The Last Word with Lawrence O’Donnell, Transcript 9/21/2016
Show: THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL
Date: September 21, 2016
Guest: Marq Claxton, Jennifer Roberts, Janai Nelson, Reverend William
RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC: Let me hand over to my colleague Lawrence O`Donnell
for THE LAST WORD tonight, Lawrence.
LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, HOST, THE LAST WORD: Thanks, Rachel. We`re continuing
our breaking news coverage from Charlotte, North Carolina, a second night
of protest following the fatal shooting of Keith Lamont Scott by a police
Those protests turned violent tonight. Police are using tear gas to
disperse the protesters, some protesters were arrested. Charlotte Police
Chief Kerr Putney who confirmed that one person has died after being shot
tonight during the protest.
The city of Charlotte says the victim was shot not by a police officer, but
by a civilian. Charlotte police did not fire a shot according to that
report. Joining us now is Nbc`s Tammy Leitner. She is live at the scene.
Tammy, what`s the latest there?
TAMMY LEITNER, NBC NEWS: Lawrence, sorry, we were moving our shot because
yet another person has been arrested. I would say at least a dozen people
have been arrested at this point. We`ve been out here for an hour and a
half and we`ve seen probably 200 riot officers show up.
They formed lines on both sides of the intersection. There were about 300
protesters when we got out here. They were breaking windows of
They were kicking in police vehicles. We saw one police officer get hurt
and he was helped away by fellow comrades.
As I mentioned, about 12 people arrested, one more person is being
arrested right now. For the most part, protesters have walked up to the
line of police officers and not gone any farther than that. But what we
can see from our advantage point here is still about 100 protesters on our
Sorry, there are still tear gas in the air. They`ve set off about 12
canisters since we`ve been here, as well as flash-bangs which are used to
just stun and disperse the crowd, Lawrence.
O`DONNELL: Tammy, you arrived here about an hour and a half, it seems that
was shortly before that person was killed.
The police reports indicate that the person who was shot and killed was on
the way to the hospital before 9:00 p.m. tonight. What more do we know
LEITNER: From where we have been, we weren`t where that person was shot
and killed. I don`t know what happened.
I can only tell you what I can see from where I`ve been, and we`ve been in
the thick of things from here. You can see things are getting – things
are getting out of control on the other side.
Things are being thrown, water bottles – water bottles are being thrown.
So, they`ve got people on the ground across 75 yards from where we are.
As I said, I can only tell you what we`ve seen going on and we`ve been in
the middle of it with people getting arrested, tear gas being sent off and
O`DONNELL: Tammy, make sure you`re safe there, we`re going to cut away and
we will be back to you. Joining us now by phone, Charlotte observer
reporter Eli Portillo. He is in downtown, Charlotte near that protest
scene. Eli, what are you seeing?
ELI PORTILLO, CHARLOTTE OBSERVER REPORTER: Well, we just walked to get an
overhead view on a rail line that`s elevated above trade street where most
of the protests are happening. There appear to be still a lot of tear gas
in the area. You could feel it very strongly. People are running, a lot
And I saw a person on the street just being punched in the face and being
laid out flat. So, it`s a pretty chaotic situation still.
O`DONNELL: Eli, there`s a rhythm to these events when you`re out there in
the streets. Sometimes, it feels like it`s – the tension is heightening.
Sometimes it feels like it`s cooling off. Can you give us any feeling for
how that has – how the flow of that has gone tonight?
And where are we in that curve right now? I don`t think we have sound from
Eli that we can – that we can hear at this point. Tammy, I want to go
back to you at your location.
And I just want to get a sense of where you think we are in the curve of
the momentum of this event tonight. Sometimes these things intensify,
sometimes they cool off.
Sometimes they intensify again after cooling off a bit. Where do you think
we are in that rhythm at this point?
LEITNER: You know, it`s hard to tell. Every time it seems as though the
situation is de-escalating, it ramps back up again.
Every time that it seems that some of the protesters are starting to leave,
they`re replaced with new ones.
Every time it seems that police are holding the line and then keeping
everybody back, we see flash-bangs go off and tear gas and people start to
run and more arrests are made.
So, it`s really hard to tell where we`re at. As I said, things will calm
down a little bit, but then they seem to ramp back up. You can see another
person – you see that another person being arrested there, walking up –
O`DONNELL: Yes, we see that.
LEITNER: It looks like a woman this time. As I have mentioned, I mean,
we`ve seen more than a dozen people, maybe 14 people arrested, both men and
women out here. All of the officers in riot gear have cuffs on them.
I`m looking at each one has three pairs of cuffs. You can see the officers
here are holding a line – and take a look over here, we`ve got – we`ve
got, you know, a protester antagonizing the officers, but not going any
farther than the line here.
And the officers are standing firm, making sure that nobody goes beyond
them. And you know, for the most part, we`ve spoken with a lot of people
out here tonight. And for the most part, people are upset about the death.
And that`s why they come out tonight to – they want justice. They want
the video to be released from the shooting.
But at the same time, we`ve had some people out here that are antagonizing
the officers, like this gentleman that we just saw, throwing things at the
Breaking businesses, breaking store windows of businesses – sorry, it
looks like they – can you take a look over here? It looks like – all
right, so, we`ve got more riot gear, shields, OK. This is what`s going on,
So, they`re bringing in extra riot gear, shields and we`ve got additional
police in riot gear. Can you turn around over here? Can you come with me
All right, careful stepping down. We`re going to try and give you a shot of
what is happening right now, guys.
We`ve got additional police in riot gear with gas masks, with shields.
This is probably the sixth deployment that we`ve seen since we`ve been here
in the last 90 minutes.
