Show: THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW Date: September 21, 2016 Guest: Ely Portillo, Bill de Blasio, Donna Brazile, Yamiche Alcindor
RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC ANCHOR: At this hour, we are monitoring developments in Charlotte, North Carolina. Protests that started out peacefully around 7:00 p.m. Eastern have gathered intensity just in the last few minutes and over the course of the last hour.
Over the last just little while, while we`ve been watching live shots, we`ve seen tear gas fired by police in downtown Charlotte tonight. It`s roughly about 300 protesters who have faced off with police in riot gear. As you can see from these images, things are very, very tense.
Our NBC affiliate in Charlotte, which is WCNC, they`re reporting that -- and they`re citing a medic in terms of this information. But they`re reporting that one person has been taken from the site of the protests to a hospital with what may be life-threatening injuries after suffering an apparent gunshot wound tonight in Charlotte.
NBC News crews on the scene have reported some property damage, some windows broken.
The reason we`ve got crews there, the reason all eyes are on Charlotte is because tonight marks the second night of protests after police shot and killed 43-year-old Keith Lamont Scott yesterday. That led to what was a violent night of protests last night with police refusing to release dash cam or body cam videos of that shooting.
Two separate narratives have emerged. Charlotte police say Keith Lamont Scott ignored multiple warnings to drop a handgun, and that`s why police shot him. They said police officers were in imminent fear for their lives.
On the other hand, neighborhood residents and Scott`s family say that he didn`t have a weapon, that Keith Lamont Scott was, in fact, just waiting in his vehicle for his son to come home from school on the school bus, and the only thing he had in his hand at the time was a book.
So there are competing narratives there. There is a lot of anger in Charlotte. And what you are seeing here are live images from Charlotte tonight on what is turning into a second night of very contentious protests. Again, officers in riot gear responding to protesters downtown. And again police have fired tear gas to break up the demonstration.
And again underscoring what could be that very serious news. A medic on scene has told our local affiliate WCNC that one person has been taken to an area hospital with what is an apparent gunshot wound and what may be life-threatening injuries.
I want to bring now into our conversation, NBC News correspondent -- sorry, control room, do we have the correspondent?
Ely Portillo from the "Charlotte Observer". Sorry, we have little confusion in terms of who we were able to get from the scene.
Mr. Portillo, are you with us?
ELY PORTILLO, CHARLOTTE OBSERVER REPORTER (via telephone): Yes, I am.
MADDOW: Thank you very much for being with us tonight.
Can you tell me a little bit about where you are tonight, where you`ve been and what you`ve seen?
PORTILLO: Right now, I am downtown Charlotte, and I`m a couple blocks from the Omni Hotel on Trade Street. A few minutes ago a large group of demonstrators there confronted police and we have reports that a person was shot. And right now, there`s tear gas drifting down the streets. We were actually pushed back by a police officer who said that things were not safe where we were.
MADDOW: In terms of the report about a person being shot, can you tell us any more about the sourcing on that or any other details you`ve got on that? Do we have any news on whether -- on where this shooting might have happened if we know for sure that it is connected to the demonstration?
PORTILLO: Yes. It was at the demonstration. We could hear loud bangs.
Unfortunately, we don`t have more details right now. It`s a very fluid situation. And there are groups of police moving about. There are people on motor bikes going around.
It`s a big change from just about an hour ago when people were talking very peacefully about their grievances and, unfortunately, it`s changed quite a bit.
MADDOW: Was there a catalyzing event in terms of things changing from the kind of peaceful protests we saw earlier into this much more contentious scene that we`ve got tonight?
PORTILLO: Well, the protest split into two groups. One group wasn`t to Little Rock AME Church in Charlotte, a historically black church, and had a service calling for unity.
Another group of protesters went further into downtown Charlotte where there`s an entertainment complex called The Epicenter. Soon after getting there, police in riot gear arrived and it`s unclear exactly what happened. People just started pushing towards them, police started pushing back and very quickly things escalated.
MADDOW: Ely, in terms of the protests last night and the protests tonight, can you tell if it seems like it`s the same group of people? Can you tell if it`s a larger or smaller group tonight?
PORTILLO: It seems to be slightly smaller in terms of overall numbers from last night. There are several hundred, maybe 300, 400 people here. But this gunshot that we have a report of is ominous, although there were people injured last night, there were no serious life-threatening injuries at the protest.
