Hardball with Chris Matthews, Transcript 04/27/15
CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST: Anger city.
Let`s play HARDBALL.
Good evening. I`m Chris Matthews in Washington.
Proud of its name, Baltimore, AKA “Charm City,” is in trouble tonight,
deep trouble. Hundreds of the city`s young, some fresh out of high school
this afternoon, threw rocks and bricks at police, burned police cars and
looted a neighborhood CVS late today in Baltimore, all for the TV cameras
It started with the funeral of Freddie Gray, the 25-year-old African-
American who died while in police custody a week ago Sunday, in fact, after
apparent spinal injuries, which remains a mystery. Then later today came
an open threat of gang violence to, quote, “take out” law enforcement
officials in Baltimore.
Adding to that – adding to the real danger from the young people in
the streets today was the predictable opportunists out there looking for a
chance to destroy and loot and otherwise exploit a bad situation. In the
city just north of Washington, D.C., we have a cult (ph) of anger tonight,
a perfect urban scene for those who love nothing better than a polarized
Within the last hour, Maryland`s governor put his state`s National
Guard on alert. And late today, a police spokesman vowed to put those he
called criminals in jail.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CAPT. ERIC KOWALCZYK, BALTIMORE POLICE DEPARTMENT: This afternoon, a
group of outrageous criminals attacked our officers. Right now, we have
seven officers that have serious injuries, including broken bones, and one
officer who is unconscious.
We will do whatever is appropriate to protect the safety of our police
officers and ensure the safety of the people that live and work in the
Mondawmin area. We`re going to go back and do an investigation, and we
will find the people that are responsible and we will put them in jail.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Horrendous situation today up in Baltimore. By the way,
Freddie Gray`s family and others have pled for calm today, but those calls
for calm went unheeded by those in the streets right now. What an even
this afternoon. What a terrible event.
I`m joined right now by NBC`s Tom Costello, who`s in Baltimore, has
been in Baltimore. Tom, give us an update from you`ve been on the scene to
where you`re at now, where you had to move to.
TOM COSTELLO, NBC CORRESPONDENT: Chris, we`ve had to move to downtown
Baltimore. We got the police station, the police headquarters just about a
half a block down the road. The reason we moved is it simply became too
volatile up there in west Baltimore. Our own satellite truck was pelted
with rocks. We had – the cab of our satellite truck was looted.
But that was – that was nothing. I mean, a couple of blocks away, as
you saw, hundreds of youngsters who were really going to war with the
police, throwing rocks and throwing bricks and throwing bottles, the police
responding. At some points, the police had to go in and rescue their own
officers who had been hit by bricks, in some cases in the head. We saw two
officers bleeding profusely from the head.
Now you know that the National Guard is on standby. We have seen
hundreds of officers flowing into that area, flowing into the area to try
to help relieve the situation as best they can and get assistance to the
officers who are on the ground.
Let me bring in, if I could, Congressman Elijah Cummings, Democrat
from Maryland, who spoke very eloquently at Freddie Gray`s funeral today up
in that same neighborhood. To see this happening now must break your
REP. ELIJAH CUMMINGS (D), MARYLAND: It`s very, very painful. You
know, I was born in this city and I`ve lived here, raised my family here.
And I have not seen anything like this since `68 or `69.
COSTELLO: You know, we were talking in the last half hour about all
of the ingredients that come together to make this kind of a scenario.
It`s not just Freddie Gray and what happened in that case, is it.
CUMMINGS: Oh, absolutely not. It`s all of the other killings of
unarmed African-American men throughout the country by police. And I can
tell you that we`ve got, you know, a series of events that has caused
people to just say, Well, we`re not taking it anymore. And people are
literally very, very upset.
And then here in Baltimore, of course, with the Freddie Gray,
initially, the police said that he was arrested without force or without
incident, and come to find out he had a broken neck, a severed spinal cord
and a crushed larynx. And then – and he died.
COSTELLO: But you and the Gray family and others today, the clergy,
were calling for peaceful protests.
CUMMINGS: That`s exactly right.
COSTELLO: What happened? Why didn`t that message get out?
CUMMINGS: The message was out. As a matter of fact, at the funeral,
we emphasized that, and things went well until after the funeral. And I
think people just decided enough is enough, unfortunately, and it went
beyond the peaceful protests.
COSTELLO: But these are also not the people who were protesting over
the weekend, the families coming down with their children. Today, we have
a lot of young people, it appears, right out of high school.
COSTELLO: Were they opportunists? Were they looking for a fight?
CUMMINGS: I think you probably had a combination of things. You had
some people who were just very upset about Freddie Gray. Then you had some
people that were opportunists. It`s hard to tell what the intentions were.
But what I`ve been telling people, that when they do these kinds of
things, it only acts as a distraction. It does not allow us to address the
issues that need to be addressed with regard to the police department.
COSTELLO: When I ask you, overall, what`s – I`m going to make this
one last question. What`s it going to take for this city that you love,
that is your city, to come back, to heal the damage, because right now, the
city is on fire?
CUMMINGS: Well, one of the things that we`re going to have had to do
is we`re going to have to take a very close look at the police department
and ensure the people that we`re going to look into it. The Justice
Department`s going to look it into very carefully, sort of like what they
did in Ferguson.
And then we`ve got to sit down and begin to dialogue. We started
before the Gray incident, and now we`ve just got to continue that. But
it`s going to take some work.
COSTELLO: Thank you. Thank you. Appreciate it. Nice to talk to
you, Elijah Cummings, congressman from Maryland.
Chris, I got to tell you, there`s a profound feeling of sadness on the
streets here and of anger and anxiety as we go into another night here. By
the way, the baseball game tonight between the Orioles and White Sox
postponed now indefinitely because of what`s happening. Back to you.
MATTHEWS: Tom, are you hearing anything about the kids and what
happened in school, those young teenagers, that there was discussion,
scuttlebutt at school about “purge day” or a purge opportunity.
MATTHEWS: And it was all – the whole question about why the kids
were all stranded there. Apparently, public transportation was cut off.
They were let out early because of fear of violence and trouble in the
streets. Then there was no mass transit, so they were all sort of marooned
in that same section where the violence began. Do you know anything about
COSTELLO: Yes. Well – and we heard that and we`ve heard, you know,
that the police were on to it, that they`d been tipped off. So why didn`t
they keep kids in school, at least, or try to alleviate the situation? We
simply don`t know.
