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ISSUES WITH JANE VELEZ-MITCHELL
Obama Assassination Threat Plot of Bigger Problem?; Palin Hanged in Effigy; Christian Group Using Fear to Sway Voters; Ballot Initiative Would End Cruel Farming Practices
Aired October 28, 2008 - 19:00:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JANE VELEZ MITCHELL, HOST (voice-over): Tonight, election fear factor kicks in with just seven days to go. Two sick skinheads busted for planning to assassinate Senator Obama and a school full of black children. We`ll tell you just how far Dumb and Dumber got before they were nabbed.
Then, there`s this in Los Angeles. Is this Sarah Palin effigy a hate crime? Or just a really tacky Halloween decoration?
Plus, the Christian evangelical group Focus on the Family focuses on fear. Their tactic: painting a terrifying picture of an Obama administration. But will it scare people to the voting booth? And is any of it even accurate?
And shocking new details in the Jennifer Hudson family tragedy. Could a fight over a car payment have caused three family members to be murdered? We`ll have the very latest.
These issues and more tonight.
VELEZ MITCHELL: Hello, everyone. I`m Jane Velez-Mitchell. Welcome to "Issues." And we`ve got plenty of them tonight.
Can you believe it? This time next week we`re going to be anxiously watching election results pour in, waiting to see who will be the next president of the United States.
Whatever happens, Senator Obama has already made history by become the first African-American on a major party ticket. And the polls say it`s looking increasingly likely that he`ll make history again by becoming the first African-American president. Here is my issue tonight.
This election is not just about politics. It`s about a cultural transformation. And some people are simply refusing to join it. Late yesterday we learned two self-described white supremacists had been charged with plotting a killing spree of 88 African-Americans, including 14 beheadings and the assassination of Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama.
Now don`t get me wrong: racism is definitely over in this country, but I believe incidents like that are the death rattle of this disease. The true colors of racists are now out in plain sight. And we are seeing racism for what it really is: it`s moronic; it`s ignorant; it`s outdated.
What scares me, though, is that no matter how moronic somebody actually is, when armed with a weapon, they still may have the ability to cause a national tragedy.
Here with me now to discuss whether these chuckleheads could have seriously inflicted major harm, Don Clark, former special agent in charge of the Houston FBI, and former prosecutor Wendy Murphy, professor at New England School of Law and author of "Justice for Some."
Wendy, I`ve been calling these two guys Dumb and Dumber. Their first foray into this alleged plot was to shoot out the window of a black church, and then they drew racial slurs in chalk on the sidewalk. But since these two morons did have a rifle, as well as a sawed-off shotgun, could they have gotten somewhere in their plot to kill Obama?
WENDY MURPHY, PROFESSOR, NEW ENGLAND SCHOOL OF LAW: Who knows? It does sound look a couple of dopey, relatively young guys with no real plan, unsophisticated.
But, you know, it`s still vile; it`s still hate. It`s still being talked about now on a national stage because of the nature of the election. And, yes, Jane, guys like this, dumb as they might be, can get close enough to cause serious harm and even kill Senator Obama, which is pretty embarrassing in, you know, the year 2008, almost 2009, that we still have to deal with these kind of creepy guys.
VELEZ MITCHELL: You know, it sure is. And I think that what`s happening with this election is that it really is a cultural transformation. There are a lot of people with low self-esteem. They have no accomplishments to point to. And they simply base their identity on who they were born as: their lineage, their race. And that`s going out the window now. They don`t have that to fall back on. And it`s extremely, extremely threatening.
I want to get to Don Clark in just a second. But take a look at the picture of this guy on the cover of "The New York Post." Now, some of his neighbors say, oh, they were shocked, shocked that he had done this. Well, guess what? He`s got a giant swastika tattooed on his shoulder, Don. They can`t be that shocked.
DON CLARK, FORMER SPECIAL AGENT IN CHARGE, HOUSTON FBI: No. No, they can`t be that shocked, Jane. And I understand what everybody is saying is that, well, they`re dumb and they don`t really know what they`re doing.
But let me tell you, Jane. A little bit of facts here. Is there are approximately 888 hate groups that`s been identified in this country right now.
And when you start looking at the number of hate crimes that`s been committed in 2007 -- and the statistics are not out yet for 2008 -- over 7,600. And with 52 percent being directed towards race. So that`s a huge problem there. And all it takes is a couple of knuckleheads like this to get involved and someone convince them that they should take on a mission to do whatever.
VELEZ MITCHELL: Don, let me ask you this question, because these aren`t the first knuckleheads. This past summer, remember, they arrested several guys who were meth heads, who were skinheads, as well, with a similar plot. They also had weapons. Does the Obama campaign, the FBI need to do something differently because there could be others out there?