MADDOW: One of the things that happened last night that got a lot of national attention was the shutdown of I-85, the interstate shut down which we`ve seen happened in some other civil rights protests during the past year in other cities. This one on I-85 last night at about 3:00 in the morning, as I understand it, was particularly dramatic and maybe even particularly dangerous because cars and trucks, cargo trucks on that highway seem to have borne the brunt of those violent confrontations. There was a report of a family in their car stopped on I-85 when the traffic stopped, having their windshield broken. There are reports of trucks not just being stopped but essentially being opened and the material inside them being looted and set on fire.
Do we know anything further about efforts to sort of protect I-85 or what the consequences were of some of those actions last night?
I think we`ve just lot Ely Portillo from "The Charlotte Observer."
Again, I`m sorry about the logistical difficulty in terms of trying to cover this live event. As you can see, sometimes you see these shots moving around. These are crews that we`ve got live on the ground. These are live pictures. You can tell this is somewhat of a hectic scene.
As we just heard from Ely Portillo, "The Observer", police have taken the press nearer to the protests and pushed them out saying it`s not safe for media to be there.
I think now -- joining us now, I think, is news correspondent Tammy Leitner.
Tammy, are you able to join us?
TAMMY LEITNER, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Rachel, I can hear you.
So let me tell you what`s been going on for the last 45 minutes. When we showed up right around the same time police in riot gear were showing up, and they formed a line outside of a hotel and the crowd started getting violent. They were kicking in vans, breaking windows of businesses, and that was when police shot off what appeared to be tear gas into a crowd of maybe 200 people including us.
From there, things dispersed a little bit, and then police showed up in riot gear, maybe 75 police officers, forming a line, walking down the street. They formed two sides of the intersection. They`re blanketing both sides. So, basically nobody can get across.
There`s protesters on the side we`re on here. There`s protesters on the far side and there`s still things coming down, being thrown. What really started the escalation was protesters were throwing bottles and things. It appears as though some things are still being thrown.
Right now, it`s a bit of a standoff and everybody is just kind of waiting - - Rachel.
MADDOW: Yes, I can hear you. Tammy, can you still hear me?
LEITNER: Yes, I can hear you.
MADDOW: OK. Let me just ask you, in terms of the way that the police have lined themselves up here, have they been calling for protesters to disperse? Are they calling this an unlawful assembly and telling people to get out of there?
LEITNER: No. We were on the front line with the protesters. They weren`t telling them to disperse. It was basically, of course, as though don`t cross this line. They were not telling everybody when we were there to disperse.
MADDOW: OK, Tammy, in terms of what you are able to see with protesters breaking windows and kicking in the sides of vans --
LEITNER: You need to turn around. There`s more -- sorry, Rachel. I don`t mean to interrupt you.
MADDOW: Go for it.
MADDOW: There`s other police in riot gear coming down the street towards where we are standing, maybe 50 of them. This is what they did about 15 minutes ago. It appears they`re going to form another line.
You can see they are in full gear walking down through some protesters and forming yet another line. We probably got maybe a hundred police officers out here in riot gear. The protesters that are here, they have their hands up. They`re saying don`t shoot (AUDIO GAP)
MADDOW: Yes, Tammy, go ahead. Just keep narrating what you`re seeing, please?
LEITNER: Sure, sure.
So, we`ve got protesters have moved to both sides of the road. As police in riot gear are walking forward. Yep, yep, I`m right here. I`m right here.
Sorry. They`re going through the intersection. It looks as though they`re either going to try and disperse people from the area or back them up. Right now, there are about 100 police in riot gear in the middle of the intersection here at South College and North College in downtown.
Protesters aren`t breaking anything. They aren`t smashing windows anymore. They`re just being very vocal.
Oh, and we`ve got more coming down the street. Wow. This is the third line of police in riot gear now coming down the street. I would say at least 150 of them total now. And they`re -- yeah, we`ve got helicopters overhead. It`s unclear at this point whether they`re going to try and disperse people or move them back or have them completely vacate the area. Nobody`s saying anything.
MADDOW: Tammy, let me just ask you from what you can see sort of tactically, if protesters wanted to leave the area right now, is there a clear way they could do that. People on the edge of the protest and don`t want to be part of what`s happening here? Could they leave?