And honestly, right now, the police have their hands full. I must say
that there`s this great fear and concern also about this intelligence,
which the police deem to be credible, that certain gang groups were teaming
up to take out police.
I think that – you know, the idea was going to be that that was in
addition to what we see happening right now on the streets in west
Let me just stress this is west Baltimore. This is not downtown
Baltimore, where I am. The riverfront is about three blocks that way.
It`s very peaceful tonight, although many stores have closed up tonight
because they don`t want to risk more violence that might creep into
MATTHEWS: OK. Great reporting, as always, Tom Costello of NBC News.
Thank you for joining us from downtown Baltimore.
We just got word, by the way, that the Maryland National Guard has
been activated and the state of emergency has been declared by Larry Hogan,
the new governor of the state.
NBC`s Brian Mooar is on the ground in Baltimore for us tonight, as
well. Brian, give us a sense from your perspective – we`re trying to
figure out what was the ticktock this afternoon that led to the explosion
midafternoon at that high school. Your thoughts, your knowledge?
BRIAN MOOAR, NBC CORRESPONDENT: Well, I`ve been sort of in tandem
with Tom Costello all day. I`m about 75 yards away from his stand-up
position right now, as our satellite truck that was pelted with rocks
earlier in the day.
And it appears that what happened is, if you go back to before the
funeral, there was this notion on social media of a “purge.” Some
businesses closed down. The mall was closed. And it looks like kids were
sent home from school early. Right around 3:00 o`clock is when we got
first word, at that mall that had been closed, about police facing off with
what were called a group of unruly, mischievous juveniles.
And it very quickly escalated from something that looked like a couple
of kids to a lot of kids, to a crowd that was on the verge of getting out
of control, and then rocks and bottles were thrown in a very dramatic
scene. We saw an apparently injured police officer, gravely injured police
officer, according to police, here in Baltimore, being dragged to an
armored personnel carrier by his colleagues.
It was very tense. And really, at this point, it`s just a quarantine
zone around that little area where it all started. It is an area where
there`s been violence, fires, car set on fire, police cruiser we saw that
was destroyed, the 7-Eleven – the CVS first looted and then set on fire.
And you look here in downtown Baltimore, a very different scene. The
officers you see behind me a short time ago had a nice little lunch of
Subway sandwiches and were twirling their batons, not really having much to
do here where it`s very quiet.
MATTHEWS: What has caused the containment of this violence at an
area, just it seems from watching all this afternoon, around the CVS? Why
one retail store being looted – for hours it was being looted, until it
was almost empty. Then somebody set it on fire.
And why weren`t the other stores beyond that looted? Usually, in
looting situations, they go for the big appliances, the wealthy products
that they have wanted perhaps for their family for year, they go in and
grab one on an opportunity. Here you`re going into a drug store, and that
was the only store that was hit in this whole city, based upon the camera
work so far.
MOOAR: Well, there were reports that a cellular phone store was also
hit. And you know, there aren`t a lot of stores in that area, which may be
why the police are sort of trying to cordon it off, not letting anybody
out, not letting anybody in.
But I would sort of liken it to a controlled burn. Let this place
sort of work itself out. And the mayor, the police commissioner have gone
on record, saying that they want to allow a certain level of protests
without interfering, but they drew the line at violence.
But what we saw today is it did cross that line, and it seems that
police were in a position that they`re darned if they do, they`re darned if
they don`t. If they confront these kids and are outnumbered, then it`s
really going to blow up. And it`s not just, you know, kids in that little
area, it`s a whole neighborhood.
MATTHEWS: Yes. We`re watching, by the way…
MATTHEWS: I didn`t know this, but there`s – we have new footage
here, for me at least, of this check-cashing place, where there`s obviously
going to be cash being looted. Also apparently, a liquor store, which is
not surprising. Things like that happen.
There`s somebody just breaking the windows there. You can see it
right now on camera.
What about the mayor`s position? What did you make of her comment
about she was going to separate the crowds from the people at Camden Yards
for the Orioles` game Saturday, from the people who wanted an area – an
area to destroy? That got some bad spin to it.
MOOAR: I can`t believe that that`s what she meant to say, but that`s
what she said.
MATTHEWS: I don`t think she did. I think she meant she was trying to
MATTHEWS: I know what they`re doing to her. They`re trying to hang
her with this thing.
MOOAR: Well, she meant she was trying to give people a chance – I
believe that what she was trying to do was give people a chance. It worked
well on Saturday. You saw a huge throng of people out there protesting, a
couple of troublemakers, some isolated incidences of violence.
And what did you see in almost every circumstance? Members of that
protest group coming in and saying, Hey, don`t give them an excuse to beat
you up, to tear gas you, to shoot you. This is not what we`re about. They
were policing themselves.
And I wonder if that`s what police weren`t trying to do today, hoping
that the community would stop this. And then it just gets out of control,
which is the situation we are in right now in that isolated area. It`s an
oasis here. It`s nice and quiet. But it`s hell in that neighborhood
MATTHEWS: Yes, I know…
MOOAR: … and for the merchants who have to try to rebuild.
MATTHEWS: That`s what they used to do in big cities where they had
combat zones, where they let all the pornography and all the strip shows
and all that stuff, and they figured, We`ll just leave these people to this
MOOAR: In Washington, D.C.
MATTHEWS: In the old days, right.
MOOAR: In Washington, D.C.
MATTHEWS: Right. And Boston, too. There`s an old tradition of that.
But this strategy of – it`s sort of the opposite of the broken window
strategy, the broken window strategy being, Don`t allow any crime, that`s
how you stop it from getting out of hand. This new tactic of letting the
thing burn out isn`t working, either.
Anyway, thank you so much for joining us, as always. You`ve been
great today, Brian Mooar.
We now have Jim Cavanaugh with us. He`s a retired ATF special-agent-
in-charge and an MSNBC law enforcement analyst.
I don`t know what we`re going to learn here in terms of police
behavior, but everybody – it looks to me like the Baltimore police are
trying something here, a limited burn, if you will. I mean, we watched for
hours here in our studio in Washington,the looting of that CVS, with no
police officer attempting to stop it.