CLARK: Well, I think what they need to do is that they need to be consistent with their investigative process. You know, we just can`t move in one direction and look at one particular aspect of crime. We can`t forget about that these things really do exist. So we`ve got to pay the attention to it.
And I suspect, and given them a little credit, I know that the ATF and others worked this particular case -- I suspect that they probably had somebody maybe monitoring this activity. Let`s face it. I mean, we`re about -- we could be in the moment of history-making here. And trust me, there will be people who don`t want that to happen.
VELEZ MITCHELL: Yes, and I want to talk to Whitney Murphy -- I know you`re an attorney, but you`re also a student of culture -- about this cultural shift that we`re experiencing. I mean, this is really upsetting the apple cart for how we interact with each other, the old racial totem poem is gone, with certain races in certain orders. And now we are left to interact with each other as individuals. And it`s scary for people.
On top of the fact that in 2040 something, I believe, the minority is going to be the majority. 2042, the minority is going to be the majority.
MURPHY: Well, you know, look, Jane, when you go far enough out, diversity is such our destiny. We`re all going to be gray at some point. We won`t be around for that.
But, you know, look, fear of that which is different is not new. We`re all afraid of things that seem different than us.
And, you know, I said to a black male friend of mine recently, "You know, you`re a lot like me." And he laughed, because obviously he`s not female and he`s not white. But the truth is, we do have so many common characteristics that have nothing to do with race and gender. And all we really need to do is talk, I think, talk more openly about race, about our history, not be afraid of being politically incorrect, and talk about our similarities.
VELEZ MITCHELL: I agree. Now, we`re -- being fair, we`re hitting the right and the left tonight. Obama isn`t the only one who`s become a target. A West Hollywood house has -- get this -- an effigy of Sarah Palin hanging by a noose in one of those much-discussed outfits of hers. It has been billed as a Halloween decoration.
I want you to take a look at it. We`re going to put it up in just a second. Take a look at that. Here`s my take. If you`re going to call any other noose incident a hate crime, then that is a hate crime. By the way, that`s John McCain, by the way.
However, all hate crimes aren`t equal. But I find this incredibly offensive. I think it`s stupid, anyway. If somebody supported Barack Obama and did this to support him, it`s going to boomerang terribly, because so many people are upset about this.
So, Don, what do you make of this? Hate crime or freedom of speech?
CLARK: Well, I don`t think it`s freedom of speech. I think it`s a type of hate crime at all. And hate crime itself is not just given to one particular set of people. There are other people, the people of all races may have this same activities in their mind.
Let`s face it: look what happened in 9/11 and what`s happened in other things. And a lot of that has to do with race and hate and who we are.
But bottom line is I think law enforcement has a responsibility to keep us safe, as safe as they can from every type of crime that takes place. And we cannot ignore these types of things and say, "Well, it`s just a couple of crazy, stupid people out here doing something like this," because it`s organized, Jane. And it`s really organized to a point that throughout the Internet -- Internet, that these people can go on and find out this stuff.
VELEZ MITCHELL: You know what? You despise it, I despise it, Wendy despises it, but some neighbors in West Hollywood not so upset about all this. Let`s listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It should be seen as art, and it should be seen as within the month of October. It is Halloween. It`s time to be scary. It`s time to be spooky.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VELEZ MITCHELL: Wendy, art?
MURPHY: Unbelievable. Look, you know, sometimes it is hard to see where to draw the line. But when you`re in a sense expressing an act of violence against a person based on their status in society, that`s a hate crime. And I disagree with you, Jane, that they`re not all equal. They should be equal.
VELEZ MITCHELL: The reason I said that is if you look at the history of our nation, and, for example, the Jena 6 controversy about the nooses in Louisiana, the reason that created such an uproar is because our history of lunching of African-Americans.
MURPHY: I understand. But Jane...
VELEZ MITCHELL: And the aftermath of the Civil War all the up through the 1960s.
MURPHY: I understand. I understand, but my point was going to be, Jane, that when we create a pecking order of "isms," this one is more serious than that one, that creates its own problem where we then fight against each other. And that`s even harder to transcend.
VELEZ MITCHELL: Yes.
MURPHY: That`s why I make the point. You`re right as a matter of law. But I wish you were wrong.
VELEZ MITCHELL: Well, I agree with you. I think you are right. And I think we`ve got to eliminate all of this ugliness, all of this hate. And let`s just treat each other as individuals and use this election as an opportunity to evolve toward a new way of interacting, human being to human being.
Don, Wendy, thank you. I love you guys. Please come back again. We`re going to have you back soon.