LEITNER: Yes. Absolutely, absolutely. These people are here of their own free will. They have a straight road to leave. They are choosing to be here, they`re choosing to engage with the police in riot gear.
MADDOW: All right. Tammy, keep an eye on what`s going on. We`re going to keep your camera on our screen.
We`re also going to bring into the conversation, Jim Cavanaugh, who is an expert on law enforcement tactics and who has been a helpful explainer for us on nights like these.
Jim, thanks for being with us.
When you look at these images right now, we`re seeing this sort of squadron of police in riot gear come down and join the side of these protests that Tammy was describing was violent, at least violent in terms of property damage earlier in the evening but are just being vocal now.
Can you give us some insight into the police strategy here?
JIM CAVANAUGH, MSNBC LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Yes. Well, I think they`re trying to shape the streets or shape the battlefield. They`re trying to get their forces tactically aligned, Rachel, so they can steer the crowd or move the crowd peacefully where they want it to go.
You know, we saw them earlier blocking the front of the Omni Hotel. And the video, you know, from last night there were some cars being -- windows broken, police cars trying to roll them over, there was some business damage.
But as you reported, the only serious injury has been a gunshot. Of course, that escalates thing for police, too, if there`s people shooting guns. But right now, it looks like they`re trying to strengthen their position. Tactically ride the riot line where they want it so they can move the people where they want them to go.
MADDOW: Jim, are there -- the sort of best case or sort of best practices that urban police departments use now in the case of big and rowdy demonstrations where they facilitate demonstrations, they facilitate this - - these types the of assembly without escalating them, without trying to keep them from being violent but without making them more violent and more confrontational thanks to their own presence.
CAVANAUGH: Exactly right, Rachel. I can tell you that law enforcement -- you know, after the Ferguson events, everybody went back to the board. All the police chiefs went back to the board on the civil disturbance training. And you can see almost every major department now when you see them activated from San Diego to New York and here`s Charlotte-Mecklenburg, those officers are outfitted in top rate, first rate riot civil disturbance gear. Those helmets are not SWAT helmets. You saw a lot of that deployed in Ferguson.
But you see this civil disobedience officers, you know, they have a 36-inch baton. We call it a riot baton. But it`s a 36-inch baton. They have the helmet and face plate to protect from thrown objects. They have gas, tear gas, stun grenade, sting ball, all the things that can make a crowd move, smoke.
Of course, officers on bikes and motorcycles. Like we saw at the conventions. You were there in Cleveland.
MADDOW: Jim, let me interrupt you for a second and see if we can get a description of what we`re seeing right now.
Tammy, can you tell us right now what you`re seeing?
LEITNER: Yes, Rachel, we`re about 75 yards away, 50 yards away. They just started setting off tear gas within the last minute or two.
MADDOW: Was there an order to disperse before the tear gas went off?
LEITNER: No, no. No.
LEITNER: OK. We`re too far to hear if they told those people to disperse, but the people, the line closest to us, they have not told them to disperse. And, you know, the people that are out here protesting. They`re hugging and they`re being very peaceful, but they are not moving back, which is what the police want them to do, move back.
MADDOW: What it look likes from the aerial shot right here was that there was a very large volley of gas of some kind, smoke of some kind. We obviously can`t tell what it is from here. And now, the police have set up what looks like a cordon right next to that.
Are the police wearing gas masks?
LEITNER: Yes. Rachel, the police are wearing gas masks. And I`m actually with somebody who has knowledge and he told us that it is tear gas that they`re setting off.
Yes. Now they`re bringing in an armored tank here. I`m not sure if you can -- let me get out of your shot here. All right.
They`re bringing in a tank down the street to where the officers have made -- an armored transport vehicle to where the officers have made a line. It seems like the tear gas is dispersing a little bit. They shot off maybe four or five canisters, Rachel.
MADDOW: OK. And are they making arrests?
LEITNER: But people -- they`re not making arrests. We did hear from local county EMS that one person was transported with possibly life-threatening injuries. We don`t know how it happened. We don`t know anything about that.
But EMS is putting out that one person was transported. And no, we`ve not seen any arrests made at this point.
MADDOW: We`re speaking with the "Charlotte Observer" reporter just before we went to you about those reports of somebody having suffered possibly a gunshot wound, possibly life-threatening injuries. Did you hear anything as to whether or not that happened at the site of the demonstration? We`re trying to get our heads around whether police are worried that there are guns at the demonstration.
