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Police Cruiser Torched in Ferguson; Protesters Take to the Streets Nationwide
Aired November 25, 2014 - 23:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, everyone. Top of the hour breaking news here on CNN, I'm Don Lemon, live in Ferguson, Missouri. It is 11 p.m. on the East Coast, 10 p.m. here in Ferguson where we are.
Our breaking news tonight, protests all across the country one night after the grand jury decided not to indict Officer Darren Wilson in the shooting death of Michael Brown.
This is CNN tonight. I'm Don Lemon. Again, we are live in Ferguson, Missouri. Again, you are watching some unrest play out here on the streets of Ferguson.
What you are looking at live pictures of a police cruiser in front of city hall that has been torched by protesters. Police moved in quickly to put it out.
Jason Carroll is out on the streets as well as CNN's Chris Cuomo. First to Chris Cuomo out in the crowd then we'll get to Jason after that. Chris, what's going on?
CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR, "NEW DAY": You can see right now. You have the heavy duty police vehicles coming by us right now. They just emptied out the fire station here in a large attachment of officers about a dozen cruisers went by.
Protesters left here about 15 minutes ago. They obviously found a target of opportunity in a less guarded part of the city. That's where Jason Carroll is, that's where they are attacking. You know, they took down one of the police cars.
And they are making a lot of trouble there right now. We are just understanding how they're trying to deal with that situation here. The National Guard is going to stay put. You see that, a chance for them to stand down.
But almost all of the other police officers that were here, have now moved to that other location and this is what they expected tonight, Don, which was that there would be a change of tactics where you have people, who are looking to agitate the situation and find targets of opportunity. They have found them around the corner from you.
LEMON: Chris, as you speak, I need you to put that mic as close to your mouth as possible. I am having a little difficulty hearing you there. We'll get back to Chris Cuomo out in the crowd.
I want to get to CNN's Jason Carroll. Jason, you are right there as they torch this police car. How close are you now? What is going on?
JASON CARROLL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The cruiser they set upon is right here in front of city hall as you mention. Much more aggressive police response that we saw tonight versus last night, as soon as, police came in.
And saw that people were here. They moved in quickly, dispersed the crowd, got the crowd back you, you can see what they're doing right now? Moving in armored vehicles, they move into the area where you have a small number of protesters in, more in riot gear, now moving in behind us.
Coming into the area here, as they disperse the crowd, and surround the cruiser so, much more of an aggressive police response that well are seeing here tonight, Don, versus what we saw last night when we were out here as you know.
Police had a much more measured response in terms of dealing with the crowd, much quicker tonight as they came in and surrounded the cruiser that the protesters had set upon.
LEMON: Jason, I want to ask you something because, you know, there are people were talking to you. Of course, we don't want profanity or expletives on television if we could avoid them. But what's the sentiment? What were those men saying to you, the protesters?
CARROLL: They were angry. I don't want to give them the publicity to be honest. It is really -- I mean, people, certain people have an agenda that's separate from what some of the protesters, who are peaceful, who are coming out here, trying to demonstrate on behalf of Michael Brown's family.
Those people who came up to us that was not their agenda so I don't think it's really worth giving them publicity. I think it's far more important to focus on what is happening out here, those who are passionate about Michael Brown's family. Those were passionate about Darren Wilson and his belief.
In terms of the police response, that's what we are dealing with here, right now, trying to get a handle on the situation. Again, earlier tonight, it was a different tone. Much more peaceful than what we had seen, the previous night. It was a smaller group tonight by and large.
Most of the people who came out here tonight were peaceful. It was definitely a smaller group that they broke off in front of the Ferguson Police Department, came up the street, South Florissant, to where we are now.
Tried to overturn this police cruiser and as soon as police came in, they stopped. They tried to set it on fire. Once again, Don, much more aggressive response that we saw, quicker response tonight to try to make sure they didn't see a repeat of (inaudible).
LEMON: So, Jason, my question was really, these are, wondering if these are people who want their voices to be heard or if these were just people who are agitators. You are right. If it is people who are agitators then you don't want to give them any more publicity. There are many people there who just want their voices heard. Those, those guys are not those people, correct?
CARROLL: That is correct. Absolutely. Those are the kind of people -- as you know, you get a mixed bag sometimes in these groups of demonstrators. But most of the people who are out here are out here because -- they want to voice their support for Michael Brown and his family.
