The Rachel Maddow Show, Transcript 08/14/14
CHRIS HAYES, “ALL IN” HOST: That does it for this special live
edition of “ALL IN” in Ferguson, Missouri. We will be back live again at
Right now, I hand it to Rachel Maddow.
Take it away, Rachel.
RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: Thank you, Chris. It`s been great to have
you there. Totally compelling. Awesome to have you on the scene there.
That was the best hour of Chris Hayes television I`ve ever seen. Amazing
All right. Kent, Ohio, May 4th, 1970. That was the third straight
night of protests at the university campus in Kent, Ohio. The protests had
been escalating each of those past three nights. There had been some
violence at the protests. So, pressure was really building in Kent, Ohio,
by the time may 4th, 1970 rolled around.
But the pressure in a larger sense had also been building nationwide
for a few years at that point. When the National Guard decided in Kent,
Ohio, on that night in May, that they were going to shoot into crowds of
protesters, and then charge into them with bayonets – well, it had been
bad before. And people had been hurt before.
But the country reached a peak there. The country had never seen
anything like those National Guard troops opening fire with live ammunition
into protests by American civilians.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Kent State University in Ohio has had campus
violence for three nights causing the National Guard to be called in. And
today, the guardsmen opened fire on the students, killing four of them, two
young men and two young women. Three were shot in the chest, and one in
the head. A dozen or more others were wounded. Some by gunfire and some
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The National Guard was called in over the week by
Ohio Governor James Rhodes. Today, when 1,500 students started an anti-war
rally on the university Commons, the guardsmen surrounded them. When some
started throwing rock, the guard moved in with tear gas.
Students were forced up a hill by the tear gas. Some of them started
throwing gas canisters back at the guardsmen. Others threw rocks. Then, a
formation of guardsmen marched up the hill and fired their rifles at the
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Two young men and two young women were killed and
at least a dozen other students were wounded.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: The Kent State shootings in May 1970 are remembered as
essentially the bottoming out of the violent anti-Vietnam protest era. But
the violent part of that era wasn`t actually a very long period, though.
I mean, there were protests against that war for a very long time.
That movement was big and sustained over a long period of years, but
protests against the Vietnam War did go on for years before they ever
became violent. Before they ever became anything like when those people
died at Kent State at the rifles and bayonets of National Guard troops.
Anti-war protests had been nonviolent then they became violent. What
happened in Kent State didn`t come out of nowhere. It wasn`t some sort of
The Vietnam protest era went from nonviolent to violent on one
specific day three years before Kent State happened. It was a day in
Madison, Wisconsin. Watch.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MAURICE ZEITLIN, PROFESSOR: I was in my office working on my research
when a number of students barged through the door and said, “Professor
Zeitlin, Professor Zeitlin, you`ve got to come, the police are massing
outside of the commerce building. It looks like they`re going to go in
there and start beating up students.”
So, I dash across the street to the commerce building, standing there
wearing helmets and carrying billy clubs, really prepared for war, were the
police from the city of Madison.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The university wanted us to go in and clear the
building. They didn`t say how. They just said we want them removed. And
we said, fine.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Just in an instance, they came at me and grabbed
me. They just proceeded to alternatively club me. And somebody just
whacked me on the base of the spine.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Grab somebody, you hit somebody, and knock them
down an step over. The line behind you picks that guy up, throws him back
to the line behind which takes him and throws him out the doors we just
Literally, we had stacked up bodies like cordwood between the doors.
It wasn`t revenge on anything. But you got a student, you tried to make
sure that he didn`t return, that he didn`t want to come back. And if that
meant, you know, breaking his kneecap, that`s what you did.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: People were trying to get out. And as the
people were trying to get out, they were beating people up with billy
clubs. You know, as hard as they could. You could hear the whack, 65
people were sent to the hospital. It was the most brutal and violent thing
I had ever witnessed in my life up until then, and continues to be the most
brutal and violent thing I have ever witnessed in my life.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: We think of the anti-Vietnam protests with Kent State as the
capstone, as this era of violent protest in the United States. But there
was a day on which those protests became violent. And it was something
that happened specifically because of the way those protests were policed.
At Madison, Wisconsin, that was the first major violence at an anti-
Vietnam war protest. Politically, people did not like the protests. They
wanted them not to happen. The university came under pressure to try to
make the protests go away.
