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Should Chris Brown Go to Jail?

Aired October 28, 2013 - 19:00:00   ET


JANE VELEZ-MITCHELL, HOST: Tonight, in my humble opinion, Chris Brown needs to go to jail. And in my humble opinion, if it were anybody else, he`d probably be in jail right now. But instead -- and this is breaking news, it`s happening as we speak -- the infamous rapper has danced around the justice system yet again, and he is a free man. There he is leaving jail, hopping into his fancy car.

Chris was arrested over the weekend. This time he was actually thrown into jail, for a little while anyway, and charged with felony assault after allegedly punching a man in the face. But charges were downgraded just a little while ago to a misdemeanor, and Chris was allowed to waltz out of jail without even paying a cent. And we`re showing you video that is just coming in as we speak of him waltzing out.

And of course, this video we`ve had since 2009. Yes, he`s still on probation for beating Rihanna, the superstar, to a pulp. Look at her face. Remember this photo?

So, Chris Brown waltzes away. Is this power and privilege keeping justice from working?

Good evening. I`m Jane Velez-Mitchell, and we`re going to debate it tonight. Thanks for joining me.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. Chris Brown, let`s hear it for him.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Chris Brown arrested again, accused of punching a fan and charged with assault. And yes, he is still on probation for roughing up Rihanna.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Police say Brown and his bodyguard then punched the victim in the face.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes, I`ve got the police report right here. So what happened? That police report says after a late Saturday night at around 4:30 Sunday morning -- and you know, if you`re out to 4:30 in the morning on Saturday night until Sunday morning, things happen. Let`s put it that way.

Chris Brown and his bodyguard, according to the police report, started throwing punches when the victim photo bombs a picture Chris Brown was taking with a fan. The victim told cops Chris even shouted at him, quote, "I`m not down with that gay bleep." And "I feel like boxing." I feel like boxing.

But TMZ says Chris has a totally different version of events. Chris`s friends say the alleged victim was trying to illegally board his tour bus. There it is, right there. And that Chris tried to stop the trespassing. Isn`t that what bodyguards are for? Come to think of it, isn`t that what door locks are for?

Here`s a video from YouTube of Chris Brown on the club scene Saturday night. This is all taken just hours before this alleged fistfight that got him arrested. So it seems like just a regular night for a famous star schmoozing with the deejay and the fans. What went wrong? Is Chris Brown totally out of control?

What do you think? Call me: 1-877-JVM-SAYS, 1-877-586-7297.

Straight out to our fantastic Lion`s Den debate panel tonight. To me it seems like a miscarriage of justice. There`s no disputing he beat the heck out of Rihanna. He`s on probation still. He can`t seem to stay out of trouble. I think he`s getting star treatment.

But Blog Xilla, I want to go to you. Do you think that Chris Brown has a problem?

BLOG XILLA, SENIOR ENTERTAINMENT EDITOR, GLOBALGRIND.COM: I definitely think Chris Brown has an anger problem. But as far as star treatment, I don`t think he`s getting star treatment. There`s a different between star treatment and a good lawyer, and obviously, Chris has a good lawyer.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, Mark Geragos is one of the best lawyers and one of the most famous lawyers. He appears on national television all the time. Yes, but that`s part of star treatment, having a top -- a top lawyer. I mean...

XILLA: Well he`s got the money to pay for it.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: It`s a two-tiered system of justice. If you looked at the same person and he didn`t have money, would he be waltzing out into his black -- shiny, black town car?

J. WYNDAL GORDON, ATTORNEY: Jane, I think the charges are going to have to be dropped anyway. I mean, a fist fight is very rarely going to amount to a first-degree or felony assault in the first place.

Second of all, he has come up with a legitimate defense, as far as I can see. He`s trying to stop someone from boarding the tour bus. I mean, it can be very scary when you`re dealing with the public as a superstar. And I`m not trying to mollycoddle the superstar. But it can be very scary. And if someone is attempting to get on your bus after you were, you know, trying to accommodate them by taking a picture and they just want to go more and more and see how far they can get...

VELEZ-MITCHELL: You know what?

GORDON: ... it all could end up being reasonable.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: J. Wyndal, look...