LEITNER: You know what? It`s hard to tell. There`s tear gas canisters being fired off. Bottles being thrown when we walked up. There were things being dropped off a balcony. So hard to tell what may have been a gun shot and what may have just been a bottle or tear gas canister that was being fired off.
MADDOW: OK, Tammy Leitner, thank you. I know we`ll be back with you shortly. Thank you.
Again, just narrating a little bit of what Tammy has been seeing. That appears to be some sort of armored vehicle, obviously not a tank. It`s got wheels, not tank treads, but some sort of armored vehicle. That followed what we just saw looked like three big groups of police in pretty intense riot gear.
They were speaking with Jim Cavanaugh law enforcement expert in how they could basically control that scene right there in downtown -- in downtown Charlotte, North Carolina.
I want to bring in Ely Portillo who is a reporter for the "Charlotte Observer."
Ely, we lost you before. Thanks for being back with us.
Can you give us context of where we are in downtown Charlotte? We can see some big name hotels around there. It seems like this is very much the downtown business district.
PORTILLO: Yes, this is sort of the central business district and also the heart of the downtown entertainment district. There`s a very large entertainment complex with bars and restaurants and very nice hotels at this corner.
MADDOW: In terms of the protests last night versus tonight, were they both in the same place?
PORTILLO: No, the protest last night was very different. It was in the suburbs next to some abandoned -- well, not abandoned but some railroad tracks that were not in use. And it was very isolated feeling. There were not that many people about.
Here, we`re in the middle downtown. There are cars going by and people going about their business who are not sure what`s going on. And there`s tear gas down the street.
MADDOW: As the tear gas is being deployed, I`m not sure if you can tell from where you are, Ely, but as they`ve used kind of large volume of tear gas just since we`ve been watching here. Has that dispersed the demonstration?
PORTILLO: Block --
MADDOW: I think we`ve just lost Ely again. Forgive us for the communications difficulty that we`ve got right now. This is a live scene.
I`m told that we do have a connection now to Gabe Gutierrez who is outside the hotel where this reported shooting took place.
Gabe, are you with us?
GABE GUTIERREZ, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Hey there, Rachel, yes, I am.
MADDOW: Can you tell us -- thanks, Gabe. I appreciate you doing this.
We`re watching the scene in the middle of the street. We`ve watched all the police in riot gear come down. We`ve watched the volleys of tear gas in downtown Charlotte. One of the most disturbing things we`ve heard is these reports that somebody may have been taken to the hospital with a life-threatening gunshot wound.
Can you give us any insight into that?
GUIERREZ: Well, Rachel, I can tell you what I saw with my own eyes. I don`t know, I can`t confirm the reports of the condition of the person who may have been shot. However, I can tell you that we were outside the Omni Hotel a short time ago. We`ve since left that location as the crowd dispersed.
There was police in heavy riot gear. I know Tammy has been describing tear gas. There`s no tear gas in our location, but what we believe was pepper spray.
We heard several loud explosions. Tough to tell whether it was a flash bang or not. But it may have been a gunshot. We know there`s a huge commotion just feet from us and somebody was rushed inside the Omni Hotel, dragged by police officers and they were rushed into the Omni.
Let me tell you a little bit about we`re following this crowd that is peaceful. There were some agitators in the crowd, however, and there were some agitators in the crowd. Now, while we were walking with them, several of them went trying to get into the Omni Hotel in downtown Charlotte.
The police in riot gear got up close to the hotel entrance and formed a line to keep the demonstrators out. It was a very tense atmosphere for several minutes. That`s when we heard the loud explosions and again it was tough to determine at the time in the chaos whether it was some sort of flash bang or whether it was a gunshot.
Now, we`re hearing from local reports that there has been a gun shot and somebody was transported to the local hospital. We saw on person being rushed in.
The crowd dispersed somewhat quickly. We got away several blocks to be able to transmit some of the video we shot. And we hope to get that into you very shortly.
But the very tense atmosphere outside the Omni Hotel. Things devolved very quickly. These demonstrators have started down at Marshall Park and walked a mile or so into downtown Charlotte trying to make their voices heard and things devolved into chaos that quickly -- Rachel.
