The Last Word with Lawrence O’Donnell, Transcript 04/27/15
RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC: That does it for us tonight, but Msnbc`s coverage of
the situation on the ground in Baltimore continues now on THE LAST WORD
with Lawrence O`Donnell. Good evening, Lawrence.
LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, HOST, THE LAST WORD: Thanks Rachel, we`re going –
MADDOW: Yes –
O`DONNELL: To continue our live coverage, thank you.
O`DONNELL: Well, the death toll in Nepal is over four thousand tonight
after Saturday`s earthquake.
But here at home, all eyes are on Baltimore tonight where the street`s are
tense after a day of rock throwing at police, looting, burning a police car
and a store.
And it`s just been announced tomorrow, Baltimore city schools will be
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MAYOR STEPHANIE RAWLINGS-BLAKE, BALTIMORE, MARYLAND: We are deploying
every resource possible to gain control of the situation and to ensure
peace moving forward.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Rioting has broken out in the streets. Violent clashes
between police and roving groups have left several officers injured.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They attacked officers without provocation, they have
no regard for the safety of the people that live in that community.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Large numbers of young men throwing objects.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is a CVS which looters have been working their way
through the last couple of hours, it is now on fire.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This police vehicle on fire with a van right behind it.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Meanwhile, hundreds of people pay their final respects
to Freddie Gray.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Gray died after suffering a spinal cord injury while
in police custody.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Freddie Gray`s twin sister says that he would not have
wanted this violence –
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I have declared a state of emergency at the request of
RAWLINGS-BLAKE: What I`m seeing is not – it`s just not acceptable.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Tonight, Baltimore is in a state of emergency as protests turn
violent in one neighborhood in the city today. The governor of Maryland
has activated the National Guard.
Looters targeted at least four businesses including a CVS where fire broke
out after the store was looted.
All of the violence and destruction occurred in the neighborhood about a
half a mile from where the funeral for 25-year-old Freddie Gray was held
Freddie Gray died after his spinal cord was 80 percent severed while he was
in police custody. Fifteen Baltimore police officers have been injured,
some with broken bones, one officer was unconscious and at least 27 people
have been arrested.
Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake held a press conference tonight
and announced a curfew.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RAWLINGS-BLAKE: We`ve ordered a curfew be in effect instituting tomorrow.
The curfew, city-wide, 10:00 p.m. to 5:00 a.m. Again, there will be a
city-wide curfew 10:00 p.m. to 5:00 a.m.
This preliminary curfew will last for one week and be extended as it is
necessary. It is idiotic to think that by destroying your city that you`re
going to make life better for anybody.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Joining us now by phone is Jayne Miller, investigative reporter
for “Nbc`s” affiliate “Wbal” in Baltimore, she`s been covering the
investigation of Freddie Gray`s death.
Also joining us Jamal Bryant, the pastor of the Empowerment Temple Church
in Baltimore who delivered the eulogy at Freddie Gray`s funeral today.
Jamal Bryant, tell us about that funeral today and how much time elapsed
between the end of the funeral and when this activity broke out this
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Thought they were going to call –
JAMAL BRYANT, REVEREND MINISTER, EMPOWERMENT TEMPLE CHURCH: The funeral
really was a heartwarming moment for the family.
Gave them a peace and some solace and prayerfully some closure. We were
actually en route back from the cemetery when getting the news about the –
of the uprising that was taking place across Baltimore.
It was absolutely a disturbing and disenchanting considering we called for
a day of no marching and no protesting. And so to be met with this news is
absolutely painful and regrettable.
Because it gives a black eye to the memory and to the legacy of what we`ve
been doing over the last seven days.
O`DONNELL: Now, you said hours ago from the scene there in the street that
you were going to help activate people from your churches, from other
churches, men to go out there into the streets and help bring calm to those
How has that been working so far?
BRYANT: It`s been moving. Yesterday, what the news did not cover is the
blood and the crips, gangs signed a peace treaty. And I said that if they
can do that, then the faith community ought to do that.
And so I extended myself to Minister Carlos Muhammad, the Nation of Islam,
we partnered with both the Muslims.
And the Christianity community have men dispersed all over the city right
now trying to escort and push these young men off of the streets so that we
can have calm and peace and go back to the focus which is justice, and not
O`DONNELL: Reverend Bryant, I`d like you to take this opportunity on this
network to address people in your neighborhood, in that city who – in
whatever way you would like about how you`re hoping people there in
Baltimore can help get control of this situation.
BRYANT: I want to urge with everything that I can that every Baltimore
young boy, please, let`s live up to our name and our legacy.
We have come from a rich and a proud people of the likes who have, in fact
paved the way. Frederick Douglass, who said power concedes nothing without
Let me urge you and your children who are in fact the inheritors of what
Baltimore is going to be, let us not leave a black eye in the face of
This is not our legacy and – or the more, this is not our city. This is,
in fact, a bad representation of who we are.
Let`s go home, let us in fact cool off, let`s pray, and tomorrow, let`s
figure out what we`re going to do with strategy.
Violence never got us anywhere, but when we think with a cool head,
protesting and marching can get us everywhere.
So please, Baltimore young`s – let`s go back home, let`s focus and let`s
not take away what it is that we`ve been working so tirelessly towards
which is changing a policy that is in fact corrupt and broken towards black
men in this city.
O`DONNELL: I want to go to Jayne Miller, investigative reporter for our
“Nbc” affiliate there in Baltimore.
Jayne, from what I`ve seen of the map of this trouble today, it seems to be
confined to a relatively small area of west Baltimore and it – I`m
wondering, Jayne, if it`s possible – if you`re on the other side of
Baltimore to not really experience any connection to these events?
JAYNE MILLER, WBAL-TV: No, you are safe, if you`re anywhere in Baltimore
tonight, you`re experiencing it. We have a very large fire burning in east
Baltimore that is believed to be related to the unrest.