O`DONNELL: Tammy, is there a number one demand that the protesters have at
LEITNER: No, there is nobody organizing this protest. I mean, we were
there when it started at 6:00 tonight at a park not very far off. And you
know, they basically were saying they wanted justice at that point.
But then they splintered off into groups, and some of those people ended up
downtown here. And no, they`re saying that they want justice, but as I
mentioned, things have escalated. I mean, they started destroying
They`ve destroyed police vehicles, they`ve destroyed other vehicles. Here
we go. I don`t know if you guys can see this. But what`s going on right
now is they are coming through. You can see a lot of people just standing
around that are – that are filming this.
I mean, some of the people out here are protesters. They want their
message to be heard, and other people are out here just to be part of it
and see what happens.
O`DONNELL: Tammy, on the arrest that you – on the arrest that you`ve
witnessed tonight, have most of those people gone peacefully or have they
been struggling with police when they are arrested?
LEITNER: No, not all of the people have gone peacefully. Some of the
people were throwing water bottles at the police in riot gear, and that`s
what led to some of the arrest. Some of them were resisting, some of them
were screaming profanities.
So, no, it`s really – it`s really run the gamut, not everybody has gone
peacefully. And if you can see this person chanting up here in the bright
shirt, he is chanting “Jesus saves”.
A lot of the people out here that have lined up between the protesters and
the riot police are from a local church.
And they said that they are out here making sure that nobody gets hurt.
That has been their goal. So, we know what they`re out here doing.
O`DONNELL: And did the police regard those people as being helpful to
them? The people from the churches who are trying to separate protesters
LEITNER: You know, that`s really – that`s hard to tell. But I would
guess – yes, I mean, if you look at this gentleman here, I mean he`s
standing between the police in riot gear and the protesters. So, he is
making sure they don`t go any farther and that things don`t escalate.
So, is he being helpful? Yes, in some respects I would say that he is.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Jesus saves! Jesus saves! Jesus saves! Jesus saves!
LEITNER: I`m not sure if you guys can still hear and see us and what`s
O`DONNELL: Yes –
LEITNER: But they just brought in –
O`DONNELL: We`re getting you, Tammy –
LEITNER: More – OK, you`re getting it, OK, they brought in more tactical
gear and more tactical police officers. Let`s go ahead and try and give
you guys a look at – or some of the people that were being arrested were
So, we`re going to try and make our way through the crowd, guys. Police
officers have drawn a line here, if you can move over here a little bit,
we`ve got a woman that`s being patted down. You know, we – there`s people
being patted down on that police car over there.
We don`t know if any of these people are armed. We don`t know if they`re
out here peacefully or if they had any type of weapon on them. We really
just – all we know is that we`ve seen at least 15 people being arrested
O`DONNELL: Tammy, we`re going to cut away from you for a moment, we will
be back as soon as there is more to report there. We`re joined by phone
now from Charlotte by Nbc`s Gabe Gutierrez. Gabe, where are you and what
are you seeing?
GABE GUTIERREZ, NBC NEWS: Hey there, Lawrence. We are actually – also
near the Omni Hotel. And I can tell you a little bit about what we saw an
hour and a half ago, now that there are reports that officials are saying
one person was shot, and that, that was a fatal gunshot.
And was civilian on civilian, that Charlotte police did not fire the shot.
I can only tell you what we heard just before 9:00 or so. And we were
outside the Omni Hotel when things devolved very quickly. It was a group
that went up to the Omni Hotel.
It was a line of police in riot gear. And we heard what we believed at the
time, we weren`t sure if it was a flash-bang or a gunshot.
Afterwards, several witnesses that were even closer than we were came and
saying that a person has been shot, that person has been shot.
Within a few minutes, we saw a person being rushed into the Omni Hotel,
what we believe was by several other protesters, and that person was taken
into the hotel. We do not know the condition of that person.
We do not know if that in fact is the person that suffered the fatal
gunshot wound. But they happened just before 9:00 p.m. here at the Omni
Hotel. Now as Tammy has been describing, the situation has de-escalated at
times and then ramps back up.
There`s still plenty of people out here and still a heavy security
presence. But again, we are trying to find out more information on that
person that was – that was shot. Officials now confirming that it was a
fatal gunshot wound.
And we were able to capture on video what we believe to be a gunshot,
according to witnesses and a person being taken inside the Omni Hotel just
But Lawrence, this is what – you know, this afternoon/evening started out
very peacefully and then descended very quickly into chaos especially in
this part of downtown where I have been at, where Tammy has been at.
And you know, the hope here is that if they can regain some sort of order
here. Thankfully, much quieter in this area than what we saw about an hour
and a half, two hours ago.
O`DONNELL: Gabe, have you heard from protesters what they would want at
this point? Are they – are they demanding to see any police video of the
shooting of Keith Lamont Scott that started everything there?
GUTIERREZ: Oh, well, certainly, it`s something we`ve heard all day. They
want the video to be made public. Of course, you know, we have been
covering this throughout the day.
And what the police chief is saying is that, you know, they`re reviewing
the body camera footage, they`re reviewing the dash cam footage.
And because of the pending investigation, that video has not been released.
But from what we understand and we saw all the statement from Mr. Scott`s
wife late this afternoon into the evening, that the family at this point
has more questions than answers.
And what we`ve heard from protesters repeatedly throughout the night is
that they want more transparency from the police department.
On the other hand, you did hear from the police chief this morning saying
that this is not a situation that has played out on social media.