Those who came up to us, those were not those people, they had a different agenda. So that's why I feel as though it's really not worth getting into what their agenda was. It's not important.
What's important is those people who were out here in support of Michael Brown or those people who are maybe sitting at home and support the officer Darren Wilson. It's I think what the community is going to have to grapple with going forward.
It's finding a way to bring those two camps together with a backdrop of dealing with things like we are looking at right now.
LEMON: And Jason, as we are looking at this, who are the members that are around the police cruiser? Those are members of the police department. These aren't National Guard members, are they?
CARROLL: These are not National Guard. You have got -- well, actually, you have some more activity here. As we look down the street here, you have got another small group of protesters who are trying to --
LEMON: We're seeing smoke, Jason from --
CARROLL: From our vantage point here. So we are going to move in and try to get a vantage point in terms of what is happening. I know you know what this is like, Don. You try to navigate through, as safely as you can. Once again you --
LEMON: We are seeing smoke. We are not sure what the smoke is. If it is just sort of -- if it's flashes, warning flashes. If it is -- tear gas. We don't know what is going on, but from our vantage point, we are able to look at these aerial pictures. Not sure how close you are to it. If you even can tell us what it is -- Jason.
CARROLL: Yes, we can see it right here. We are here in the parking lot now across from where you saw that cruiser. It does not smell like tear gas. We know what that smells like from last night.
But once again, it has just been a sort of tense standoff with these groups of protesters broken off from where we were in front of the Ferguson Police Department.
They're dealing with them as best they can, whenever they, small group breaks off, tries to cause some destruction, you then get a group of the officers who come over and meet them head on. So that's what we have been watching and witnessing for the past, just 20 minutes or so as we watch and see how this situation continues to develop.
LEMON: And Jason again, we are seeing a lot of, officers in, in riot gear on the left of our screen. Then on the right of our screen, Jason, I'm just describing what our viewers at home are seeing. There is an aerial shot, a very smoky aerial shot and then of course -- you there to the left. Go ahead, Jason.
CARROLL: Yes, what we have got is, we have got members of the Missouri State Police, who are in riot gear, who are moving into the area now, moving the crowd back. We are in that crowd. So they're moving us back as well. I'm holding on to my photographer.
That's why the picture looks a little jumpy because I want to make sure that he doesn't lose his footing here as we are moving through the crowd. So we are just moving slowly back through the crowd, listening to their commands. They want us to move back. We are moving back.
They want to keep us in this area so we are staying in the area. Again, they're doing the best that they can to try to manage the crowd. This group of demonstrators, who are breaking off, some of them are trying to cause destruction as best they can.
The officers, who are out -- out here doing the best that they can to try to stop that from happening. Steve, are you all right? OK -- Don.
LEMON: All right, Jason Carroll out in the crowd. Again, you're looking at live pictures now. This is from Ferguson, Missouri, where a police cruiser has been set on fire. There appears to be some unrest there.
Members of the National Guard brought in today, more members of the National Guard to help control the crowds. The mayor of Ferguson is not happy with the response last night saying that his city was on fire wondering where those National Guard members were to protect his city.
We have a number of people who were out in those crowds, Jason Carol, our Sara Sidner as well as our Chris Cuomo. Also happening in New York City as we continue to look at these pictures of Ferguson, Missouri, a large protest that has been happening in that city going up and down, the city, starting on the FDR road, a highway that runs on the east side of the city and also through the city up to Times Square, up 7th Avenue.
Our Miguel Marquez is out in the crowd in New York City. Miguel, the protest has been peaceful in Ferguson, Missouri. Not so peaceful now, the ones in New York City wondering if they are still peaceful?
MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: They are peaceful here, but very, very determined, Don, people chanting for justice on the streets. We are now moving on the west side. We have been -- the central city. We have been south. We have been east and now we are all the way on the west side of Manhattan.
It appeared that they wanted to move on to the west side highway, want to block that. Police had blocked the entry way on to it. Now they are moving up towards Harlem at this point. It appears that we continue going that way.
It's a very, very peaceful crowd, but with a very strong message. They have been chanting for justice. Not only for Mike Brown in Ferguson, but also for individuals here in New York. There are two -- two high profile cases in New York --
LEMON: We are having a bit of trouble, hearing you, Miguel. Stand by, having a bit of trouble hearing you. We want to get to Daniel Jose Older, who is a protester in Boston. He joins us now by phone. Again try to get Miguel back. He is having technical difficulties.
