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THE SITUATION ROOM
New York Protests; Chokehold Death Protests in Multiple Cities; CNN Crew in ISIS-Besieged City
Aired December 4, 2014 - 18:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Dying moments. They say police treated their father like an animal.
We want to welcome our viewers in the United States and around the world. I'm Wolf Blitzer. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.
BLITZER: Let's get to the breaking news tonight.
Protests are under way in New York and other cities as the nation learns more about the NYPD chokehold death case and the grand jury decision that has angered so many Americans. A judge has released some new details about the secret hearing that ended without an indictment of the police officer Daniel Pantaleo in the death of Eric Garner.
More video has surfaced of Garner's final moments after he repeatedly told police he couldn't breathe. His children are speaking out now for the first time. They're sharing their shock and their pain with the world.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ERICA GARNER, DAUGHTER OF ERIC GARNER: You have seen die on national TV just like everybody else. Why?
My mother, that was her husband. That was the love of her life for 27 years. And, you know, my grandmother, that was her firstborn. So it's like, how do you expect them to feel? They're hurting. But, then again, they're trying to keep us strong as being his kids.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: The president and CEO of the National Urban League, Marc Morial, he is standing by live. We will discuss what is going on. We also have our correspondents in the field, in the studio. We're covering all the breaking news this hour.
Let's begin with CNN's Joe Johns. He's joining us right now from Times Square -- Joe.
JOE JOHNS, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, outrage and demands for justice echoing around this town tonight, with police on high alert and public officials now joining the call for change. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)
JOHNS (voice-over): Demonstrators hit the streets in Times Square Wednesday night, chanting Eric Garner's last words.
UNIDENTIFIED PROTESTERS: I can't breathe! I can't breathe!
JOHNS: Garner died after this encounter with the NYPD.
ERIC GARNER, NEW YORK RESIDENT: I can't breathe. I can't breathe.
JOHNS: And, today, officials are vowing change.
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Too many Americans feel deep unfairness when it comes to the gap between our professed ideals and how laws are applied on a day-to-day basis.
JOHNS: The Department of Justice is launching a federal investigation into Garner's killing and Attorney General Eric Holder says police reforms will go a long way to make the streets safer for everyone.
ERIC HOLDER, U.S. ATTORNEY GENERAL: There are real, practical, and concrete measures that can be taken to ensure not only that police services are delivered into a constitutional manner, but that we can promote public safety, officer safety, confidence and collaboration, transparency and legitimacy.
JOHNS: New York Mayor Bill de Blasio vowed to change the way officers are trained.
BILL DE BLASIO (D), MAYOR OF NEW YORK: Changing how our officers talk with residents of this city, changing how they listen, slowing down some interactions that sometimes escalate too quickly.
JOHNS: The New York Police Department will escalate its internal affairs investigation while officer Pantaleo is on modified assignment. His badge and gun have been taken away.
This is not the first time he's been accused of civil rights violations. "The Staten Island Advance" reports he's been suited twice. One case was settled for $30,000 at taxpayer expense. A second case is still open. But the New York City Police Benevolent Association is very strongly backing Pantaleo.
PATRICK LYNCH, PATROLMEN'S BENEVOLENT ASSOCIATION: This was a police officer who was sent to that location to do a difficult job, had to bring a person to the ground that said I'm not going and was resisting arrest.
JOHNS: And some predictable political controversy coming out of today's pronouncements. The head of the police benevolent association suggesting the mayor threw police officers under the bus with his news conference today -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Joe Johns reporting from Times Square.
Let's go to another protest under way in New York City.
CNN producer Chris Welch is at Foley Square in Lower Manhattan.
Chris, what do you see over there?
CHRIS WELCH, CNN PRODUCER: Wolf, since we last spoke last hour, this crowd has grown significantly.
Just take a look behind me. You can see this crowd very vocal right now. They have been chanting just recently, no justice, no peace, which we have heard over and over again, and we have heard,I can't breathe, what we heard Eric Garner Crystal in that cell phone video.