JIM CAVANAUGH, MSNBC LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Well, that`s right,
Chris. It looks like they`ve taken up some static positions, you know,
maybe closed in that neighborhood as the reporter on the ground said. And
because there`s not violence where people are being shot, killed or
murdered, they have a static position.
They did move in and put the fire out at the CVS. You know, you saw a
couple of truck companies, four-engine companies. They knocked that down
pretty good, pretty fast.
And they have the advantage right now of some daylight and to form a
strategy. They seem to be measured. I think that`s positive. And they
may be able to, you know, kind of control this slowly as night falls and
not have a lot of injuries. You know, if parents have a teenager out
there, you sure want to get them home safely and keep them there.
MATTHEWS: Yes, but the troublemakers are probably not at home. And
they`re probably the ones who are looking for this – everybody knows what
situations like this are. Any riot situation, any protest situation, the
people come and see it, and they see it as a great opportunity to do the
bad they like to do generally. And there`s a cover for it. It`s a riot.
They get covered.
CAVANAUGH: Well, that`s right. And you know – and you`ve got to
also look, Chris, you know, when the video shows the people going inside
the liquor store, you know, you got to be concerned for the owner of the
liquor store, the operator, the people in the CVS pharmacy, the employees.
You know, have they been injured, knocked down? You know, were they able
to retreat to the back?
You know, all these businesses have people that work there, employees
that work there. And when a building is set on fire, you can have a
fireman killed. You can have neighbors killed. That smoke`s very dense.
I mean, this is a very volatile situation when arson comes to play.
And you`ve had an officer knocked unconscious, you know, some broken
bones. So you know, it`s a really tight time right now as night falls in
the next couple of hours.
And the video showing the police moving their injured officer out –
right now, I`d say the police, you know, feel like they have control of
that area, that they`re doing a measured response. So they`re not
overreacting to a car fire or to even the fire at the CVS. They seem to be
reacting in a certain way, that this is the area we`re dealing with and
we`re going to slowly, methodically, with a strategy from leadership, to
MATTHEWS: I wonder what the dynamic is here, though. We`re watching
– for three or four hours, I`ve been watching this, glued to the TV set
here in Washington. Of course, we`re about an hour south of Baltimore.
And I`m watching these crimes occur. They`d all be individual serious
crimes. I mean, assaulting a police officer, assault and battery, you
know, it`s larceny right on the street.
You`d see the – all the stuff that`s going on here, all on like a
slow burn as we`ve watched this thing, and nothing`s stopping it from
happening. The police strategy here is to let the cameras catch the crime.
They don`t catch the criminal. I think it may encourage more of this
tonight, don`t you think?
CAVANAUGH: Well, you know, it`s a double-edged sword for the
officers. If they move in too quickly and start trying to grab people and
it explodes in their face, it could even get worse. You know, the most
effective technique was what we saw in the latter days of Ferguson. You
know, the beginning of Ferguson was that awful response with SWAT teams and
officers with .308 rifles on the tops of the armored vehicles. That was
But in the latter response, as the police got better and better and
more practiced, and as they understand what they were supposed to do, you
would see them move in with the grab (ph) teams, the line of officers. A
grab team would get the guy you`re describing, Chris, that might have just
committed the crime, and bring him back behind the police line and make the
And as you make the arrest on those who are really committing the
violence and not just people who are moths to the flame, if you will –
they`re there, they`re curiosity seekers. If you watch the MSNBC video
feed, you can see there`ll be 20 people, 30 people that are going in and
out of the store. And across the street, there`s 100 people watching.
MATTHEWS: Jim, hang in there.
CAVANAUGH: … what police officers have to do.
MATTHEWS: Hang on there for – stay with us, Jim, Jim Cavanaugh.
Shomari Stone is a reporter with WRC-TV. That`s the local Washington TV
station for NBC. He was pepper-sprayed by police earlier today.
Shomari, Give us an account.
SHOMARI STONE, WRC CORRESPONDENT (via telephone): Well, right now,
I`m here at North Fulton Avenue and West North Avenue in Baltimore. Police
have their tactical units. A man just threw a chair right now at this Anne
Arundel police county special operations vehicle.
Police are dispersing the crowd with pepper spray, and now they`re
throwing what appears to be – that are exploding! I don`t know if y`all
heard that. And this woman just threw a bottle at police.
I think you should stop doing that. You`re going to hurt yourself!
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: All right!
STONE: She just fell down, and now she`s up.
Police are slowly moving people back, and they`re throwing bottles.
I`ve seen several stores looted. I actually talked to a man who was
devastated. He worked so hard for his store, he says, and now it`s
absolutely destroyed, shattered glass. Police are moving people back.
And right now, I`m seeing some people who are trying to taunt the
police, cursing at them. And it appears from what I see that police are
using restraint, but at the same time, you have some pockets of people who
are taunting them, trying to get them to react.
MATTHEWS: Yes, we`re watching people now with their hands up,
Ferguson-style, obviously, or attempting to emulate what they believe
happened in Ferguson. And what about – what store are you watching that
was destroyed? Was that the liquor store? Was that the check-cashing
store? Which one was that?
STONE: Police just threw a tactical device that people here – and
they just threw a – oh, hold on.
Right now, I`m getting behind a car. We`re here at West North Avenue,
North Fulton Avenue. I don`t know if you guys can pull that up on your
chopper. There`s a lot of activity right now. People are throwing objects
at police, and police are trying to tactfully move people back.
STONE: And they`re firing what appears to be…
MATTHEWS: Are you safe? Are you all right?
STONE: (INAUDIBLE) rubber bullets.
MATTHEWS: You`re behind a – can you talk to anybody there? Are you
just seeking cover right now?
STONE: Right now, I was seeking cover, but I can try and talk to this
woman over here.
STONE: Excuse me. Hi. I`m Shomari Stone from WRC News 4. What`s
going through your mind right now? You`re on MSNBC.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (INAUDIBLE) got going is not safe! It`s not
STONE: All right. Right now, police are disbursing the crowd here on
West North, and they are leaving as they throw bottles at the different
tactical units out here.
MATTHEWS: Yes, well, I heard that woman. It was pretty graphic. And
I guess – I want to stay with you now, if I can, Shomari. Stay safe, but
give us a picture of what you`re hearing from the people yelling. We can`t
STONE: Well, people are screaming right now.
A lot of them are saying that they want to know what happened to
Freddie Gray. They say, why haven`t they received an answer from the
Baltimore Police Department, they say, in terms of what happened to him,
with his spinal injury?