So, instead of letting the protests be handled by the campus police
that had a good relationship with students, police officers speaking with
students on relatively easy terms, the campus police didn`t wear riot gear.
They didn`t even carry weapons in most cases. They had been handling it up
until this point, but under pressure, the campus instead decided to go
hard, to bring in the city police. They didn`t give them any instruction.
They told them to go hard.
And the city police had no relationship with that community at all, no
history with them at all. They came in and literally cracked heads,
literally crack heads. They put 65 people in the hospital on the first
protest that they were in charge.
Before that policing decision was made, nothing was going to be
different about that protest. Certainly wasn`t the first, but the police,
change in policing tactics that day in Madison, turned that protest and
thereby turned the Vietnam era protest movement that day into something
dangerous and ultimately consequential for the whole country.
That changed the tone for the nation. It is very hard to turn back
once you have effectively waged war on your own people.
Well, in the wake of what happened there in 1967, ultimately Madison,
Wisconsin, did turn back. They turned back famously under this police
chief they hired in 1973, and then they held on to him in Madison for 20
years. It`s a man named David Cooper.
And under David Cooper, Madison essentially repented for what they had
started in 1967 and they developed their own model of deescalating.
Participatory community policing, that instead of cracking heads would be
designed to facilitate protests, protect people`s right to express
themselves and speak and assemble, even if they wanted to be rowdy, as long
as they weren`t breaking the law or endangering everybody, the police were
there to just make sure everybody would be safe and express themselves.
David Cooper became a national advocate, international advocate for
demilitarizing policing, for engaging with the public, for being a police
force that looked like the local population, that represented the local
population, that was trusted by them. It can be done. Madison did a 180
on this and they`re considered to be the national model for community
And if you`re curious as to what community policing actually is, what
it actually looks like, the best way to imagine it is probably the opposite
These are the images from last night and the last couple of nights in
Ferguson, Missouri, where the initial crisis was police fatally shooting an
unarmed African-American teenager this past weekend. But that crisis has
quickly evolved in Ferguson into a rolling conflict between a community
trying to protest, trying to express its grief and anguish and protests and
anger about that shooting. But that community being met by in effect a
I should note, though, I should note, a lot of U.S. military veterans
are actually objecting to that characterization of what`s going on in
Ferguson saying as troops they never would have behaved like even in a
Amid anger and protest over this police shooting, what we`ve seen
since is police failure on a massive, massive and consequential scale.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIPS)
REPORTER: Across the city, a night of pure chaos.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is your warning. Leave the area. Disperse.
REPORTER: Racial tensions, nerves on edge. Even an officer we caught
on camera gave into his rage calling protesters animals. Listen.
OFFICER: Bring it. All you (EXPLETIVE DELETED) animals. Bring it.
ELIZABETH MATTHEWS, KSDK REPORTER: They came around to our unit. I
was still sitting in the car. I put my hands up because they have their
guns drawn at us, going around the corner, trying to figure out who all was
there. Obvious that we were media, but they still had their guns drawn.
Yelling at the two photojournalists I am with here, saying, we`re trying to
get you out for your safety. But their guns were drawn. I was with my
hands up in the air because I didn`t know what was going on.
MADDOW: Did you identify yourself as press to these officers?
WESLEY LOWERY, ARRESTED WASH POST REPORTER: My “Washington Post”
credentials were on my neck. I tried to pack up my bag, I let my phone and
video record which an officer took exception to and told me to stop
videotaping. I did not. I said, officers, I`m going to need to stop to
adjust my bag. Give me one second, at which point, they said, let`s take
him, slammed me into the soda machine, grabbed my bag, grabbed my phone and
put me in temporary restraints.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Holy (EXPLETIVE DELETED). They`re media, too.
(END VIDEO CLIPS)
MADDOW: This is the raw footage from KSDK, the NBC affiliate in St.
Louis. The KSDK camera crew captured this, the NBC affiliate captured it.
They`re actually – what they shot another news career from Al Jazeera
America incidentally apparently getting targeted by a tear gas canister by
law enforcement last night and then you could see these officers in an
armored vehicle from St. Charles County, Missouri, pull up to the scene
where they shot the tear gas at these members of the media and then the
SWAT team members get out of the vehicle and calmly start disassembling the
news crew`s setup. They put their lights down on the ground. The police
later said it was because the bright lights for the camera crew were making
it hard for officers to see.