This crowd has significantly grown. And we're wedged right in the middle of it, Wolf. It's very difficult to even get a good sense of how many people are now here. You probably have a better view from some of our local New York City affiliate helicopters that are flying above us.
But I would say it's easily over 1,000 people, probably well over 1,000, maybe 2,000 at this point. People with signs, we have got the City University School of New York, we have got law students right here, chanting now black lives matter. You can hear that.
Wolf, it's definitely just turning into a very large demonstration. So far, though, Wolf, everything is peaceful.
BLITZER: There were about 80, 85 arrests last night. You haven't seen any arrests so far tonight, have you?
WELCH: At this point, we have not, Wolf, no. But we are seeing a lot of police presence here. Everyone looks like they're prepared for another night like last night.
I guarantee you that a lot of the protesters here, a lot of people might take to the streets. We have heard from some of the organizers who in fact tell us they do plan to go do some type of march tonight. We don't know exactly when that might start. But just keep our heads up and keeping our eyes out for something like that to occur again tonight.
BLITZER: Yesterday, we saw the protesters start marching all over Manhattan, including the West Side Highway. You haven't seen them leaving that area yet, right?
WELCH: Yes, a lot of people are keeping -- all over the city tonight, really.
Here in Foley Square, everything is sort of centralized right now. Last night, as you mentioned, we saw West Side Highway, essentially one of the northbound lanes shut down by protesters who laid down in the streets. We know the arrests that happened last night, they were all arrested for acts of nonviolence, unlawful assembly, people who laid in the streets, that type of thing.
But I think folks here tonight, you just take a look around, they are they -- they just want change. They're chanting, black lives matter. We see those signs right in front of us there, no justice, no peace. There's that chant again we have heard over and over tonight. And a lot of people here say -- especially -- I was just talking to those law students we saw.
They are saying, look, we believe this is a problem with a broken justice system. We believe it's a problem with a broken policing system. There is a racist culture, they say, that still permeates here in America, Wolf.
BLITZER: We will stay in close touch with you, Chris Welch. He's monitoring that demonstration, other demonstrations under way in New York and we're seeing people begin to march elsewhere in Manhattan. We will stay on top of this part of the story.
The attorney general of the United States, Eric Holder, is promising that the Justice Department here in Washington will conduct its own investigation of the chokehold case quickly.
Our justice reporter Evan Perez traveled with Eric Holder to Cleveland, Ohio, today. Evan is joining us now.
Evan, are the feds going to go after this police officer in New York City?
EVAN PEREZ, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, they have just now decided that they are going to -- they made public their investigation and they say they're going to hit the ground running, because this is a case that they have been closely monitoring, the FBI has been doing some of their investigative work behind the scenes already.
We don't know whether there will be any charges brought in this case, Wolf, but we know that district, which is the Eastern District of New York, has a history of being able to bring civil rights cases in cases where the state has not been able to find -- to bring charges against police officers. So there is precedent for it, Wolf.
BLITZER: Evan, stand by.
I want to go back to Foley Square in Manhattan. Brooke Baldwin is now on the scene, our anchor.
Where are you? And tell us what you're seeing, because we see people marching now.
BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN ANCHOR: Yes, I just got here, Wolf. We are at Foley Square.
Just for people who aren't as familiar with New York, we're basically at the heart of the city government, federal court. This is near the area of the headquarters for New York police. Just having got here and walking through, I would estimate so far, and it's very, very early right now, several hundred people.
I have to say I was most struck initially by how quiet and peaceful they are. In the middle of it all, there are just little white lights that say, black lives matter. I was eavesdropping on a couple of conversations because I just got here a few minutes ago.
And one man was being asked -- we listened to the police conference today, Commission Bratton. And we also listened to the mayor, Mayor Bill de Blasio, and they were talking about how this in the wake of the nonindictment in this Eric Garner case, how the entire police force here in New York will be retrained and one gentleman was saying, apparently it will just be a three-day retraining.
And while I think a lot of officers here welcome that, people here are thinking how is it possible to retrain these officers? If you're thinking of sensitivity training, one many was saying, how can you retrain an officer to be sensitive in three days? Just one person's perspective. But we're going to be here all night, Wolf, just to watch, as you watched last night, a lot of different groups converge.