GORDON: So I think the counter -- counter charges should be filed. I think -- I think they need to file counter charges, and that will make all this stuff go away.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Let me say this. You might have a point, except this is not the first brawl Chris has had on a night out. OK?

GORDON: Doesn`t matter to me.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: A little over a year ago Chris and rapper Drake got into a beer brawl ending with a broken bottle. Drake was allegedly dating -- who else? -- Chris`s ex, Rihanna. Rihanna and Drake even did a song together. Let`s listen to that. And then I`m going to go to Alexis for the litany, the laundry list of run-ins. Listen.




VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right, back out to the Lion`s Den. Help me out, Alexis Tereszcuk, Radar Online. I am looking here at a laundry list of incidents that Chris Brown has been involved in. Now he hasn`t been criminally charged in many of these instances. Some have been settled out of court. Some he denies wrongdoing and they just went away. But it`s a long list. Can you give us a sense of this list?

ALEXIS TERESZCUK, RADAR ONLINE: I can. And it`s about four years long. It started with the 2009 assault on Rihanna. After that, it became less about the criminal system and just, as you said, incidents.

He actually threw a chair through a window after being grilled. He was very unhappy with the way Robin Roberts, one of the most respected journalists in the country, spoke with him. He said that she crossed the line in the interview. Nobody has ever accused her of that before. And he was so angry about it, threw a chair through the window, took his shirt off for some reason, carried on out in the street.

But here`s the thing about this guy. He does get special treatment. Everything that happens to him, if it had happened to somebody who wasn`t famous, they would be in jail.

GORDON: Not this incident, though.

XILLA: If a regular person got into a fight...

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Let`s let Ramani Durvasala weigh in, clinical psychologist. Does he have a anger management problem?

RAMANI DURVASALA, CLINICAL PSYCHOLOGIST: He has a lot more problems than just anger management. Where there`s trouble, there`s Chris Brown. They tend to move together. And so the fact is, there`s never consequences for his behavior. If you kept getting your hand caught in the cookie jar, and there`s never punishment, you`d still go for the cookies. And that`s what he does.

There`s never consequences. From my seat as a psychologist, forget justice. He is going to keep behaving badly.

XILLA: It`s a perfect...

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Are you doing...

XILLA: ... for Brown. It`s a perfect list (ph) for Chris Brown. He has an anger problem and he`s a target. We can`t deny that he`s a target. People are always bringing up Rihanna. They`re always bringing up Robin Roberts. He`s a target. But he does have an anger problem.

TERESZCUK: These guys weren`t bringing up Rihanna. These guys were getting a picture. We actually reported that his bodyguard, another one, thought that this guy was making the form of a gun. They were actually -- Chris was threatened by this other guy. This has nothing to with Rihanna. It`s just another negative incident.

XILLA: He can`t get past it at all. He can`t get past it at all. But when you have that, listen to...

VELEZ-MITCHELL: That`s right. You don`t beat people up. Because when you beat people up and you`re famous, and you beat somebody up who`s super famous, people are not going to let you forget about it.

To that point, don`t forget that Chris Brown is still on probation for beating Rihanna like a punching bag back in 2009. Let`s show it once again, the face of Rihanna. OK?

There they are together. But let`s show the face of Rihanna. And also there it is. OK, that was a severe beating. And while we`re at it, let`s listen to her latest video, "Pour it Up."




VELEZ-MITCHELL: I mean, Rihanna is on top to have world. She`s the biggest star around, and she has given Chris countless chances, even after his conviction for beating her.

Listen, J. Wyndal Gordon, are you really doing him a favor to give him a pass on the pattern? There`s a pattern here.

GORDON: If there`s a pattern that is relevant to this case I think a judge will make a decision on that. But in terms of what we`re hearing so far with regard to this case, OK, I hear a fight. Who started the fight? Were they trying to board the bus? Did he say what the other person said he said?

What we know from the police report is they have one story. They don`t have a story from Chris Brown. We have a partial story from Chris Brown. OK, not you have to try to figure out where`s the truth. What I find is that the truth is somewhere in the middle. They probably both were wrong. They probably both need to be charged.


GORDON: Including the victim, charge the victim with a counter complaint...