Now, the financial crisis had some people going to extreme measures, even though we`re happy to say the Dow was up by 889 points today and the NASDAQ went up 143 points. Still, some people are in trouble. Here is how one San Diego woman is trying to avoid foreclosure.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We are not just going to turn our keys over, not without a fight. And I`m not going to walk away from this home quietly. It`s our castle. It`s every American`s dream, and that dream has just been shattered by these banks.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PHILLIPS: Yes, she`s chaining herself. The chains are just the beginning of her story.
We`re going to have the latest, also, on those grisly, horrific murders of actress Jennifer Hudson`s family. Authority has the chance to get a person off the street, a person of interest off the streets months ago, and apparently, they did nothing. We`re going to tell you what happened or what apparently did not happen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We`re not just going to turn our keys over, not without a fight. And I am not going to walk away from this home quietly. It`s our castle. It`s every American`s dream, and that dream has just been shattered by these banks.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PHILLIPS: Americans are freaking out, even though the stock market shot up today. Hundreds of thousands of people losing their homes, losing their jobs. Now, some are going to extreme measures to fight what they call unfair foreclosures.
Meet chain lady. This woman chained herself to her house to avoid foreclosure, vowing to fight when they come to remove her.
Others are going to extremes to make sure their candidate of choice gets into office. Get this, the political arm of the evangelical Christian group Focus on the Family recently released their shocking -- and I mean shocking -- vision of what they predict 2012 will look like if Obama is elected.
It says -- here`s just one example -- quote, "The Boy Scouts no longer exist as an organization. They chose to disband rather than be forced to obey the Supreme Court decision that they would have to hire homosexual scoutmasters and allow them to sleep in tents with young boys." What? That is just one example.
Here is the letter. It goes on for about 16 pages. And I`ve got to tell you this letter is a disgrace. It`s got every scare tactic known to man thrown into about 15 1/2, 16 pages. These claims are absolutely outrageous. The whole thing, to me reeks of desperation.
Joining me now to try to convince me I`m wrong, CNN political contributor and Republican strategist Leslie Sanchez, and another CNN political contributor and former speech writer for Senator Bill Frist, Amy Holmes.
I read this letter. To be honest, my jaw kept dropping and dropping. I mean, is this not an act of desperation? Let`s start with Amy.
AMY HOLMES, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Well, you know, James Dobson has been known to write letters before. And he, back in 2000, he actually told his followers to get out of politics because he was so disappointed with the direction of the country back then.
You know, I read the letter. I thought it was a little overwrought. He said that he couldn`t even sing "The Star-Spangled Banner" anymore. I think he underestimates -- I think he underestimates the robustness of American democracy. And that those people who don`t agree with Barack Obama will have their voices heard.
But, you know what, Jane, he raises some real issues. The Boy Scout issue, for example, that you cite.
VELEZ MITCHELL: Oh, please.
HOLMES: Hold on. I worked for Senator Frist when the Boy Scouts were under attack. They`re not being allowed to use...
VELEZ MITCHELL: You know, it`s generally not out gay who molest boys. Usually, it`s repressed homosexuals posing as heterosexuals.
HOLMES: I`m not suggesting -- listen, I`m not suggesting any of that. But the Boy Scouts is a Christian organization. They`ve been under attack because of their values. And they have sought protection, when I worked for Senator Frist, by their elected leaders so they continue to operate.
Now will an Obama Supreme Court make decisions that will make that impossible for them to operate under their set of values? We will see if he becomes president of the United States.
VELEZ MITCHELL: Leslie Sanchez.
LESLIE SANCHEZ, CNN POLITICAL CONTRIBUTOR: The bottom line with this is, while we don`t -- I don`t condone the letter. And there is fear mongering and, as Christians, we speak to hope rather than fear. But that being said, there is a coarsening of America. There`s a coarsening in our culture...
VELEZ MITCHELL: I`ve got to -- I have to jump in. Because I have to quote from the letter. This letter says that, basically, anybody over 80 is going to be administered assisted suicide, that Christian books will be removed from bookstores, that Tel Aviv will be a smoking ruin due to an Iranian nuclear strike.
And we`ve got one more, and I want to read you this. This deals with terrorism. "Since 2009, terrorist bombs have exploded in two large and two small U.S. cities, killing hundreds, and the entire country is fearful for no place seems safe."
This -- I mean, where is the crystal ball to predict this doom and gloom and these really outrageous claims? We`re going to kill everybody over 80? Please.
HOLMES: Obviously, I agree with you that that`s an exaggeration. But they`re basing it on European health-care systems where older people are allowed to expire. Hold on.
Also, I would point out that Bill Maher, a friend of mine, just had a movie out predicting a religious apocalypse, and he considers himself an atheist. And moreover, look at liberals. They use fear mongering all the time. Look at the abortion issue.
VELEZ MITCHELL: I`ve never seen...
VELEZ MITCHELL: Anything like this in my entire life.
