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Ferguson Turned into Chaos Last Night; Pentagon Becomes Party of Conversation on Police Militarization; Rev. Alvin Herring Talks Chaos in Ferguson; Israel/Palestinian Truce Ends; Racial Disparity, Riots Have Economic Impact on Ferguson.
Aired August 19, 2014 - 13:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome back to our viewers in the United States and around the world. I'm Don Lemon, in for Wolf Blitzer today. I'm live in Ferguson, Missouri.
City leaders here today are calling for residents to stay home tonight. The Highway Patrol officer in charge of security is also urging protesters to limit their demonstration, to daylight hours. Police and local residents blame outside agitators for turning peaceful protest in chaos.
It happened again late last night. Our CNN crews were right in the thick of it. Here's just a condensed look at how the night unfolded.
JAKE TAPPER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I want you too look at what is going on in Ferguson, Missouri, in America, OK, these are armed police with machine guns -- not machineguns -- semiautomatic rifles, with batons, with shields, many of them dressed for combat. Now, why --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I risked my life out there, running between. I don't know what's in those guns they got. But I'm telling you this, I'm not going to see this end in a disaster tonight.
TAPPER: The police are over here warning people, get out of the roadway. We're going to follow that advice.
Come over this way.
Somebody just threw something. Here comes -- all right. We're going to step.
TAPPER: These are stun grenades, Don. Stun grenades. These are stun grenades. Not tear gas. Clearly, clearly, the crowd throwing things at the police on this other side of West Florescent (ph). That's tear gas. That's tear gas. That's definitely tear gas. We're going to walk down the street to get away from the tear gas.
LEMON: We're told that where we are -- did someone get shot?
TAPPER: Yes, that's what they're saying.
LEMON: So there's an abundance of police activity. I'm being told here someone in the car that just pulled up in front of us got shot. They pulled someone out of the car where we are here. Someone was just put out of the car. They came down the street. We're told that person got shot.
We're being told by police to put these on, to put on our gas masks. And as a matter of fact, I am going to do this, because I need to be here.
Can you help me with this, Mark?
We have been told by CNN management that if this -- if something starts to happen, that we must protect ourselves and that's exactly what we're going to do here.
LEMON: How you doing, Jake? Did you get hit by gas?
TAPPER: Yeah, we all did. We all got hit by gas.
You all right, man?
This is a photographer who got hit pretty badly by the tear gas.
Somebody get a medic. Somebody call a --
Dude, you all right?
LEMON: What happened?
UNIDENTIFIED PHOTOGRAPHER: I got hit with a canister. It dropped on my feet and exploded and everything came up.
TAPPER: What precipitated that?
UNIDENTIFIED PHOTOGRAPHER: People weren't leaving the middle of the road. They dragged all the cones. And the "yield, do not enter" sign in front of the police line like 100 feet away. The police kept asking them to leave. When they didn't leave, they just launched more gas into the crowd. Thank you. That was that. Yeah, I just couldn't breathe.
I've been here the whole week. The people of Ferguson have given me water, given me rides, protected me, helped me hide when police were firing the little rubber bullets on us. I have to say, hey, I love the people of Ferguson, and I know there's issues, but I hope they get the right thing done, because they've been really good to me.
UNIDENTIFIED LAW ENFORCEMENT OFFICER: Everyone who is not credentialed media, you need to disperse immediately.
LEMON: Police are moving in.
LEMON: The protesters are saying this is our house, we're not going anywhere. The police are moving in in force.
TAPPER: Huge police presence for a very small number of protesters. Presumably the ones who have left, who had their hands up, have now been arrested. And we still have a huge --
LEMON: Hang on, Jake, hold on.
Officers -- say again?
Hang on, Jake
UNIDENTIFIED LAW ENFORCEMENT OFFICER: -- area of public safety.
LEMON: Let's go over here.
UNIDENTIFIED LAW ENFORCEMENT OFFICER: Please leave the area. Please leave for public safety. There's been a gunshot victim. Please leave.
LEMON: OK, as we have said earlier, that there was possibly a gunshot victim. They're asking us to clear the area.
CAPT. RON JOHNSON, CHIEF, MISSOURI HIGHWAY PATROL: This has to stop. It has to stop. I don't want anybody to get hurt. I don't want an officer to get hurt. I don't want a citizen to get hurt. We have to find a way to stop it. Our citizens are calling us -- my phone, I'm getting texts. People are calling. People in the streets are saying, you've got -- it's got to stop.
LEMON: It's really amazing to watch it back like that having lived through that. My colleagues did a fantastic job. From the crews out here to my producer, Julian Cummings, our Jake Tapper, Ed Lavandera, every single member of this team did a great job.
But really it's not about us. We're paid to do this. But the people of Ferguson did not sign up for this. We're here to tell their stories as best we can, and as respectful as we can. We will continue to do that until this comes to some sort of solution or resolution. And we appreciate the people of Ferguson and we are honored to be here just to tell their story and to help them. And also to tell the police department's side of the story as well. There's always two side to the story, and the truth is often somewhere in the middle. We'll keep that in mind.
