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Demonstrations Growing in Major Cities Around U.S.; Protesters Storm Streets, Chanting "I Can't Breathe"; Eric Garner's Daughter, Sister Speak Out

Aired December 5, 2014 - 19:30   ET


ERIN BURNETT, CNN ANCHOR: OUTFRONT tonight, the breaking news, protests on the streets of New York and in cities all across the United States, over the chokehold death of Eric Garner. Police are out in full force but these protests are spreading around the nation.

Plus CNN has obtained Eric Garner's autopsy, the cause of death, chokehold, the manner of death, homicide in black and white. Why wasn't that along with the video enough for an indictment?

My guests tonight, two women so close to Eric Garner, his sister and his daughter. On this case that has sparked such outrage around the world.

Let's go OUTFRONT.

Good evening. I'm Erin Burnett. And we begin OUTFRONT tonight with the breaking news. Protesters out in force in New York City and in cities across the United States. This is the third night of demonstrations in the wake of a grand jury decision not to indict a white police officer, Daniel Pantaleo, in the death of an unarmed black man Eric Garner.

We're going to show you the scene right now. As can you see in Miami, protesters there, as you can see blocking traffic. Like the last two nights, these crowds are growing in number and intensity. You're seeing more and more people flood in as we will see over the next few hours. There are also huge protests tonight in Boston, in Cleveland, and in Chicago.

This, as the Garner family released Eric Garner's autopsy report to CNN today, and under the heading "final diagnosis" it lists, quote, "The cause of death, chokehold." The manner of death, homicide.

Tonight our reporters are on the streets, covering the story around the nation.

Athena Jones is walking through a large protest in Washington, D.C. Jason Carroll is in Midtown, New York.

We begin our coverage tonight, though, with Deborah Feyerick who is down on Wall Street -- Deb.

DEBORAH FEYERICK, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Erin, we can tell you that there are a couple of dozen protesters that are here. There's light rain falling and so some are looking to go to areas where there are more protesters in a culmination. And also those who have come out to support the Garner family, there are a number of people here. (INAUDIBLE).

BURNETT: There is trouble with Deborah's audio so we're going to go to Jason Carroll in Midtown, Manhattan, where protesters have made their way to the iconic Apple Store on 5th Avenue.

Jason, what are you seeing?

JASON CARROLL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: They started in Columbus Circle, their number started to grow to more than 100. Then they got to the Apple Store, they staged the all-too-familiar now, one of those die-ins for several minutes. No one stopped them. None of the managers at the store. They allowed them to do what they wanted to do. Police did not stop them either.

Now they headed down 5th Avenue, past some of New York's most expensive stores, past Prada past Gucci, past the GAP now. They continue to march down 5th Avenue. So far we haven't seen very many arrests but this crowd is starting to grow, Erin. It started very small, very quickly became larger and larger. And in fact at one point when we were walking down the street, one young woman came by us and she said what's going on, is this some kind of protest, I said yes, it is, she said I'm going to join in, I'm going to get my family to join in as well.

There you go, sir. I'm going to get my family to join is as well. And that's what we've been seeing. This crowd is steadily starting to grow. It is moving now down south on New York's fashionable 5th Avenue -- Erin.

BURNETT: And Jason, what are they telling you about where they plan to go? What their intent is tonight?

CARROLL: Well, I asked and they said they're just going to keep marching for justice. In terms of where they go, it is anyone's guess. A lot of this, they're doing on the fly. She said she didn't expect this crowd to grow as large as it did so quickly. That was when the organizer is now at the front of this large group that we see here.

I can just tell you that they're continuing to march south. How far south, maybe we'll end up with my colleague Deborah Feyerick downtown, maybe we'll end up in Times Square. It's just too early to tell. We'll just keep following them along to see where they go. But it was quite a moment to see these hundreds of people as they descended down into that Apple store, lying down right in the middle of the store.

A lot of customers looking shocked as to what was going on. But again the managers there allowed the protesters to come in. They were peaceful. To stage their die-in, to do what they wanted to do, then after a few minutes, they got up, got back outside, and then continued to head down 5th Avenue.

BURNETT: All right. Jason, we're going to check back in with you. But a pretty amazing sight that was when there was a die-in inside the Apple store. You know, I think it's safe to say one of -- probably the busiest store in Manhattan right now in one of the busiest shopping days of the year .

And I want to get to Washington, D.C. Right now you're looking at Boston where there are police and protesters. In Washington, Athena Jones is there. I know protesters are gathering in Chinatown and I know they want to make it difficult for people to get around, go to an NBA game.