Ironically, it`s a new community center in northeast – in the east side of
Baltimore, about six to eight blocks out of John Hopkins Hospital, that is
being built to provide new community services for the east Baltimore
Which is similar in some ways in terms of its poverty level and abandonment
with issues to the west Baltimore neighborhood where the Freddie Gray
The downtown area is virtually deserted. There are – there are reports of
very dangerous situations in other parts of the city.
We`re under a state of emergency now, the National Guard has been
activated, so this is no small matter.
O`DONNELL: Jayne, there are reports that there were – was a flyer being
circulated – calling it a flyer on social media, among city school
students calling for a purge to take place at 3:00 p.m. today.
That phrase purge –
MILLER: That`s very true(ph) and that`s the first one that`s happened. I
want to make clear that what`s going on tonight and what has been going on
for the past few hours is probably not the work of high school students.
But rather –
O`DONNELL: Right –
MILLER: You know, the criminal behavior of – serious magnitude.
O`DONNELL: And Jamal Bryant, what is your impression about how this got
BRYANT: I think that it`s – something is rotten out in Denmark, but in
Baltimore. Earlier this afternoon, the police released a report that they
had intelligence of gangs coming in and threatening police officers.
And then for the first time I`ve been – I`m aware of some mysterious flyer
shows up about a purge taking place. And then within an hour after the
funeral is when we have this outbreak.
We have no record of either of these things ever taking place. And it
really sounds strange and it`s not really adding up in the Math, but
whatever the case is, this is absolutely regrettable.
And it`s unfortunate, it`s the first time Baltimore has seen anything of
this scale since 1968 at the announcement of Dr. King`s assassination.
And so this is very unnerving and unfortunate. And I`m praying that we`re
going to be able to get back on the high road and give some redress to the
real issues that are at stake right here in Baltimore.
O`DONNELL: Jayne Miller, with that intercepted social media message about
the purge, which is actually taken from the title of James DeMonaco`s film
“The Purge”; in which there is a period of time in which all laws are
suspended in effect and all criminal behavior is sanctioned.
That`s where that phrase purge comes from. With that intelligence, did the
police department anticipate this and – or did they under-anticipate this?
MILLER: I know that they were getting indications earlier in the day that
there was going to be this kind of situation at this mall which is right
across the street from the – in (INAUDIBLE) high school.
And it did start kind of assembling troops in that – when I say troops, I
just mean personnel in that area, but it turned into a very, you know,
chaotic confrontational situation with – I don`t know.
I mean I was not there, so I`m only judging from my helicopter video and
the reports from our folks on the ground there that it was maybe a hundred
at most, probably less than that actually.
But it became very – there was – there was police officer up there that
were injured, then there was this – it kind of moved, and I don`t know
exactly who was involved.
But then it centered at an intersection in west Baltimore, two main
streets, and that`s when there was looting and burning and destruction of
These are – many of them in that area, minority-owned businesses, and then
this evening we had this big fire that – first, there was a big fire on
the west side and then we have a big fire now on the east side.
And they are – they have – it`s many police officers they can get their
hands on from around the region deployed here, and as I said, the National
Guard is going to be on the street tonight, tomorrow.
And they said school has been canceled, there`s curfew, they got to figure
out a way to get this situation – take the temperature down and get it
O`DONNELL: And Jamal Bryant, the addition of five thousand potential help
from the National Guard, this is in a city of only 600,000 people.
It`s roughly the same size as Boston, but it has a police department that`s
about a third bigger than the Police Department of Boston.
So you would – you would think that Baltimore had adequate resources to
deal with what was breaking out this afternoon, but it – as Jayne says, it
doesn`t seem like they had enough resources deployed quickly enough to get
to this situation.
BRYANT: I`m grateful the National Guard is here. And to be honest with
you, I hope they stay for a while.
Our whole focus and angst has been on the incompetence and the lack of
character of many who are within the Police Department.
And that`s why we`ve been marching and protesting. Since 2011, Baltimore
has had to pay out in excess of $5.3 million because of excessive force of
So if the National Guard is here for children, I hope they will stay here
and monitor the adults who are corrupt within the Police Department.
O`DONNELL: You`re looking at helicopter shot from “Wbal-TV” in Baltimore,
we`re going to listen in on their coverage of this.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Seen nothing like it, it looked a little bit before
5:00 which I just – do want to back up and just kind of set the scene with
what was going on at that point.
When we got here around 5:00, there was a police squad on fire, there were
several explosions coming from that police squad, and there were people
There were people running from the explosion sound and there were also
people running because they had just looted the CVS on the corner here.
So, we did end up getting a little bit closer to the CVS, there were people
running in and out and back and forth. People stopping in the middle of
the intersection in their cars just to run into the CVS.
Really the best way I can describe it is just pure chaos. And then of
course the fires continued. There were – there were the fire that started
at – in the Maryland State police van that was parked near the squad.
There was a police car that was just sitting in the middle of the
intersection, doors open, people jumping on top of that police car.
There was just so much going on, and then of course when the CVS caught
fire, we still don`t know how exactly that happened.
The police finally I think decided they had to make a move and come out
here and get the crowd away from the CVS as much as possible.
So that fire has been out for a few hours now –
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: All right –
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And as you can see, these police officers are
standing here, but there really isn`t much going on as far as spectators
I think – Kate, are you trying –
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes –
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: To talk to me? –
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, Lisa, and I have a question, we know that, you
were here Saturday night and you watched all of this, we`re wondering, how
O`DONNELL: That is “Wbal-TV`s” coverage on the street in Baltimore where
those police officers are assembled at this moment.
Jayne Miller, do you share Jamal Bryant`s feeling that the National Guard
will be – will face less aggression from this kind of crowd?
MILLER: Well, I don`t know, they represent authority. I`m not sure that
this is any particular agency that, you know, is getting the wrap.
But I do think we have to distinguish here what`s going on. We had a
situation earlier today that was definitely a group of young people that
were kind of taunting the police in having a conversation with police.
Tonight, we have a different situation. I`ve been in different parts of
the small – downtown area and around the downtown area, and it`s – it is
definitely not high school students that are kind of roaming around at the
And that`s a more difficult situation to get under control, because is not
– is not – those aren`t big organized groups. Look, any politician is
loathe to call for the National Guard.