You have some people who are legitimate protesters who want to know
what happened to Freddie Gray. But at the same time, you have others who
appear to be people who are provoking the police officers, some of them who
aren`t even from the Baltimore area, who are stirring up a lot of trouble
Keep in mind, you had the funeral earlier today. This was supposed to
be a day of mourning, peopling paying tribute to Freddie Gray. But right
now, you have a lot of folks who are trying to utilize this as a way to
MATTHEWS: Yes, I can see.
STONE: I saw a lot of people walking down the street with all types
of candy – yes, I`m fine. Thanks.
All types of candy, liquor. And they`re using this, trying to seize
this moment as a way to get what I describe as freebies.
Well, there was the talk of this idea of this day being a day of
purge, where you can get away with anything, like what was one of these
Halloween events that – in this case, a much more dramatic version of
that, a more violent version, that you can just – anything-goes attitude
out today. Have you heard about that?
STONE: I have not heard about that.
But I do want to tell you that a lot of folks I have seen, what
they`re doing is, they`re going to their cars and they`re putting masks
over their faces to get a sense of being anonymous out here, and a lot of
folks are waiting for that sun to go down.
And it`s important to point out that if you`re in the Baltimore area,
it`s good for you to just stay indoors right now, because you have these
different pockets of different areas, because, before, we were on
Pennsylvania Avenue, and then you move right down here to North Fulton
Avenue, and that`s when it picks up again, where you have people throwing
You should see the street over here. It looks like a hurricane just
swept through here, based upon all the debris covering the concrete. Now,
there`s a man across the street, and while I`m on the phone with you, I`m
actually going to take a picture of him and post it on Twitter, so sort of
live, so you guys can really get a picture of what I`m talking about.
STONE: He`s standing in front of the EZ Mart tobacco convenience
store and he looks very upset. Everyone went in there and actually looted
I`m simultaneously going to post this on Twitter for you all right now
@ShomariStone. That`s Shomari at NBC Washington.
And right now there are people gathering in the middle of North Fulton
Avenue. You have some folks who are getting off work, trying to go around
the crowd, not knowing that this is all going on. So, it`s important if
you are in the Baltimore area watching MSNBC right now, coming up on North
– no – excuse me – West North Avenue and North Fulton Avenue, stay away
from this area.
MATTHEWS: What is the racial atmosphere about? Are there many white
people around or is it mainly an African-American community and that`s who
is on the streets now? Is there any seeming animus between black and white
or toward white? Or is just about the police?
STONE: I have seen – I would rate it – I`m not a statistician, but
I will say that it`s 95 around percent black, 5 percent white.
You have some whites in town from – who I spoke to who were in town
for the Freddie Gray funeral to pay tribute to them.
STONE: A lot of folks tell me that they`re tired of what they
describe as police brutality.
And right now, as I speak to you, Anne Arundel County police have
these tactical units and they`re trying to come through. And this man just
threw a bottle at the police vehicle, not realizing that it`s pretty
And it`s just totally out of control right now.
MATTHEWS: Do – It`s getting dark now. Do you have a sense that this
is going to continue through the night? Is there any sense of a – I
should say, a pace of this? Are people growing on the streets or are they
receding from the streets?
STONE: No, what I – in my opinion, from what I have seen, from being
out here the last couple of hours, I do believe it will continue. Why?
Because you have a lot of folks who are drinking.
MATTHEWS: Well, that means a long night.
STONE: You have a lot of people who are drinking.
STONE: All these different types of liquors right now, and they`re
getting all buzzed and they`re getting intoxicated.
MATTHEWS: I know.
STONE: And their inhibitions are down. So you might have someone who
normally wouldn`t do anything, but now, as that alcohol kicks in, now`s my
STONE: I`m going to take a bottle and…
STONE: … it at a police officer`s car. And that`s what I`m seeing.
MATTHEWS: OK. Shomari, hang in there. Well, go get your camera.
Maybe we will get you on camera. You`re a great street reporter. I want
to have you for the rest of the hour. And take it safe.
STONE: Well, I`m here for you any time you need me.
MATTHEWS: Well, take it safe, sir.
STONE: Yes, sir. Thank you.
MATTHEWS: Anyway, the mayor of Baltimore will hold a news conference
tonight at 7:45. We will have it on as part of our program tonight on
HARDBALL, about 20 minutes from now, as I said.
Joining me now by phone is former Maryland Lieutenant Governor Michael
Steele, my friend from this program. He`s also an MSNBC political analyst.
Michael, as a man from the political middle, as the way I see you,
this is only good for people who are haters and people who love trouble and
people who love polarization. This is not good for our country tonight.
MICHAEL STEELE, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: It isn`t. And it`s very
I have been watching MSNBC`s coverage on this. And when that CVS went
up in flames – and I know that neighborhood, having spent a lot of time in
Baltimore City walking those neighborhoods – and the only thing that
occurred to me is that tomorrow a grandmother is going to need to get her
medicine and that convenience store will not be there, that CVS won`t be
And it does send the wrong signal when you see elements – and that`s
referring to them politely – instead of peacefully protesting, expressing
their frustration, their concerns about the lack of police-community – you
know, community responses, the lack of information in the Gray case, resort
to this kind of violence.
And it`s very, very frustrating, I know, for a lot of officials there.
I listened to Billy Murphy, the attorney for the Gray family, express,
again, that these rioters are not representative of the folks who want to
have the concern around Billy – around Freddie Gray`s death addressed.
And so this distracts, Chris, more than it does anything else.
MATTHEWS: What do you think those kids are hearing from their parents
back and forth? I guess it depends on the family. But kids tend to go
home for supper. And then they want to go out after supper. I mean,
that`s what you do in the summertime anyway.
MATTHEWS: That`s going to be a test of strength for a lot of the good
parents in these neighborhoods, when they tell the kid, you`re not going
out. You`re not going out.
STEELE: Yes. No, it is.
You`re staying in tonight. And they should. The governor has put the
National Guard in play. He`s declared a state of emergency, and that means
that things like curfews and other things will come shortly.
I`m sure the mayor will probably address some of that in her remarks
in just a moment or two. But, yes, for a parent right now, their first
concern should be the well-being of their kids. Their kids do not need to
be out on the streets.