That, this is not the story that has been told on social media. And they -
- according to the police chief, a gun was found at the scene. But if you
talk to neighbors at that apartment complex, however, they take issue with
They say that it wasn`t a gun. They say that Mr. Scott was simply reading
a book, waiting for his son. So, it`s definitely two competing narratives
One by the neighbors and what some witnesses say – and I`m sorry,
Lawrence, but there is a – where I`m standing, there`s a long line of
police in riot gear near the Omni Hotel marching in – marching line.
Not sure where they`re going. But they`re asking people to get out of the
way. But as I was saying, there is two competing narratives here.
Conflicting stories about what exactly happened.
The police stressed, however, that it was Mr. Scott as you`ve been
reporting. It was Mr. Scott that refused to obey commands and refused to
drop his weapon. Many of these protesters, they don`t see it that way.
They see another African-American man shot by police, and they are
demanding answers. Again, this evening started very peacefully and very –
you know, people walking from Marshall Park downtown.
And it quickly devolved into chaos, so, it was sometime around 8:30, 9:00,
we started to see these clashes with police. And as Tammy has been
describing as we`ve been seeing, they began to flare up every few minutes.
But the situation right now at least near the Omni Hotel is much calmer
than it was, say, two hours ago.
O`DONNELL: Gabe Gutierrez, thank you for that report. We will get back to
you as the situation develops. We`re joined now from downtown, Charlotte,
by Cleve Wootson.
He`s a “Washington Post” reporter. He was there apparently when that
civilian was fatally shot tonight. Cleve, what did you see?
CLEVE WOOTSON, WASHINGTON POST: Well, the protesters that came out of the
Epicenter, it`s an entertainment complex with a movie theater, bar, and
stuff like that, going towards the Omni Hotel. There are some police vans
lined up on trade street on a hill.
And a bunch of officers all in riot gear got out. And for some reason,
they went towards the lobby of the Omni Hotel there. Protesters followed
them, went towards them. I think other protesters were warning them it`s a
trap, don`t go, don`t follow.
But they went for some reason, there was some sort of clash. I could – I
heard and I saw and I felt the tear gas canisters go off, I was about 10 or
15 feet away.
As the tear gas goes off, people were kind of backing up and some were
going a little bit forward. And then there was a gunshot.
It just rang out. There were lots of – lots of people around. I didn`t
see the gunshot or a muzzle flash or anything.
I did see a man lying on the ground, maybe about 10 or 15 feet away from
where I was standing. It`s hard to see, I was backing up and other people
were backing up because of the tear gas.
Protesters were saying they shot a man, they shot a man, they – you know,
they shot him. But it was unclear who fired the shot or who was shot.
From my vantage point, it was even difficult to see who was shot.
Because several people were on the ground, whether it was the injured man
or the person that was attending to him or whatever, but police tried to
clear the crowd a little bit more by spraying more flash-bangs and more
And the crowd backed up. But I don`t know if they ever backed up enough.
At some point I saw everybody kind of rushed into the lobby or the police
rushed into the lobby.
And then later, I saw a police SUV speeding away from the scene. I`m not
sure if that carried the injured man. But paramedics later informed us
that somebody was shot and I think we just were able to confirm that it was
a fatal shot, that the person was killed.
O`DONNELL: Cleve, in what you`re describing, it sounds like so much
confusion for the people who were around there, that I wonder if there`s a
possibility that the shot was an accidental shot in everything that was
going on there.
WOOTSON: Well, I think that`s what police are probably trying to piece
together right now. Some of my colleagues with “The Washington Post” were
able to confirm that it was a civilian on civilian shot.
But whether it was accidental, purposeful or what? We just don`t know. And
you know, where I was kind of for the last hour or so was looking at police
trying to investigate this crime scene.
Because that`s what it is now, right? A crime scene where a guy has died,
while at the same time trying to push protesters back, trying to get them
back and away from it, telling them to disperse, firing tear gas.
O`DONNELL: And Cleve, how many people do you think understand that a
shooting and death occurred in that situation?
WOOTSON: I think everybody that was nearby heard the gunshot. I mean, we
kind of – some of us assumed that it was more tear gas, but it was louder
than the tear gas canister.
But we heard the gunshot and a lot of people saw that a guy was lying on
the ground and sort of surged forward. So, I`m not sure if they were
rendering aid or what?
I could see people kind of trying to push the crowd back. I don`t know if
somebody was trying to render CPR or do something. But there was a sense
that somebody had been shot. In fact, for the next hour, it was all that
people were talking about.
They shot a guy. They shot a guy. They shot a guy. Now we don`t – you
know, they`re saying – “they”, and they`re referring to the cops, but at
that point no one really knew – no one really knew who pulled the trigger
or who shot the man.
O`DONNELL: Cleve Wootson, reporter for “The Washington Post”, thank you
very much for that eyewitness –
WOOTSON: Sure, thing –
O`DONNELL: Report of what`s happened there, I really appreciate it. We`re
joined now by Marq Claxton, he is the director of the Black Law Enforcement
He`s a retired New York City Police Detective. Marq, your reaction to what
we`ve seen unfold so far in Charlotte tonight.
MARQ CLAXTON, DIRECTOR, BLACK LAW ENFORCEMENT ALLIANCE: It`s a chaotic
scene. It`s a riotous scene. And to keep it in perspective, it`s a
reaction to what people perceive as an injustice or a lack of transparency.
You know, I think it`s very interesting that we`re almost exactly 50 years
away from the date that Dr. Martin Luther King spoke of riots and indicated
that riots are the language of the unheard.
And I think that some 50 years later, we still haven`t quite understood the
nature or the impetus for these type of reactions. And the subsequent
violence that sometimes is part and parcel to these type of demonstrations.
I think clearly, just based on the reporting that`s been coming out, that
you have different factions and different pockets. You had some people
earlier perhaps who came out more vocal in demonstrations.
