The Rachel Maddow Show, Transcript 08/18/14
CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST: That`s ALL IN for this evening. Rachel Maddow
will take our live coverage.
RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: Thanks, Chris. And we will not let you go to
bed or get any production work done quietly. We`re going to be going back
to you. I`m sorry that you are out there in the middle of it, man, but
it`s invaluable information.
HAYES: You bet.
MADDOW: Thank you.
We`re going to be checking in with Chris and with reporters and producers
on the ground in Ferguson throughout the hour. I want to thank you at home
for staying with us for the next hour.
It is now just after midnight here on the East Coast. That means it`s
11:00 pm in Ferguson, Missouri. And as you have been seeing in our
coverage over the course of this evening, things in the last hour took a
dramatic turn, took a turn for the tense.
What started off as a generally peaceful protest night tonight in Ferguson,
night nine of this crisis in Ferguson, Missouri, it seemed to just sort of
turn on a dime about exactly an hour ago as police in full riot gear
started to try to disperse the crowd out on the street in Ferguson.
Now it is not clear if it was a change in behavior by the protesters that
caused police to suddenly change their tactics an hour ago. It`s possible
it was just a unilateral decision by police that they were going to ratchet
it up and try to clear people away.
But it did happen very quickly. Protesters have been told – all day today
– that they needed to keep moving to avoid arrest, which is – it`s a
strange interpretation of the right to assemble, that you can assemble, but
only if you are walking at the same time, that you are not allowed to
assemble in a stationary way. That you have to physically keep walking in
an area in which you are being allowed to protest.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW (voice-over): Only if you are be – and if you stop moving, then
you will – if you stop moving, that you will be arrested.
What we are watching right now, with that street sign and what – we are
seeing these projectiles come from the police side. This is all live right
now in Ferguson, Missouri.
We`re not exactly clear on what these incendiaries are here, what is
burning in the street, open fires in the street. Open fires in street are
something that we have not seen very much of.
Chris, from where you are right now can you see what is happening?
HAYES (voice-over): Yes, we have just seen massive, what looks like
fireworks, explode. And now it looks like the tear gas is coming out.
MADDOW (voice-over): Can you smell the tear gas from where you are?
HAYES (voice-over): Flash, it looks like flash grenades. There is a smoke
rising up from right outside where the QuikTrip is. We see protesters
hurling things at – I can`t tell what they are. They`re popping in the
sky. We`re – they look like fireworks. They could be flash grenades. We
could be about to get tear gassed here, frankly.
There is steam rising up, a very, very chaotic scene happening down near
where the QuikTrip was. Just 30 seconds ago a bunch of things popped off
real quick. And there is another firework in the air right now. It looks
like that is probably a flash grenade as well.
MADDOW (voice-over): Chris, I can tell you that before the smoke went up
so thickly, we saw a protester, some, brandishing a street sign. We see
another street sign in the street right now. And it seems like whatever is
on fire and giving off that smoke is rolling from two different directions
at once. I can`t tell what those items are.
HAYES (voice-over): Yes, so there`s loud explosions happening behind us.
There is – there is smoke now rising up into the sky. Just now, we have,
we have now entered the, what, now, seems, seems the inevitable. Now,
everyone is booking.
CRAIG MELVIN, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT: (voice-over): Down Canfield.
HAYES (voice-over): Everyone is booking down Canfield. And there is –
people are also lobbing – I`m not sure what the heck they`re lobbing back.
MELVIN (voice-over): What was that?
HAYES (voice-over): That was someone I think throwing a –
HAYES (voice-over): No, no, I think that was someone throwing a tear gas
canister back. People have taken to doing that. We have the loud LRAD,
crowd noises, complete, complete chaos here as the crowd disperses in the
midst of this smoke that`s now billowing way up and rising up.
And I can start to feel it, start to feel a little bit on the eyes. I
think that they have – I think they had deployed tear gas; people are
booking away from it.
MELVIN (voice-over): Look at this guy here.
HAYES (voice-over): Yes, we`re seeing people running from it and coughing.
And you can start to feel it in the air, frankly, as it comes toward us.
It comes toward us right now. We – we are going to –
MADDOW (voice-over): Chris and Craig, from your vantage point, is it clear
to you –
HAYES (voice-over): Come around. Come around.
MADDOW (voice-over): – what do police –
HAYES (voice-over): Sorry, sorry.
MADDOW (voice-over): – want them to do?
HAYES (voice-over): – mask.
Well, they wanted them, they want them to move. Like I said, every night
they have been – every night they have been – they have been sort of
creating lines in the sand. And then the confrontation happens all around
that line generally. So tonight the line in the sand was, you have to
Did you – did you hear that?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (voice-over): (INAUDIBLE).
HAYES (voice-over): That`s what they want them to do. They`re saying if
you`re standing –
MADDOW (voice-over): – you have to keep moving.
MELVIN (voice-over): Whoa. The flash bombs continue.
HAYES (voice-over): We got flash grenades going now. And there is tear
gas. People have now scattered in – oh, yes, that is the very familiar
now, smell of tear gas wafting through the air.
MADDOW (voice-over): Chris, one of the things that you were talking about
earlier is the importance that there aren`t any personal vehicles, there
aren`t any private vehicles on this, in this area. We`re seeing cars that
do look like some private vehicles here.
HAYES (voice-over): (INAUDIBLE) there are some. So –
MADDOW (voice-over): Are those police vehicles or what is happening there?
HAYES (voice-over): No – well, it`s unclear. I mean basically I think
there were sort of allowances made. Obviously you can`t just completely
block off this area to all vehicle traffic because there are people that
live here and work here and have to get in here.
And so – yes, you can feel that tear gas in the air. It`s starting to
sort of waft towards us. You get that familiar sting in the eyes.
That is definitely – that is not apparently tear gas. That is definitely
tear gas –
MELVIN (voice-over): That`s tear gas.
HAYES (voice-over): I can tell you. I can tell you damn well and, man,
does that freaking sting.
MADDOW (voice-over): Do you guys need to get out of the position that you
are in and get some fresh air?
HAYES (voice-over): Yes, actually –
MELVIN (voice-over): Let`s take a break.
HAYES (voice-over): – or if we got a mask for me here.
Could we throw a – have we got a mask?
Hold on one second. We will try to get a mask so we can stay out here.
MADDOW (voice-over): OK.
What is going on right now, for those of you guys watching at home, this is
live right now. This is Craig Melvin and Chris Hayes who are on the scene
on West Florissant. And we`ve been watching these two pincer move police
actions on two different sides of this street with two different groups of
protesters. There does not seem to be one massed group of protesters; they
seem to be broken up into smaller groups. And the confrontations with
police have been on again-off again.
And just within the last couple of minutes, just since we have been on the
air in the last five minutes, police tonight, for the first time, at least,
that we can tell, seem to have deployed tear gas. And Craig and Chris are
both being affected by that.
