Why is Jesse Jackson suddenly involved in this Florida case?

This is a partial transcript from "The O'Reilly Factor," May 3, 2005, that has been edited for clarity.

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BILL O'REILLY, HOST: Thanks for staying with us. I'm Bill O'Reilly.

In the "Unresolved Problem" segment tonight, who is at fault in the handcuffed girl controversy in Florida? Pictures have been broadcast all over the world. You've seen them. A little girl, clearly agitated. School officials not able to calm her down. Police are called in. They put the little girl in cuffs. And then everything breaks loose.

The syndicated program "A Current Affair" (search) talked with the girl's mother. And here is the pithy part.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Is Jaisha (ph) out of control?

INDA AKINS, MOTHER: She's a very active child. She loves to read and write.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: A lot of people are going to say this is your fault.

AKINS: I don't care what they say. It ain't my fault. It's the school board and the St. Pete police department fault.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They're going to say that maybe she just wasn't raised right at home.

AKINS: She was raised right. She was raised very well.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Some people are going to say you're just trying to get paid.

AKINS: Get paid for what? I want justice.


O'REILLY: Joining us now in West Palm Beach, Florida, is C.K. Hoffler, who is representing the mother and the little girl. Let's walk through this. Jesse Jackson (search), I mean, what did he go down there and what did he accomplish?

C.K. HOFFLER, ATTORNEY FOR INDA AKINS: Well, Reverend Jackson actually is the person that got us into the case. As you know, he's played a very critical role in bringing to the country to the world's attention civil rights issues and civil rights violations.

So he played a very critical role in bringing — he and others in bringing the awareness of some of the issues and the travesty of the situation to the U.S. attention and to foreign markets, as well.

O'REILLY: All right. So he — he linked up the mother to your law firm. Is that pretty much how it went down?

HOFFLER: Well, that's — that is correct. That's one of the things he did. But he also went to that community and tried to help to — for the community to galvanize, to support this family, and to bring about change for this terrible, terrible situation that happened to this 5-year-old kindergarten student.

O'REILLY: All right. Now, I said if I were the police — and I mean — I'm being presumptuous here because the police have to follow certain guidelines and standards. I said I wouldn't have cuffed her. I would have thrown her over my shoulder in a fireman's carry, because you had to remove the little girl from the school. She was clearly agitated, not calming down.

But I think I would have been sued if I did that. I think anybody would have been sued to try to restrain this girl. Am I wrong?

HOFFLER: I think there is certainly, the police — if the police were called in — and I'm not certain that the police needed to be called in, in this situation, but if they were called in this situation...

O'REILLY: Well, we have tape that shows that the school assistant principal and the teachers could not calm the girl down. We have videotape that shows that. She was agitated.

And so what would you do? If you're — if the girl is trying to strike the teacher as we're looking at it right now, counselor, of course you would have to call in someone else, because what are you going to do?

HOFFLER: Well, let me just say this. Let me tell you what I would not do.

I would not call the police and I would not have four armed adult police officers to take a 5-year-old kindergarten child, a baby, put her in handcuffs behind her back, take her out, put her in a police car, and put shackles on her feet and leave her in that vehicle for almost three hours shackled, shackled on her feet and handcuffs on her hands for almost three hours.

That is excessive use of force. That is inexcusable. That is not justifiable. That is illegal.

O'REILLY: All right.

HOFFLER: So what would I have done? I would not have done that. And I am certain that there are many steps and many protocols that would have been done.

O'REILLY: I don't know about the time — yes, I don't know about the time frame. I mean, we don't know that. That's what your allegation is, and you'll have to prove that in court.

HOFFLER: Well — well, no, the time frames are pretty etched in stone. The time frames are accurate. They're in police reports. So there's no question.

O'REILLY: OK. Look, if you can introduce a police report in court that says that this little girl had to sit there for three hours, you know, that's a strong piece of evidence that you have.

HOFFLER: Well, she wasn't just sitting there.

O'REILLY: I haven't seen the report. That's all I'm trying to get to the audience. I can't try this case on television. That's not fair. But what I'm trying to get at here is you have a situation that it looks like no one wins.

I used to teach high school in Florida, OK? I never had to confront this, but I do know that, you know, we were trained not to lay hands on anybody, because if you did, the lawsuit was going to happen, OK? And if things got out of hand, we would call security or call the police. They didn't have security so they called the police.

Now, whether the police overreacted, I don't know. That's your job. But I don't know what good it does to sue the police and the school. I don't think they had any malevolent intent. Do you?

HOFFLER: I would tend to disagree with you as it relates to the police department.

O'REILLY: You think the police wanted to go hurt this little girl?

HOFFLER: Well, let me just say this. We're not sitting here bashing the schoolteachers, and we're not sitting here right now at this point in this case saying that what the school did was completely and absolutely wrong. There are certain protocols they followed, but clearly there were steps that were taken that were not correct. But as relates to the police department...

O'REILLY: But again, do you think — do you think the police department wanted to hurt the little girl?

HOFFLER: I think when you have four adult police officers that take a child, a 5-year-old kindergarten child, arrest her, put shackles on her feet, put her hands behind her back and put handcuffs on and take her in a squad car for over three hours, yes, they intended to do that and yes, it's exactly what they did. Because there's no justifiable reason for taking that level of excessive force and use on a 5-year-old baby.

O'REILLY: All right. Now, what about...

HOFFLER: That child — when those — if I could just add, when those four police officers entered the room where that child was, she was seated. She had been calmed down at that point.

Now, we are not condoning bad behavior in children. Please understand what I'm saying. No one is condoning bad behavior in children.

O'REILLY: All right. This girl had done this, as you know.

HOFFLER: But certainly, it was not necessary to use excessive force.

O'REILLY: This girl had been disruptive before. It shows — I don't know how calm she is again. I don't know how calm she is. She might have been intimidated by the police when they walked in. Clearly, the school authorities couldn't handle her.

The last question I have — and this is going to come up in your trial — is that the mother of the little girl sold her story to "A Current Affair" for money. And "A Current Affair," to their credit, asked her, "Hey, aren't you trying to capitalize on this? Don't you just want money?"

And I predict this will never even go to trial, that you'll settle for money, and, you know, cynical people are going to say that's what it's all about. They just want to shake down the cops and the school.

HOFFLER: Well, let me just say this. This case is absolutely, positively not about the money. This case is about reform.

O'REILLY: So you're not going to settle it?

HOFFLER: We've got to make sure — I don't know if the case will settle or not. It's premature to say that.

But let me just make this point. We are looking for changes in the police department, changes so that no other 5-year-old child or child, period, in this situation that has behavioral problems will have to go through being handcuffed and shackled the way that this child was. That's what this case is about.

O'REILLY: All right. Do you think there is a race element here?

HOFFLER: This is really not about — no, this is not about black and white.


HOFFLER: This is about our children. No child — let me just say this, if I could. No child should have to endure what this child endured.

Now I would be remiss and I would be — I would be naive if I didn't mention that, certainly, I wonder, I question whether if this had not been an African-American child the same thing would have happened. But this case is not about race.


HOFFLER: It's about our children and it's about not violating their civil rights, these helpless kindergarten children.


HOFFLER: That's what this case is about.

O'REILLY: We'll continue to follow the story. We appreciate you taking the time to talk to us.

HOFFLER: Well, thank you for having me.

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