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Protests in Ferguson Continue; American Journalist Killed

Aired August 20, 2014 - 15:00   ET


BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN ANCHOR: And we continue on. You're watching CNN, top of the hour.

We begin with the situation in Ferguson, Missouri. The nation's top law enforcer, Attorney General Eric Holder, is now there over a killing that officially is still not labeled a crime. But that could change based upon what this local grand jury does.

Today, that grand jury is hearing testimony on the officer shooting of Michael Brown. And now we're learning that it may be until mid- October before the panel gets through all of the evidence. Right? That's so important to see as much evidence as they can.

So if this officer from Ferguson, if Officer Darren Wilson is charged, his arrest may not happen until then. No doubt, Eric Holder is watching all of the local movements as his office decides if federal charges are warranted.

Holder is not the only one checking in on the investigation. He is meeting with Michael Brown's parents, as the family attorney told us just last hour.


ANTHONY GRAY, ATTORNEY FOR FAMILY OF MICHAEL BROWN: I think there was agreement on both sides to come together for a meeting, a very private and confidential meeting. It is just going to be the attorney general and the parents. And they're going to meet privately together, and there will be no attorneys in the room or anybody else for that matter, as I understand it.


BALDWIN: All right. Let's take you out to Ferguson, to Anderson Cooper.

And so, Anderson, we know Eric Holder landed right around noon. Tell me what we know. What has he been up to thus far today?

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Well, we know he met with some young people, some college students from this community, also has met with community leaders. But, as you said, he is going to be -- supposed to be meeting with the family of Michael Brown. Obviously, he wants to try to get the message across that the federal government here is on the ground, FBI agents are on the ground conducting their own investigation.

And no doubt he will also try to explain the timeline of that investigation. We know there has been a federal autopsy already. The results have not been released to the family at this point and likely will not be released publicly until the federal investigation is complete.

But again, you know, all of this is going to take time, not just the federal investigation, but even the grand jury, which we understand began today. But that will go on for many, many weeks, as prosecutors are presenting all the evidence to that grand jury. None of that will become publicly known until much later.

BALDWIN: OK. So we wait to see when -- if Eric Holder does speak publicly. But let's talk about what happened last night, because, of course, you have been there. We have had a number of crews, you know, watching the protests in the evening and early morning hours. And it's odd to say that just 47, but just 47 people were arrested last night, which is a far lower number than we have seen previous nights.

Do you think that is attributed to Captain Ron Johnson, or to what should that be attributed?

COOPER: Well, I think last night was a different night. There was a number of different issues.

Certainly, the number of protesters was a lot smaller, had been all throughout the day. And a lot of the religious leaders, community leaders had asked people not to protest at night. There certainly were protesters out at night but, not in the numbers we have seen in previous evenings.

Also, the police tactics were different. There wasn't -- there were probably as many police officers as there have been in other nights. But they were positioned differently. They were sort of more spread out in different groups. And they seemed to take more of a hands-off approach.

You didn't see a lot of tactical gear. Some police officers had riot shields, had riot helmets on them or, you know, hanging from their belts, ready if they needed it. But there seemed to be a greater reliance by police on community leaders, local community leaders and also religious officials.

I talked to several pastors who said that last night for the first time, police were actually working with the pastors to try to get messages to the crowd, to try to identify people they viewed as troublemakers. And you hear some trucks honking their horns. But there really -- there are not many protesters out on this street today, far less even than there were yesterday. There is literally probably a handful within eyesight of where I am right now, one or two people holding up signs.

But it's already a very different atmosphere and traffic is moving freely, which is yet another thing which is probably discouraging protesters from being here. BALDWIN: Different day. Anderson Cooper, thank you so much. We will

look for you later today on CNN.

And we will take you back to Ferguson in just a moment here.

But we have to talk about this video today. This video is too chilling to show to you, the jihadists who have overrun Iraq taking an American life in the most brutal way possible, decapitating journalist James Foley, an American, on video and threatening to do the same to another American.

We have chosen only to show you these still images moments prior to his brutal beheading. Foley, as you can see in that orange jumpsuit on his knees, next to a man masked in black who spoke with a British accent on the video. We will play the audio for you. This is just part of what he said.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Any attempt by you, Obama, to deny the Muslims their rights of living in safety under the Islamic caliphate will result in the bloodshed of your people.