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Alexis, what about...

GORDON: ... and let the court set it out.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: This past June, Brown is charged for hit-and-run driving, driving without a license, for allegedly driving a car that rear- ended another car in Los Angeles.

TERESZCUK: You`re exactly right.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Is that another -- go ahead, Alexis.

TERESZCUK: He makes bad decisions that are in violation of his probation. He has been given so many chances. He has. People have bent over backwards to make sure that he wasn`t in trouble, and he continuously gets in trouble.

XILLA: But let`s talk about Lindsay Lohan about -- when we talk about bending over backward.



TERESZCUK: A thousand percent I agree. Lindsay Lohan gets tons of passes.

XILLA: Hold on. Chris does get in trouble a lot, but when you stop at an accident and then they still call it a hit and run. There`s pictures of Chris Brown stopping and exchanging information and they called that a hit and run. Like, he has a problem. There`s no doubt about it. Chris has a problem. But he also gets star treatment in the opposite way. Who gets into a fight and gets a felony charge? Who does that?

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Ramani -- Ramani...

GORDON: ... naivete and his immaturity. That`s the thing.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Come on, now. You can`t say beating a girl in the face is youthful indiscretion. Are you really an apologist for domestic violence? Ramani, I want you to weigh in.

DURVASALA: Everybody is apologizing for this guy.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Let her speak for a second. J. Wyndal, hold on.

DURVASALA: This guy that Chris Brown is a target gets him off, that there`s a naivete gets him off. I`m sorry. You get all that privilege, that comes with a responsibility. The word "responsibility" is not in Chris Brown`s vocabulary. That`s not OK.

XILLA: I absolutely agree.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: I would ask all of you to speak one at a time.

OK. Look, I am going to say that Chris Brown is extremely talented. I have seen him perform on award shows. I`ve listened to his music. I don`t want to knock this guy. I want him to be successful. He`s talented. He`s super smart. He`s rich. He`s famous. I`m rooting for him.

But that doesn`t mean you have a license to go around punching people in the nose when they annoy you. And I`m not saying he did that, but that`s what he was charged with. And he is on probation for actually beating Rihanna. That`s indisputable.

I think to do him a favor, you say you`ve got an anger problem. Go to an anger workshop. Start with the tennis racket and beat the pillow.

I did it. I did anger workshops, and it was absolutely a factor in changing my relationship with anger. You have to look at yourself. Some days maybe I have to go back to an anger workshop. But there are ways to deal with problems in life. We`re not living in the dark ages. We can go to twelve-step programs. We can go to therapy. We can take anger workshops. We can do many things. We can`t just say it`s OK because we wish the best for this guy.

And by the way, Chris Brown, you`re invited on any time. I would love to have you on and talk about all of this.

All right. Wow. On the other side of the break, we are talking about the government messing up. We`re also talking about a huge, huge story involving Jay-Z, and we`ve got so much more. Stay right there. We`ll be right back.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Just think that Chris Brown is young. He is entitled due to being successful at a very young age. He has a lot of hangers-on around him. You know, he has access to all the money and, you know, he`s just being a young kid, and nobody is supervising him. And he needs to be taught a lesson.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: More than half of all prescription drug abusers started using after getting the pills from a friend or family member for free.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I couldn`t get up and fix breakfast if I didn`t have one because ...

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You didn`t feel normal?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No, you can`t do anything without them. Your whole life depend on them. They destroy everything. Everything. They take everything away.




UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This is going to be the first holiday I spend without my kids.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Because I`m an addict.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All of the sudden we were swamped with OxyContin abuse.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Started off with back pain, started off just taking pills for that, and eventually, it got worse.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: More people are dying from prescription drug accuse than car wrecks.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: These opioids really create this whole new addict.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We`re constantly hearing of someone else dying because of abusing prescription drugs.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Once you become addicted you`ll do whatever you have to do.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: It`s another classic bait and switch by our federal government. Just last week the feds said, "Hey, look, we`re finally cracking down on those highly addictive prescription painkillers." OK, We`re getting serious about the prescription drug abuse epidemic. We`re going to make those pills harder to get."