And so that is very likely to happen as people move from Foley Square, perhaps through the island of Manhattan and perhaps even across into some of other boroughs across the bridges. So we will keep a close eye. I would love to just get back in there and talk to some of the people, Wolf.
BLITZER: Go ahead and do that. We're going to get back to you very soon, Brooke Baldwin on the scene for us now monitoring these protests that are escalating in New York City.
Joining us now, as we watch these protests, the president and the CEO of the National Urban League, Marc Morial.
Marc, thank you very much once again for joining us.
We spoke yesterday. Obviously, like so many others, you were outraged and you were stunned by that grand jury decision. You have now had another 24 hours to think about it. I know you have been talking to a lot of folks up there. Give us your thoughts.
MARC MORIAL, PRESIDENT, NATIONAL URBAN LEAGUE: So today, a number of civil rights and social justice organizations met here in New York and announced a number of things. First, a call to action that 2015 be a year dedicated to jobs and justice.
This effort must and will continue. Secondly, a major march in Washington next Saturday. And, Wolf, there are...
BLITZER: A week from this Saturday?
MORIAL: A week from this Saturday, yes, on the 13th.
The important thing here is we have incidents in Cleveland, Ferguson, New York City, Los Angeles, California, Beaver Creek, Ohio, a whole series of incidents where there has not been justice when a law officer has taken a life, and in one case seriously injured a person of color.
And this has shocked our consciousness. It should awake people towards the idea that the criminal justice system in the United States, particularly the state grand juries, are flawed and broken. And we have got to work to change it. The other thing we announced is that, in early 2015, we will organize and hold a major civil rights and social justice summit to bring together leaders, to bring together people of like mind who are committed to the idea of justice, criminal justice reform, police accountability, and economic opportunity, to not only chart a course, but also to create and strengthen strong recommendations to address this.
This is a time in American history where these issues, which sometimes ebb and flow, must be confronted and must be dealt with.
BLITZER: We're showing viewers, Marc, these pictures, live pictures from Manhattan. These people are marching. It looks like they're marching towards the Brooklyn Bridge, by the way. Yesterday, they were marching toward the West Side Highway, but they're clearly growing.
Is it too premature, is it an overexaggeration to suggest that this may be the start of a new chapter in the civil rights movement in the United States?
MORIAL: There's no doubt that it is, Wolf.
What I saw last night in Midtown Manhattan were young people. I saw young people who were of all races, creeds, and colors. I saw white and black. I saw Hispanics and Asians. I saw people of all backgrounds rallying around this idea around the need for change.
And I think that's why this is an exciting time for the cause of justice, because so many of these issues have been pent up. So many of these issues have been talked about, but never really fully addressed. So this is, if you will, I think a time of great change in this country.
And we support the idea that people have this inalienable right to peacefully protest, to responsibly protest. And I think for myself at the National Urban League and for many of us in the civil rights community, we welcome it, and we will participate and we will suggest that there be tangible, serious recommendations.
So, the president's task force, we look forward to making suggestions and recommendations to them so that those recommendations might be part of the recommendations that are sent to the president in 90 days. There's a process in place.
But I would also, Wolf, issue a call to local elected officials, to mayors, to county executives, to those that actually are in the criminal justice system or in the case of mayors who hire and fire police chiefs, to make this issue of reform, reform around police accountability, reform around the criminal justice system, their issue. The citizens are making it their issue. I think those elected officials, not only in Washington, but at the local level, should and must respond.
BLITZER: Marc Morial, I want you to stand by. We're going to take a quick break. We have more to discuss. You see the protests growing here in Washington, D.C., on the left part of your screen. Marchers, they're moving in Manhattan. It looks like they're going towards the Brooklyn Bridge right now.
Our own Brooke Baldwin, she is on the scene. Chris Welch is there as well. We will check in to see what's going on in New York, in Washington. We know there's marchers, there's protests developing in Atlanta as well. Much more on the breaking news coverage right after this.