SANCHEZ: Jane, last week, I`m not saying he`s Nostradamus, but you know, you had Joe Biden, who happens to be on the Democratic ticket, talking about that there would be a terrorist attack, you know, that a Barack Obama administration would be tested. That is not something unusual for this country, to experience these types of threats.
And the context of how it was put in, no, I think it`s extreme. But there is very real concerns about protecting the sanctity of marriage, protecting life, protecting our national security.
VELEZ MITCHELL: Well, let me tell you why this isn`t going to work. It`s not going to work because of the lady who`s chained herself outside of her house. If we didn`t have real fears, we might get swept into this.
But so many people are losing their houses due to foreclosure. So many people have seen their 401(k)s go into the toilet that they don`t really care about the end of days and some crazy predictions by a Nostradamus who has got a big agenda. They want to know how they`re going to pay their bills.
SANCHEZ: On a bottom-line approach, I`d agree with you. I say about 40 percent look -- you know, are looking to the economy, and that`s tilted even higher because of this economic calamity.
But that being said, it doesn`t underscore the fact that Senator Barack Obama is very extreme left. And there are many people, because this is a right of center country, who are concerned fundamentally about these issues. You can`t discount those folks. The fear-mongering is right, but these issues are critical.
VELEZ MITCHELL: I think, Amy, this is the type of the iceberg. I only have a few seconds. The other day my mother got a call from somebody. Oh, get out. Watch the television, Obama is a Black Panther. He has a history of a Black Panther. And she -- this is what people are saying, though. This kind of rhetoric is just the tip of the iceberg.
HOLMES: But Jane, I think what we`re missing here is that these tactics are used by both sides: when pro-choice groups claim if a Republican is made president, women will be getting back-alley abortions; when the NAACP put that just repulsive truck driving ad out in 2000, right before the election, implying that George Bush personally wants to lynch black people. We know that in politics people make these extreme claims to try to persuade voters that the other guy is going to be a disaster for the country.
I agree. I don`t think this is going to persuade the people in the middle, who care about economic policy or economic conditions. But for those people who are, you know, driven by values issues and are values voters, I think James Dobson does raise some important points about, as Leslie said, that we`re a center right country. And a Democratically- controlled House, Senate, and White House will push this country to the left.
VELEZ MITCHELL: I`m going to give you the last word. I do agree that, from time to time, both sides use these tactics. Let`s get rid of them once and for all. Thank you.
HOLMES: I agree. There you go.
VELEZ MITCHELL: Thugs and pervs, turning our kids into sex slaves? I`ll have the very latest on an effort to bust up kiddie porn.
VELEZ MITCHELL: And that disturbing footage courtesy of the Humane Society of the United States. We`re focusing on ballot initiatives this week. Today we`re talking about Proposition 2. It is a California initiative that would phase out cramming calves, pigs, and egg-laying hens into small cages and crates.
The law would simply provide those farm animals with the right to, quote, "lie down, stand up, fully extend their limbs and turn around freely," end quote. It is really that simple. Who could possibly be opposed to that?
The answer is California`s egg industry, which claims the proposition would wipe out the state`s egg farmers and raise the cost of food. Of course, the animals cannot argue back for themselves.
So with me now, Wayne Paselli, president and CEO of the Humane Society of the United States.
But first, some full disclosure. I am an animal advocate, as many of you know. I have given money and raised money and campaigned for Prop 2. I`ve even collected signatures at the farmers` market and distributed leaflets. Why? Because I saw this stuff as an investigative journalist. And I cannot sleep at night thinking about those pigs, which have a high IQ, equivalent to dogs, in those gestation crates, unable to even scratch themselves, much less turn around.
Wayne, if those pigs were dogs, would there be animal cruelty charges for keeping them in those crates?
WAYNE PASELLI, PRESIDENT/CEO, HUMANE SOCIETY OF THE UNITED STATES: Without any question. These breeding pigs are in these cages that are barely larger than a body, Jane, for two or three years. And it`s seven, eight, nine, ten successive pregnancies are in a two-foot by seven-foot cage. They can`t turn around. They bite the bars because they`re so frustrated. They can`t root around and engage in behaviors that are so basic to these animals.
You know, agriculture has taken a harsh turn. These are factory farms. These are not farms. The animals are treated like things and commodities. All Prop 2 does, as you said, is give the animals a little bit of space.
VELEZ MITCHELL: OK. Now, they`re arguing back that this is going to put these factory farmers out of business in California. And they also raise some health issues. What`s your response to those two key basic arguments that they`re raising?
PASELLI: Well, you know, we often see exaggerated claims by folks who don`t want to reform. We know that cage-free operations and crate-free operations exist throughout the country. And many major retailers like Compass Group, the largest food provider in the world, Wolfgang Puck out here in California, they don`t purchase products from these sorts of operations.
