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Shooting of Michael Brown; Obama Orders Review of Police Tactics and Equipment; Ukraine Celebrates Independence Day

Aired August 24, 2014 - 05:00   ET


CHRISTI PAUL, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning. Early Sunday, 5:00 a.m. I'm Christi Paul.

VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN ANCHOR: I'm Victor Blackwell in Ferguson, Missouri. This is a special edition of NEW DAY SUNDAY. Of course we welcome our viewers here in the U.S. and viewers from around the world.

We'll have the latest on the Michael Brown shooting and the protest in a moment and there's a lot to talk about -- Christi.

PAUL: I was going to say you really have a full plate today, Victor. We're so glad that you're there.

Also, we do want to begin this morning with news that ISIS has besieged another Shiite town and cut them off from food and water. And this has been for two months now. There are fears that ISIS militants will massacre thousands of villagers who live in Amerli if they capture it.

Now the U.N. says the situation there is simply, quote, "unspeakable." Nearly three dozen villages surrounding Amerli in northern Iraq here are already in ISIS hands, remember. So the 17,000 people who live there in that town are defending themselves. They just have the help of local police.

The crisis there mirrors violence that's rippling across Iraq, though. Bombings and attacks in Baghdad and in the country's north. I mean, dozens have been killed.

CNN's Jomana Karadsheh joins us now from the Iraqi capital.

Jomana, so good to see you today. Do we understand, as we get reports, that Shia militias may actually help defend Amerli?

JOMANA KARADSHEH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Christi, after lots of calls here from the top leadership, the prime minister designate, high level clerics, calling for a movement to try and break the siege of Amerli, we are now hearing from two of the country's major Shia militias, that they have mobilized their troops. These troops that have been allied with the Shia-led government here in fighting off ISIS in the past couple of months are on the move to Amerli to try and break that siege.

A real humanitarian disaster it seems on the inside. Real dire conditions we're hearing that during this siege over the past 73 days ISIS has cut off this town not allowing supplies of food and medicine to come in. They're really running low on food now and medical supplies. They've also cut off water and electricity. And there have been very few aid drops by the Iraqi military that is really finding it difficult to get into the area because it is surrounded by ISIS and it's a stronghold around that area.

So very difficult for them to reach it. And the U.N. warning that unless something is done, Iraq's allies help -- this could mean a possible massacre of the Shia Turkmen minority living in there.

PAUL: So what is it about this particular village? Is it just -- do you think about ISIS taking more territory or is there a more strategic importance to it?

KARADSHEH: There's no real strategic importance to it, Christi. It's actually located in a Salahuddin province. That is north of here. That's a predominantly Sunni province where we saw ISIS back in June when it moved into Mosul and started moving more into the rest of the country southward. They did take a lot of territory there in the Salahuddin Province.

And as you mentioned about three dozen towns around Amerli had been taken. And also it's -- the inhabitants of Amerli, this is a Shia Turkmen minority. And as we have seen before ISIS has no tolerance for minorities. They do not consider them to be in this case real Muslims, so as we have seen with the siege of Sinjar and the Yazidis a couple of weeks ago real, real fear that ISIS will massacre these people because they do not consider them to be worth living really.

PAUL: Jomana Karadsheh, we so appreciate your insight on this. Thank you for bringing us the latest. Be safe there.

Now the U.S. has ramped up airstrikes we know in parts of Iraq. They're targeting ISIS militants. Now the Obama administration is looking at whether to send its warplanes after ISIS in neighboring Syria after the terror group killed American journalist James Foley, of course.

According to the "Washington Post" the Pentagon has been conducting daily surveillance flights along Iraq's border with Syria.

Haras Rafiq of the Quilliam Foundation joining me now from Manchester, England on the phone and King's College professor, Peter Newman, joining us from London.

Gentlemen, so grateful to have both of you here. Thank you.

First, I want to ask this question and pose it to both of you. But we'll start with you, Haras.

If the U.S. does decide to carry out airstrikes in Syria, will that be enough? Does it need boots on the ground to defeat ISIS terrorists?

HARAS RAFIQ, QUILLIAM FOUNDATION: I think there has to have boots on the ground, but not U.S. boots. I think there has to be more of an offensive from Baghdad. There has to be more weapons supplied to the Peshmerga in the Kurdistan region and also I think we need a coalition. We need more of the region's neighbors, the Arab countries, to get involved. We need Saudi Arabia to get involved. We need Qatar, we need Turkey. We need a coalition of other troops.