BLITZER: We're monitoring these demonstrations.
You see folks on the move in New York City right now. They're moving along. They're protesting the grand jury decision not to indict the police officer Daniel Pantaleo in the choking death of Eric Garner.
Also demonstrations not only in New York, but here in Washington, D.C., as well, they're moving along there. They're not far from the White House, by the way. In Atlanta, there are some demonstrations that are just beginning as well and elsewhere around the country. Obviously a lot of people are very, very upset with what happened or didn't happen in New York yesterday.
We're back with the president and CEO of the National Urban League, Marc Morial.
I have been asking a lot of people today, Marc, if there are two justice systems in America, one if you're black, and one if you're white. To which you say?
MORIAL: The numbers seem to suggest very different outcomes, different -- and I will give you one important point.
While 14 percent of the population is African-Americans, African- Americans make up almost 40-plus percent of all drug arrests. Another study shows that for the very same offense, African-Americans get a longer penalty in the federal system than whites.
So these numbers, and these statistics, for those that may not be familiar with them, do not paint a pretty picture about the American system of justice. And all of this has been building for a long time, and that's why this time and this call and this need for change I think is so strong.
BLITZER: Why is that? The end of 2014, why does this double system, if you will, exist?
MORIAL: I think for a great -- there's a legacy here, Wolf, from the days of certainly exclusion and segregation.
But there's also -- this is also a remnant of the four-decade-old sort of war on drugs, which embodied zero tolerance, three strikes you're out. Heavy, heavy emphasis on arrest and prosecution of people who possess small amounts of, whether it was marijuana or cocaine, all of these things, and then the human element, and the human dynamic.
In prosecutor's offices across the nation, in police departments across the nation, many of them have been slow to embrace gender diversity and racial diversity in their ranks. So when we shine a spotlight on the criminal justice system, when we shine a spotlight on the experiences of people, it points to a very big problem.
But the important thing for the nation is to make a commitment and let us work towards the change that we need. It's in the best interest of all Americans, and in the best interest of the principles upon which this nation was founded.
BLITZER: Marc Morial, I know you're getting ready. You're in New York, but you're coming here to Washington. I will see you for sure when you're in the nation's capital. I know a week from Saturday, you're planning this big march on Washington. We will of course cover that as well. Thanks very much for joining us.
MORIAL: Thank you, Wolf.
BLITZER: Let's bring in our panel.
Once again joining us, our senior legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin, our law enforcement analyst Tom Fuentes, our legal analyst Sunny Hostin, CNN anchor Don Lemon and also joining us the Saint Louis community activist John Gaskin. He's been closely involved in monitoring the reaction to the killing of Michael Brown by police in Ferguson, Missouri. He has some strong views on what is going on in New York right now as well.
Don, you're there in New York. The fallout from this decision not to indict the police officer, Daniel Pantaleo, the fallout obviously not only continuing but seemingly escalating even as we speak. How would you describe the reaction to this case?
DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR: Reaction from the masses or the reaction from the department?
BLITZER: In New York City.
LEMON: Just in New York City.
Listen, I think in an odd way, it has galvanized people to demand change. Right? It's getting people to sit down and actually speak with each other. It has caused the mayor obviously to come forward and announce changes in the police department, how they're going to deal with issues in the community, maybe instead of ratcheting up situations to try to ratchet them down.
So I think it has people talking and it has me talking to people who I don't usually engage on this level and this type of situation. I actually went today, Wolf, to do a talk show, just to be quite honest. I taped a segment for "The Wendy Williams Show," which usually has to deal with entertainment and lighter fare.
They invited me on to talk about what happened in Ferguson and what's happening here in New York City. And I led a discussion of about seven minutes on this subject on a show that usually has to deal with entertainment. That shows you how this has galvanized New Yorkers, but it's also spreading across the country.
BLITZER: Yes. We see the protesters on the march in New York City. On the left-hand part of your screen, you can see them moving in Manhattan right now.
Also, the demonstrations continuing here in Washington and elsewhere.