But there was – as you know, as Reverend Bryant has said, I think there
are a lot of people that are relieved that that`s what happened. Because
you know, you call for the National Guard but you don`t have any other
solution at hand.
And so you have to bring in, you know, a show of strength to try to get the
situation under control. I mean, this is not city-wide by any stretch.
But there are very serious situations that are going on right now in –
both in parts of west Baltimore and also one part of east Baltimore.
And there is a scattered looting in like the west side of downtown, et
cetera. But we do not have widespread burning and fires and looting.
I don`t want to give the wrong impression, but what is going on is a very
O`DONNELL: Jamal Bryant, the mayor has announced that the curfew will
begin tomorrow night at 10:00 p.m. and already Baltimore has had a curfew
of 9:00 p.m. for kids 14 and under.
And so at 10:00 p.m. tomorrow night, there will be law enforcement
authority to simply stop anyone who`s out there in Baltimore as Jayne was
just reporting, moving around in that kind of way.
Did you expect that to be a helpful element of getting control of the
BRYANT: Well, of course, I want to be optimistic and I`m praying with
everything that`s in me, as is the larger faith community, that tomorrow is
going to be a much more peaceful day as a consequence.
Tomorrow night at 7:30 here in the city of Baltimore, we`re having an
emergency community town hall meeting to see how we can get some redress to
the frustration that has been plaguing our citizens and to come up with
some strategies as to how it is that we move from here.
Obviously because of this new pending curfew that has been put in place,
we`re going to have to cut that down. But we`re hoping to bring the entire
community together so that we can come through with some positive
O`DONNELL: Reverend Bryant, before you go, you presided at the funeral
today of Freddie Gray, and I`d like you before you leave us tonight to
leave us with some final words about Freddie Gray and about how his life
relates to what is going on in Baltimore tonight.
BRYANT: Freddie Gray was an average young man, 25 years of age, in the
prime of his life, with a full future in front of him.
I want to remind those of you who are watching around the world, he was
arrested with absolutely no probable cause.
And so his life was snatched away senselessly. And so we don`t know what
it is that his life could have become. He could have become the next
governor, the next mayor or even the next broadcaster.
But it was snatched for absolutely no reason. And so, we are in fact in
pain because of limitless possibilities that have never been touched, and
we`ll never know what they become.
So, please – whatever you do, please pray for our city, pray for our
community and pray for our children.
O`DONNELL: Pastor Jamal Bryant, thank you very much for joining us
tonight, I really appreciate it. And Jayne Miller of “Wbal” –
BRYANT: Thank you –
O`DONNELL: Thank you very much for joining us. We`re joined now by Mary
Koch, who is part of the team – legal team representing Freddie Gray`s
Mary Koch, one of the complaints on the streets of Baltimore is, why don`t
we know more about this investigation of someone who died in effect as a
result of being – died as a result of being taken into police custody
where his neck was severed?
MARY KOCH, LAWYER: We think that that`s a legitimate question. There are
things I think they can be released. I think that there`s information that
can be released.
I think that one of the reasons it has not been is because they are
continuing to do their investigation. And I could talk about a couple of
those things –
O`DONNELL: Please do, Mary –
KOCH: I don`t expect the –
O`DONNELL: Tell us – tell us specifically what you think they could
release at this time.
KOCH: Some of the information that could be released is a better timeline
in the actual transmissions of the police officers.
I mean, as the police officers, we`ve heard the fact that there were
several stops along the way from the point in which Freddie Gray was taken
into custody and to the point when he was found unresponsive in the paddy
At the western district, we know that there were various things that
happened along the way, various times that the van was stopped.
All of those things all happened with transmissions between police officers
through dispatchers. Police officers talked directly to each other over
police radio, all of those things are recorded, all of those things are
I don`t understand why when we`re being given a timeline we`re not being
given the actual transmissions so that people know exactly what went on.
I would like to hear – I did read, I have to say, I read this in the “Sun”
paper, a better explanation of why there was not as aggressive an
investigation in the beginning.
What I mean by that is that if you tie into those KGA tapes, into those
transmissions between police officers where people were located and where
that paddy wagon was located amid certain points in time.
There should have been video or the – if there was an opportunity to
collect the video that would have shown those intersections from not just
the CCTV which are the city cameras, but from businesses who often times
have cameras directed outside because of – for safety issues.
There was – there was an individual who was quoted in the newspaper saying
the police officers didn`t come around to ask for the video that was
pointed into the direction of the intersection where the paddy wagon made a
stop until eight to nine days after Freddie was arrested.
And so the bottom line – and the tape had been recorded over after six
days, it was on a six-day loop.
And so you have to ask yourself, with that information immediately
available to the police officers? Why wasn`t that something that was
So those are the kinds of things that have not been released. Certainly,
we haven`t seen any of the statements from the police officers.
We have no idea what the police officers have said. We don`t even know
which of the police officers have made statements.
The autopsy I know is proceeding, and so that is a process because of the
nature of the injury that Freddie Gray sustained, the autopsy has to be
done in parts.
And so that is, you know, an ongoing issue. We haven`t seen the medical
records yet, and so there are lots and lots of little pieces of information
that can be given to the public that would at least satisfy the public,
there`s been progress – is being made in the investigation.
And people aren`t hearing very much other than a couple of concessions
about a seat, you know, that Freddie didn`t – wasn`t seat-belted in when
he was in the paddy wagon and that clearly he should have been given
Anyone who saw that initial video could have figured that out. I mean that
was not something that was breaking news other than the fact that the
Police Department admitted that piece of information.
O`DONNELL: Mary, the – I heard you use the phrase “paddy wagon” a couple
of times, which I can tell you is not the most welcome term for police
To the Irish, it was actually invented though. The term paddy is one of
those negative ethnic slurs that was invented for the Irish a century –
over a century ago.
And the paddy wagon was named that because it was named at a time when the
primary criminal population of the north eastern cities of America were the
And so they were – those wagons were very frequently filled with Irish
passengers on the way to police stations.