So, Athena, what are you seeing?

ATHENA JONES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Erin. Well, right now we're outside of the Verizon Center where the Wizards are playing the Denver Nuggets tonight. You can see, I'm going to step out of the shots so you can see the people who are lying down on the ground. They are doing a die-in, they're doing a moment of silence, they're going to be there for four minutes to represent the four hours that Michael Brown's body was on the street in Ferguson, Missouri. You can see them getting up now.

Part of the plan tonight is not just to block the streets here around the Verizon Center and make it difficult for people to get around, get home from work, get to this NBA game. One of the plans I was told by a protester earlier, one of the organizers is to try to disrupt the NBA game itself. To try to have some folks who have bought tickets to attend this Wizards game, to have them try to get on to the court.

That's one of the other plans -- among these protesters tonight. They also have a group that they sent over to a highway that they have blocked for the last two nights. A major highway 395 over -- in another part of town. And they have a group of college students who are marching on the Union Station, the train station. So there is a multi-front protest going on here in Washington, D.C. tonight.

Same goal as the last several nights. They want to make their voices heard to try to bring about change. To try to make it so that there are no more Eric Garners and Michael Browns, put an end to racial profiling and police brutality and the killing of young black men at the hands of police -- Erin.

BURNETT: All right, Athena. Thank you very much. Interesting in Washington, something that we're going to keep watching. Their goals obviously perhaps slightly different than what we're seeing in some other places. They want to disrupt a NBA game. They want to block a highway.

I want to go to downtown Chicago. There's an energetic group on the move there. Those demonstrators chanting now the familiar words, "hands up, don't shoot," and "I can't breathe."

Kyung Lah is with them tonight.

Kyung, what's it like in Chicago?

KYUNG LAH, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It's very energetic as you say, Erin, and those same chants are being echoed here throughout downtown Chicago.

I want you to take a look at this crowd. It's again very diverse crowd, very young and very, very serious about the message that they want to get across, that they are holding signs. You hear, again, I can't breathe. Black lives matter. And look at the people who are chanting it. It is educated and it is very, very passionate.

What they are doing is trying to engage the public. They say they just don't want to be seen as college kids who are out here, trying to get some attention. They actually want to engage in change. And I'm actually hearing them talk to the police officers as well occasionally. You can't quite see because we're in the center of the sizable crowd but the police officers are ringing the protesters.

And every once in a while you hear the protesters talk to the police saying, who do you serve, who do you protect? Are you going to do this to me?

One other tactic that we've seen that's a little different is, for a while, and they've been out here for hours, about five hours, Erin, what we're seeing is that they were walking very, very quickly through the city of Chicago. But because we're hitting that high commute -- time, the police don't want them to go down the shopping district on Michigan Avenue. If you're familiar with Chicago, Michigan Avenue is highly traveled.

So they've chosen to stay here. They've ringed this entire area and you can see I'm completely surrounded by people. So they want people to know that they're going to stay. If the police are going to say they can't walk anywhere, they're going to block this entire sidewalk but they are going to try to stay off the streets because the Chicago Police, certainly you can sense it, they have lost their patience as far as them trying to stop traffic here -- Erin.

BURNETT: All right. Thank you very much. As we see some cities are still trying to stop traffic. We'll see whether there is confrontation on that tonight as the hours go by.

And as I mentioned just a couple of moments ago, we now have, and I read today, the official autopsy report for Eric Garner. Here's the summary of what you need to know. The cause of death was listed as this. Compression of neck, and that means a chokehold, along with compression of chest and what they call prone positioning during physical restraint by police. And that means the way Garner was lying, chest down on the ground.

OK. So that's what they have as cause of death. Contributory conditions, they mentioned, acute and chronic bronchial asthma, obesity and hypertensive cardiovascular disease. Manner of death, homicide. The report clearly states it. This was homicide. The grand jury, though, did not indict. Why?

OUTFRONT tonight, the forensic pathologist, Dr. Cyril Wecht.

It's good to have you with us as always, Dr. Wecht. Based on this report, the autopsy, do you think Officer Pantaleo should have been indicted?

CYRIL WECHT, FORENSIC PATHOLOGIST: Yes. Absolutely, Erin. The New York City Medical Examiner's Office is an excellent facility and they are conservative in dealing with matters like this. For them to have labeled this and to have described it in detail as they did is commendable and sets forth a scenario that in my opinion cannot be argued with.

