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Protests in Baltimore; Store Owners Picking Up the Pieces. red 4-4:30p ET

Aired April 28, 2015 - 16:00   ET


JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome to THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper.

We're going to begin with our national lead, of course, a state of emergency in Baltimore. You're looking at live pictures right now from Baltimore, from WJZ-TV.

Today, Baltimore residents are, of course, concerned about what comes next. The city is bracing for further possible unrest. The Baltimore Orioles takes an unheard-of step in American sports, announcing that they will play tomorrow's game in an empty Camden Yards, no spectators allowed.

Meanwhile, others, of course, are picking up the pieces in that city. Protesters linked arm in arm to peacefully express their frustration with Baltimore police, a far different scene from last night's lawlessness, looting, robbing, burning down businesses, assaulting ordinary citizens and police officers alike.


Baltimore police say 20 police officers were injured in the riots last night, one remaining in critical condition. Today, President Obama denouncing what he called criminals and thugs, his words, who pushed Charm City into chaos, those who overshadowed the many nonviolent demonstrations triggered, of course, by the still unexplained death of 25-year-old Freddie Gray while in police custody.

Gray's funeral was yesterday. And Baltimore police have not yet accounted for how Gray's spinal cord became severed and whether he suffered that injury before or after he was loaded into the back of a police van.

Anderson Cooper is live in Baltimore.

Anderson, today, we saw troop transport trucks packed with National Guardsmen rolling into the city. Looks like one of them is behind you there in the City Hall area. What's the mood on the ground in Baltimore right now?

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: It's without a doubt tense, as you would imagine. It's different in a lot of different communities. As you have said, we have seen peaceful protests today, we have seen standoffs with the police. We have seen arrests in some cases.

We're starting to see the police strategy now that they have more officers from different outlying areas as well as National Guard here in the city. They have greater resources in the city. We're seeing that kind of evolutionary in tactics, as we did, as you saw when you were on the ground in Ferguson, Jake.

The police maintaining their lines and then identifying one or two individuals who they believe are causing trouble or throwing things at police. They will then move into the crowd, aggressively arrest that person and then go back to their lines. And we have seen that throughout the day as well. We have also, as you said, seen a lot of people bringing out brooms, bringing out shovels, bringing out whatever they can to help now clean up their communities. And we saw that from the early morning hours here in Baltimore.

People who locked themselves in their homes last night watching their neighborhoods erupt into sporadic violence came out this morning, unlocking their doors to try to clean up what others had done. And we heard a lot of frustration and anger, not only toward the police, but just anger about the destruction in these communities, the CVS, the stores, the mom-and-pop stores which were looted, which were destroyed. There's a lot of rebuilding to be done and, of course, the big question is what is going to happen tonight as night comes.

We have seen businesses boarding up as well. A number of businesses already in the city have just remained closed throughout the day. As we said, schools were closed as well.

CNN's Miguel Marquez has been at the center of the riots since they touched off yesterday around this time. I want to bring Miguel in.

Miguel, are police and city officials, what exactly are they doing to make sure the images from tonight do not look like we saw last tonight?

MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: This is exactly what they wanted to avoid. They're applying much greater pressure across the city.

We're right here at the epicenter. This is North Avenue and Pennsylvania Avenue. This is as bad as it was. You can see the police line here holding the line here at North Avenue. Just a block away is Mount Street. Right down from there, another block down is where Freddie Gray was arrested and then later died.

I want to show you what the people are doing here. Look at this. This is the line. So individuals here have their backs up to the police officers and they're holding the line against other protesters. It is heated down there. There are moments of great tension down here. But it is organized.

They have a loudspeaker that they allow people to address the police with and they're trying to vent their anger that way. It is extraordinarily personal to the people in this neighborhood, what is happening here. Every rock that was thrown, every bottle they feel was for their uncle, was for their brother, was for their cousin. Everybody will tell you in this neighborhood that they have had a problem with the police, a specific problem with the police. Overnight, 235 arrests of individuals, mostly between 18 and 30 years

old, 15 police officers injured, some of them very badly. Three firefighters were injured. The CVS that was burning is right across the street here. As firefighters moved in there and tried to turn out that fire, they were being stoned by the protesters here as well.

Any sign of the government or the police, people here are extraordinarily distrustful of. Even talking to people about that beautiful service for Mr. Gray, for Freddie Gray yesterday before all of this broke out, people said they saw that and they saw it as just politicians coming together to talk and not really do anything in the city, simply using them as a pawn basically and they want real change.


Will it come? That is the big question. The lockdown is on now. The cleanup in this neighborhood is on now. But they're hoping in the days and weeks ahead there will be real progress -- Jake.