And you had some other folk who were insisting on being more direct in
their protests. But quite frankly, that is, you know, the nature of these
And these individuals, this multi-racial group of individuals involved in
these protests that have devolved into riots are just reacting to something
that they perceive as an injustice.
O`DONNELL: And Marq, it seems as I know law enforcement authorities have
believed is possible for decades now that they are reacting to more than
just the single incident that occurred in Charlotte.
When this occurs within days of what they`ve already seen on video from
Tulsa, Oklahoma, a man with his hands up being first tasered apparently and
then shot and killed. There is a cumulative effect on the population that
comes out to protest these events.
And I know police departments around the country are aware of that. That
there are no more local police controversies anymore. That these police
controversies go national quickly and they affect police departments
CLAXTON: Sure. These are national issues and these are issues that many
people will say are reflective of a pattern and practice of behavior. By
far, too many police agencies as they relate to communities of color in
particular, black people.
And this is not as I`ve indicated other times when we`ve been talking about
other disturbances across the nation. It`s not just about that particular
region or that particular area`s incident.
It is about a history and a pattern and a practice of individuals and
police agencies basically being allowed to be less than transparent and not
being held accountable for their actions.
And I think what happens is after that frustration builds up for a while,
and it has been many decades of this frustration building up, people have a
And rather than deal with what causes these type of reactions, you know,
government officials, politicians, other apologists would rather deal with,
you know, just the violence or how untidy these actions look.
How – you know, unhealthy protest is. Many people believe that. So, I
think it`s important for us not to be, you know, kind of led off track.
And a focus on that which causes this type of reaction. What is it and
what could be done to prevent these type of reactions to perceived
O`DONNELL: We`re going to go back to the scene in Charlotte now with Nbc
News correspondent Tammy Leitner. Tammy, any developments there now?
LEITNER: They brought out more police in riot gear, I can tell you that.
And the line where we`re at seems to be holding firm. If you can see,
there is riot police all the way across here, all the way across here.
And they`re pretty much keeping the protesters at a distance here. But I
don`t know if we can get a shot for you all the way beyond where we are,
I`m not sure if you can see that. But what`s happened over there is riot
police have moved the protesters down, I would say, at least a block, a
block and a half.
And they`ve done that by shooting off flash-bangs into the crowd and
dispersing tear gas. Most of the tear gas has been shot off in this
intersection. And that`s been successful in moving people, protesters down
away from this intersection on that side.
But as I mentioned, not here. You can still see quite a few people. Now,
let me give you a better idea. We`ve been out here for at least two hours.
And when we first got here, things were escalating.
They were breaking windows of businesses. They were kicking in police
vans. You can see blood on some of the vans where people got injured.
We`ve seen at least one police officer in riot gear injured.
He was helped away by several officers. He could not walk on his own, we
don`t know what his injuries are. Right now, things are very calm, but
we`ve seen them throwing bottles, we`ve seen them breaking windows.
And as I mentioned, we`ve seen at least one officer get hurt. We`re going
to try and give you guys a shot from this other perspective. There`s been
at least 15 people arrested since we`ve been here that we`ve counted.
And actually, there`s people being arrested right now. If you take a look
over there, there is one more person being arrested now.
All of these officers in riot gear have flex cuffs. You can see they are
each equipped with three pairs which makes it very easy for them to take
any protesters that aren`t cooperating.
You can see a couple of the people that have been arrested. They`re still
yelling profanities, they`re resisting. They`re not going peaceful which
is how this protest started at 7:00 in a park about 12 blocks away.
It started as a peaceful protest, remembering a man who was shot and killed
just yesterday. But it has certainly turned into much more than that.
As I mentioned, one person has been killed. One police officer has been
injured and numerous people have been arrested.
O`DONNELL: Tammy, at the peaceful protest that you saw assembling earlier
tonight, how many people? Can you give us a crowd estimate about how big a
crowd that was?
LEITNER: Yes, there was at least 300 people, maybe 200 that started
protesting. They billed this as a vigil that showed up around 6:00 p.m.,
an hour earlier than it started.
So, there was at least 200 people and then some of them walked to a church,
some of them stayed in the park, some of them ended up here where we are,
And over the last couple of hours, we`ve seen this go from a peaceful
vigil, remembering one man who was killed yesterday to basically riots
with a police officer injured, numerous people arrested.
A lot of property in the area destroyed and things are showing no sign of
calming down right now at this point.
O`DONNELL: Tammy, thank you for that report, we will be back to you. We
are joined now by the mayor of Charlotte, North Carolina, Jennifer Roberts.
Mayor Roberts, could you tell us what the police tactical objective is now
in the area or the controversy is?
MAYOR JENNIFER ROBERTS, CHARLOTTE, NORTH CAROLINA: Our police officers are
working very hard in our uptown area to restore calm, to restore order.
They are trying to keep people safe and to keep property safe. They do
have the riot shields up.
And they are not responding to provocation, but working to peacefully
encircle some of the protesters and to try to provide that barrier of
safety. They are working hard to restore order.
And it does seem the crowd is starting to slow down, to dissipate a little
bit. We`re still watching it, you know, minute-by-minute with the video
feed. But we are continuing to monitor the situation here in the
O`DONNELL: And Mayor Roberts, what can you tell us about the person who
was killed tonight?
ROBERTS: We don`t have information. We do know that was a civilian-on-
civilian shooting. I know that they were transferred to the hospital.
We actually have conflicting reports whether they have died or whether they
are in an intensive care. But we do not have any more information on the
victim at this point.
O`DONNELL: And Mayor, any arrests in that shooting?