Then in the next breath the FDA just approved a brand-new highly addictive prescription pain killer. Bait and switch.

It`s so galling. You know, the FDA`s own expert panel voted 11-2 against approving the new drug. So what`s behind the agency`s new decision you ask? Well, in you ask me, I say follow the money. Think pharma, the largest lobbying organization in Washington, with more than one lobbyist for every member of Congress. In the United States one person dies from a prescription drug overdose every 19 minutes. Three people will have died during the time that I`m on the air tonight.

All right. Stating out to anesthesiologist Dr. Natalie Strand. You know a lot about drugs. You`re an anesthesiologist. Does it bother you that the FDA says they`re generally serious about tackling prescription drug overdoses in America and then simultaneously, they`re feeding the addicts and the potential addicts another highly addictive narcotic pain killer?

DR. NATALIE STRAND, ANESTHESIOLOGIST: I can`t say that it bothered me. What bothers me is the way that the prescription drug abuse situation is going on in this country. With great power comes great responsibility. I don`t think the pill in itself is the problem.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: It is the problem. You have these pills, and they can get people hooked. I am a recovering alcoholic addict with 18 years of sobriety. If I had a nickel for every addict who`s told me that they were doing OK until they got a little back pain, and suddenly someone gave them a basket of pills that they kept taking long after the back pain went away.

STRAND: Well, in my practice I actually don`t give pills to anybody with a history of abuse, whether that`s alcohol or drug abuse. But I do think that there were $100 million American that have chronic pain that do need access to pain messages. It`s a complicated problem. Some people need it...

VELEZ-MITCHELL: You don`t do it but somebody is doing it, because every 19 minutes somebody is OD`ing from a prescription pill. And it would have been better for them to have a little back pain than to end up dead.

STRAND: I agree. But I think that`s a misconception that it`s just someone with a little back pain who has these pills. Most of the people that are dying from these overdoses are not the people that these medications are prescribed for.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: I don`t know about that.

STRAND: We need to increase the education. People need to keep the pills out of the hands of neighbors, guests, their children, people need to keep them off the streets. So I think it`s the balance of making sure that people who really need them have the access and keeping them out of the hands of people that are abusing them.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: A healthy debate. Paul, Michigan, your question or your thought about all this.

CALLER: hello.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes. Hi, Paul. Do you have a thought about this prescription drug epidemic?

CALLER: Yes. Yes, I do. I think we are definitely a society that pushes prescription drugs. I think there needs to be more accountability. Again, it`s not so much the drug itself. That is certainly a factor, certainly a variable, but there needs to be more accountability. A person needs to be more thoroughly evaluated by the fen prescribing the medication, the doctor needs to be more accountable, how much they`re giving the individual.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Let me say this. And I appreciate your sentiment, Paul. Let me go to clinical psychologist Ramani Durvasala.

I have the dubious honor of knowing a lot of addicts. And I know that they`re incredible actors. And when they want their drugs they can put on a performance that would make Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton look like a couple of bad actors from not Broadway. They know how to feign pain.

DURVASALA: Addicts know how to lie. They do it better than anyone. And they`re going to say what they need to say to get the medications that they want.

So even if the doctor says, "Do you have a history of alcoholism?" They say, "No, I don`t."

Part of the issue is how much they`re given. By controlling the amount they take out of the doctor`s office, well, that also makes -- they`re prescribed, I should say, that also makes a difference. If they don`t have 70 or 80 or 100 of these pills at home, it does mean that they need to keep going in and getting re-evaluated. The doctors have to pay attention to the fact that there are some patients that keep come in and over and over again, asking for more and more and more.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Or they go to different doctors.

DURVASALA: Yes, they do.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: They go to different doctors, and they ask for different strengths. There`s a whole scam going on the way these people -- the way these people manage to get their drugs.

Let me see Dr. Nat for one second. I appreciate the healthy debate, Dr. Nat. I hope you don`t mind that we agree to disagree on this subject, because that`s what the show is all about. It`s always great to see you.

STRAND: Thank you.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Don`t be scared to come back.

STRAND: I`m not afraid, Jane. I`ll come back any time.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right. We`d love to have you.

On the other side, forget about the mess that is the Obama care Web site. I`ve got a real scandal for you.


