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Protests against Police Brutality Take Place in Cities across U.S.; Interview with Baltimore City Councilman Nick Mosby; Interview with U.S. Congressman Keith Ellison of Minnesota. Aired 8-8:30a ET

Aired April 30, 2015 - 08:00   ET


[08:00:00] CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: You are watching NEW DAY. It is Thursday, April 30th, 8:00 in the east. Alisyn and Michaela, as you can see, are in New York. There is a lot of news there. Frustration and anger building over the death of Freddie Gray here in Baltimore and around the country. Now, on the streets last night, this 10:00 p.m. curfew, it worked. It helped restore some order here. But developing this morning, a big headline, "The Washington Post" raising new questions about what might have happened to Gray in the back of that police van, Alisyn. We'll take you through it.

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: OK, meanwhile, Chris, protests are breaking out nationwide in Ferguson, Missouri, Minneapolis, Washington D.C., and New York, where more than 100 people were arrested last night in clashes with the police. We have this story covered from every angle. We're going to start with CNN's Rosa Flores on the conflicts that we saw last night. Rosa?

ROSA FLORES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Alisyn, good morning. You know, the tensions between police and communities across the country erupting, exploding. Take a look at this map. These are some of the cities that have seen or will see protests.

Now, the common message is simple. Police brutality is an issue across the nation. Now, some of the most intense protests right here in New York City, and take a look at this video, about 100 people were arrested. Now, the night started off very peacefully, but it escalated with a small scuffle with police, then protesters started marching.

And hear this, police asking everyone to stay on the sidewalk. Those who did not ended up on handcuffs. And then we move on to Washington, D.C., where the situation and atmosphere was a lot more friendly. It was marchers marching down the street, also singing and chanting. The group was about 500 strong. It dispersed once they got to the White House.

But more violence this time in Denver. You see folks marching downtown down the streets. About 11 people were arrested. There's a few commonalities here. Most of these protests started on social media and they end by thousands hitting the streets. Chris?

CUOMO: The irony, Rosa, you have it heated up all over the country, and yet the locus of it here in Baltimore, we saw a better night on the streets. For a second straight time the mandatory curfew, 10:00 p.m. to 5:00 a.m., it worked. Here is what it was like last night.


CUOMO: Curfew, once again, the moment of truth in Baltimore. You now have about 300 people here who aren't sure whether they want to leave or not. Thousands of National Guard added to the mix, police assembling equipment and forming the line.

We just had armor show up. You have the police are here in bigger numbers.

Color sparking violence, but on this night it was about gang colors as Crips and Bloods went at it. The police never move. The community handles its business, and up and squashing the rogue gang bangers and enforcing the curfew.

As we approach 10:00, it's moving in the right direction. The key is leadership. Concerned citizens and, all importantly, elected leaders on the ground. Baltimore Representative Elijah Cummings and State Senator Catherine Pugh voices of reason, people responding. Flanked by media they move from group to group until they are only left with reporters and calm streets.

REP. ELIJAH CUMMINGS, (D) MARYLAND: We are very, very proud of our folks and we're proud of our city.

CUOMO: No small irony. Night turns out better than day in Baltimore as massive crowds swarm city hall and Penn Station. The majority of protests peaceful, a handful still determined to harm police by throwing rocks.

COMMISSIONER ANTHONY BATTS, BALTIMORE POLICE DEPARTMENT: I have a number of officers that have, well, they probably have broken hands or other bumps and bruises.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He's signing fake autographs for fake fans.

CUOMO: The biggest disruption in Baltimore seen on the field and not the streets. For the first time in history the Baltimore Orioles played to an empty Camden Yards, and the officials too afraid of possible violence inside the stadium.

ADAM JONES, BALTIMORE ORIOLES BASEBALL PLAYER: My prayers are for the families and all the kids out there. They are hurting.

CUOMO: But what exactly happened to 25-year-old Freddie Gray? That remains a mystery. According to the newly investigative document obtained by "The Washington Post," a prisoner who rode in the police van with Gray who was separate by a metal partition and could not see him told investigators he believes he was, quote, "intentionally trying to harm himself."

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Nobody is standing up for the officers, any of them.