Jeffrey, protesters chanted. Of course, we can hear them, I can't breathe. Those were the final words Eric Garner was heard saying just before his death. This is what I want to do. And I want everyone to pay attention. I am going to play a little bit of the videotape to try to show what went wrong in those final minutes. We're not going to speak. I'm just going to let you hear the conversation there in Staten Island.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ERIC GARNER, NEW YORK RESIDENT: I'm minding my business, officer. I'm minding by business. Please just leave me alone. I told you the last time, please just leave me alone. Don't touch me, please. Do not touch me.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Damn, man.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Put your hands behind your back.
GARNER: I can't breathe. I can't breathe. I can't breathe. I can't breathe. I can't breathe. I can't breathe. I can't breathe.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Once again, police beating up on people right here.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Back up. Then get on the steps.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Back up.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All he did was break up a fight, and this is what happens for breaking up a fight. This (EXPLETIVE DELETED) is crazy.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: It's pretty painful and difficult to watch and to listen to that, Jeffrey, especially when he's crying out, I can't breathe, I can't breathe.
I don't know how many times he said that, but the voice, you could clearly see it gets fainter and fainter and fainter. I guess they didn't realize how much he was suffering, is that what was going on?
JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: Well, you know, I find it hard to put myself in the officer's place there.
The thing that always occurs to me in watching that video, as, of course, I have seen it many times now, is the crime for which he is being gang-tackled and choked is the crime of selling loose cigarettes and not paying taxes on the money that's coming to him.
It is perhaps the single least serious crime in the New York criminal code. The idea that this sort of confrontation took place because of such a trivial, trivial offense, if it even took place, is just obscene to me.
BLITZER: Yes, we spoke with one Staten Island New York City councilwoman today who said, on this particular day, he wasn't even selling cigarettes illegally. He had a record, 30 arrests in the past. But on this particular day, they say he had just broken -- this woman says he had just broken up a fight between two young people nearby and was just walking away when the cops stopped him.
Tom Fuentes, you're a former cop yourself before you joined the FBI. The New York Patrolmen's Benevolent Association, they came out strongly in support of this police officer, Daniel Pantaleo. But it's so painful to look at that video.
TOM FUENTES, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: It is painful, Wolf.
But I would like to point out one thing that nobody seems to mention when you hear the comments about black lives don't matter. You see the group of police officers standing over Garner. One of them is a black female New York police sergeant.
So she's probably the highest ranking officer at that scene. She could have called off the arrest if she thought, hey, this is such a minor charge. He doesn't want to be arrested. Let's just walk away from this.
LEMON: Just because she's black, it doesn't mean that she can't be co-opted by the system. Just because she's black doesn't mean she can't be co-opted by the system.
FUENTES: No, but, Don, everybody has been saying we need to have diversity in police departments and this won't happen without it. And she's not the only black officer.
LEMON: People said we need to have diversity and training. There need to be a number of changes, not just diversity for the sake of diversity, but there needs to be diversity, training, and an overhaul of the way police greet and interact with people in the community. You just can't have a black and an Hispanic officer, what have you, without training them properly.
FUENTES: That's right. But she's a command officer and she would have gotten additional training and be an experienced officer compared to a patrolman.
And, secondly, I want to hear the training that says when someone says I'm not going to be arrested, what do you do next?
BLITZER: All right, I want to move on because I want to show another video right now.
I want everyone to listen to what happened. This is video shot much closer to the scene after -- after Eric Garner stopped walking, after his final words were, I can't breathe, watch this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Harassment. That's just cops on Staten Island. This is what they do.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Guys, stay on the sidewalk.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's crazy. That's crazy.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Ems is here.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He can't breathe.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're going to try to get him up on the stretcher.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: And that's pretty powerful video right there.
Sunny, let me get your reaction. Because Eric Garner's body was lifeless as police tried to talk to him. While you heard the police officer tell bystanders they weren't performing CPR because Garner was breathing. There doesn't seem to be much urgency in how they were dealing with Eric Garner as the body was just there lying on the sidewalk. We timed it for about seven minutes before he was put on a stretcher.