So Daniel, are you there? Dan, are you with us from Boston? Daniel, are you with us from Boston? Technical difficulties with Daniel, as soon as we get Daniel, he'll jump in. But again, we are hearing about 1,000 protesters in Boston, one of them again --
I'm in. Can you hear me? Hello.
LEMON: Daniel, we're hearing about 1,000 protesters there. What's going on?
UNIDENTIFIED CALLER: Right now. It's a peaceful march. We are about 700. I can see people as far as ahead of me. People are peaceful. People are angry. People are fed up. We need an indictment. We need justice. We need systemic change and people are being peaceful right now.
LEMON: When did this rally or march start, Jose, and how -- how long has it been going on?
UNIDENTIFIED CALLER: I tell you, it has probably been at least, 2-1/2 if not three hours. I got here late. I have been here an hour and a half. People are outside the -- the correctional facility when I arrived and -- I would say it was about 1,000 or more strong.
It has been going on for a minute. Spontaneously moved over on to Mass Avenue and kept going. Protesters taking over the street. They've done it peacefully. It's a beautiful thing to see.
LEMON: It started with just a few and it has grown into this crowd, Jose.
UNIDENTIFIED CALLER: Yes, it's pretty much moved spontaneously. People have signs. There is no one person organizing any one thing. People are moving across the street and the police blockade. We turn and go to another street.
Right now, we are coming up on the center and everybody has signs up. No one has -- been hurt that I can see -- a few arrests earlier. I can't confirm that for you. LEMON: All right. Daniel Jose Older, one of the protesters in the crowd in Boston. Again, you are looking at live pictures from Boston. Also we have live pictures for you from New York City where there is a protest going on. And we are also covering the protests here in Ferguson, Missouri.
Where there has been some unrest here in Ferguson, Missouri. These protests going on all over the country, these are live pictures now this evening that you are looking at in New York City. This is the Henry Hudson Parkway.
Henry Hudson Parkway, now closed in New York City as you can see protesters have made their way on to the Henry Hudson and -- and have shut it down. Again, this information just coming into CNN, we are witnessing all of these protests all across the country.
We have a little technical difficulty hearing Miguel Marquez. Miguel is out in the crowd. Miguel, can you hear us now?
MARQUEZ: I can, if you can hear me?
LEMON: I can. Go ahead.
MARQUEZ: Fantastic. We are on the west side highway. A complete detour for these protesters, this is the northbound lane of the west side highway. That is the southbound lane. They have moved into both lanes and now, a second major thoroughfare here in New York.
You can see them climbing up along the top of that freeway. This was unexpected. They were marching along the Riverside Drive and then went through a couple of fences on to the Riverside freeway here, west side highway.
Blocking yet another -- major, major roadway here, making the point in very clear fashion that, that it is the people who control the streets. The law enforcement they're tired of. A lot of these individuals have been on the march all night long.
We are into hour five or six at this point. It looked like it was starting to thin out. It may be, about 600, 700, 800 people at the moment. When the weather crossed that park, it may be as many as a thousand.
Now folks are starting to stop. It appears that they are waiting for the other protesters to catch up that are coming behind us. They can continue their march. As you can see off to the right here, lots and lots of police walking alongside basically just making sure that they stay safe and that traffic doesn't get out of control.
But at this point, they are not making any effort to stop the marchers here or to stop any of this from happening, where these marchers go and how long, and just how long before there is an issue with police in this confrontation, we don't know -- Don.
LEMON: Miguel, be careful out there. We will get back to Miguel as he marches along with the crowd along with the protesters there. And these pictures courtesy of our affiliate, WCBS, these are live pictures that are playing out in New York City.
Unbelievable, what's happening, really all across the country. As we look at the pictures, I want to bring in now, the Reverend Charles Ewing. He is Michael Brown's great uncle. Reverend Ewing, as you are watching these pictures, I'm wondering what you are thinking as this all unfolds?
REVEREND CHARLES EWING (via telephone): Don, we, the family, we encourage peaceful protests. But we do not encourage violence. Violence is not the answer. Destruction of people's personal businesses or properties, we do not endorse that. It is very unnecessary. And it is not proving a point at all.