CUOMO: Cutting against this report a family member of one of the six officers under investigation, they wish to remain unidentified but they say Gray wasn't manhandled on the road and the van ride was not rough.

[08:05:00] UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There were two people in the back. If he was rolling around in the back then the other person that was back there would have been rolling around in the back also, and they weren't.


CUOMO: So we have two sources of information about what might have happened before and after Freddie Gray got in the van. Let's see what they can mean to us, especially based on this new Washington report that we have now. We have Evan Perez here, our senior justice correspondent. Evan, when you take a look at it, what could it mean? I know the sourcing is of who said what to whom, but what could it mean?

EVAN PEREZ, CNN SENIOR JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: What this means is that the prosecutor is going to have to sort through this even more confusing picture of what exactly the police are telling them happened. The police say that whatever happened, happened in the van. You hear that person who is close apparently to the police officer who was probably driving the van says that whatever happened, he told Anderson Cooper last night, whatever happened, it happened before Freddie Gray got in the van.

We know that Freddie Gray, a wagon was requested to take him to jail at 8:42, 8:46 the van driver says that Gray is being irate and they put leg irons on him. It's after that this prisoner gets into the van and then they drive six blocks before they go to jail. Now, the police commissioner Anthony Batts has addressed some of this before. Here is what some of what he says happened there.


BATTS: The second prisoner that was picked up is that he didn't see any harm to Freddie at all. What he has said is that he heard Freddie thrashing about. The driver didn't drive erratically.


PEREZ: That makes -- you ask even more questions, and at the end of this "Washington Post" report, it does raise the question as to how does this second prisoner know he is intentionally trying to harm himself. All he can hear is some banging on the metal wall, the partition that separates him from Freddie Gray.

CUOMO: The pendulum swings back and forth. We know that he was doing enough in the van that they had to put shackles on him, which makes people think he couldn't have been that hurt. But then people say, what do you mean. Look at him before and he was dragged in. He looks obviously hurt. And then there's speculation about whether or not he had preexisting surgery. "The Baltimore Sun" says there is no reason to believe that. And he also had the crushed larynx, not just the spinal injury. This is a confused picture. It will be difficult to sort through.

PEREZ: It will be very difficult to sort through, and that's one reason why people who are close to the investigation that I have talked to have told me that this not a clear-cut case against these officers. That's something the people here on the streets don't want to hear.

CUOMO: They don't want to hear. And they think they are going to hear more tomorrow. And as we've both vetted, that's not going to happen. Not for a bad reason, it's just a long process. Thank you.

PEREZ: Thank you.

CUOMO: All right, so, what does all of this mean, and how does it play into what leaders have to do to keep the city stable and moving forward? Joining us now, Councilman Nick Mosby. Nick's wife is actually the state attorney who will be getting that report. And now we are going to put a huge strain on your marriage by saying what has your wife told you? The important thing, councilman, is people have an expectation that tomorrow is the day. Forget about who you are married. You are an elected official and you know the process. Are people being set up for false expectations about answers tomorrow?

NICK MOSBY, BALTIMORE CITY COUNCILMAN: I think the fact that we are even discussing this now, it's critically important that we develop a communication strategy to let folks know exactly what is going to take place. I think the mayor and police commissioner tried and attempted to do that yesterday. I think as public servants, as media we need to continue to try to educate them on the process.

CUOMO: But the mayor, you say the mayor and the commissioner, they're the ones who set the date tomorrow. The commissioner set it, the mayor echoed it, didn't knock it down. How does that help, saying Friday is the day?

MOSBY: I think there's going to be a lot of confusion, and unfortunately we're at this point that what we need to do is try to develop a plan to proactively communicate. I have been meeting with my community members, I talked to my colleagues on the council that we are trying to get one unified message out just to let people understand the process, that the police department is now saying they are going to hand the contents of their investigation over to the state's attorney and not necessarily to a reporter.

CUOMO: And Nick, councilman, you have been on the show before. You were dressed differently because you spent a lot of time on the grounds. Fair criticism, that you haven't had enough elected, the big shots, the mayor, the governor, on the ground at the hot spots to control the situation. And last night, you saw Senator Cummings --

MOSBY: I was out there with him.