And then of course we've got Syria. Once we have this pushback of the -- of ISIS from the north and from the south, the only option they've got is to go back into Syria, and without us actually tackling the problem of Syria, I don't think this problem of ISIS is going to go away.

PAUL: All right. Peter, go ahead.

PETER NEWMAN, DIRECTOR, INTERNATIONAL CENTER FOR THE STUDY OF RADICALIZATION: I think that America needs to continue its airstrikes. The airstrikes have been proven very powerful over the past two weeks already. The Kurds, for example, have made great advances that they wouldn't have been able to make before. I don't think American boots on the ground are a good idea because it would kind of bring about again this idea of America at war with Islam.

It would probably be a boon to ISIS. And I think it's good the time being that America provides military advices but the people that are doing the fighting on the ground are actually local forces who are opposed to ISIS, the Iraqi government, the Kurds, everyone else in the region who wants to see ISIS destroyed.

PAUL: OK, but, Peter, let me ask you this. Do you see any risks in arming the Peshmerga or any of the factions there on the ground in Iraq already?

NEWMAN: This is a complicated tradeoff.

PAUL: Yes.

NEWMAN: There are no good solutions. Arming the Kurds may be counterproductive in the long term. In the short and medium term I think it's really a priority to defeat ISIS. I think ISIS really is a concert that is spreading that needs to be halted and I think in the medium to long term also some of the other challenges need to be addressed. But, you know, this is really complicated.

PAUL: It is really complicated.

And, Haras, I wanted to ask you a little more about Syria and about if the U.S. goes in, are there allies? We know British Prime Minister David Cameron canceled a vacation following the murder of James Foley. Are there allies? Is there a coalition that you believe can be formed with the U.S. and European nations going after ISIS?

RAFIQ: I think there will be a coalition. I think that, as Peter rightly said, we have -- the airstrikes are helping to hold ISIS back and the Peshmerga are actually winning some battles. And I think there is a willingness and a desire and a understanding amongst the coalition within Europe and the U.S. but, again, I concur with Peter. We mustn't put our boots on the ground. We mustn't feed into the crusader narrative.

We must work with the Syrian army is Syria. We're doing that currently. But we also let's not forget that we also have al Qaeda fighting in the Syrian region as well and it's been going. We have some Muslim Brotherhood fighting there as well. So it's a little bit more complicated. Syria is a lot more complicated than Iraq is and once we get into tackling the region -- the problem within Syria, we may then have to start considering what do we do with Assad.

PAUL: Yes.

RAFIQ: There'll be some people who already are saying that maybe we should be working with Assad, of course, this whole problem in Syria started with the civil war. But of course, you know, we have other countries to consider also. Russia and China have a huge interest in Syria, so it gets a lot more complicated when we actually see ISIS where it's moving back towards Syria.

PAUL: All right. Well, we appreciate the insight from both of you and the time that you've taken to be with us this morning.

Haras Rafiq and Peter Newman, thank you gentlemen both so much.

NEWMAN: Thank you, Christi.

PAUL: Sure.

You know, as Ferguson, Missouri, is preparing to say good-bye to Michael Brown tomorrow, local law enforcement is under national scrutiny, as you know, for using military-style tactics against protesters. Well, President Obama is getting involved now. What it could mean for police departments across the country?

Also, look at this dash cam video. A child with his arms raised in the air as police mistakenly pull over his mother at gun point. Some are saying police went too far. He's 6 years old, by the way.

Look at this one, oh, let's hear it for the boys. Little League champs are bringing home a little bit of history with their victory.


BLACKWELL: Welcome back. Twelve minutes after the hour. And after more than two weeks of violent protests, looting, and military-style policing in the streets of Ferguson, Missouri, the community here is now preparing to say good-bye to Michael Brown, the unarmed teen who was shot and killed by a police officer on August 9th.

His funeral will be held tomorrow at the Friendly Temple Missionary Baptist Church in St. Louis. Thousands are expected to attend this closed casket service. Many people from around the country are coming, we're told. Among the attendees, three White House officials including one who attended high school with Brown's mother, Lesley McSpadden. The Reverend Al Sharpton will deliver the eulogy.

And as Brown is about to be laid to rest, supporters of Darren Wilson, he's the officer who killed him, they're speaking out as well. They say they've received death threats over their support for Wilson.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Our mission is to formally declare that we share the united belief that Officer Wilson's actions on August 9th were warranted and justified and he has our unwavering support. We believe that the evidence has and will continue to validate our position. At the end of the statement the media will inevitably ask for my name, others' names and relationship, job titles, stories, et cetera.