As has been reported just on this program, as well as other programs,
that these are young folks, these are teenagers. They`re starting to
drink. It`s getting dark.
STEELE: And, so, a parent who cares about their kid will have their
kid in tonight.
MATTHEWS: And the kid will be getting called from his buddy, saying,
where are you? How come you are not out?
STEELE: Yes. How come you are not out? Right.
MATTHEWS: And all the other – we call it the peer pressure that get
– even in the suburbs, you get this, but in the inner city, imagine – and
I mean I imagine – it`s even stronger to listen to your buddies.
STEELE: Yes. Oh, it is. And there`s a lot of pressure to
But the reality of it is, this is not something that they should
participate in, because it really isn`t reflective of where the broader
community is, Chris. I think it`s very important for folks who are
watching this from around the country to understand that this is
symptomatic of deep-seated concerns that have grown over the past year
especially in the black community, with the death of young black men.
And I know a lot of people want to jump to the conclusion, oh, there
they go again, but this is a frustration that is deeply rooted.
STEELE: This is not how you address that, but there are…
STEELE: … that need to be addressed.
MATTHEWS: Michael, let`s talk about it; let`s talk about it right
now. We have got a minute or two.
MATTHEWS: You – when you look at it, you can say, rotten apples, bad
apples. You can see the case, it wasn`t so clear what happened with
Michael Brown out there in Ferguson. The hands up thing didn`t stand up
under scrutiny as a – of what actually happened.
But the guy was shot. And in the Garner case, you see the guy
apparently in a choke hold, which you`re not supposed to used, killed
partially because of a choke hold. And then you get the chase with the
vigilante down in the South, where he shoots the kid because he was in the
neighborhood, he didn`t want him in the neighborhood. Who knows what that
was about, the Zimmerman case.
They`re all a little different.
STEELE: Or the one where the police officer…
STEELE: I was going to say, the one where the police officer pulled
the guy over, tells him when the guy gets out of the car to get his
driver`s license, and he reaches back in the car to get his driver`s
license and he shoots him.
STEELE: So, if these – these are the examples that are becoming more
and more prevalent. You have to understand why there`s a genuine concern
in the community about the value of a young black man`s life, and why –
why there is greater tension now between the police and young African-
All of this needs to be addressed substantively, not just with marches
and protests, but really sitting down and doing what community policing is
all about, getting in the neighborhoods and having that one-on-one and
having an understanding between that community and the police who protect
Two other pieces, Michael, the fear of the police officer, he`s going
to get killed. The incidence of crime in a black community, the white
cop`s scared. The black cop is scared to death. These things are a
cauldron of hell.
MATTHEWS: And the guilt is obvious. We have a criminal system. If
you shoot a guy you`re not supposed to shoot, you go to jail or worse.
You`re not allowed to do it.
But you also say, wait a minute. It`s a social situation we`re all
familiar with. We all know about the tensions here between the police
officer and possibly a criminal, or a real criminal. And it`s horrible.
And the racial factor just walks right in there because of poverty and
neighborhoods and geography and crime rates. It all meshes together.
Michael Steele, thank you so much for coming on tonight on short
STEELE: You got it, partner.
MATTHEWS: Short notice for all of us.
Well, we will continue right now with our live coverage of the riots
and the violence on the streets of Baltimore, including a news conference
coming up from the mayor of Baltimore, coming up at 7:45, which is pretty
close right now, about 15 minutes from now.
Our coverage here on MSNBC continues after this.
MATTHEWS: We`re back with our continuing coverage of the riots and
the violence on the streets of Baltimore tonight.
Seven police officers have been injured, some seriously. We`re
expecting a news conference from Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake
coming up at 7:45. That`s a few minutes from now.
Baltimore City Councilman Nick Mosby is with us now by phone.
And, Councilman, thank you for joining us.
Can you put together the incidents that occurred today, perhaps this
circulated – look at this. Look at this. We`re watching the violence
right here. We`re watching of someone…
NICK MOSBY, BALTIMORE CITY COUNCILMAN: Yes.
So, we had an amazing homegrown service for Freddie Gray and his
family. Many folks have come out, called on peace to ensure that we had
justice for Mr. Gray.
But, unfortunately, you know, some children decided to organize. And
in their organizing, they decided to meet up at 3:00 in a mall in West
Baltimore called Mondawmin Mall. And the police got wind. And with the
explosion of social media, it quickly turned into a large protest of young
children, all Baltimore City public schoolchildren between the ages of 14,
15, 16, 17 years old.
MOSBY: And the police came prepared in riot gear and armored trucks,
and it just quickly spilled out of control.
This is my district. This is close to where I live. And the one
thing I will point out, Chris, is, we`re going to continue to talk about
this as it relates to Freddie Gray, but the incidents that we`re seeing is
much more than Freddie Gray.
Freddie Gray`s untimely death is a culmination of many years, decades
of systemic issues that have plagued communities like this all across
MOSBY: And these young folks are showing their anger and they`re
showing their frustration in a very unproductive manner.
MATTHEWS: You know, I grew up in Philly, not far from Baltimore, and
my dad worked in the court system. And he would tell me that the police,
when they brought a kid in, African-American kid, a juvenile delinquent,
you might say in those days, they`d beat him up in the car.
Is this something that happens today, where the police administer
punishment after an arrest?
MOSBY: I mean, it`s…
MATTHEWS: Is this something that`s prevalent, or is it the bad
apples? How would you describe it, bad apples or common?
MOSBY: I would describe it as bad apples, but that drives the
So, when you have a small amount of the folks causing the majority of
the issues – I mean, “The Baltimore Sun” did an excellent job of
highlighting some officers with multiple complaints and multiple civil
judgments that the city had to pay out over the course of a time period.
MATTHEWS: I see.
MOSBY: Those bad apples really draw the perception.
And when you have those individuals, all they do is exacerbate the
distrust in the community. And, unfortunately, this is bigger than just
police brutality. This is a socioeconomic issues. These are folks who
somewhat live in abject poverty, folks who don`t have necessarily access to
quality schooling, folks who don`t have necessarily access to quality
You know, when a young person is born in this world, we constantly
say, you can be whatever you want to be in life. But, unfortunately, we –
it`s a reality. Depending on your zip code and depending on your poverty
level directly depends on sometimes the trajectory that you can live out in
And these young folks are angry. And this is how they`re showing
their anger. Most of the time, they feel just voiceless. They feel
disenfranchised. And this is their opportunity for them to show the world
that frustration. And they`re speaking it in the way of violence.
