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Protest over Teen Death; FBI Investigates Death
Aired August 11, 2014 - 14:00 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.
BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN ANCHOR: You're watching CNN. I'm Brooke Baldwin.
We begin with breaking news. Just absolutely stunning video here from Iraq's Mt. Sinjar. We've been talking about this location for the past couple of days. Finally, we see these women, the elderly, the children, these Yazidi refugees who have been stuck on top of this scorching hot mountain. They have now been rescued from this humanitarian nightmare during a daring mission by Iraqi and Kurdish forces. And CNN was inside of this helicopter. Watch this.
So with guns blazing on either side, because they were flying over these militants before getting to this mountain, here you see these people rushing in. Ivan Watson was the correspondent of ours inside of this chopper, a photographer taking the videos here, as they were dropping diapers and milk and water, food to people desperate, as you can see now, climbing in this helicopter, handful or so were rescued. They have been desperate because of the siege by the ruthless ISIS militants at the bottom of the mountain. And beyond the frantic rush, you see the people, one after another after another clamoring to get inside, clamoring to seek asylum. Watch this.
We just wanted to play this out for you. I mean the looks of these faces, on this little girl. You saw the little boy. Ivan Watson helped him get in. You can read Ivan's lips, "are you OK, are you OK?" Women, the elderly, rescued, wiping tears, desperation. Families clinging to one another as they have now, some of them, some of the tens of thousands still trapped, some saved today. Many of them did not make it on because eventually these families, they had to get out of there.
It's hard for us to even begin to understand what these people are going through, these Yazidi people. But just the looks of their faces I think really tell it all, fear and certainly relief. Ivan described this pickup as, and I'm quoting him, "an explosion of tears."
So, from the sanctuary that was this prison and a grave for many of them, but it wasn't over yet. Those Iraqi and Kurdish soldiers had to shoot their way out of the area. You see all the ammunition here. Firing as the helicopter flies away. A few last terrible moments before they escaped. CNN's Ivan Watson talked to us moments ago from Zacko (ph), Iraq.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
IVAN WATSON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: And we accompanied a helicopter from the Iraqi air force with several Peshmerga fighters on board on a dangerous, chaotic and dare I say heroic mission to deliver aid to some of those people, those Yazidis who have been trapped on Mt. Sinjar for the better part of a week now and to evacuate some of them from that mountain.
So we took off from here on this aging helicopter that was loaded down with babies' diapers, with condensed milk, with food and water and in some cases even boxes of shoes to give people. And as we flew over the plane in the direction of Mt. Sinjar, and we went over the ISIS positions, the two machine gunners on the side of the aircraft began opening fire on suspected targets below. They told me that every time they fly in and out on these missions, they take fire from down below. And I saw them go through cartridges and cartridges, entire machine gun belts of ammunition.
And then they got over Mt. Sinjar and it's this incredible geological formation that comes out over the plane. And there we saw hiding under some of the trees some of these desperate people who have been trapped up there for a week, hiding in the shadow of trees. In some cases, there were a couple half-built structures that people were hiding around. And they all started waving to us and waving white flags as we came over.
And that's when this chaotic process of trying to throw out assistance, aid to these people began. The gunners were quite literally hurling diapers and food off the helicopter. At some points, at heights of up to 50 feet, to the extent that I was worried that people would get hurt below.
And then we landed on several short occasions, and that's where amid this explosion of dust and chaos, these desperate civilians came racing towards the helicopter, throwing their children on board the aircraft. The crew was just trying to pull up as many people as possible. A little baby, a red-headed baby, that ended up in my hands. It was chaotic. It was crazy. But we were able to then lift off with about 20 civilians. Some elderly, some of these people had scratches, had wounds that were clearly getting infected. The crowd on board the helicopter burst into tears as did some of the Peshmerga fighters who were on board there trying to help them. Just the relief was palpable.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BALDWIN: So that was Ivan Watson on CNN. We'll check in with Ivan and hear what it was like when we talk to him in a matter of moments on this show.
Also, just to name him, since I now have a name for this CNN photojournalist who took all of those pictures with Ivan on board, he is Mark Phillips (ph). Mark Phillips and Ivan Watson with that, thank you both so much.
