELL: More than a $70 million award from a jury, what Mr. Finlayson, do you want to happen next?

FILAYSON: I want justice. I want justice for Ty Shelton. I want him -- his job loss. I want him prosecuted, and I want him in jail. So he can think about the rest of his days on what he did. And I want that boy James Heard -- Martin, James Martin prosecuted because if it wasn't for him, the police wouldn't have never came in order to shoot her to begin with. So prosecution's on both sides and justice on both sides.

BLACKWELL: Lamont Finlayson, Attorney Bradley Gage, thank you both. Now, let me read this. This is from the sheriff's department. They told CNN in a statement that pursuant to normal procedure, the deputy involved in the shooting has been removed from the field pending the outcome of the department's critical incident review. The department will examine and evaluate every aspect of the shooting including the response, tactics, and background of the employee.

There is something on board and American spacecraft that's scheduled to launch on Monday that some Native Americans want removed. They say that if part of the mission is completed, it would be a desecration of the moon and deeply offensive to the Navajo Nation. Their President joins me next.



VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN ANCHOR: Let me read this CNN headline to you. Navajo Nation's objection to landing human remains on the moon prompts last-minute White House meeting. Now to understand this, here's what you need to know. There are companies that will for fee fly your cremated remains to space, in this case, bury them on the moon. Two private companies that provide these lunar burial services Celestis and Elysium Space planned to send dozens of sets of human remains on a lunar lander set to launch on Monday.

But the president of the Navajo Nation says that turning the moon into a burial ground would be offensive to indigenous cultures. They've asked the White House and NASA to delay the launch and consider this that NASA apologized for doing something similar more than 20 years ago. In a statement the CEO of Celestis says they reject the concerns, the flight desecrates the moon, it is a touching and fitting celebration, he says, for our participants the exact opposite of desecration, it is a celebration. Joining me now is the president of the Navajo Nation, Dr. Buu Nygren. Mr. President, thank you for being with me. Let me start here with just the explanation of why sending these human remains, these capsules with DNA to the moon would be considered by the Navajo Nation and others a desecration of the moon.

BUU NYGREN, PRESIDENT, NAVAJO NATION: Good morning. I appreciate the time that you all have given me. One of the first things as I explained, we had a last minute meeting with the White House, NASA and Department of Transportation officials yesterday. And one of the things I explained to them yesterday was that to over 20 years ago, you guys made a promise that after the fact that you sent the remains of an astronaut in to space and onto the moon that you promised to make sure that you consult us into the future but through the discussions yesterday, through the loopholes of private companies that they can -- don't have to consult us, but they did promise that moving into the future that they will consult us.


And one of the things I asked them is that you guys have a lot of influence as far as NASA. Most of these missions wouldn't happen without the funding the millions of dollars that help you launch these projects. So you should have a say in trying to make sure that the promises that were made over 20 years ago are upheld.

BLACKWELL: That's the logistics of this. But first, what is the cultural significance? What is the deeply and profoundly as you've said it disappointing desecration if these remains were to go to the moon?

NYGREN: One of the -- first and foremost, I just -- in Navajo, a medicine man is call a Hatalii. And they practice for many, many years. I just want to be upfront. I'm not a medicine man. But one of the things that our elders and our Hataliis, our medicine people have told me that the moon is sacred. It's in our songs, and it's in our stores, it's in our creation. We've used the moon as a place that we've looked to for hundreds of years to make sure that we continue to exist. So they're a part of ceremonies that have been around with the Navajo people for a long, long time.

So when this happened in the 90s, it was very clear that we should make sure that we consult our medicine people, consult the Navajo people before we do something like that. The Navajo Nation has never been opposed to exploration, or curiosity or space missions. It's just the fact that the uniqueness of life is so important that there's only one place no matter how far into the universe, we look, we have looked for decades.

Now with the technologies that we have, we haven't found human beings. We haven't found another place like Earth. So to us, it's we're very unique. We're created here on Earth. And we should continue to exist here on Earth as we move along out of this life. So that's one of the things that have -- that the medicine men have told us, and then the fact that there's ceremonies that continue to exist here within the Navajo Nation, and across all indigenous cultures that have looked to the skies for thousands of years.