TAPPER: All right, Miguel Marquez, thank you so much.

Anderson, stand by, if you will. We're going to come back to both you and Miguel on the ground in Baltimore for much more throughout this hour and throughout this evening.

Right now, of course, I want to go to CNN's Tom Foreman. He's standing by in the virtual room.

Tom, anger engulfed so much of Baltimore last night. But map out for us how and where these riots seem to have started.

TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Really, Jake, two things set the map on fire here, first of all, concern from the police early in the day that they were being targeted by violent criminal gangs. That created some tension.

Secondly, the social media call by young people for a purge or violent action at a local mall. The mall that we're talking about is really just north of where Freddie Gray was arrested and where his funeral was held. And that is indeed where at 3:00 right after school this all seemed to get under way.

At that point, authorities say, there were a few dozen kids who ran in and started ransacking some businesses, stealing some things. A couple of dozen police officers responded, trying to contain it. But by 3:45 that was clear that would not be the case, because it had spilled into the street where there was rock throwing, brick throwing and there was a response with tear gas and pepper spray.

It was still largely in this area. But look what happened. By 4:00, everyone was on the run. Basically, what seemed to be happening in retrospect is that the rioters were moving more quickly than the police were, changing streets, changing directions and the police could not respond quickly enough. Some officers wound up isolated.

Some had to abandon their equipment. And by 4:30, we had scenes like this where police cars were being trashed and set on fire. And then it seemed to truly be on the verge of breaking out and become the much bigger event it was, because by 4:45 that's when we saw that CVS being hit there.

Bear in mind, we're less than two hours away from when this started and already you have businesses starting to be hit, ransacked, robbed of everything, and eventually set on fire. This was so intense that, by 6:20, that's when we started hearing calls from Major League Baseball to say, look, all of the events are happening up here. All the way down here at Camden Yards, near the tourist area, near the center of the town, that's where they were stepping up security and they eventually postponed that game.

And from then on by 7:00 we had a state of emergency as incidents spread throughout the city. We don't really know if all of these were connected to the initial trouble there. But you see how it simply populated everywhere, Jake. And the final tally, of course, that, you cannot deny, in the end, more than 200 people arrested, 144 vehicle fires, 19 structure fires, and we know that 15 police officers injured.

And right now, a city full of officials and residents who are looking at the map and saying how do they make sure that this doesn't just keep going on for another night, Jake?

TAPPER: Tom Foreman, thank you.

Let's go to the streets of Baltimore right now, where CNN's Ryan Young is.

Ryan, no class today for the city's public school students, which was one of the reasons, one of the reasons why the city streets were packed all day long. You have been out in the thick of it. You were just feet away when police arrested a protester as everyone else around him was calling for calm. What are the protesters in the streets with whom you have been speaking, what are they telling you?

RYAN YOUNG, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I can honestly tell you, if it wasn't for the protesters who were here who were self-policing, that situation could have been a whole lot worse, because when that young man decided to throw his bottle toward the police over there, everyone sort of rushed toward the police.

The politics came forward, decided to grab him. And what we were told is by several people, he tried to throw something three times and was stopped by the police. But then they came and arrested him. And then he was actually pepper sprayed. Now, if you walk down in this direction, that pepper spray incident really took out half the crowd around this area.

Everyone started running. A photographer and I were also hit by that pepper spray. But you can see the CVS here. That's been where a lot of people have been paying attention to today because they have been working to clean that up. You can see the crowd has actually taken over the intersection. It has remained mostly peaceful. In the last I would say 40 minutes or so, there have been some young

men on motorcycles who have been coming up and down the street. But the crowd has self-policed by maintaining a distance between them and the police officers. And it's really what -- the coordination that we have seen from them has really stopped this from escalating.

What I will tell you is, everybody is worried about nightfall. That is the real concern here. Teachers have also been out here in force because they wanted to talk to their students to make sure that if young men were out here, they had a voice and someone they have heard to talk them off the ledge, to make sure nothing happened.


The crowd is still talking. They're still very upset about the pepper spray moment and the idea, for a brief moment, things got of control, but then quickly the crowd put things back together here, because they're trying to show the world that Baltimore is not about what happened last night -- Jake.

TAPPER: All right, Ryan Young, thank you so much.

Perhaps some of the most shocking scenes from last night's violence were the looters smashing windows and taking seemingly whatever they could carry away. And now, today, the reality is setting in for these small business owners. We went to one of the hardest-hit areas. And we will bring you that story next.


TAPPER: Welcome back to THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper.

You're looking at live pictures from WJZ TV from Baltimore.

