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CNN NEWSROOM

Baltimore Reels from Violence, Fires and Looting. Aired 10- 10:30a ET

Aired April 28, 2015 - 10:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


[10:00:02] CAROL COSTELLO, CNN ANCHOR: And after a very intense night things have calmed down this morning. We have CNN crews fanned out across the city and across this developing story.

I want to begin -- actually the NAACP is going to hold a presser at any moment now. I'm just waiting for that to begin, which is why we're sort of discombobulated there. The NAACP is going to talk about what's next for the city of Baltimore and what city leaders can do to prevent the kind of violence that went down last night. And it was just a terrible situation.

Chris Cuomo was in the middle of it. He is at that CVS store that was looted for hours and hours, and then set on fire.

What's the scene like now, Chris?

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: Carol, when Jay and I -- Jay, the photojournalist who makes all this possible, what you get to see. When we were here in this area last night it was bricks and bottles and this building was burning.

This is the only prescription filling pharmacy within a mile of this area. This is pampers. These have been necessities. And now it's gone. But bricks and bottles are now replaced by brooms and shovels. The community is out in force again doing the hard work of repairing. They're cleaning up.

We were talking to people, there was a man here, who grew up here, he brought his daughter. She was 7, Milani (INAUDIBLE). And she is sweeping and we say why? She says, I live here. I care. And that is going to be the commitment that makes a difference in this community. That is what will bring people together here. More than what any politician can say to them or they'll hear at a press conference.

The other thing they're asking for here is that this is a show of goodwill, Carol. That unlike last night which was obviously the opposite and you can explain it or excuse it a lot of different ways, clarity will build consensus. What happened to Freddie Gray? What's happening to our communities? Why is it that they put hundreds of millions of dollars into the Harbor Front, an area you know well, Carol, from having worked and lived here, but no money here. Vacant store fronts here. Boarded up --

COSTELLO: All right. Chris -- Chris, I'm sorry. I'm going to have to interrupt -- I'm going to have to interrupt you, Chris, because that NAACP presser has started. Let's listen in.

TESSA HILL-ASTON, NAACP-BALTIMORE BRANCH PRESIDENT: Mr. Graciano and (INAUDIBLE) from Housing, they let us use this building but they'll speak in a minute.

We're very glad to be here and we'll be doing lots of things to help the community. We're going to be focusing on voter registration and some other services. We're going to be focusing on men but all people are invited to participate in what we're going to be doing.

I'm glad that in this room today we have several people from the community. We have activists that helped with homelessness. We have activists to help with expungement and some other people will talk on that.

And I would like to acknowledge that this gentleman right here, Hassan, is on my executive committee at the Baltimore branch. He head the Criminal Justice Community and works with ex-offenders. So we'll be doing everything -- there's nothing that's going to be left undone. We're going to do a check-off list of all the types of services that people would need in this community.

What the NAACP is doing is we're being the facilitators and we will be having guest people come in including the Department of Social Services and all other organizations, fraternities and civil we have deputy grand master here with us with other masons. They volunteered. They'll render their service to us also. We have community leaders and the presidents of all of the neighborhood associations in this room from this community.

So we're here to help the community, we're just facilitating. So we're here in partnership. So I'm happy that the Baltimore branch could move here and help with the community and we're very excited about it and thank you.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And next we have Gerald Stansbury, our state president for Maryland.

GERALD STANSBURY, NAACP MARYLAND STATE CONFERENCE PRESIDENT: Good morning. My name is Gerald Stansbury, as stated. And I am the Maryland State Conference NAACP president which represents 24 branches throughout the state of Maryland and several youth and college divisions.

I am going to stick to (INAUDIBLE) remarks simply because this is an emotional time and I want to make sure I stay focused on what I have to say. I'm honored to address you today and stand alongside my co- neighbors in the civil rights struggle, Chairman Roslyn Brock, president and CEO Cornell William Brooks, and NAACP Baltimore branch president Tessa Hill-Aston.