LEMON: It is not proving a point. I am wondering, listen, as I am sitting here talking to Van Jones. We have been discussing it as we are looking at this. We spend a lot of time with the police cruiser that had been torched in Ferguson.
And the -- a few knuckleheads as Van Jones says, knocked out coverage of all of the peaceful protests that have been happening across the country. So, let's focus on the -- on the positive side here. When you are looking at the people who are lawfully protesting, this has to be encouraging for your family.
EWING: Yes, Don, it is very much encouraging. Also, I would like to add, in the city of Ferguson, our chief apostle, of the Churches of God and Christ, has declared a three day prayer and fasting for the church for peace throughout the nation.
As well as they have dispatched clergy earlier tonight in the city of Ferguson, led by my jurisdictional bishop, Lawrence M. Wooten, one of the general board members. We are prayerfully in support of the peace demonstrations and the city of Ferguson as well as throughout the nation. Peace is the answer.
People can prove a point by peaceably protesting. But nonviolence we do not endorse. We cannot afford to see our nation destroyed and people's personal properties destroyed where they worked so very hard to build up the businesses and to destruct them is not good.
But as far as the protesters across the nation, yes, I do encourage that. And we, the family appreciate those people -- coming together to protest on behalf of the decision that was made not indicting the officer there in Wilson.
We are very devastated by the results and we are not unhappy with it. But we believe that God will bring things to light.
LEMON: Reverend Ewing, I don't mean to cut you off, but unfortunately, very limited time here. I want thank you for joining us. Reverend Charles Ewing is Michael Brown's great uncle joining us here on CNN.
Quickly before break, Van Jones, want to say, that people have been asking me, and ask you, we want to hear more from the protesters, hear more from the protesters? You look at the pictures here, this is Ferguson, Missouri. Many times the protesters would yell and scream. They don't want to actually come on camera and talk --
VAN JONES, CNN COMMENTATOR: How many times you would actually invite someone over, get them on, and the camera, they would run away. You are seeing a generation on knife's edge between violence/nonviolence. I hope the tug-of-war wins out so sad to see those beautiful kids out there doing it the right way. All it took is one group, knucklehead, to knock them off the air.
LEMON: The person we are talking about, the reason we brought it up is because of Jason Carroll. Jason Carroll is back out there now. We're going to live to him. Jason, try to get people to come over and talk, not all want to talk. Many just want to, upset. Vent.
Jason Carroll back out on the streets. Jason, what's going on now where you are?
CARROLL: Well, we just heard an announcement from St. Louis County Police. They've told those who are still out here that if they continue to remain here, they will be arrested. At that point, those members of the police department moved across the street, started making arrests, started to tell the people here it is time to go.
If you do not go, you will be arrested. So the crowd has started to disperse. At this point, it seems to have taken some of the tension out of the situation surprisingly, still a tense situation. Not as bad as before.
So Don, once again moving in, they are telling this crowd out here if you do not leave, you will be arrested. We are waiting for the announcement to see what in terms of what happens next.
But then at that point, some of the protesters, demonstrators, don't know if you can tell, moved up into a small hill, up there not far from where we are now. Here comes the announcement again.
ANNOUNCER: You need to return to your vehicles and we need to leave this area now.
CARROLL: There you heard the announcement again.
ANNOUNCER: The north side and far south side or you will be subject to arrest.
CARROLL: That announcement coming there. You can see from the vehicle there shining his light.
ANNOUNCER: -- we need to leave.
CARROLL: Warning also to the media to leave the scene as well as those from the general public. So we're monitoring the situation. We are going to stay here as long as we possibly can, safely, without getting arrested. Just to bring you what we have from here -- Don.
LEMON: So Jason, I want to ask you, remember the summer when -- when the protesters were ordered to keep moving. That you couldn't stand in one place. Then of course the judge said that that was unconstitutional.
The protesters now would imagine they're being told to stay off the sidewalks. They're being allowed to move and, but to stay, as long as they're on the sidewalks. Correct?
CARROLL: No. It started out, you could stay on the sidewalk then the announcement came. You have got to go. You can't stay on the sidewalk. They said it -- they've called it an unlawful assembly. It was time to go back to your vehicles and go home. That announcement came not only for the Ferguson residents, but for the media as well here. Here's the announcement again --
ANNOUNCER: Leave or you will be subject to arrest.
