tv 50 Years of Guns MSNBC November 22, 2013 6:00pm-7:01pm PST
hello. welcome to our special evening on msnbc to mark the 50th anniversary of the assassination of the president john f. kennedy. november 22nd, 1963, was undeniably a day that changed america, but when it comes to the issue of guns, did the killing of a popular president lead to real change any more than so many other days in which gun violence struck this country? up next on our all new documentary, "50 years of guns" reverend al sharpton reflects on that history and travels around the country talking to gang members, second amendment advocates, and victims of mass shootings. reverend sharpton finds a common loss in the suffering and a tighter grasp on the anger surrounding the issue of guns in
>> martin luther king came to detroit. he was inspired and started talking about a dream he had. that was the first time he publicly talked about his dream before little children. his dream for a better america. his dream to break down segregation. it was that speech that he brought to washington when he was first made here in detroit. >> his whole premise of marching was to continue the spirit of a nonviolent movement. >> how old are you? >> 17. >> 17. all right. i'm trying to talk about a lot of the violence just as you see it and i know your friends deal with it all the time. you lost any of your friends? >> yes. >> yeah. that was him. >> how old was he? >> he was about 17, 18. >> what happened? >> he got shot.
>> i think that the gun issue is unique in how it manifests in this community. if the people in the different areas saw the commonality of pain even though it may manifest and come different ways, then we can stop this. if we can hook the suburbs with the urban and understand that the mother in detroit that's got a teddy bear hanging up is no different than the mom in loop town, if we connect that, then we can make changes. >> tell me about what happened with your son. >> my son was shot at 22 times. >> 22 times. >> hit 12 and two in the back. >> everywhere i go around the country, it's some symbol like the teddy bears in detroit, where people have put together their own markers on the
violence and after you see so many you almost become immune to it. it becomes where it doesn't bother you anymore. that is the worst thing, that we've become accustomed to kids dying. accustomed to gun violence. and that is where society breaks down. >> and these are people killed? >> yes. absolutely. there's more than that, too. trust me. a whole bunch of them. >> wow. i mean, people keeping books on children killed not children graduating. >> absolutely. >> yes. >> this right here used to be a very bustling area. used to be houses everywhere. >> right in this area. >> yes, sir. houses all over the place. businesses were bustling. right here you could see some
abandoned, boarded up windows and houses. and that's the -- >> i don't see a lot of activity. what happened to this factory? >> well, you've got hundreds of thousands of jobs that have moved overseas. >> these are about people underground that could no longer go get a factory job, therefore couldn't feed their family, therefore con couldn't consume from the store. that's how this went down to nothing. then drugs and guns and all of that was proliferated. >> i raised my son not to play with guns. i talked to my son six hours before he was murdered. my son told me he was coming home. he went home. but not to me. god called him. >> mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the lord! >> my father and my grandmother
were gunned down by gun violence, taken away from me as a child. i was traumatized. i used to have bad dreams. and it took a long period of time before i was able to overcome, if you will. ♪ this is the day this is the day that the lord has made ♪ >> every week, every week we are gunning down our brothers and sisters. every day someone is being killed over foolishness. >> i grew up a single parent on welfare but we didn't even know we was poor because there was hope and there was -- the community that enveloped us. and we believed we were headed
somewhere. >> i started preaching when i was a little boy. i said i wanted to preach. all the other kids laughed. they stood me on a platform and i preached to 900 people. but the reason the gang leaders and the drug leaders in brooklyn weren't my role models is i was accepted and nurtured by the leaders of the church. >> the biggest problem i see is that when you break a commune like this, where do people get hope from? where do these kids even start to have a dream? there is nothing to look up to. do you know how sick it is when you can see babies shot, even children in the suburbs -- i never thought i'd live to see a community like newtown shot up -- and they would sit up in
washington and say, we're not even going to have background checks. it's like lives don't mean anything. children are no longer dreaming of being stars. motown used to sell dreams of stardom. now our kids are growing up wanting to be thugs and hoodlums and they gauge and measure their life by how many guns they have. respect for human life is lost because you see no respect for human life. if no one cares that you get a job, no one cares if the schools work, no one cares if your children, babies walk by abandoned buildings and liquor stores every day, no one cares drugs is being traded openly, your life becomes so devalued that once it's devalued that low
it doesn't mean nothing to take a life. we must put value back in human life! we must put hope back in our children's brains. when i was growing up, martin luther king made me feel i was a valued -- saying i am somebody, self-esteem, teaching me people that looked like me could be something. we must rebuild the spirit of hope, the spirit of promise, the spirit of dreamers in our children. they were not born to be gang bangers. they were not born to be shooting each other. they were not born to kill. they were born to heal! >> jarvis, i'm glad to meet you. i'm out here talking to you all. i like your dress. >> thank you. hey wayne, quick question... did you try restarting it?