BALDWIN: The terrorists say they executed Foley in retaliation for U.S. air strikes in Iraq.

As for the parents of this young man, they have shown incredible strength and, understandably, a moment of suffering when talking about their son's final words.


DIANE FOLEY, MOTHER OF JAMES FOLEY: He was a courageous, fearless journalist. Very compassionate American, I mean, the best of America. And he always hoped that this would -- he would come home. That was his hope. And he sustained all the others who were with him really with that hope.

JOHN FOLEY, FATHER OF JAMES FOLEY: But before coming home, he wanted to support his fellow inmates. He was always the first guy in line, the one who would take the bullet first, the one who would speak to the guards about inequities in food. He was never a slacker. He was always the standard-bearer, the stand-up guy.

D. FOLEY: So many people were praying for Jim. And I really think that's what gave Jim an unusual courage. Jim just could feel the prayers. He was strong, courageous, loving to the end. We just hardly recognize our little boy. I mean, he just -- he was just a hero.

J. FOLEY: And you know from the videos that his last words were: "I wish I had more time to see my family."

D. FOLEY: So Jim had a big heart. And just -- I just -- you know, we -- that's what we shared with President Obama. We just pray that Jim's death can bring our country together in a stronger way and with the values that Jim hold dear.

J. FOLEY: Held dear.

D. FOLEY: Held dear. Jim would never want us to hate or be bitter.


BALDWIN: Joining me now, Barbara Starr, our Pentagon correspondent.

Just the strength that it must have taken for those parents to talk about their son. And then we have this from you, when -- we have been covering the ISIS brutality. We're getting word now, Barbara, that the Pentagon is considering this request for more troops in Iraq. What do you know about that?


Let's shift gears just ever so slightly, you know, ISIS saying it is taking its actions in retaliation for U.S. air strikes. Now a U.S. official is saying that the Pentagon has a request from the State Department to send about 300 or so additional military troops to Iraq for security. They are saying it is not related to a direct threat, suggesting it's not related to this ISIS threat to attack the United States in retaliation for the air strikes, but it is for security. They won't say where.

But, look, there are only two locations for U.S. personnel in Baghdad. And that is the U.S. Embassy and the airport. That is the reality of this request to send additional troops to Baghdad.

Right now, the Pentagon has not yet approved the request. But let's talk again about reality. There is really no indication that the Pentagon is going to turn down a State Department request for additional troops for protection of American personnel. It would take U.S. troops in Iraq up to about 1,000 right now on the ground -- Brooke.

BALDWIN: OK. Barbara, thank you so much at the Pentagon for us right now.

Next, back to Ferguson, should President Obama be there instead of Eric Holder? We will talk live with one critic who says President Obama has not done enough when it comes to race. We will debate both sides.

Plus, would the autopsy of Michael Brown show signs of struggle if he did indeed get into an altercation with that police officer? That answer coming up.

This is CNN's special coverage.


BALDWIN: You're watching CNN. I'm Brooke Baldwin. The top lawyer in the country is in Ferguson, Missouri. Talking about

Attorney General Eric Holder. He arrived there just a couple hours ago. He is set to meet with people in charge of the federal civil rights investigation into Michael Brown's death.

He will also meet with local law enforcement officials and community leaders. Attorney General Holder told "The Saint Louis Times- Dispatch" his mission is to make sure there is a full and fair investigation.

But as Holder gets his update, a question some of you have been wondering, should President Obama visit Ferguson? I want to hear what you think. Sent me a tweet @BrookeBCNN.

So, let me -- let's kick the discussion off with that question.

Larry Elder, radio host and author, and Marc Lamont Hill, CNN political commentator there in Missouri.

So, Marc, just first to you, what do you think? Should Obama go to Ferguson, instead of -- we know Holder is there. Should Obama go to Ferguson?

MARC LAMONT HILL, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: I would have loved to have seen the president go there. But I only want the president to go there if he's going to say things that are moving the conversation forward.

Otherwise, it just becomes a distraction. The president has made several statements on this, and I criticized him on the piece for not naming race, for not speaking about the ways in which this affects race and for preaching calm, not just telling us to not riot or to not loot. I get that. That's reasonable and I think we all agree that people shouldn't be looting and destroying property.