We are trying to figure out exactly what is happening in terms of arrests,
exactly what is happening in terms of violence and threats of violence.
You can see Captain Ron Johnson from the Missouri Highway Patrol there,
who`s the man in charge of policing there.
And at this point, we are trying to figure out also what is happening in
terms of the police tactics and strategy. You can see some of their
tactics here in terms of their SWAT gear and their riot gear. You see
police aiming weapons of some kind in the direction of police.
The thing that is mounted on the top of the car there is an LRAD, as far as
we can tell, at least, a long-range acoustic device. These are sound
cannons that the police have used to try to disperse people. The idea of
the sound cannon is that they cause you pain and make you leave an area.
That`s a weapon of war that`s been used a few times domestically in the
U.S. It`s been used a lot in Ferguson, including tonight.
Joining us right now on the phone is MSNBC.com reporter Erin Delmore.
Erin, what can you tell us about your position and what you can see from
ERIN DELMORE, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Rachel, I`ve been standing
guard at West Florissant and Ferguson Avenue. It`s the intersection where
police have been lined up in a defensive position, three to five feet, for
at least an hour now.
There is a calmer scene now than there was an hour ago when tensions
flared. But, Rachel, there are police vehicles coming down West Florissant
right now. This is new tonight. We have seen two emergency vehicles come
down West Florissant. Now I`ve seen about eight.
I`m looking ahead toward Chris` position. Tear gas canisters, I can smell
it, I can feel it coming in my nose. People are running at me in the
opposite direction with their shirts over their face. Police have gas
masks on. And they`re in a defensive position still at the intersection.
MADDOW (voice-over): Erin, when you say that you`re seeing emergency
vehicle, do you mean that you are seeing police cruisers or some of these
tactical vehicles or are you seeing ambulances? What are you seeing?
DELMORE (voice-over): Tactical vehicles, they`re not ambulances, they`re
not fire, Rachel. They`re tactical vehicles. And the drivers have
helmets. They have shields. The police who are on the forefront have
their shields. They have batons, face masks and their gas masks are on.
MADDOW (voice-over): Erin, is it clear to you from your position and from
what you are hearing police say to protesters, is it clear to you what they
want protesters to do and can protesters do what police are directing them
DELMORE (voice-over): Rachel, about every protester has cleared out. I
cannot explain to you the difference between what I`ve seen on the street
starting at 8:00 pm local time. I am feeling the tear gas now, Rachel.
MADDOW (voice-over): OK.
DELMORE (voice-over): It stings. But I can tell you that protesters have
mostly cleared out. And when the hostile environment begin to turn, local
residents were linking arms, pushing the violent protesters back in the
The community wants these protesters to go home. I can tell you that an
isolated number of individuals here, who are surging forward, who are
surging forward and the police are reacting. They`re keeping their
defensive position. Occasionally they run up, push back. I have seen –
this is now the fourth arrest I am looking at right now.
MADDOW (voice-over): You have seen – you have witnessed four arrests?
DELMORE (voice-over): Rachel, I would have to count that number, but I know
I have seen three tonight.
MADDOW (voice-over): OK. Erin –
DELMORE (voice-over): – closer to this one.
MADDOW (voice-over): OK. Erin, I`m going to – keep reporting as much as
you can. I`m going to give you a chance to try to get to some fresh air if
you can, to try to take care of yourself. MSNBC.com, Erin Delmore, stay
with us, but stay safe.
I want to now bring in Ryan Reilly, a reporter for “The Huffington Post,”
who has been doing great work for his own publication and also keeping us
He`s been on MSNBC a lot these last few days; he was arrested himself by
police in the early days of covering this, a few days ago.
Ryan, where are you right now? And what are you seeing?
RYAN REILLY, “THE HUFFINGTON POST” (voice-over): So I was actually moving
up toward Chris Hayes` position and when I got hit by a waft of tear gas.
So (INAUDIBLE) be but I`ve actually moved back a little bit further now.
Essentially when I was down there, one of – you could hear the police
officers instructing the crowd that they would have to keep moving and they
couldn`t – they couldn`t stay in one place, which is obviously what we –
they had been told earlier in the evening tonight, before this sort of
tense standoff came about.
MADDOW (voice-over): In terms of wanting protesters to keep moving, we –
I overheard in talking to Chris police giving that instruction again even
just moments ago. It`s not clear to me that there is room for a protester
– I mean, from our vantage point, doesn`t seem like there is room for
protesters to keep moving, at least if they want to be away from tear gas
and in a place where anybody might hear them.
Is that fair?
REILLY (voice-over): Well, yes, right now actually, if you are a protester
or you`re a member of the media essentially, you are sort of locked into
this, you know, probably mile-long corridor right here. You have the riot
police on the one side, the police line over there. Some of the officers
went to the other side down by the QuikTrip.
And that`s where the tear gas was deployed. So you`re essentially in this
corridor right here. Right now I am walking back towards in the direction
of the QuikTrip. And you essentially just see people walking back and
forth, it seems to me, with no clear direction on where exactly they`re
Another complication here tonight that I think may become an issue later in
the evening is that a lot of the protesters were mingling inside of what
had been designated as the press zone here, which I would imagine when they
get obviously very difficult, is there a situation or any danger from
inside of that press zone for the police to distinguish between press and
between the general public here.
I can see that becoming an issue later in the evening because, in previous
nights, and when we have had this press zone set up, there have been –
there`s been officers surrounding and making sure I guess that the public
doesn`t come into that zone and only identified, credentialed reporters
came in there.
MADDOW (voice-over): Well, I want to tell our viewer that what we are
looking at right now is live footage in Ferguson, Missouri, and we are able
to show footage right now of a small fire. We don`t know exactly what is
going on there. But we are seeing police officers move in tactical
formation with both – with weapons drawn, but also in SWAT gear and in gas
Ryan Reilly, “The Huffington Post,” do please stay available to us. And
stay safe. I know that you are in the tear gas zone right now. Thanks,
Ryan. Appreciate it.
REILLY (voice-over): Thanks for having me.
MADDOW (voice-over): Right now, what you are seeing is – there are some -
- this is an important, I think, distinction between today versus previous
days. And Chris has been highlighting this over the course of the evening
in his reporting, the fact that one of the things that police did
differently tonight. It`s in this area of protest.
They`ve blocked people from having private cars there. It`s essentially a
road blocked, pedestrian-only zone for most of the day. And that made for
a very different character of the protest just in terms of cars not being
in the middle of it, there not being that danger, also that opportunity in
terms of cars being there for people to jump on. And that`s changed just
the physical geography of what the protest meant.
Over the course of this evening, we are seeing some private vehicles. We
are still seeing a lot of people on the streets. Obviously people are
getting hemmed in by this intense police action on two different side of
this avenue, as far as we can tell.