When you see that, Sunny, it's so painful knowing, obviously, how he ended up. But it didn't look like they were really taking this in a life-and-death manner.
HOSTIN: It's remarkable to me. I mean, let's remember that police officers -- and I'm sure that Tom will agree -- are trained professionals, trained in CPR, as well. And so the fact that they are sort of just looking at him in disbelief, acting very casually, no one is taking his pulse, no one is doing all the things that you do when you -- when you need to determine whether or not someone is faking it or breathing or not. None of those things are done.
I mean, as a mom even, I'm trained in CPR. And I know that they didn't do the right thing. They did nothing. And I think it really compounds the situation when you talk about negligence; at the very least, negligence. That's what we're watching. We're watching a group of officers that are trained in CPR doing nothing to save a man's life.
BLITZER: It didn't look like they were pumping him up or doing mouth-to-mouth or doing anything to try to save him, Tom, did it?
FUENTES: No, I think Sunny's right on that point, that they should have been doing more medically to try to treat him. You see the EMT come up, and she tries to take his pulse, and she's casual about it. So the officers also have the opinion, probably, that he's not in that bad of a shape. He has a pulse, he's just relaxing, in their eyes. It's wrong, and they don't realize he's dying. But you're right: there should have been more, you know, with that regard to trying to treat him and try to help him.
TOOBIN: And Wolf, if I can...
BLITZER: Very quickly, Don. Go ahead. Or Jeffrey. Go.
TOOBIN: Wolf, the -- the -- he died in the ambulance. So in that video we're looking at, he is seconds away from his death.
LEMON: That's what they say, right, Jeffrey?
LEMON: He died in the ambulance.
TOOBIN: Yes, they say he died in the ambulance. So he is seconds away from death, untreated and, by the way, still handcuffed. It's really -- it's just odd.
I want everybody to stand by. We've got a lot more going on. The demonstrations around the United States escalating in New York, Washington, Atlanta. These are live pictures we're now getting in from Chicago. You see the protesters there on the move right there. We'll continue the breaking news coverage with our panel and much more right after this.
BLITZER: Demonstrations are now escalating. This is Chicago right now. You can see protesters on the move. The anger over the NYPD chokehold death case in the streets of Chicago. These are live pictures coming in from Chicago.
In New York City, here in Washington, D.C., and Atlanta, as well. We're bringing you all of these live pictures as the demonstrations continue.
In the meantime, let's bring back our panel. And John Gaskin, as you watch what's going on, you're in the heartland of America right now. You're watching what's going on in Ferguson, Missouri, for so many weeks and months, and you're young. You see these protests escalating. What goes through your mind?
GASKIN: Well, you know, I think one thing that the media is not really picking up is really the undergirding issue, which is harassment and racial profiling.
You know, if you listen to the video, Eric Garner says, "Please leave me alone. I'm minding my own business, like last time. And you know, it's really concerning to see all these police officers surrounding him, as though he is selling some type of drug substance. But even that particular day, he wasn't even selling cigarettes. From what we know, he had just broken up a fight.
You know, it makes you wonder. You know, the question that many have asked is why are people chanting and tweeting about black lives matter? The video that you showed just earlier, there was really no sense of urgency regarding Eric Garner's life, regarding getting him some medical attention.
The statistics show us that's why so many people -- so many young people within this movement are chanting and out here working, embracing awareness regarding the value of men of color and African- Americans, especially when you see that video, where there was no urgency, there was no real effort to make sure that he was getting the proper -- proper medical attention to preserve his life.
BLITZER: Yes. It's heartbreaking when you look at that video. Go ahead, Sunny.
HOSTIN: I can weigh in on that. You know, I'm glad that he brought that up, because one thing that has come from this, as many people are saying why are we talking about race? You know, this is someone, anyone that resists arrest, anyone that is committing a crime should submit to the police.
And I think that the notion that is being missed is that a lot of people do things that should warrant police intervention, and it doesn't happen. There's an interesting hash tag called criming (ph) while white. And I spent hours looking at it. And a lot of people are getting on Twitter, quite frankly, and talking about their -- white people talking about their interactions with the police.
