Return to Transcripts main page

CNN NEWSROOM

Protesters and Police Clash; Protests and the Parade Route; Protesters Pushed Back. Aired 2-2:30p ET

Aired January 20, 2017 - 14:00   ET

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


(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[14:00:20] CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: All right, welcome back to CNN's coverage of the 58th inauguration. We now have our 45th president, Donald John Trump, and our 48th vice president, Mike Pence. We've heard the initial address from the president and now we are waiting on the Inaugural Parade. This is an occasion steeped in history, but not without its controversy that we're seeing right now.

There are some pockets of protests here. There is some mixing it up with police. We have some picture of what's going on just a few blocks away from the parade route. We're still about an hour or so from the official parade. But if we can go to those pictures we'll show you, riot police are in heavy supply here. There are many different agencies involved, state, local, federal, all coordinating with military adjunct as well. You're hearing the sounds of those protests and also the deterrent devices by police. These are live pictures now of what's going on just a couple of blocks away. We're not sure what it is. Alisyn, there have been some pockets of protests so far.

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: Yes.

CUOMO: Nothing major.

CAMEROTA: Right. We've walked by some pockets of protests. We have our Rene Marsh, who is on the scene and can give us a better sense of what's happening.

Rene, can you hear us?

RENE MARSH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, I can tell you it is very, very chaotic. We have people throwing rocks at state police. We also have come to the point of pepper gas to get people to stop throwing these rocks. It is (INAUDIBLE) people are running in multiple sections. Riot police are essentially trying to get this in order. This started out as -

CAMEROTA: This is happening at the corner of 12th and -

MARSH: And then all of a sudden -

CUOMO: Twelfth and Kay Street. I don't know, Rene's coming in and out. Let's try and keep her going, if you can hear her well at home.

Rene, let's hear from you again. MARSH: If you can hear me. All right guys, I am at the corner of Kay

and Twelfth and I can tell it's tough and go because people are running in multiple directions.

CAMEROTA: Yes.

CUOMO: All right, so Rene's dropping out.

Some of that sound you're hearing, just so you understand, we don't know the full details of this situation, but riot police are equipped with what are called flash bangs. They create light and sound to disorient people in a protest or a riot situation like this. Rene just reported to us that there is some throwing of rocks. There's some dispensing of pepper spray or something like it.

We have Brian Todd who is nearby.

Brian, can you hear us? Let's see if you can hear you.

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Chris, I can hear you.

This is a very, very large crowd not far from where Rene was. More peaceful here. They're marching toward McPherson Square. Several thousand here.

We have had a lot of unrest in the city not far from where we're standing. Aside from what Rene said, there were - there was severe damage to some buildings, some businesses. The window of a Starbucks not far from here just got obliterated not too long ago. There have been numerous arrests on the streets of Washington.

Right now we are about a block and a half away from the White House entering McPherson Square. A huge crowd here. And they are supposed to - they are planning to go into the square here and protest. So we're going to see how the police respond to this.

But, again, we've had some unrest. We've had some police injuries earlier. At least two police officers were injured. And numerous arrests have been made.

Chris.

CAMEROTA: Yes. OK, Brian, thank you for all of that.

We're watching it in a split screen right now.

Look, it's a very emotional day here in Washington, D.C. We've seen it, Chris, since you and I arrived on the scene at 4:00 in the morning, people are very excited for the promise of this new president and other people have come here from across the country angry with their signs. And when they clash, you can see this is happening.

Rene Marsh is there in the middle of it. She joins us again.

Rene, tell us what you're seeing. MARSH: All right, well, I can tell you that it is very unsettling in

the sense that people are moving in multiple directions. What we had is a situation of people throwing bottles and rocks at police officers. It came to a point where they were face-to-face in the middle of this intersection of Kay and 12th Street and that's when riot police moved in. They started deploying pepper spray. But despite that, people continued to throw literally large chunks of rocks at police officers and, of course, that set off what was already a large crowd of people frantically running in multiple directions.

Where I'm standing right now, what I'm seeing is the same images that you're seeing, which is riot police in the center of this intersection and individuals, despite them deploying the pepper spray, continue to throw chunks of concrete at these officers, bottles at these officers.

[14:05:13] I bumped into one man who had a bloody nose. He had a bloody nose. He said that he tried to stop an individual from throwing objects at police and that's when an individual punched him in the face. So clearly emotions are extremely high at this point and we are seeing -

CUOMO: All right, Rene - all right, Rene, monitor the situation for us - monitor the situation for us. There are a lot of different pockets of activities. This is a nook and cranny city, D.C., so it's very hard for them to create a perimeter.