MATTHEWS: Where are they going, those kids, if they don`t get in
trouble with the law, if they have – if they do keep a clean record? Do
they have a future look forward to? Is there a job opportunity, a market
for an 18-year-old kid who graduates, say a regular C-student, not a
genius, but a regular kid? Where`s he going?
MOSBY: Unfortunately, we`re seeing the richer getting richer and the
divide between the middle class and the upper class.
And, you know, opportunities are less, specifically in these areas.
There`s limited access to quality commercial opportunities as it relates
to, you know, hiring these children. Many of these areas, they are only
filled with, like, drug – with liquor stores, not really real
So, no, I think many of these folks, they – again, they feel
voiceless, they feel disenfranchised, but they also feel hopeless. They
feel like they don`t necessarily have a connection. And that`s one thing
that we can change in this country and that we must change in this country.
And when viewers are watching this all across America, this is not a
Baltimore City thing. This is an urban America thing.
MOSBY: And these kids are screaming for help. Their – their actions
are from decades old of sins is and failed policies that have failed their
communities. And, again, I want to stress that…
MATTHEWS: And if we can only come up with jobs. I`m you, sir.
MOSBY: … I`m not providing an excuse.
MOSBY: I`m not providing any excuse.
MATTHEWS: No, I understand. I understand.
MOSBY: Their actions are totally wrong.
MATTHEWS: I understand.
But, you know, we need something for the kid who`s 18 years old who is
a regular kid to do besides going into the drug trade. It`s just got to
have something happen there.
MATTHEWS: Thank you so much. Thank you, Councilman Nick Mosby of
MOSBY: Thank you.
MATTHEWS: U.S. Congressman Nick – or, actually, Dutch Ruppersberg is
from – Ruppersberger – I`m sorry – of Maryland is with us.
You were on earlier today.
Congressman, give us a sense of this. You know, you don`t want – I
don`t want to get too sociological here, but this is not an unfamiliar
situation we`re looking at here.
REP. DUTCH RUPPERSBERGER (D), MARYLAND: Well, it`s not.
But the unfortunate thing, those of us who grew up in Baltimore – I
was born in Baltimore – we love Baltimore and the – and I represent the
region of Baltimore. And what`s so upsetting is for the country now to see
Baltimore in this situation.
You know, Baltimore has so much history and tradition. We celebrated
the War of 1812. And, yet, because of what has occurred – and we
understand – or I understand how frustrated so many of the people in the
inner city and African-Americans are about what`s happening as far as the
police brutality throughout the country.
But we have got to deal with that, and we are dealing with that. But
the problem now is that, when you have a few individuals who take the law
into their hands, this is wrong. And it – really, the victims more than
anybody are the people who live in these neighborhoods, which are inner
city, and neighborhoods, and not a lot of – a lot of poverty and issues
So, we – but you can`t tolerate looting. You can`t tolerate
individuals being – being attacked. And that`s – in our country, we have
to have law and order and stand up to that. And so that`s where the
situation is now.
And I`m worried about tonight. I was a former prosecutor. And I`m
worried about the darkness of night. And you had the juveniles that
participated today. And that was wrong. But now I think there are a lot
MATTHEWS: Yes, we`re looking at…
RUPPERSBERGER: I understand there`s a lot of people from out of
state. And – and I`m worried about tonight and – and more looting and
fires, things like that.
MATTHEWS: Well, some of the people probably are hear for a peaceful
protest are wearing those 300-men march sweaters or shirts, I think that`s
a sign of civil protest, which is very appropriate.
You know, you put the three pieces together, Congressman. You work in
this area of the United States law and economic policy. And what
percentage of it is these kids have nowhere to go after they get out of
high school? I mean, the smart kids will become teachers and doctors and
lawyers, that`s the “A” students. But most kids are regular kids.
I just want – I mean, when I grew up, in the old age, you get a job.
Now I don`t think there are jobs for these kids?
RUPPERSBERGER: They feel they`re trapped. They feel they don`t have
a life ahead of them. And that`s why you have so many kids going into
crime in inner cities and drugs and that kind of thing. We have to deal
with it. That`s why you need programs like Head Start and you need to get
the community to stand up and help it.
But you can`t take the law into your own hands with this protest. You
know, with Freddie Grays being buried today and his family saying, please,
you know, don`t disgrace Freddie Gray for whatever has happened, as wrong
as you think it might be, this is the day of his funeral and his family and
his twin sister are saying, please, make these protests nonviolent.
And they were. We were very proud of what happened and the
nonviolence on Saturday. And then, then a few people left off and then it
started. And now, it`s really taking another level. And that`s
unfortunate, but we have to have law and order. And we now have to stand
up and stop this and bring people –
MATTHEWS: OK, thank you. We`ve got a car on fire here.
RUPPERSBERGER: OK, take care.
MATTHEWS: Congressman Ruppersberger, thank you for coming on from
Joining me right now, a great man, Kweisi Mfume, a former United
States congressman, former Baltimore City councilman, and former head of
the NAACP. He was at Freddie Gray`s funeral earlier today.
Mr. Mfume, take the floor, so many vicious factors here.
Unemployment, lost opportunities for 17 and 18-year-old kids still in
school, but having no real plans. And then the word gets out, this is a
day for the purge or whatever you will. Anything goes day. And lots of
anger and now the fuel and now the night`s coming.
KWEISI MFUME (D-MD), FORMER U.S. CONGRESSMAN: A couple of things.
First of all, thank you for the opportunity. There are a lot of people
here who could be speaking tonight. I just happen to be standing here at
this time. And these are people who are pent up with frustration, people
who get up and go to work every day. People who follow their faith, people
who raise their children, and children who will bury their parents.
But what seems to be getting the attention all over the nation are the
ones that seemingly are doing what they want to do tonight, everything that
they`ve been taught not to do. And they`re doing it not so much because
they just needed something to do, they`re doing it because the pent-up
frustration that they`ve seen, have seen in their parents over many years,
is in them.
Unfortunately, it has taken this ugly, ugly tone, and it has created
here in the city, a situation that is clearly code red in many places.