MADDOW: Gabe, when you described a mostly peaceful group of people but with agitators, people who are visibly agitating the crowd. Can you be more specific about that as for why you would describe them as agitators, how their behavior was different?
GUTIERREZ: We spoke to people in the crowd telling the us things we heard over the past few hours that they`re frustrated, with what they view as excessive force by police. That`s something we`ve heard over and over again. They just -- they wanted this to be a peaceful protest and wanted their voices to simply be heard. They were upset with some of the violence they`d seen in the previous night.
Now, we were speaking with those folks. There is another group of people who were wearing, you know, bandannas over their faces. Some of them were urging people to get into the intersection and shut down traffic.
We saw -- there were demonstrators who were in several intersections that were trying to stop traffic, but overall nothing violent. The problems came when this crowd got to the Omni Hotel and a few people made the decision to either rush inside the Omni Hotel or saw what they perceived to be a threat outside of the omni so they lined up outside the entrance to the Omni.
The previous couple of blocks we had noticed decreasing tension. There seems to be, you know, police were definitely takes a defensive posture, but it wasn`t until the crowd reached the omni hotel that there was these brief clashes with police. It only lasted but a few minutes. But again we did hear what may have been at least one gunshot and that we saw one person rushed into the Omni hotel by officers, you know, now we`re hearing reports that that person may have been shot.
MADDOW: OK, Gabe, let me cut in here for just a second. Thank you. Gabe Gutierrez on the ground for us in Charlotte.
I want to go back to Tammy Leitner, NBC correspondent who is on the street.
Tammy, can you tell us what`s going on? We can see your shot right now. It seems like there`s a lot of movement.
LEITNER: Yes, Rachel, that van that`s backing in, I`m not sure if you can see that, that`s a prisoner transport vehicle.
LEITNER: That`s the second they brought in. Our guess is that they`ll possibly make some arrests. We`ve had some protesters -- something was fired off. It looks like they`re firing off more tear gas back there. Can you see that?
LEITNER: Just beyond the van, they are firing off tear gas into the crowd. I remember I mentioned that there was 150 possibly 200 police in riot gear. They all have gas masks on. Obviously, none of the protesters out here do, so it will only be a matter of time before they disperse. Some of the protesters have become more agitated. They were standing in front of the - - we`ve got one arrest.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I see two.
LEITNER: At least two people, Rachel, being arrested. One of them is a man. We can see him. All these officers in riot gear have flex cuffs on them, about a half dozen each. More tear gas is being shot off. That`s probably --.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The flash bangs. We`ve got to move.
LEITNER: That was a flash bang that just went off.
MADDOW: Can you tell us what a flash bang is? Can you give us a description of what that is?
LEITNER: Hold on. People are starting to run. And we`re having to move back. So the tear gas and the people are coming this way. So we`re just moving back a little bit.
MADDOW: Don`t do anything that`s going to jeopardize your own safety. But you can just let this run and tell us what you see. That`s okay.
LEITNER: Yes. So the people that were in front of us, the protesters that were in front of us, the tear gas is actually coming up wind to where we are and that`s why I think a lot of people took off. As far as the flash bang goes, explain to me what a flash bang is.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: A flash bang is just a light meant to blind you temporarily. If you`re not cautious enough, it can cause serious injuries.
LEITNER: OK. We`re out here with a security expert and he`s explaining what a flash bang is. It can basically blind you and temporarily disable people so that police in riot gear can move in and obviously make some arrests.
MADDOW: Yes. I will tell you, in terms of what you`re describing and what we can see from our camera angles, it seems like the situation as the police have come in in force in very large numbers, as we`ve see these volleys of tear gas, as we`ve heard those flash bangs, it seems like things are not getting more dispersed, but seems like they`re getting more chaotic. I don`t know if that feels like that to you too.
LEITNER: Let me explain one other thing to you, Rachel, so when we arrived more than an hour ago, there was maybe 300 protesters out here. And on this street where we were, there was probably a hundred. A lot of those protesters have left.
So the people that you are still seeing here are people that obviously want to engage with the police officers. They`re choosing not to leave. They`re choosing to be here despite the tear gas, despite people being arrested. Despite one person being shot, they`re choosing to be here still.
MADDOW: Watching further arrests happen on camera here as you`re describe in describing --
LEITNER: I`m sorry. What was that?