ROBERTS: It is still an active scene. And we do not have an updated
information on that either. I know that there was an arrest last night
during the protests. There are others that are pending based on some of
the fallout from last night. I do not have numbers for tonight.
O`DONNELL: And Mayor Roberts, are there any executive acts that you`re
considering taking in your capacity as mayor to address what`s going on
ROBERTS: Well, we`re in active conversation with our police chief and our
fire chief as to whether we need additional resources. We have been in
communication with our state, our State Troopers are up already with the
National Guard who are at the ready if we need them. We`re in contact with
our surrounding cities who are also ready to relieve some of the
neighborhood patrolling while we`re concentrating our forces on the
I believe we have well over 200 officers right now and a few blocks of our
downtown area. So we have been in contact also with the Federal Government
and the Department of Justice is sending a few people, four people here
tomorrow to help us with strategy and the community policing outreach part
of really calming the community, returning to our strong tradition of
dialogues and of working to get back to that time of peace and real
dialogue where we can move us forward.
O`DONNELL: Are you giving any consideration to a possible curfew tomorrow?
ROBERTS: Certainly. We will have discussions. We`d to see, you know,
what the – what the report is from the information we have in talking to
protesters, in talking to the groups and hearing from our folks out on the
ground tonight. It is certainly something that we could consider right
We don`t have an active discussion around that. But it is a tool that we
would consider if needed.
O`DONNELL: And Mayor Roberts, as you know, many of the protesters are
eager to see, to put it mildly, any video in possession of the police
covering that shooting of Keith Lamont Scott. What can you tell us about
when we might see any of that video?
ROBERTS: Well, we have a policy that while there is an active investigation
ongoing. We do not release pieces of evidence. We want to have the full
picture in place so that we know the whole story of events that took place
yesterday with the officer-involved shooting. And we are still gathering
accounts from witnesses.
And also, you know, possible cell phone videos from other angles. And
until we have all that in place, I do not anticipate that we will have
public access to that video. I am going to work with our chief to try to
have the family have the access. There is a protocol where by he can do
that, even during the investigation.
And we`re going to work to see if we can make that happen. I do think that
having a few people able to view that will help. And underscoring the
integrity and the transparency of investigation that while this is ongoing.
O`DONNELL: Mayor Roberts, when do you expect to be able to see this video
ROBERTS: I am asking our chief for it. He`ll see it tomorrow. And again,
that depends on what the situation on the ground looks like tomorrow. But
I`m working very hard to be able to see it tomorrow. I want to see it as
soon as possible.
O`DONNELL: Well, as you know, you`re not in any way formally a part of the
investigative apparatus for a case like this for a criminal case. So if
the mayor can look at the police video, is it – could you conceive of a
situation in which you could watch that video tomorrow. And based on what
you`ve seen and based on what a you know your community wants to see that
you could then make a recommendation that that video be released? If the
mayor could see it, which is viewing it outside of the investigative
process, could you consider then the possibility of releasing it publicly?
ROBERTS: I think that`s a conversation that we can have. I think that,
you know, I don`t know all that is contained or several different angles or
a couple of body cameras or dash camera. So, I don`t know how clear they
are or how close they were and until I have more information.
But I think with that information, I would be in a much better position to
judge whether it would be helpful to try to release it as soon as possible
and helpful to bring the family in. And certainly that`s a discussion that
I will have with our chief and with our city council and with other leaders
in the state.
O`DONNELL: And Mayor Roberts, what are your – what is your message to the
City of Charlotte right now tonight?
ROBERTS: My message to our citizens is that we are a peaceful community.
We have a long tradition of working with our faith leaders, with our
community leaders, with our civic leaders and our business leaders to come
together around challenges. We have had challenges in the past.
We have had difficult shootings. We have had many different challenges
that we have gotten through as a community. And I want folks to remember
that. That that is who we are. When I look at the protests in the streets
when they turn violent, that is not who we are and I am calling for calm.
I`m calling for peace.
Telling people to stay home or to protest peacefully. We had two peaceful
protests this evening in different locations in the city that were very
I think that we can return to that. And again, working with our community
leaders, we know that we are better than what we have seen tonight. And I
am hoping we can return to that as soon as possible.
O`DONNELL: And Mayor, in specifically addressing the protesters out there
tonight that some of whom have already gone home and maybe be able to hear
you, but others who will certainly hear whatever you have to say tonight
they will be aware of it tomorrow. What would you say to them in terms of
what they can expect from you? And what that would mean in terms of their
What can you say to them that you hope can make them change their protest
tactics and make them in effect retreat from this confrontation with the
ROBERTS: Well, I have to tell you that I have been to many gatherings. We
have an organization here, Black Lives Matter Organization. We have NAACP.
I have been to many community meetings where we have talked about real
disparities that exists.
We have talked about challenges we have and equity, whether it`s in
education or job opportunities or transportation or health. And I would
like anyone who is upset with the perception that we do have a racial
divide and – in areas of our society and here in Charlotte that we have
heard them. That we are listening,
That we understand the frustration, and I have to say in my administration,
we are working very hard on multiple levels to decrease that disparity, to
make sure that opportunity is open to all. And the way we do that is by
working together collaboratively. And working through dialogue and through
peaceful change of policy and business and nonprofit and state to work
together. And I will continue to make that a focus.
And so, I reiterate, we want people to express their opinion. We want to
hear your protests and your concern and your ideas about ways to improve.
We want to be peaceful. That`s who we are. That`s who we`ve always been.
And I look forward to working with this community, in every corner of the
city, to make sure that we are a unified community where we recognize every
person deserves dignity and respect and should be treated equally.