Now, I`ve got to tell you, I said at the funeral today, this is the
last thing, the absolute last thing that Freddie Gray`s family wants. They
were as clear as they could be that they wanted to mourn him, they wanted
to remember him, and they wanted justice for him. And they`ve asked people
repeatedly not to do anything other than that.
Seemingly, the groups of people that we`ve seen almost appear to be
better organized, in some instances, result of social media, than some of
the police. And they seem to be pop up strategically, over and over again,
and it`s been difficult for the police department to contain.
MATTHEWS: Let me ask you about the parents. You were up there, the
parents and their kids are having dinner together, hopefully, around 7:00
tonight. And they`re getting together and then the kids want to go out.
You know that`s what`s going on. Tell me about that tinderbox of kids and
parents fighting, you want to go out, no, you can`t go out.
MFUME: Well, we hope that the parents win out, obviously. I think
that situation concerns me less, the one that concerns me more are kids who
are sitting around and there are no parents, where they make their own
decisions and they`ve already made a decision to go here or go there and do
something else. That`s what troubles me. Where there is a family, where
there are loved ones, and where there is an effort to sort of use this as a
moment to teach the generation currently, about what the generation prior
went to, I hope that conversation is occurring.
And I hope parents would recognize and say to kids over and over
again, as we all know, that when good people are silent, bad things always
happen. And when good people stand up, you find a way to control
I`ve got to say this, growing up here all my life and seeing this
police department, the concerns here are legitimate. There has been a
cadre, a quarter of this police has gone on over and over again,
unrestricted, almost, taking advantage of people`s rights, violently doing
things against them, planting drugs on them.
This didn`t start with Freddie Gray. If you look at the arrest here
in Baltimore, you can see it`s been going on for a long time. In fact, the
police department paid $5 million out just a few months back to settle
lawsuits in over 60 different cases where they were found to have violated
the rights of individuals.
So, it`s a real frustration. It is unfortunate that the ugly part of
it is showing its head, and we`re just calling on men throughout the
community to come out, like I`m out, and like others are out tonight, go
into the crowds, talk to these young men, as a way that only a man can talk
to another man, and to stand there and try to find a way to tell them that
this is not the way to do it. If there`s a better way, at the end of the
day, if we don`t get justice for Freddie Gray, we would have failed.
MATTHEWS: What do you think we`re going to get here? Are we going to
get a report from the police that`s going to tell us how a guy gets his
spinal cord broken during police custody? I mean, there can`t be any good
reason for that? I mean, so, what`s the delay? I`ve heard this from other
people tonight, that the suspicion is they`re putting together a story.
MFUME: Yes, I agree with you, Chris. No one knows what the delay is.
We know that Mr. Gray got so a van and we know that he got out. During the
time the van was stopped, he was placed in leg irons, which I really don`t
I mean, this is not about Django. This is a human being who you
already have handcuffed in a police van in custody with two officers
nearby. And then when he gets out, he`s still crying for help and then
finally, a paramedic is called. He`s put into the hospital, barely
breathing, 80 percent of his spine severed.
And the investigation seems to take forever. Whatever happened we
know happened in the time he got caught until the time he got out of the
van. Many people have given the police department the benefit of the doubt
on this, but I think that has helped fuel the flame of anger and this
belief somehow that there might be a cover-up.
MATTHEWS: You know, I want to ask you one thought. I know you were
active in congress, as a progressive Democrat, and you`ve been a great
leader of the NAACP, and here we are talking about what you and I will be
talking about when we`re 90, if we`re 90, we`ll be talking about it again,
damn it. I don`t think whether it`s the trade issue – I don`t think the
trade issue answers it.
Where are we going to find manufacturing jobs, good old boys jobs,
young men`s jobs, where you go work, come back a little dirty, a little
sweaty, but you`re proud of yourself from a hard day at the plant? My
uncle and grandfather grew up in North Philly. I was living there. The
neighborhood now is African-American, but none of those jobs are there.
They were there when I was there. You get on the subway, two stops away,
you had real job.
You get into Baltimore. You can`t find a job, with a short commute.
And that`s, to me, the problem that`s behind all of this.
MFUME: The jobs are in China, they`re in Korea, they`re in Indonesia,
they`re in South America – good, regular, hard-paying jobs, where a lot of
companies seeking to pay fewer dollars in wages have taken those jobs and
transported them overseas.
And so, this didn`t mysteriously happen where people don`t have a job,
can`t find a job, and there are no jobs to be found. This is a drain, as
you know, that`s been going on year after year after year. And this is a
result of what happens when people can`t find a way to take care of
themselves, have a sense of dignity, a sense of peace, and a sense of
MATTHEWS: I wish the jobs hadn`t first gone south, Congressman,
because that`s where they went first. And think went to the right-to-work
states, you know where they went, where the unions didn`t have any power.
You could get people to work for nothing and the stuff wasn`t that good
that was made down there. That was the first stop on the trip away.
Anyway, thank you for coming on tonight. I`ve always wanted you on
the show. Thanks you for coming back on a terrible night.
MFUME: Thank you. Thank you very much.
MATTHEWS: We`ve been watching live pictures of a car on fire, on the
streets of Baltimore, which is a pretty good indication of what this
night`s about, just burning and destruction.
We`re awaiting a news conference from Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake,
who`s been on the program so many times. It will be any minute now.
We`re joined right now by phone by Tessa Hill-Aston, who`s the
president of the Baltimore NAACP.
Thank you very much, Tessa. And give us your sense of what you can
add to what we`ve been trying to get covered here tonight on MSNBC.
TESSA HILL-ASTON, PRESIDENT OF BALTIMORE NAACP (via telephone): Well,
it`s the same. I feel bad that it`s happening. We`re going to have a lot
of businesses that will be gone that people need in their community, but I
can understand the outrage, because the community, especially the black
young men and teenagers are upset because Freddie Gray is deceased, he`s
not the only one. We have about five or six cases right now where people
have either been beat up or and we have two or three people who are
deceased at the hands of the police in the past three years, and no one has
been brought to justice.
So, this was just the last time that they were going to stand for it.
We didn`t have this kind of outrage the last time. But what`s been going
on across America and other cities and states in Ferguson and New York, I
guess the people just couldn`t take anymore.
MATTHEWS: OK, who`s on point from – who`s the NAAPC person on point
right now dealing with the Baltimore police on the Freddie Gray police, who
is pressuring them every day and every hour to get a report out? Where
does that stand right now?