I want to turn now to a community just ripped apart. Today was supposed to be the first day of college for this St. Louis area man. But it has become a second day of protests over his death.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What do we want?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What do we want?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When do we want it?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What do we want?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BALDWIN: So far today, no looting, no gunfire, no violence, unlike the overnight hours. But the anger has not subsided. Michael Brown was just 18 years of age, not carrying a weapon, when a Ferguson, Missouri, police officer shot and killed him on Saturday.
There are all kinds of conflicting reports now under investigation. Exactly what happened, how, why. Brown and a friend were reportedly jaywalking when this police officer approached them. Witnesses say Brown's hands were up in the air when the officer shot him. But police say Brown was shot in a struggle over that officer's gun.
Here's what's clear. Some people have taken advantage of the public outrage by going not only after police, but crashing through windows, going into private businesses. In total, 32 people have been arrested. Two police officers injured after all of this looting and violence. And even the police chief himself there in Ferguson, Missouri, was shot at. And this is according to a police official. How's the chief doing? Here he was.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHIEF TOM JACKSON, FERGUSON, MISSOURI: It breaks my heart. Last night was the worst night of my life. I have never seen anything like it and I hope that I never see anything like it again. Right now this is peaceful and this -- I -- they're telling me, and they're telling the city that they -- they're not happy with what happened, the way things are and that they want answers. And I understand that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BALDWIN: So joining me now from Ferguson, here he is, this is John Gaskin. He is with the St. Louis County NAACP.
Mr. Gaskin, welcome.
JOHN GASKIN, ST. LOUIS COUNTY NAACP: Hi. Good afternoon. How are you today? BALDWIN: I am - I am doing OK. But let's focus on you and what's
happening in that city in which you're joining me because my first question to you is, what is going on there? From what you can gather and it is so unclear, the facts are unclear at this point, but do you think this was an isolated incident, sir, or is them emblematic of something much bigger?
GASKIN: This is something much bigger. What has happened here is being seen all over the country and it's getting national media coverage because it's more than just one shooting death. As we go back and we look at people like Eric Garner that was killed by using an illegal choke hold in New York, we've reached the one-year mark of the verdict of the Trayvon Martin case. This is bigger than one just incident. This is bigger than what just
happened here in Ferguson. This is a real problem when it comes to police brutality and how young black men, or BMWs as we say at the NAACP, black men walking, are being dealt with on the street.
I've spoken to some national leadership. I serve on the NAACP's national board of directors where I'm one of seven youth board members and I've -- my colleagues have reached out to me because it appears that there seems to be this lack of care for black life. And that's how a lot of the young people on the ground feel. I'm from this community. I'm a college student. I'm 21 years old. So I understand, although this didn't happen to me, I can understand how this mother, how this grandma, feels by seeing your son lying in the street for hours.
BALDWIN: I can't imagine. He should have been going to school today. And instead, he was shot and killed.
BALDWIN: He was shot and killed. Do you know, Mr. Gaskin, the race of the officers involved in the shooting?
GASKIN: I do not know that. I imagine, because it's a personnel matter that --
BALDWIN: Is that relevant?
GASKIN: Absolutely. Absolutely that's most certainly relevant. There's a bigger question here. When you look at the city of Ferguson, I'm from St. Louis County --
BALDWIN: Well, can you first just tell me, tell me why it's relevant. Just tell me why it's relevant and then you can make a bigger point.
GASKIN: It's relevant because most of the time in urban communities, or communities in general, especially minority communities, the law enforcement does not reflect the demographic. That's a problem. You know, studies with diversity show, if you look like me, I look like you, you're able to communicate with me a little better, especially when you have a police department that has had consistent problems with how they deal with young people, with how they deal with African- Americans. BALDWIN: Had this particular police department had issues?
GASKIN: It's my understanding that it has in the past. And there are other police departments within St. Louis County that have had issues. It's a problem and there's police departments all across the country -- I'm so happy -- it's unfortunate that a young man, a young black man has been killed, but I'm so happy that there's being some like sheded on this issue that -- of young black life. People need to care a little more. And another thing that needs to happen is people need to listen to the young people involved. It's very unfortunate that looting and some rioting took place yesterday. The last thing we want is for our businesses, our infrastructure, things that empower us economically to be destroyed. But we have to look at the big picture here. We've reached out to superintendents and administrators with the neighboring schools. If you know young people in the community, reach out. Find out how they're feeling.