What we saw with the riot police and we're seeing continue now is what they call a fall line. This is an area that they don't want the protesters to go beyond. We saw the protesters were using some newspaper distribution cans and they were laying them out as their own line.

Now, what you're seeing with this phalanx of police is, this is the hold line. This is where they want the protesters to stay. There's no direct engagement with the protesters. In between the two groups, there's a line of media. That's a precarious place to be and a lot of those camera - photojournalists are there.

We'll stay on monitoring this situation. But as long as it stays like this, we won't dwell on it too long until there's something to report.

CAMEROTA: Yes. I mean, and that's the point, we don't want this to eclipse the excitement of all of the people who have come here for Mr. Trump's inauguration. You know, obviously, people came here to exercise their First Amendment rights. But when it turns violent, that's a different situation.

CUOMO: Then it's a - then it's a crime. A protest is protected. A riot is criminal.

CAMEROTA: Yes, a riot is violence.

CUOMO: Right.

CAMEROTA: So, David Gregory, you're here with Chris and me. So, can you put this into perspective for us in terms of inaugurations past? DAVID GREGORY, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, there's always going to be

protests and we're going to see big protests here over the weekend opposed to now President Trump. It's hard to tell from this vantage point what this is. It could be people who just want to make trouble. It seems to be a lot more cops and media than there are protesters based on the images so far.

Certainly what I've seen in walking around are not a lot of protestors. There are pockets. You have a lot of excited people here.

CUOMO: Yes.

GREGORY: People who are excited. Again, you look at images of the tear gas that can belie that. And, again, we're going to have to hold these two images. We're only - that's only a few blocks from where we are right now. But where we are along the parade route, there's an extremely people -

CUOMO: Right.

GREGORY: An excited group of people who are here to see the parade.

CUOMO: And also - that could also just be a deterrent device that they have. If it were tear gas, I could promise you, those people would be staying where the cloud is. They'd be dispersing.

GREGORY: Yes. Right.

CUOMO: So we just lost our live picture from there. We'll get back to it when we can.

Now, remember, one of the reason we're showing you it is, the main event hasn't started yet, the Inaugural Parade, and it's mile and a half expanse. It's going to take place just behind us. And it starts at about an hour from now. And as we travel around the city, there are pockets of protestors here. As David said, it's hard to get a specific number of this. The police are holding their line. But overwhelmingly -

CAMEROTA: Yes.

CUOMO: You have people here who are celebrating our new president.

CAMEROTA: Oh, everywhere we've gone, Chris. I mean you and I have been in coffee shops, we've been on the street most of the morning, we've been traversing this city and people have come up to us to tell us how excited they are, to tell us how they've come from all over the country, how they've come with their parents. So this, again, is just horribly unfortunate that something is turning violent. It didn't have to. Obviously there are people here for the march tomorrow, but they were here, they said, to just exercise their First Amendment rights. So this is unfortunate. But where we are - yes, David?

GREGORY: I would just say (INAUDIBLE) I mean, you know, as you have, you know, I've covered protests around the globe at big globalization events, at big summits. You've got people who come into these crowds to - who are really there to make trouble. If you had a chance to talk to them, I don't know that they would have a coherent agenda against the new president of the United States. They may want to just get this kind of attention. So it's very difficult to really capture what we've got here, but it is kind of juxtaposed alongside a lot of excitement this morning (INAUDIBLE).

CAMEROTA: Right. And so where we are, there's people lining the streets very peacefully.

GREGORY: These are anti-war protesters it looks like. No allegiance to deadly force.

CAMEROTA: Yes. Behind us, if you can hear the ambient noise, there's a little bit of a protest marching through behind us, but they're not making any trouble.

CUOMO: All right. All right. And just to introduce you to what you're seeing if you're just turning on your screen right now, we're looking at one of the pockets of protests that have come here as we're awaiting the commencement of the official inaugural parade. You're seeing smoke clouds or deterrents devices that are being launched by the riot police that are lined up. We have some protesters behind us who were chanting as they walked by us here on the inaugural parade route.

We're not sure what the protest situation is that's on your screen right now. There are some people there. How many, we're not sure. There has been a use from our reporters on the scene of pepper spray. Again, you're seeing those smoke clouds, which are part of the deterrent to move the line of protesters back. There's a huge line of media there as well. But thus far what you're seeing on the screen has been the extent in the context of some 90 arrests that have taken place in D.C. so far.

