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The Rachel Maddow Show, Transcript 08/14/14

Guests: Antonio French, Courtney Allen Curtis, Lizz Brown

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