O`DONNELL: As you know, Mayor, every kid going into a public school
tomorrow in your city is going to be thinking about this is going to want
to talk about this and probably hear something about this. Have you been
able to give any consideration to what message should be delivered in the
public schools tomorrow and this week?
ROBERTS: Well, I know that our children are watching. I still have – my
son is in high school. I have a daughter in college. I have a lot of
friends with children at home.
They are watching and they are listening to the words that the adults are
using. And we talk about collaboration. We talk about peaceful evolution.
We talk about common goals and shared interests.
Those are powerful. And we absolutely do need to have people express their
opinion. It`s OK to be frustrated. It`s OK to be angry. It`s OK to want
What`s not OK is to try to use violence to bring about that change. We
have heard from all of our community leaders that peaceful protests and
dialogue is the best way to move forward. It`s the only way.
O`DONNELL: Mayor Jennifer Roberts, Thank you very much for joining us on
this very difficult night in Charlotte. We really appreciate everything
you have been able to share with us about the situation there. Thank you
very much, Mayor Roberts.
ROBERTS: All right, thank you.
O`DONNELL: Thank you. We`re joined now by Janai Nelson. She is an
Associate Director of Counsel of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational
Fund. She`s here with me in the studio in New York.
Janai, I just want to get your reaction to going backwards, what we just
heard from the mayor, basically through all of the events of the evening.
JANAI NELSON, ASSOCIATE DIRECTOR OF COUNSEL, NAACP: Well, what I heard was
a Mayor who is very concerned about her constituents and her city. But
what I`m not hearing is an invitation for resolution. And what I`m not
hearing is an acknowledgment as to why these individuals are in the street
so frustrated, so filled with anguish, so filled with apathy. And we
aren`t having a real conversation about why this exists.
It isn`t simply about the very tragic killing of Mr. Scott. This is as you
said a cumulative hurt. It`s a cumulative concern. And it`s a cumulative
anger at not being able to receive any accountability through the normal
channels of justice. And until we –
O`DONNELL: Didn`t it sound to you like there`s a crack there with the
Mayor on the possibility of this video? When I asked her about if she is
to see this video tomorrow, might there be something in it that makes her
decide she should advocate its public release. And I mean as I pointed out
in this conversation with the Mayor.
She`s not part of an investigative process. No one should think that a
mayor, seeing the evidence in a criminal case, is a normal procedure. That
never happens in the normal course of events. So already, we have an
unusual choice right there, allowing the mayor to see this evidence in a
NELSON: That`s right. It shows the vast discussion that the police chief
has in –
O`DONNELL: We`re going to – sorry, Janai, we`re going to go back to Tammy
Leitner in Charlotte. Tammy, what are you seeing there?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Female, white, officer injured.
TAMMY LEITNER, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT: OK. So what you`re seeing right now,
you are seeing a female officer who has been injured. She is being helped
by paramedics in riot gear into the Omni Hotel here. She is unable to walk
on her own.
She is being assisted by three medics in riot gear. Unable to see at this
point what her injuries are. But this is – let me just mention, this is
the second officer that we`ve seen injured and brought over here for
She is obviously with medics right now. And let me tell you a little bit
more about what has been going on here. So, they`ve been holding the line,
the riot police, where we are standing. But they`ve been pushing it back
on the other side of the intersection. And what happens is they do it
slowly, inch by inch, foot by foot.
They start moving forward, pushing the protesters back until they
eventually disperse. Now, I can – what`s going on right now is they –
this police officer is unable to walk and obviously unable to stand. She`s
sustained some type of injury. They are helping her sit down on some type
of cart from the hotel, a bell stand from the hotel, a bell cart, hard to
It could be her leg that was injured. She was being assisted by two
medics. And it looks like they`re going to be putting her in a wheelchair
and obviously taking her out for some treatment. Just in the last – we`re
going to try and give you guys a closer look of her being treated here.
They`re taking her away. Obviously, they`re going to take her for medical
So as the mayor mentioned, we`ve seen the shields come down in the last
half hour or so. And let me give you a better idea of what`s been going on
about two blocks away from us.
So they`ve managed to push those protesters down where you`re looking at
least two blocks away. There were – there were about 300 people when we
arrived here more than two hours ago. And so what they do is they inch
They use flash-bangs to startle the crowd, to startle them and move them.
And they slowly inch by inch, foot by foot, they pushed the crowd back.
There`s also been more tear gas. The wind is coming up this way. And
every time the wind kicks up, we can see the tear gas coming up here.
We can feel it. Some of the people that were arrested, you can see them
over there. They are wheezing because the tear gas has come up this way.
The riot police all have gas masks on. None of the protesters do,
You can see there`s a couple other people that have been arrested. We have
seen at least 15 people get arrested. And as I mentioned, this started out
as a peaceful – peaceful protest more than three hours ago. And it has
turned into at least two police officers being injured, one person being
killed, more than a dozen arrests.
Businesses, broken glass, police vans windows being kicked in. This has
really escalated over the last three hours. But hopefully there is an end
in sight. Things do seem to be getting under control a little bit.
O`DONNELL: Tammy Leitner, thank you. We will back to you. And we`re
joined now by Jim Cavanaugh. He`s an MSNBC Law Enforcement Analyst. He`s
a retired ATF special agent, a former hostage negotiator for the ATF.
And Jim, I just want to get your reaction to what you`re seeing in terms of
the tactics there. Hard to tell, we have some aerial shots that you`ve
been able to see. And you`ve heard Tammy Leitner`s reports filled with
some details about what is going on there.
