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Five-Hour Curfew Now Over in Ferguson; Critics Slam Militarized Police; U.S. Warplanes Hit ISIS Terror Targets

Aired August 17, 2014 - 07:00   ET


CHRISTI PAUL, CNN ANCHOR: Jennifer Gray, thank you so much.


PAUL: And thank you for sharing your morning with us. The next hour of your NEW DAY starts right now.


PAUL: Good morning, everybody. So grateful for your company here. I'm Christi Paul.

VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning, Christi.

Good morning, everyone.

I'm Victor Blackwell, live in Ferguson, Missouri. It's 7:00 there on the East Coast, 6:00 here in Ferguson. This is NEW DAY SUNDAY.

And, you know, this has been another difficult night for other people here in Ferguson and for law enforcement, the Missouri State Highway Patrol trying to control the protests after the shooting death of Michael Brown a week ago Saturday.

Overnight, there was a shooting, we're told. There was also the use of tear gas and smoke overnight. We're told that there was a shooting, a man with a gun inside a restaurant.

I want to bring in my colleague Ana Cabrera, because she's actually been on the ground here in Ferguson for the past week, covering the unrest following the shooting death of Michael Brown.

Ana, the governor's curfew did not go as planned. Does it seem like I mean, this is now a reassuring presence from the governor especially considering the community meeting yesterday.

ANA CABRERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, of course, he put that curfew into place in order to restore order to the streets of Ferguson. But as you mentioned, one person was shot, we know that person is in critical condition. Don't have a lot of detail about exactly what happened. But the Missouri State Highway Captain Ron Johnson telling us

that it was a protester who was shot by somebody else in the crowd. And as a result, we're told that's why police did have to move in using force, deploying tear gas as well as some smoke.

However, I want to put this into some perspective compared to the nights we've seen the past week where we saw looting and a greater sense of unrest and protesters, at least individuals within the crowds of the protesters getting more out of control. We know there were seven arrests last night.

But the groups that were holding ground so to speak after that curfew were much smaller numbers. Our crews on the ground telling us there were a few dozen people who tried to maintain their presence on the street, and that those people tended to be of a younger demographic in their late teens, maybe early 20s. Again, it's unclear exactly if they are even Ferguson residents, since it's the weekend we know other people from surrounding communities have been coming into town as well.

The governor seemed to say the right thing that his press conference yesterday afternoon in the sense that he said, you know, they are demanding answers, they asked for an expedited investigation. And is demanding peace but again with that curfew, people weren't really happy about it. I want you to listen to this exchange.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Excuse me, governor. You need to charge that police with murder.



GOV. JAY NIXON (D), MISSOURI: The task that we have at hand, the task which I have the task to lead, is the task first of all to represent the people of the state and the people of this area, but also to make sure that we have peace and security.


CABRERA: So, you heard there was that interruption and there were a few other interruptions throughout that press conference, the governor not coming across completely in control of that situation even, which is unfortunate because this is -- this is clearly an issue in this community of unrest and a call for justice. I don't think people here are going to feel good about anything until they have some answers. And we do know that those answers could still be a long time coming in the sense that we have separate investigations on the federal level and on the local level. We know there are some preliminary things that are complete but again, just preliminary.

And as far as the autopsy, we know that evidence has been collected and that investigators are going through ballistics, through DNA evidence that are collected are still reaching out to other potential witnesses. We know 40 FBI investigators were sent to the scene and we're told are going to be in the Canfield Green apartment area where Michael Brown was shot and killed.

We know the police officer involved in this has been interviewed twice now by investigators at the federal level, first to have his initial take and then a more thorough investigation and interview a few days after the shooting. And we know there are still perhaps two more autopsies to come as the family attorneys are conducting their own autopsy and have also asked the Justice Department to do one as well, Victor.

BLACKWELL: Yes, the announcement from the family's attorneys that Michael Baden who testified during the O.J. Simpson trial will be conducting that second independent autopsy as part of the family's investigation. So, we'll see.

There are so many investigations happening now, what the family and what the community wants is results, some answers.

Ana Cabrera, thank you so much for being with us.

Let's bring in Radley Balko. He is the author of "Rise of Warrior Cop: The Militarization of America's Police Forces".

You know, the past few days, including what we saw last night, the streets of Ferguson in some ways looked like a war zone. The growing militarization of the domestic police forces has been a concern for years. As we specifically look at Wednesday night and Friday night, and to a lesser degree what we saw last night, is this too much? What do you think?

RADLEY BALKO, AUTHOR, "RISE OF WARRIOR COP": Well, I think it is too much. You know, we want the police to be adequately prepared to respond when there are actual indications of violence, but that initial protest in Ferguson on Sunday afternoon was peaceful and it was still met with riot gear, it was still met with snipers.

And I think that set the tone early on for confrontation. I think it said to protesters, you know, this is not a safe zone for free expression. I think people are reacting to that.