[14:10:12] CAMEROTA: Rene Marsh is in the middle of this and she can give us a better perspective of what she's seeing there on the ground.

Rene.

MARSH: Yes. Guys, you know what, despite them deploying the pepper spray, which we just experienced a few moments (ph) ago, and despite, you know, all of the riots police here, they continue to throw large chunks of rocks. And so this standoff is continuing where you have individuals who are essentially attacking police here. They are throwing large pieces of concrete at the (INAUDIBLE) and it's causing just a frantic situation here which people are running and knocking people over and it's a lot of disorder here. They clearly do not have this situation under control at the intersection of Kay and 12th Street.

CUOMO: Rene, do you have any idea of the numbers involved, of how many people are on the protest side, how many media are between them and the police? Can you give us some numbers?

MARSH: It's really hard to tell from where I am. I can tell you that there's a lot of press here, but there's a lot of protesters as well. I think that it's only a handful of people who are throwing the rocks that's causing all of this commotion here. But, honestly, it's hard to pinpoint in this large crowd who are the culprits throwing these large chunks of concrete at the police.

Right now I can tell you things are kind of at a standstill in the sense that I do not see any rocks flowing through the air. Riot police are standing with their shields on. They're telling us to move back a bit. But, still, nothing settled. It's still unsettling in the sense that people are just on edge.

CAMEROTA: The police have been prepared for this. They knew that there would be protests. They have been preparing, obviously, for this inauguration for months. So they are, obviously, using their training here.

Brian Todd is also now on the scene.

Brian, what can you tell us from your advantage point?

TODD: Well, guys, the police are rushing this group of protesters right here. A flash bang just went off. Bricks and rocks being thrown right here at the police. They have just rushed down 12th Street trying to knock some of these protesters down that way. They've just fired flash bang rounds. They are moving toward these protesters right here who are - many of whom have been throwing rocks and bricks. We just saw it. We just saw one gentleman who was down on the ground injured, some people helped him up. He said he got sucker punched. He was dazed and was helped down the street a little bit.

But we just - you might have just seen it as we were being - as we were coming on, there was a flash bang round being fired and these riot police have just driven a wedge in the protesters, driven some of them down Kay Street that way, some of them this way. And as you can see, there's a very tense standoff going on here between the protesters here, protesters on the other side and the police. There's some black clad protesters over here wearing masks. These seem to be some of the protesters who have been more engaged with the police from what we've seen.

So, guys, we can - I can just kind of narrate as we go here. The police - come on over here, John, if you can. just come on over here with me if you can. Photojournalist John Bennet (ph) and I are going to move a little bit closer if we can here. Protesters are starting to move a little bit closer as well.

If you guys can still hear me, we're going to see what happens in this standoff right here.

CAMEROTA: We can.

CUOMO: We can, Brian, keep going.

TODD: OK, yes. Yes, OK, so the police are now kind of strengthening their line over here, kind of shoring up their line here. And we just saw a bunch of police run down 12th Street that way. I'm going to try to move toward the corner. John, why don't you come with me over here. Because we want to try to see where some of the protesters and police moved down 12th Street to the south. But we have to be ready to move ourselves if there's going to be another confrontation here.

We had numerous arrests earlier today.

CUOMO: All right, Brian -

TODD: We had a couple of police officers injured

Sorry, guys, back to you then.

CUOMO: All right, Brian, you keep monitoring the situation but stay safe, especially with that pepper spray in the air. We heard Rene coughing from that before. That will stay with you if it hits you for a while, as we both know. Let us know when to come back to you.

We just want to let you know that that voice you hear - that voice of God - is what it sounds like. It's the inaugural committee here giving people warning information and what to do if there's any problems here today. It's some safety ques. They're getting ready for the overall Inaugural Parade just behind us. They're different rows of military escort that are lining the avenue here as we get ready for the parade in about 45 minutes.

[14:15:08] CAMEROTA: But we should also say that it couldn't be a more stark contrast to what we're seeing on the left side of our screen and here where it's very peaceful. There are hundreds of thousands of people it seems who have come out. They're lining the streets. They're waiting for the parade. They're waiting for the new president to go by. Everyone is very calm. It's orderly on this side.

So at Kay and 12th, you can see what's unfolding, but that's a pocket. And what we've seen is by far peaceful and, for the most part, excited.