What changed in that population over a 50-70-year period was they changed
from being the people policed to the people doing the policing.
They were the first wave of community policing in America, and I`ve
mentioned this once before in the program.
But when the first Irish police officer was hired in the city of Boston,
there was a major protest by officials there saying that it was a conflict
of interest to have an Irish person in law enforcement because they`re just
That`s how far we`ve come on the notion of community policing in America.
And it`s a long-winded way of going to you with your experience in your
practice in Baltimore.
Could you take a wider view and tell us what you think the value of more
community-oriented policing would be in a place like west Baltimore?
KOCH: OK, well, first, let me start by saying to you that my maiden name
is McNamara(ph), so I appreciate the Irish heritage –
O`DONNELL: I suspected something like that –
KOCH: And –
You know, one of the things that`s really missing I think – when I think
of community policing, what I think about is the officer who used to walk
on the street and walk the beat.
And when I say that, I`m telling you that, the – you know, the officer who
would go out and would every night on a shift work in a particular
community and the community would get to know that individual and the
officer would get to know the members of the community.
And when you have that, when you have the opportunity to meet a police
officer one-on-one and get to know a police officer one-on-one.
And in turn, when the police officer gets to meet the members of the
community, gets to know them as people, then I think that, that changes the
nature of the relationship.
Then I think it becomes more of a partnership. Because I think then people
can understand – one, the officers can understand that everybody in this
community is not the bad guy and that the community can understand that
there are a lot of police officers out there who want nothing more than to
be – to help.
And so I think if we got back to more of that kind of community policing, I
think that it would be – first of all, there`d be a police presence which
I think is really important.
And the second thing is, I think it would be an opportunity for people to
know the police officers who work in their community. Because you know,
you can`t solve crimes without the help of the community.
You can`t make community better – communities better unless there`s a
partnership that`s forged between the officers and the people who live in
And I think until that barrier is broken down and that trust is forged
again, I think we`re going to continue to see these kinds of problems.
Because we are just getting more and more distanced between the role of the
police officer and the members of the community.
O`DONNELL: Mary McNamara(ph) Koch, thank you very much for joining us
tonight, and I got to say Mary, your list of reasonably available
information that the Police Department could have released by now is very
It`s just inexplicable why in a community with this kind of tension,
knowing that all of this stuff would be helpful, that they`re still holding
back on this basic information that you`re talking about.
Thank you very much for joining us tonight, Mary, really appreciate it.
KOCH: Thank you so much for having me.
O`DONNELL: We`re joined from the street in Baltimore by “Nbc`s” Brian
Mooar. Brian, where are you located and what`s the situation there now?
BRIAN MOOAR, NBC NEWS: Well, Lawrence, we`re at the police headquarters
where everything predictably is nice and quiet here.
But a very different situational – let`s take you back 11 hours ago when
inside that church, Shiloh Baptist, Reverend Jamal Bryant was giving this
A family lawyer was calling for the community to help change, to help rip
down that blue wall of silence peacefully.
Go back about seven hours ago, it`s the first encounter with police and a
couple of youngsters at a mall just about five blocks away from that
And it quickly escalated from a few police officers encountering a few
youths to more youths showing up, violence starting, more police showing
up, and then all of a sudden, a police officer is carried off, obviously
Thrown into the back of an armored personnel carrier and from there, it
degraded into what we`ve seen.
Sporadic instances of looting, vehicles being set on fire, businesses being
trashed. And really throughout this whole day, it seems that the police
have in a lot of instances been spectators rather than confronting them,
which might even flame the situation.
They stood on the sidelines and created the sort of quarantines zone and it
took members of the clergy to come in and settle things down.
The question now is, anything settled is anything really settled down here
O`DONNELL: We`re also joined now by Ron Allen, “Nbc News” Ron Allen.
We`re joined by phone, he is – and Ron, where are you in Baltimore now?
RON ALLEN, NBC NEWS: I`m on the corner of Pennsylvania Avenue in the
street, we`re in the heart of the area where there`s been so much violence
and so much mayhem earlier.
It`s calm for the most part, but there are pockets of hot spots, I guess
you could call them, literally, we just drove by a street corner that was -
- where the intersection was pretty much in flames.
And we could see a couple stores where people were vandalizing, looting,
carrying goods out, we didn`t really – couldn`t tell exactly what kind of
store it was, it might have been a liquor store, some kind of a grocery
Because what we`re seeing and notice is the media having cameras, so on and
so forth there, a lot of shouting, all the yelling and threatening – a lot
of threats basically.
I mean we moved on quickly. We`re standing now alongside a line of riot
police who are blocking on the streets in there, some residents who are
milling about, it`s this 10:00 hour now where this curfew is going into
effect for young people.
There`s a full curfew tomorrow. Certain people don`t quite understand why
it`s not tonight and why it`s happening tomorrow, but that`s fine, people
are going to adjust.
But there`s a great uneasiness I guess, you could say across the city. And
again, as we said – as I said, you drive around in this neighborhood and
there are pockets of people out in the street who were standing in one area
And the police got very agitated and very upset when a number of cars kept
coming up towards their line and turning and making u-turns on the streets.
And of course people were hurling insults and yelling things at them in the
street, they came and pulled one guy out of a car and arrested him and took
And that got the crowd angry and it just fueled the sense of grievance that
you find here. And of course the grievances are about Freddie Gray and
about so much more.
About years of people just feeling marginalized and as one woman will put
it, feeling like they`re at war with the police. So again, it`s a very
uneasy night here, we`ll see how it goes.
It`s calm for the most part but, as I said, I was actually quite stunned to
see this intersection, a corner pretty much in flames and people walking
We`ve also seen a number of young men covering up their faces and then
putting on masks, and producer noticed a number of people carrying around
duffel bags which, of course, are all very ominous things.
The police are on guard. Everywhere you turn in this troubled neighborhood
where there`s been the violence earlier with these trucks always burned and
the check cashing place and all that, they`re on guard.