JAY LENO, HOST, NBC`S "THE TONIGHT SHOW WITH JAY LENO": The White House now says the Obama care Web site will be fixed by the end of November. So if your doctor has only given you three weeks to live, you are screwed. You`re just screwed. Sorry, pal.




UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Another major stumble for the problem-riddled Web site

JOE JOHNS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: They promised would be running smoothly by the end of November.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The Web site is far from where we want it to be. Three in 10 people being able to actually make it all the way through.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They may have to redesign the entire system. The way the system is designed it is not secure.

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Things that should be simple I get frustrated.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Sign up and check it out. I would say step one is don`t believe what you`ve heard.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes, the Obama care Web site is broken again. Wait a second. It was never actually working in the first place. OK.

Let`s say this. Last night it was extra broken. So a lot of frustrated people who were already frustrated were even more frustrated that they weren`t able to apply for health coverage. And it`s also very predictable. Yes, "Saturday Night Live" used as its punch line this weekend.


KATE MCKINNON, CAST MEMBER, NBC`S "SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE": I`m Kathleen Sebelius, secretary of health under President Obama.

Now a lot of folks have been talking about our new health care enrollment Web site, how it`s been crashing and freezing and shutting down and stalling and not working and breaking and sucking.

Millions of Americans are visiting, which is great news. Unfortunately, the site was only designed to handle six users at a time. So if you`re in a rush, consider using our low-res Web site, with simply fonts and graphics.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: I love it. That was, of course, mocking the health and human services secretary, Kathleen Sebelius, a.k.a. the woman in charge.

I don`t know about you, but I am not particularly shocked whatsoever that is a big mess and had yet another malfunction last night. Personally, I have never called a government agency or gone to a government Web site that worked well, much less flawlessly. It always seems to be try by later time when it comes to Uncle Sam.

Well, now an outside contractor is overseeing the fixes, and it`s supposed to be up and running by November 1. Wait a second. That`s just four days away.

Forty-eight million Americans don`t have health insurance, and so far 70 percent of those people trying to get it have not been able to complete even the first step of the enrollment process and create an account.

But forget about all that. I want to tell you about the real scandal. To me the real scandal is the U.S. government is not doing anything about the state of the terrible health of many Americans. In fact it`s the U.S. government that keeps subsidizing big ag. Big ag is churning out the cheap food and the fast food and the junk food that`s making Americans sick. It`s making two-thirds of us overweight or obese.

Dr. Nat Strand, wouldn`t Obama care work a whole lot better if U.S. food policies were aimed at helping people get healthier and eat healthier rather than subsidizing all this C-R-A-P?

STRAND: Well, Jane, that`s a nice loaded question. Thank you. I`ll see if I can tackle it head on here.

I want to say that I think there are three parts to good health care. One is preventive health. The other part is maintenance, and then there`s reactionary.

Of course, I think that Obama care is doing something great in trying to give health care and health insurance to people that were uninsurable before. I live with type one diabetes, which is a preexisting condition that would exclude me from a lot of health-insurance policies. And I am happy to know that, if I leave my current job and have to get insurance, that I should be able to get it. So I think Obama care is doing a great job there in reacting to someone that has a disease that needs access to insurance.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, but -- but. Could we get to the "but"? Because what about all the other people who are getting type two diabetes because of their unhealthy lifestyle, which is the result of the over- consumption of cheap, fast and junk food?

There are kids being diagnosed today with type two diabetes. Two- thirds of Americans overweight or obese, and the U.S. government is responsible, because all that junk and fast food would cost a whole lot more if the U.S. government wasn`t subsidizing the grain, the corn and everything that goes into making that.

STRAND: You have an excellent point but I also want to point out the responsibility of the individual.


STRAND: I choose what I put into my mouth. So both --

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Ok, I have to say this right now. I have to argue with you because I wrote a book called "Addict Nation". And they just tortured a lot of mice and they determined that Oreos -- no offense to Oreos -- are just as addictive as heroine. You saw the study, right? They tortured a bunch of rats to come up with that.

I could have told them that because I am a sugar addict.