OK, that`s fine. But you know what? That does not explain why the
police officers decided to grab the camera on the tripod and point it at
the ground. Presumably, so it could not incidentally film any of the law
What`s the justification for doing that?
This is a policing failure on a huge scale. This is terrible,
terrible policing. Terribly conceived and terribly done. The decision to
treat this like a military operation is a failure on its own level, but the
lack of professionalism, the lack of restraint, deliberately going after
the media time after time after time to stop coverage of what they`re doing
is hard to fathom in its incompetence.
Today, with the announcement that the St. Louis County police would be
taken out of command of these policing operations, they`d be replaced by
the highway patrol, that raised great hopes that this would change.
With the announcement today from multiple levels of law enforcement
that in St. Louis County, they would take on a new operational posture.
They would essentially try to follow in Madison, Wisconsin, footsteps, try
to deescalate the situation. They would stop trying to treat protesters as
if they were enemy combatants in a war zone.
With those steps taken today, hopes are raised for tonight after
sundown in Ferguson. What was announced today were steps of a more
moderate direction in Ferguson. What we saw in the before dark protesting
today, late today in Ferguson was definitely ratcheting back of those sort
of militarized tactics from the police.
As we head into nightfall now, we`re going to Ferguson, remains to be
seen how exactly that`s going to work on the ground there and it also
remains to be seen, after what`s happened after the last four nights, how
much damage has already been done and how it can be walked back.
Joining us next live is an elected official from the city of St.
Louis, on the ground in Ferguson from the day of the shooting, from the
very first protests and he`s been there not just as an alderman, he`s also
been there as an essential documentarian of what`s been happening. He`s
uploaded tons and tons of information, Vine videos, Instagram videos, still
images, explanation of what`s happening via Twitter and other social media.
He`s been an invaluable source of information for people in and around St.
Louis and around the county.
Last night, he, himself, was arrested while he was doing what he`s
been doing these last four days. He was held overnight in Ferguson. He
was charged this morning with disorderly conduct. But he`ll join us next.
Stay with us.
MADDOW: So we`ve got a lot of updates coming up this hour on the
situation in Ferguson, Missouri, right now. And in fact, on the situation
around the country right now, because tonight, for the first time, the
protests around the killing of 18-year-old Michael brown in Missouri, and
the police response to protests over that killing, those protests for the
first time tonight have spread around the country.
What you`re looking at right now is a live helicopter shot in Midtown
Manhattan. This is just off Times Square. There have been protests there
over the course of the evening. We`re no exactly sure what`s going on with
this police action right now, although you can see there are a lot of
police officers present, a lot of vans and police patrol cars and buses.
Again, we`re not exactly sure what`s happening there right now, but
this is the sort of aftermath or the tail end of what has been a long
protest action tonight in Midtown. There`s no arrests that we know of at
any point in New York as far as we can tell, but we`re monitoring this as
well as other situations like this around the country.
We`ll keep you posted as we get further details. Stay with us.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There`s a difference between what you saw last
night and see tonight. Tonight you see people able to walk around while
breathing. Last night, they had some problems with that.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The scene right now is distinctly different from
what it was last night when the militarized police vehicles lined up and
essentially drew a line in the sand right over there. And so, protesters
had no choice but go face to face with these officers.
Now, the mood seems much lighter. Yesterday, it was so tense you
could cut it with a knife. Now, it`s almost more of a celebration,
something has been won. Something`s been achieved.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Something has been won, something has been achieved. That
was within the last hour.
Chris Hayes live on the scene in Ferguson, Missouri, where it appears
that Ferguson is a much different place tonight, certainly than it was 24
hours ago. These are some images from the community march that took place
earlier this evening.
You see the men in white shirts there, members of the Missouri Highway
Patrol marching with protesters, after Jay Nixon relieved the St. Louis
County police and placed the state highway patrol in charge of policing
Ferguson and its protests today. That change came in response this police
activity in Ferguson last night when things were still under control and
command of St. Louis County police. Officers in full body armor, armed to
the teeth, some on armored vehicles using tear gas and sound cannons and
flash bang grenades and rubber bullets and paper balls to disperse
Joining us now from Ferguson is St. Louis City Alderman Antonio
French. From the day of the shooting, from the very first protest, he`s
been on scene in Ferguson. He`s been an invaluable source of information
from the scene of the protests via Twitter and Vine and Instagram. Last
night, he, himself, was arrested. He was held overnight. He was charged
this morning with disorderly conduct.