But what do you make of the tactics versus the size of crowd we`re
estimating and where you think we might be in the course of all of this
JIM CAVANAUGH, MSNBC LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Well, I thought your
question earlier, Lawrence, was spot on of the curve of the way, the tempo
of the event. And you could tell earlier on that, you know, the police
commanders when they moved that bearcat in that – that armored bearcat in
probably was right after the fatality shooting or critical injury shooting.
We`re not sure how it resulted – that really changes –
O`DONNELL: Jim, let me interrupt you for one second. Because Mayor
Roberts – Mayor Jennifer Roberts said something very important during our
interview, she was the first to say that there was some doubt as to whether
the person who was shot was actually killed. We now have a confirmation
that that person is on life support, that that person is – has not been
As I say, Mayor Jennifer Roberts indicated that possibility to us about 15
minutes ago in the middle of our conversation. And I just wanted to get
that confirmation out there now as soon as possible. So, we do not have
any fatalities tonight in Charlotte in this situation. Jim, go ahead.
CAVANAUGH: Right, Lawrence. So, but, you know, the police commanders
assessed this. Somebody showed up with a gun. Somebody was shot that
changes the complexion for them. They brought in the bearcat. You saw
some tear gas deployment.
But as I view – as you`ve watched, and I think you`ve pointed out clearly,
some of those arrests were for failure to disperse. Some of those arrests
were for probably throwing objects there has been officers injured. But
they have a pretty calm control now and they`re inching forward.
Don`t see a lot of gas being putout at the moment. So it looks like as
Tammy described they`re kind of inching forward slowly. I think they feel
they have more control. You know, when somebody is shot like that in a
crowd, you know, that makes the commanders have to look at it a little
differently. But that seems to be the event is over.
They feel like maybe they have some control there and the number of
protesters maybe diminishing through fatigue as well. And many of them are
peaceful, they`re just on bullhorns with signs. A few breaking windows and
So, right now I think Charlotte, Mecklenburg PD is doing a steady hold.
They have commanded the street right there. And they look like they`re not
pressing it which is a smart move. Just keep a steady hold and slow
movement and, you know. Get to the calm of the night. It looks like at
the moment a very nice tactic.
O`DONNELL: And Jim, you know, I mentioned this point to Marq Claxton
earlier in the evening, former NYPD detective himself. And that`s this
issue that – that police departments now around the country must be hyper
aware of it. It goes back to something I heard 30 years ago from a Chicago
police captain then Howard Saffold who said to me that a police officer can
do something in a second or in a minute that can sour a community for a
And now, with social media, with video and with national television
coverage of these things, that community that is soured is a national
community. It`s no longer a local story that is passed through the news
media locally and then passed intergenerationally through word of mouth.
These stories and these names of people killed by police that occur all
over the country, those names are now known all over the country. And
there is that cumulative effect that seems to have possibly been a factor
in what we`re seeing in Charlotte tonight.
CAVANAUGH: Right. It`s a new age, and we have to change and policing has
to change. Because the nation is as if one city and to watch the feed from
Tulsa from the helicopter with the man with his hands completely up in the
air, you know, the nation watches, the people watch that and then he is
shot. That`s a pretty hard thing to explain. So everybody watches that.
We`re one city.
And the point you made about the video with the mayor, it`s as if in this
one city the police video is released in one precinct, but the police video
is held in the other precinct. So, I think the police commanders across
the country and the Department of Justice have to have a discussion about
what is going to be the protocol for that. What is the appropriate
protocol for that?
I mean every city has a different policy. You know, what`s going to be the
right thing going forward. And I think that is a dialogue for the IECP,
you know, full disclosure, I`m a life member. But the PERF, the Police
Executive Research Forum, the Department of Justice, community leaders.
What should be the posture because like you say should it be out there? I
believe it should be transparent. And the faster it gets out there, you
know, people can see it. And if it`s a bad shoot, they`ll know if it`s a
good shoot though. And I`m for the transparency.
O`DONNELL: Thanks Jim, we are joined now by Reverend William Barber, he`s
a civil rights activist and based in North Carolina. He is with the North
Carolina NAACP. Reverend Barber I`d like to get your reaction to what`s
happened in Charlotte tonight and what your hope now is for that community?
REV. WILLIAM BARBER, CIVIL RIGHTS ACTIVIST: Well, you know, Lawrence we`re
seeing a kind of weeping in our nation. I think it`s not just showing with
this told for us to combine hurt and pain. I call it daily ongoing
traumatic syndrome. Now, I exasperate the protest, the legitimate
protester who we`re calling for transparency who will recognize that
Charlotte is a city where you have Jonathan Ferrell who was killed and
then also will indict it. And there was a hung jury and we still have not
retried of that person who killed this innocent young college student in a
state where we`ve had a number of African-Americans convict exonerate or
death row at their time the governor is calling for the death penalty to be
We, at the very time we need video, we have a government here how has
passed a law and signed law to withhold videos, we have so many wrongful
conviction that we are fighting right here in North Carolina. So, there`s
a pain for the protesters who are saying that we want transparency, we want
to know what happen.
One thing the provocateurs who are out doing (INAUDIBLE) remind me of those
who like when Dr. King went to Memphis to fight for the Roberts (ph) they
disrupted the march, it doesn`t help. I hope that we see here is blacks
and whites would engage in the peaceful and I want to say justice protest.
Not so much peaceful because I`m hurting. I have three sons. My daughter
is leading a protest in Durum tonight. We`re deeply concerned. I`m proud
to see black and white and Latinos saying, you know, Black lives matter and
we want transparency. But this – the violence and it deeply disturb me
because it distracts us from the real issues right at this junction
Lawrence. We have a possibility of three scenarios which are very
One, is that a man who only had a book was shot by a police and somebody
planted a gun and agreed in a conspiracy. that`s a possibility. The
second possibility is that a man had a gun in an open carry state in a
state that where they`ve made easy, we are at a state that make it easy to
get a gun than it is to vote and was shot simply because he carried what
you can carry in North Carolina. Or the third possibility is he had a gun,
he brandished it in a violent way at the police, they thought they were at
risk. We do not know at this point.