There are multiple focal areas of hemorrhage, Erin, in both sides of the neck and these little muscles we call the strap muscles and soft tissues. And that means that pressure was applied on both sides, contrary to what I heard somebody say on another program well, it was just some kind of lateral restraint on one side. That is not correct.

There were multiple hemorrhages in the eyes, multiple hemorrhages on tissues inside the body and the face was very cyanotic. That shows that there was pressure applied sufficient to produce venous obstruction. In other words the venous blood coming back from the head and face to not make its way back into the heart, and then the pressure would have been so great that arterial blood, oxygenated blood going to the brain would have been compromised.


WECHT: Also you've got nerves coming in to the chest that --


WECHT: -- send fibers to the heart, lungs, the biggest nerves, and that pressure can produce cardiac standstill.

BURNETT: So, Doctor --

WECHT: So it's a serious matter.

BURNETT: And it's a serious matter. But the question I have for you then is it also lists, right, that's cause of death and obviously the manner of death is homicide. But then the report lists this. Contributing conditions. And this is where they talk about what we've all now seen with Eric Garner's appearance. They talk about his asthma, cardiovascular disease, and obesity.

It would seem that the grand jury somehow looked at that and must have come to a conclusion that, well those things were important -- extremely important. Are they relevant or not?


WECHT: In this case, they are not relevant. To begin with, it is an axiom of law, legal principle, you take your victim as you find them. You don't say, gee, if I had gotten into a fight with a younger guy, it might not have happened. You take your victim as you find them. That's number one. Number two, a person who is obese, police officers know now you don't put them in a prone position. You don't do that with anybody. Compression asphyxiation, positional asphyxiation, but especially with an obese individual. The liver gets pushed up against the diaphragm, the abdominal muscles,

and then you don't have respiratory excursion. You don't have room for the lungs to move. And the bronchial asthma is of questionable relevance.


WECHT: He did have an enlarged heart and did not have coronary artery disease. But he did have an enlarged heart.


WECHT: Can you say it's possible that he contributed make him more susceptible. Yes. But that is no excuse. That is no defense.

BURNETT: For what actually happened.

WECHT: For the police officer who did what he did. Exactly.

BURNETT: All right. Well, Dr. Webb, thank you very much.

WECHT: Thank you, Erin.

BURNETT: And crucial context for this.

And next, the protests are growing. Our reporters are covering these demonstrations across the country and we are seeing this across the country. Major crowds in Boston and Chicago, among other cities.

Plus Eric Garner, an unarmed black man killed by a white police officer but many, even his daughter, say it is not about race.

And two women who were close to Garner, his sister and his daughter OUTFRONT tonight.


BURNETT: Breaking news, a third night of major protests across the United States. Crowds of thousands now flooding the streets from Boston to Chicago, Cleveland to Jacksonville, Florida. Again, there are calls for change after another grand jury decided not to indict a white police officer in the death of a black unarmed suspect.

Jason Carroll is OUTFRONT tonight, he's walking along with protesters. These protesters have been moving through New York City down 5th Avenue. Obviously the center of New York's shopping world. And now moving towards the Empire State Building -- Jason.

CARROLL: We are still moving south. We just passed Rockefeller Center. You can imagine what that was like as you have thousands of tourists who come out to see the big Christmas tree there. And then you have hundreds of these demonstrators chanting and marching and walking right past them. To see the look on some of those tourist faces, that was definitely a moment.

Now we're still heading down south here on 5th Avenue, Erin. Just coming up on 46th Street. Just to give your viewers another idea of where we are. The Empire State Building is just a few blocks further south from where we are. It is unknown at this point if these demonstrators are going to continue south on 5th or head a little bit west and then end up in Times Square.

They've given out a list of demands. They want this officer involved in this incident, they want the officer fired, they want the law changed so it's illegal to use the chokehold in the state of New York. Many more demands. But also in terms of justice, that's why they are out here. They are saying they're going to keep marching for justice.

I have seen this, sir, thank you very much.

They're going to keep marching for justice, keep marching for a change in the way the department deals with communities, with people of color. So we're going to keep marching down here with these protesters. See (INAUDIBLE) just throughout the night -- Erin.

BURNETT: All right. Jason, we're going to check back in with you.

And interesting, Jason listing those demands that they want the chokehold to be illegal in New York state. I just want to, you know, emphasize, of course, with the NYPD, it was already something officers are not allowed to use when this happened.

OUTFRONT now former NYPD officer Daniel Bongino along with our Van Jones.