HILL-ASTON: We`re working on that. I`ve been talking to the police
and the mayor. We`re going to continue to ask every day, along with the
community. I`ve been meeting with the family.
We stand tall with the family and all the pastors, so the faith-based
and NCAAP, we`ve been standing together for the past seven days saying we
want justice for Freddie Gray and we want justice. Every day when we go
somewhere, the families of all the other victims that have been deceased,
Anthony Anderson, Tyrone West, these are people that died at the hands of
the police that were healthy black men before they came in contact with the
police on that day that he died –
MATTHEWS: What did you think? You`re in –Tessa, you`re in the
NAACP, what are you – not feelings, what you`re thinking? Do you believe
white cops, black cops, big city cops, everybody find them, beat up black
suspects as a regular practice? What do you think goes on? Are these bad
apples? How would you describe the system right now?
HILL-ASTON: I think there`s a combination of both. There`s a lot of
bad apples that do this, and I think a lot of people just see a black male
and stop him and do things to him and assume he`s done something wrong.
And just like Freddie Gray, he was not doing anything, eye contact and he
ran because a lot of people are afraid of the police. He was young and he
ran. But there`s old people sometimes gentlemen, they can`t run and they
get beat up or get jerked around for about an hour and we put them out.
We sued the police department, the NAACP, about seven years ago for
almost $1 million where they took one young boy out of the Baltimore City
area, and drove him to the county and took his shoes and left him. He
tracked down a Baltimore County police and brought him back. With the help
of the ACLU and the NAACP, they got sued. And these people got money.
Now, we have people that there are (INAUDIBLE). People don`t want
money, they want their sons alive at the end of the day. So, the
community, I`m sorry this happened, but the police have to get their act
MATTHEWS: Why what is – why do police do that? You got a police
department there that`s fairly mixed, I`m told, black and white officers,
guys on foot patrol. What is the continuing motive for, what you
considered police brutality as a pattern?
HILL-ASTON: Because, there`s certain neighborhoods in Baltimore where
young men are standing on the corner without jobs, without anywhere to go.
Just like you were saying about the factor jobs and the jobs used to be
when I was a teenager, that`s what most of adult men had, that I know, and
they were making good money and those homes and they had nice cars.
These young children are standing there with no direction, nowhere to
go, and they don`t have anything to do and they don`t have any money.
So the police look at them as just reject, and they attack them, they
talk bad to them or they drive down the street and get off the corner. If
they don`t move fast enough, they get out and start cussing at them. So,
people can`t keep taking that.
And I`m sorry this is happening today, but if they don`t change their
ways from the top down, and the bottom up, if people don`t stop showing
racism to young black boys, and thinking they can just to them, and just
like today, we have the services, and I was at the services, and one of our
pastors made the comment that Freddie Gray`s got (INAUDIBLE) because he
gave the police our content.
You know, back (INAUDIBLE) years ago, even in the `50s, black men
especially, you better not look at a white person in the face. You can get
beat up or dead. Emmitt Till, you know?
So, it`s still in some people`s minds, so we have to train the police,
because if they`re afraid to come in a neighborhood and think they are
supposed to beat somebody, maybe they need to find another job.
MATTHEWS: What do you want your mayor to say?
HILL-ASTON: Well, she`s doing a lot, but I think right now, what`s
going to happen is if we don`t get a report from the police saying what
this gentleman died from, (INAUDIBLE) and some indictments will come out,
this is not going to stop. It`s going to continue, because even though
somebody may stop, there`s always somebody going to say let`s bring this
back up and destroy the city and destroy the police and make everybody look
bad, because they haven`t gotten any help.
There has to be some indictments from the police department. There
has to be.
MATTHEWS: OK. Thank you so much, Tessa Hill-Aston of the NAACP in
You know, we`re going to have the mayor on, Stephanie Rawlings-Blake,
and she`s a major figure in Maryland politics. A lot of people are talking
about her possibly running for the United States Senate in the state.
There`s an open seat coming up next year.
We have right now Clarence Mitchell of WBL Radio in Baltimore. He`s
also a former Maryland state senator and from an illustrious family.
Mr. Mitchell, thank you for coming on. I know all about your father,
Clarence Mitchell. How does this fit into the history of civil rights and
the struggle in your state and city?
CLARENCE MITCHELL (D), FORMER MARYLAND STATE SENATOR (via telephone):
Chris, people are in pain and angry at the same time. As you`ve mentioned,
four generations of my family are invested in the past, present, and future
of this city. What I`m watching is indescribable.
MATTHEWS: What do you make of it? Is this a police brutality
situation? Is it a poverty situation? What`s the social – I mean,
everybody is watching this in the country tonight and they go, why is
Baltimore burning? What`s your answer?
MITCHELL: Freddie Gray is the late nest a situation, unfortunately,
Chris, of police brutality cases where, unfortunately, the system has not
worked to produce justice. Now, what you`re seeing right now tonight
aren`t protesters. These are rioters. Legitimate protesters have been
protesting for years. Their voices have not been heard.
Now, they`re rioters have taken over. I want to be clear that they
should understand. You`re not looking at protesters. You`re looking at
MATTHEWS: And do you think these kids – I guess I call them kids.
They`re most got out high school. They`re probably juniors and seniors in
high school, 17, 18 years old.
And then you hear this story of outside protesters. I`m a little bit
skeptical about that phrase. What do you make of it? Outside –
MITCHELL: Chris, there are outsiders as well as local people. The
bottom line is, these are people who have no investment in the system, and
their whole mission is to destroy, because they elevated, like you
mentioned my family, because they have elevated, legitimate people like
Tessa Hill-Aston, who just had on your show, the rioters see a vacuum and a
void and they fill the void.
MATTHEWS: What about my favorite question, my least favorite reality
in this country, C students, regular kids that come out of high school,
maybe they even graduate. So they do what they`re supposed to do, but
they`re average kids, where are they going to go? What do they see in
MATTHEWS: Anyway, that`s too big a question. Go ahead.
MITCHELL: We used to have Bethlehem Steel in Baltimore City. We used
to have Pears Point. We used to have General Motors. We don`t have blue
MATTHEWS: I hear you, I hear you. Here`s the mayor. Hang on there.
Here`s the mayor.
(LIVE COVERAGE OF MAYOR`S SPEECH)
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