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i thought i heard shots. do you confirm that? i got a man with a gun in the parking lot. >> we are learning more about the man who carried out the mass shooting at a sikh temple outside of milwaukee on sunday. a 40-year-old army veteran was the lone gunman who shot and killed six people. >> he came in through these front doors as people were fleeing and just shot, shot, shot, shot, shot. one of the elderly was hit right here. and then he crawled later and tried to make it to the outside. he noticed somebody running in here and that was the only woman that was killed that day.
this is a prayer hall in our faith. that day was awful. people screaming and running. and she died in that corner right there screaming for help. my dad attacked the shooter at one point when he was exchanging clips and tried to fight with him with a butter knife. under my dad's arm pits were the bullet holes. so that fight was intense. >> give me a sense of your loved one that you lost. >> my father lived the american dream but died an american nightmare. he came here with lint in his pocket, a turban on his head, a wife, and two kids, and became a community leader. he became the president of that temple. >> and he came to america to escape this kind of hate. >> he came to america to flee racism and then here is where he found it. in the worst, most horrible way. you'll never be able to answer
why this happens. right? because there are too many. it's too complex. but you can answer how it happens. how does it happen? it happens with guns. this area right now the guns are more than accessible. we have a carry-and-conceal permit people can get and then they brandish it. i feel like i'm going back into the wild, wild west, back into medieval time when people walk around with swords and are ready to joust. that's not a civilized society. >> hi. >> how are you? >> good. how are you? on december 14th, 2012, my older sister victoria soto was gunned down in her first grade classroom at sandy hook elementary school in newtown, connecticut. i'm here today in oak creek for the one-year anniversary of the temple shooting that happened. >> how is your mom doing? >> taking it day by day.
you know, you would know. you have your good days. you have your bad days. >> you have your bad showers. you're like sitting in the shower and all of a sudden you're just -- >> and you just start crying. 33 americans are murdered with guns each day in this country, and it is time for our leaders in washington to take meaningful action to stop the bloodshed and to save lives. >> the issue of civil rights also encompasses gun control. >> absolutely. >> how do you see that? >> that right to organ practice your religion, that's what america was founded on. we actually told people, come to our land so you can have this freedom. when they come to the land to have the freedom, this ability to have that gun starts to influence. because we were different, people came and desecrated a temple on a sunday morning and i always liken it to this. in '63 in birmingham, alabama,
four little girls were murdered at the hands of the klan with a bomb. when you ask me how does that -- what does that make me feel about our american experience? it makes me very sad, because america is not supposed to be that. >> i remember i was in primary school in queens. my teacher walked in the class crying and said somebody just shot the president. >> two priests who were with president kennedy say he is dead of bullet wounds. >> we walked home, totally confused. the president shot? my parents loved john kennedy and they were republican. my parents changed to support kennedy over civil rights. if you told me 50 years later that there would be guns permeating this country and we'd have a gun culture i would tell you, no. you got to be kidding.