Alderman Antonio French, thank for you being with us. I really
appreciate you tonight. Thank you.
ANTONIO FRENCH, ST. LOUIS CITY ALDERMAN: Sure, thanks for having me.
MADDOW: Before I ask you exactly what happened last night with your
arrest, can you tell us what`s going on around you right now and what the
mood is on the streets tonight?
FRENCH: Well, it`s been a very festive mood almost. There`s been a
lot of different activity going on throughout Ferguson and actually the St.
Louis region. We had activity going on downtown – a large rally and
demonstration under the arch. We have protesters and demonstrators across
the street from the Ferguson police department.
And now, which is really where ground zero of this whole incident is,
is the QT on West Florissant, there are hundreds, maybe over 1,000, 2,000
people out here right now marching through the streets. It`s been very
There is a stark difference to what we saw yesterday. Very little
police, visible police presence. A lot of it is self-regulated and self-
policed. We have young people in the street directing traffic, keeping
other people out of the street and on the sidewalk.
The sun has just set, and that`s kind of the litmus test. We hope we
have our first peaceful night in a long time here.
MADDOW: What happened last night with your arrest? I`ve been
following you on social media and the silence when you dropped off, because
we know you`d been taken into custody was very worrying. What were the
circumstances of your arrest?
FRENCH: Well, I had arrived here about 7:00, and by that time, what
had become a regular thing, the riot gear, riot gear police officers with
armored vehicles and snipers on top showed up unprovoked and formed a line
right near where the protesters were.
That really agitated especially the young men. It became
confrontational. Several of us got the crowd to back back. Every now and
then, the police would go on the loud speakers and tell them to go back 25
feet or else they`d have to intervene.
I had heard from somebody who lives behind the QT, he told me that he
had heard that police said that people better be off the street at 9:00. I
tweeted that around 8:25.
And sure enough, close to 9:00, an officer got on the blow horn. He
said this was no longer a peaceful demonstration and that everyone must
return to their homes or their cars.
That started a confrontation again. Eventually, police threw smoke
bombs into the crowd. The crowd ran. Lot of people ran. Most of your
older folks tried to get away.
Once the folks realized it wasn`t tear gas, a lot of the young guys
came back, started saying “F” the police and just chanting. And it just
became very, very confrontational.
The police then said that if they do not disperse, they will make them
disperse basically. And then they shot tear gas.
Around that time, I went to my car, which was parked within view of
the area, but on a side street and raised my car windows and closed my
vents. I had been in a tear gas incident a couple days ago and I thought
that was the best place to be.
I continued it record the incident from my car. The police line
started to move forward. As they started to move forward, the guys became
even more confrontational and then they shot tear gas into the crowd and
just advanced and advanced. Eventually the line got to the front of my car
with some demonstrators behind me in a confrontation with the police.
The police kind of surrounded my car. An officer opened my car door
and pulled me out and arrested me. I asked him what he was arresting me
for. He said because I didn`t listen. And so I went to jail.
MADDOW: The crime of not listening.
Is it clear to you you`re going to be charged, that you`re going to
have to deal with this in court? Do you know – how was it left when you
were released this morning?
FRENCH: No, they kind of took one of two approaches with people they
arrested. They either gave them bail, which point somebody could pay it
immediately and get out of jail, or they denied them bail and kept them as
long as they wanted to up to 24 hours. So, after about 10 hours, they
released me this morning.
MADDOW: St. Louis –
FRENCH: With no charges.
MADDOW: St. Louis Ward 21 Alderman Antonio French, again, not facing
charges but 10 hours in custody for the crime of not listening. Kudos to
you for being willing to get back out there after that ordeal, and thank
you for doing so much to keep the rest of the country informed as to what`s
happening there on the ground level. You`ve been an incredible source of
information, sir. Thank you.
FRENCH: Thank you.
MADDOW: All right. Good luck.
All right. We have much more ahead from Ferguson, Missouri, where the
protests are larger than we have seen them yet tonight possibly because the
policing presence has changed entirely in its character, after St. Louis
county police were taken out of command today, replaced by the stay highway
patrol. The state highway patrol was very clear that they would be
ratcheting down the militaristic tone of the policing of the last few days
and trying to this in a more community policing style way.