And they're saying things like, "I was driving while drunk, but rather than get arrested, the police escorted me to my home." "I was shoplift -- caught shoplifting but rather than arrest me, my police took me to my parents and explained to them that I needed some help."
Those are the kinds of -- the difference sort of in the way that our laws seem to be applied between blacks and whites that are causing, I think, a lot of this fundamental distrust of the system. And it's something that needs to be addressed.
BLITZER: Hold on for a moment. I've got to quickly go to Brooke Baldwin. She's in Manhattan right now. The demonstrations are moving along there.
Brooke, tell us where you are and what's going on.
BROOKE BALDWIN: Wolf, all of a sudden everyone is sort of moving. Because I'm in Foley Square, staring at the federal courthouse, police headquarters. Everyone is starting to move. This is the first time. Let's just roll with them. John, walk and talk with me here as we're watching everyone head in a direction.
You said you wanted to come out. You live in Brooklyn. Why was it important? It's one of the coldest nights in New York so far. Why are you here?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Because it's a bigger crime not to say anything than the crime committed. You know what I mean? If you want change, you've got to get out here and fight for change, but not fight literally. Everybody is out here peaceful, and we want change.
BALDWIN: What about the fact that we heard today from the mayor and police commissioner saying they're going to retrain all of New York's police force?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I mean, they should have, because if you live in the city, and even if you live in New Jersey, you see commercials to be police officers. That means anybody can be a police officer, no matter their background, no matter -- you know what I mean, their race, creed. And they bring their prejudices with their badge.
BALDWIN: Not everyone is prejudiced as a police officer.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, not everybody. There's a lot -- I'd like to say there's a lot of good police officers. There's a lot of great police officers. And it's a sad thing, because there's a lot of good black people out here. It's sad that the minority is what gets portrayed.
BALDWIN: John, I appreciate you. Thank you.
Walk with me. Evi (ph), walk with me. So Wolf, we're just going to start walking. We're hearing -- we're hearing from a couple of different organizers. Some people are going to consider crossing some of the bridges. We're hearing potentially Brooklyn Bridge. So we're just going to continue talking to different people.
A lot of people out here chanting "black lives matter." Basically so far, you know, peaceful protest. I have to say, massive, massive police protest for obvious reasons. But you know, we're hearing from different members of the police force today saying they want to make sure they're giving these protestors breathing room, and so far that's exactly what they've been doing, Wolf.
BLITZER: All right. We'll continue monitoring what's going on. Brooke will be walking with these protesters, and we'll be checking back with her very soon.
Let's take a quick break. More on the breaking news right after this.
BLITZER: Right now, the protesters are on the move. Look at this. This is Washington, D.C., hands up, don't shoot, they're raising their hands over there. Also in New York City, protesters are on the move in New York.
Brooke Baldwin is walking along with them.
Brooke, where do they seem to be heading?
BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, let me just walk backwards a little bit. I don't want to trip, so I'm going to go slowly. We have just left Foley Square in the midst of hundreds of people, many of whom, just like this gentleman walking, with their hands up. You're hearing, "hands up, don't shoot." You're hearing, "I can't breathe."
It appears we're talking towards the Brooklyn Bridge. So we're just now passing New York police headquarters. We thought initially that we would stop here. We'll show, go ahead and show everyone. Police headquarters, we thought initially perhaps the crowd would stop, but everyone is continuing ahead.
We're deducing, in talking to some people, we may be headed to the Brooklyn Bridge. The question will be, do they walk along the passenger walkway the Brooklyn Bridge, or do they try to stop traffic and getting in the middle of the roadway? We don't know.
But as far as you can see in both directions, let's keep walking. As far as you can see in each direction, people are out here. No justice, no peace. Primarily, of course, in response to what we saw this week with a non-indictment here in Staten Island in New York with the Eric Garner death.
A lot of people are talking about what we heard today from the police commissioner, from the mayor here in New York, specifically about the retraining of the entire police department. We heard from the president, as well, talking about body cameras. I spoke with a mother a little while ago, and she said body cameras aren't enough.