The city of Ferguson tells residents to stay home, by the way. The plea follows more than a week of unrest after police shot and killed an unarmed teenager. We'll speak with Reverend Alvin Herring about what it will take to restore quiet to this community.
LEMON: Back now live in Ferguson, Missouri. The chaos we've seen erupt on the streets has put Ferguson in the national spotlight. But the response to that chaos, the armored vehicles, the assault weapons, the stun grenades, sparked a broader discussion now on the militarization of our local police. Now the Pentagon may become an official part of that conversation.
I want to bring in now our Pentagon correspondent, Barbara Starr.
Barbara, what is the defense secretary doing now about this?
BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Don, the defense secretary, Chuck Hagel, is saying to his senior staff, "I want you to give me every piece of information about this Pentagon program to transfer excess military equipment to local police jurisdictions around the country."
I think a really important starting point is not everything you see out there really does come from the Pentagon. There are other government agencies that have the equipment. Police departments often go out and purchase tactical equipment on their own. But there is a Pentagon program to transfer excess military gear to local police jurisdictions. It was all years ago. It was supposed to be so the police would not be overmatched by heavily armed drug gangs, so they would be ready for a terrorist attack in their community. So Hagel is saying let's have a talk about this inside the senior staff. What are we doing? Get me all the information.
One of the real questions is, is the equipment that's being transferred appropriate? Is it being used appropriately? But that's putting the Pentagon in a very tough position. Because once it goes to the local police department, the Pentagon has really no control over how it's even used.
LEMON: Right. And what about -- well, I'm sure that now some of it's probably in the process, in the pipeline. Is there even a pause in this program to give equipment to local agencies? What can we expect?
STARR: Yeah, what's really happening here, well, I think President Obama yesterday probably put a bit of a marker on the wall on this when he said he wants to have a review of all of this and he wants to see exactly what's going on. This is a congressionally mandated program. The Congress put it into law. So, really, if they're going to change it, if they're going to pause it, Congress needs to get involved. And the president made a really good point. In this country, we hold
the U.S. military and domestic law enforcement very separate and very different. How the U.S. military is equipped and prepared for combat oversees is one question. How the police protect local communities in this country is quite another. The president is making that point, making the point he wants to have a look at all of this. And if he wants to have a look at it, you can bet the Pentagon and the rest of the government is going to have a look at it too -- Don?
LEMON: Barbara Starr, Pentagon correspondent. Thank you, Barbara.
Everyone was hoping for a peaceful and uneventful night in Ferguson, Missouri, last night. It was not to be. Reverend Alvin Herring tweeted this: "Tonight was another travesty, a gross violation of the civil rights and human rights of the people of Ferguson. God is watching and so is the world."
The reverend is here with me.
Describe what happened last night. When did it turn ugly and why?
REV. ALVIN HERRING, PICO NATIONAL NETWORK: Last night, as has been the case for so many nights, young people and other residents of Ferguson organized themselves in a very powerful very respectful very dignified and peaceful way to do what any American citizen is encouraged to do when they believe their government has wronged them and that is to organize themselves into a peaceful protest, redress their grievances. That's what we saw last night. That effort was met with a military opposition on the other side, it seems. There was an extraordinary display of both police and National Guard and other law enforcement officials with large military-like cannons, with automatic weapons. It was terrorizing and traumatizing.
LEMON: OK, so let me just push you on this a little bit because if here -- and there were so members of the community out there, members of the clergy out there. If there were more people who were from the area who were involved, who were standing there along that road -- it's not that long a road.
LEMON: Saying, hey, guys, hey, young folks, what are you doing? So what is the community doing?
LEMON: If it's a police department, you think, you know, behind those actions, what's the community doing?
HERRING: I think the community's doing quite a lot. I went to several meetings yesterday.
LEMON: Are there enough people in the community out there?
HERRING: We would like to see a lot more. We understand that this is an issue right now that's focused in Ferguson. But this is really an issue around the country. Dr. King encouraged us and warned us all. He said we should be on the lookout for forces of interposition and nullification, ways in which the system would make it difficult for folks to express their human and civil rights. That's what we're seeing here in Ferguson. Certainly, we need more people. But let's be clear, last night, folks were trying to exercise their constitutional-protected right of organize and to protest.
LEMON: Hang on. But you mentioned Dr. King. Dr. King faced much more opposition than that. Dr. King was about peaceful protesting, nonviolence.
LEMON: And maybe some of it was sparked by the presence of police.
LEMON: But in the civil rights movement, for Dr. King, they did not let people who commit -- the military, National Guard, whoever came in, still peaceful, still held their ground, and made a huge difference, changed the world.
HERRING: Absolutely. Absolutely. That's what's in the heart of folks here. I certainly can't speak for them. We and my organization, Pico, and other clergy are here to work and be of assistance and to bear witness. And what we're seeing are people of Ferguson, significant numbers of young people who are mounting these amazing peaceful protests and are quite literate on the issues and understand both the political and the civil and human rights issues, and we want to give support to them. We want to give voice to them. I invited some to come on the show today. They're working in other meetings across the county to organize their voice. One of the things they want me to say is that they're here, they're organizing. They understand the consequences of this moment in terms of their own rights and free dopes. They love their community. They love one another. And they love their justice.