You know, we have got multiple people there, multiple producers, lots of
people who we can call on. But in a way, this – it`s almost like
reporting on some sort of combat action. And I don`t mean to be drawing
that analogy glibly.
But in order to try to follow what police are doing and how the protesters
are responding and what protesters should do in response to police
particularly in order to keep themselves safe, it`s very hard to get a grip
on what exactly is going on overall. You can see it point by point. But
it`s hard to get at, hard to get a sense of exactly what police are trying
to do here and when they think they will have succeeded.
I want to bring now Yamiche Alcindor. She`s a national breaking news
reporter for “USA Today.”
Yamiche, where are you and what are you seeing now?
YAMICHE ALCINDOR, “USA TODAY”: I am about a block away from the QuikTrip.
And people where I am, are hiding behind buildings and trying to get away
from the tear gas. The farther we get away from West Florissant, the
better you can breathe.
And students, I and other – and protesters walk anywhere near West
Florissant, your eyes begin to burn and your eyes begin to tear up. So
people are really just kind of trying to duck and take cover behind these
buildings to try to see if they can breathe more clearly.
MADDOW (voice-over): Are people still protesting in any meaningful sense?
Or is it this – at this point, are people are just trying to get, trying
to get air and trying to leave?
ALCINDOR (voice-over): I think people are still protesting in a meaningful
way. I think for the people that are of this community, this is a really
important demonstration for them. So I think even as they try to take
cover and they try to get their breath, they come right back to the streets
and continue protesting.
So I am watching somebody right now. He`s wiping his face. And he is –
he trying to breathe better. He is still walking in the direction of West
Florissant and toward police.
MADDOW (voice-over): When you say this is a particularly important
demonstration tonight, is that because of the National Guard being called
Is that because of the end of the curfew?
What about tonight is important?
ALCINDOR (voice-over): What – no, that it`s tonight, as much as it is –
well, I think tonight, for a lot of people, was about the fact that there
is a new autopsy report that was released, showing that Michael Brown was
shot at least six times as well as the fact that the National Guard was
brought in. I think a lot of people that I talked to today were very upset
But I think also people – and also I think people are just upset about
this, that initial (INAUDIBLE) that (INAUDIBLE) protests. People still say
that this officer has not been arrested. He`s not been charged. And most
people don`t know what he looks like. We don`t know really – they don`t
really know a lot of information about him.
So people are still upset about the initial death of Michael Brown as well.
MADDOW (voice-over): Yamiche, in terms of people being upset about the
National Guard, how are people articulating that to you? When you hear
upset or dissatisfaction with that decision, why is that?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (voice-over): Anyone see any arrests?
ALCINDOR (voice-over): There is a woman today who I interviewed who said
this is like having – this is like being in jail in your own neighborhood.
She said that she felt like the National Guard was going to end up being
like martial law, that she was going to be trapped in her own neighborhood.
She`s going to be told when she could go to the grocery store, when she
could go to school, when she could go to work.
So I think a lot of people see the National Guard as just a ratcheting up
of military style. So I think a lot of people here are just upset that
they`re going to have soldiers essentially patrolling their neighborhood.
MADDOW (voice-over): We were told when they announced the National Guard
deployment, that the Guard wouldn`t really be out on the streets, that they
would be specifically deployed around that police operations command
center; you wouldn`t see them taking part in the kind of front-line
policing that we are showing right now on our screen and that you have been
reporting on all night.
Is that your experience?
Are you able to tell if anybody who you are looking at is National Guard or
does it seem like these are all police officers and troopers who you are
ALCINDOR (voice-over): From my vantage point, I saw all regular police
officers, in terms of – and by regular, I mean St. Louis County police
officers and their tactical operation. That was just feet away from an
armored truck (INAUDIBLE) St. Louis County tactical operations.
I haven`t seen anyone that looked like they were from the National Guard.
I couldn`t – I don`t know if they`re among the crowd in other ways. But
the people that I`m seeing look like police officers from the local
community. I`m told that the only way – the only people from the National
Guard that are here are at the command center, as you mentioned.
MADDOW (voice-over): Yamiche Alcindor, national breaking news reporter for
“USA Today,” Yamiche, thank you so, so much for taking this time to explain
what is going on. Just please stay on the line to the extent that you can.
ALCINDOR (voice-over): OK, thank you.
MADDOW (voice-over): Thank you.
Joining us now once again is MSNBC.com reporter Erin Delmore.
Erin, you were in – you were caught in the tear gas, in some tear gas when
we were last speaking with you.
What is happening now?
DELMORE (voice-over): Rachel, I`m showing you a picture of the street right
now. And here`s what I can tell you, the street is empty. I`m between
Canfield Road and Ferguson Avenue here on West Florissant St. The street
is empty. People are gathered on either side. Media, protesters, but I
have to tell you they`re isolated protesters. The majority of the people
who I was watching here for the last couple of hours circle around, chant,
MADDOW (voice-over): Is it your sense that they have gone to protest
somewhere else, somewhere else on West Florissant or somewhere else where
there are other people?
Or do you think people just dispersed?
DELMORE (voice-over): What I can tell you, Rachel, is that residents made a
chain, linking arms, and walked, the more vocal protesters backward, away
from the police defensive position on Ferguson Avenue and walked them
backward up the street.
Now that is the direction where Chris Hayes is, where the tear gas is going
off. But I`m looking down the street. I see police vehicles. I do not
MADDOW (voice-over): OK.
Erin, let me ask you one question, too, in terms of what you have seen this
One of the concerns particularly that politicians have articulated and that
the national press has articulated is concerns about journalists being not
allowed to do their work, journalists being targeted. We did see another
arrest of a photojournalist today. And there were MSNBC reports that
journalists who had fallen back while trying to comply with – who actually
had fallen down while trying to comply with police orders had had guns
pointed at them while they were on the ground.
Are you seeing any effort by police to distinguish between media and
protesters when they`re giving orders or when they`re moving people around?
DELMORE (voice-over): Rachel, I haven`t seen an effort to distinguish.
What I can tell you is that I was standing near those journalists who had
their guns pointed at them. We conferred later. I have seen them with
their hands up, chanting with the protesters.
MADDOW (voice-over): OK.
DELMORE (voice-over): So you should know that. There are more vehicles
moving down the road now. I have not heard anyone distinguish. But I can
tell you there is an overwhelming number of cameras here. The majority of
the residents and the protesters have fallen back.
MADDOW (voice-over): Can I also ask you, Erin, in terms of those sound
cannons, was that a significant part of the way the police tried to
disperse the crowd tonight, those LRAD sound cannon devices?