You want my name? My name is Darren Wilson. We are Darren Wilson.


BLACKWELL: We also heard from people who were protesting earlier in the week in favor of Michael Brown that they also have said that their names were Michael Brown as well.

Now on the ground in Ferguson it was a relatively quiet night. I mean, there were some tense moments. At one point Captain Ron Johnson who you see in the video -- you will see in the video ordered police to arrest a rowdy protester fearing that person's behavior could stir up some chaos. That's Captain Johnson there. And told us six people were arrested overnight.

And I was out with the protesters overnight. And, you know, the narrative of the night essentially was the people who live here versus the people who have come in from around the country. We heard people say they were from Chicago. That man who was arrested, he claimed he was from Indiana. They're from all over the country, and people here, many of them, are just frustrated with what is happening to their community.

Guys, cue up the sound and I'll tell you when to play it, of Melissa Miller. She's the young woman who we came upon who just -- we heard her screaming before we saw her. And she is really passionate. Now we had to bleep out some of the language. Do not be blinded or be distracted by the profanity. But I want you to listen to the sentiment and get the passion of what she's saying. Listen.


MELISSA MILLER, PROTESTER: I don't mind these people coming out here, OK? Thank you for supporting us. You from a different state. Thank you. Don't bring the (EXPLETIVE DELETED) and then leave (EXPLETIVE DELETED) when it gets rowdy because I've got to live here. Don't come to my state and (EXPLETIVE DELETED) because I live through the (EXPLETIVE DELETED).

Look at the (EXPLETIVE DELETED) boarded up everything. Everything is boarded up. Selfish (EXPLETIVE DELETED) did this. And they say it's for Mike Brown. (EXPLETIVE DELETED) for Mike Brown because you want to be selfish, and disgusting and nasty. Thank you for (EXPLETIVE DELETED) everything because now I ain't got no place to go get my hair done or I ain't got no place to go eat or I can't get gas because it's gone. It ain't there. These people treat us like (EXPLETIVE DELETED) but you know what, that

ain't from us, it's from these people from different states that come out here. Be peaceful if you going to come out here. Come out here for the right reasons.


BLACKWELL: You know, one other thing she said is that, you know, over the week we've seen children out there and babies there. She's pregnant she told us and she said that the tear gas and the smoke bombs that a lot of the parents have to spend time pouring milk into their baby's eyes for hours trying to wash out those toxins and those protesters come here from Indiana, from Chicago, they don't bring their children here but they leave this because of the things that they are doing in their community to their children, the Ferguson children.

Now the streets of Ferguson and across the country there's been a widespread criticism of local law enforcement because of the military- style tactics used against protesters and now the president is getting involved.

I want to bring in Alina Machado. She's here in Ferguson with me.

Alina, the president is ordering a review of some of the military- style response and the equipment that we're seeing. Tell us more about that.

ALINA MACHADO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Victor. The president ordered this review according to a senior administration official who tells CNN that the president wants these programs to be looked at. This federal program that allows local and state law enforcement agencies to purchase military equipment. Now that move, as you mentioned, comes days after these violent confrontations between protesters and local police and during those confrontations police were seen using heavily armored vehicles, stun grenades, tear gas. All items that fuelled this criticism.

Take a listen to what one expert told us about what he thinks the problem is.


BERNARD KERIK, FORMER NYPD COMMISSIONER: Training is the most important issue here. If there was better training, we wouldn't have seen what we saw on day one out at in Ferguson. You had local law enforcement responding to a riot with semi-automatic and automatic weapons. It was wrong. It shouldn't have happened, but you cannot diminish the ability of local and state law enforcement to protect our cities in this day and age by taking the stuff away that really secures our country.


MACHADO: And training is one aspect this review will take a look at. At this point, Victor, we don't have an idea of how long this will take.

BLACKWELL: All right. Alina Machado reporting for us here in Ferguson as well.

Alina, thank you.

And, Christi, we'll talk more about this narrative that -- at least I saw overnight, the local people wishing that the people who came in from out of town would come here for Michael Brown's cause and not to instigate, as Captain Ron Johnson has said, that a lot of these people are inciting some of the violence we see -- Christi.

PAUL: Yes. And as we saw from the woman that you talked to who's so fed up with it as well.

Hey, thank you so much, Victor. Appreciate it as always.


PAUL: I don't know if you're aware, but do you know that Ukraine is celebrating its independence day? There's a lot of singing and some dancing going on in Kiev as you see it here, but it isn't stopping the violence that's happening in the eastern part of the country still.

