Return to Transcripts main page

EARLY START

Charlotte, North Carolina Erupts; Tulsa Protests Remain Peaceful; Charlotte Rioters Target Media; Cam Newton Speaks Out on Social Injustice. Aired 5-5:30a ET

Aired September 22, 2016 - 05:00   ET

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


ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Dangerous night in Charlotte, North Carolina. Widespread damage there as rioters in some cases, shattered windows and knocked down reporters. Now the family of a black man killed by police is disputing the official account. We are live on the ground in Charlotte this morning.

Good morning, everyone. Welcome to EARLY START. I'm John Berman.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: And I'm Christine Romans. It is Thursday, September 22nd, it is 5:00 a.m. in the East.

The breaking news this morning, a new eruption of violence in Charlotte, North Carolina. The second night of protests that took a dangerous turn following a deadly police shooting. Governor Pat McCrory had issued a state of emergency, as Charlotte's mayor tells CNN she is considering a curfew if the protests continue.

[05:00:07] Overnight, rioters smashed windows with rocks and bats, vandalizing buildings, damaging the Bank of America building and the Charlotte Hornets store, among many businesses. At the Hyatt, the manager says protesters broke out the window with bricks and punched hotel employees.

CNN's own Ed Lavandera was slammed to the ground.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ED LAVANDERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: They were trying to get agitators off the grounds and speak --

(INAUDIBLE)

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Ed, are you OK?

LAVANDERA: Yes, we're fine, Anderson. Someone taking out their frustration on me.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROMANS: He says he is fine, by the way. He said the person who knocked him down came back to apologize. Obviously, a crowd of amped up people.

Police say four Charlotte officers suffered non-life threatening injuries. They one person, a civilian, shot another civilian. That person is on life support right now and critical condition. Officials correcting earlier reports that the person had died.

As to the police shooting that started this all, very different stories emerging of Keith Lamont Scott's death. Scott's family says he was unarmed reading a book in his car. The police chief in Charlotte says Scott got out of his car with a gun which investigators recovered. The police chief says that no book was found.

This morning, demands for release of the video of the shooting but the governor who were told has not seen the video says he has concerns about the video release.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GOV. PAT MCCRORY (R), NORTH CAROLINA: One view point of the video doesn't often tell the whole story. The angles can make a difference and not hearing often in the video says the complexity. The video is one piece of evidence and we have to be careful with all the new media that is available. In one respect, it can be used to a very great and positive thing for our public. In another way, the video can also be abused.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BERMAN: Let's get the latest now and CNN's Nick Valencia who is live on the ground live in Charlotte -- Nick.

NICK VALENCIA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, John.

It was an ugly night here last night in downtown Charlotte, which started at peaceful demonstration at about 6:00 last night and it turned ugly very quickly. It depends on who you ask as far as who is to blame for that chaos that ensued last night.

Police blame agitators for starting it. Of course, I talked to demonstrators earlier today and they said they did not turn violent until the tear gas canisters were dispersed. But it appeared anyone last night that anyone was susceptible to the violence. One civilian was shot by another civilian. That person was wounded and still currently in critical. Businesses were not spared either.

There's plenty of vandalism. Evidence of the aftermath behind me. This souvenir store vandalized by looters. It was early this morning that I caught up with the general manager of the Hyatt Hotel that has its glass broken and some of the employees assaulted.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MATT ALLEN, GENERAL MANAGER, HYATT HOUSE: Early on in the night, yes, it was peaceful. You know, everyone, they actually seemed like they're in good spirits. There seemed to be some good camaraderie. I don't know what happened. They marched up the street a little bit and things got ugly fast. Yes.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VALENCIA: Part of what's complicating things here are these competing narratives, these competing storylines of information. Keith Scott's family saying that Keith Scott was unarmed, simply reading a book, waiting for his child to be dropped off by the school bus when he was shot and killed by police. The police chief here in Charlotte addressed those allegations at a press conference yesterday, saying a handgun was recovered from the body of Scott and officers feared for their lives, and that Mr. Scott did comply with demands to drop his open, which is why they had to open fire -- John, Christine.