DELMORE (voice-over): Not on Ferguson Avenue although, Rachel, I`m now
walking into something that sounds a lot like that. There`s a stronger
sense of tear gas walking toward Canfield Road. There are very few people
here. But there are police. They`re in riot gear. The tear gas is
getting thick. I`m hearing explosions. I see people crouched down low,
Rachel. I`m not close enough to tell you what`s happening. I can tell you
that this is a hotter spot than where the police are lined up three deep on
MADDOW (voice-over): When you are saying you are hearing explosions, do,
is it the sounds of – the kind of sounds we have been hearing, in terms of
like tear gas canisters being fired, that sort of thing? Or – ?
DELMORE (voice-over): Rachel, they are definitely tear gas canisters. As
I walk closer, they`re definitely tear gas canisters.
I`m getting as close as I can for you. There`s a very limited number of
people here. On the other side of the road police have set up a blockade.
There are more vehicles moving in. These look to be not (INAUDIBLE)
vehicles. And they`re pulling up all the way down the road on West
Getting a closer look now at what police seem to be homing in on here.
There is a small fire. There`s a small trash fire in the middle of the
road. This is on Canfield Drive, upward from the intersection on West
Florissant. It`s a very small fire.
MADDOW (voice-over): OK.
Erin, just so we understand you in context, is there – do you have a light
on you? Are you going to be attracting attention to yourself? Are you
able to –
MADDOW (voice-over): – you`re uploading with your phone right now.
DELMORE (voice-over): I`m uploading with my phone and that`s a conscious
decision. The camera brings out a different scene here. So I have chosen
to upload via my cell phone.
MADDOW (voice-over): We have also seen police targeting media who have
lights on, saying that the lights are a tactical disadvantage for the
police and that light – media lights have to come down because the police
can`t function with those in their faces, which is –
DELMORE (voice-over): You know, I would agree you. I haven`t heard that
myself. I can understand it. But the residents have been pushing media
back. They`ve been urging media to fall back. They`re saying these - the
media and the attention is encouraging some of the more violent reaction
here. I have not heard it from the police; I`ve heard it from the
MADDOW (voice-over): And the residents believe that there are things
happening in the streets that wouldn`t necessarily be happening if the
media were not there?
Erin, we still got you?
All right. Let`s go right now to – actually, let`s bring into this
conversation someone with a very different perspective on this, Anthony
Gray. Anthony Gray is an attorney who is one of the attorneys who
represents the family of Michael Brown. We have spoken with him several
times over the last few days.
Mr. Gray, I`m happy to bring you back into the conversation tonight, as it
seems like it`s another very difficult night on the streets in Ferguson.
ANTHONY GRAY, ATTORNEY FOR MICHAEL BROWN`S FAMILY: Absolutely.
Absolutely. It looks a little bit chaotic. You hear the sirens going off.
And you see the bright lights being shone on the crowd. I know that has to
be disturbing to the neighbors and to the community at large.
I just don`t know what the answer is. I understand that this is an
experiment for us in St. Louis. We don`t necessarily know how to deal with
this type of situation; we have never had it before, at least in my
lifetime. So I just don`t know how to react to this. But I am watching
just about everything that I can on television.
MADDOW (voice-over): Do you – when you – you described it as an
experiment now. When we spoke a few hours ago, you described St. Louis as
basically being a living laboratory right now in terms of trying something
that it`s never tried before.
Do you mean that both –
MADDOW (voice-over): – police are trying to do in (INAUDIBLE) they`re
reacting to these protests but also what the protesters are trying to do by
pushing so hard to be out there in the streets, despite all of this risk
and despite all this chaos?
GRAY (voice-over): Yes, Rachel. I mean, you hit it on the money. It is a
two-way laboratory experience I have never seen again. And I have been
living – I`m 50 years old. So I am half a decade. So I have just never
seen protesting like this.
And the people that are out protesting think they have a fundamental right
to do that. They`re basing it on maybe some TV show or something like
that, because clearly they don`t have experience in it. You can look at
the age of the people that are – and I don`t like to necessarily use the
word “protest” all the time, just kind of supporting whatever cause they
think they`re out there to support.
And so there is some pushback because they feel in their minds they have
the right to be there. And the police feel like they have a right to
direct how they should be there. So it`s a little bit of a showdown, too.
MADDOW (voice-over): I mean, when you get –
MADDOW (voice-over): – about your clients, their son being killed by
police. This is a community that rose up in anger about alleged excessive
use of force by police, excessive use of force by a mostly white police
force against a mostly black population in this town.
And now we are seeing it extrapolated into this whole other type of
Do you think – I was going to say that police could be handling this
better? I will not insult you by asking that.
I will ask instead, can you imagine the police handling this well from here
on out, this ending constructively from here on out?
Can you imagine a positive end from this point forward?
GRAY (voice-over): You know, because I am just an optimistic person I`m
just going to say yes because I view the world from a perspective that the
glass is half full. So I will say yes based on who I am. I don`t really
But let me just make this observation. I think the whole situation would
be different because Ron Johnson has a presence. He has a heart. And
everybody felt his approach in the beginning. I think if all the officers
that were standing behind him carried the same type of emotional attachment
that he felt, then I think you would probably be witnessing a different
scenario. Now that`s just my guess. I just see him as being out there all
by himself in terms of the connection that he talked about. And you see
him out there hugging and shaking hands in the early parts of this.
But you didn`t see entourage of them doing that. You just saw one guy.
And so the people behind him, you know, I am not so sure that they really
carry the same kind of feelings to the street that the commander of those
guys carry to the street.
So I don`t know. It`s a testing situation, Rachel. And we`ll just have to
see how it plays out.
MADDOW (voice-over): In case you are just joining us, what you see on your
screen right is live footage from Ferguson, Missouri. It`s about 12:30 am
on the East Coast. It`s 11:27 local time in Ferguson. We`re speaking with
Anthony Gray, who`s an attorney for Michael Brown`s family. Michael Brown,
of course, the young man who was killed by a police officer in Ferguson
Mr. Gray, I had one last sort of big-picture question for you. And one of
the things that you have done as an attorney for the family is that you
have been sort of an emissary from them, being a public face, being willing
to come on shows like this and have this kind of public conversation.
And you have conveyed the family`s wish that people continue to protest,
but that they do so in a way that is constructive, nonviolent and
Why is it that the family does want people to continue to protest, to
continue to get out there?
GRAY (voice-over): Well, because they know as well as I know and perhaps
you know, too, because you are so intelligent, that by acting in a violent
way, looting and rioting, that completely distracts away from what occurred
on that Saturday afternoon.
This becomes the story and not Michael Brown Jr. And all of these – what
I consider to be positive potential that could come out of it, with a
national discourse about policies and the like. We are kind of losing the
momentum that could have, you know, potentially been made in that direction
because this – you are losing, you`re losing people with this, in my
You`re losing people who may want to otherwise support Mike Brown Jr.
because they see this activity. And of course they associate it with him,
as opposed to the officer who was the one that triggered all of this. He
is not getting that backlash.
But Michael Brown Jr. will suffer, in my opinion, as a result of what we
are witnessing tonight. And I think that is very, very unfortunate for
this family, who doesn`t want to see that.