So we know that the alternatives exist. And we also know that factory farms, because they overcrowd animals by the tens of thousands or the millions, are unsafe for the animals. That means unsafe for people. That`s why you have environmental groups, you have public health groups, you have food safety groups joining humane organizations and backing this measure.
The California Veterinary Medical Association, the Center for Food Safety, the Union of Concerned Scientists, a huge coalition of groups favor giving the animals just a little bit more space.
VELEZ MITCHELL: Briefly, what about their contention that you`re trying to force them out of the state?
PASELLI: You know, these are cruel and inhumane practices, and all of us as states can do better. Our nation can do better. Farmers have six years in Prop 2 to transition to more humane methods of farming.
Already these farmers have cage-free operations as part of their operations. And we`re just saying expand those cage-free operations, because it`s decent, it`s civil, it`s humane. What they`re doing now is grossly inhumane. That`s why we have an enormous coalition.
We`ve got to go. But you`re saying vote yes on Prop 2 in November, election day, Californians. Thank you, Wayne.
More information about the brutal slayings of Jennifer Hudson`s family, the very latest from Chicago, coming right up.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Police continue their investigation into the horrific triple homicide of Oscar winner Jennifer Hudson`s mother, brother and seven-year-old nephew. William Balfour, the estranged husband of Hudson`s sister, Julia, remains the authority`s primary person of interest in this case. He is locked up right now.
Meantime, the focus is the possible motive for these brutal slayings. Now, here`s the one they`re looking at. Get this, are you sitting down? A dispute over unpaid car payments.
Natalie Moore is a reporter for Chicago`s National Public Radio. Natalie, I know you`ve been with the family and I want to ask you all about that in just a second. But car payments? I mean, is this what this world has come to, that three people, including a seven-year-old boy have to die over car payments?
And, frankly, it doesn`t shock me because people kill over pocket change these days. What do you know about this car payment issue?
NATALIE MOORE, REPORTER, CHICAGO NATIONAL PUBLIC RADIO: Well, I think no matter what the reason is for the killings, the motivations, people are really outraged in Chicago about the murders as they feel that they really connected to Jennifer Hudson. And people are really sad that this seven- year-old boy had to die.
And people -- it is not so much what the motivation was, and whatever the motivation was, it wasn`t anything that could justify these killings that took place.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: But I understand obviously we both agree on that. But it what`s so crazy about this is the report out of "The Chicago Tribune," that Balfour had taken Julia`s vehicle months earlier and had promised to make car payments. And then Julia Hudson, Jennifer Hudson`s sister goes in to work on Friday morning, the morning of the first two murders at least, and finds out that her wages had been garnished because he didn`t make the car payments. And she gets on the phone and calls him, according to "Chicago Tribune" and complains. A few short hours later, there are dead bodies.
MOORE: Right. And it is just -- there aren`t really any words that can express what has happened, you know, again, no matter what the dispute was over and this man was no longer living in the house. He has been put out for who knows what reasons and, you know, came back and the boy wasn`t in school because it was a Teacher Development Day. So this is just -- this is really a terrible tragedy any way you look at it.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: You`ve been spending time with the family. Tell us what they must be going -- I can`t even imagine what they`re going through. It`s beyond comprehension.
MOORE: Well, I haven`t been with this family. I`ve been at the house, but the Hudson family house is just a few blocks away from where I work. And you have neighbors out there, you have strangers. I met family friends. People who knew her brother Jason, people who played with the nephew, Julian, and people are really just stunned.
And the neighborhood that this happened in, Englewood, is one of the most violent neighborhoods in the city. Now, that doesn`t mean that violence is the reason why this murder happened, but --
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Violence is the reason why this murder happened. Three people were killed. And that`s violence. And that`s why the murder happened.
MOORE: No, I mean the neighborhood isn`t the cause of the violence. That`s what I mean.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, an individual in that neighborhood --
MOORE: It was a domestic dispute, right. But people are fed up with the violence all the way around, whether it`s domestic violence or whether its gang violence or, you know, just no matter what it is.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, hallelujah. Thank God people are fed up with the violence. What are we going to do about it? You live in that neighborhood. Do we need a police crackdown?
MOORE: I don`t live in the neighborhood; I work in the neighborhood. From what I talked to with people, they`re hoping that there`re some better measures that come in, cease-fire was there yesterday. They`re an anti- violence group, they do a lot of conflict mediation. There are some schools in the neighborhood that are really working on conflict resolution, crime de-escalation so these type of misunderstandings don`t turn into violence.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: You know why I agree with you, Natalie. And we have to leave it right there. But I agree.
We need to teach young kids, somewhere out there, there is another William Balfour growing up right now, in that neighborhood and we need to teach that kid that there is an alternative when you`re having a dispute over car payments or whatever it is to killing somebody.