Good to have both of you with us.

Van Jones, millions of people, and not just in the United States, frankly. Many millions if you add in the rest of the world believe this was about race. But not everybody. And one of the people who does not believe it was about race is the former mayor of New York City, Rudy Giuliani. Here he is.


RUDY GIULIANI, FORMER NEW YORK CITY MAYOR: There was no racism in this case. There is no indication this was -- if this is man were a white man, resisting arrest of that same size, the same thing would happen. In this case the police officer was dealing with a criminal who is resisting arrest. Maybe if Mr. Brown hadn't committed these crimes and this gentleman hadn't resist arrest, they wouldn't be dead today.


BURNETT: Van, is this about race or about a guy who committed a crime and resisted arrest?

VAN JONES, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, it's about a number of things. First of all, I just -- I really wish that Giuliani wouldn't say those kinds of things. It just shows so much disrespect and so much contempt. Excessive force was used here. Yes, you should comply with the

police, but if you don't, it is not that any level of force is OK. There is something called excessive force, there's also something called making sure that somebody who is not able to breathe is taken care of. None of that was done.

But let me tell you where race comes in. If you notice, go on Twitter, this hash tag criming while white. You now have white people coming out on Twitter saying, listen, when I was in college, I got drunk, I punched a cop. He took me back to my frat house and told me not to do it again. You have white people are saying, I've done much worse than that and not even gotten arrested.

And so there is something going on here. George W. Bush says he doesn't under the Garner decision. I hope we are now past the point -- and I look at those -- you got young, white New Yorkers saying they see this happening to their black friends. So we should be past the point now of saying, is this racial, is it at least a racial dimension, and start thinking about what we can do about it.

BURNETT: So, Dan, you were a police officer with the NYPD. I mean, here's the question, and I know it's a hard one because I -- maybe you do think it's overt, but even if it is an overt, is there a racist atmosphere in the department? Just an assumption that perhaps someone is black so they are a bigger threat or more likely to be doing something wrong?

DAN BONGINO, FORMER NYPD OFFICER: No, not in my experience at all. Now I've been gone for a little while but I've been in law enforcement most of my adult life, between the Secret Service and the NYPD. And I think it's very dangerous for Van to say something like that. I don't disagree with a lot of his assertions. Clearly there is a problem with race and racism in America.

No serious person disputes that. But to introduce racism, not race, into this Garner race, clearly race was involved, one was black, one was white. But racism is very dangerous. You're saying something that may or may not be true without any evidence to back that up. We don't know that the officer was in any way motivated by some racist tendency and I think that's very dangerous because legitimate cases --

JONES: I would like to respond.

BONGINO: -- of racism then get swept to the side.


JONES: Listen. I think this is a great conversation because I think now when we say race or when we say racism, people meaning very different things. I'm not saying that individual officer at that moment was thinking to himself, I'm going to kill this black guy because he is black. If that is what we're talking about, I think you're right. There is no evidence of that.

I think when people say race is involved, they mean the overall pattern of policing in the African-American community is so aggressive that you create contexts in which people doing something in the community get over-responded, too.

If -- listen, why don't police officers go to Harvard and Yale, where I graduated from Yale, where there is massive drug use going on and kick down the doors and started beating people up and choking them. They don't do that. Why don't they go to Wall Street. There is massive crime on Wall Street, there's drug abuse on Wall Street, there's insider trading in Wall Street. The police don't do that.


BURNETT: Now you're inferences, you said it's a bunch of rich white guys.

JONES: Mass epidemic. The police are not responding, too. So the overall pattern of policing is the black community is so aggressive, that this kind of incidents are more likely in our committee regardless of You are saying because it is white guys.

So the overall pattern of policing is so aggressive that these kind of incidents are more likely in our community regardless of what one cop thinks or says.

BURNETT: All right. So I want to play something for somebody who's getting a lot of attention in the black community. The former NBA Charles Barkley. For context, I want to know, he was critical of the protesters in Ferguson, he told me that he supported the decision to acquit George Zimmerman. All right. He's getting a lot of people fired up again now and here's why.


CHARLES BARKLEY, FORMER NBA STAR: We, as black people, we need the cops in our community. They are not there just to, quote, unquote, "kill black men." They are there so protect us. And we as black people we need the cops in our have to develop a relationship with them.


BURNETT: So Dan, what do you think? I mean, he's saying there is an attitude, his words. The cops are just there to, quote, unquote, "kill black men," he's saying that's not true. Obviously I would imagine you completely agree with him.