CUOMO: And if we both lean out for a second, you can see the depth of all the people behind us. It goes all the way down the avenue already. Still some 45 minutes away.

Jim Sciutto, you're out there on the parade route. What do you know?

JIM SCIUTTO, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Chris, let me just give our viewers a birds-eye view of where you're seeing our reporters now, where these protests are taking place. Some of them here at McPherson Square. And just over here on 12th and Kay. As you come out, you see that's very close, just a couple of blocks from the White House. And here, all along the middle is that parade route from the Capitol leading up to the White House. And that's something that in addition to keeping everything safe, everything running on time, U.S. police, Secret Service, et cetera, they've wanted to keep this flowing as best they can. And I'll tell you, speaking with them earlier in the day, they really hadn't had much trouble. Now you're seeing something very different.

And I just want to add one more detail if I can, Chris. This area here that you see in red and yellow, these are the restricted areas of the downtown part of the Capitol here, no vehicles. Part of the intention of all that has been to keep things flowing. But, of course, people have been allowed to come in and a lot of these protesters know early on their focus was trying to go after some of these security checkpoints and now focusing on the route of the parade.

CAMEROTA: OK, Jim, thank you very much for that vantage point.

We want to bring in now Jonathan Wackrow. He is a CNN law enforcement analyst, as well as a former Secret Service officer.

Jonathan, can you hear us?

JONATHAN WACKROW, FORMER SECRET SERVICE AGENT: I sure can. How are you guys?

CAMEROTA: OK, it's so good to have you.

WACKROW: Thank you.

CAMEROTA: We you know that you're also a former Inaugural Parade coordinator -

WACKROW: Correct.

CAMEROTA: So you know everything that's going on. Obviously police prepare for protests, but you - they never can know exactly what they'll confront. What do you see unfolding here?

WACKROW: Absolutely. So just take a step back. The Secret Service has been coordinating with their law enforcement partners for an awful long time for this very moment. Whenever you see civil disobedient issues like we're seeing on screen right now, these are dynamic and rapidly evolving events. But law enforcement, as you see, is very systematic in the way that they are - they're approaching this. They're trying to push these protesters away from the parade route. To Jim's point just a little while ago, you know, it seems like they're at the - at the boarder of some of these critical areas. Law enforcement's going to want to systemically push them away and disperse that - disperse those protesters out.

CUOMO: When it comes to the security techniques that we're seeing in play, the loud sounds, we call them flash bangs, give us a sense of what are the different tool that the riot police will use and at what different points.

WACKROW: Well, listen, first of all, the very first thing they're going to do is they're going to give the verbal commands for the - for the crowd to disperse, let them know that, you know, the law enforcement presence is here, that they're violating certain, you know, ordinances, that once they become, you know, you know, combative like we're seeing right now. Once violence ensues, the police have to shift into a different type of methodology. They need to start holding their lines. It basically becomes first a defensive posture and then they need to start moving on the offense to disperse those crowds out.

Chris, your question was around the use of flash bangs. What that is supposed to is, again, it's a diversionary tactic that's used by the police to start disbursing the crowd out. You know, listen, the - these protesters have one leg up on the police because they basically came into the situation organized. Police now come in. They have to build a defense. And as you see, listen, as we're seeing right now, they want to disperse that crowd out. They want to push them back. We're seeing flash bangs. We're seeing smoke being utilized. This is a standard, you know, police tactic in dealing with civil disobedience. And this is something that has been planned for for this inauguration for years.

CUOMO: All right, so let's - let's hold it right there. We'll keep monitoring the situation - the security situation in and around the inaugural parade. We're still about 40 minutes away from the official start of the parade. Let's take a break right now. When we come back, we'll give you more of the detail of what's going to be this next historic phase of the inauguration of Donald Trump. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[14:23:50] CUOMO: All right, here we are at the 58th inaugural. We're showing you live picture of this developing situation between protesters and riot police a couple of blocks from the official inaugural route. We have Brian Todd on the ground nearby.

What is the situation now, Brian?

TODD: Well, Chris, the police have just moved in on the protesters again. They've pushed them another half a block away. They're now at 13th and Kay Street's, northwest. Come on over here and I'll show you some of the protesters that now tried to move newspaper dispensers, metal newspaper dispensers and trash cans to try to impede the police. They're throwing rocks and bricks at police. Police, as you can see, are responding with tear gas and flash bangs rounds. So still very tense.