BALDWIN: Sure. Sure. I think everyone should be heard from. And you bring up the looting. LZ Granderson (ph), who is on TV a lot with us at CNN, he's with ESPN, and he wrote this. He wrote an incredible column. He said he's sick and tired of, you know, these sort of stories happening. But he wrote this. "I hate black looters at peaceful rallies the way I hate the KKK." How would you -- how would the NAACP respond to that?
GASKIN: That's a problem.
BALDWIN: How so?
GASKIN: That's a problem. Our message to everyone, you know -- we want to do things the NAACP way. As I've talked to national leaders and board colleagues, the NAACP has been around for 105 years, and that's for a reason. That's because we do things the proper way. And that's with non-violence. But as well as being proactive and asking the hard questions and getting to the point and being -- and hoping that law enforcement will be transparent with us. We don't want to spread hate. We don't want there to be division. But the first -- the first part of this community, restoring credibility amongst their local law enforcement and especially their city leaders is there's going to have to be some healing.
BALDWIN: Well, there is a clear lack of trust. You know, I've heard that from a number of different officials within Ferguson today. And so you have to have, you know, an unbiased third party investigator. We know this is at the federal level now. We know FBI is involved, DOJ is involved. But I understand that you're also calling for the NAACP to investigate. My question to you is, how would that work?
GASKIN: Absolutely. And part of that would consist of meeting with law enforcement, meeting with people like the prosecuting attorney, or the prosecuting attorneys, meeting with folks on the ground, meeting with eye-witnesses. There's a lot of folks that have contacted our local offices here, where there were cell phones that were used to take footage and some people have been asked -- they were asked to hand those over, or they were taken at the scene of the crime. Those types of things. Those are things that anger people. But the NAACP can certainly do its own set of research, for sure. But
one thing we - you know, I talked about healing. Tonight, the NAACP, St. Louis County, is hosting a public mass meeting. And we're going to have some experts on hand to provide some insight on what the process is. A lot of folks are angry because they don't trust the process, possibly because they're unaware of what that proper process is.
GASKIN: And there's certainly proper steps. And so although we want to tell people to be calm, we want them to be proactive. And that's going at the Merchas (ph) and Tabernacle CME Church here locally, which is not far from here, which is really right down the street in Normandy and we're asking people to -
BALDWIN: I am sure you will get some crowds.
GASKIN: We're asking people to be peaceful.
BALDWIN: Go ahead. Yes.
GASKIN: We're asking for folks to be peaceful. Parking is very limited. So if those locally are watching, we're encouraging that you utilize our metro transit here and our high-speed rail so that you don't have to worry about parking. And most of all, our number-one priority, today and going forward, is the safety of the people within the community and the greater public safety.
BALDWIN: I think the key word there, peaceful. Peaceful.
BALDWIN: As clearly this city has yet to even begin that process of healing to which you were just referring. John Gaskin with the NAACP there in St. Louis County, thank you so much for joining me.
And coming up next, let's open this up. Don Lemon will join me live on this. He lived in St. Louis for a little period of time and so we'll talk about racial tensions there in St. Louis and how this isn't necessarily a new story. So we'll chat.
Also ahead, back to Iraq. An American veteran who fought in Mosul says, quote, "it's about f'ing time the U.S. started bombing ISIS." Hear what led to him and this opinion, coming up.
BALDWIN: As we just mentioned, I was talking to that member of the NAACP there in Ferguson, Missouri. We now know that the FBI is investigating the police shooting of 18-year-old Michael Brown. Ferguson, Missouri, police say its officer shot in response to Michael Brown going after the officer's gun. But a witness says the officer fired on Brown multiple times.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He shot again and once my friend felt that shot, he turned around and he put his hands in the air and he started to get down, but the officer still approached with his weapon drawn and he fired several more shots.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BALDWIN: Now to the mother. I want you to listen to Michael Brown's mother, expressing how young African-American men in this community were feeling even prior to her son being shot and killed.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LESLEY MCSPADDEN, MOTHER OF SHOOTING VICTIM: You took my son away from me. You know how hard it was for me to get him to stay in school and graduate? You know how many black men graduate? Not many! Because you bring them down to this type of level where they feel like (INAUDIBLE) don't got nothing to live for anyway. They're going to try to take me out anyway.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BALDWIN: Let me bring in Gil Alba, former NYPD detective and CNN's Don Lemon.
So, gentlemen, just because we just heard from the mother and you told me two seconds ago you talked to her and the father in the last 24 hours, what did they share with you?