Baltimore has a long history of police brutality and racial profiling, and Mr. Gray's death represents another example in a series of tragedies of black lives being lost at the hands of someone in blue uniforms. Freddie Gray was a son, a brother, and a friend. He was a 25-year-old vibrant and energetic man with his whole life ahead of him. Dreams, hopes, and aspirations ahead of him only to be cut short.

We must continue to push for solutions within our policing system rooted in community empowerment and criminal justice reform. Without national standards on this use of force by the police, a national band on racial profiling and effective state and local laws against these practices, law enforcement officers are free to engage in unchecked racial profiling and violence threatening the very communities they swore to protect.

[10:05:12] The NAACP will use every tool in its advocacy arsenal to bring about justice in cases where unarmed individuals are killed by police and employ that the Justice Department conduct thorough investigations in cases involving the killings of unarmed individuals by police officers. And the opening of this satellite center is a step toward bringing those who violate the oath to protect those they swore to serve and protect to justice.

The future of Baltimore will be forged by citizens who care deeply about their communities as well as police officers who strive to be seen as both protectors and community partners. The NAACP will continue to work on every front to ensure the Baltimore residents are safe and that justice for Freddie Gray is served.

Thank you so much.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And next we have Paul Graciano. He is the Housing commissioner of Baltimore City.

PAUL GRACIANO, BALTIMORE HOUSING COMMISSIONER: Thank you all. And good morning. I want to thank the NAACP at the Baltimore branch, state level and national level for their commitment to this cause, this set of issues. We are happy to be able to help in a small way in terms of accommodating with space here and services and we'll continue to work with the NAACP through this entire process.

My particular department Housing operates all the housing programs for the city including the public housing and Gilmore Homes is just a few blocks from here and is within our inventory. So we're here with the community. We have community leaders throughout the room. We have community leaders we're working with throughout the neighborhoods of the city.

We are here to ensure that the right thing is done and that we're going to provide whatever support we can and I have my deputy commissioner, Reginald Scriber, with me as well and perhaps he could say a couple of words as well.

REGINALD SCRIBER, DEPUTY COMMISSIONER, BALTIMORE HOUSING: Thank you, Paul. I must tell you that this has been something that we feel comfortable with. When Tessa approached me about using the space at 1135 Mount Gilmore, my position was, yes, anything we can do to build trust in this community. As the commissioner mentioned we have houses up the street and we actually have this building as part of our summer feeding program. And we serve 41,000 young kids within 841,000 meals last year for kids throughout the city of Baltimore. So this is a plus for us. And the mayor gave us her blessings to say

how can we do this and how can we do this quick? And I must tell you the mayor gets a lot of kudos on this because she said, whatever it takes, Reggie, to make this happen, let's make it happen. So we're here today with the full support of the mayor of the city of Baltimore, with the understanding if anything we can do to calm down our residents and make sure that we provide the essential services that the NAACP will provide is something that we take as total responsibility.

And I want to thank Tessa personally for coming to see me about this, and said, Reggie, I need your help. And so when Tessa asks for help, we don't say no. And so right now we're at a point now, we're trying to do all we can to make sure we stay focused and provide the essential service in the city of Baltimore.

HILL-ASTON: Thank you, Reggie.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And next we have Arlene Fisher.

ARLENE FISHER, PRESIDENT, LAFAYETTE SQUARE ASSOCIATION: My name is Arlene Fisher. I am president of Lafayette Square Association of Harlem Park. I want to welcome you all to what is considered historic West Baltimore. This is Sand Town, Harlem Park, Upton, Druid Heights, Penn North.

We're a neighborhood, we're neighborhood leaders, we're working together, and we're happy to work with the NAACP to bring services to our neighborhood. What the cry was yesterday is we need services and we need help.