we see what guns do. >> i tell you one thing, you need a year full of grief, right? every birthday, every holiday, everything that you remember. after a year it seems like something happens and it starts to kind of lift off. >> yeah. i talked to a mother that lost her son in the war and i asked because everyone keeps saying that. it gets easier. and i asked really? she goes, it really does get easier, tell you the truth, but you learn to deal with it. every shooting is different, but we're part of this, like, club i guess you could say of people that have lost people to gun violence. >> years ago tragedy struck our community where a gunman opened fire in a dormitory in a classroom killing 32 people, injuring 25 others, physically and emotionally scarring
thousands more. >> my name is colin godder. six years ago when i was in college i survived the shooting at virginia tech and received four gunshots, different parts of my body. years later i've turned into an advocate and activist for background checks on all gun sales. >> my healing process is finished. now it's time to uplift. now it's time to go to other communities that are affected by this. >> i think what happened at virginia tech was not just a failure of gun policy but school policy and mental health policy. this was someone who was told to get therapy. he needed out patient therapy but he was never followed up with. instead of getting therapy he got a glock and a .22 and came on our campus with a couple hundred rounds. coming together we can find good from evil. we can create a lasting memory of those who came before us and make things safer for the next
generation. thank you very much. >> when this person came in here and attacked us, he wanted to start a war. he wanted to ignite a flame of racism and bigotry. it could happen. we have a lot of racial tension. instead we decided as a culture to extend our hand out. instead of closing our doors that day we opened them up wider and people showed up. >> that's when we make change, when people reach beyond their circle and beyond their comfort zone and say, you appear to be the opposite of me, but you come to the same conclusion in terms of a problem. and maybe we're not as different as we thought. >> in the wake of the tragedy, i mean, the whole community has come together. that's probably the best in america. that is the melting pot. that is where we should be and where we could be. we're not there yet.
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our young men are being taken to catastrophic levels. one death is too much. but the number of deaths that we have on the streets of america is intolerable. when people sense and feel the pain they want to be moved to action. what moves us in the country, as i said newtown moved us as it should. columbine moved us. one of the things happening on the streets of urban america is kids killing kids. that's not moving us the way it should. >> nice to see you. >> good to see you, too. >> a pleasure. reverend sharpton. >> hi. how you doing? >> hi. how are you? >> nice to see you again. >> everybody will say we need somebody to help rebuild the city and bring us together.
that's when you were elected and you started with your commitment in terms of this gun violence and the culture of violence. >> i wanted you to meet lester just driving by and i was telling him that we just caught the 31-year-old man that shot a 14-year-old boy on sunday night and then tell me what you said before. >> my little cousin was the one that was shot. >> the 14-year-old was your cousin. >> exactly. >> we talk about guns, which is important, but there is a culture that's developed about where life is useless and everybody has taken everybody's life over nothing. even though the overall murder rate has gone down in the country from 20,000 to 13,000, in the neighborhoods it is a hundred times the national average and those are mostly african-american neighborhoods and mostly young boys killing young boys and guess what? 88% of them know each other and they are killing themselves over something that you would just hang your head and cry.
so we got to get down to the root of that. >> that's right. >> there are local news reports down in new orleans. several people have been shot. 12 people according to local news reports. at least 12 people shot at a mother's day parade there. >> on mother's day we have a cultural event with moving parades and bands and kids. >> a big day. >> it's a big, big day. and a sacred day for the community. they had a young man that was evidently interested in shooting someone else and he knew he was walking in the parade and just nonchalantly walked up where 400 people were standing and unloaded his gun and hit 20 people. >> wait a minute. the parade is going on and he walks in among them. >> 400 people and just decides to unload on them.
>> when something is important to congress they'll find the money to do it. we found the money to fight the wars, a couple trillion dollars. >> right. >> during that time we spent $14 billion on police departments but none of those police departments were in america. they were in iraq, afghanistan, and colombia. >> wow. >> because we were nation building. and so people are calling for a surge on the border, a surge in iraq and afghanistan. we need a surge in the inner cities. a surge in early childhood education, a surge in job training, a surge for police officers to become community policemen. >> you ready, sir? >> i'm not used to getting in a police car without being cuffed. >> come on. >> this is a different seat for me in a cop's car. >> these communities, you want to protect your drugs and from being ripped off then naturally you get into the gun aspect. that's where the gun violence starts to manifest. >> where do these kids get the
guns from? do you all know? >> well, there isn't one magic answer. it can come from a variety of sources, though. they could actually steal their parents' guns, break in a car, get a gun, break in a house, get a gun. things of that nature. >> how does an officer deal with the possibility of his own danger and when does the -- it escalate to where they can use force or even deadly force? >> we can use what is called one degree above what the force we intend to perceive. so if we feel they are about to fight we can have the option to go hands on. we can have the option to use our taser or our baton. if that person is armed with a weapon we have the option to go one step above which is our firearm. >> give me an example. >> a knife, a shank, fabricated iron they can make and sharpen down. >> as i rode around with the
commander in new orleans in the 7th ward, i had a feeling of these police have to have the view of, does that guy have a gun and want to take my life? the policeman is saying, i've got to take action. i've got to stop crime. but i want to go home to dinner, too. and the guy on the street is saying, i am on my way home to dinner and i don't want to be assumed to be a criminal because of the color of my skin. >> you got to find the right mix and it involves policing and the criminal justice system and all of the other things that make a community safe. >> the parents have to get involved. when we was coming up you couldn't bring anything or anybody in your parents' house. so it starts at home first, parents. >> you cannot afford to be at home anymore because they're working multiple jobs. both parents. and so the children are left quite a bit to themselves.