DON LEMON, CNN REPORTING: It makes me sad. I spoke to the mom this morning. She was groggy. She had just woken up and she didn't really have words to say - I asked her how she was doing and she said, you know, I don't really know how I'm doing right now.
But I had a lengthier conversation with the father yesterday. And he said, again, he, you know, talked about his frustrations and why he went out with a sign and how he wanted the whole world to know, you know, the kind of - it's his stepson, by the way. His name is Louis (INAUDIBLE). It's Michael Brown's stepfather. He wanted the world to know what kind of kid Michael is and that he's not a kid in his -- according to him, that would do something like that with police.
And I said - you know, I asked him how everyone was doing. He says, we're not, you know, we're not doing great. And I said, can I call you back later on that evening. And I called back yesterday evening. But they didn't answer. And so I spoke to him this morning and I said, how late can I call you. He said, nobody's getting sleep right now in this family.
LEMON: You can call at 1:00, 2:00, 3:00 in the morning, whenever you want to call.
BALDWIN: How about that.
LEMON: But, yes, it's - that -- the mother makes me sad and -
BALDWIN: It makes - it makes anyone sad, an 18-year-old shot and killed.
LEMON: It's just -
BALDWIN: Anyone, anyone, anyone.
LEMON: Anybody shot and killed. And it's beyond just an 18-year-old shot and killed.
BALDWIN: Gil, I have a question for you, but first, just St. Louis. You lived in St. Louis in your 30s for a couple of years.
BALDWIN: And so you're saying this is nothing new, racial tensions.
BALDWIN: We keep hearing from people in Ferguson saying that there were issues with folks in the community and police departments. And I know as a member of the NAACP said to me, listen, this is emblematic of a much bigger issue.
BALDWIN: What was your own personal experience?
LEMON: I moved to St. Louis from - I had moved to New York City from the south. I grew up in Louisiana. I moved to New York City. Worked in New York City for a long time and then went around the country being a local reporter, trying to make it back to the network.
BALDWIN: Yes, that's what we do.
LEMON: And so one of those first stops was Birmingham, Alabama. The second one was St. Louis. And then after that was Chicago and Philadelphia and what have you. I found St. Louis and Chicago, out of all of the cities that I had lived in, to be the worst racially than any city, even Birmingham, Alabama, even Baton Rouge, Louisiana.
And my estimation was that people think that, you know, because you're in the north, you're in the Midwest, that you somehow escape racial tensions. I found that many times people in the south had dealt with segregation and racism and all those things, because it was so volatile there, that you dealt with it and black people and white people sort of came to, you know, some sort of agreement, right, for lack of a better word, than people in the Midwest because it had not been so volatile. Not that there weren't riots and that, but there was so much that happened in the south.
And I found St. Louis to be one of the most segregated cities. It was sad when you drove through downtown, it looked like a war zone because of white flight. Black people moved in. All the white people moved out to the suburbs. BALDWIN: Yes.
LEMON: And you had all of those f towns, as you call them, on the way to the airport, Ferguson, Festus, Fenton, and on and on, that black people had moved to, as well, because they couldn't afford to live in the city any longer. If you go to downtown St. Louis, it may be a little bit better than when I lived there in 1999 or 1998, but it looked like bombed out buildings. The south side, the same way. These beautiful old mansions, because people couldn't afford to live there anymore because everyone had left.
And the tension between the police department and people of color, it was palpable. I started a program there called - I worked for the local Fox Station -- called St. Louis's Most Wanted, where I had to work with law enforcement. It was always easier to work with the FBI rather than work with the local police -
LEMON: Because they didn't want you to know what was going on for fear that you might uncover something that they did not want to be aired.
BALDWIN: All right, former NYPD. I mean you see this story. We've covered other stories. We talk about use of force. We don't have all the details in this particular case.
GIL ALBA, FORMER NYPD DETECTIVE: Right.
BALDWIN: But what's your initial read?
ALBA: Well, it's sad an 18-year-old was killed. But, you know, you're right, talking about the aura of the place and how it's volatile and these places are. New York City used to be like that many years ago, because I was in a lot of those riots, the same way (ph) here in New York.
ALBA: So I know, you know, the tension and what happens with that. And when you have the riots, it kind of ruins, you know, anybody's having -- you know, trying to help out with this. And it ruins, you know you see people --
BALDWIN: The looting, everything.