CARROLL: There it is again. Refusal to leave, you will be subject to arrest. So I know what you're saying because I remember that point, when you were allowed to walk around in a circle. That area on West Florissant as long as you kept moving and what the officers here first tried to do and said if you stand on the sidewalk.
You can stay. You can protest. Then a few minutes later, the announcement came. You can't even stay on the sidewalk. If you are in this area, you have got to go.
LEMON: All right. Our Jason Carol is on the streets of Ferguson, Missouri. As you can hear, protesters now, even media. Officers are saying you have to disperse. No protesters out on the streets. If you are on the street, you are going to be arrested.
That is in Ferguson, Missouri. As we look at these pictures in New York City now. You can see that protesters are still out on the streets of New York City. We are going to go back now to Ferguson. And Ed Lavandera, Ed, it looks like someone has been tear gassed. Ed, are you there?
ANNOUNCER: -- subject to arrest.
ED LAVANDERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: He was being treated here. Officers continue to move around in this particular location, trying to get these -- the remnants to disperse from this area or in the same location where Jason Carroll is. They are trying to get a lot of people to move on home at this point.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: -- or you are subject to arrest. Go.
LAVANDERA: You can see that is how they're kind of, laying out the situation here for people. Don, you heard that, that directly from the officers, talking to one particular gentleman, who is not leaving the area. They're kind of getting these folks to disperse, back in the various parts of these neighborhoods.
What was made this situation a lot more dangerous and a lot more fearful for a lot of these officers was that this was a situation where -- situation where they were going into the neighborhoods or threatening to go into the city hall here. Just, it is inside the, inside the neighborhood. And that's what -- I think made the situation a lot more nerve-racking for these officers as they went into the situation. They started leaving the police department area and were making their way through this neighborhood. That's when the more serious confrontation here took place a short while ago -- Don.
LEMON: All right. Ed Lavandera is on the streets of Ferguson, Missouri. On the streets of Ferguson, Missouri, police are ordering protesters off the streets. They're subject to arrest.
We are following the protests here as well as in cities all over the country. We are back with our breaking news on the other side of a quick break.
LEMON: I'm Don Lemon. Back now in Ferguson with our breaking news, the pictures you're looking at though coming out of Los Angeles. This is from our affiliate, KABC, protesters are gathering there as well as in cities all over the country in Boston, in New York City, and of course, here in Ferguson, Missouri.
I think it is appropriate that we speak to our next guest now as we look at these pictures of Los Angeles because the tension and the unrest that's happening in Ferguson. Remind some people of the violence that broke out in Los Angeles more than two decades ago in the Rodney King case.
Joining me now to discuss that is Shawn Holley. She represented O.J. Simpson during his sensational murder trial. I wonder, Shawn, as you look back on, 1982, 1992, when this happened.
You look at what happened with the grand jury here and of course, the acquittal of the officers in the Rodney King trial. Is this -- does this, is this reminiscent of anything to you. What are similarities here?
SHAWN HOLLEY, ATTORNEY: You know, the more things change, the more they -- they stay the same. One of the things that you may remember from the riots in Los Angeles was Florence and Normandy, which was really the center of it all. You may remember Reginald Denney was a truck driver.
And he was pulled from his truck and beaten right there on television. And there were no police officers at all anywhere around there because -- I think they were just too much fear about going in there and enflaming the situation any further.
Ultimately, at the time, I was a public defender, but I went to Johnnie Cochran's Office from there. We represented Reginald Denney in a lawsuit that actually proved to be unsuccessful. But the issue there was whether or not he should have been protected.
And he was not because the police would not come into that area because it was so volatile. So, you know, it is very interesting seeing how the police make the decisions about how to handle these sorts of volatile situations whether it makes sense to go in or stand back.
LEMON: Let's talk about the acquittal of O.J. Simpson as well, and then the grand jury here. And how many people depending on ethnicity saw the different outcomes here. What do you make of that?
HOLLEY: Well, you know it is -- it is a similar issue. I was talking about this recently. People are so angry about the O.J. Simpson verdict. Someone was asking me weren't we happy about the fact that we have so many African-American jurors.
I said it's not just that they were African-American. It's that their experiences with the police were different than experiences of say the Santa Monica jury that reached a different verdict in the civil trial.
So, you know, there is a similarity obviously in that African- Americans, people of color, have different experiences with the police. And that led to this sort of anger and disappointment and frustration that we are seeing tonight and conversely the sort of jubilation that we saw in the criminal verdict in the O.J. Simpson trial.