MADDOW (voice-over): Anthony Gray, attorney for Michael Brown`s family.
Thank you for being with us tonight, sir. It`s a –
GRAY (voice-over): Thank you for having me, Rachel. Always appreciate
MADDOW (voice-over): Thank you.
I want to say it`s one of the things that you have just seen just in the
last few seconds here. Again, this is a live shot from Ferguson, Missouri,
right now, and some of the cloudiness you are seeing here. All of these
reporters and producers on the scene are telling us, that is tear gas that
is clouding your vision there as well as theirs much more acutely.
One of the things which you`ve have seen, which may be an unfamiliar sight,
is these people in yellow, bright yellow T-shirts that say “Amnesty” on
them. We`ve seen a few of those in the last few minutes. Some of those
have been picked up on our multiple cameras on the scene.
I believe – I stand corrected if this is not true, but I believe that this
is the first time that the group Amnesty International has ever deployed
civil liberties observers to an event in the United States, Amnesty
international, Human Rights Watch, other groups like this are regulars –
are regularly deployed observers, human rights observers around the globe
when they know that human rights are threatened and they think that having
observers there may help avoid some of the worst abuses or at least bring
attention to them when they happen.
I don`t know of another time in which Amnesty International has deployed
those type of observers in the U.S. But they have today. And that`s what
we will see sometimes in these yellow – in these yellow shirts.
Also tell you that in terms of the police presence, I think it is being –
it`s a misapprehension right now that, because the National Guard was
called out today, and because so much of the police presence that you see
out on the street tonight looks like a military force, think there has been
a misconception that this must be the National Guard on the streets of
Ferguson that we are seeing.
We have no indication that the officers who we have been seeing on our
cameras tonight are themselves National Guard.
To the contrary, what we were advised is that those National Guard troops
would be held back specifically at the police operation center to avoid
that being targeted essentially by protesters to keep that place open.
That looks like a National Guard vehicle. That looks look a National
Guardsman there. But them providing command center security is not the
same as them being on the front lines confronting protesters as members of
the United States Armed Forces.
I want to bring now to the conversation Trymaine Lee, MSNBC.com national
reporter, who`s been doing incredible work on the ground for days now in
Trymaine, thanks very much for being with us.
Where are you now and what can you see?
TRYMAINE LEE, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT: I`m at the corner of West Florissant
and Ferguson, not too far from these columns of police officers. The
peace is hanging by a thread here.
Just a few minutes ago, a car came down the street. And immediately all
the officers start yelling, “Back up,” and raising their automatic rifles.
The people who are trying to walk in the street, they`re being told to get
back, get back. Now we are a little further down from the QuikTrip market
where we heard loud bangs about 10, 15 minutes ago, several of them. And
from my understanding, there could be some gas deployed down that way.
You know, even further back, another gentleman drove up in a car; again,
screaming at him, (INAUDIBLE) get out of the car. He got out and he seemed
to be bleeding from his hand. There were reports from some folks that he
So again, the peace is trying to – hanging on by a thread here. And
again, we can`t see further down the road by the QuikTrip market. We are
down here closer to the line of police officers and where the media had
been kind of cordoned off. So it`s not clear exactly what is happening
down at the far end of the road.
MADDOW (voice-over): I will tell you, one observation and one question for
you. The observation is that I have been watching a lot of this footage
from a lot of different sources over the last few days. I have not
previously seen an officer holding his handgun the way I believe we just
saw an officer moments ago on our camera.
Again, these are live shots that we`re showing right now. So police
officers drawing their pistols is not something that I`m used to seeing,
even as we`re getting sort of inured to the sight of officers holding long
guns and even occasionally training them at groups of protesters.
But Trymaine, in terms of what you were saying about your location and
where the media are, are you saying that there is a place where police and
protesters are confronting one another but the media can`t get close enough
to see it?
LEE (voice-over): Precisely. For a while there early on, closer to where
we are, a group of protesters had locked arms and crossed the street. And
that was the beginning of kind of the confrontation.
But for the last hour or so, they all moved over onto the sidewalk. So we
can`t see further down. So right now there are no protesters standing
directly in the front line of the officers. Everyone is on the sidewalk.
But further down – I`m not sure if there are any media or any eyes or
anyone down seeing what`s going on. And that`s where we heard several loud
bangs. You could see the smoke down the street. Again about, 35, 40
minutes ago a bunch of armored vehicles and police trucks kind of stayed
down the street in that opposite direction.
And so again, it`s still unclear to me from my vantage point, what exactly
happened down there or what`s going on now.
MADDOW (voice-over): Trymaine, are you finding that the police either at a
high-level operational level or just the front line cops you are
encountering on the ground, are they trying to make accommodation for media
to be allowed to film what they are doing, to show what they are doing?
Or are they still essentially treating cameras as a threat?
LEE (voice-over): First of all, it`s maybe some gas breaking down here.
Everyone is backing up. Eyes are starting to burn a little bit. So not a
direct explosion but it`s starting to burn a little bit.
Where we are, we`re right on the corner. And so, there are cameras, there
are bunches, dozens of journalists here on this corner. But the moment you
step into the street they tell you to get back. And you definitely can`t
go – oh, yes. It`s gas. It`s gas wafting this way. But I`m not sure –
MADDOW (voice-over): Trymaine, I`m going to give you a chance to try to
get to some fresh air and do what you need to stay safe where you are. But
please keep a line open to us. This is becoming a theme tonight as we`re
talking to people. They talk to us for as long as they can before they –
their own exposure to gas becomes an issue in terms of them being able to -
- needing to move on.
We are seeing – these live shots right here, it is hard to know exactly
what the purpose is of some of these vehicles and how the police are
essentially stratified as a force, whether or not the police themselves, as
they`re gearing up right now, who is telling them to gear up?
Does that mean they`re about to start something?
Are they reacting to something that is happening with the protesters?
Again, we have the luxury of watching this without being gassed while we
are doing this, as we have got multiple cameras on the site. But even from
here it is hard to tell exactly what is going on and what options
protesters have if they want to continue to protest but also to stay safe.
I want to bring back into the conversation, the host of “ALL IN,” Chris
Hayes, Chris, who had to clear out of his position earlier because of tear
Chris, are you somewhere safer now or at least someplace with fresher air?
HAYES (voice-over): Yes, yes, we are in a fallback position away from the
tear gas. Just after we got off air, we were kind of recollecting,
figuring if we could kind of find a way to go back, go back, go back out
there to see what is going on.
And as gathering myself to go do that, there was just another huge, huge
round of tear gas that just came pushing through. And, you know, you –
tear gas, it is, it is effective at crowd dispersal.
HAYES: I mean, you know, that`s why it is designed. That`s the way it`s
designed and that`s why they use it the way they do.