ROMANS: All right. Nick, thank you for that.

We spoke earlier with Marcus DiPaola. He is a freelance photographer who was in the middle last night in Charlotte. He described how things unfolded as the violence worsened.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MARCUS DIPAOLA, FREELANCE PHOTOGRAPHER (via telephone): From about 8:00 p.m. to midnight, there was so much tear gas and so many pepper balls being shot, that I really didn't have a chance to take off my gas mask for more than a couple seconds at a time. Protesters were smashing glass everywhere. I remember what I now assume was the restaurant manager or owner screaming at protesters for wrecking their windows.

One of the most striking visuals that I'm remembering and I actually haven't slept yet because I just finished filing my footage was when protesters got on the highway.

[05:05:02] Police got in a single file line and shot pepper balls at them to get them off the highway. This was a really bad night for the city.

I was pushed to the ground twice and so were other members of my crew, but thankfully, everyone that I was with got out uninjured.

BERMAN: You know, Marcus, you were out there overnight. Do you have any reason to believe that tonight, Thursday night, won't be like this again?

DIPAOLA: Yes, you know, I did not see a huge amount of organization on the part of the police or protesters.

It really looked like police lost control of the situation. I think now that both police and protesters will have a good six-to-eight hours during the daylight after everybody goes to sleep and wakes back up and organize.

I'm really nervous about what's going to happen tonight, meaning Thursday night, because people will have time to organize.

(END VIDEO CLIP) BERMAN: That's photographer Marcus DiPaola. Our thanks to him for that.

Joining us now in New York, CNN law enforcement analyst Matt Horace. He is a former executive with the ATF and senior executive at FJC Security Services.

Matt, thanks so much for being with us.

ROMANS: Good morning.

MATT HORACE, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Good morning, good morning.

BERMAN: You know, there are short term and long term issues here to deal with. The short term is, how do you get through tonight? How do police approach tonight? How do demonstrators approach so we don't see that happen again?

HORACE: Well, you know, we have several levels of what's happening right now. The first is what I call coptics -- or the optics of policing in the digital age. This all started when the deceased daughter went to Facebook and Twitter about her pain. That got those crowds going.

Then, you have that all important, critical crisis management point. The chief of police now has the manners, the collateral investigation, what information is going to release to the public, what information isn't, and he had to deal with the potential for more violence tonight.

ROMANS: Everyone wants to know if it was a book or a gun. What is the police story and what is the family story and what does the evidence show? We don't have that yet. I understand why it's important to do the due diligence in the investigation.

But how difficult is it for law enforcement when you have the streets erupting and people want an answer and you're still gathering information? Should they be putting video out more quickly?

HORACE: Well, you know, every department and every jurisdiction does it very differently. We have seen it done differently in Ferguson, in Baltimore, in New York and others.

ROMANS: In Chicago --

HORACE: In Chicago.

ROMANS: Right.

HORACE: This really becomes a crisis communications and crisis management issue. And I'm sure right now the chief, the city, the state, the governor, they are sitting down at the table and trying to determine what's going to be the stages of their communication, how do they release information?

Listen, there is a shooting investigation at the very beginning of this thing. In most organizations, once that happens, it's sort of closed and cloistered environment. In this case, because of he crowd, because of a protest, because of the violence, there may be a necessity to come out and say something today.

BERMAN: The problem is, is there was a gun or there wasn't a gun. There was a book, or there wasn't a book. But now, because of the way it unfolded, I think there are concerns of whatever the facts, one side or the other, they will not believe it.

HORACE: Well, the bottom line is the chief has already, he's already came out unequivocally and said, there was no book. He also said a gun was recovered from the suspect. But the protesters and people who want to believe else are not listening.