I also find it interesting that, you know, when the state police came in and we saw the head of the state police sort of hugging protesters and talking to people and sort of treating them like human beings, that night was fine. You know, there was -- it was peaceful, people were still protesting, but there was kind of a feeling that things were getting better. And then the next day, you imposed a curfew I think creates unnecessary confrontation. You know, it sort of gives people something to rebel against.

So, you know, I'm not sure why the curfew was necessary and it looks like that's exactly what happened last night as we saw things flare up again.

PAUL: Radley, I want to read to you --

BLACKWELL: To be fair --

PAUL: I'm sorry. Go ahead, Victor.

BLACKWELL: I just want to jump in here, Christi.

Just to be fair the curfew was enacted after that night of looting and shooting and the resistance from some of the agitators in the crowd, not just those who are protesting. So, that I guess would be their argument for why they enacted that pro -- that curfew.

Go ahead, Christi.

PAUL: No, that's great. Great clarification. Thank you, Victor.

I just wanted to read something, the ACLU had regarding a statement they issued. They say, "Our neighborhoods are not war zones. And police officers should not be treating us like war time enemies and yet every year, billions of dollars reveal -- worth of -- sorry, billions of dollars worth of military equipment flows from the federal government to state and local police departments. Departments use these war time weapons in every day policing, especially to fight the wasteful and failed drug war which has unfairly targeted people of color."

Now, again, this statement was made after the initial couple -- first couple of days of I guess what we would call this crisis there in Ferguson. Do you agree with that statement, Radley?

BALKO: Yes, I do. And the ACLU put out I think a very important report a couple months ago, documenting militarization in police departments across the country. I mean, what I think it does is it -- you know, when you militarize the police this way, it puts the police officers in the mindset of being soldiers instead of peace officers, instead of people that are keeping the peace. It's not -- this is a comment on police officers or on their, you know, their talent or capability, it's a very human reaction.

When you give somebody a military weapon and you dress them in military outfit, train them to military tactics, that fosters that kind of mindset. From the perspective of the community, it makes them feel like they are being occupied or oppressed by an outside force instead of being represented in the police by members from their own community. I think this is also where the racial, you know, the disproportionate racial makeup of the police department also, you know, fosters I think that mentality on both sides.

Again, it makes the police -- the police can't see themselves in the community, I think that's a problem and the community can't see themselves in the police. That's also a problem.

PAUL: All right. Radley Balko, stick around, author of "Rise of the Warrior Cop", we thank you.

And we're going to be right back.


BLACKWELL: Let's bring back Radley Balko. He's the author of "Rise of Warrior Cop: The Militarization of America's Police Forces."

Radley, you know, there was a veteran who was on Michael Smerconish's show yesterday who talked about watching what's happening here in Ferguson over the past week and he highlighted that even they didn't use tear gas, namely when they were fighting overseas, namely, because it's banned by the Geneva Convention as a tool in war but it's used here on Americans in Ferguson.

Talk about that, about using some of these tactics that even as they get some of the resources from the military, not tear gas but the equipment, and the military doesn't even use some of these things on foreigners in war.

BALKO: Yes. So, a lot of police departments across the country through this Pentagon give away program where they give away surplus military gear to police departments have gotten things like machine guns and tanks and armored personnel carriers that shoot 50 caliber ammunition is a good example.

Now, the military has restrictions on when they use 50-caliber ammunition. A 50-caliber bullet will go through 8 to 10 city blocks no matter what's standing in the way. This is not -- I mean, this is not remotely appropriate for civilian policing. This is stuff that's designed for use in a battlefield and in this case even limited use on the battlefield being given to, again, to domestic police departments for use in domestic settings.

You talk about drug raids, the way the drug raids are conducted in this country. I've talked to people who have both conducted and trained raid teams in Afghanistan and Iraq who have watched some of these SWAT raids and told me people would be court-martialed if they did that during these raids that the military conduct to look for insurgents. So, I think there is something to that.

I mean, I talk about the militarization of police departments. But I, on several occasions, I had people in the military tell me that they agree with the general premise and the general problem, but they object to the term militarization because even the military in some cases does -- gives people greater respect for their sort of civil rights and civil liberties than the people get in the United States.

PAUL: So, Radley, real quickly, we just have about a minute left, but the Pentagon stands by this armed sales program. There surely has to be some sort of mandated training program for these departments. How concise and how thorough is it?

BALKO: There isn't. This equipment gets transferred to police departments with no training requirements from the Pentagon at all. It's basically left to the police departments to do their own training.

Now, in some cases, with the MRAPs I know -- I've seen some of the applications for the MRAPs and the Pentagon requires the police department to come up with training or argue what kind of training to provide before they get the vehicle, but once the equipment is transferred, you know, soldiers get lots and lots, hours and hours of training before they use some of this stuff that's being given to police departments with no training provided by the Pentagon whatsoever.

PAUL: Wow. All right. Radley Balko, author of "Rise of the Warrior Cop," we appreciate your time this morning. Thank you for being with us.

BALKO: My pleasure.