They`re not sure what`s going to happen tonight. And then, most people are
– people who live around here, too, are very concerned and very worried
about what might happen tonight.
LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, MSNBC HOST: Ron Allen, NBC News. Thanks for the
report from the street, Ron. We`ll be coming back to you as the situation
Here in the studio with us now at the table, we have Joy Reid, MSNBC`s
National Correspondent, –
– Mark Thompson of Sirius XM Radio, and Ben Jealous, the Former President
and CEO of the NAACP. Joy, I just want to get –
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
– your reaction to everything we`ve seen. The latest news announcement is
that there will be no school in the public schools tomorrow in Baltimore.
And as was announced earlier this evening, there will be a curfew tomorrow
for all people in Baltimore at 10:00 p.m.
Fourteen-year-olds and under have always had a curfew there of 9:00 p.m.,
so that`s already in effect.
JOY REID, MSNBC NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes. And that was a matter of
some controversy when Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake first announced and
enacted that curfew for young people as a matter of some consternation
within the community having that curfew.
Of course, now, people are asking for more curfew, more extension of it. I
thought a lot of it was interesting. I think the lawyer had – the lawyer
for the family asked the family a question.
Because it is really kind of shocking that we still don`t know at this late
juncture what it is that Freddie Gray was stopped for in the first place.
I think all the arguments over when he was injured are very important. We
can wait for the autopsy on it.
But if the police can`t answer that very simple question, they`ve got a big
problem. And I also think that what Reverend Jamal Bryant said was the
most salient piece.
Because you are now seeing on the screen a breakdown of social norms. But
the social norms between the police department and the City of Baltimore,
particularly West Baltimore, and the African-American citizens of that
city, those norms broke down a long time ago.
This is a city that`s paid out $5.7 million in settlements to at least a
hundred people between 2011 and 2014.
And just looking at “The Baltimore Sun`s” extensive expose, they include a
15-year-old boy riding a bike, a 26-year-old pregnant accountant who`d
witnessed a beating, a 50-year-old woman selling church raffle tickets, and
a 65-year-old church deacon selling a cigarette, and 80-year-old
grandmother aiding her grandson.
These are not just young black men who have been targeted. It`s elderly
people. It`s pregnant women.
This city has a police force with no credibility, zero credibility. And
so, I think, a lot of citizens to see the feds come in and at least have
somebody who might have some moral authority in that community.
O`DONNELL: We just had a shot-up on the screen, Ben Jealous, of what
looked like community leaders linking arms on the streets of Baltimore
there in a very calm holding of position there.
That`s the shot there that we had. And that is what Reverend Bryant had
been asking for earlier in the day, to get that kind of community response
out on the street and reestablish calm with that.
And, Ben Jealous, you have written – I think, for the best thing, I`ve
read about this in the last 24 hours, this situation in Baltimore, in
which, after listing all of the issues that are at play, immediately in the
current situation, including the need for more facts about the current
case, the idea that, ultimately, it all comes down to community policing.
I would say that image you`re seeing on the screen right now is a version
of community policing. Not with police officers, but they are there trying
to, in effect, police their community right now, members of that community.
BEN JEALOUS, FORMER PRESIDENT AND CEO, NAACP: Now, look, what you have to
understand about West Baltimore is it`s really the heart of black
leadership in the city. It`s kind of where we all come from.
O`DONNELL: You`re from there?
JEALOUS: Yes. So, my grandfather was a juvenile probation officer for the
western district for 30 years.
And what my grandfather would tell you is it is presently reflective of a
sort of community policing that the war on drugs has gotten us away from,
When I was young, and I had been with down to work – and some of the kids
were pretty tough and I was like six years old. And I said, “Granddad,”
you know, like, “aren`t you scared.”
He said, “You know, the kids who scare me the most and the kids who worry
me the most, what I tell them is, `On your worst day, this is where I live.
Come there at 6:00 o`clock, sit on my stoop. I get home around 6:00. You
will see me walk up the street and we will figure it out before I go
There`s a need – what you`re seeing right now, you know, it`s frankly,
people from West Baltimore, who are deeply rooted there, for folks to
actually stand up and take control of our city and our neighborhood in a
way that reflects, frankly, the love and connection that`s still there.
The same time, we have to be very concerned about the fact that all the
kids are going to be out of school tomorrow. I mean, in any city, the
time of the most mischief is done between 3:00 and 6:00.
It`s between when folks get home at 6:00 and kids get out of school at
3:00. And when you put all the kids out of school, what`s going to be
needed tomorrow, quite frankly, is folks to be out there being kind of
parents to kids that they`re not parents of, right.
And the way you`re seeing these folks right now is like, “This is our
community and we will behave as if” –
O`DONNELL: If you are – Ben, if you were mayor, would you have made that
call or, with your knowledge of the community, having grown up there, would
you have said the better call is for everyone to go to school.
JEALOUS: Look, you know, the truth is – it`s where my family is from.
It`s where I spent all my summer, frankly, running the streets of West
It`s not where I grew up. It`s where my mom grew up. But working there
now, you know, in any city, that`s a very tough call to make but you`ve got
– you`ve got to be real that you`re gambling with a bunch of folks. And,
frankly, when I question folks, you know, back home in Baltimore and said,
you know, “What is going on. Why are we doing this.”
What I`ve heard is, “Well, we`re concerned about the safety of the
teachers.” That`s not our first concern. Our first concern is the welfare
of the kids.
Quite frankly, many of these kids see their teachers more hours of the day
than they see their own parents because their parents are working so hard.
And what you`ve just done is you`ve just given parents a choice between do
you risk losing your job, staying home to watch your kid on short notice,
or do you risk your kid, frankly, getting a rough ride in the back of one
of these vans.
That`s not a fair choice to put on parents. So, look, you know, I`d be
O`DONNELL: And, Mark Thompson, the parents have to go to work tomorrow.
They`re not getting the day off.
MARK THOMPSON, HOST, SIRIUS XM RADIO: That`s right, so I don`t know what
you do with the children. This is truly a tragic situation. The death of
Freddie Gray was heartbreaking enough.
