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CNN NEWSROOM

Cleveland Braces for Protests; Police Union Calls for Law Suspension; GOP Seeks Unity; France Attack. Aired 9:30-10a ET

Aired July 18, 2016 - 09:30   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[09:32:56] CAROL COSTELLO, CNN ANCHOR: And good morning, everyone. I'm Carol Costello, live in Cleveland, Ohio. Look how beautiful Quicken Loans Arena looks. This is all set for a party. It's the Republican National Convention. Soon this will be chalk full of Republicans. And also later tonight, Melania Trump will address the crowd talking about her husband, who's a family man. It will be interesting to hear from that.

But looming large over day one of the RNC, the three officers gunned down by a killer in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. They have now been identified as 32-year-old Montrell Jackson, 41-year-old Matthew Gerald, and 45-year-old Brad Garafola. Another officer is still fighting for his life. He's in the hospital this morning.

Police say the lawmen were shot by Gavin Long. He's a former Marine who drove a rental car from his home in Kansas City, Missouri. They say he attracted attention in Baton Rouge by walking along a highway while carrying an AR-15-style rifle. When police responded to a 911 call, he opened fire, killing three officers and wounding three more before he was killed.

The recent police involved shootings have federal and city officials keeping a close on security. The city's police union here in Ohio now calling on the Ohio governor, John Kasich, to temporarily suspend the state's open carry law. The governor's response, "Ohio governors do not have the power to arbitrarily suspend federal and state constitutional rights or state laws as suggested."

So, let's get right to CNN's Ryan Young. He's at Cleveland Public Square, where officials are bracing for protests today. There could be thousands and thousands of people there later this morning.

Ryan, good morning.

RYAN YOUNG, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning.

And you think about all those protesters coming here to, you know, exercise their right, but you have to think about those officers, not only the ones in Baton Rouge, but in Dallas, who were protecting those protesters and then ended up being shot. So you can understand why officers in this area are concerned about that open carry law and the fact that people could show up and carry weapons. And as you can see, the scene here, look, when you're in downtown

Cleveland, you see all kinds of barricades, a sea of blue everywhere, but this is where those protesters can show up and gather and then make that mile walk all the way to downtown Cleveland. And you see the officers here blocking that route right now. There's even a large machine that's -- that's how they clear snow way back there. They're using that to block the roads so no heavy vehicles can come this way.

[09:35:13] This is all part of their plan. They've spent some $40 million plus dollars to make sure everyone stays safe and that's something that the chief and the folks who have been planning this for months have been concerned about. We talked to one protester yesterday walking who said they wanted to be here to make sure her voice was heard.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CHELSEA BYERS, PROTESTER: Yes, I'm here dressed as Lady Liberty. She says, give me your tired, your poor huddled masses yearning to break free. We're here about talking about immigrants and refugees and bringing the message of love and open arms, which the RNC and Trump specifically have not done.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

YOUNG: So you see officers ready to protect those protesters. Look at this, number 11, Carol, no mace, pepper spray or other chemical irritants. But the idea the protesters could walk with pistols on their side, you could understand why officers, who have seen what happened across this country, would be worried about what they could encounter over the next 48 hours or so as people are streaming into the city to exercise their right to protest. It's something that we'll all be watching.

Carol.

COSTELLO: All right, Ryan Young reporting live from Cleveland Square. Thank you so much

For his part, Donald Trump vows that, if elected, he and running mate Mike Pence will put an end to the recent violence roiling the nation.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESUMPTIVE PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: We are the law and order candidates. And we're the law and order party. We're going to change things around. There's going to be respect again for law and order.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COSTELLO: But when it comes to the Republican Convention, one of my next guests wants action right now. His name is Stephen Loomis. He's the president of the Cleveland Police Patrolman's Association, the city's largest police union. He's the man calling on Governor John Kasich to temporarily suspend the state's open carry laws during the -- during the convention. I'm also joined by Jim Irvine, board president of the Buckeye Firearms Association, which has called Loomis' idea, quote, "shocking and outrageous."

Welcome to both of you.

Stephen, I will start with you.

STEPHEN LOOMIS, PRES., CLEVELAND POLICE PATROLMEN'S ASSOCIATION: Yes, ma'am.

COSTELLO: Why do you think it's important that the open carry law be suspended, at least during the convention?

LOOMIS: It only -- is very important only during the convention. We're calling on Governor Kasich to issue a declared emergency, given the events, the tragic events and the murders of police officers across the country right now. We have three --

COSTELLO: Why would having -- why would seeing a protester with a gun slung over his shoulder, why would that be dangerous for police?

LOOMIS: Because we don't know who that person is or what their intention is at this point. And at this unfortunate stage in our history, it's going to divert attention away from police officers. My grandmother could come in here with an AR-15 on her back and there's going to be six police officers that are going to be watching her, when they should be watching for other things, how to protect us and protect the people here.