LEMON: Yeah. In the teeth of the most terrifying odds, right, something significant could come out of this, and it is incumbent upon people -- listen, I'm doing my part, as a journalist, telling what happened. The leaders of the community have to get out there and teach the young folks how to do it.
I've got to run.
HERRING: All right.
LEMON: But best of luck to you.
HERRING: Thanks a lot.
LEMON: We're all rooting for you because we want something good to come out of this terrible situation.
HERRING: Thank you.
LEMON: Thank you very much, Reverend. Appreciate that.
We're going to turn to other news and talk about rockets firing once more between Gaza and southern Israel. Who fired first and what it means for the peace process going on in Cairo. That's when we come right back.
LEMON: Just hours after it was extended, the truce in the Middle East has been broken. Israel says three rockets were fired into southern Israel by Gaza. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu ordered his military to respond to the strikes. He also ordered home the Israeli delegation from peace talks in Egypt.
CNN's Fred Pleitgen is in Gaza for us.
Fred, what is Hamas saying about the rocket attacks. Are the taking responsibility?
FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hamas sent a tweet earlier, Don, saying they are not responsible for the rockets. They say they're not behind all this. But the question is, has that derailed the cease-fire talks to the point where a cease-fire agree is impossible? What we're hearing from the Palestinian delegation, they say that the prospects for reaching some sort of an agreement at this point about three hours before the cease-fire runs out are, quote, "slim." For a while, it looked as though the talks were doomed altogether when violence erupted earlier today. It started, as you said, with the firing of three rockets from Gaza towards a town in southern Israel. What happened was a flurry of Israeli strikes in retaliation. We counted about 20 strikes that happened all over Gaza from the south to the north. Most of them the Palestinians say hit farmland. But the farmland has been used for rocket launchers as well. What we also saw was the Iron Dome deflecting rockets that came here out of Gaza.
So there was a flare-up in violence. Right now, Don, that has died down once again. But, again, it's three hours. Right now, the Israeli delegation has gone back to Israel from Cairo. We're waiting to see whether any cease-fire extension can be reached, Don. But the chances aren't really big at this point.
LEMON: All right. Fred Pleitgen, thank you very much.
Coming up, back to Ferguson and the impact on the community that could have a lasting effect long after the protests end. That's next.
LEMON: So the world is watching what happens here in Ferguson. They are focused on the racial divide here, the imbalance of power. But as our Ana Cabrera reports, there's another side to this story that could take an even bigger toll on the future of this community.
ANA CABRERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): If race is one issue driving the protests in Ferguson, socioeconomic disparity may be the other causing an eruption of pain and frustration.
HEWITT NEARING, FERGUSON RESIDENT: If the people with power and influence don't patrol it, don't show any interests in it, it's going to continue.
CABRERA: But now life has become even harder for some, following the ongoing destruction and looting. Businesses are boarding up.
(on camera): You guys are closing up?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yeah, we're going to close it up. We're going to board it up.
CABRERA: Until when?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We're not going to open back up. We're going to be gone.
CABRERA (voice-over): This beauty supply store was broken into and looted twice in one week.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Now I have to look to feed my family in a different way.
CABRERA: Even shops that haven't been damaged say business has taken a huge hit. One business owner has said he's lost $1,000 a day, about 60 percent of his revenue since the protests began.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There's been rumors that the businesses are going to leave. That the property values are going to go down.
CABRERA: One economic expert says the business climate in Ferguson may be reminiscent of what happened with the L.A. riots in the early '90s where some businesses never rebuilt and unemployment skyrocketed.
WENDY PATRICK, PROFESSOR, SAN DIEGO STATE UNIVERSITY: Especially when you've got smaller-owned businesses as opposed to the big Walmarts and other chain stores. As much as they'd like to rebuild and as much as they might love their community, they are not going to be able to economically survive and that's heartbreaking for a lot of the residents.
BIANCA HUFF, FERGUSON RESIDENT: We still have children here, families here. You can't destroy everything here. We're here. We need everything in our community
CABRERA: Young mother, Bianca Huff, who lives within eyesight of where Michael Brown was shot, feels her community is spiraling out of control.
HUFF: I think it's going to get worser than this.
CABRERA (voice-over): You think it's going to get worse?
HUFF: I think it's going to get worse.
CABRERA (voice-over): Huff worries about the future for her family and especially her 3-year-old son, Gregory.
HUFF: You look at your child and say I don't want my child to go through this. You want it to be different.
CABRERA: Huff wonders if her son will be treated fairly as he grows up. Will her town be able to overcome the destruction? Will her community be able to bridge the racial and socioeconomic divide that appears wider and deeper than ever?
LEMON: Tonight, here on CNN, in America, a CNN special report, a CNN town hall on the subject that is gripping Ferguson and America, and that's race. How can we make sure that what is happening here does not go on across the country? "Race in America," a CNN Tonight town hall event, at 10:00 p.m. eastern right here on CNN.
That is it for me, Don Lemon. Thank you for watching.
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