But the idea of telling people to remain calm almost delegitimizes the very real and legitimate anger that people feel for what happening. So I want the president to come there and I want him to speak truths and to demand justice. And that doesn't mean take sides. It means speak about due process, speak about the way in which law enforcement has a role in this as well in terms of blame.

That's what I want to hear from a sitting president, any president, not just a black president.


BALDWIN: We should point out that the White House has said the president has not yet gone to Ferguson yet just because that would take away from local law enforcement, take all that away, because they would need to protect him, instead of investigate and do what they're doing on the ground.

Larry Elder, what do you think? Should he be there?

LARRY ELDER, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: Well, the reason this is a difficult issue for President Obama, Brooke, is because the president has spoken out of both sides of his mouth.

If the country were as racist as he thinks that it is or says that it is, he could never be elected president. I once interviewed the head of the NAACP, Kweisi Mfume. And I said, Mr. Mfume, as between the presence of white racism or the absence of black fathers, which poses the bigger threat to the black community?

He said without missing a beat the absence of black fathers. I'm not saying that the problem of an unarmed black person being shot by a cop is not something we ought to be concerned about. For crying out loud, nearly half of the homicides in this country are committed by black people almost always against another black person.

Chicago, 10 homicides a week last year, most of them by black people, most of them, by the way, unsolved. So let's have some perspective here. I can't get a good idea on how many numbers of blacks, unarmed blacks are killed by the police. But it appears to be the number might be maybe 2 percent of the total of blacks killed in any given year.

HILL: I'm confused by what perspective that gives us Larry.

I don't disagree with you that we should be concerned about black-on- black violence. I think all of us are. Many of us, including myself --


HILL: Let me just finish the thought. We organize about it, we teach about it. I'm in Chicago very regularly doing that anti-violence work.

I think that matters. But that doesn't mean that we should be talking about that instead of talking about an unarmed black child with his hands in the air who was killed, who was essentially executed. And it's -- I find it mind-boggling that whenever a black child, black teenager, a black person, man or woman, is killed by law enforcement, suddenly, people feign outrage about black-on-black crime.

A whole bunch of people only talk about black-on-black crime when it's not a black person killing a black person. It's when this happens. And the reason why the black community is so outraged right now is because a black child was killed, like many other times, and it's being done with impunity. Law enforcement is getting off the hook.

And that's what people are concerned will happen here if we don't protest. Black people go to jail for killing other black people. Black people go to jail for killing white people, but, oftentimes, when law enforcement is attacking black folk and killing them, there is no response. They do it with impunity. And that's what people are outraged about. And we have a right to talk about that.

BALDWIN: Let me just jump in, because I hear Larry's point. And I know, Marc, you agreed with him talking about black fathers and the absence of black fathers and all these different issues culturally --

HILL: I don't see the point.

BALDWIN: -- that are important to discuss.

But when it comes to the president, let met just bring it back to your op-ed, Marc.

And, Larry, I want you to weigh in.

If the president should talk more overtly about race, what should he say?

ELDER: The president gave a speech in 2007, when he was senator, Brooke. And he said that the Moses generation, the generation of Martin Luther King, had gotten us 90 percent of the way there. Our generation, he referred to his own generation as the Joshua generation, has to get us the rest of the 10 percent.

Eric Holder has frequently talked about the pernicious racism in America, gave a speech a few weeks ago where he outlined what he called pernicious racism. It included things like photo voter I.D., which most blacks support, different expulsion rates, which happens no what the school district is around the country.

And he also mentioned different sentencing arrest rates, when the sentencing commission -- excuse me -- he mentioned different sentencing rates, when the commission has said that those different rates, and it is true that blacks are sentenced somewhat longer than whites for the same crime, but the reasons are legitimate factors, including arrest records.

So when you look at the racism that Obama talks about, I'm trying to figure out what exactly he is talking about that is important as the problem of the absence of fathers in the black community.


HILL: This is like -- this is like a verbal tick with conservatives. Whenever a black person is treated unjustly, they say, hey, but you don't have a father, hey, but you kill each other, as if that makes black people disposable, as though somehow black people are worth --


ELDER: That's not what I said at all.