And I want to thank the NAACP for helping us and hope they continue to help us and this is a historic neighborhood and we worked very hard to keep it that way. Thank you.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And next we have Lance Lucas from the Maryland U.S. Black Chamber of Commerce.

LANCE LUCAS, PRESIDENT, GREATER BALTIMORE BLACK CHAMBER OF COMMERCE: Yes. My name is Lance Lucas, president of the Greater Baltimore Black Chamber of Commerce and the Greater Maryland Black Chamber of Commerce. And we represent black business in the state of Maryland and the city of Baltimore. Thousands of workers and hundreds of African-American owned businesses.

And we all suffer when business is closed and we fully support NAACP and Tessa Hill and their movement in this neighborhood. I was a teacher in this neighborhood for 10 years, at Augusta Fells and Baltimore Child Development, as well as I had a lot of friends that passed away in this neighborhood so we are very intricately involved in the neighborhood and we'll continue to support the NAACP at the Greater Baltimore Black Chamber of Commerce.

Thank you very much.

[10:10:17] COSTELLO: All right. We're going to jump away from this news conference. But as you can see the NAACP and community leaders coming together to try to heal the city after one terrible night.

We've got updated numbers from the mayor's office just a short time ago. Fifteen structure fires last night. The ATF has now been called in. That senior center that was burned to the ground. Investigators do believe that was arson and connected to these riots.

Also 144 cars and trucks were set on fire. 200 people were arrested. And as you know sadly six police officers were hurt. Several of them seriously.

Let's go back to Chris Cuomo near that CVS that was looted for hours and set on fire.

And before you begin, Chris, I just want to say that that's not the best representation of the city of Baltimore. There are many great people in this city. Great communities. And I'm sure that there are people all around you busily cleaning up after the looting that went down last night.

CUOMO: Well, you're absolutely right. That's what we were talking about before but to be fair, Carol, this was Baltimore last night. This was the concern, was this small slice of neighborhoods that fell prey to rioting. And that's why we're paying attention to it today because it's not a coincidence that it was these areas, is it?

These are areas that complain about the policing. These are areas that complain about disenfranchisement. And today we see the new normal. There is increased police presence. You can see them. And they're not regular uniformed officers. They have riot gear on. What they call light gear. They have protective vests and helmets but they're not walking around in any menacing way but they are here.

But more importantly than the police being here, you have people from this community and outside who are here replacing bricks and bottles with brooms. They are cleaning up, they're talking to each other about what needs to change. They are trying to be positive.

As we're telling you earlier, we met parents who came with their kids. We have people from out of state who are here to send the right message, and it is amazing what a difference 12 hours can make, Carol, because as you can imagine, it was very different here last night and the need will be great. Not just today or next week but for months. This was the only prescription filling pharmacy within a mile of this area. So that's the situation now. This is the new normal. What happens tonight is just as important as what happens today.

COSTELLO: All right. Chris Cuomo, many thanks to you. I've got to take a break. I'll be right back with more in the NEWSROOM.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[10:16:29] COSTELLO: The chaos and the looting was widespread. Baltimore police covering a large area of the city as violence erupted into the night. Protesters throwing rocks and chunks of concrete. At least 15 officers were wounded. Six of them seriously. About a dozen businesses looted or damaged. Did the police have enough protection?

I want to bring in former NYC -- New York City police commission Bernard Kerik for his take.

Thank you, sir, for being with me.

BERNARD KERIK, FORMER NYC POLICE COMMISSIONER: Thanks, Carol.

COSTELLO: I want to start first -- actually, I want to go forward first because the National Guard has now been called in. In fact as I look behind me, they are standing around guarding this area. We're right in front of city hall. And you can see the National Guardsmen from Maryland holding those great big guns. And I must say it's kind of unsettling because we usually don't see that kind of thing in the city of Baltimore. So what should the National Guard's role be?

KERIK: I think it's going to be designated by the mayor and by the police commissioner wherever the services are needed most likely on the peripheral. They'll do soft targets. They'll do maybe city hall. Some of the government buildings. Really wherever they have to augment the city police, that's where they're going to go.

