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Jesse Jackson Weighs in on Current Issues That Are Creating Racial Divides in the U.S.

This is a rush transcript from "Hannity & Colmes," October 10, 2007. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MADONNA CONSTANTINE, COLUMBIA PROFESSOR: Hanging the noose on my door reeks of cowardice and fear on many, many levels. I would like the perpetrator to know I will not be silent.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SEAN HANNITY, CO-HOST: That was Madonna Constantine, a professor at Columbia's Teachers College. And racial tensions exploded yesterday when Constantine found a noose hanging from her office door. Students have been protesting throughout the day, and the New York City Police Department is investigating the incident as a hate crime.

This incident is drawing comparisons to the Jena Six controversy. Joining us now, the president of the Rainbow-PUSH Coalition, the Reverend Jesse Jackson is back with us.

Reverend Jackson, I don't think there's going to be any disagreement here. What happened in Louisiana, what's happening here is offensive. And we want to find the people responsible. I think they should pay the price. We agree on that.

REV. JESSE JACKSON, CIVIL RIGHTS ACTIVIST: Well, it's interesting. It's happening around the country. It's Jena; it's New York; it's Maryland; it's West Virginia. And a group of us met with the acting civil rights leader of the Department of Justice last Friday, NAA and Urban League. We asked her, would you declare hanging a noose to be a hate crime? She said deplorable. We say hate crime. Deplorable is not punishable by law, but hate crimes, hanging nooses and brandishing swastikas and burning crosses are hate crimes. And this Department of Justice refuses to, in fact, declare it so, and therefore...

HANNITY: Let me ask you this. In the case down in Louisiana, we had, for example, the attorney general that investigated this case, the U.S. attorney, an African-American, Don Washington, he investigated it. He concluded that the kid involved had absolutely — the kid that was cold - cocked from behind, beaten unconscious, kicked in the head and stomped on, that he had nothing to do with the noose incident here. I mean, so we have racial tensions on both sides of this. And one of the kids involved...

JACKSON: I think you're operating — I think you're operating out of context. Back in August and September, the kids asked and (INAUDIBLE) on their campus. They were told they could. The reaction was three hanging nooses.

HANNITY: Right, I remember that.

JACKSON: When the principal expelled those students, but the board overruled them. Now, hanging nooses and brandishing swastikas and burning crosses are hate crimes.

HANNITY: We agree.

JACKSON: And there no (INAUDIBLE) that time.

HANNITY: But wait a minute. I guess what I'm saying here is — the kid — remember, this happened three months later, the beating of this one particular kid. And you were down there because you felt that he shouldn't have been tried as an adult, as I understood it. But this kid that was beaten was cold-cocked from behind, he was beaten unconscious. And in this case, it was African-American kids beating up a white kid. I mean — so we have racial tension...

JACKSON: Let's go a step further, because racial tensions are never — are never good. But the Friday before that Monday, a young black kid (INAUDIBLE) at a party in the city. He was hit across the head with a bottle. And he identified those who beat him. And they would not accept his complaint.

(CROSSTALK)

HANNITY: What should the punishment have been? What should the punishment be for the kid that got cold-cocked?

JACKSON: Wait, now I'll let you finish. One has the right to complain and refuse to accept his complaint. The next day, one of those who beat him had a shotgun. They took it from him, but did not hit him or shoot him. And that was a misdemeanor. On the Monday, you had the fight in the school.

Unfortunately, this kid was kicked, apparently hurt, but not so much he did not come to a party that night. But those kids' first time offense should have been probation. Instead, while the noose hangers did lead testimony against Bell, and he was in jail for nine months.

And so I think the D.A. and the judge were not appropriate. And the trying kid knowingly as an adult is child abuse and (INAUDIBLE) misconduct...

(CROSSTALK)

ALAN COLMES, CO-HOST: Hey, Reverend, it's Alan Colmes. He also had a very aggressive D.A. Apparently, he spoke at a school assembly, looked at the kids, said, "I can with one stroke of the pen end your life," and it's clear which kids he was talking to in that case, wasn't it?

JACKSON: Well, it's abusive to see an adult talk to kids in that way. This matter could have been resolved before it escalated to this point of tension. That was — and when the trial came, it was not a jury of his peers. It did not reflect the people of Jena.

Secondly, the public defender did not call one witness. And this kid was sent to jail for nine months. And the lead witness against him was one of the guys who hung the noose. And so that should not be an example of American justice.

COLMES: With the Jena story and with Columbia, and we understand the Hempstead, Long Island, police department, someone put a noose there, why these serious of events now at this point at time, all with nooses?

JACKSON: Well, it apparently is — there could be a copycat factor. But the other part of it is that, when the Department of Justice is silent and does not act to deter hanging nooses and swastikas and burning crosses, it gives a kind of permissiveness, a kind of silence becomes betrayal. We need a Department of Justice that is, in fact, forthright on this resistance to hate and violence, because what happens is...

(CROSSTALK)

COLMES: What do you want them to do?

JACKSON: Well, first of all, you should find those who did it, and they should be punished by law, because hate crimes are punishable by law. But this Department of Justice refers to those acts as pranks, not hate crimes, and in fact offers no course of action to stop the escalation of hate and violence in our country. And we deserve better, all of us do.