STRAND: I will be the first to agree with you. I think the food industry is the tobacco industry of the future.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes. Well, where do you talk about responsibility when this food is addictive? It`s packed with sugar, salt and starch -- three highly addictive substances.

STRAND: Well, Jane I was just -- you said it earlier that you have a history of knowing about addiction. You know that there has to be a personal decision not to participate in behavior. I agree with you the government can do things for preventative but we ultimately should be individually responsible.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: The government is the pusher -- the government is the pusher of bad food. And the day we wake up to that big, big, big story is the day we`ll start getting a grip on America`s health care crisis.

But Doctor Nat, I love you and I love debating with you. So please come back soon and we`ll debate some more.

STRAND: All right. Thank you Jane.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right. Next, hip-hop legend and mogul Jay-Z at the center of a raging controversy -- he is blasting his critics. We`ll tell you about it next.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Backlash is growing over allegations of the racial profiling at the high-end store Barneys New York. At least two black customers say police stopped them after they made expensive purchases.

Rapper Jay-Z doesn`t have anything to do with the incidents but he does have a fashion line that will be sold at Barneys. Thousands of people have signed an online petition asking Jay-Z to drop his deal with the store.




UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Undercover cops from the left side -- (inaudible) stopped me from the left say and asked me like "I just got a call from Barneys saying your card is not real.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Shopping while black.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This card isn`t fake; it`s my card.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Accused of racially profiling shoppers who bought expensive items.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All I kept hearing was it`s a fake card. You`re going to jail.

KAYLA PHILLIPS, NURSING STUDENT: I bought my favorite bag. You know I wanted this bag. I deserve that bag.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When they look at me they don`t see that. They just see skin color.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When they`re looking at us the other guy is getting away doing the bad stuff.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Tonight a firestorm of controversy surrounding hip- hop mogul Jay-Z. The rap superstar slammed for his upcoming clothing line with high-end Barneys after two African-American students claim they were unfairly singled out, one had the cuffs slapped on him and accused of stealing; the other was also humiliated all while shopping for expensive items.

Are you kidding me, America? Aren`t we past this? This is outrageous but the elephant in the room is this happens all the time. I went out on the streets today and literally within seconds I found two people who said yes, they`ve had similar experiences at other high-end stores.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Personally I`ve had people follow me in stores. Yes.




UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They kind of expect it from certain people so I didn`t -- it doesn`t bother me.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Just the other day I went into (inaudible) and to ask about the price and he looked at me like I couldn`t afford it and he`s was oh, that`s $1,250 and dismissed me and started talking to his coworker like I wasn`t there. It`s unexplainable until you feel it.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: This is (inaudible). We have an African-American president. This is what some people are calling shopping while black. How sad that we still have to even talk about this.

Nursing student Kayla Phillips lips bought a $2,500 purse at Barneys with her credit card, walk outside and was stopped by four undercover cops. She says they verbally attacked her.


PHILLIPS: I had good intentions so I went. I bought my favorite bag. I wanted this bag. I deserve that bag. And then to find out, you know, I`m being accused of using someone else`s card, I just really felt demeaned.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: How humiliating. 19-year-old Trayon Christian also used his credit card to buy a $300 belt at Barneys after seeing it worn by some of his favorite rappers. He claims two undercover cops grabbed him and apparently asked him repeatedly how a young black male could afford the pricey purchase.

Are you kidding me? Have any of these people heard of Jay-Z? Oprah Winfrey?

Straight out to the "Lion`s Den"; now there is a huge online petition calling for Jay-Z to bow out of his deal with Barneys. Jay-Z says he`s waiting for all the facts saying if he were quick to accuse people of doing stuff before it`s proven, aren`t we as bad as the ones who are profiling them? All right, Lion`s debaters, does Jay-Z have a point -- Blog Xilla?

BLOG XILLA, GLOBALGRIND.COM: He absolutely has a point. Jay-Z -- first of all why is this about Jay-Z anyway? Jay-Z is not the god of all black people.

Secondly, he has a point, every time you walk into a store, like I get followed, I know other people get followed. Me and my friend Pat used to go in the store and buy jerseys and we would get followed all the time. And we would pay for them -- right? And we have the money.