MADDOW: Let me ask you, Tammy, just again, if you can tell if they are telling people to disperse?
LEITNER: I can`t tell. All I can hear are the protesters that will start chanting every once in a while. It`s hard to tell if the line of officers in riot gear are telling anybody to get back or not.
MADDOW: Tammy Leitner on the street for us in Charlotte, North Carolina. Again, we`ll keep your shot up.
We do have actually the mayor of New York City, Bill de Blasio, is here with us tonight. We`re going to be talking with him in just a moment as a big city mayor, as somebody with experience in protesting and also with a lot of political experience around the issue that has brought these protesters out on the street tonight. We`re happy to be able to bring in Mayor de Blasio here tonight to give us his perspective of what we`re looking at here and also the broader politics of this.
Just for a refresher and your context here in terms of why this is happening in Charlotte. It was yesterday afternoon in Charlotte where there was a fatal police shooting of an African-American man. One of the real points of contention that`s emerged after that shooting is that North Carolina authorities have made the decision that they are not yet going to release any body cam or dashcam video of any police officers of that shooting.
The reason that`s a particular point of contention here is there are two very different narratives about that killing. The police say that the man who they shot had a handgun, refused to drop it. Police felt they were in imminent fear for their lives. That`s why they shot him. The man`s family members and friends and local residents say that, quite to the contrary, that man was sitting peacefully in his own vehicle when police arrive for an unrelated warrant search. They were looking for somebody else in the area for whom there was an outstanding warrant.
They say that the man who was killed was in fact just waiting for his son who was coming home on a school bus that day. They say that he did not have a gun. He, in fact, had a book in his hand and not a weapon. The police say they did not recover a book from the scene.
So, there`s a lot of contentious disagreement about the actual facts of that shooting. But of course, there is nationwide upset and concern over police violence, police violence towards members of the African-American community. That`s what brought people out with such anger into the streets for violent protests that include blocking interstate 85 at one point and it has now turned into a contentious situation here.
We see some young men cleaning up in the streets. We`ve seen volleys of tear gas from the police tonight. We`ve seen some arrests. It`s a remarkable and still unfolding scene.
Joining us on the set is New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio.
Mayor, thanks for being here.
MAYOR BILL DE BLASIO (D), NEW YORK: Very welcome, Rachel.
MADDOW: Let me just ask you, watching these images, knowing the cause of the protests and how these police in Charlotte are handling it, I`m sure you don`t want to pass judgment through the TV screen on how they`re dealing with this.
What`s your impression of what`s going on in North Carolina tonight?
DE BLASIO: I think there`s a bigger reality we`re facing in this country that we have a lot of work to do in the relationship between police and community because this is organic stuff, right? This is because there`s been a pattern of conflict and people feeling that their rights are not being recognized.
So, I can tell you, in New York City, we spend a lot of time on how to defuse protests, how to work with the protest organizers to give people the right to protest but keep it safe, a lot of communication. I don`t know the situation exactly in Charlotte.
But the underlying issues is what we have to get at. The relationship between police and community, the kinds of things that will give people confidence in a sense of accountability, body cameras are a great example. This is starting we`re starting to do a lot more in New York City. It`s going to be happening all over the country.
People have to have confidence. If something happens, they have to get the full truth. And they have to have confidence that police are being trained to de-escalate any situation, any encounter with a citizen.
And let`s face it, some of the things we have seen in recent months do not suggest that the training`s been there. That the careful training to help people overcome biases, that`s one thing we`ll be doing in New York City, implicit bias training to help all officers of all backgrounds, not carry through biases they may have gotten from, you know, their families, their youth, their culture -- really working on de-escalation tactics and neighborhood policing, actually relationship building between police community -- those are the organic solutions, in my view.
MADDOW: Are there better and worse ways, for big city mayors across the country? Is there an accepted set of best practices in terms of how to police a big, angry, contentious set of protests like we`ve been seeing in Charlotte? Do we know the right ways to do this in terms of policing?
DE BLASIO: I think we know a lot more. I think one of the things your previous guest said was right, that a lot of the major police forces in this country are working on more communication with the protesters, pulling back a little more, giving them a little more space.
Now, again, violence can`t be tolerated. It`s always the case there`s a few who might try and propagate violence and the vast majority who are peaceful and trying to exercise their rights. So, we have to be mindful of that.