We're going to tell you what the rebels are planning to do today.


PAUL: Twenty-one minutes past the hour right now, and Ukraine is celebrating its independence day today. Military parade rolled through the capitol of Kiev even as fighting continued in the east in territories held by pro-Russian rebels. In the meantime, a convoy of Russian trucks are back in Russia we're told. Moscow said the trucks crossed into eastern Ukraine carrying humanitarian aid.

Well, CNN's Diana Magnay is there.


DIANA MAGNAY, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): What Russia called a humanitarian convoy many others called a Trojan horse. Delivering its load, contents largely unverified. To the besieged town of Luhansk without international humanitarian escorts and without Ukraine's consent. Then within 24 hours crossing back into Russia with a controversial new cargo according to Ukrainian authorities.

ANDRIY LYSENKO, NATIONAL SECURITY AND DEFENSE COUNCIL (Through Translator): Trucks that entered the Ukrainian territory under pretexts of being a humanitarian convoy are loaded by Russians with equipment from the Topaz plant which produces the most modern radar systems like Kolchuga and equipment from the factory in Luhansk where ammunition for light weapons is produced.

MAGNAY: CNN cannot verify the claim. The factories are in rebel hands as is the border crossing, but since Soviet times, Russia's defense industry has relied heavily on Ukrainian military components made in factories in the east. Old trade ties essential to Putin severed at least officially by this war.

In Kiev Angela Merkel visited Ukraine's president to talk peace and reconstruction.

PRES. PETRO POROSHENKO, UKRAINE (Through Translator): We all remember the marshal plan for the post-war Europe. Today I can say that it is the beginning of the Merkel plan for the restoration of the infrastructure of Donbas.

MAGNAY: It will take time and money. The areas where aid is needed most are the hardest to reach. For the residents of Sloviansk, the dark days over the summer when there was constant shelling, when there was no water or electricity and little food behind them.

Those who'd supported the pro-Russian separatists seemed to have melted away. Now the city is back in Ukrainian hands.


PAUL: Diana joins us now live from Sloviansk.

Diana, we know that they're celebrating there obviously in Kiev but as we understand that the rebels have some plans for today as well. What do you know?

MAGNAY: That's right. The leadership in the Donetsk People's Republic has said that they will parade captured Ukrainian weaponry, tanks, APCs on the streets of Donetsk and also any Ukrainian prisoners of war that they have captured. That hasn't happened yet, but that is what they have posted on social media in a rather grim recollection of the way that the Germans were paraded by the Russians through the streets of Moscow at the end of World War II. So we have yet to see whether that will happen.

It is the rebels' answer to the huge military parades going on in Kiev today where Petro Poroshenko, the leader, has been describing this ongoing conflict in the east as still a battle for Ukraine's independence. That parade though, too, has something controversial to it. People could be asking the question, why is the government parading weapons that it is simultaneously using and causing civilian casualties in this part of the country -- Christi.

PAUL: All right. Diana, stay safe there. Thank you so much. We appreciate it.

Meanwhile, anger is turning to sadness in the streets of Ferguson because the community there of course preparing to say good-bye to teenager Michael Brown.

We'll talk about how the city's getting ready for that thousands of people who are expected to attend tomorrow's funeral.

And this volcano in Iceland, it looks serene, doesn't it? Oh, let me tell you, travelers in Europe are pretty uneasy right now.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) PAUL: Boy, it is so good to have your company this morning. Bottom of the hour right now. I'm Christi Paul. And I want to get you the latest on Ferguson and the ISIS threat. We're going to get to those in a moment. But we do have some other stories making headlines that we thought you'd want to know about.

First of all, rain, tropical storm force winds battering Puerto Rico. Look at the latest pictures we're getting here. Up to six inches of rain fell on the islands causing minor flooding. There were some landslides. The slow-moving storm expected to gain strength as it moves north and the National Weather Service believes it's going to develop into a hurricane by Tuesday.

Number two, a police chief was shot and killed during a traffic stop in Texas. Sheriff's deputies say Michael Pimentel pulled over a car in Elmendorf, a San Antonio suburb. There was a struggle, they say. He was shot several times and he died later at the hospital. Deputies arrested 24-year-old Joshua Manuel Lopez. He'll be charged with capital murder of a police officer.

Number three, thousands rallied in New York for Eric Garner, a man who died, a black man, when a white officer put him on a chokehold last month. Demonstrators marched from where he died to the Staten Island DA's Office. The officer seen on video choking Garner has been put on modified assignment. Police are reviewing training procedures now.