HILL: I didn't say what you said.

ELDER: That's not what I said at all.


HILL: Larry, I'm not saying you just said that.

What you just did was bring up black fathers in a conversation about an unarmed black child being killed. Michael Brown has a father. Two days ago, I stood with Michael Brown's father and hugged him as he cried that his unarmed child was killed by a police officer.


HILL: Having a father doesn't make you more or less likely to get killed by law enforcement. They don't ask for DNA reports before they shoot you.

That's the problem here. And as far as racism persisting, it does, Larry. It just does. And every empirical study shows the .

ELDER: I'm asking you for perspective.

I'm asking you for perspective. The number one preventable cause of death for young black men is homicide. The number one preventable cause of death of young white men are car accidents. I'm asking you for perspective. How often does it happen that an unarmed black is shot by a cop?

And, furthermore --


HILL: Every 28 hours. Every 28 hours, Larry. Larry, every 28 hours. According to the MXGM study, a black person -- a black person is killed by law enforcement --


ELDER: Seven dead in Chicago alone on the weekend, seven dead.


BALDWIN: Hold on, hold on, hold on, hold on. Gentlemen, let me just -- let me pipe in, because there was another shooting yesterday involving a 23-year-old African-American man.

And there is something that no one is talking about when it comes to that shooting death. I want to talk about that and ask why next.


BALDWIN: Let's get back to it, Larry Elder, Marc Lamont Hill.

Here's what is bother me. Here is what no one really is talking about. And this is what I want to ask you both about. There was a shooting just a couple miles from that burned-down QuikTrip in Ferguson. A 23-year-old African-American man was shot and killed by police officers. Police say it was suicide by cop. And according to police, this young man was saying please kill me, please shoot me.

I'm not questioning the suicide-by-cop part. What I'm wondering, why no one is talking about this, is the mental health of that young man. And I was talking with a friend last night who saying, why is no one discussing mental health of young men of color in this country?

And I'm wondering, Marc Lamont Hill, why? HILL: I think there are a few reasons.

I think, one, just as a nation, we don't talk about mental health. We mock people for going to see therapists. We call people crazy. When you look at even pop culture with the haunted house with the psychos inside, there is this whole culture that stigmatizes mental health illness.

I think, also, with young black mean, because they're seen as being prone to violence, being prone to irrationality because they're seen as unintelligent and often immoral, when they display behaviors that are clearly crying for help, we dismiss it as just a normal -- as part of their normal everyday pathology.

And then I think oftentimes within the African-American community, we also stigmatize mental health issues. We tell people to take it to the church, take it to Jesus. We don't go to see therapists even at the same rate as our white counterparts.

And then on top of that, when you're in the context of racism and white supremacy, you engage more trauma. When you live in a war zone like Chicago or in this case Ferguson, you're surrounded by death and violence and harassment. And so you have more triggers.

And we need to deal with that in a very substantive way.

BALDWIN: Larry Elder, I would love to hear your voice.

ELDER: Well, I think the media perceives, Brooke, racism to be a far bigger problem in America.

That's why we spend so much time on people like Donald Sterling and Cliven Bundy. And before that, it was Paul Ryan who said some things --


HILL: I think the question was on mental health.

ELDER: -- racially intemperate.

I think we have been training black people to think that racism is a bigger deal. And I think the reason that the left wants that is because of votes and power. As long as black people believe that race and racism are the major problem in America, you have got that 95 percent monolithic black vote, without which the Democratic Party cannot survive.

So you have the Jesses and the Als and Debbie Wasserman Schultz and Harry Reid constantly bringing up race cards, talking about Republicans raging a war against black people and so forth. So black people have been trained. Surprise, surprise, people in Ferguson believe that the racist criminal justice system is oppressing them, because Barack Obama and Eric Holder have said statements that have given that impression.


BALDWIN: Are you saying that racism is not a major problem in this country?


ELDER: No, it is not a major problem in this country. No, it is not.

My father was a janitor. He was born in the Jim Crow south. Fast forward. My father in his late 40s started a small business, got a little bit of property. This is what happens in America. Raised three boys, educated them.