CUOMO: You know that's his neighborhood. State Senator Pugh was there, you were there. It made a difference. Would this have been different past had you had your mayor and your governor on the ground?

MOSBY: I can't talk for other folks.

CUOMO: The mayor is your party.

MOSBY: Yes. At the end of the day it's my neighborhood, it's my district. It's critically important for me to be out there, and that's why I am out there. You're right, I think we bring another sense of calm when we are letting folks know your elected officials truly care about this situation, we're not going to stop until we get justice. This is bigger than Freddie Gray, and folks want to hear that, because unfortunately they had this huge distrust of the criminal justice system and it's really us versus them.

[08:10:05] So when they see folks come in, they look at it like they are occupying our neighborhood, when it's really not. At the end of the day we just need to bring peace and calm to the community, and you really at least representatives like Congressman Cummings going out and doing that.

CUOMO: What's your take? Is thug code, is that code for saving savage, primitive, angry brown people who will hurt themselves and hurt their own communities? Do you think that's what that word means.

MOSBY: I think at the end of the day when you break a crime you are a criminal, no matter who you are.

CUOMO: Is everybody that breaks a window the same?


CUOMO: They are the same?


CUOMO: So the guy who wants a TV or the guy who just wants to be bad is the same as the guy who says I can't take think anymore. The system is not going to embrace me, I'm not going to embrace it? You don't see them differently?

MOSBY: Destructive of private property is always wrong. I mean, I have resident who have been adversely impacted, folks who are on fixed incomes, seniors in my community who have broken windows, who have their houses set on fire. I have a paraplegic woman who has a 16 year old son. Her house got set on fire. They are out of the house and in a hotel somewhere. So at the end of the day, no matter who you are, no matter what the reason is, destruction of property that is not yours, that's still a crime.

CUOMO: Absolutely a crime. Do you have to take a step back and look what's motivated the actions and see if it's always the same thing?

MOSBY: Totally. I've been talking about this all week. We can continue to focus on the what but we really need to focus on the why, you know the systemic issues that really cause this. Again, it doesn't make it excusable and folks should be punished. However we really need to become a better America by really trying to challenge this complex equation in urban America. And that's decades old a systemic issue that plague these community.

CUOMO: Freddie Gray matters, but what is driving this behavior that we see in the city? It's not really about Freddie Gray, is it?

MOSBY: This is much more than Freddie Gray. Freddie Gray was the culmination of, again, decades -- the young guys out here showing their frustration and venting, being angry and doing it in an unproductive way, they are carrying their father's burden. They're carrying their grandfather's burden. Again, this is generations old of failed policies and broken promises.

CUOMO: You are a Democrat, right?


CUOMO: Is this on you guys? The mayor is a Democrat, you're a Democrat, 50 years of Democratic rule here, and is this an idea that you haven't gotten it done as a party, as a structure here, and is that the focus on the blame?

MOSBY: Leadership is not based off of party lines, and at the end of the day, have individuals failed in this city, in this state, in this country? Yes. Have there been failed policies? Yes. Have things adversely affected places like Baltimore? Yes, whether you're talking about Reaganomics, whether you're talking about the contraband where they talk about stop and frisk procedures or mass incarceration. All of these things directly play into recidivism and play into the things that plague these communities. So it's all about leadership and not necessarily about parties.

CUOMO: Since you have grown up, is it different today than it was? Is it better?

MOSBY: No, not in certain communities, no. Certain communities have been stagnant.

CUOMO: All the talk from O'Malley who was mayor and governor saying I am going to run on the back of how I changed Baltimore, and you say it's not that impressive?

MOSBY: No, I am not saying any specific about O'Malley. What I'm saying is there's incremental steps in anything, right. And when you take a city of this size, this is a metropolitan area. We're not talking about Ferguson. We're talking about Baltimore.

CUOMO: There's 650,000, one in every three is in poverty in that area.

MOSBY: Now, if you look at the statistics compared to the '80s or the '90s, have things increased? Yes. They have gotten better. We had 350 murders back in the 90s. Now we're at 230, right? But one murder is too many. So at the end of the day, quantitatively, do we look better? Yes. However, there is so much work to do.