COLMES: All right, Reverend, stay right there. We're going to come right back and talk about Don Imus' possible return to the airwaves. Could it get derailed by the way if the National Association of Black Journalists gets its way? The Reverend Jesse Jackson responds to that right after this break.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COLMES: Rumor has it that Don Imus will return to radio. And whether these rumors are substantiated, the outrage has already begun. The National Association of Black Journalists and the National Organization for Women released statements condemning Imus. And we are rejoined by Reverend Jesse Jackson.

Should he be able to go back on the air without having to face the condemnation of groups? And should we not wait to hear what Don Imus does and says before we start any possible condemnation?

JACKSON: Well, I do not believe that the sentence — that what he did, while it was very offensive and racist, he showed contrition in his apology to the young women. That process apparently is being worked out. I do not think what he did warrants a life-without-parole sentence. So I really believe, when you make a huge mistake, that there is contrition, and redemption, forgiveness and redemption. And so how he manages to regain confidence determines upon how he handles his newfound position. He no doubt will go back to work.

COLMES: Yeah. Well, you believe in redemption. As you said, would you advise the National Association of Black Journalists, for example, to pull back, stop advising both Citadel and possibly FOX, if he might be talking to them, wherever else he might be talking to, to give him a chance? Would you advise them to stop saying what they're saying?

JACKSON: You know, it's not my job to advise them in that sense. And I think the young women from Rutgers have something to say, because they were directly offended by this, and that would be — I mean, he'll have to regain his following or credibility, because what he said was offensive, and people will take it different ways.

I just happen to believe that, in the public discourse, that there must — when there is contrition, there must be some room for forgiveness and redemption, because none of us can live above...

(CROSSTALK)

HANNITY: Reverend, let me ask you about that.

JACKSON: ... the need, I think, for mercy and grace.

HANNITY: Reverend, last time you were on the program, we were debating the issue of the Duke Lacrosse case. And let me remind our viewers where that debate went.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JACKSON: If this young woman's esteem was so low, and finances were so low, and her — she, in fact, had to be an exotic dancer and strip for a living to educate herself, and take care of her children, then we would offer a scholarship. People like you say (INAUDIBLE) people like you say don't abort, adopt. But I'm saying don't strip, scholarship.

HANNITY: What if it turns out this woman is lying about these boys? Do you take back that scholarship offer?

JACKSON: Well, I really do not, because the evidence so far by the prosecutor is that she, in fact, was harmed that night.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HANNITY: Reverend, it turned out those boys were innocent. Do you owe them an apology? And will you rescind that offer for a scholarship?

JACKSON: No, first, I never attacked the young men. And all of us at that time were inclined to accept the words of the prosecutor. I said for the young woman, if her esteem was so low that she had to strip naked to go to school, we would have sent her to school. That was the condition. I never met her. I never went to Durham. I'm glad those young men have been set free and had the resources, in fact, to gain vindication.

HANNITY: Reverend, she smeared, she lied about, she slandered innocent boys. Their families paid millions in defending them. And still to this day — it took them — a year of their life was taken away from them, and you're going to reward them with a scholarship?

JACKSON: That's not true. No...

HANNITY: Wait a minute. And you don't think — wait a minute.

(CROSSTALK)

HANNITY: And you don't think you owe these boys an apology?

JACKSON: No, you're engaging in very deceptive language. My point is, I'm glad these young men were found to be not guilty and that they were not guilty.

HANNITY: Why reward a liar? Why reward the woman that lied?

JACKSON: The prosecutor was wrong. And I would say, again, that whenever our young people go astray, and have to put their bodies on the line, as she apparently was doing, to prostitute for a living, which she was trying to find her way out.

HANNITY: But, Reverend, isn't it wrong to reward her for something when she slandered and destroyed a year's life of three innocent boys?

JACKSON: Well, there is no reward for her now, nor is there any attempt for her to go to school. So you're raising a kind of mute question here it seems to me.

HANNITY: You don't think you owe those boys an apology?

JACKSON: For what?

HANNITY: For what you said.

JACKSON: I did not attack them.

HANNITY: Well, you said in that last interview that you thought, well, that the evidence seemed that they were guilty. There was no evidence.

JACKSON: No, I said, if these young — if this young woman had to strip to go to school we should, in fact, get her through school without having to strip.

HANNITY: Reverend, we appreciate it.

JACKSON: And the young men — I never attacked them. I'm glad, as one said, they have the resources to get through this, because many young people, like the Jena kids, without resources end up in jail...

HANNITY: We've got to run.

JACKSON: ... and do not have their day in court.

HANNITY: We've got to run. Appreciate your time.

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Copy: Content and Programming Copyright 2007 Fox News Network, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. Transcription Copyright 2007 Voxant, Inc. (www.voxant.com), which takes sole responsibility for the accuracy of the transcription. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. No license is granted to the user of this material except for the user's personal or internal use and, in such case, only one copy may be printed, nor shall user use any material for commercial purposes or in any fashion that may infringe upon Fox News Network, LLC'S and Voxant, Inc.'s copyrights or other proprietary rights or interests in the material. This is not a legal transcript for purposes of litigation.

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