PAUL: And of course, we're going to be going back out to Victor throughout the morning, who is live for us there in Ferguson. Now, if you have questions that you want answered about what's going on there in Ferguson, the situation is unfolding here, the tactics that are used by both sides, we want to hear from you. Tweet us using the #FergusonQs, and we're going to get some of your questions answered.

Meanwhile, gun battles are raging in Iraq now. Kurdish troops we know doing wattle with is, fighting for control of this dam, the biggest one in the country. We're taking you there live, next.


PAUL: We learned this morning that pro-Russian separatists have shot down another Ukrainian fighter jet. This was near Luhansk. Now, this marks the third known military jet destroyed by rebels since the conflict began about six months ago.

Ukraine's news agency says the pilot ejected and is safe. Also, Ukraine now says that mysterious convoy of Russian trucks that showed up on the border is in fact humanitarian aid. There was question about it obviously. Initially, there was no idea who or what was inside those vehicles, where they came from. No word yet though when the supplies will be transferred to the hundreds of thousands of people who are in need there.

Kurdish troops meanwhile are taking the fight to ISIS militants in northern Iraq right now. They are trying to push the extremists back from the country's largest dam.

I want to show you these new images here from the scene. The battle is raging right now after U.S. warplanes and drones pounded ISIS targets. Our CNN crew is on the ground near where this fighting is going on. And they tell us there have been huge explosions, rocket and mortar fire.

CNN's Anna Coren is in Mosul, Iraq.

Ana, is there a gauge into the progress the U.S. and Kurdish forces had in this fight thus far?

ANNA COREN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (via telephone): Well, Christie, we just learned in the last hour that Peshmerga special forces in kilometers of that. The problem is what's on either side. So, they are currently clearing out the area that has been battled with the ISIS militants in the last couple of days. We've been since early this morning and they have been aggressively targeting the militants with heavy artillery, lots of smoke has been on the horizon, lots of loud explosions, that it was seen that the militants have retreated.

The problem is they have gone and laid IEDs, land mines and explosives along the road and certainly in a number of buildings. We also believe that there are snipers along the main road from us to where the dam is, Mosul dam. We are now in Mosul province, we can see Mosul lake and the dam, obviously flows on from there.

Yes, we do understand that Peshmerga soldiers are within kilometers of the dam having a brutal battle with these ISIS militants who certainly are digging in, Christi.

PAUL: And how resourced, how prepared are the Kurds because as I understand it, ISIS is fighting with American weapons, the Kurds are not so well-equipped.

COREN: Yes. That's exactly right. Obviously, the air strikes the U.S. air strikes have been a huge shock to the forces on the ground. There were nine air strikes yesterday. We heard the jets, we heard the drones circling above us. We understand that they hit targets near Irbil, and also around Mosul dam.

Obviously, not near the facility because the other information that we are learning, Christi, in the last few minutes is that the militants are laying mines around the dam, we already know that it's unstable. We heard that from the U.S. army. We've heard that from civil engineers who've been studying Mosul dam. It has been called the most dangerous dam in the world, the reason being is because of the shaky foundation. It has to be grouted, grouting operation where they pump in bedrock to keep it stable.

The concern obviously with is in control for the last couple of weeks is the maintenance hasn't been undertaken the way that it normally would be. There is also the concern that ISIS could use this as a weapon, they could blow it up, they could open the flood gates which would inundate Mosul and Baghdad, killing thousands. It would be catastrophic.

ISIS knows that they have this bargaining chip, the U.S. is very aware of it as are the Kurdish forces which is why the situation is so sensitive.

PAUL: So dire. All right. Anna Coren, we appreciate it. Thank you so much. We're going to keep you informed as well, as we get more information what's going on there.

A threat of severe weather, it's marching east, folks. We're going to check in with meteorologist Jennifer Gray. But, first, here's what's coming up on "SANJAY GUPTA, M.D." at the bottom of the hour.

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Christi, Victor, well, mental health is back in the spotlight following the untimely death of the one and only Robin Williams. So, on today's program, we're going to show you a new device being tested to treat severe depression, deep brain stimulation. We got it, bottom of the hour.


GRAY: Hey. Good morning to you. Happy Sunday.

Get ready for the heat. We have that jet stream, it's going to rise to the north, a ridge of high pressure is going to build in, mainly in the South and the Southeast in the coming days. And that means the heat is going to be on and a big way. We were going to see the temperatures increase well into the 90s, some areas in the triple digits. And with a lot of moisture feeding in from the Gulf of Mexico that increase in humidity is going to make temperatures feel very, very warm in the coming days.

Atlanta, we're going to see the low 90s, increasing to mid-90s into the middle part of the week. Temperatures will feel like the triple digits, the deep south, Dallas, we will be in the triple digits, actually temperatures and then feeling, well, more than that as we go through Tuesday into Wednesday. So, Christi, it's going to feel more warm as we go --

PAUL: All righty. Jen, thank you so much. We appreciate it.

And thank you for starting your morning with us. We're going to be back at the top of the hour.

"SANJAY GUPTA, M.D." starts right now.