We're not trying to be unreasonable here. We're asking for a three-day ban on the state law for the open carry. And that makes sense. It's irresponsible for anybody to come down here with an open carry. It's not outrageous. It's not any of the other things.

COSTELLO: So, Jim, why is that so outrageous, a three-day temporary ban to Ohio's open carry law, just around the convention here?

JIM IRVINE, PRES., BUCKEYE FIREARMS ASSOCIATION BOARD OF DIRECTORS: Because if you can do it for the convention, we can do it for the Cavs parade, we can do it when the Indians win the World Series, we can do it for the Fourth of July. It's on a whim. Who sets the standards on this? We have a rule of law. What's outrageous is a law enforcement officer --

COSTELLO: Wait a minute, you're saying it's on a whim? It's not a whim. It comes after three police officers were gunned down in Baton Rouge.

LOOMIS: Eight police officers.

COSTELLO: Well, if you count Dallas, right?

IRVINE: But -- well, yes, but look at those. We need to be focusing not on the people who are just open carrying a firearm who are visible who we can watch and see and police can monitor. We need to focus on the guy who's hiding in the parking garage trying to pick off our cops. Their lives are in danger this week. I'm in absolute agreement on that. And they need -- they've got a tough job. But we need to focus on where the real threat is. Having our law enforcement officers calling for suspension of the law isn't going to help the law-abiding.

COSTELLO: So, Stephen, when Jim says we should focus on the guys hiding in parking garages --

LOOMIS: Yes.

COSTELLO: Like targeting police --

LOOMIS: How do we know the difference? Again, reality, this is not an attack on the Second Amendment. We're constitutionalists, police officers are. We love and we support and we defend with our lives, as was proven in Dallas, the Constitution of the United States. Jim knows very well that I went down and testified -- I was one of the only police unions that testified on behalf of the CCW laws that we currently have in place here in Ohio. So it has nothing to do with anything other than being common sense. Giving us a break. Make our jobs a little bit easier for this three-day period of time. And if that's unreasonable to anybody, then I don't really care. You know, I'm sorry. We don't want anybody getting hurt.

[09:40:00] COSTELLO: Jim -- Jim, your thoughts? I mean Stephen says, you know, it's just common sense. Help us out. Give us a break. We just lost, you know, we just lost three of our brothers.

IRVINE: And our hearts go out to them and their families. I mean it -- it is tragic what's going on in our country right now. And Steve and I have known each other for probably 15 years. We do agree the vast majority of the time. I strongly disagree with him on this. I agree that it will make their jobs easier, but the purpose of law is not to make law enforcement's jobs easier. It's to uphold our rule of law. This isn't unusual for Ohio. Forty-five --

LOOMIS: It's not easier, it's safer, Jim. I'm not -- I'm not -- I'm not asking for safer, I'm asking for --

IRVINE: Forty-five states have open --

LOOMIS: I'm not asking for easier, I'm asking for safer.

IRVINE: Forty-five states have open carry. It's been the case. And all of the stuff that's going to be in Philadelphia too. Suspending our constitution is not what this country's about, especially in an inauguration for our presidential candidates of either party. We're a nation of laws, not of men, and we need to remember that and uphold our laws.

COSTELLO: Well, Jim -- Jim, let me ask you -- let me ask you this question. Would -- do you -- would ask people who have weapons not to bring them around the convention today? Is that a good idea?

IRVINE: I -- look, the convention, the center, is controlled by the Secret Service. So there's no open carry, there's no firearms in there at all. And we've been strong supporters of the Secret Service in that ban on all weapons inside the arena. That's -- that's their prerogative. The Secret Service is excellent with --

COSTELLO: But would you bring -- would you bring your weapon to the -- to near the convention today?

IRVINE: I, absolutely, if I was coming, I would have it to get in and out because the Secret Service aren't protecting me there. But I've got to get from my car to inside the lot, and that's the -- the dangerous area for the citizens because we have to be unprotected in that. That's where law enforcement can protect us and the (INAUDIBLE) there.

COSTELLO: OK, so -- so you heard that. So -- so Jim says he wouldn't feel safe without his firearm.

LOOMIS: That's just -- it's just a -- that's just a ridiculous notion. If you don't feel safe walking around down in Cleveland with 3,000 uniformed police officers down here, then I feel sorry for you.

IRVINE: Steve -- Steve, no, (INAUDIBLE) officers there's firearm --

LOOMIS: The fact of the matter is, is that I'm a police officer in the city of Cleveland --

IRVINE: Look, I'm not recommending people don't open carry. I don't want to do things that make (INAUDIBLE) --

LOOMIS: Listen, I don't have my gun on right -- Jim, I don't have my gun on right now because three blocks away from where we sit right now, the Secret Service stopped me and put it in a lock box. The fact of the matter is, is that it's not just inside the convention. It's a seven block radius of in and around the convention, the hard zone, where guns are not -- put an AR-15 on your back, my friend, and try to come through the hard zone down here and see what happens when the Secret Service come out.