MADDOW (voice-over): Chris, when you are seeing police use tear gas in
that way, again, to disperse people, is it clear to you when you have seen
them use it, when you`ve seen them launch it tonight that they`re launching
it in places where it makes sense that they`re trying to disperse people?
Or does it seem more random?
HAYES (voice-over): Rachel, I have to say like figuring out the rhythm of
these exchanges, it just sort of becomes impossible to track. And in the
time that I`m hearing these sort of precise accounts about the order of
things, maybe it`s just people who have better perceptive abilities than I.
But in the midst of it, just talking about a bunch of people and a bunch of
police. This particular round of tear gas came as this standoff was
happening at the QuikTrip, which people were being told they are
unlawfully, they`re there unlawfully. And basically the sequence of
events was what looked like flash grenades, loud popping noises that could
have been – that looked to be headed back toward the police, which could
have been fire – bottle rockets with fireworks coming from some people in
And then the big – like explosion of tear gas. I should say that I am now
venturing back out onto West Florissant. The air has basically cleared.
It`s more or less traversable. There`s a huge line of police out here.
Oh, actually, what, about, 40 probably, 30 or 40. There is two big
tactical vehicles, one big – I`m sorry; one big tactical vehicle, one
normal van. There`s about a – there`s a clutch of a few media.
And aside from that it is basically dead quiet. There is a big police
presence up at the other end of West Florissant by the McDonald`s. That`s
where the media staging area is. There`s a few cable news trucks up there,
there`s lights you can see.
We were positioned ourselves in between those two checkpoints. So, you
know, in between the sort of two sides of confrontation. And I got to say
that the trajectory of the evening went like this. You had this kind of
strange, surreal promenade that was engineered by police at dusk hour. It
was happening while I was on the air live at 7:00 local time.
People were told that they could be on West Florissant. They were closed
to most if not all vehicle traffic unless they were residents. And so what
they were doing is marching in a circle, just kind of marching in a circle
and chanting. And there`s a bunch of people – some people at one point
were marching past with roses.
And I was prepared to go on the air at 10:00 pm local time to basically
say, OK, we have had – we have had basically, we have had a sort of
peaceful night here.
And then just as we were going on air a confrontation in that line by the
McDonald`s. And, again, what precipitated it, I don`t know. I have not
heard any reports of any kind of – anything emanating from protesters.
All I know is that there was a line of riot – cops in riot gear. There
was a confrontation.
All of a sudden you saw the vehicle pull up. You heard the LRAD noise
booming and a wave of people as we were on air, actually, just running
back. And the change in mood. I cannot emphasize the change in mood. You
have people walking, and the vibe was – it was calm. It was peaceful. It
was obviously – it was angry. People were focused. And this wave of
people running back and just this unleashing just in fury.
I mean, people, just picking up and chucking rocks at me as a kind of like
just frustration. And that was what, that is what changed it. That
initial, you know – that initial standoff with the cops. And it`s just
this dynamic that is just at this point feels almost just pathological or
codependent or something, in which whatever elements within the protesters,
whatever elements, I mean, the police want to escalate are getting, are
getting their wish.
And I got to say I wasn`t – I wasn`t up there to see that standoff. And
I`m looking forward to seeing a lot of our – my colleagues to see what
their reporting indicates.
It felt like the first move to escalate tonight came from the police at
that position. I don`t know. Again, I`m saying that without knowing fully
what precipitated them standing in line. But as soon as that happened the
just mood changed 180 degrees. There was just this absolute charge of
panic, rage, you know, chaos, kind of frenetic energy, adrenaline. You
could feel it surge through everyone. You could feel everyone rushing
And then a standoff at the opposite end outside the QuikTrip. And at the
QuikTrip was where another standoff happened. And a bunch of folks came.
And that was where the standoff happened over, over, you know, standing
outside the QuikTrip, people being told they could not stand.
And then – that sort of sequence of events in which it sounded like flash
grenades. It sounded like possibly rockets or fireworks or something,
thrown back, possibly some tear gas canisters being picked up and tossed
back at the police. And then, boom, boom, boom, the tear gas and everyone
dispersing and running once again.
And now here we are in this sort of video game-like post-apocalyptic scene
of this empty suburban street at night, with the police chopper overhead
and a clear night sky and a few stars in the sky twinkling.
And a street market and a liquor store and a McDonald`s arches in the
background. And just nothing on the streets except the kind of smell and
taste of tear gas. And it`s just – it feels like every night here is
headed toward that ending. It`s just like there is no way for anyone to
break out of that cycle.
And I got to say, like in the pit of my stomach, it does not feel like this
is headed in a good direction until something about this dynamic alters
fundamentally because right now a bunch of things have been tried. There
has been full militarization SWAT teams. There`s been almost complete
pullback. There`s been what we have seen the last few nights, which seems
to be going back toward the first kind of policing approach. And it almost
feels (INAUDIBLE) here, foreordained in the air that we`re going to end up
at this point in the evening.
MADDOW (voice-over): Chris, there`s – obviously there is no simple truth
to tell about complex stories. But it feels from the perspective of
protesters who have been speaking publicly and media who are stationed
among the protesters that the change that happens on a dime like that is
basically precipitated by the police, that the police make a decision to
change tactics. That changes the mood. That inspires different behavior
from the crowd than they might previously have been exhibiting.
That`s how it feels sort of from one side. Looking at it through the other
lens – or looking at that lens through the other direction, is it clear to
you that there are distinct elements among the protesters, that there are
people who are spoiling for a fight and there are people who are
distinguishable from them, who are not spoiling from a fight?
Are the police having interactions with nonpeaceful protesters that aren`t
being – that we aren`t seeing because it is not characteristic behavior,
that`s causing the police to act the way they are?
HAYES (voice-over): Yes, there is some element of truth to that,
definitely. There are people who are looking to set it off here. I
couldn`t tell you – I have been down here for whatever, fire or six days.
I couldn`t tell you if it that`s 20 people or that`s 100 people or that`s
seven people. It`s just –
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (voice-over): (INAUDIBLE) media.
HAYES (voice-over): – it`s –
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (voice-over): – leave immediately.
HAYES (voice-over): Yes. There`s –
MADDOW (voice-over): He`s saying that if they`re not credentialed media,
you need to leave immediately?
HAYES (voice-over): Yes, we`ve got a bunch of gentlemen in full military
regalia right outside our station. We`re going to see if they will try to
chase us out of here –
MADDOW (voice-over): You are credentialed media.
HAYES (voice-over): – credentialed. We`ll show them our credentials.
MADDOW (voice-over): Yes, I`ll give you a doctor`s note.
HAYES (voice-over): I`ll put them on the phone with the one and only
MADDOW (voice-over): That will definitely do it.