JONES: I agree that the --

BONGINO: Sorry. Did you say Van or Dan?

BURNETT: Sorry, go ahead. I'm sorry your names the same. Dan with a D.

BONGINO: OK. Dan with a D. OK. Listen, I think Charles Barkley is bringing some balance to this but I think Van with a V and I may agree on this. Erin, perception is reality. And if the perception in minority

communities, not just the black community is that the police officers there are some kind of occupying force, whether or not that is true in reality frankly doesn't matter. The perception is there. And something has to be done to bridge that chasm or we're never going to fix this problem.

But I do -- you've got to avoid hyperbole in the process and I think Charles is trying to counter some of the excessive hyperbole on the other side of the equation that's really pouring fuel on the fire.

BURNETT: But, Van, there are statistics. I mean, more black men are killed by cops. This is a fact.

BONGINO: Well, there's -- well, Erin, you've got to put that in context in the amount of crime committed in the black communities. Well, you can't view those statistics in a vacuum. That's totally unfair.

BURNETT: OK. Van, go ahead.

JONES: Well, first of all, I think we've gotten into this weird thing where you have a false choice now being given to the black community. Either you put up with any type of policing, even terrible policing, or you're calling for anarchy and lawlessness. And that's not -- that's not a fair choice. It's a false choice.

We should be able to say we want better policing, we want effective policing, we want fair policing and what's happening right now is that in too many places, not everywhere, but in too many places we have terrible policing. There is either neglect or abuse. Your police either not there when they're needed or when they show up they think everybody is a criminal. Now that's not everywhere but it's too many places and we should be able to say we want that to change without being somehow accused of saying we don't want any policing at all.

BURNETT: All right. Thanks very much to both you.

And next we are live on the streets of Washington, D.C. and in cities across the United States. People are now gathering by the thousands. It is a Friday night, you're going to see more than we've seen thus far. This is Chinatown in Washington. A third day of protests in the chokehold death of Eric Garner and these crowds as I said growing bigger by the minute. We're going to be going live there.

Eric Garner's sister and one of his daughters are coming to talk to us tonight. That's ahead OUTFRONT.


BURNETT: Breaking news, we are monitoring protests across the United States, demonstrators in Miami have shut down a major highway, protesters with their arms linked chanting, "I can't breathe."

And major protests in Washington, D.C. tonight. Protesters out in force after the grand jury decided not to indict a white NYPD officer in the death of an unarmed black man, 43-year-old Eric Garner. We're going to talk to his family in just a moment.

But I want to go to Athena Jones in downtown Washington where they have said they're going to shut down an NBA game. They're trying to shut down some roads, and now it looks like there's a die-in, Athena.

JONES: That's right. That's why you're not seeing me on camera right now, Erin. They're doing another four-minute of silence in honor of the four hours that Michael Brown's body lay on the street in Ferguson, Missouri. This is the third time they've done this moment of silence. This is something periodically. We've seen it periodically over the last several nights, along with die-ins just like this one.

This is the biggest one I've seen. You can see they are blocking an entire intersection in a central part of town, here Chinatown, the Wizards game is going on about half a block away. Traffic is stopped in this area, and they are doing this to bring attention to the changes they want to see in the justice system and in law enforcement.

I spoke with a young college student, a young white woman who traveled here from Connecticut. And she said she came all the way down here because she wants to protest police brutality. She wants to see more community policing, better police training.

So, there is a very diverse crowd, but they all want the same thing, which is law enforcement system that treats people more fairly.

And one other thing they brought up again last night is this idea of the $75 million going to be invested that the president would like so see invested in buying body cameras for police officers, 50,000 body cameras. The protest organizer made a statement earlier saying that he'd like to see that kind of money invested in communities because body cameras, as we've seen with the case of Eric Garner, they argue, having something happen on camera does not mean that justice will be served in their view.

So, that's another topic they've brought up over and over again, this idea that body cameras are not going to solve the problem. What's going to solve the problem is changes in policing tactics and training in order to bring an end to racial profiling and injustice.

So, that's what we're seeing here tonight, Erin.

BURNETT: All right. Thank you very much, Athena.

And OUTFRONT now, one of Eric Garner's daughters, Emerald Snipes Garner, and Eric's sister, Ellisha Flagg Garner.

Good to have you both with us.

Ellisha, there has been an outpouring of support for your brother. I mean, something that you can only think what he would think he knew that this was happening. I know you are planning another protest tomorrow. Do you think this is making a difference?