We`ve seen evidence of that so far, but as the alderman said, sun is
just down. It`s just nightfall now in Ferguson and that has been the
turning point for the last few nights.
We`ll be right back. Stay with us.
MADDOW: So, look at this. This was scene today in many places around
the country. Vigils organized as part of a national moment of silence for
victims of police brutality. Vigils held in Boston and Austin, Texas, and
Chicago, in Brooklyn, in Baltimore, and New Orleans, and in Manhattan.
What started as a movement online, on Facebook and Twitter, turned
into a flesh and blood national group of gatherings today. People came
together in Denver, Colorado. They gathered in Chicago, Illinois, and in
This is just a nationwide outpouring. People putting their hands in
the air to say, don`t shoot. This was in Orlando, Florida. Don`t shoot in
Nashville, Tennessee. Don`t shoot, Baltimore, Maryland.
Look at this, folks gathered in Washington, D.C., big crowd in D.C. A
crowd in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, on and on, around the country today.
And this has been the scene, tonight in New York City, just a few
blocks away from these studios in Times Square. And in just the past few
minutes, we`ve been monitoring this from this live helicopter shot. It
appears that protesters continued out of Times Square and have now been
sort of corralled by police.
We can`t be sure yet exactly what`s happening that gives you a
contextual shot of where that is in Midtown, Manhattan. We`re going to
keep watching that from that helicopter news crew. At this point, it looks
like it`s basically a tight corral of people. The police have made just
off times swear. But we can`t tell exactly what the police action is there
yet with those protesters.
We`ll keep an eye on that. But if you have been wondering when the
events in Ferguson were going to shift from a local story getting some
national coverage, to being a full-on national story – well, this might be
Much more ahead.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: We are in a max pro mine-resistant vehicle right now. A
little bit of a jumpy ride heading up Highway 4 to Kandahar airfield
towards Kandahar City. The visibility is really low. As I mentioned, the
ride is very bumpy and this is a very –a very confining and sort of
intense way to experience this ride in here, especially just seeing the
contrast between the degree to which we are armored in here and the
civilian vehicles, you know, which are minivan, like Toyota Corollas.
We`re heading into Kandahar City to look at police substations and talk to
men and women who are on the ground in this frontline position.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: That was me in Afghanistan in Kandahar in 2010 inside a mine-
resistant ambush protected vehicle. These massive full combat protected
vehicles that the U.S. military developed, that they invented, for fighting
the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, they had to invent these things basically
to try to protect troops who were not getting enough protection in up-
armored Humvees from the roadside bombs and explosively formed projectiles
that Shiite militias and hardened Sunni insurgent groups were using against
U.S. troops years into those wars.
That`s what MRAPs were invented for. They were designed for the wars
in Iraq and Afghanistan.
You can now see them on the streets of Iowa, also Indiana, and also
Connecticut. And now, we`re seeing them in Ferguson, Missouri.
It`s one of the most visible and intimidating and frankly inexplicable
parts of what up until tonight has been a very militant response by local
police to local protests.
But this has been happening all over the country. Concord, New
Hampshire, unveiled their very own new police MRAP this summer. A 20,000-
pound armored vehicle that cost more than $250,000. The federal government
actually gave Concord, New Hampshire, a grant that covered the whole cost
Not everybody was psyched about that. Concord, New Hampshire,
residents protested against them getting an MRAP. They protested against
it. Textbooks, not tanks.
But the city bought their police force an MRAP, anyway. In St.
Charles County, suburb of St. Louis, they got their MRAP – thanks to a
donation from the federal Department of Homeland Security.
Why is our Homeland Security Department in the business of paying for
mine-resistant combat armored vehicles to be deployed on civilian streets
at home? Don`t know. Some people in St. Charles County, Missouri,
objected publicly when they`re police department decided nevertheless they
were going to get one.
St. Charles County SWAT officers were in other armored vehicles last
night when their SWAT officers decided it was a law enforcement job to take
down the lights and camera of a TV news crew after that crew had been tear
gassed and forced to run away from their live shot. Thanks, St. Charles
But the same with the armored vehicles, the surplus war material
coming home. It`s happening all over the country. According to “The New
York Times,” at last count as of June, more than 430 MRAP vehicles have
been repurposed from the Iraq and Afghanistan wars to civilian police
departments in almost every state in the country.