ROMANS: Let's talk about the protesters. It is remarkable. The Hyatt manager saying employees are being punched. Our Ed Lavandera knocked down. You can see people -- this is rioting and this is looting.

And I know Martin Luther King Jr. said riot is the language of the unheard. But a lot of people look at the pictures and it overshadows the message of the movement. This city is 35 percent African- American. The police chief is African-American. The officer who fired the gun is African-American. What are your thoughts and what is the message here?

HORACE: Well, my thoughts being a 27-year veteran of law enforcement is there are two distinct angles. There is protest and protest for good cause and then there is criminality with the thugs and criminals.

No one has shown me or anyone else that burning buildings or looting or punching people in the face will get what you want. There is a protest protocol and Charlotte knows what that is and people know what that is. We have to be sure to differentiate between protesters and criminal. What I see on some of these video clips are criminal.

BERMAN: Just quickly, possibility of a curfew tonight? Do you think that's a good or bad idea?

HORACE: It's got to be a good idea. They got to take control of these streets and they can't risk what happened in Baltimore and elsewhere in Charlotte right now.

BERMAN: All right. Matt Horace, thanks for being with us. I appreciate your insight into this. We're going to have more on the protests in Charlotte in a moment.

In the heat of all this, several reporters came under attack, including one of our own. Our chief media correspondent Brian Stelter will join us to talk about that, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[05:14:43] BERMAN: All right. The breaking news. Protests and violence in Charlotte, North Carolina. Rioters smash windows and vandalized store fronts across downtown. This was going on until early this morning.

Reporters also caught in the middle of the violence. You see our friend. CNN's Ed Lavandera knocked down by one protester.

[05:15:03] And local outlets in Charlotte are also reporting injuries to their crews.

Joining us now is senior media correspondent Brian Stelter, host of CNN's "RELIABLE SOURCES."

And, Brian, first of all, Ed is a terrific reporter. Ed stood up, told Anderson last night when he's on TV --

BRIAN STELTER, CNN SENIOR MEDIA CORRESPONDENT: And resumed his report, yes.

BERMAN: Resumed his reporting and said he was fine. The protester came up later and apologized to Ed. Ed on Twitter said he said, look, doesn't want to be part of the story. He wants to be there to report the story and tell folks what is going on.

STELTER: He is well this morning. Our other reporter Boris Sanchez who was nearby. They were able to help each r during last night. Boris on the air, choking what seemed to be tear gas at the time.

And there was a local news crew that ended going to the hospital during all of this, a reporter and photographer got checked out because they were assaulted and knocked down and punched by these rioters. It seems to me these pictures, they are conservation enders. This is a conversation starter, something that begins about police violence. Pictures like these are conversation enders.

They close people's minds as opposed to open people's minds. We see reporters being attacked when the messenger is attacked and it makes it harder for us to tell the full story about what's going on there.

ROMANS: There is a big chunk of America to look at the pictures pushing the glass and hearing reports from the Hyatt manager of employees being punched and it will overshadow a story of a man shot by police. How do these images take away from what is the core of what the legitimate protesters are upset about?

STELTER: I think that's the absolute point, is that initially, this is how it initially starts. Clearly it started as a peaceful protest and movement and quickly, very quickly, went downhill. As you reported earlier. This was happening in downtown Charlotte, happening in the area around the central business district. That is not something we are used to seeing.

Even during protests and riot behavior in Ferguson in Missouri, we did not see something like that in St. Louis. I think it's going to be very disturbing as people wake up and see it in the central business district.

BERMAN: Let's give you the other side of the argument. Because it is happening in the business area, because, you know, businesses are hit and reporters are made to feel uncomfortable, it actually shines more of a spotlight on the problem. It is not meant to be comfortable for everyone else in a way.

The protester now -- again, I'm not advocating violence in anyway. I think the riots are awful. I think vandalism is awful. I think when protests become violent, become riots, it is a real problem.