>> and the streets. >> so who takes over as the parent? the bad people. >> yeah. >> and that becomes their role model which is very unfortunate. >> okay. for people that go to jail, you go serve your prison time, when you are released from prison, you can't get a job because you're a convicted felon so what is the only thing a convicted felon can do? go back to do what he been doing to get to where he was because they won't give us no jobs. >> it's about guns but not just about guns. as you heard from people on the street, one person said it's family. one person said it's education. >> right. >> these are people that the country hasn't really wanted to care about for a long time. >> we love to put band-aids on our sores rather than healing the ailments and the real problem that keeps causing us to go from one emergency to the next. and we have come to the point we're going to have to deal with it from newtown to new york to new orleans. we're going to have to deal with this problem.
a band-aid won't cover it anymore. >> you got to find the answer. you know why? it involves race. it involves class. it involves taboos. >> right. >> it involves a whole bunch of stuff we haven't been able to comfortably talk about as a country. >> we're going to have to talk about it. >> some people get stuck on guns which is a worthy discussion. some people get stuck on race. hardly anybody gets unstuck about the whole thing. i think we have to have a national discussion about what that's going to take. >> i think change must come from the streets and from the bottom. we've got to rebuild the values and rebuild the thinking of this country on violence from the bottom up not from the top down.
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away from each other, you know, 12th avenue, 13th avenue. they basically grew up together. for whatever reason there is a dispute between the two blocks and they resolve the disputes by using guns. >> hey, ron. how you doing? good. you going to talk? all right. i want to talk to you. >> one of the things that happened with ron in miami, you're trying to break through their whole life of learning how to insulate themselves. you can't in one conversation break through a wall a kid spent all of his life as young as it is but all of his life building that wall up. tell me what happened with your brother. what was done to you? let's talk. forget all them. just talk to me. >> i can't believe it. it happened too fast. >> how old was he when he died? >> 15. >> was it just a street thing? >> yes. >> tell me what happened, mom.
>> it happened on a day that i was at work. and i got a phone call that was every mother's worst nightmare. got a call saying that my son was shot. first when i got the call they told me it was ronald. and when i got to the scene, i saw ronald so i'm thinking, okay. ronald's okay. coming to find out it was my son marquis. >> the word is on the streets that the gun or the bullet was really intended for ronald and not for marquis. so now -- now ronald is living with not only fear, not only grief and loss, but he's also dealing with guilt. and one of the challenges is that feeling that he has to either be associated with a gang to be protected or have a gun on himself because if not he may die on the streets. you know, the media and other folks look at these kids and say these are bad kids. this is what they're out doing. no. they're doing it because they have no choice. because if they don't stand their ground, in their own
neighborhoods, then they get taken out. and that's real. >> the way it went down, we were both walking across the street. he said, go to the store for me. so i walked to the store. i said, no, let's withdrawing together but he yelled at me and said, no, you go to the store. he was just looking at me with a strange face so i made it to the middle of the road and i heard the gunshots. >> your brother, whatever reason, sent you away from danger. and you got to finish the trip. >> i was trying to say to him that the meaning of your brother is not that he is just another casualty. maybe the meaning of your brother could be that he sent you away from danger to go ahead and finish living the life he wasn't going to live. you got to give in the middle of all this madness, insanity, some meaning, some cause that they
can hold on to. do you think about it or try not to think about it? >> try not to think about it. sometimes i think about it in the middle of the hard day. >> a lot of the gang members are grieving themselves and not recognizing it as grief. and a lot of them get caught up in the culture of gang culture where you're not supposed to show that. part of grief counseling with them is to suddenly but firmly make them have to deal with the fact you're grieving. and it's all right. at some point we got to stop and say, this don't make sense. i mean, we can't -- we've got to have a dream bigger than it's just my day to catch a bullet. if you had your chance what would you do about it, get out of it? get out of the neighborhood? i mean, what do you think you're asking?