LEMON: President Obama said today that some of the unrest that you are seeing across the country rooted in the feeling that the laws are not enforced uniformly and fairly in American reality. Do you agree with that?
HOLLEY: I do agree with that. It's interesting, I mean, for the grand jury to have been approached in the way that it was in this case. So at odds with the way grand juries are approached in every other in stance. There would be no recommendation made. It is very easy to understand why African-Americans, people of color, and feel as if they're not getting the same brand of justice that others receive.
LEMON: Shawn, as an attorney, do you think that there are too many laws protecting police officers?
HOLLEY: You know, it's not that there too many laws protecting police officers. It is difficult to prosecute police officers. Prosecutors work hand in hand with police officers the difficult for them to turn against the witnesses they rely upon in most of their prosecutions.
I think people are willing to give officers the benefit of the doubt in many communities. But in a situation like this, where we are in an African-American community, a white officer, obviously we feel that sense of injustice and that's what we have been seeing for the past two nights.
LEMON: Speaking to Shawn Holley, who is an attorney who represented O.J. Simpson, we are talking about Simpson acquittal, and also talking about Rodney King and the acquittal of the police officers in the Rodney King beating.
Listen, back then, Shawn, for both of those cases, you didn't have social media? I wonder if that makes a difference here as you are looking at these protests that are being organized across the country. Most people came out. They are watching broadcasts, cable television. Social media add a different, a different facet to it.
HOLLEY: It does, though, I remember very clearly, the riots in the Rodney King trial. I was a public defender. I was working downtown. We gathered around the television. What was so interesting is as a public defender, represented so many people, who had been treated unfairly by the police. Nobody ever believed it.
I mean, one of the things that changed everything, of course, is cell phone cameras and video cameras. No one ever believed that those things happened to our clients. So when the Rodney King case happened. It was all captured on video. We thought now finally people see that this is what happened.
There is going to be a different outcome. When there was not a different outcome, I remember driving home on the 10 Freeway, which cuts across Los Angeles, and watching fires break out on either side of that freeway.
Though there was no social media, I mean, there really was just this, this outbreak of violence across the city. Again, sparked by the same sorts of things we are seeing now and I think really what's most important is just the cameras that we are able to see so much more than we were able to see, you know, many, many years ago.
LEMON: Shawn Holley, thank you. Shawn Holley represented O.J. Simpson. We appreciate you joining us.
HOLLEY: Thank you.
LEMON: You are very welcome. We are looking at the pictures now of Ferguson, Missouri. This is Los Angeles, KABC. What we are hearing from Los Angeles. An officer confirming to CNN that protesters have arrived. We are looking outside the Los Angeles Police Department headquarters.
They say that the protesters are demonstrating peacefully. Number of police officers is present at the scene and that's all the information there, again, peaceful protests in Los Angeles.
Mostly peaceful protests in New York City, some unrest here in Ferguson, Missouri, to report, and as you saw our reporters, Ed Lavandera, Sara Sidner, Jason Carroll, out on the scene.
Jason and Ed reporting to us that, police officers in Ferguson, Missouri are saying that you must get off the street or subject to arrest. Pictures now from Dallas, Texas, as well, this is WFAA, our affiliate, I-35 in Dallas shut down by protesters there.
Again, we are going to follow these protests from coast to coast. When we come back, the latest on all the protest as cross the country. I'm Don Lemon. The "breaking news" on the other side of this break.
LEMON: Welcome back to our breaking news here on CNN. You're looking at live pictures now in Ferguson, Missouri where protesters have been told to get off the streets or they will be subject to arrest. We are watching protests coast to coast tonight after the grand jury decided not to indict Officer Darren Wilson.
Let's discuss this now with Alex Ferrer. He is a former police officer and of course, the host of television's "Judge Alex," CNN political commentator, Marc Lamont Hill will join us as well. David Klinger is a former police officer in L.A., Redmond, Washington, and the author of "Into The Kill" and Jeffrey Roorda of the St. Louis Police Officers Association.
Thank you all, Gentlemen, for joining us tonight. Jeffrey, looking at pictures now, this is Los Angeles. We saw what happened in Ferguson, Missouri. You are a member of the association, what do you make of the protests this evening?