COSTELLO: Some of the National Guardsmen are showing their weapons and others are not. Is that by design?

KERIK: Well, that's based on their assignment. You know, and I don't know what the assignments are. I don't know where they're designated. Based on their assignments, some will have different protective equipment, some will have different weapons. And, you know, that's going to be designated by their commanders.

COSTELLO: All right. So let's go back to last night for just a second. Do you think there was a plan in place to control the rioting?

KERIK: I have to be honest, Carol, you know, based on what I saw yesterday, I think the police could have been more prepared. I think there could have been people on standby. I just don't think the contingent of resources were adequate based on what I saw. I understand last night around -- I think it was around 5:00 the state police designated 42 -- I think the number was 42 state troopers to respond.

Look, they had the funeral yesterday. They were mourning Freddie Gray's loss. You know, this was a volatile -- could have been a volatile time. I think they should have had more resources on standby prepared to respond in the event needed and it doesn't look like that was the case.

COSTELLO: Just going back to the scene at that CVS which was the most shocking to me. Because people were looting that store for hours and nobody really did anything. And then they set the drugstore on fire. Why wouldn't the police move in to stop that?

KERIK: Well, I don't know where the resources were. But I heard Neill Franklin earlier and I think he made a good point. You know, you have a town of -- I think Baltimore, the population is 650,000. This wasn't one group of protesters. There were pockets of protesters all over the city. I don't know where the police were designated. As I said, I don't think they had enough resources. And they may have been dealing with something else at the time.

The bottom line is in a situation like this, planning and preparation in advance is a must. You have to bring in the required resources at least if they're not on the scene, have them on standby in a place where they can get to these pockets of resistance and rioters and take action. That doesn't seem to have been what happened last night.

[10:20:15] COSTELLO: Do you think, sir -- do you think, sir, the National Guard should have been called in earlier?

KERIK: I do. And I said that last night on another network around 5:00, 6:00 last night. Where's the governor? Where is the National Guard? If the Baltimore police, the state police, don't have enough resources, then the National Guard has to be called in.

COSTELLO: You know, oddly enough, these violent protesters, because it seemed like they had a plan because they were striking in different parts of the city. They were in Fells Point, they were in Harbor East, they were in West Baltimore, they were in East Baltimore. They seemed to know what they were doing oddly.

KERIK: Well, you know, some of these things are coordinated. I think, you know, we've watched these types of protests, you know, start out as peaceful protests in New York City, in Ferguson, in other parts of the United States. And over time, you know, they get very organized. You have instigators. You have outsiders that come in instigate, plan, organize, and that may be some of what you saw last night.

Because I saw a lot of young kids, 13, 14, 15, 16-year-old kids, what appeared to be last night, I think a lot of those kids were from -- they were local kids, but for the most part you're going to have outside instigators come in and rally up the troops, you know, to create disaster and pillaging. Do all the stuff they were doing last night. So that's something you have to watch for. And intelligence as Neill said is extremely important.

COSTELLO: All right. Bernard Kerik, I have to leave it there. Thank you so much for your insight. I appreciate it as always.

Also, this note to pass along. We just learned that a Baltimore area mall has closed for the day after concern it was becoming the focus of a planned violent protest. Law enforcement officials say they learned of teenagers' plans to congregate at Security Square Mall. Now that's a different mall from where the protests kicked off last night. That was Mondawmin Mall.

As we get more details about this, of course we'll bring them to you. I'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) [10:26:05] COSTELLO: The community of Baltimore reeling after violence erupts on the street. One resident telling CNN the actions were a response to conditions in the city and seeking answers from key officials.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Where are the leaders? Where is Jamal Bryant? Where is Jamal Bryant? Where is the mayor? Where are the people who should be down here representing us? Where are they? (INAUDIBLE) people. If they're leadership, where are the leaders?