We're asking for common sense to prevail in this, and not the politics and not your political agenda and anything else that's going on here. I want everybody to be as safe as possible. I want them to go home. And I want my officers to be as safe as possible. And this is a very, very trying time in the history of our country for law enforcement right now. So give us a break and give us a hand and somebody come to some common sense and get rid of these open carries, just for a three-day period of time. Come back August 1st with 1,000 people with open carries and we'll welcome you with open arms. And we have here in the city of Cleveland before. That's not what we're talking about here.

COSTELLO: I have to leave it there. Stephen Loomis, Jim Irvine, thanks to you both. I appreciate it.

IRVINE: Thank you.

LOOMIS: Thank you very much.

COSTELLO: Still to come in the NEWSROOM, Donald Trump's biggest challenge over the next few days, trying to unit the Republican Party, even as racial divisions deepen across the country.

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[09:47:31] COSTELLO: Another police shooting rocking the nation, seemingly widening the racial divide. The convention, a chance for Donald Trump prove he can unite the nation and show he's a family man and give voters another perspective of the billionaire.

I want to bring in two prominent evangelicals leaders, James Davis, he's pastor of the New Spirit Revival Center, and Bob Vander Plaats, executive president of The Family Leader.

Welcome to both of you.

JAMES DAVIS, PASTOR, NEW SPIRIT REVIVAL CENTER: Hi. Thank you for having me.

BOB VANDER PLAATS, EXECUTIVE PRESIDENT, THE FAMILY LEADER: Great to be here.

DAVIS: Great to be here.

COSTELLO: Thank you so much. Nice to have you here.

So, Melania Trump is going to speak tonight, Bob, and she's going to talk about her husband and how he's a family man. How important will her message be to voters?

PLAATS: I think it will be very important. Every time I've talked to Donald personally, he has just raved about Melania. People I've visited with, who have gotten to know Melania, just think she's one of the sweetest people that they've ever met. I happened to meet Melania just briefly in Las Vegas when he was doing a debate. She's -- I think she's a great asset for him. So I think this is one that he's going to want to put out front and center to say, here would be your potential first lady.

COSTELLO: I'm from northeast Ohio, so, pastor, I wanted to ask you, when you think of the Trumps, I mean, blue collar Ohio doesn't -- it's not usually attractive. You know, they're flashy and Melania Trump's beautiful and she's out there and they're wealthy. They're from New York. It's antithetical to Ohio in many ways.

DAVIS: I don't know -- I don't know if it's antithetical in that she's an immigrant from eastern Europe and from just a few blocks from where we're sitting right now has a huge eastern European immigration, a lot of Czechoslovakian, a lot of Slovots (ph) and Pols. And so I think when they see her it will resonate. And not only that, but Donald Trump doesn't appeal to the rich it seems in the public, who's gravitating to Donald Trump in this hour are the work -- is the working class guy. He didn't matriculate in his career in the glass office tower. He was out there on the construction site. And so as a result, and I've heard it said before, that he's not the Thurston Howell type of a billionaire with a sweater -- a sweater tied around his neck, you know, with white pants on, you know, ruling the minions so to speak, but he appeals to the blue collar guy and I think Cleveland is -- will come out and the rest of the nation sees that and those other people that are -- that are moving in his direction.

COSTELLO: At this time, the nation is very much looking for someone who can unite u.

DAVIS: Sure.

COSTELLO: Because we're very divided right now. Some of the things that Donald Trump has said in light of what happened in Baton Rouge disturbs some people because they're not unifying remarks.

[09:50:02] For example, this morning on "Fox and Friends," Donald Trump was addressing something that the Cleveland Police Union had said about how President Obama had blood on his hands when it came to these police shootings, or the shootings on police officers, right? So I'd like you to listen to what Donald Trump said about President Obama's body language.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESUMPTIVE PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE (voice-over): So I watched the president. And sometimes the words are OK, but you -- you just look at the -- the body language. There's something going on. Look, there's something going on. And the words are not often OK, by the way.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What does that mean, there's something going on?

TRUMP: There's just bad feeling. And a lot of bad feeling about him. I see it too. And there's a lot of bad feeling about him. We have a country that's --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You know --

TRUMP: We have a country that has not been like this since I can remember it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COSTELLO: So since you're both Christians, I'd like it to come from that Christian perspective. So, Bob, what do you suppose Mr. Trump meant by that?