So, we have to have this call for transparency. I`ve been in touch with
the U.S. Department of Justice. I`ve been in touch with the Mayor,
pastors. I`m headed there at 4 o`clock in the morning to meet with clergy
and meet with the mayor.
But, you know, we can`t – we have a problem in our criminal justice system
from incarceration to police assassination in some point. And it`s not
black folk against the police because good police do not like bad police.
And these crowd are not just black. They`re black and white all saying we
have to deal with this issue of police brutality. But we do not know right
now about this particular case but a lot of the concern and the crowd that
you`re seeing is because of the overwhelming continuance of this pain of
constantly having to wake up and hear that there was another one, there was
another one, there was another one.
O`DONNELL: Janai Nelson to this question of releasing the video. There`s
a new law that was passed in North Carolina about police video but that
hasn`t gone in to effect yet. What is the current state of law there.
NELSON: That`s correct. So, Governor McCrory passed a law, he signed it
July 11th and it goes in to effect October 1. And that law completely
against the interest of transparency, provides a cloak for police body cam
video and other police video. And it requires the order of a judge in
order for someone to see the video. So, the conversation we`re having now
that whether the video should be released and the protesters demand would
now be even harder to respond to and achieve in light of this law.
And it`s quite frustrating that in this era of policing crises that we see
a governor and we see elected officials going in the opposite direction of
transparency and truth and openness. And instead trying to engage in
tactics that can only do harm to the integrity of the justice system.
O`DONNELL: And one of the things we see in the record of these cases
around the country in the last few years is that transparency works. In
fact, the more transparency involved in these cases, the lower the
temperature in the protests community about these cases.
NELSON: That`s right. We`ve actually seen it work in favor of police
officers in many instances where they`ve been able to show how a particular
scene unfolded. And it does allay concerns and fears about conspiracy and
about on justice and harm occurring.
But it reveals some very disturbing tactics by law enforcement and it has
forced us to try to reckon with this policing crisis that has been around
for decades, but is now coming to before. So I think we`re afraid of what
we see, but we need to see it if we`re going to avoid the continued war-
like scenes that we`re seeing all over our screens right now.
O`DONNELL: Reverend Barber.
O`DONNELL: I had a conversation with Mayor Jennifer Roberts –
O`DONNELL: – earlier in the program. She indicated that she is going to
watch the police video herself tomorrow or at least ask to watch it. And I
asked her if she might then consider the possibility of releasing it or
advocating its public release more widely than just having the mayor see
it. And it seemed like her mind wasn`t completely closed on that subject.
BARBER: Well, I spoke to the mayor today. I spoke to the U.S. Department
of Justice and others. I`m reaching out to the family. I said I`m leaving
to go to Charlotte for the morning. And we`re having a press conference at
1:00. I`m going to meet with the mayor at 10:30. I hope we get to see in
fact that video.
You know, Lawrence, you have to have transparence in order to have trust.
And you have to have training. And the training plus the transparency are
critical in these matters. And if in fact a police person commits a crime,
there has to be a prosecution and a conviction as a way of stopping this.
I mean that`s why we convict and prosecute people otherwise who we say that
it helps to deter crime. And so there is so much frustration right now.
As I said, you had the Jonathan Ferrell incident.
We know he was a young man that was wrongfully shot. You know, and people
say well we need to get back to the calm. And I like what your commentator
say. That it may be ugly, but we need to see it. What if we didn`t have
the cameras down in Charleston, South Carolina and that showed the cop
putting something beside the other Mr. Scott who died. We have situations
all over this state Lawrence.
We have a county. I could tell you about where there`s been a, you know a
group of police allegedly killing people that`s being investigated by the
justice department at Harnett County. I`ve got at least two cases of
African-Americans who have been in jail 20 years for something they didn`t
do. We`ve had a number of people who are on death row who would be dead
right now if the justice – if we had not gotten them exonerated.
So it`s not as though we had some kind of peace prior this incident. And
that`s what I think America needs to understand. I don`t agree with the
violence. But don`t mistake not agreeing with the violence to not being
against the violence that we`re seeing perpetrated on our community. And
the hurt and the pain is actually daily ongoing, traumatic stress. That`s
what we`re seeing a lot of times.
And Lawrence, in our state, it`s not just that people like, you know, we
have death like this. We have a state where thousands of people are dying
because we, you know, had people that the government allegedly would not
accept Medicaid. And I could go on and on and on.
And yet at the very time when something like this happened people who have
actually created laws that withhold videos, created laws to produce more
guns in our street, created laws to make it easier to get a gun than it is
to get a voting card, then want to holler peace, peace, peace.
Well, I say to the protesters, they should stand and call for the
transparencies. The prime provocateurs of violence should not be doing it
because it distracts us from the real conversation about race and class
that we need to have in this community and the change that we need to make.
O`DONNELL: Reverend William Barber, thank you very much for joining us on
what is a very difficult night for your state. And really appreciate it.
Thank you very much.
BARBER: Thank you so much. God bless.
O`DONNELL: You`re seeing the scene now live images from Charlotte, North
Carolina, where protesting turned violent tonight. One person was shot
erroneously reported earlier in the evening that that was a fatal shooting.
It was not. That person remains on life support in hospital there in
Our live breaking news coverage will continue now with Brian Williams.
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