You can only put so much into a pressure cooker before it pops. And what has happened now, people are reacting about the conditions they're under. This could have been New York. It's been Ferguson. We need to stop the police brutality. That's number one.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COSTELLO: All right. That pressure cooker boiled over last night, of course. Joining me now is Faraji Muhammad. He's a Baltimore peace activist and radio host.

Thanks, Faraji, for being with me.

FARAJI MUHAMMAD, HOST, "LISTEN UP," WEAA BALTIMORE: You're welcome, Carol. Thank you.

COSTELLO: So standing directly behind us members of the Maryland National Guard carrying some great big guns. How does that make you feel?

MUHAMMAD: It doesn't make me feel good at all. I think what we're seeing now is that my city is truly in pain. My community is in pain. I think that the atmosphere right now is that it furthers the idea that in order for there to be real control, there has to be some level of violence. There has to be guns present. There has to be. And this is what the very nature of what young people in the city of Baltimore, particularly black youth are fighting each and every day.

You've got police outside of high schools. You've got police interacting negatively in contentious relationships between police and young people. So this is what we're seeing every day. So this is not helping. And so essentially what we've been seeing especially from last night if you were out in the community at North and Pennsylvania, what we saw last night is that as much as there was damage to property, as much as there were damage, and fires.

There was pain, Carol. There was real pain. And I was -- you know, me and my brothers, the NOI and FOI and many other pastors, we were standing there, and you can hear young people screaming out the names of folks that have been killed by police or died in police custody. So they're throwing rocks. You killed my cousin. You killed my sister. You killed my brother. That's pain.

So I think that outside of all of the property damage, we've got to talk about the great damage of human beings and the lives that have been shattered.

COSTELLO: See, I can understand that pain. What I can't understand is destroying your own neighborhood. Destroying businesses like the CVS.

(CROSSTALK)

MUHAMMAD: Yes, you know what --

COSTELLO: That's the only drugstore in the neighborhood.

MUHAMMAD: Right. And you know what, sometimes that emotion and rage comes out in such a way it just is emotional. It's very raw. What we're doing right now is that -- myself representing peace by peace Baltimore and we got leaders of a beautiful struggle, we got churches, we got the nation, we got other folks that are out right now, that are helping to clean up that part of town right now.

And so yes, we can say we don't understand it but that's young people. That's the raw emotion. But here's one thing I want us to keep in mind. This is our movement. So we're not going to disassociate ourselves with what's been happening. The real issue outside of all the damage and fires and the arrests is that we're looking for justice. And on the ground level, that's what the people want.

COSTELLO: The sad part about this is everybody is talking about the violence. They're not talking about justice for Freddie Gray anymore.

MUHAMMAD: And that's exactly --

COSTELLO: They're talking about these idiots like looting stores and setting buildings on fire.

MUHAMMAD: Well, see, you can say that but at the end of the day when you use language like, you said idiots or use thugs, then what makes the -- what about those who broke the spine of a man while they had him in custody? Are they not thugs? You know, I mean --

(CROSSTALK)

COSTELLO: I would say -- if they're guilty of that, I would say, yes, they are.

MUHAMMAD: Yes. Because the fact is out of all of this stuff that's happened, we're not seeing young people killing one another. We're seeing greater unity between the Bloods and the Crips, between various communities. And let me just say this --

COSTELLO: See. See. I talked to more than one person who bring in the Bloods and the Crips and congratulate them for the way they acted. But these are violent criminal gangs.

[10:30:00] MUHAMMAD: At the root. At the root. At the very --

COSTELLO: Do you really want them part of the movement?

MUHAMMAD: Absolutely. Absolutely.

COSTELLO: Really?

MUHAMMAD: Because all they have to do is be exposed to some great guidance. All they have to do is be exposed to those brothers and sisters that are going to take that same energy -- if you have the energy to destroy, you have the energy to restore and to build.