And to know that you have human remains circling the Earth, that's a little concerning to think about, because a lot of us pray to the moon, pray to the moon. And that's the female counterpart of the Sun in our culture.

BLACKWELL: You say that you were part of this meeting with NASA and the Department of Transportation, Commerce Department, FAA, other officials, a private company as well, what came out of this meeting? Can you tell us more about it? Will the launch be delayed?

NYGREN: I believe it was a meeting to kind of softly tell us that, you know what, we're sorry. But then the launch is still going to happen. But one of the things that I requested is that we should have -- there's going to be a lot more, as you mentioned earlier, throughout this year, and we only ask that NASA fulfill its part of its promise. And one of the -- I had a discussion after the meeting with the NASA administrator, Mr. Nelson, and he did say, you know, I support you, Mr. President.

And but in return, I did ask him, we should sit down and talk about that, if NASA is going to be a part of any mission they should fulfill, even if it's a private company, because most of these private companies would probably not launch into space without the dollars that come along with partnering with NASA. So one of the things I ask is, if NASA is going to be a part of it, they should just have strict guidelines that's set. You know what, we have a promise with indigenous people that exist in the United States that we're not going to -- we're going to consult them, and that we're going to make sure that human remains don't go into space. And I hope that those discussions actually come to fruition.

BLACKWELL: Yes, that commitment was made back in the 90s after human remains were sent to the Moon. President of the Navajo Nation, Dr. Buu Nygren, thank you so much for being with me.

NYGREN: Thank you, sir.


BLACKWELL: All right, so, we know the anecdotes, the black drivers get pulled over more by cops than other drivers. Well now a group in California says they have proof that racial profiling is not only happening, but it is pervasive. It is systemic in the state. We'll get into that next.


BLACKWELL: Here's what you need to know today. The former Colorado police officer who killed Elijah McClain has been sentenced to 14 months in jail four years probation. McClain was killed after police restrained him and injected him with ketamine in 2019. He was 23 years old. In Friday's hearing that former officer Randy Roedema, called McClain's death, a horrible outcome that nobody intended or wanted. McClain's mother called the jail term and probation, a slap on the wrist. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SHENEEN MCCLAIN, ELIJAH MCCLAIN'S MOTHER: If an individual is trained to you others based on their race, or if an individual is trained to be a brutal machine of force, that individual becomes incapable of showing kindness to people of diversity and communities everywhere. My son will never be a dad and uncle or a grandfather. Randy Roedema stole my son's life are the belated apologies of the world cannot remove my son's blood from Randy's hands.


BLACKWELL: Officer Jason Rosenblatt and Nathan Woodyard, they were acquitted of their charges. Two paramedics were convicted. Their sentencing is scheduled for March 1st.

Mississippi's Republican state legislature will be allowed to create a state one court system in the majority black and Democratic led capital of Jackson. The decision came down yesterday by Federal Court of Appeals after attorneys from the NAACP filed a lawsuit they called parts of the law creating the court racially discriminatory, a law prevents Jackson residents from electing judges within the boundaries of the district of this so called Capitol Complex Improvement District, which includes the state capitol building, downtown Jackson State University. In a statement, the NAACP says that they're profoundly disappointed by the ruling.


The family of a trailblazing former Congresswoman Eddie Bernice Johnson says that they are suing the rehab center where she was receiving care before she died. CNN affiliate KTVT says that according to Johnson's son, she was a patient at Baylor Scott & White in Dallas after undergoing back surgery, that was in December. Well, when he visited her then he says that he found her lying in her own feces and urine, and that no one had responded to her calls for help. But now he's alleging negligent care and he says that those conditions lead to the infection that ultimately took her life on December 31st.


KIRK JOHNSON, SON OF LATE REP. EDDIE BERNICE JOHNSON: Deplorable. She was being unattended to, she was screaming out in pain and for help. If she had gotten proper care at that facility, she wouldn't be here today.