And, now, this situation in Baltimore where his family is from, members of
my extended family, these are the streets that Clarence Mitchell and
Juanita Jackson Mitchell helped to build, parent Mitchell.
And to see this happen in the way it has happened – but I think, what it
also does is, unfortunately, and for those who are perpetrating these types
of crimes – we don`t really know who they are – these neither represents
the non-violence of Martin Luther King, Jr. nor the strategic arm struggle
of Nelson Mandela.
What this really does is plain to the hands of the police. Because, now,
the distraction is about what`s happening to the police. The focus is off
of Freddie Gray.
And the police bear some responsibility. They should have known this was
coming, as George has pointed out with all those stories.
This has been building up for years in Baltimore. In fact, the reputation
of Baltimore – in many other big cities, the police just shoots you.
In Baltimore, they apprehend you and then you die in custody. That`s kind
of the reputation of Baltimore. It`s been that way –
JEALOUS: Yes. But it`s also a city where far too many shootings happen
far too often. Our state is one of the deadliest states as far as cops
O`DONNELL: Yes, for a capital statistics, it`s very high. We`re going to
have to take a break here. The panel is going to stay.
This is exactly who I want to talk to about this. Rachel Maddow is going
to join us when we get back. We`re going to take a break right now.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
We`re back. Joining us now from Baltimore is Howard Henderson. He`s the
President and CEO of the Greater Baltimore Urban League.
Howard Henderson, the announcements tonight about curfews to be imposed
tomorrow night and no school in the public schools tomorrow in Baltimore,
what`s your reaction to that.
HOWARD HENDERSON, PRESIDENT AND CEO, GREATER BALTIMORE URBAN LEAGUE: Well,
Lawrence, it`s a sad day in Baltimore when the community is mourning the
passing of Freddie Gray, especially the Sandtown Winchester Community.
When you think about what has taken place, it just didn`t take place just
over the last few weeks. Baltimore has been suffering from the neglect of
our neighborhoods for a number of years.
And so, now, what we are seeing is the devastating effect of poverty in
those neighborhoods. So, to say that, you know, that the governor comes
out and the mayor have called for the National Guard to bring peace and
stability back to the community, it`s going to take some time.
So, it`s a sad day for Baltimore, which is a great American city, to be
going through this challenging time.
O`DONNELL: Mr. Henderson, do you believe that the National Guard will be
better received in that neighborhood than the Baltimore Police.
HENDERSON: Well, only time will tell. I don`t think that the undue go for
force that police department has been very restrained in terms of their
dealing with the citizens in those neighborhoods, the issue will be, will
the National Guard also have that certain amount of restraint in dealing
with the citizens in those neighborhoods.
That`s a great concern because all it could no is escalate violence. And
it`s a sad thing when we think about young people and talk about young
people as thugs and hooligans.
I just think that we need to embrace those young people and bring them into
the community and have some dialogue with them and try to get them back on
There`s a lot of needs in our community – jobs, jobs, jobs. The economic
development of those communities have been suffering and lacking for a
number of years, so we need to put some resources back into the
We had a meeting a few weeks – a few days ago, with the the Lieutenant
Governor, asking him to see if he could start this discussion about putting
more resources in all the neighborhoods in Baltimore.
The west side is only a cause of all the problems they are facing in every
community – north, east, and south of Baltimore. All our communities are
So, we need more resources, we need more economic development, more
training, and more actual jobs at the end of the training. So, the
business community need to be called upon to help provide some resources if
the government and the city can`t do it.
O`DONNELL: Howard Henderson, thank you very much for joining us tonight.
We`re joined now here in New York by Rachel Maddow, who`s joining us here
at the table.
And, Rachel, one of the tragedies of this kind of situation, as what Mr.
Henderson said is right, they need more investment in these kinds of
neighborhoods and then images like this tonight inhibit that investment.
RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yes. And it will be
interesting, over the next 24 hours, to see a real test of the
institutional strength of Baltimore and its neighborhoods, as you guys were
talking about earlier.
With schools closed tomorrow and the curfew imposed, so people are not
allowed to be out on the street as of 10:00 p.m. tomorrow, there is a
question as to where people will go and, specifically, where kids are going
You saw a little bit of that in Ferguson, right, where they closed the
schools and you saw the few other local institutions that people – common
places like the library, they say like, “Well, we`ll be open all day and
we`ll be doing programs for kids all day.”
Will somebody step up to give people a structured and safe environment for,
literally, the school kids of the city. Not everybody is going to be able
to get their parents or the person who`s taking care of them off work on
such short notice.
Even that we don`t know what`s going to happen with that curfew, that could
be a situation in which we`re getting mass arrests for people just being on
That could be an additional aggravation to people. We don`t know what the
effect is going to be of having uparmored HHumvee and national guardsmen
and women in military uniforms with military weapons.
That could be an additional aggravation. We don`t know. But those kids
out of school tomorrow all day are going to need something.
And it`s going to be a question as to whether or not those Baltimore
neighborhood institutions are going to step up and be able to provide on
zero notice and with, likely, zero support.
O`DONNELL: We`re joined again from Baltimore by Ron Allen. Ron, have you
been able to get any community reaction yet to those dual announcements
tonight that there will be a curfew tomorrow and that there will no school
in the public schools tomorrow.
ALLEN: People don`t understand why there`s no curfew tonight, for
everybody. As I`ve said, there`s a curfew for teenagers and, tomorrow,
But, I think, people, (INAUDIBLE). The idea of (INAUDIBLE) – I think,
people, for the most part – leadership, I think, for the most part,
embrace the idea, at least, temporarily. It sort of calms this.
Now, tonight, (INAUDIBLE) – on the streets (INAUDIBLE). This was a very
hot corner earlier. Just down the street is where there was a drugstore
that was burning.
There was also some of the looting going on. But it seems now that things
are more relaxed. The police are still lining the streets in their riot
At the other end of this is the – about a half mile away in that direction
(INAUDIBLE). Then we drove around to a number of other places. And there
were (INAUDIBLE) where there was open flames in the middle of the street,
in effect, there was some fire.