The Department of Homeland Security has handed out 200 armored
vehicles to local police departments since last summer. They say they`re
considering requests from 750 more communities that want – 750.
But now, the whole world has been watching as heavily armed and
armored police faced off against protesters in Ferguson, Missouri, last
night. Armored vehicles in the streets, police on rooftops turret aiming
rifles at people with their hands in the air.
Although this has been a largely un-debated policy decision and
policing decision so far, it`s not hard to understand if you arm police
departments with military equipment and military vehicles, eventually, you
will see them start to apply military force against American civilians on
the streets of Americans` hometowns.
Joining us now is Missouri State Representative Courtney Allen Curtis.
His district encompasses about 60 percent of the town of Ferguson,
Representative Curtis, I know this is a busy time. Thanks very much
for being with us.
STATE REP. COURTNEY ALLEN CURTIS (D), REPRESENTS FERGUSON, MO: :
Thank you for having me.
MADDOW: First of all, let me ask your decision – your reaction to
change things up a little bit today, to take St. Louis County police out of
command. They say they`re trying to deescalate the military character of
the policing. We`ve seen some evidence of that.
What`s your reaction to that?
CURTIS: I actually think it was a good step in the right direction.
We`ve seen way too much the militarization of the police force. And that`s
been evident on the streets since about Sunday.
And that`s not what we need in this time. We need to come together as
a community and deescalate in the situation as much as possible is what`s
MADDOW: Well, ahead of this crisis, ahead of the death of Mike Brown
what can you tell us about the relationship between the police department
and the community in your district in Ferguson and historically? What have
been the biggest source of tensions if there have been tensions?
CURTIS: It depends on what side of the community you come from.
There are virtually two sides to the community.
One side, it`s virtually a good relationship. The officers do help
out with initiatives like the Ferguson youth initiative. And there`s
largely no problems.
But for the other side, that tends to largely be African-American, not
only in Ferguson, but in St. Louis County together. We have individuals
that run into different issues with speeding tickets.
We used to have speeding cameras up on the major roadways. That`s a
major source of tension. Outside of that, I, myself, got pulled over last
week by a municipality that`s right next to us, Calverton Park. And they
said that my tail light was out. And after he ran my name, he actually
said the tail light was on again.
So, these are the types of things we deal with on a regular basis, but
the speeding tickets have been a large sense of contention for a long
period of time. And there`s really no way for the citizens within in the
community to vent their frustrations over the speeding tickets or excessive
stops within the community to the police.
MADDOW: And their complaint about the speeding tickets just to be
clear, you feel like there`s a disproportionate focus on African-American
drivers in terms of pulling people over or enforced more heavily – and
heavily African-American parts of town? Is that just frustration that`s
being, regardless of race, it`s just being enforced too strictly in terms
of the law in that community? What`s the frustration?
CURTIS: It`s a general frustration. It doesn`t necessarily matter if
you`re African-American with regard to the speed cameras because they get
CURTIS: Now, that`s just one part of the, you know, part of the
equation. The other part of the equation is we do have aggressive policing
in St. Louis County, in certain municipalities and skews largely toward
African-American and brown, you know, populations.
MADDOW: In terms of the way that the police have responded to the
protests in the street, and we have seen these military-style vehicles,
certainly military-style weaponry and SWAT-type gear on the police, heavy
use of tear gas, smoke grenades, flash bang grenades, these pepper pellets.
Those type of techniques, obviously, the police had their reasons for
making those decisions.
They`ve now been dialed back. Whether it was their own decision or
somebody above them, said they could no longer do it that way. It seems
like they`ve been forced into a different posture.
But what do you think the effect of that is going to be going forward?
You can`t just unring that bell. That`s now being done in your community
by the Ferguson PD and by the county police in Ferguson.
How do you think that`s going effect things going forward?
CURTIS: I think going forward we`re definitely going to have to sit
down and see what the root cause of these problems with some of the police
within the area and figure out how to we bring the community back together?
It`s going to take some legislative changes both at the local and at the
state level. But we`ll have to come together as a community to make an
effort to make sure that there`s a true community approach to policing. We
want more of the officers actually to live within our community. We need
more diversity within the police force.