BLACKWELL: In a statement, Baylor Scott & White Health told our affiliate in part, we are committed to working directly with the congresswoman's family members and their counsel. Out of respect for patient privacy, we must limit our comments. President Biden is set to pay his respects to Johnson on Monday in Dallas. She was a former nurse, the first black woman elected to state public office from Dallas and the first African American to be the chair of the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology. Eddie Bernice Johnson was 88 years old.

So this caught our attention this week, black drivers in California are being stopped by law enforcement more often than other drivers. That's according to a new analysis by the California Racial Identity and Profiling Advisory Board. They analyzed more than 4.5 million stops by 535 California law enforcement agencies across 2022. And they found that nearly 13 percent of traffic stops in California involve black drivers. Well, black represent only 5.4 percent of the state's population.

So according to the board, this disparity proves profiling not only exists, but that it's pervasive in California, organizations representing law enforcement in Los Angeles, they say in San Francisco and San Jose as well, I should say, they're pushing back. And they write this, that the report authors are advocating for some sort of racial quotas when it comes to enforcing traffic laws, regardless of the observed behaviors of drivers. Simply put, if a driver has a car with out of date vehicle registration tags, a broken brake light or headlight, or is driving recklessly or speeding, then they are most likely going to get pulled over. And it's all about behavior and not race.

But the board's chair says that given the findings in this report, we must now turn to the hard work of ending profiling by bringing all the stakeholders to the table and to ascertain and change the policies that practices that enable it.

Still ahead, some of the biggest acts in comedy called out this week by one of their own by name. The fallout from an epic, rare interview with Katt Williams on Black Hollywood.

Plus, the story behind the home seen in these renderings and how they're part of an effort to correct a racist injustice from more than 80 years ago.



OPAL LEE, 97-YEAR-OLD ACTIVIST: And if I tell you I'm a happy camper, I am.



BLACKWELL: We have to talk about it. Steve Harvey, Kevin Hart, Cedric the Entertainer, Rickey Smiley, Ludacris, some, some of the entertainers that comedian Katt Williams called out in a new interview blew up online this week. And the heat started right out of the gate on Shannon Sharpe's Club Shay Shay and he went on for about three hours.


KATT WILLIAMS, COMEDIAN, ACTOR: And the reason I had to come is because you've made a safe place for the truth to be told, you know what I mean?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you. I appreciate that.

WILLIAMS: And I have watched all of these lowbrow comedians come here and disrespect you in your face and tell you straight up lies. I'm talking about things that have never been heard and all the black Hollywood they feel comfortable sitting here lying to you about it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You will set the record straight?

WILLIAMS: Are you kidding me?


BLACKWELL: You know we had to bring in Lisa France now to talk about this. I don't -- we can't know how much of anything he said is true.


BLACKWELL: But there are now comedians who are responding.

FRANCE: Yes. So Ludacris came out with a diss rap, which I thought was --

BLACKWELL: Yes. I saw that, yes.

FRANCE: Rickey Smiley came with love though. Rickey Smiley, you know, disputed some of the things but also had praise for Katt Williams. I -- what was most interesting to me was the nine-minute long Ice Cube video, because Ice Cube, of course, was behind the Friday movie that Katt Williams talked a lot about in his interview with Shannon Sharpe. And Ice Cube said, you know, it's been more than 20 years and we remember things differently, which I thought was a very politically correct way of handling it.

He basically said, you know, he has his version of what he thinks happened. Katt Williams has his version of what he thinks happened. And it's caused a lot of conversation about like, who owns the memories of something, right? Everybody has their viewpoint about what they think happened. And so if one person is allowed to speak and for three hours as you pointed out, I mean, it's longer than the color purple, right? Like the one, right, isn't right, right.


So should other people will then be able to have their say. And Shannon Sharpe is catching a lot of heat as well because people were saying that he should arraigned Katt Williams in. Number one, I don't think you can run Katt Williams in.

BLACKWELL: True. Once you get in the platform.

FRANCE: That's it. He's going to let the chopper spray. He's just going to say whatever you want. But Shannon Sharpe his response was, I'm not an interviewer. I'm an entertainer and I was there to, you know, facilitate the conversation, which I don't think you can really say that. When you bring somebody on for an interview, sir, that then makes you an interviewer. So you do have to try to control it a little bit.