JEFFREY ROORDA, ST. LOUIS POLICE OFFICERS ASSOCIATION: Listen, it's good news that they're telling them to get off the streets. It's safe for the protesters, safe for the police officers and safe for the National Guardsmen. I didn't have any problem with them breaking up the protests when they get violent like this. And, lives are in the balance.
LEMON: What about the right to protest? David, many of those, say this is our right to be here on the streets. You can't order us off the streets.
DAVID KLINGER, FORMER POLICE OFFICER: Absolutely, they have a right to protest peacefully. But you cannot go beyond those bounds. Police have an obligation to protect property, protect life and so there is a delicate balance. So long as the police are making sure that they are looking out for first amendment rights, protecting people and property. That's policing.
LEMON: Marc Lamont Hill.
MARC LAMONT HILL, CNN COMMENTATOR: I am disappointed that protests have been shut down all together. I think there has to be space for people to protest and have their voice heard. Also I think part of the problem is that since yesterday many people have felt as if the governor and the state more broadly have acted in bad faith.
Last night, I was on South Florissant and within 15 minutes of the announcement, police were blocking the street. Not allowing people to march. When I asked the officer, why are you blocking it? He said, well, because we heard gunshots.
Of course, if you hear gunshots, you have to respond. By shutting down the entire protest, people began to chant. It only fomented the very thing they said they were trying to prevent. I am excited by the way protests around the country. I'm back in New York. Protests here, L.A., it's very exciting to see people having their voices heard.
LEMON: Judge Alex, you are a former police officer as well as a judge. You see, talk to us about the legal angle and what it is look to deal with situations like this as a police officer. You heard what Jeffrey said. He said he is glad actually they shut protests down here in Ferguson because he thinks it is a threat to safety.
JUDGE ALEX FERRER, HOST, "JUDGE ALEX": Well, in situations like he described where you have gunshots, if you are a police officer you are in a situation where you are kind of damned if you do, damned if you don't. Don't try to block off the area.
During one riots in Miami, I worked blocking a street, there was sniper fire in the area. These marchers, the protesters go peacefully marching through and end up getting shot. There will be lawsuits about police not protecting their citizens.
And if you go ahead and block the street off, well, then of course you get the protesters angry about the fact that you are interfering with the protest. So it's not an easy situation for any police officers. What we saw last night, I think if you'll allow me, Don, was reminded of the first riots.
I was in Miami during all three of the riots that we had in the 80s. In the first riots, they sat back, you know, the police were told to sit back and let them cool down. That was the worst advice anybody could give.
The rioting took a life of its own and it just destroyed building after building and home after home. And after that, I am surprised it was allowed to happen now because after that, it was pretty much accepted in the law enforcement community that you don't have a cooling off period.
Because a cooling off period just allows people to heat up even more, if there is rioting, looters, go in there. Take them out. Let peaceful protesters continue. That's what should have been done.
LEMON: Jeffrey, take us behind the scenes as to what is happening now with police and their strategy. What's going on?
ROORDA: Well, just to go back real quickly to the judge's point. There is a -- there is a balancing test. Clearly the balance that we have seen tips the scales. And these -- these peace officers are there to keep the peace, aptly named. They can't do that in the midst of this bedlam.
LEMON: So again, take us behind the scenes, what happens with police? What are commanders saying? What's brass saying? Are they -- they're giving the men on the street the command?
KLINGER: Right these are not decisions being made by guys on the front lines. These decisions are coming from higher up. And you know, I think they're sound decisions. The commanders on the ground that are there watching have a perspective that none of the rest of us have.
LEMON: All right, Gentlemen, thank you very much. Everyone stand by. Our breaking news in Ferguson, Missouri, across the country, protests happening. Most of them peaceful. We have seen some unrest here in Ferguson, Missouri. Not nearly to the level that we saw last night. But again another police cruiser, torched. Set on fire. Police moved in very quickly. Put it out. Of course, our reporter, and correspondents, out on, on the streets have been saying that the police are ordering people off the streets or they are subject to arrest.
We'll get the very latest on what is going on across the country right after a break.
LEMON: Don Lemon live in Ferguson. On the streets of Ferguson tonight, looking act the live pictures. You can see, police out in tactical gear this evening. Our reporters who are out in the field have been telling us that protesters have been ordered off the streets or else they are subject to arrest.