ALBA: The looting and it ruins the whole, you know, what you're trying to develop here. There has to be, at some point, you know - there has to be a relationship between the police and the community. And this particular person was looking for a black cop or a white cop. Their - I think they're thinking -
BALDWIN: We don't even know the race of the officer, by the way.
ALBA: I know but -
LEMON: And that didn't matter. See, that doesn't matter to me. BALDWIN: You say it doesn't matter if it's African-American -
LEMON: No, it doesn't matter to me because this is about people who are in positions of authority. And just because you're black, white or Hispanic or you're a woman or someone who has been oppressed traditionally, if it's not --
BALDWIN: Because my last guest said absolutely it did. I asked the NAACP.
LEMON: I disagree with him. I heard him.
LEMON: I think it - it think it doesn't matter to me because you can still be co-opted by a corrupt system. If you're a member of a police department and you're -- for the most part. If you're a member of a police department and you have corruption in the police department or you see people being treated certain ways, you can be co-opted by that and you can -- it can rub off on you. You can start treating people the same way. It doesn't matter - it doesn't matter to me. Yes, it does. But for the most part, I don't think it matters to me what color the officer is. And I think that takes away from exactly what's going on.
For me, this is about the treatment of men of color in our society. They're treated differently, whether it be law enforcement, whether it be at work, whether it be at a grocery store, whether it be on the street. They are treated differently and they have a different level - get a different level of respect.
BALDWIN: So, moving ahead, listening to the police chief earlier talking to Michaela and Berman saying, you know, yes, they're asking about how use of force issues within police departments and he said, listen, obviously we'll come to find the truth and what happened, but he said we'll use this incident as a training opportunity. My first thought was, all this training keeps happening, right? Again, we don't know what happened here in Ferguson. But how would you train that, with the issues of authority, to Don's point?
LEMON: It's happening -- but it's happening because of what I said. Everyone keeps saying training, training, training.
BALDWIN: Is that really -
LEMON: This is about people not realizing that there is a double standard that people live in a different world. And, quite frankly, for white people to realize that black people, especially black men, are treated differently. It is a double standard. Until people realize that, nothing is going to change. Nothing is going to happen.
BALDWIN: That's part of LZ Granderson's (ph) point. We're talking to him next hour. But, Gil, I want to hear from you.
ALBA: That's not - that's not going to change soon, though, what you're talking about. LEMON: Yes, that's - that's so (ph).
ALBA: So it's really what we're talking about is the police and the community.
ALBA: And, you know, what did -- did this cop stop somebody for jaywalking. The guy puts his hands up and he shoots him 15 times or something? You know, how absurd is that? I mean I really don't think that particular thing happened. The other police say that, you know, he was in a car, struggling for the gun. I mean if he was - for, you know, in fear for his life, then some kind of action was taken. So they have to balance those two off and see which is really right.
ALBA: I don't think anybody's going to stick up for an officer who shoots an 18-year-old kid and kills him with several shots and, you know, the heck with him.
BALDWIN: In time, the truth will emerge.
LEMON: Can I say one more thing before we go. When we were talking about the rioting. Yes, it's terrible about the rioting. I agree with LZ. I hate that - I hate when people riot and loot.
LEMON: That happened in Katrina. But when people are put in dire situations, you don't know how they're going to react. I'm not saying it's right. I personally urge people to be peaceful and calm. I'm not saying I agree with them, but I understand.
ALBA: There should never be rioting.
LEMON: I understand.
ALBA: There should never be rioting.
LEMON: There should never be rioting, but it happens when people are frustrated -
ALBA: No, that's -
ALBA: You saw those kids where they were breaking -
LEMON: They react. They react the way they're going to react.
ALBA: (INAUDIBLE) in their own community.
LEMON: As I said, I don't agree with them, but I understand. BALDWIN: Don Lemon.
ALBA: Yes, you can understand that.
BALDWIN: Gil Alba.
LEMON: I do understand it.
BALDWIN: Thank you.
BALDWIN: We'll be talking about this sadly, I think, for some time to come. Appreciate both of you.
Next, we are seeing dramatic new video of a daring rescue of trapped families on top of that mountain - Sinjar in Iraq. We're talking live with an American war veteran who says it is about time the U.S. started bombing these militants who are trapping them on top of that mountain.
Plus developing right now, an American arrested at New York's JFK Airport, accused of wanting to join those ISIS fighters. Stay with me. You're watching CNN.