And, of course, he has not been charged. He is a person of interest. But hypothetically speaking, we need to teach young kids that violence isn`t the solution to every conflict. Natalie hit it right on the head.
William Balfour, the person of interest, is a dirt-bag, people. He was convicted for attempted murder in 1999. He got released in 2006. Then he married Jennifer Hudson`s sister, Julia, shortly there after. He was the stepfather to her seven-year-old son Julian, who is now a dead child.
Why would any woman be attracted to a man with that history of violence?
Lisa Bloom is anchor of TruTV`s "In Session." Lisa, another infuriating tidbit and they`re coming in by the minute. As we mentioned, William Balfour violated his parole back in June for drug possession.
LISA BLOOM, ANCHOR, "IN SESSION": Right.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: You cover all these cases. Police didn`t revoke his parole at that time, even though he was on parole for attempted murder.
BLOOM: That`s right. And it was a cocaine possession issue back in June. That`s what we`re learning now. They could have revoked his parole but they didn`t. And apparently, there was an evidentiary issue they just didn`t feel they had enough evidence to revoke his parole.
Also we`re hearing now that he had substance abuse and anger management classes that he was ordered to go to and failed to go to, which to me is even more significant. If you have an ex-con who is convicted of a very serious crime, attempted murder, and he`s out on parole, and he`s not going to his classes, hello, that should be a big red flag.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes and people wonder how could you possibly, how could anybody possibly, and, again, he`s not charged but he`s a person of interest in at least the first two murders and they`re looking at him for the child`s murder, how could anybody do that?
Well, the answer is usually drugs. When you look at terrible violence, the answer, nine times out of ten, is drugs or alcohol or mental illness. Now, take a look at what Julia, the estranged wife, and the sister of Jennifer Hudson, posted on her MySpace blog.
She is apparently now blaming herself to a certain extent. She said, "Now because I chose to do what was natural to me, and love someone, it cost me my beautiful family. My wonderful, beautiful, loving supporting mother, my true baby blue brother, Jason, I love you, big baby."
So she is obviously filled with remorse over the fact that she chose to have this very violent man in her life.
Lisa, here is another tidbit. This was, for years this guy has been violent. He apparently broke into a car allegedly in 1998 and as the owner raced to stop him, and jumped on the top of the car, Balfour drove away with this guy hanging on to the car.
BLOOM: Yes, for many blocks and that`s what led to the basis for the attempted murder charge and the car jacking for which he was incarcerated for about seven years, I think.
And look, let me be very clear to this mother and to anyone else who`s in a relationship with a guy like this. It is not your fault. It is the fault of the perpetrator. It is the fault of the violent felon who picks up a gun or commits a violent crime.
It is not the woman`s fault. Her responsibility is to protect herself and to protect her children. And certainly, I think, most importantly not put the child into a violent situation.
But this crime is not her fault. She is going to spend the rest of her life going over the warning signs, the danger signs, blaming herself. It is the man`s fault who picked up this gun if indeed he is the perpetrator of this crime and took three lives. It is solely his responsibility.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: But, Lisa, I have to say this, there were foreshadowings. There were warning bells going off in this family. He had conflicts with many members of the family, he was thrown out of the house. And according to "The Chicago Tribune," Balfour told his estranged wife, Julia, that he would kill her if he found out that she had a boyfriend, even though he had other girlfriends.
BLOOM: Yes. And that is a big danger sign; that kind of controlling behavior, hyper-jealous behavior. And apparently, the mother never liked to this guy and that was a source of conflict, I think, prior to this car payment issue. The back story, Jane, is that mom just did not like him.
And guess what, moms are usually right when they have instincts like that, about a man. Apparently Julia chose to ignore it.
And, look, I also want to say that a lot of ex-cons get out and they do reform and they do lead good lives and we can`t broad brush all of them. And sometimes when given a second chance they really do go on and lead productive lives.
This man, William Balfour, by some neighborhood reports was a good dad, was a good step-dad to this kid; seems very loving, took him to boy`s nights out to McDonald`s and Popeye`s and seemed to be a good guy at least from the surface, so these situations can be very complicated.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: And Lisa you`re absolutely right. It brings us back to our theme of I don`t think that people who have no alternative in their minds to violence can come up with good solutions to problems.
Ok, we all have problems, we all have conflicts. We need to start teaching conflict, peaceful conflict resolution in schools because there is another William Balfour growing up right now in that neighborhood as I just said. And that young boy has to learn there is an alternative to shooting and wiping out a family if you have a problem with them.
BLOOM: And, Jane, I would agree and just add to that that we are a country awash in guns. We`ve got five times the gun violence of Great Britain, for example, which has a similar culture to ours. But they have gun control.