CUOMO: And when you say that last statement, this doesn't end in terms of Freddie Gray in terms of addressing problems that will make a difference here, and is your concern this outcome will overshadow what needs to be done? Let's say all the officers get punished, that is not going to make a better policing culture necessarily, right? If none of them get punished, that's not going to change the situation, either, right? How do you change the situation?

MOSBY: Not at all, and that's why I am so excited about this movement. We are seeing young folks who have felt voiceless, disenfranchised, felt completely disconnected from the political process who are now activated, motivated, and out here marching peacefully. If we can galvanize that energy to allows folks to really be part of the process, that's how we are going to change some of the structural issues and systemic problems that plagued these communities for so long.

CUOMO: It's not whether or not there are issues. It's how you address them.

MOSBY: That's why we can't keep focusing on the what, but let's really try to dig into the why. And unfortunately all the attention Baltimore got on Monday exposed urban America from the east coast to the west coast.

CUOMO: But we're still here. We're watching every step. Councilman, thank you very much for joining us.

MOSBY: Always, Chris.

CUOMO: Appreciate it. All right, Michaela, over to you.

MICHAELA PEREIRA, CNN ANCHOR: All right, let's take a look at some of the other headlines. We will get back to our top story in a moment. The number of victims in the Nepal earthquake is expected to surpass 5,500. Two units of flights arrived Wednesday with much needed humanitarian aid, and the U.S. pledges to help the 8 million people that have been affected in this place.

Among the devastation, amazing stories of survival, this one, an 18-year-old pulled from the debris after being trapped for five days.

[08:15:00] CAMEROTA: Iran nuclear negotiations happening at the U.N. World powers meeting to discuss progress on that historic treaty. Another meeting scheduled on Monday in Europe to finalize all of the elements. Iran's foreign minister says he intends to meet the deadline and he also says no deadline is sacred.

PEREIRA: Bernie Sanders plans to give Hillary Clinton some competition. The Vermont senator jumping into the 2016 presidential race. Sanders will outline his plan for winning the Democratic nomination at a news conference this afternoon. He, of course, is an independent but caucuses with Democrats in the Senate. He describes himself, though, since we are talking about labels today, he is describing himself as a Democratic socialist.

CAMEROTA: OK. There you go.

Meanwhile, two Baltimore neighborhoods six miles apart, but the life expectancy in one of them is 20 years longer than in the other. How does the city fix that stunning inequality?



MARC MORIAL, NATIONAL URBAN LEAGUE: In post-recession America and as the recovery has brought jobs to the American mainstream, inner cities are being left behind.


CAMEROTA: That was the former mayor of New Orleans, Marc Morial, attributing the conflict in Baltimore to staggering inner city unemployment.

Let's see if Congressman Keith Ellison agrees. He's a Democrat from Minnesota. He has been tweeting up a storm about what's going on in Baltimore.

Good morning, Congressman.

REP. KEITH ELLISON (D), MARYLAND: Good morning. Thank you for having me.

[08:20:00] CAMEROTA: Staggering unemployment or excessive police force or what? How do you explain what is going on in Baltimore this week?

ELLISON: Well, of course, excessive police officers and staggering unemployment go together, because what we've done in the United States, as we've said, that the affluent part of our society is going to demand more tax breaks, more wealth, more privilege, leaving less for the less fortunate, and the way we keep the less fortunate in control is through policing and prisons. That is the unfortunate formula we constructed.

So, you know, Freddie Gray's neighborhood, 50 percent unemployment, but Michael Brown's neighborhood outside of St. Louis, they had the doubling of unemployment in the last ten years, they are well high of 12 percent.

The city I was born in, Detroit, Michigan, back in the 1960s when we had the Kerner Commission Report studied the same thing -- the unemployment was high where the disturbances broke out.


ELLISON: And, of course, yesterday was the anniversary of the L.A. disturbances, there again south central L.A., economically deprived. You've got to make an investment, and our society has to decide, are we going to pay the police and prisons to keep the poor out of control, or we're going to invest to include everybody in this economy.

CAMEROTA: Let's talk a little bit more about Freddie Gray's neighborhood, because we have seen statistics. In fact, I want to challenge you on the 50 percent unemployment number that you just used. This is from the Baltimore neighborhood indicators alliance. They looked at every neighborhood in and around Baltimore.