[16:15:00] We're continuing to cover our national lead. The live coverage of the tension and the cleanup in Baltimore, Maryland, following an outbreak of violence and looting sparked by the death of a man in police custody a week ago, a week and two days ago, 25-year- old Freddie Gray.

We were all struck by these images captured yesterday of young people breaking into a West Baltimore mall. This is on the left side of your screen obviously. They were running out with armloads of goods.

And, of course, the senior center on the right side of your screen, still under construction, intentionally set on fire according to local investigators. Today, many business owners, many workers found themselves faced with the daunting reality that their livelihoods had been reduced to piles of rubble.

Let's go back to CNN's Anderson Cooper, who is live in Baltimore, near city hall.

Anderson, people there are really trying to pick up the pieces today.

COOPER: Yes, literally. I mean, they came out very early this morning in a lot of different neighborhoods to try to fix what got broken last night and to try to do what they could.

You know, there were a lot of people who were upset. The CVS in their community has been destroyed. That was an incredibly important business in that community.

There's a lot of people who -- you know, that's where they get their supplies and medication. And so, you know, as you can imagine, there are a lot of people today who are wondering what happens next and are these businesses going to rebuild. Are they going to be able to rebuild.

It's not just the big chains. You saw a lot of mom and pop stores also being looted, being destroyed. That's the real question, will they have the capital and be able to get the investment in order to rebuild?

I want to bring in, Jake, Joe Jones, who's here with me in Baltimore. Joe was out late into the night.

You've been out all day. You've been seeing and talking to people who are concerned about what happens now.

JOE JOHNS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Very concerned. You know, I mean --, and if you talk the 30,000 foot view, the macro economic effect on this community could be enormous. I mean, it's not just the buildings, it's not just the fires that were set, but then you look at the secondary impact, things like professional baseball games being canceled, concerns about conventions and tourism. All of those are going to be factored into this. But on the micro level, right down on the streets, you find out that the impact of all of this financially and economically is pretty harsh on some of the people who live in the communities.

COOPER: You talked to a woman today who had a very real question. Where do I go get diapers?

JOHNS: Absolutely. Yes.


JOHNS (voice-over): Last night, West North and Smallwood in Baltimore, looting an the liquor store here, the beauty supply store completely trashed. On the other side of the street, two men from the neighborhood, one with a baseball bat watching out for trouble.

When the sun came up, many businesses on the same block were shuttered, leaving more than one woman on the street pushing a stroller with kids looking for a place to buy Pampers.

TONI OWENS, BALTIMORE RESIDENT: I'm trying to find some pampers. I can't find no pampers nowhere.

JOHNS (on camera): Did they tear up the store?

OWENS: They looted everything. The stores are closed. Corner stores are closed. No Pampers. I have to go to the county to shop. There's nothing open up here.

JOHNS (voice-over): This is the reality of what happens when unrest hits neighborhoods. It's the moms and senior citizens who live there who suffer because the closest, most convenient stores that cater to their needs went up in flames. And the question is, whether that store come back if ever?

OWENS: I'm quite sure it will come back but no time soon. Not, no time soon. This neighborhood is destroyed for a while, you know. And it's sad.


JOHNS: The hardware store on the corner was spared. It's been here 25 years.

(on camera): A lot of businesses were affected out here but they passed you by. Is that because you have a great relationship with them?

TAMALA PRICE, CAREY HARDWARE: Correct. Well, they attempted to break the door and the guys in the community stated that they -- not here (ph).

JOHNS: But the Asian owned liquor store wasn't so lucky.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If young John Johnny had a problem with Mr. Yang last near, this was his opportunity to let Mr. Yang know that he was very displeased with him.

JOHNS: Muhammad the barber told us his business wasn't touched either. But regardless of who owns these stores, if someone damaged them or looted them, it's a problem for the neighborhood as a whole.


JOHNS: So what are the activists say about the unrest that occurred in all of the damage a in the communities? They say these communities never had much to start with, they were in need of more investment before the riots began and they're going to be in need of any and much more now.

COOPER: And again, to see that senior center last night burning to the ground, that's something that the Baptist Church had been working on for years, more than six years to try to get that built. They were just months away from actually opening up. That was another huge tragedy. The question is again, though they are optimistic, will they be able to rebuild the senior center --


COOPER: -- which is badly needed.

[16:20:00] Jake, there's a lot of questions tonight. And as we talked about at the top of the broadcast, and as Joe heard a lot today, out in the street, people are very concerned about what happens in the coming hours. Is the police presence, the National Guard presence, is it enough to stop from what we saw last night from happening again. And a lot of other questions as well, Jake.