There were crash, burning, all kinds of debris from car crash, burning in
the middle of the street. There was a store that`s – there was a store –
there`s a store that`s being vandalized and looted openly.
At the scene across (INAUDIBLE) – there was request from the people who
are assembled there to get out of there and (INAUDIBLE).
In fact, ahead, there are helicopters flying around different areas behind
us (INAUDIBLE), so this is a very, very tense, uneasy place. Baltimore is
a very proud city.
We drove around the heart of downtown, near the city hall, the police
station, symphony, the baseball stadium, where the game has been postponed.
It`s completely deserted, completely empty. Here in these neighborhoods
(INAUDIBLE) it`s a much different thing. It`s very eerie.
There`s been some confrontations – there`s this all these verbal
confrontations. There`s been some debris thrown back and forth.
The things have calmed down in the last couple of hours. But it`s still –
it feels like it`s the beginning, the middle of something. This is not the
end of something.
It`s my sense of it for being here for the last few hours. Lawrence.
O`DONNELL: Joy Reid, you`re a mother of school-aged children. If you were
living in Baltimore, you have quite a challenge tomorrow.
REID: Now, this would be a problem, I`ll be honest with you. I mean,
there were incidents that took place when I used to live in South Florida,
where there`d be, some reason, they`d close schools.
And it can be a real crisis for people in, particularly, communities where
people, as you know, Mark was saying, can`t get the day off. Some of those
people are hourly workers.
It`s not as if you can just, on the drop of a hat, say you`re not coming
in. People are risking their jobs. And the alternative to that is
unsupervised children at home alone.
Now, I grew up as latchkey kid. I was home alone. That was in Denver,
Colorado in the `80s.
Like it`s a totally different world, right. You`re talking about then kids
just being completely unsupervised. And we`re just assuming there is a
boys and girls club, or there is –
REID: – a church that can stay open and manage to keep the lights on, the
air on. You know, that costs money. Who`s paying to keep those open.
MADDOW: And is going to accept the responsibility to do it. Whether it is
a church group or, you know, or a library or any other sort of institution
like that, where they really are going to need to step up tomorrow.
And there`s a question as to whether or not they`ve got the support they
need to be able –
MADDOW: – to do that, especially being asked to do it in the middle of
the night tonight, which is when this decision was made.
O`DONNELL: Mark Thompson, how do you think the mayor and the governor have
handled this tonight.
THOMPSON: I don`t know they`ve handled very well. Now, there are
accusations and the mayor had to address this earlier today.
She made a statement that one could infer that they were going to
vigorously protect only certain communities and not the African-American
She was asked about that at a press conference earlier. Remember, we saw
something similar in Ferguson. There were certain neighborhoods that
O`DONNELL: Let`s actually show exactly what she said –
THOMPSON: OK, OK.
O`DONNELL: – on Saturday. There`s a spot in here where she`s talking
about “how you handle protesters,” and “do you give them a little room.”
And she used the word, “destroy,” in that. And I think that`s what the
controversy is about. Let`s listen to what she actually said, the full
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MAYOR STEPHANIE RAWLINGS-BLAKE (D), BALTIMORE: – work with the police and
instructed them to do everything that they could to make sure that the
protesters were able to exercise their right to free speech.
It`s a very delicate balancing act because, while we try to make sure that
they were protected from the cars and the other, you know, things that were
going on, we also gave those who wish to destroy, space to do that as well.
And we work very hard to keep that balance and to put ourselves in the best
position to deescalate. And that`s what you saw this evening.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: OK, that was on the week – that was on Saturday she said that.
Now, as Mark points out, she got a lot of criticism for that.
She addressed that tonight. Let`s listen to what she said tonight.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RAWLINGS-BLAKE: I made it very clear that we walk a – we balance a very
fine line between giving protesters – giving protesters, peaceful
protesters, space to protest.
What I said is, people can hijack that and use that space for bad. It is
very unfortunate that members of your industry decided to mischaracterize
my words and try to use it as a way to say that we`re inciting violence.
There`s no such thing.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Mark, I understood her – what I took her to mean was what she
said the second time. Unfortunately she used instead of “space to
protest,” she used the phrase, in effect, “space to destroy.”
THOMPSON: She did, she said that. And I had Clarence on my show today.
And one of the things that was talked about was how the police were
deployed down – in the harbor downtown by Camden Yards. And things were
allowed to just go –
O`DONNELL: See, I just took it to mean, literally, maybe this much of the
street. I didn`t take it to mean, “You can have this whole section and do
whatever you want.”
MADDOW: I think she lost her train of thought when she started – when she
started – when she started that phrase. She started that series of
sentences on Saturday.
I think what she was trying to say was, “We wanted to give people room to
express themselves. And in so doing, we ended up giving them space to
And that, I thought, she was trying to say, “That was not our intention.
It`s not we were trying to encourage people to destroy anything.”
But that`s the balance. That`s what`s difficult –
O`DONNELL: I just want to hear Mark`s full interpretation of it, though.
THOMPSON: Well, whatever the case may be, and I`m representing what
Baltimoreans saw and witnessed –
O`DONNELL: Said to you, yes.
THOMPSON: – and said to me. And this is historic. I mean, whenever so-
called riots occur, they tend to be confined to our community.
That`s always very convenient. That`s what happened in Ferguson. In the
long-term, you asked, whether or not they`ve made good decisions, then
Rachel alluded to it, in Ferguson, when they brought in the National Guard
and instituted states of emergency, it increased the tensions amongst those
who wanted to engage, almost on cue, on clockwork.
We were there the first night of the state of emergency in Ferguson. When
it hit midnight, 12:01, people were out in the street, ready to get down
and ready to fight.
So, I don`t know. It remains to be seen whether this will actually be
helpful. But, the bottom line is, this is about a community being
respected, not being occupied, a community being respected enough so that
they have input in their own policing and how police should be deployed in
And, ultimately, it`s about this community being respected in the name of
Freddie Gray and there being a full investigation. That`s the other thing,
when are we going to hear – the investigation was supposed to be done by
Friday. I think there`s been –
O`DONNELL: This coming Friday.