ELLISHA FLAGG GARNRE: A big difference, especially from the past up until now. It is a very big difference. Now everybody is more with unity. A lot of people don't look at racism anymore. Even the people whose parents tried to, you know, make them look toward racism, you know, a lot of them don't look towards it because they feel it's not right.

And, you know, it's good that people are going on with their own minds and not being brain washed, you know, into --

BURNETT: So, Emerald, Officer Daniel Pantaleo released an apology, right? And I just wanted to read it for our viewers. This is after the grand jury cleared him. I read this to your grandmother last night.

Here's what it says. "My family and I include him," your father, "and his family in our prayers and I hope they will accept my personal condolences for their loss."

Your grandmother told me she doesn't accept the apology because he didn't say he was sorry for what he did.

EMERALD SNIPES GARNER, DAUGHTER OF ERIC GARNER: You didn't take responsibility for what you did. It is not like you -- you know, spilled a couple of milk -- I spilled the milk, I'm sorry. It was just, I send my condolences.

So, there was a disconnect. There was no genuine apology. It was just something wrote on a paper and said put your name on it. That's basically -- it is like a general apology you would Google.

BURNETT: Not something you feel is sincere and genuine and heartfelt.

You just gave us a photo that you share with us of you and your dad?


BURNETT: And this is -- well, special, of course, because he is no longer here, but I know special also because this was the last --

EMERALD SNIPES GARNER: The last picture that we took together. The weekend before this happened, they were -- we had a remembrance day in Coney Island and it was remembering, you know, all of the fallen soldiers and stuff. So, my uncle -- two of my uncles, we were doing it for them, they were on a banner and it's just crazy how next year, next to my uncles is going to be my father.

So, it's like -- it is going to be hard. And then I look at the picture all of the time and it's like the last picture we took together.

BURNETT: You were close to your dad. He was a good dad.

EMERALD SNIPES GARNER: I knew my father my whole life. My birthday is going to come up, and I'm never going to laugh and joke about my birthday being three days after Christmas and my Christmas gifts are my birthday gifts. I will never joke about that again it. It's not going to be the same. BURNETT: Ellisha, when you saw the video of your brother -- and I

want to point out to viewers, you are comfortable with us showing this video. You know, you see his hands behind his back and you see six minutes go by between when he was put on the ground and the actual EMT and the ambulance came. And when you saw that video, this is your brother, how did you feel?

ELLISHA FLAGG GARNER: Disturbed. I felt my brother was neglected. You know, they showed no compassion, no remorse. They didn't have no respect for a human life, you know? If that was one of their family members, they would want -- they would do their damnest to do everything to beat on their chest and to pump their stomach.


ELLISHA FLAGG GARNER: Or anything that's possible to help them start breathing again. And, you know, I don't know if they thought he was playing a game, you know. That he was faking.

But when you see that he wasn't responding, you know, it is your duty to make sure that he becomes responsive to the best of your -- to the best of your ability. So they did nothing. They stood over him like a piece of trash in the street, like something that you would just step on and everything is OK. It wasn't OK for them to do that.

BURNETT: Well, I thank both of you so much for coming and talking to us and sharing your feelings with us.



BURNETT: And next, more of our continuing coverage of the protests around New York, across the United States, as people in this country are rising up on a civil rights issue in a way we have not seen in decades.

The NYPD has begun issuing body cameras to police officers, they did that today. Officials say they make for better police behavior and fewer complaints. Are they really effective?


BURNETT: Protests around New York City growing steadily tonight, over the past few hours. We have seen more and more people gathered.

Jason Carroll has been walking with demonstrators downtown now, right in the heart of Manhattan's business district.

On one of, Jason, the most traffic and more touristy, there is more people in New York City where you are tonight than almost any other night and yet this is happening too.

JASON CARROLL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely. You know, with the holiday season coming, the streets are so packed with tourists. We're now making our way south on 6th Avenue, we just passed 38th Street, continuing to go south.

One of the demonstrators out here is Jeff. He's been marching ever since we started at Columbus Circle.

This isn't the first night you've been out here. Tell me the demands you look for and what would real change mean for you and the others out here tonight?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Change means recognizing there's issues with the system right now and that people are being targeted and aren't being treated fairly. And we, all have rights to be treated fairly. And that's why I'm here.

It's bigger racism and for Eric Garner and Michael Brown, my problem is the government and the institution in general. That's why I'm here.