HAYES (voice-over): So yes, that`s part of it. There is no question, you
know. It feels like everybody is in this weird game now, adjudicating who
started it. And the fact of the matter is you got two different sides to
this. One side is the body of the state and the law. And people that, you
know, are making policy or strategic decisions or tactical decisions in the
moment that I don`t think are – it`s hard to take a step back and think
they`re doing a great job. Now they will tell you there have been no
injuries. They will tell you that today after the National Guard was
called in – I fired up the old Google machine. I was reading about
National Guard responses to riots and ranking (INAUDIBLE) obviously much
more widespread in terms of the amount of area. But there were many
fatalities in those clashes.
And so if you`re grading on that curve, the police have done a good job.
And they will tell you that. And again, if I`ve put myself in the shoes of
one of these people right now on the street, as a police officer, it is a
very difficult job. It just is. I mean, you are trying to make these
decisions in the moment.
And they`re got a lot of adrenaline in their system. They`re scared I
think in a lot of cases. From, you know, there`s, control – there`s an
amazing book by a guy named Peter Moskos, who was a beat cop in Baltimore,
called, “Cop in the Hood,” who`s later – who`s a professor of criminal
studies at John Jay College (ph). And he just talks about like this –
how central control is to a police officer. Because you`re constantly in
situations that could flip out of control and managing a situation in which
you are in control is this kind of bulwark against the terror of some
horrible, unexpected act.
And this is a situation in which you have a lot of police from all
different kinds of municipalities. You`ve got very small municipalities
supported here, Dellwood and Jennings, these are small police departments.
You know, St. Louis County, (INAUDIBLE) all of these police, in a situation
that constantly alludes to them on the periphery of control. And that`s –
you know, I think it freaks them out, frankly.
MADDOW (voice-over): We`re looking at the shot that we have got right now,
Chris, is a very close-up shot of a deep line of police officers with long
guns drawn. They appear to be the kinds of guns that shoot less than
lethal rounds. But they are advancing toward protesters right now in a
group. The police are all wearing helmets. They don`t all have their
shields down. And they`re not wearing gas masks.
But the protesters are standing, essentially standing their ground as the
police move toward them. And the police seem intent on moving them out.
We`ll keep that camera shot up as long as we can.
Chris, I also want to bring in Erin Delmore, who`s just been – we`ve got
some information about somebody who apparently was shot tonight.
Is that right, Erin?
DELMORE (voice-over): Rachel, police have told us that there is a gunshot
victim on the other side of Canfield Drive.
Before that they told us that shots were being fired from an unknown
direction. For about 20 minutes now they`ve been urging us to leave. They
say it`s for our safety. And they`ve got – I am the last person here.
There is no one here. Police further up Ferguson Avenue are saying that if
you`re not credentialed media, you need to disperse immediately.
The other thing I can tell you, Rachel, is that perpendicular to where the
cops have congregated in the direction of what they said is a gunshot
victim is a building, police have broken into that building. I met with
the photographer who has photographed those people beginning to burn that
MADDOW (voice-over): People – say that –
MADDOW (voice-over): – it`s –
DELMORE (voice-over): People beginning to burn the building.
MADDOW (voice-over): What is –
DELMORE (voice-over): Fire.
MADDOW (voice-over): – what`s in that building, what does that building
DELMORE (voice-over): Nothing, Rachel. That building was looted days ago.
MADDOW (voice-over): I see. So it –
DELMORE (voice-over): It has boarded-up windows. There is nothing.
MADDOW (voice-over): Can you tell who the people were who set it on fire?
DELMORE (voice-over): No, Rachel, they came up from Canfield Drive. They
did not come down from West Florissant. That street`s been cleared for a
while. That is a residential neighborhood.
MADDOW (voice-over): OK. Is there any emergency response in terms of fire
response vehicles, a fire truck or anything responding to that fire?
DELMORE (voice-over): No.
MADDOW (voice-over): OK.
Erin, we`re going to – I will keep an open line to the control room there
so we can try to get – we`ll try to feed that information back in terms of
what we can report to authorities there, if they need to get that fire
Just want to listen to hear what we can hear from police.
Again, these are live shots right now from Ferguson.
Wesley Lowery with “The Washington Post”, who`s been there for days in
Ferguson, who himself was arrested not that long ago, a few days ago by
police and then later released.
Wesley, I believe you`re nearby to some of the shots (INAUDIBLE)?
WESLEY LOWERY, “THE WASHINGTON POST”: – I`m on the corner of Canfield and
West Florissant, directly next to this building where the fire was started
here, where police targeted multiple volleys of tear gas, at least three.
The air`s still thick with it. It`s hard to breathe. It`s – yes, I`m
MADDOW (voice-over): And are you seeing a fire burning right now where you
are? Or is that out?
LOWERY (voice-over): Yes, I ducked back around the corner because the
police are here, their weapons drawn, talking to a few – a few of the
remaining residents who have their hands up. But yes, I watched as the
fire was set and then watched it starting to burn.
MADDOW (voice-over): In terms of the residents and protesters and police
right there, what is happening right now in terms of who else is around you
and what the dynamic is?
LOWERY (voice-over): It`s – at this point it`s a handful. It`s maybe 2
dozen residents, many of whom live – they can`t go home. And so, West
Florissant along West Canfield Drive, which is the street where Michael
Brown was killed, intersects at – and the residents now are people who are
stuck because the police fired the tear gas in. So they retreated back to
these residential streets. And now they`re trying, they`re screaming to
those police with their hands up, “Can we please go home?”
They need to walk past where the police are to get to either where their
cars are or to where they were. But the police had shot the tear gas in
and then to counter, people had set fires, trying to keep the police out.
And so you basically have the remnants of what has been the battlefield for
lack of a better term with a few residents still remaining here, asking if
they can go home.
MADDOW (voice-over): Wesley, is there any effort by police, that you can
see, that sort of individuate between protesters, so people who
legitimately do just want to go home are being allowed through? Or is
anybody being –
LOWERY (voice-over): No.
MADDOW (voice-over): – nobody is being – ?
LOWERY (voice-over): Nobody is being allowed through at all. No one is
being allowed through.
MADDOW (voice-over): Wesley, thanks very – so keep an open line with us,
Wesley, as this continues to unfold.
I want to bring some in expert opinion. Jim Cavanaugh, I believe, is on
the line, who has expertise in this matter, as a law enforcement official.
Jim, I know that you have been watching a lot of this unfold.
When you are seeing these police tactics like the ones on the screen right
now and like that line of police officers with long guns that we just saw a
moment ago, pointing those long guns at protesters at a very short range,
what do you understand about those tactics and what police are trying to
JIM CAVANAUGH, MSNBC LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Well, Rachel, you described
it accurately a little while ago when you talked about that one line and
moving riot officers there, which they had shotguns that are designated for
bean bag rounds. They`re painted pink or yellow or orange, because it`s
basically just a shotgun that fires a canvas bag full of beans. And it is
like getting hit with a baseball.