Any crazy can get their hands on a gun in the United States, even a convicted felon like this. And that`s why we`ve had so much gun violence.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: We`re going to talk about that the next time and we want you back for that.
BLOOM: I`ll be here.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Thank you, Lisa.
If I told you child prostitution affected 300,000 kids nationwide, you would be shocked.
It very well may be true. The Justice Department stat`s coming right up.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOHN PISTOLE, FBI DEPUTY DIRECTOR: Sex trafficking of children remains one of our most violent and unconscionable crimes in this country. Despite our many challenges, those that exploit children should know that they will be brought to justice.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VELEZ-MITCHELL: That was FBI Deputy Director John Pistole talking about 21st century slavery right here in this country. That`s right. Slavery exists today in the form of child prostitution.
Take a look at this, undercover video of adult Johns trolling for child sex partners. This video, part of a massive FBI sting that just swept across two dozen American cities, rescuing 47 child prostitutes and arresting 642 adults. It`s a nationwide campaign to crack down on child prostitution and sex trafficking rings.
The recovered children range in age from 13 to 17, all but one of them are girls.
How is it possible that this is going on in the 21st century America? Shouldn`t wiping out child prostitution be if not our number one priority, certainly on the top-ten list? Yet have any of the presidential candidates even discussed this? No, of course not.
Joining me now is Daniel Roberts, Deputy Assistant Director of the FBI`s Criminal Division and involved in this case. Daniel, you have 28 task forces across the country, doing this work on a daily basis. How significant were these coordinated busts?
DANIEL ROBERTS, DEPUTY ASSISTANT DIRECTOR OF FBI CRIMINAL DIVISION: This is very significant. This follows up on a case that we did similarly last summer when we recovered an additional 21 children at that time.
And I have to correct your statistics because we just updated them yesterday. We found two more and recovered two more children. So we`re up to 49 now that we recovered from this child sex prostitution sting.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, you know that`s one time I`m really happy to be corrected because if we saved two more kids, that is a miracle for those children. And I want to applaud you for doing such important, important work.
I have to ask you, how do these kids get lured into this? Are these mostly runaways? And I hear that you busted open all these operations that were operating out of truck stops and casinos. I mean, the image in my mind is you know some trucker, you know, pulling up at a truck stop and saying I want a hero sandwich and a 13-year-old girl.
ROBERTS: Well, it`s a little bit more sophisticated than that. We`ve had these unfortunately these children lured into the trade by many different means. The Internet is being used more and more to attract these kids. And most of the time they are kids that unfortunately we refer to them as throw-away kids.
They are not the ones that generally come from the good homes. These are ones that have been thrown out on the street that really have no family network or other network to support them.
And the pimps play upon that, they know that. So they play on the vulnerabilities. They go after things like offering them money, offering them jewelry, offering them clothes to entice them into the prostitution world.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Very quickly, we`re looking at Dywon Antonio Lever in just a moment, and he`s wanted by the FBI for trafficking children for prostitution and a host of other really hideous crimes against children. What is his story?
ROBERTS: He was indicted out of Detroit, Michigan. And actually he ran a ring that also included sex crimes in Michigan, Georgia, and Louisiana, where he was transporting not only adult prostitutes, but children as prostitutes through those states.
And he was indicted out of the eastern district of Michigan up there on Federal Indictments, which is the great tool that the FBI --
VELEZ-MITCHELL: You`re looking for him, though.
ROBERTS: We are looking for him. And he`s a fugitive, he was indicted last month.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Thank you, sir. Great work, great work by all of your team. Keep it up.
Joining me now, John Shehan, Director of Exploited Division Children`s Division of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children and my dear friend Wendy Murphy, author of "And Justice for Some." She is tough former prosecutor and now a professor at New England School of Law.
Wendy, these child prostitution rings are no better than 21st century slavery. This is a crisis. Aside from the FBI and hard working teams they have, the rest of the government is like business as usual. This is a crisis.
WENDY MURPHY, FORMER PROSECUTOR: You know, Jane, I wish I could show you my notes here because you took the words right out of my mouth when you said in the opening, where are the candidates on this? How about a little leadership? You know the answer is, kids don`t vote and they don`t have any money, so it really, really doesn`t matter to the people in power, and shame on them.
Because we`re talking about our most defenseless citizens, it is absolutely slavery. And let me say something irreverent, Jane --
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Please do, please do.
MURPHY: If these were happening to dogs, and I know you`re an animal lover, if this were happening to dogs, there would be more outrage, so shame on all of us.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, you know, I agree with you there. There is this sort of -- these throw-away kids that nobody seems to care about.
John Shehan, Director of Exploited Children`s Division for the National Center of Missing and Exploited Children. Tell us about these kids. Who are we blaming here for setting up the dynamics that allow them to get lured into this?