Am I not allowed to have nice things because I`m black? That`s not right. But just because I`m black doesn`t mean I`m stealing credit cards, doesn`t mean I can`t afford something and it doesn`t mean that I don`t deserve nice things.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes, I mean honestly, multimillion dollar businessman Jay-Z says, "Leave me alone. I`m not the one who did this." Allegedly. He`s preparing to launch a clothing line and it involves Barneys and now he`s been injected into this controversy.

Thousands -- and I mean thousands -- of outraged fans have come forward saying hey you`ve got to pull the plug on your clothing line with Barneys and speak out about this.


PHILLIPS: Jay-Z -- he`s a very busy man. I know when he do get involved he`ll make the right choice. I don`t think he should do any more business with Barneys.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right. J. Wyndal Gordon there`s even a petition pressuring the rapper to bow out of the clothing line. As of tonight, it has more than 15,000 signatures.

So do you agree with Jay-Z? He says look, I`m waiting for the facts to come out. I`m not going to snap. Or do you agree with these people who made these accusations? They said "This happened to me and I felt humiliated on the basis of my race?" J. Wyndal.

J. WYNDAL GORDON, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Well, yes. With regard to Jay-Z, I can respect the position that he`s taking. He doesn`t know all of the facts that relate to these particular situations. Substantively, there`s nothing wrong with what he`s doing. In fact his clothing line I believe were birthed from very good intentions, I think 25 percent of the profits of sales are supposed to be used to support scholarships for young people who want to attend college.

So he has the balance, the PR and the intent of what he`s actually trying to do. I think what people want to hear from him is just "I feel you. I understand. I empathize with you." And I think that`s where -- if anywhere he fell short, I think that`s where he probably could do a little more.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Let`s go to the phone lines -- Tiff, Virginia. What have you got to say about this? Tiff? Are you out shopping Tiff?

TIFF, VIRGINIA (via telephone): Yes.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Ok. What do you have to say about this were Tiff?

TIFF: Well, I`ve been in stores before where, you know, myself and my kids where we`ve been followed. Yes.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: It happens all the time. Ramani Durvasula, clinical psychologist, why is this still happening? This is outrageous. It`s sickening, it`s disgusting. It needs to end.

RAMANI DURVASULA, CLINICAL PSYCHOLOGIST: It does need to end, Jane, but don`t you think we`re being naive. The fact is when a person of color -- and I mean any color, brown, black -- you walk into a place, people make judgments about you from the moment they see you. And anyone who`s struggled with issues around race knows that`s what`s going on.

We`re naive if we think that just because we have an African-American president that all of these issues were going to evaporate, it doesn`t work like that.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well let me say this. Let me say this. The richest people in America walk around in T-shirts. Look at Mark Zuckerberg, he walks around with a hoodie all the time. You can`t judge people based on what they`re wearing or what they look like. It`s morally wrong. More on the other side.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It is (inaudible). It`s bad because I mean we might have a black president but you`re still going to get followed by security. It happens in Macy`s. You can`t single out Barneys. Even Wal- Mart, it will happen. It`s just -- I don`t know -- when they`re looking at us, the other guy`s getting away doing the bad stuff, you know. And it`s sad. It really is.



VELEZ-MITCHELL: Here`s your Crazy Video of the Day. A sea lion gets the last laugh. Watch as he comes and takes that fish right away from the fisherman. I call that a karma kickback. Yes he`s taking it back to the sea.




OPRAH WINFREY, TALK SHOW HOST: I`m out by myself and I go into a store, which shall remain unnamed. And I say to the woman, "Excuse me. May I see that bag right above your head?" And she says to me, "No. It`s too expensive." And I said, "No, no, no. See, the black one, that`s folded over." And she said, "No, no, no. You don`t want to see that one. You want to see this one because that one will cost too much. You won`t be able to afford that." And I said "Well, no. I really did want to see that one." And she refused to get it. She refused to get it.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: "Entertainment Tonight", thank you for that clip of Oprah talking about this.

(inaudible) the star of HBO`s "Treme" Robert Brown has come forward and spoken about a similar experience.