And then, we also need the mayors within the area to kind of ratchet
down the speed ticket enforcement as well. That`s a large source of
contention that actually puts African-Americans in a greater position not
to be eligible for the job or qualified because they`ve had a previous
legal history. A youth that gets a ticket that doesn`t have the money may
get a warrant from that, and that`s the beginning of a long road of
potential trouble but almost automatically prevents you from becoming an
officer to change the situation.
MADDOW: That`s really important context for understanding what`s
going on here.
Thank you, sir. Missouri State Representative Courtney Allen Curtis -
- good luck. Thanks for being with us tonight. I appreciate it.
CURTIS: Thank you.
MADDOW: All right. Yesterday, Ferguson`s chief of police urged
protesters they should disperse well before the evening hours. The
consequences of that and what it sounded like to the people he was talking
to is an important part of this. That`s coming up next.
Stay with us.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This particular symbol of the black mule meant and
acted as a warning to African-Americans to get out of town before dark.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Get out of town before dark if you`re a black person. That
was from a documentary called “Sundown Towns.” Story of whole towns in the
United States that were whites only, no white people allowed in town after
In the 1920s, leaders in Mena, Arkansas, welcomed new comers with this
sales pitch, no mosquitoes, no blizzards, no malaria, no droughts, no
But sundown towns were not merely or even mainly a Southern
phenomenon. Fifteen years ago, historian James Loewen went looking for
evidence of sundown towns, of whites-only cities, and he found them in the
South, but in California, in Minnesota, in Connecticut. He found a
surprising number of them in Illinois, just across the river from St.
James Loewen wrote that the town of Columbia, Illinois, made it easier
for African-Americans to know when they were supposed to get out of town.
Quote, “Columbia, Missouri, had a 6:00 p.m. whistle to warn blacks out of
town.” That`s from 1941.
Yesterday in Ferguson, Missouri, just outside St. Louis, Missouri,
city and police officials posted a same about Michael Brown who of course
was shot to death in Ferguson last weekend by a police officer. In their
statement, Ferguson officials said, everybody mourned Mr. Brown`s death but
asked protesters to please clear out before dark. Quote, “We ask any
groups wishing to assemble in prayer and protest to so only during daylight
hours and organized and respectful manner. We further ask all those
wishing to demonstrate or assemble to disperse well before the evening
hours, to ensure the safety of the participants and the safety of our
And that kind of message, dispersed well before the evening hours, it
may sound one way to the officials who are making the statement, it may
sound perfectly reasonable to those officials to ask protesters that they
ought to clear out before dark. But that same message can sound very
different if you grew up learning the history of sundown towns as a
personal history, something that affected your uncles and aunts and
Our guest last night on this show, writer Lizz Brown of St. Louis, she
made that exact connection. He said the city`s message reminded her the
old sundown towns that she grew up hearing about as an African-American.
And once you hear the message that way, the way she pointed out, you
get a different view of why people would take to the street day after day
after day, why they believe they cannot get justice any other way. Why
they believe they will not get justice. Maybe unless the locals are no
longer in charge and the federal government steps in.
Why they believe justice cannot be the result if this is handled
locally where they are in the town that just asked them to get you have the
streets before dark, and then drove them away with tear gas and rubber
We asked the St. Louis County prosecutor`s office today about reports
that the community doesn`t trust that local prosecutor`s office to handle
this case of the police killing of Michael Brown. The spokesperson told us
that that office handles 14,000 cases a year with very few complaints. He
suggested the complaints now may be coming from people who they`ve
prosecuted or from their families.
He told us today, quote, “It has to be their family members –
complaining. Otherwise, how do they know?”
Today in Ferguson, people marched again, in what might be the largest
protests since that police killing on Saturday. Hundreds of people,
probably thousands pouring through the streets again tonight, demanding
justice as we`ve seen them demanding justice all week – but tonight`s
march follows real change in the politics of this story with the president
of the United States and the attorney general speaking out. Missouri
Senator Claire McCaskill calling for a demilitarizing of the policing in
Ferguson, saying the policing has become the problem and not part of the
The Missouri Governor Jay Nixon pulled back the local county police
and put the state highway patrol in charge instead and the state highway
patrol came out and said, we will do this differently. If you are inside
the story in Ferguson, does that make any difference for you now? Does any
of that work to reestablish trust and does it work at all to change the
situation on the ground, including the one unfolding right now?
Well, joining us now again is Lizz Brown, attorney and columnist for
“The St. Louis American.”