TAPPER: All right. Anderson, stay there.

We're going to talk and get some answers about the law enforcement presence right now. The National Guard, of course, moved into Baltimore early this morning, the governor of Maryland calling the decision a, quote, "last resort but a necessary one", he said, to restore order.

These are some of the images of the Maryland National Guard, suited up, fatigued, armed, braced, prepared for the worst. So far, thankfully, the protests have been peaceful today.

Maryland National Guards spokesman, Colonel Charles Kohler, joins me now on the phone.

Colonel, thanks so much for joining us. You now have 1,000 guardsmen and women on the streets of Baltimore. What has the response to their presence been like?

COL. CHARLES KOHLER, SPOKESMAN, MARYLAND NATIONAL GUARD (via telephone): Well, the response has been very positive, honestly. Many of the citizens are very glad to see us. You know, some are concerned that it does heighten the awareness of what's happening. But mostly, the feedback we're getting has been very positive.

TAPPER: There's also a question when the National Guard is called in about making the streets of Baltimore or Ferguson or wherever looking like a war zone because obviously these are soldiers. Have you heard anyone expressing chagrin at the necessity that the national guardsmen and women are there?

KOHLER: Yes. I mean, there's obviously -- yes. We've had people that are concerned obviously about it. But, you know, we're really working alongside and with the state police and Baltimore City police who have been doing a really good job in trying to use constraint as best they can and try to control the situation.

TAPPER: Things have been pretty peaceful today in Baltimore thankfully. How concerned are you that that might change once the sun goes down, even though there is this curfew in place?

KOHLER: Well, it's always a concern. Anytime, as you saw yesterday, the situation can change dramatically in an instant. You know, we feel that with the curfew in place, hoping that there won't be as many people out on the streets. We'll have our presence out there, along with the state police. We should be very visible and we'll be able to respond quickly if anything does happen.

So, you know, we realize that it is a very difficult situation. Baltimore is a very big city. And, you know, we have our people strategically located throughout the city to try and ensure and minimize any type of incident that may occur. TAPPER: Colonel, what are you told the national guardsmen and women

under your command about what their response should be if there is violence this evening?

KOHLER: Well, as any situation that we're involved in, they want to use the minimal amount of force necessary to control the situation. I mean, that's really what we do in anything. We're trying to minimize any type of -- you know, level of force that we'll use to try and control it.

TAPPER: All right. So, they're being told the use the minimum amount of force necessary. The national --

KOHLER: Minimum amount of force necessary to control the situation. And also, they have to, obviously, protect themselves as well.

TAPPER: Right, right.

The National Guard, of course, supposed to provide backup for Baltimore police, for Maryland state troopers. Could that role change if the situation escalates?

KOHLER: Yes, it could change. But that would be, you know, a very extreme situation. I think General Singh made it very clear last night during the press conference that, you know, we want to reiterate that the military is not taking over. We are in a support role. What we're doing is making sure that the police are able to do their jobs and we're hoping to facilitate, you know, from a logistic standpoint and provide additional personnel to make sure they can do their job, which is enforcing the laws of this city and state.

TAPPER: Have you or any of the national guardsmen and women under your command been stationed in Iraq or Afghanistan?

KOHLER: Oh, yes. I mean, I have. Many of us have served overseas. We have a lot of experience in various missions.

And I want to say, you know, like myself, most of these missions that many of our soldiers have done have been peacekeeping missions, just to reiterate that. We've also served here in Maryland, many of us including myself served in Louisiana for Hurricane Katrina.

So, these domestic type missions are not new to us. Overseas missions are not new to us. We have a variety of skills that we can bring to the table to ensure and help bring the situation under control.

[16:25:01] TAPPER: All right. Well, thank you for your service and good luck in your peacekeeping efforts tonight on the streets of Baltimore. We're all hoping for peace.

Thank you so much, Colonel Kohler.

KOHLER: Thank you.

TAPPER: When we come back, the Baltimore Orioles set to play a game in an empty stadium after Major League Baseball and the team say it's too dangerous for their fans to attend the game. We believe this is the first time this has happened in America baseball history. And that story is next.

Plus, police on the streets this afternoon preparing for whatever tonight might bring. More on how the city is planning for a potential but hopefully not repeat of last night. That's coming up, too.


TAPPER: Welcome back to THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper.

An unprecedented move in Major League Baseball was just announced as a result of events in Baltimore. Due to safety concerns, no fans will be allowed inside Camden Yards for tomorrow's Orioles game against the White Sox. They'll play the game without a single fan there to see it. The team postponed last night's game as the city exploded in violence and fires and looting.