CARROLL: You know, I -- I've also heard the mayor that he said he talks about retraining the New York City Police Department. Is that something you see as a significant change or a step in the right direction?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think it's a nice statement. I appreciate the mayor said that. I just want to see the results of it.

You know, for me, it is easy to say you will train somebody but how's that's going to translate to the streets, how they're going to translate into treating human beings. That is what I want to see.

CARROLL: All right. Jeff, thanks very, very much.

So, again, Erin we're going to keep marching with the demonstrators here.

When I was talking to Jeff, I said, how long are you guys going to go? He said, it's not just about tonight, it's not just about tomorrow night, it's about the future. So, they're going to keep marching, keep protesting ,keep demonstrating for change -- Erin.

BURNETT: All right. Jason, thank you.

And, you know, the outrage is centered on claims of abuse by police. Tonight, New York City is launching a new program and they are outfitting dozens of officers with body cameras. Some think that this will offer protection, not only to citizens but officers as well. But guess what? It's not that simple.

Rene Marsh is OUTFRONT.


RENE MARSH, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): This video from police in Laurel, Maryland, captures a traffic stop turned foot chase.

In Florida, an officer's body camera catches the moment he opens fire.


MARSH: Former player Jermaine Green shot at least four times. Police were initially criticized. That's until this video was released, showing Green holding his girlfriend hostage at knife point and ignoring police command.

JAY STANLEY, SENIOR POLICY ANALYST, ACLU: The video really does provide justice for victims of abuse and some studies have shown it actually reduces complaints against police.

MARSH: Public outcry followed the shooting death of Michael Brown by a Ferguson police officer. With no video evidence, the facts of the case were disputed.

But in New York City, there was video, captured on a cell phone, unarmed Eric Garner died after a confrontation with police.

ERICA GARNER, ERIC GARNER'S DAUGHTER: My dad died on national TV on the camera. He still didn't get justice. So, what is justice going to do with these body cameras?

MARSH: New York, along with other major cities like Los Angeles, Chicago, and Philadelphia have all signed on to having their officers equipped with body cameras. On Monday, President Obama called for increased funding for an additional 50,000 body cameras for law enforcement agencies.

Some police departments have the numbers to back up that it works. In Rialto, California, complaints against police fell 88 percent once the cameras were put into use in a year-long pilot program. In Mesa, Arizona, there were 75 percent fewer use of force complaints.

But even those who support the use of body cameras say the jury is still out on how effective they will be.

STANLEY: Body cameras are not a silver bullet. They're not going to make every problem in our criminal justice system go away. But sometimes, they can make it clear just how bad those problems are.


MARSH: And, Erin, at this point, there is no official count on how many police departments are using these body cameras. But the two primary vendors for the technology said they sold devices to more than 5,000 police departments nationwide. But what will also play into how effective these cameras are is the policies departments put into place.

One of the ACLU's concerns, if officers are free to turn the cameras on and off, it could enable someone to edit the situation, recording only parts of the encounter -- Erin.

BURNETT: All right. Thank you very much, Rene.

And, of course, in New York City, they would only have to have them on at certain times primarily because you end up with hundreds of thousands of hours of video up in the cloud that theoretically that any citizen could request.

I want to bring in our legal analyst Paul Callan.

I want to start with the fundamental question that I have here is -- so, in Ferguson, everyone said, you know what, if there were police cameras, there would be no problem. There was a camera and there was a video of Eric Garner's death and, you know, as the former president of the United States, George W. Bush said about it, it is hard to understand what happened when you see that video. And yet it did.

So, how would a camera on police in that time have made a difference in this if that video wasn't an indictment?

PAUL CALLAN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: You are right. And anybody who looks at that video thinks how in the world could this grand jury not have indicted for this horrible situation?

But it's all about camera angles. And for instance, the officer involved with the chokehold, Daniel Pantaleo, his claim was that he wasn't putting a chokehold on, that he was just trying to get leverage to knock Mr. Garner to the ground so that he could be cuffed.

If you had a second camera on another one of the officers demonstrating the chokehold from a different angle, you might have been able to refute his claim that it wasn't a chokehold or maybe it would have backed him up, maybe it would have shown that, in fact, his elbow had been pushed higher when he hit the ground. I'm not saying that happened, I'm just saying with different angles, you kind of get a more complete picture and it might change. It might help the cops. It might hurt the cops.

BURNETT: All right. So, do you think that cameras are a good idea? That's the bottom line.

CALLAN: I think they are a great idea and I think they are a great idea because it will cause more civilized behavior on both sides of the people being filmed. For the cops in particular, you know, the cops are on the street --

BURNETT: Well, it's a check and a balance for them, right?