I mean, I`m thinking bad parenting, no parenting. These are kids that don`t have a father in the home, the mother is off doing God only knows what, they`re runaways. Maybe they`re being sexually abused or exploited in the home and they runaway to get away from that sexual abuse and then they end up prostituting themselves.
JOHN SHEHAN, NATIONAL CENTER FOR MISSING AND EXPLOITED CHILDREN: Yes. It`s a very good question. And a lot of those areas, you`re right. Some of these are throwaway children. Interesting statistic out of this, out of the 49 children that were recovered during this three-day operation, ten of those children were listed with the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children as a missing child.
So there were parents, guardians, law enforcement out there looking for ten of these children. So in that case, they weren`t those throwaways. They could have been children that ran away, didn`t realize the vulnerabilities and weaknesses, the ways that they could be exploited once they hit the streets.
A lot of times they don`t think about that beforehand and they end up in unfortunate situations. So we certainly need to applaud the FBI, the Department of Justice for the work that they have done. I mean, that three days they located 49 different children and arrested hundreds of individuals because not only do we need to look at --
VELEZ-MITCHELL: What happens to these kids now?
SHEHAN: Well, that`s a great question. I think we`re going to need to look at the reasons why they`re running. What puts them in these situations, have these children run before? Because we do have hundreds, if not thousands of cases, of missing children where there are nexuses of child prostitution.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: I want to go back to Wendy, unfortunately, watching at home, it`s probably a parent whose child has run away. Maybe they had a dispute with that child. What should that parent do if that child has run away and they`re trying to catch them before they end up like this?
Yes, well, the answer to that is probably more complicated. Just focusing on this one question, there`re so many resources out there. If you child may be sucked into one of these rings, one of the best organizations, the Coalition against Slavery and Sex Trafficking, which by the way is available at castla.org, an excellent organization. It`s amazing how quickly they can get involved, find a child, save a child, and that`s the first step in putting these rings out of business.
But you know what else, Jane, while we`re saving these kids, how about those 600-plus mentally deranged men?
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Oh, we`re going to get to that in just a second.
Guys, stay right there. We`re going to be back with more on this; more on your kids and the pimps that are preying on them, next.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are you really 12 and a half?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Listen Mr. it`s your time; 15 minutes isn`t long.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VELEZ-MITCHELL: That was a young Jody Foster playing a child prostitute in a scene from "Taxi Driver" shot in greedy, crime-ridden New York City in the 1970s. I remember it well.
That`s a movie, but the truth of what Foster`s character was exposed to in the world of child prostitution is very real. It`s still happening now.
Let`s go back to Wendy Murphy. Let`s talk about these johns and who are these pervs; apparently they`re operating out of casinos and out of truck stops.
MURPHY: Unbelievable. But, you know, Jane, we need to talk about this, because this is the demand side. If there were no creepy, disgusting men looking to pay for sex with kids, the business wouldn`t exist. So how about we put their little mugs on those milk cartons?
You know, I`d like to see who they are, I would like to know whether any of them are my neighbor. I would like to shame the hell out of them, frankly, so they feel the humiliation they deserve.
Too often, we`re talking about saving the kids, and not shaming these disgusting human beings. We need to do that, and we need to talk about the porn industry, which has blown up over the past decade because of the Internet. Porn begets child sex trafficking and vice versa, these are inextricably intertwined. It`s a multibillion dollar industry.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes, it all gets down to money, Wendy. Let`s take a look at this creep, Dywon Antonio Lever, wanted by the BI for trafficking children for prostitution. If you see him, call the FBI. John, who is making money off of these kids?
JOHN SHEHAN, NATIONAL CENTER OR MISSING AND EXPLOITED CHILDREN: Well, I think you need to realize that the demand base is much more than the just the creepy old guy. It really is all walks of life. There is no profile.
We wish that there was, it would be so much easier to catch these types of individuals. But a lot of times, it`s more than that dark alley, more than that truck stop. This is on the Internet.
And when you have this type of demand, you`re going to have organized crime is behind it, as well, because where there is a dollar, they`re going to try and make that money. So we need to address that demand and also a look at these issues.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: You know, that`s even scarier, because if you`re dealing with organized crime, these children are doubly abused and persecuted, because if they talk back, they`re dead.
SHEHAN: Absolutely. They look at the children as a commodity.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes, exactly. We shouldn`t look at any living creature as just a commodity, and that`s my point tonight. John, Wendy, thanks. Please come back.
You know, there`s two kinds of conversations, one that happens on TV, the other kind happens everywhere else.
I`m Jane Velez-Mitchell and I`m just trying to keep it real. Thanks for being part of this.
Please come back tomorrow, we`re going to have some more real "ISSUES" for you.