So here`s my rant. So what do you do if you`re unfairly targeted at a store? What`s your best revenge? Not shopping at elitist status driven stores in the first place. Forget about those status symbols. The whole problem with status symbols are that they`re about elitism. They`re about totem pole thinking. They`re about people saying some people are better than others based on a stupid watch or a bag.

The whole notion of status symbols frankly is ridiculous. If you need a status symbol you`re not that all that secure about your identity in the first place. Status symbols are a contrarian indicator. Status symbols often involve terrible cruelty like fur and leather.

So I say give up the status symbols. You`ll save so much money. Cut up those credit cards. Let it go. You don`t need it. Have the last laugh and become a more compassionate shopper in the process. That`s the best revenge.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Time for Pet of the Day. Send your pet pics to

Cole -- I love you. You are beautiful for this holiday season. And Mugsley -- you`re going out on the town, what are you dressed as? Emerson says, "I`m going to stay home and cook up a vegan feast. Shiloh says, "Moo. I love cows. They`re just like me -- a little doggy. Let`s all love them."


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Tonight, Cher is screaming out on behalf of Billy the elephant. The superstar is saying that this elephant is being held hostage by the L.A. Zoo -- her words. You know who I`m talking about the legendary singer of hits like, "If I Could Turn Back Time".


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Tonight, this superstar is asking her two million Twitter followers to help free Billy the elephant. An animal she says has been driven to a nervous breakdown. This is extraordinary news after a judge issued a scathing ruling saying the Elephants of Asia exhibit at the L.A. Zoo is not a happy place for animals. Captivity is a terrible existence for any intelligent, self-aware species and to believe otherwise is delusional.

"BLACKFISH" is stirring up a lot of discussion about animal rights issues. There`s a famous case in California involving land animals. Prominent Los Angeles attorney, David Castleman went to court on behalf of Billy the elephant leading the charge to sue the L.A. Zoo over its treatment of elephants.


DAVID CASTLEMAN, LOS ANGELES ATTORNEY: Elephants move 40 to 50 miles a day in the wild. They can`t move anywhere in captivity. They`re literally standing in one place bobbing and rocking and suffering.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Castleman`s lawsuit alleged the elephants at the L.A. Zoo were being abused. It called for the exhibit to be closed and for the elephants to be sent to a sanctuary. A judge found the Elephants of the Asia exhibit is not a happy place for elephants. "Captivity is a terrible existence for any intelligent, self-aware species, which elephants are. To believe otherwise, as some high-ranking zoo officials appear to believe, is delusional. The quality of life that Billy, Tina and Jewel endure in captivity is particularly poor."

But the judge stopped short of calling it abusive treatment. Because laws make it difficult to determine what constitutes abuse. The judge also refused to close the elephant exhibit and allow for the elephants to be sent to sanctuaries. We contacted the Los Angeles zoo for comment and they told us "We respectfully decline to provide a response."


CASTLEMAN: We found that the L.A. Zoo, despite $42 million expansion, making it perhaps one of the best zoos there is, is a terrible place for elephants. It`s just not big enough. The ground`s too hard. Their feet are always suffering from infections. Every one of them has been torn from their family, isolated and kept literally for their entire lives in a box.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Do you want to see all elephants out of all zoos in the world?

CASTLEMAN: Out of all small spaces, out of captivity in small spaces -- circuses, zoos -- any place where they can`t move and live in social group, like they`re supposed to live.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: So where are all these elephants going to go?

CASTLEMAN: They could go to sanctuaries. There are sanctuaries in the United States. I have a sanctuary in Cambodia -- a million acres of jungle land. There are places in the world that want to free elephants and give them space to move. The golden rule applies to animals. If they`re suffering, if they wouldn`t want to be there -- if you give them a choice, if you open the gates, would they go? And the answer is, they would go.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: But attorney David Castleman says he hasn`t given up his --


VELEZ-MITCHELL: And now time for your "Slice of Happiness". This bull terrier pup could not figure out what to make of his new pinchy friend. But after a brief stare down, the dog can`t help himself and starts to play with the crab. It`s amazing to see these two very different animals having fun together.

And these old saws that animals are always attacking each other in the wild, just not true. Animals are mostly peaceful -- much more peaceful than people.

Nancy Grace, next.