And you can see the officers mingling among the protesters there. We'll get you to the streets of Ferguson in a moment. But I want to continue on with our panel now to discuss this.
Back with me now, Judge Alex Ferrer, Marc Lamont Hill, David Klinger, Jeffrey Roorda, and Van Jones with us in a little bit. He will be with us a little later on. What is your book again, "Into the Kill Zone."
So let's talk about ordering these protesters to disperse. Marc Lamont Hill, you don't think that they should be ordered to disperse even in light of some of the violence and unrest that is occurring tonight. Not nearly what we saw last night.
HILL: Absolutely. Much of the unrest is, has changed. It shifted to peaceful unrest as oppose to violent unrest. But I think protesters again need a space to do this. Remember the governor himself created this environment by creating a state of emergency a week ago.
He tried to redress that yesterday by saying protesters will have space to march, to exercise free speech, to walk down the street, to drive down road. He said all of that and yet, within literally 15 minutes, they began shutting it down.
It was a bad faith move that I think actually angered protesters and made them feel frustrated. Everything about this has created the environment that they say they wanted to prevent.
You don't make an announcement at 8:00 p.m. if you don't want violence. Don't have nontransparent process if you didn't want violence, you don't block peaceful protesters, if you don't want violence.
Yes, there are few bad apples. Pick them out, deal with it responsibly, but you don't punish the bulk of people who have been disciplined and organized for 109 days.
LEMON: Mark, Mark, stand by because as we look at the picture in Ferguson, it appears, there was an arrest. Looked like someone tried to or -- I'm not exactly sure if they tried to rush one of the police officers to the right of your screen where the flashlight is that you are looking at.
There was someone who was put on the ground by police officers. It appears they're being cuffed. Not sure what is going on. I am not, obviously not out there. We are seeing it all unfold now. I'm wondering as you are looking at this. This is what the cops are up against. This is what the protesters -- they're wanting to exercise their right.
KLINGER: Big distinction between exercising your right to speech, and some crazy stuff going on last night. I am going to disagree with Mark. He is making an argument that it is the governor's fault, the district attorney's fault, the justice system's fault.
No, we have a core group of people here who decided what they want to do is riot. They want to shoot guns. They want to endanger people and burn people's businesses down and torch car lots. That is unacceptable.
So in the face of that of course the police, the National Guard, of course the sheriff and highway patrol have to come in with a posture of strength to protect people. This is my community. This is Jeff's community.
And it's unacceptable for people, either from our community, from the outside to come in and riot. And the police have an obligation to protect, while at the same time, trying to create that space. But the people who are denying the protesters the safe space, it's not the authorities.
It is knuckle heads to use Van Jones' terms to create problems and felonies need to be arrested need to be prosecuted.
HILL: Here is my issue with that, David. A disingenuous gesture the police are doing. If you look, and today, they blocked off peaceful protesters to ensure all property and businesses would be protected. I left, went to west, and black owned businesses in the area being torched. There weren't fire trucks.
Weren't police officers stopping it? If police officers were concerned with stopping unrest they would have equal representation in both places. They were careful about which property they protected, which people's lives they defended and which lives were vulnerable blowing in the wind out there. That's my issue there, David.
KLINGER: I can't speak to that. I wasn't there. I am unaware of that if that happen that was wrong. The police obviously have to protect everybody's property, everybody's rights. If there is discriminatory policing that's wrong, but the point is that what the police should have done.
Should have moved vigorously protect the black owned businesses, moved vigorously to protect the black lives in danger. That's my point is when people cross the line. When authorities need to come in and need to arrest people. People need to be prosecuted. LEMON: Judge, quickly, can you referee this between the attorney and between --
FERRER: You want me to rule. No problem. Actually, I agree with both. But the first amendment is a very powerful amendment. But at the end of the day, if the state has to take action, if the police have to take action to protect individuals or property, then it has to give way to that. Now, of course they have to do the, the least restrictive action they can. But, some times that can be shutting it down.
KLINGER: Mark has won me over. I actually now blame the fire department for the fires last night. They're over-militarized response. They were wearing helmets and protective gear. I understand the fire trucks, the same kind of fire trucks they use in the army. This is ludicrous that we keep blaming the police for the actions of the mob.
LEMON: All right, I've got to get to a break. Thank you, Judge. Thank, Mark. Thank you, Jeffrey, and thank you, David. Back with our breaking news in just moments.