And the shot you see there – I believe that fellow through the shot we
just saw a minute ago is the – Sam Dodson (ph), the chief of the St. Louis
Metropolitan Police. So they have got their commanders out there as well.
But, yes, you are seeing tactical officers make movements on the side. And
I looks like they may be responding to some reports of, you know, either a
fire or a gunshot or something. That is the SWAT tactical officers; the
riot-equipped officers are more – seem to be in the central line there,
pushing the crowd back. And of course we have seen a few arrests tonight.
I noticed one man who had an injured hand on the roll back a while ago.
But he walked to the front line of the police.
MADDOW (voice-over): That was an interesting moment. He was short of
safely delivered through the police line into what appeared to be an
ambulance or some other sort of official vehicle. It was a sort of a
stand-down moment when everybody recognized this man needs – this man
isn`t a threat. He needs help.
CAVANAUGH (voice-over): I do think –
MADDOW (voice-over): Go ahead; I`m sorry, Jim.
CAVANAUGH (voice-over): No, that`s all right, Rachel. I do want to build
on just one thing Chris said that I think it is important.
You know, I grew up in Newark, New Jersey, and I remember the riots there
in `67. And one thing about those images that in your mind. We saw those
armored personnel carriers coming down the streets and the violence. There
was 26 people killed in Newark. There was 43 killed in Detroit; there was
36 killed in Los Angeles.
Those riots were unbelievably violent. And at least one grade like Chris
said of the police here has to be – after nine days. And those riots
generally lasted five or six days. After nine days of this, we haven`t
lost a life. The only life that`s been lost is Michael Brown.
And that – that`s started this whole thing. So there is some tactics to
criticize. I think the first night they were very heavy early on with the
protesters. I didn`t think the way they handled that with SWAT up front
was good. They rolled it back with Ron – Commander Johnson. But there is
still – we need to look at the arrests and the charges and who has been
arrested. We haven`t seen officers wielding billy sticks, shooting people.
I mean, this – there is restraint here although you see the
militarization. But there is restraint in the deployments.
MADDOW (voice-over): Jim, when you – and I think your perspective on that
is really valuable because we got a lot of on-the-street perspective. And
we know what it feels like to face off against those police. But thinking
about it tactically from the police perspective and trying to avoid injury
and even unnecessary arrest. I mean, this is very dramatic stuff, what
we`re showing right now.
And again, this is live in Ferguson.
But when – I mean, does it sound right to you? When you hear people on
the ground, both media and protesters say, listen, this protest was
peaceful and was going to end peacefully tonight until the police made a
And the police tactical change is what turned this into a hostile moment.
Does that resonate for you or does that sound wrong to you?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Don`t nobody get –
CAVANAUGH (voice-over): Well, no, I think it – that has happened during
this nine days. But I think also we have heard it when it wasn`t true
because we heard it a night or two ago when Commander Johnson came up,
Captain Johnson of the state patrol. And he gave a whole litany of the
reasons why they moved officers and deployed gas. He ran it right down. I
mean, there was gunshots. There was a man shot. There was Molotov
cocktails. There was an attack on the McDonald`s. I mean, he ran it right
down, six or eight reasons.
And so if those reasons are there the officers only have certain things
they can do. And one of the things they can do is deploy gas and stingball
rounds and these things you see because it makes it very uncomfortable
And the LRAD and even the flashing lights and all those things are designed
for crowd dispersal without serious injury. I mean it does, it does burn
your face. It burns your eyes. It makes you want to leave. And the noise
is disconcerting. But again, it all makes you want to leave. So it`s
supposed to make you want to leave without seriously injuring you.
MADDOW (voice-over): MSNBC law enforcement analyst, former ATF special
agent in charge, Jim Cavanaugh. Jim, thank you, very, very helpful to get
your perspective on this.
CAVANAUGH (voice-over): Thank you, Rachel.
MADDOW (voice-over): What we are just seeing there is very kinetic
confrontation, very kinetic activity including some of these incendiary
projectiles or whatever. And so, again in a lot of these cases, what I
think we are seeing – and I stand corrected by people on the ground. What
I think we are often seeing when you see them flying two directions is that
police are launching these things. And on some occasions, protesters, at
whom they`re being launched, are picking them up and throwing them back in
the direction of police.
I want to bring in now though again from the ground, Ryan Reilly, reporter
for “The Huffington Post.” We spoke with Ryan not that long ago when he
was caught up in some tear gas.
Ryan, where are you now and what do you see now?
REILLY (voice-over): Right now we are in the immediate area but they`re
shutting it down. They are forcing everyone out of this area. So we won`t
be able to figure out what is actually happening down here, honestly.
There`s not going to be any media witnesses to whatever takes place next.
The claim is that it`s a public safety issue because there was a report of
shots fired. Who knows what that came from or where exactly that – but it
is believe in here. And we think there was a claim of – a claim of a
gunshot victim, probably need to get an ambulance through.
But essentially they told us all to pack it up and they are still actively
moving members of the media back out of this press zone right now and
telling them to retreat way up the road. It`s probably somewhere that you
pretty much have to drive to near the command center where there is really
not an ability to witness what is taking place here on the ground.
MADDOW (voice-over): When you say they`re moving you back, how are the –
how is the police clearing the media area?
What are they doing in order to make you leave?
REILLY (voice-over): I mean there are – a line of them are progressing
through the mark right now and saying, let`s go, let`s go, moving everyone
back. It`s some of them – basically some media are hanging around as long
as they can until the cops sort of crack down I think a little bit more
But, you know I`m seeing a line of one, two, three, four, five, six, seven,
eight, around the officers who are sort of moving through the city right
now. You have crews who are collapsing their trucks, their broadcast
trucks from down here. So it might take a little bit of time to move out.
But again, the claim is that it`s for public safety. Obviously that`s
going to have some consequences for us not being able to witness what is
actually happening here.
MADDOW (voice-over): Absolutely. That is invaluable to have that report.
Thank you, Ryan Reilly. Good luck tonight. Ryan Reilly, “The Huffington
I will say one of the things that sort of seemed like a sidebar issue with
this protest zone in Ferguson was that there is a no-fly zone, that nobody
other than law enforcement is allowed to fly any sort of helicopter below
3,000 feet over this scene. And that seemed like kind of an oddity in the
way they were enforcing the security in this zone.
But it has very practical consequences when reporters on the ground are
unable, either because of tear gas or because of police forcing them out,
to get close to what is happening. One of the ways we would otherwise be
getting perspective on what`s happening here is news helicopters, who for
the – at the direction of law enforcement, have not been allowed to fly
over the scene, and that`s having very serious, practical consequences for
our ability to report this story right now.
First Amendment is having a tough night. MSNBC`s live coverage of the
situation in Ferguson, Missouri, continues right now with a special live
edition of “THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL”.
Good evening, Lawrence.
LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, MSNBC HOST: Thanks, Rachel.
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