CALLAN: Well, it's more than that, because they are trying to be tough guys on the street. I mean, what are they trying to do when they are confronting a legitimate bad guy, not somebody selling loose cigarettes, but somebody maybe who is a threat. They try to use aggressive language to scare the person into backing down.


CALLAN: And, unfortunately, that might be appropriate in one situation but it gets used on ordinary citizens, particularly in the minority community who are offended.

BURNETT: But is it possible that they're in a situation where they should use it, a jury goes, I can't believe you did that, I can't you believe you swore at this guy, whatever it might be, and then the police are afraid to do their jobs.

CALLAN: Well, I think what's going to happen is they're not going to use that kind of aggressive language. They're not going to --

BURNETT: What if that means they can't get a suspect then, you know?

CALLAN: Well, they'll have to find a different way. And you're right, maybe now they are pulling their gun instead of just threatening --


CALLAN: -- to do horrible things to the guy if he doesn't get on the ground. I mean, you know when they say, get on the ground, they are using expletives and they're threatening to go for sensitive body parts and all kinds of other things to intimidate a person into getting on the ground.

BURNETT: Of course.

CALLAN: Now, they go for the gun instead. I don't know. We'll have to see what happens with the cameras.

But we have seen -- the history of it seems to be complaints go down. Now, the police might say, well, complaints go down because we have cameras and we didn't do anything wrong in the first place. Citizens would say it is forcing them to act in a civilized way. We'll have to see.

BURNETT: It's going to be a fascinating debate around this country, being tested on just 20 or 30 New York police officers at a time, of course, out of tens of thousands.

Well, next, breaking news, as we continue to follow the protests growing around this country, Washington, D.C., Jacksonville, Miami, Boston, Chicago, New York, coast to coast. That's ahead.


BURNETT: All right. From New Orleans to Chicago to Boston to Jacksonville to Miami to New York to Washington, D.C., we are seeing many thousands of people gathering more and more. It is a Friday night. A lot of people don't have to go to work tomorrow. See crowds getting bigger and bigger.

In Washington, we are seeing protesters in some cases trying to block roads as they had successfully done last night, I believe.

Let's go to Athena Jones who's there. She's been in the thick of these demonstrators all night as you've been seeing.

Athena, what's happening?

JONES: Hi, Erin.

Well, we're on the move again walking up a major street, 14th Street, after blocking an intersection.

Just a few minutes ago, protesters briefly blocked a fire truck that had its sirens blaring. It was coming down this road heading in that direction. Some protesters felt the fire truck was there to break up the protest, that there was not actually a fire. They blocked that fire truck for just a few moments.

Earlier in the night, they let an ambulance pass by. So, it doesn't seem to be the goal of protest to block emergency vehicles like that, but there was certainly a tense moment just now, a standoff with some of the protesters feeling like the fire truck was just a way to break them up.

This has been very, very active. You can see we are marching along. It's a very fast-moving protest. I have not seen a protest move this quickly.

But I can tell you another thing that we just heard earlier, that the protest organizers said if things don't change, they're prepared to do this everyday. To shut down D.C. every single day until something changes.

What do they want to see change? They want to see better policing, better police training, and an end to racial injustice and racial profiling.

Erin, back to you.

BURNETT: All right. Athena, thank you.

And I want to go to Jason Carroll here in New York.

I know, inside Macy's, right?

CARROLL: Inside Macy's if you can believe it. Take a look at what's happening. Same thing we saw at the Apple store. Protesters walked right into Macy's in the middle of Macy's, more than a hundred of them, now staging one of those die-ins, right in the middle of the store here. As you can imagine what's happening here, a lot of the managers came to the front. Police allowed them to come inside, stage their stage-in, just like we saw at the Apple Store, an incredible moment when you consider what's been happening here.

A huge shopping season here, so you can imagine right in the middle the die-in happening as we speak -- Erin.

BURNETT: It is stunning to see what we're seeing.

I think Jason is telling everyone it's stunning. I want to emphasize for those of you watching around the country, it is stunning. You were talking about a department in the center of New York, in the middle of shopping season, with thousands of people going in and staging a die-in and it's peaceful. It's an incredible to behold.

All right. We're going to be back in just a moment.


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BURNETT: Special night to uplift your heart for the season.

Thank you so much for joining us. I'll be back here again at 10:00 for a special live edition of OUTFRONT.

Anderson Cooper meantime continues our breaking news coverage now.