We have a thriving black middle class. If black America were a country, Brooke, it would be the 15th wealthiest country in the world. For crying out loud, this is not your grandfather's America. We ought not act like it is.

HILL: Yes, but, Larry, I don't -- two things. One, I think your earpiece could be broken, because the question was on mental health, and you once again go back to the pathologies of the black community. That's stunning to me.


ELDER: Why do you have to insult me all the time? Why can't you address what I said, rather than insulting me?


ELDER: Why is that necessary? Can't we have a discussion as two black men without insulting each other? Is that possible?


ELDER: Can we try and do that, please?

HILL: Larry, I haven't insulted you.


HILL: Larry, I'm not insulting you.


ELDER: Of course you have. You said I'm sounding a dog whistle. Why do Republicans always use a dog whistle?


ELDER: Why don't you deal with what I said, the merits of what I said, for a change, Lamont? I watch you all the time. You talk over people. You don't listen to the merits of what they say.

HILL: You're talking over me.

First of all -- OK, a few things. I never said dog whistle. Second, you're saying engagement.


ELDER: Sure you did.

HILL: Let me finish. I didn't. When you rewind this, you will realize you were wrong.


HILL: What I just spoke about was mental health --


HILL: What I just spoke about was mental health in the black community. And you responded by talking about black people believing that racism still exists.

You totally didn't acknowledge my question or respond to my comment.


ELDER: I wanted to have perspective and talk about what's important, but you won't do that.

HILL: OK. No. Well, you don't get to decide what's important. We all have opinions here. I made a comment. I wanted you to respond to it.

But I will respond to your comment.


ELDER: You think the problem of unarmed black people is a major problem in America. And I don't. I don't.

HILL: OK. Let's -- OK.

Well, let me tell you what I think, now that you have spoken. There are two issues here. You mentioned black-on-black crime. You say that that's a problem. I agree with you that it's a problem.

ELDER: It's a huge problem. It's a massive problem.


HILL: Larry, Larry, I agree with you.


BALDWIN: One voice, gentlemen. One voice.


HILL: I agree with Larry Elder that black-on-black violence is an issue. I absolutely agree with him. So let's not argue about what we both agree on. I agree.

But if this study bears out -- and it does -- that at least one -- that every 28 hours, an unarmed black person is killed, then that also is a problem. Is it as big a problem --


ELDER: That means if less than 2 percent of the total, Lamont, less than 2 percent of the total -- 7,000 black people killed every year, less than 2 percent are killed by police officers in an unarmed way.

So why don't we talk about the 98 percent? And many of these murders in Chicago are unsolved. At least we know what happened in the Michael Brown case.

HILL: OK. So let's talk about that.

First of all, we do talk about what happened in Chicago. CNN did a whole special on Chicago. We talk about Chicago violence every week. I write about Chicago. I'm physically in Chicago all of the time.

ELDER: What are we doing about it? What are we doing about it?


HILL: We're doing lots of things.

But you can't suggest that our efforts and our energy can only be justifiable or legitimate if we solve the problem. We spend a lot of time in America trying to solve lots of problems, and we haven't solved many of them. It doesn't mean that we're not doing the work. I think that's part of the problem.

But the reason we're talking about an unarmed kid right now is because one was just killed, Larry. And it's entirely reasonable, when a black child is killed in the street, unarmed, for us to have a conversation about that without you trumping it by saying, oh, well, yes --


ELDER: We know what happened.


HILL: We don't know what happened. We don't know what happened.


HILL: We do not know what happened, Larry.

BALDWIN: I want to have both of you back. Stay with me. Another time, gentlemen.


BALDWIN: Larry Elder, Marc Lamont Hill, we're going.


ELDER: Seventy-five percent of homicides in Chicago unsolved, unsolved.

BALDWIN: We're going. Goodbye. Goodbye. Thanks. Thanks, guys, very much.

Just ahead, we have to move on to something incredibly important, an American beheaded by ISIS militants, his last words, "I wish I had more time to see my family." It is heartbreaking. But as the Pentagon is considering sending more troops in to protect Americans from the ISIS onslaught, does his brutal death also signify a new danger for the West? We're talking about that.

Also, we're going to go back to the streets of Ferguson, where nightfall is just a couple of hours away. What should Ferguson expect tonight?