BLACKWELL: Yes, questions in hand, right.

FRANCE: Right.

BLACKWELL: Golden Globes tomorrow and the host, Jo Koy. This is a new face, new name for a lot of people.

FRANCE: It is he is a Filipino American, which is important because there's been a lot of conversation about diversity, especially with the Golden Globes because the Golden Globes back in 2022, pretty much disintegrated because of their lack of diversity. They had -- they didn't have a very diverse voting board. So people said consequently, there was not a lot of diversity when it came to the nominees.

Well, even though now they say that there's more diversity, because you have, you know, an Asian American hosting the show, the second after Sandra Oh. It's still not that very diverse. If you look, it's -- there like 18 non-white people who were nominated in the performance categories. And so that's not a lot out of 90. So, you know, but there's always like a lot of discussion back and forth about diversity, but also about the fact that you have to have not -- you can't just give people nominations, because they're, you know, members of a diverse group.


FRANCE: But lots of people say there's plenty of work out there that was available for you to have more diverse nominees, so.

BLACKWELL: Yes. Listen, some of the hosts we should put up who said no to this there's a long list of those got Chris Rock who turned it down, Tina Fey, Amy Poehler who've done in the past, they've said no, Ali Wong said no. The three gentlemen the bottom Will Arnett, Sean Hayes, Jason Bateman who have a podcast together, they all said no. So a lot of people turned it down, maybe in part because of the controversy. There is also this new study out from the University of Southern California that shows that a lot of the promises after that scandal, after George Floyd's death of inclusion and diversity in Hollywood just is performative.

FRANCE: It feels very performative, because we've not moved the needle at all, it doesn't feel like. So out of 116 directors in 2023, for the top 100 grossing films, a little over 12 percent were women. And when it comes to black women, it was even less than that, it was a little over, you know, 3 percent. And so when you look at that, based on what it's been, four women of color, you can literally count on your hand the number of women of color directors who were in the, you know, top grossing films who directed those.

And it's interesting because this in 2023 was the year where "Barbie" was the biggest movie.

BLACKWELL: Yes. FRANCE: And a woman directed that. So it gives the illusion that there has been progress. But if you look at the data and at the numbers, there's been very little progress and they're blaming the studios because the studios aren't hiring or offering opportunities, either in front of the camera or behind the camera it feels like.

BLACKWELL: Lisa France, thanks so much.

FRANCE: Thank you.

BLACKWELL: All right, finally this morning justice for Ms. Opal Lee, who we all know as a grandmother of Juneteenth for her work to make Juneteenth a federal holiday, or a family's land now heading back to the right hands more than 80 years ago. Our family moved into the home on any street in Fort Worth, Texas. But shortly after that, an angry white crowd gathered lashing out over the fact that a black family had purchased a home in their neighborhood, the racist mob threw out furniture, burned down the home. And then years later, she decided to try to buy the land back. And here's what happened.


LEE: I had tried so hard to find out who owns the land. And when I did find out that Habitat owned it, a wit to gauge who I knew personally, I'd worked on Habitats Board years ago, and asked to buy the land. He said no, that he was going to give it to me. And I was delighted. Because now that he gave me the land, I was going to build a house on it for sale. Well, he had other ideas. He said no, Habitat was going to build a house on it for me.


BLACKWELL: And here are the renderings drafted of Lee's future home which they broke ground on in October. And now the organization says they're working with partners to raise money to build the house. Lee says that she cannot wait to move in.


LEE: And if I tell you I'm a happy camper, I am. I'm leaving mine as soon as it's built and all I'm taking is a toothbrush.


BLACKWELL: To Trinity Habitat for Humanity and their CEO Gage Yager, I see you. And congrats to Ms. Opal Lee. She says she'd like her current home where she's lived for 50 years to become a museum.


If you see something or someone you think I should see, tell me. I'm at Victor Blackwell on the socials. And thank you so much for joining me today I will see you back here next Saturday at 8:00 a.m. Eastern. Smerconish is up next.