And really there are staggering numbers here -- the children living below the poverty line in Sandtown, that's Freddie Gray's neighborhood, almost 50 percent. 77 percent only high school completion, and in other words, 23 percent drop out. The unemployment they sight is 22.7 percent because those are people they say are actively looking for a job, though to your point 50 percent of the neighborhood is not working.

I mean, when you look at those numbers, I mean, where do you begin? What's the answer?

ELLISON: Well, the answer is, I think, simple. It's starts with, one, investing in the infrastructure. Investing in the educational opportunity for the people there, raising minimum wage, making sure people can go to the doctor. I mean, we are -- there is a big fight all across the country over minimum wage.

In the McDonald's, the CEO makes $9,000 an hour, and they act like they don't want to make -- pay people $15. In fact, people are making $7, $8 an hour. This is the problem. This is the heart of it.

And then, of course, that leaves the problems with housing. Freddie Gray led in a house with excessive lead paint, which is again another marker of poverty. And he had ingested that like literally thousands of kids in Baltimore and kids all over the United States suffer from.

So, my point is, can we stop saying that I've got to make $9,000 an hour? I've got to have a tax cut, I don't want to pay the estate tax, and, oh, isn't that a shame of what happened in Baltimore?

We are connected here and we are all Americans. We have got to say that, look, you can make good money, but do you have to make so much that whole neighborhoods have nothing, and not even any hope? That's the problem that we are facing right here.

CAMEROTA: Congressman, I want to ask you about the report out in "The Washington Post" today. They say that they have gotten their hands on an internal police report, whereby they cite a fellow prisoner who was in the same van as Freddie Gray who says it was his impression that Freddie Gray was thrashing around so much intentionally trying to injure himself. What do you make of that?

ELLISON: Well, 16 years of doing criminal work, I can tell you that if you are charged with a crime in custody and officers come to you and say, hey, somebody is saying we beat up on Freddie, did you see anything like that? Oh, no sir.

I mean, come on, it's pretty transparent. I wouldn't put any credence on that at all.

CAMEROTA: You think he is trying to get favor with police officers to get his own deal?

ELLISON: I think he is trying to survive. I think he doesn't want to be like Freddie Gray.

CAMEROTA: You have been tweeting a lot, as we said. One of your tweets was this. You said, some talking about the worth of buildings, infrastructure destroyed in Baltimore, but no discussion about the worth of Freddie Gray's life.

Do you think we're not talking about Freddie Gray enough?

ELLISON: I think we need to talk about Freddie Gray and people like Freddie Gray much, much more. I mean, there's all kinds of people in Freddie Gray's neighborhood who really want to work, who have talents, who want to make a life for themselves and their children, and I think that we've got -- I mean, I would urge the media to try and humanize the people that live in that neighborhood so that folks around American have some compassion for hard working people who work everybody but live in impoverished neighborhoods.

We've got a guy right here who works for the United States Senate cooking, and he is homeless. There's a story about a guy in Detroit who worked -- walked 10 miles to work and back every day, and can't work in every single day.

[08:25:07] But you know what? That's the sad reality, is that people are not thugs and they're not bad -- some maybe, but most are not -- and we need to hear the real stories of the people that labor so hard to make it every single day. Like the frustrated mom who's like trying to save her son and lost it out there on the street. I had compassion for her because as a father of four, I'm like, wow, you know ,the best thing in my life is my kids and what wouldn't I do to save them, you know?

And there are parents all over Baltimore and Detroit and Indianapolis and L.A. struggling to try to make a life for their kids, and the rest of us need to care about that.

CAMEROTA: Absolutely, and she said she was worried about him. She didn't want him to end up as another Freddie Gray.

Congressman Keith Ellison, thanks so much for being on NEW DAY.

ELLISON: Thank you.

CAMEROTA: Let's get over to Michaela.

PEREIRA: All right. Great conversation there. Ahead here, old wounds torn wide open by the death of Freddie Gray. We are going to speak with two mothers that lost their sons in deadly shootings. What it's like for them to see the events in Baltimore unfold, the mothers of Trayvon Martin and Sean Bell, next.