However, as Christine points out, Martin Luther King said rioting is the language of the unheard.

BERMAN: It is useful to disseminate property damage and damage to lives. We saw one life almost taken last night. A person in critical condition. There is a difference, though, when we're talking about the store being broken into, stores being looted, cash registers stolen, property damage has severe consequences.

But it is different than the loss of a life. I know that we see that commentary online every time something like this happens, unfortunately happening often it feels like in America. There are the unique situations that happen every month or every year. They all feel like they are related in various ways, don't you? Kind of brought together by social media and television.

ROMANS: Social media is the other factor. The daughter of the deceased put up the Facebook post. For the first time ever, people have a voice like they did not have before. That resonates with people in the crowd who feel they never had a voice before. This woman has crystallized the grief of her family and I think that really is part of it, too, here, because you don't have the same thing happening in Tulsa.

BERMAN: Brian, stick around. Thanks so much for being with us.

ROMANS: Yes, come back a few minutes. Thanks.

Nineteen minutes past the hour. Donald Trump's tax and spending proposals would add more to the nation's debt than Hillary Clinton's. In total, Trump's plans add $5.3 trillion to the debt, according to the committee, for a responsible federal budget. This is bipartisan think tank.

Trump's tax cuts are the most expensive part of his plan. Clinton's would add $200 billion to the national debt. Clinton would say for a lot of her new spending with higher taxes on wealthy Americans. The Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget says neither candidate has a real, realistic plan for getting America out of -- from underneath all that debt.

BERMAN: A long way from Paul Tsongas who campaigned on eliminating the national debt and deficit. It just doesn't happen anymore.

ROMANS: Paul Tsongas, haven't heard his name in the last --

[05:20:00] BERMAN: All right. Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton reacting to the fatal police shooting that sparked the violence in Charlotte, North Carolina. Andy Scholes with this morning's "Bleacher Report", that's next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BERMAN: All right. In the midst of the protests in Charlotte, North Carolina, Panthers star quarterback Cam Newton is speaking out on the issues of social justice.

ROMANS: Andy Scholes has more on this morning's "Bleacher Report".

Hey, Andy.

ANDY SCHOLES, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, guys.

Cam Newton is the quarterback of the Panther and he is one of the most famous people in Charlotte. And, yesterday, he was asked about his thoughts in the city and across the country.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CAM NEWTON, CAROLINA PANTHERS QUARTERBACK: When you look at the most dangerous cities in America, you know, Atlanta.

[05:25:04] You know, Birmingham, Chicago, Miami, Louisiana. I know from being a black person, it's a lot of black people that don't do right by black people. So, you can't be a hypocrite and say, oh, well, a white man or white police officer killed a black man. That's still messed up.

I'm not saying it is OK. I'm saying we still have to be, you know, have a clear eye vision on both sides. It starts with everybody holding each other accountable and policing yourself.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCHOLES: Newton was not the only high profile NFL star to speak out yesterday. The Seahawks Richard Sherman refused about football from reporters, instead speaking only about social injustice.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RICHARD SHERMAN, SEATTLE SEAHAWKS: I think the last couple days, more people got shot and killed in the middle of street. More videos coming out of guys getting killed. I think people are still missing the point. You know, the reasons these guys are kneeling and we are locking arms is to bring people together to make people aware this is not right, you know? It's not right for people to get killed in the street.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCHOLES: Guys, the Patriots will host the Texans tonight, and we'll wait and see if more players end up protesting during the national anthem before the games.

BERMAN: I think it is almost certain to happen, Andy. I think they are part of the discussion now and eager for the discussion to continue.

Andy Scholes, thanks so much.

SCHOLES: All right.

ROMANS: All right. Twenty-six minutes past the hour. Protests over the police shoot death of a black man in North Carolina turned very ugly, turned violent. Charlotte torn apart with broken windows and fires in the street, tear gas, reporters attacked.

More from Charlotte, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)