THOMPSON: Yes, I think it`s been prolonged. Mayor was on my show, who was
here earlier. The question is, when will we get the medical examiner`s
Something should already been known by now and they have not been revealed.
REID: And –
O`DONNELL: We`re going to be back – sorry, Joy, we`re going to go back to
Baltimore to NBC`s Ron Allen on the street there in Baltimore.
Ron Allen, you`re saying before that this feels like it might be – you`re
trying to decide whether you`re experiencing the beginning or something or
the end of something there.
ALLEN: It`s clearly the beginning to middle of something, Lawrence, for
the reasons that you were just discussing back there. There`s a lot of
anticipation about what this Friday deadline, this may or may not bring.
And, I think, a lot of expectation that this deadline, this expectation
that it may slide. And so, people won`t have the answers that they want.
And not that they`re going to get them definitely from the police when they
do, if they reveal what their investigation has revealed before they turn
the information over to the – to prosecutors here.
But there`s just so much uncertainty going forward. And, you know, the
thing about Baltimore, this is a big, bustling city.
Ferguson – I`ve heard a lot of comparisons. Now, Ferguson is a place of
21,000. Of course, you have St. Louis County involved in that but, you
know, here, this is a big place.
There`s a lot going on here. And, you know, there`s a lot going on before
all of this. And there`s a history here, of course, of crime and violence
and police community relations that are – like so many other big cities in
And I think that that`s just an important distinction that this is a – you
know, it`s a big bustling place with a lot going on. And I think it`s
going to take some time to work through all this, obviously.
I`ve heard a lot of people making comparisons to 1968 when Martin Luther
King, Jr. was killed and there were riots here and so many other places,
and hoping that this doesn`t become that.
Now, obviously, the amount of destruction is not comparable at this point
but that`s the mindset of some leaders here. They`re fearful but this
could be a tipping point that pushes this city in that direction.
I`m just repeating what others are saying. You know, I have no sense of
that myself. But that gives you a sense of the tenor of the time here, the
It`s very grave. It`s very – a lot of concern, a lot of anger because,
again, just like in so many other places, the sense of grievance here is
not just about one individual, one family, Freddie Gray, at this point.
There`s so much grievance. And a lot of concern, echoing what I think Joy
was saying, if that`s – about what happens tomorrow when all these kids
are out of school and they`re in the streets.
And it`s not a question of whether they`re supervised or not, it`s what are
they going to do. What are the good kids going to do.
Just a potential for so much – there`s just a lot of potential, a lot of
uncertainty, a lot of potential for chaos, a lot potential for a lot of
things to go wrong.
And, you`re right, the police are trying to strike this balance between
public safety and the right of protesters. But it seemed that a fair
amount of what was going on here earlier and what I certainly saw driving
around the city late at night was not protest.
It was – it was – it was – and the mayor and others have called these
people thugs and cowards. This is criminal acts that were going on.
This wasn`t protests. This wasn`t peaceful protest. It may have been,
certainly was, earlier and through the weekend. There`s certainly been a
lot of that.
But, you know, there`s a concern here about real thuggery. And we`re all
aware of those threats, that the police says were credible, from various
gang members and gang affiliates and gang associates who were saying they
were going to “take out,” quote, unquote, police officers.
So, there`s a lot of concern about the level of violence here that the
coming days could possibly bring going forward.
O`DONNELL: Ben Jealous, go ahead.
JEALOUS: You know, it hurts to hear these people, these neighborhoods.
West Baltimore is our Harlem.
JEALOUS: It was our great kind of gateway to the north and to opportunity.
Poverty there – quite frankly, folks have felt stuck for some time.
We have got to get back to a conversation about – what is the – you know,
how are we going to bring more jobs to West Baltimore. Are people in
downtown really going to start hiring from West Baltimore.
Are the cops finally going to start treating people based on who they are
and not just –
O`DONNELL: That`s something you`ve tried to look at the NAACP. Talk about
what it`s like to try to go in to make that case after these images have
been on television.
JEALOUS: You know, so like going back to Stamford and places like that
that we dealt with while I was president, the reality is that, in that
instant, the positional power of a mayor or a chief is very small.
And what you actually need is the actual true-rooted leadership of –
people that people know – pastors, small business owners, people who run
non-profits, sort of getting out there and actually forming consensus about
who are we going to be as a community, what are we going to fight for, and
how are we going to take the opportunity of this moment when it feels like
the glass is more than half empty and actually flip it around and move it
to a better place.
Stamford has done much of that. You know, Baltimore is much bigger. But
let`s be clear, West Baltimore isn`t these neighborhoods, it`s the heart of
And we`ve got to treat the people there like they are as important as the
heart of the city.
REID: And, meanwhile, the reason there was so much controversy when the
mayor first announced the curfews, is that curfews simply increase the
number of contacts, of contacts over minor things, between the police and
In the case of the original curfew, between the police and children. And
there was a lot of concern that all of those increased contacts do not
produce community policing, they produce more hostility, more arrests,
arrest records for kids, kids who now have records or known to the police
who are then under even greater threat of more contact.
It just escalates it. And, now, what you`ll have is adults with those same
issues – that you have to go to work at night and you`re only allowed to
be out there for medical reasons but you have to go to work, then you have
to risk having those incidental contacts with police that make it worse.
And very quickly, you were talking about Sanford, I`ll take it back even
further. Let`s go back to Miami in 1980. The Liberty City riots, which
were sparked by a police beating that then resulted in no arrest, they
never really rebuilt Liberty City. So there`s a risk of permanent economic
damage here in this community.
O`DONNELL: That`s going to have to be the last word from this show
tonight. Ron Allen, Joy Reid, Mark Thompson, Ben Jealous, and Rachel
Maddow, thank you all very much for joining me tonight on this important
Chris Hayes continues our live coverage right now.
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