Hundreds of public school teachers and their supporters took to the streets yesterday to protest Chicago's school consolidation plan, which will close 54 of the city's public schools.
The demonstration was non-violent, but more than 100 protesters were escorted away by police. Mayor Rahm Emanuel appears to be holding his ground, saying that the time for negotiations is over. The Board of Education votes on the plan in late May, and it's expected to pass.
Chicago Teachers Union president Karen Lewis joins Starting Point today to discuss the measures the city is taking to address their budget shortfall and to explain why she opposes closing the schools.
"Changing children from one building to the next is not going to ensure that their education is going to be that much better," Lewis says. "Where we have a problem is that you cannot just pick a number out of the sky and this is the number of schools we’re going to close. Mayor Rahm Emanuel went around town talking to anybody who would listen to him that he wanted 50 schools closed... I’m telling parents to take control of their school. We have local school councils. The whole purpose is so we can have local control of school and that has been usurped for mayoral control."
The brother of the man who shot and killed 17-year-old Trayvon Martin last year is now embroiled in some controversy of his own. Robert Zimmerman recently sent a series of tweets that many found controversial or even racist.
Zimmerman posted side-by-side images of Martin and De'Marquise Elkins, one of the teens arrested in the shooting of a baby in Florida, giving the middle finger, with the caption, "A picture speaks a thousand words: Any questions?"
George Zimmerman's attorney Mark O'Mara joins Starting Point this morning to discuss the outrage over his client's brothers tweets.
"I’m not sure where his heart was but I’ve always said that we have to have a conversation about race and the Zimmerman case has brought it to the forefront, particularly the way young black males are treated in the system," O'Mara says. "These types of tweets, these types of comments were insensitive to that and quite honestly were the opposite of what I hope the conversation would be to try to figure out what’s wrong with the system and a good way to fix it."
When asked whether or not he's concerned about Robert Zimmerman's comments affecting his case, O'Mara responds "absolutely."
"Quite honestly, I worry about everything and how it may affect the case. Everything that happens in this case is, if not overblown, hyper focused upon so that everything George says or does is important. Certainly, when a family member for my client says something that comes across as wholly insensitive if not much, much worse then it’s going to have an effect and we’re going to have to deal with it" O'Mara explains.
George Zimmerman's brother Robert is facing a major backlash over controversial tweets he sent comparing Trayvon Martin to De'Marquise Elkins, one of the teens arrested in the shooting of a baby in Florida.
In one tweet, Zimmerman writes that the liberal media should "ask if what these [two] black teens did [to] a woman&baby is the reason [people] think blacks might be risky."
Zimmerman has apologized, saying that he was simply trying to generate discussion about the media and it's portrayal of his brother and Trayvon Martin.
Trayvon Martin's family attorney Benjamin Crump discusses Robert Zimmerman's tweets on Starting Point this morning and comments on the content of an interview from "witness 9," revealed to be a cousin of George Zimmerman.
In the interview, Zimmerman's cousin says, "growing up, they've always made - him and his family have always made statements that they don't like black people, if they don't act like white people. They like black people, if they act white. And other than that, they talk a lot of bad things about black people."
Crump discusses Robert Zimmerman's tweets in relation to the interview from "witness 9," saying, "within 72 hours after Trayvon was murdered, she called the Sanford police department to say that she knows George Zimmerman, she knows he’s confrontational, she knows he doesn't like black people. She went on farther to say that his brother, mother, sister and father don’t like black people. So when you look at these tweets of Robert Zimmerman... he didn't say Trayvon Martin, he said blacks, meaning the entire black race, that tweet tends to be very consistent in supporting what his cousin said when she first called the Sanford police department."
Arguments yesterday in front of the Supreme Court could determine if same-sex couples get the same federal rights as others. Roberta Kaplan is representing Edith Windsor. She argued against the Defense of Marriage Act in the Supreme Court yesterday and discusses the case on "Starting Point."
She merely quotes her client's remarks regarding the arguments in saying "It was a good day."
A massive landslide wreaked havoc on Whidbey Island just north of Seattle, WA overnight. Central Whidbey Island Fire and Rescue Chief Ed Hartin shares how he’s dealing with the unstable aftermath.
Hartin says he has warned the community that the slide is still active. “But based on a preliminary geotechnical investigation, recommendations of the engineer were that we can allow these folks back into their homes.” Residents have been allowed to return to all but three homes above the slide.
While slides are fairly common in the area, Hartin says the size of this landslide was unusual. “This is much larger than the typical slides that we encounter.”
Imagine: You're at Sunday brunch, and the world is about to end. That's basically the premise of a new movie "It's a Disaster."
It's a dark comedy starring Julia Stiles and David Cross, who portray a group of 30-something friends at an obligatory couples brunch. As you can imagine, awkward moments abound.
The couples eventually learn they are in the middle of a chemical attack. The movie opens in theaters on April 12 and Julia Stiles joins Soledad O'Brien on "Starting Point" to talk about the dark but hilarious movie.
Fmr. Secret Service agent Dan Bongino on the historic appointment of Julia Pierson as the head of the Secret Service.
Lee Reynolds, assistant professor with the USC Army ROTC program, on fmr. CIA dir. Petraeus's apology.
From Hollywood to the Great White Way, Tom Hanks is making his Broadway debut as "New York" newspaper columnist Mike McAlary. He stars alongside two-time Tony nominee Courtney B. Vance, who plays McAlary's editor Hap Hairston. The play is also the final work of the late three-time Academy Award nominee Nora Ephron.
On "Starting Point" this morning, Vance talks with Soledad about the role, and coming back to Broadway after decades working in Hollywood.