The police just rushing this group of protesters a short time ago yelling move back move back. Everybody dispersed. There were people running in many, many different directions. Over here it looks like somebody's trying to light a trash can on fire. And right behind them, you may not be able to see it, but there are smashed windows of a limousine. Drumbeats are over to our right. And the police may move in if a fire starts here. We are monitoring this.

[14:25:04] CAMEROTA: Yes, Brian, it's -

TODD: But this intersection is particularly tense.

CAMEROTA: Brian, it's so unfortunate that police are having to deal with this. I know that you were also saying that police were injured.

TODD: Yes, there were a couple of police injured from what we are told earlier. We are also told there have been 95 arrests made at least during these disturbances. So the violence here in D.C. has gotten worse since the inauguration.

And let me show you what's going on here. People are now gathering more on mass over here. I think we can walk a little closer. The police seem to have set up a barrier, a human barrier, over on the other side of the intersection and they want these people to move back. Now people are really running back toward where we are.

CUOMO: Well, those flash bangs can be very effective. They are what they sound like in their descriptions. They're loud sounds, a cloud of smoke. We've also heard that there's been some use of pepper spray. That can be very harsh. It's not tear gas, but it can certainly disperse a crowd and get you coughing very hard for a long time. We heard Rene Marsh, another reporter on the parade route, actually in that area, 12th and Kay, doing just that, coughing. We see someone lighting that trash can, as Brian Todd had said. The phalanx of police moving the protesters back.

Let's try to get Rene Marsh. She has been on the opposite side of this, near the police.

Rene, where are you now and what are you seeing?

MARSH: Well, I'm standing behind the riot police where - where basically hold and told to holding the line. They are - they've gotten control of - at least of the side that I'm on. We see that the National Guard has come in as well to try and get this situation under control.

So the folks on my side were all lined up and we have, again, police wearing riot gear with their shields who have been told to hold the line exactly where we are. We have not received any instructions from them as yet. But as I look right across the street, I can see those flash bangs. I can see the National Guard. I can see, as they were trying to push those protesters back and potentially get them to disperse. It seems like these protesters are extremely stubborn despite the tear gas, despite the flash bangs and they're still a force out here.

It looks like they're moving, but they're moving very slowly. I do know, as I look around the corner here, I can see essentially - let me explain this to you. There's like four different roads that feed into this intersection and you have officers in riot gear positioned on all four roadways. And essentially they - they're having people hold the line. So as I look around the corner, I see the same situation where people are lined up and they're still - they're face to face with the police with the riot gear. I see a Humvee passing through the intersection. Essentially what they're trying to do here is maintain order because I can tell you it was chaotic just seconds ago.

CAMEROTA: Yes.

We were just talking to Jonathan Wackrow, who was former Secret Service, who just gave us context on how systematic the highly trained officers that we're watching are. They knew this was a possibility. They have been training for months if not years he said. And so they march in a line, as we could see there, and they systemically push the protesters back into a sort of more confined space where they can control them better and we sort of have seen some of that in action. We've seen them being moved, as Brian Todd has reported to us and I think Rene is seeing as well.

CUOMO: Look, the riots are not unusual. They're not unexpected. They've been planned for. This is a nook and cranny city, so what they're going to try to do is take larger groups of protesters that turn violent and move them, disperse them down the different streets.

CAMEROTA: Right.

CUOMO: And that will carry on. We'll monitor the extent of it.

And, David, even here, you know, there are voices of protests behind us right now shouting about Trump and at the media. This is not unexpected. It's not unseen at inaugurations past.

GREGORY: Yes, I think it's important to keep some perspective. We've got a part of the city that is, you know, roughly ten blocks or so from the White House where you have this standoff taking place. But we've been walking around, especially since early this morning, all the way around downtown, closer to the Capitol where the crowds have been under control, where law enforcement, Secret Service and others have done a great job. And it's been a really peaceful, enjoyable and historic day. So you're going to have these flash points.

Really the weekend is setting up to be a time of both major celebration and major protests. You've got a major women's march here planned for tomorrow, people coming in from around the country. So along with celebration for a lot of Americans, there's a lot of dissent. That's going to see - we're going to see that play out in the streets. Police are prepared for it.

[14:29:51] Along the parade route, a lot of police, a lot of military as well. So it's kind of all - all in the mix. And even I have not discerned, and I'm not seeing it here, you know, sustained, organized protests. You're going to see that, that's planned. These seem a little bit more encoied (ph) in terms of people setting garbage cans on fire. I'm not exactly sure what they're protesting.