VANDER PLAATS: I'm not sure what Mr. Trump meant by that, but what I can say to you, Carol, is I think Thursday night's going to be a key speech for Donald Trump because he has tapped into the emotion of the American people, saying we want change. He is right, this country's never been like this. And the American people want change. So Thursday night he has to cast his vision. Now you can see me as president of the United States. You can see me as a trusted leader leading during this time of turmoil.

COSTELLO: Is that something a president would say?

VANDER PLAATS: Well, that's something that he needs to -- that's some bridge I think he needs to cross. Again, Thursday night's going to be a key speech for him. I think every debate moving forward and things like this moving forward. He needs to show, I'm the leader you can trust in this --

COSTELLO: But at some point doesn't consistency matter, Pastor Davis?

DAVIS: Consistency matters, but I believe what --

COSTELLO: Well, let me ask you first --

DAVIS: Sure.

COSTELLO: What do you think he meant by --

DAVIS: What I believe is that there -- even with the body language comment, that there is -- there's this reluctance for a firm rebuke of this anti-cop sentiment. If you don't have order, if you don't have someone that's going to police, then we don't have a society. And there's -- there hasn't been a sharp, firm rebuke from the White House to say, we need to stop this. This is insanity that we're on right now. It's because the incompetence is gasoline and we're throwing matches on it. And it's ignorance -- excuse me. It's not knowing, because the stats say that the numbers have come down with respect to what's going on with us. But when you see clip after clip after clip of black folks, Latino folks, seemingly on the opposite side of the cops and you stir this up and then to not have anything come out of the White House but you invite groups like Black Lives Matter in there, it endorses the things -- seemingly the things that are going on. And so I understand what he's saying. And so there needs to be something that comes out of the --

COSTELLO: So you're blaming Black Lives Matter for --

DAVIS: I don't know if I'm blaming them, but I'm saying --

COSTELLO: (INAUDIBLE) --

DAVIS: I'm saying that the White House needs to say something to -- in that if Black Lives Matter is stirring this, they need to be the ones that come out and say, we categorically, you know, we are not for people shooting cops and this violence that's stirring in our nation right now.

COSTELLO: But I think the president has come out and said that. And I think Black Lives Matter has --

DAVIS: He -- it was -- it was -- it was -- he came against the violence but not necessarily the group. He said, you guys are organized. He said, I wish I was as organized when I was your age as you guys are. Maybe he just didn't have the check coming from Mr. Soros (ph) that they had.

COSTELLO: So the answer for President Obama is to repudiate groups like Black Lives Matter?

VANDER PLAATS: Well, I think what James is saying is exactly right. What this country wants is clarity. You know, what is right and what is wrong anymore.

DAVIS: It's wrong. That's right. It's gone bad (ph).

VANDER PLAATS: And this is absolutely wrong about what's going on against the cops today. And what Trump is saying, I'm going to bring law and order when I get into the White House.

COSTELLO: Well, what about unjustified shootings on African-Americans?

VANDER PLAATS: Well, both of those things are wrong. That's where the clarity needs to come in. That's where we need leadership. And I think --

COSTELLO: How do you get clarity if both things are true?

VANDER PLAATS: Well, I think you can have clarity if both things are true. Both things can be absolutely wrong. The thing is, you don't unleash unneeded and unwarranted warfare against the cops who are trying to protect us. And I think that's what Trump is bringing to this, to saying, I will bring clarity. We will protect the cops. We will have law and order in this country.

COSTELLO: OK, I have to leave it there. Pastor James Davis, Bob Vander Plaats, thank you for --

DAVIS: Thank you for having us this morning.

COSTELLO: Thanks for stopping by.

The next hour of CNN NEWSROOM after a break.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[09:58:48] COSTELLO: We'll get back to our coverage from the Republican National Convention in just a minute, but we want to get to the situation in France now.

This morning in Nice, a moment of silence for the 84 victims of Thursday's terror attack. Thousands gathered on the promenade to pay their respects. Among them, the French prime minister, who was greeted by a crowd -- he was actually greeted with a chorus of boos from the crowd. CNN's Will Ripley is live in Nice with more for you.

Hi, Will.

WILL RIPLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Carol.

This country is angry and they are demanding justice, not only for the government, but they are also furious with the attacker. You can see this pile of trash and rocks. People have been walking by, spitting, showing the hatred that they feel for the man, Mohamed Bouhlel, who took 84 lives and injured more than 200 others, 85 of whom are still in hospital right now, including 18, doctors say, who are on the verge of life and death.

Even as people along the Promenade des Anglais, one of most beautiful sections of the French Riviera, try to get back to some sense of normalcy. Faces here are somber because people have been -- people were here for that moment of silence earlier, observed all across France. And people are seeing these, Carol. These are flowers and candles and tributes to all of the people who died. In every spot where somebody -- somebody died, these spontaneous memorials have come up. This country is still grieving as the third and final day of the national period of mourning continues.

[10:00:07] And the terror investigation is also underway.