>> get my mama and family out of the neighborhood. >> when a kid in the street loves his mother, there is a light that you can work with. he's not insensitive and not having feeling. he loves his mother. he didn't say my goal is to get out of here. get my mother out of here. which shows me this guy has some base decency that he wants to get out and get out with the one that he felt cares for him. i know that because i always wanted to succeed for my mother first. so i really related when he said that. i know you're hurting. i mean it's lonely and it's hurting. it's your brother. but you got to make it with your brother. you really know your brother he don't want you to come where he is. he wants you to live. i'm going to check up on you. i catch you wrong i'm going to put you on tv and say, ron is
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i am about liberty. liberty is my game. >> this is a second amendment flag. the flag has a lot of meaning to me. you know, the second amendment, you know, is under assault right now. by the liberal left. and basically people that want to have gun control laws i don't think they realize they're trouncing all over our flag and our constitution. >> i'm not against the second amendment. preserve it but adjust the application to the time that we're in where everyone from terrorists to criminals are exploiting and misusing the second amendment. >> the liberal left from what i have seen as well as the media has made it look like guns are a bad thing to have. that you shouldn't have one because the crazy people are going to get them. that's not true. okay? a majority of the people in this country that have guns that carry guns like myself are responsible gun owners.
>> it doesn't make you a bad person to say that i support the pioneering tradition of america. it doesn't make you wrong to say i want the second amendment to protect my right to have arms. but let's regulate it, given where we are in american history. that's all. >> when they wrote the constitution, they basically said, i have the right to keep and bear arms. they didn't say i have the right to keep and bear arms as long as i go through a background check. >> we're located in the city of peoria, arizona in the suburb of phoenix. the specific place is cow town range which is a movie studio and shooting range. >> we've trained at least 200 different military police agencies here. i am a lawyer and i have a degree in public administration with honors from harvard. i don't consider myself to the hard right. center right would be a simplistic way to say it.
let me do what i need to do so long as i don't harm others. >> when i went to school in western pennsylvania it was not uncommon to see rifles in the back of everybody's pickup. first day of deer season, school was closed. people owned guns, carried them, and then something happened. there was a deformation, aberration. something occurred in society that altered people's perception of how they would resolve conflict. and those of us in the gun culture have noticed that that change in society has been blamed on our sport, on our passion for firearms. >> if you want to love guns, that's fine. you should love them enough to make sure the wrong people don't have them, that the wrong people can't misuse them. >> we have lots of regulation. we have 20,000 gun laws in this country. far too many as far as i'm concerned. >> the question is as it relates to firearms can you just pass another law that says you can't
own these, pass another law that says you can't sell drugs. it's just not going to work. >> you know, the term assault weapon actually makes me laugh, because i've never seen a weapon jump out of its case and assault a human being. it's a person that does that. you know? the gun is a tool. >> what do you need to have all of these weapons that you can kill and over kill? those kinds of things are not necessary for -- to protect your family and your house because you have to have a hundred-round magazine. >> every gun is destructive. automobiles are destructive. swimming pools are destructive. ladders. people die all sorts of ways every year. a man killed his wife with a power sander the other day. it can be anything. your chance of being a victim of a mass murder are less than your chances of going down in a plane. far less.
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a usual saturday morning. i was going direction he was going another. he told me he was going to the congresswoman on the corner event. he expected to be home in a very short period of time. >> we are cutting into our program with breaking news. arizona congresswoman, gabrielle giffords, has been shot. i had been at events like this before. people would throw fire crack tires disrupt what was going on.