Ms. Brown, thanks for being with us again. It`s nice to have you
LIZZ BROWN, ST. LOUIS AMERICAN COLUMNIST: Thank you, Rachel, for
MADDOW: Can you give me a sense of today versus yesterday, tonight
versus last night in, terms of the mood on the streets and how people are
talking about what`s going on?
BROWN: People are still doing their protesting. They`re still
shouting their chants. They`re still actively involved in it. But it
seems that as if there – there seems to be a little more freedom to it.
There seems to be less over the shoulder, looking as people continue to let
the world hear what they have to say.
So, it`s different. It`s different.
MADDOW: Do you think that the elected officials who spoke out today,
there`s been a lot of criticism, particularly of Governor Nixon for not
coming out earlier than he did last night, and with these remarks today,
but he did make extensive remarks today. The police chief in Ferguson made
himself available extensively today. Senator Claire McCaskill made herself
available today. President Obama spoke on this today. Attorney General
Eric holder released a long statement on this today.
MADDOW: It sometimes hard to connect what`s happening on the street
to elected officials like that. But do you think those public statements,
in addition to the changing policing strategy on the street, did those
public statements by leaders make a difference?
BROWN: I think the – maybe yes, maybe no. I think people are
looking at the public statements, some are, in terms of five days in and
now we`re having a statement from you five days in? And I`m talking
particularly about the local politicians, because the fact that the
president has spoken on this I think is a powerful thing.
But local politicians are here on the ground, right? They`re on
vacation, right? And they`re just now weighing in on this in a significant
There was militarization that was going on before last night and
before the night before. So, some people are asking, is it because
reporters were injured?
BROWN: Is it because reporters were assaulted? Is that why you`re
weighing in? Is that why it matters that there are tanks pointed at
citizens? Is that why it matters?
So, I`m not really sure or certain about that people are necessarily
looking at it in that way.
MADDOW: Having the cameras there is part of it. Who was affected is
certainly part of it. I think it`s also the accumulated number of days,
the fact that OK, it`s not going to be a two-day story, it`s not going to
be a three-day story, it`s not going to be a four-day story either. I
think just the magnitude of this is some sense is just piling up.
Lizz Brown, attorney and columnist for the “St. Louis American” –
thanks very much, Lizz, for being with us. It`s good to have you back
tonight. Thank you.
BROWN: Thank you for having me.
MADDOW: All right. Lots more big news ahead. Stay with us.
MADDOW: The fifth night of protests under way in Ferguson, Missouri,
the president weighing in today, the governor of Missouri taking the St.
Louis County police out of command, and putting the highway patrol in
The events in Ferguson after four nights of protests and tear gas and
rubber bullets and a massive police show of force, these events have
understandably dominated the news cycle for the last few days and for
tonight, as well. And here on MSNBC, we`re going to have much more ahead
on that through the night.
But also, there was one other really big development in the news that
took place today as all of that was unfolding. When President Obama made
his remarks this afternoon, before he spoke about Ferguson, he spoke about
Iraq. Since President Obama authorized U.S. troops to return to Iraq
earlier this summer, the White House has insisted that this battle against
ISIS militants there can`t be won with U.S. military force, but there has
to be a political solution to that fight.
Well, earlier this week, in an effort to form a new government and try
to bring stability back to Iraq, Iraq`s president appointed a new prime
minister to replace Nouri al Maliki. Nouri al-Maliki had the job for the
past eight years.
Well, Maliki`s response to that was to say, “I`m not going”. He
threatened to fight a legal battle. And worse, there were concerns that he
was going to attempt to stay in power by force. He turned out troops loyal
to him around the Green Zone.
And Maliki`s refusal to step down made the possibility of a political
solution to this crisis impossible, right? Until tonight.
Tonight, Nouri al Maliki appeared on live television in Iraq, at
around 11:00 p.m. local time, and he announced that he is stepping down
after eight years. He said he will voluntarily give up power. He publicly
endorsed his rival for prime minister who was standing next to him.
Maliki`s successor now has 30 days to form a new government.
This sudden resolution to this political crisis was in no way a sure
thing even 24 hours ago. But it has now happened. If you believe that the
crisis in Iraq can`t be solved by U.S. military force alone, that there has
to be a political solution on the ground there, then this development in
Iraq today is a huge, huge deal.
And that does it for us tonight. We`re going to see you again
But now, it`s time for “THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL.”
Good evening, Lawrence.
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