We're going to keep walking, Wolf. We're going to talk to some people.
Can I grab you? I'm Brooke with CNN. Nice to meet you. We're live on the air.
Tell me why you wanted to come out and march.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is a really important issue for New York right now. These people care about just feeling safe and not feeling overburdened and overpowered by this police force. So, I'm just happy to be here with my friends who are excited and mobilizing. Finally, this generation is mobilizing.
BALDWIN: Do we know -- do we know where they're heading? Are we heading to the Brooklyn Bridge?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're heading to Brooklyn Bridge, yes.
BALDWIN: Here we go, Wolf. We're heading to the Brooklyn Bridge. So, stay with me through the night. We'll let you know where we go.
BLITZER: All right, Brooke. Standby. We're going to be with you. We'll continue to monitor this march.
We'll take another quick break. Much more of our coverage right after this.
BLITZER: We're, of course, continuing to monitor the protests in New York, in Chicago and Washington, across the nation in response to the NYPD chokehold situation. And you can see these live pictures, extensive coverage coming up here on CNN and, of course, throughout the night.
But we're also following a very important development in the U.S.-led war against ISIS. Our senior correspondent Nick Paton Walsh is just back from an extremely and extraordinary visit to the Syrian city of Kobani. You may find some of the images in his report very disturbing.
Nick, set the scene for us.
NICK PATON WALSH, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, after weeks of standing on the hills in Turkey overlooking the conflict inside Kobani, it is devastating to stand inside the damage caused by constant shelling ISIS and also coalition airstrikes, too, and see first-hand the intensity of the fighting.
WALSH (voice-over): From inside Kobani, the day's ferocity gets no respite at night. A prize so small, but so valued, the violence seems to swallow it hole, grinding its streets down to the bone.
We're heading to the front line where nightly, daily, ISIS hoped to advance, with Meedya, a Kurdish female fighter, also in their egalitarian world, this unit's commander.
Coalition air power did this, pushing ISIS back. They abandoned their dead as they retreat, the decaying smell haunts these front lines.
Some call it Kobani-grad after the city's Stalin sacrifice to make a point.
Little left here, but a bulwark of Kurdish defiance 20 meters from ISIS.
(GUNFIRE) WALSH: They think they see something in the rubble.
WALSH: Even after coalition support, desperately in need of better arms.
WALSH (on camera): This is the kind of exchanges that happen here hourly. ISIS literally meters to that side, shooting at this position that we've seen return fire as well.
WALSH (voice-over): This surely wasn't the death is recruits were sold in their propaganda videos.
Mortars are often used, so we pull back.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Come on over against the wall.
WALSH: Meedya is 22 and has been within five meters of ISIS.
Here, friends are made and lost. Her best friend Reban (ph), died saving others.
MEEDYA RAQQA, YPG KURDISH COMMANDER (through translator): There were very heavy clashes with ISIS. We were outnumbered and out of ammunition. She herself was injured, but she advanced to help save the other injured with her. ISIS surrounded her, because girls are very prized by them. She then blew herself up and killed a lot of them with her.
I was near her then, her last words to me were, "We will liberate our land with the last drop of blood in my body."
WALSH: The men bring us tea.
This is the polar opposite of ISIS' world view.
They cannot afford to stop the fight, even if that means there's little left to live on when they do.
WALSH: Remarkably, Wolf, outside we thought ISIS had a third of the city and the front lines made it clear they have about half. Winter is approaching. The Syrian Kurds are running out of fuel and food and ammunition and every night, every day, that fight is in the balance -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Amazing, amazing work you and your team have done. Nick Paton Walsh, fortunately, you're back safe and sound. Nick Paton Walsh and his producers and photographers risking their lives to bring us that report. Thanks very much, Nick. We're going to stay on top of what's going on here in the United
States as well. Take a look at this -- these are live pictures coming in from Chicago, from New York, from here in Washington, from Atlanta, the demonstrations continuing.
Our special coverage will continue right now.
"ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" starts right now.