at first i thought it was a firecracker. i heard, bang, bang consistent bang. and he was shooting at point-blank range everybody that was sitting in the chair. >> welcome back to the breaking news coverage of the tragedy that happened in tucson, arizona this morning where 18 people were shot and wounded in a safeway parking lot. six people are now confirmed dead. >> when he looked at me, he pointed his gun at me like that. and then he grabbed it like that. when he grabbed it with his second hand, i dropped to the ground. and when i dropped to the ground. i felt the bullet hit me right in the back of the head. i went down and laid on the ground. i was dazed. when the shooting stopped, i stood up. when i stood up, i didn't realize it, but he was right in front of me. that's when somebody hit him with one of the folding chairs. his left arm flew out. i just clamped down on it like that. i came up like that and hit him
as hard as i could. he hit the sidewalk. and, he, he -- he, said ow, ow, ow. i said if you move i will choke you. >> i was in the shower. and got a phone call. it was bill saying, sally, i'm shot. i'm shot. i'm okay. i took the guy down. get here right away. it absolutely changes you. it changes yorp thought process. once it hits home you have to think about it. you have to take some kind of action. all awe i started hunting when i was 6 years old. when i was 9 years old. started shooting pheasants. i have shot guns my whole life. i was from south dakota. and most of the people from south dakota were republicans and i was a republican. >> both of us conservatives. feel that this is not a political or should not be a
politicaler to. this we believe should not have anything to do with being a democrat or being a republican. i think everyone iven the united states would have to say that violence is not a good thing. >> i am a former gangster. a former drug dealer. a former gun toter. i was once that demographic, i was at risk, i was high risk. trying to switch the game up. flip the script. get other people to do the same thing. this is the neighborhood where i kind of ran drugs and what, this is also the neighborhood i was shot three times with an ak-47. >> you were shot three times. with an ak-47. >> five feet away from the shooter. >> wow. what happened? was it a beef over drugs? >> it was a mixture of drugs. >> what gets people to a point of no hope?
>> if you don't have one person that cares about you, if you don't feel look one person cares about you, there is no hope. i found some one to care about me. i was detoured to a program that deals with at risk individuals. tyrone walker when he was my mentor, he still is a mentor to me. he helped me. let's go out to eat. first off nobody ever asked me to go to eat. people don't know. >> it gives you've a sense of -- of worth and value for some one few of invite you out to something that was beyond your experience. wasn't the food? wasn't the restaurant. it was somebody's inviting me, somebody is taking time with me. it's -- it's that kind of -- of, of, affirming that you are of value that you are not something that scud be even, cast away. >> heap just kept telling me. there is something better for you. he helped me --
set a plan. >> how did he do that. >> first off. he found out what i wanted to do. he found out. >> he didn't tell you. he found your packing. >> i am a firm believer of that. you need passion to live, elevate. passion comes from within. >> everybody wants to blame everybody else. we all have a responsibility. >> right. >> we may not all be totally at fault. we are all are responsible. >> we need to refocus on rebuilding the infrastructure, right? i'm not just talking road. i am talking family infrastructure, churches, communities, the kind of, the kind of environments that created a culture where people got along together not a culture of violence. >> we absolutely have to have some way to keep guns out of the hands of people who simply shouldn't have them for, whatever reason. you don't have to have a certain income. don't have to beep a certain race. you don't have to be anything other than a person who walks out of your house one morning
and all of a sudden everything in your entire life changes. >> the opportunity that came up for me to be, the program manager for -- for midnight basketball. which is a program under, life strategy. working in the may your's office. hired by the mayor. i want to have the power to say you need a job. oh, come with me. i think i could help you out. i am living proof. it is about -- how you look at your mistakes. how you build from it. how you grow from it. and if i cupped just send that message to -- to three young men, i would feel good. >> tell me about your bracelet and the optimism. what do these mean? >> it is meaning, no matter what happens to you on the face of tragedy. you need to have the optimism that translates. hope. you know? >> relentless optimism. >> yep.
>> the hope is -- that as overwhelming as the it is, this gun culture, this gun men attempt that is now jumped the boundaries of every community in this country. there have been things overwhelming before. that seem natural. that we thought. it was natural at one time, human beings to -- other human beings in the country because of the color of their skin. it was natural. overwhelming, women had no rights. couldn't vote. had to stay in the kitchen. overwhelming, that gays and lesbians were considered just them. and people fought. and great people were chosen by those that, would seem impossible. itch you want to only fight battles that are easily won, they're usually not worth fight.
they're usually not worth fighting. i'm going to show you what i'm made of! it. >> he's easily one of the most volatile inmates to appear on "lockup." but now is it possible he's discovered true love? >> we've been together four years. it's just something that happened. >> this man ranks as one of the most talked about inmates featured on "lockup." >> look at his eyes. >> they're tattooed. >> they're what?