But the broad notion of working with protesters, trying to set up a mutual understanding. You saw it in Dallas, that famous set of images before the shots rang out in Dallas some months ago where protesters and police felt successfully it had a protest without incident. They were taking pictures together. That`s about communication.
So, that`s the protest element. But the bigger question is broader, deeper communication between police and community. And that means getting rid of some of the things that stood in the way.
In New York City, we ended the unconstitutional practice of stop and frisk. That was something that`s creating tremendous tension between police and community. That`s a bigger decision that minimized the likelihood of protests because we got to the core of the matter.
MADDOW: On that issue of stop and frisk, that`s back in the news today. That`s part of the reason we asked you to come in tonight before we knew about these protests were going to go in this direction in Charlotte.
Donald Trump today did an event in which he was asked how he would like to deal with what he was asked about is black on black crime, violence within the black community. He said the way to deal with it is going nationwide with this discarded New York policy of stop and frisk.
You just described it as unconstitutional. A federal judge ruled it was unconstitutional on a couple of different grounds. But for our viewers who may not what that is, it`s newly important now that he wants to bring it back nationwide.
Can you describe how it worked?
DE BLASIO: Absolutely. And I can say that Donald Trump does not understand the policies. It had nothing to do with policing or public safety in his whole career.
What we used to have in New York City was people were stopped just on suspicion, no reasonable cause, no specific evidence required. They were stopped essentially on speculation. And what it was, was overwhelmingly young men of color, the high was 700,000 stops, that was in 2011.
MADDOW: In one year, 700,000 stops.
DE BLASIO: In one year.
And here`s the situation where NYPD`s statistics prove that over 90 percent of those stops had done nothing wrong in any way, shape or form. What this caused was tremendous anger -- imagine parents, grandparents having their young men treated like suspects and criminals walking to school, going to school, going to a job. This is prevalent in this city.
A whole movement built up in this city to end it. When we ended it, there were dire warnings that things would get more dangerous in New York City. Guess what? Three years straight crime has gone down.
Bill Bratton, who`s been one of the foremost police leaders in America, made very clear the stop and frisk ultimately was proven not to be effective as a safety tool. The absence of it allowed us to become safer because we can work on deepening the relationship between police and community.
So, New York City, the biggest laboratory in the country, has proven that stop and frisk was not only unconstitutional and a blatant disregard of people`s rights but on top of it was bad policing strategy.
Now, Donald Trump doesn`t know anything about communities of color. It affected Latinos just as much as African-Americans. He has no clue it wasn`t an effective strategy. And I tire of the notion of Donald Trump thinking he knows more about policing than a Bill Bratton or our new commissioner Jimmy O`Neill who have been at this their entire lives.
MADDOW: You now are about to venture into -- if past is prologue, you are now about to venture into political territory now that he`s broached this and now that people are talking about it, where he insists to his followers, he insists on TV, he insists on Twitter, he insists at his rallies that stop and frisk was dramatically effective and that crime skyrocketed as soon as they stopped it and this liberal Bill de Blasio`s fault.
That`s where he`ll go with it, if past is any prologue. If that happens, what do you say? How you how do you fight it? How do you correct the record?
DE BLASIO: Well, the NYPD, the leading police force in the United States of America, having to continue to drive down crime, 25 years of continues drops in crime. The fewest shootings to date this year of any year in New York City since we got rid of stop and frisk.
Believe the NYPD`s statistics, they`re consistent. And in fact, one of the things we`re doing, this neighborhood policing point, so important. If you actually build a bomb between police and community, actually knowing each other`s names, our cops are now giving community members their cell phones and their e-mails so they can be in touch with an individual cop who they know by name.
That changes everything. And instead of what we have to do in the past was something that put a huge distance between police and community. So, what I actually think Donald Trump is saying here, he wants to do is build a second wall -- a wall between police and community. That`s what would occur if we reinstated stop-and-risk in cities all over this country.
MADDOW: New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio is with us.
What you`re looking here at are live images of what`s happening in Charlotte, North Carolina. We`re seeing arrests happen outside the Omni Hotel which is a flash point confrontation between protesters and police. We`ve seen a lot of tear gas in the streets tonight. We`ve seen a lot of police. We`ve seen armored vehicles.
These protests, of course, in anger of an African-American man yesterday afternoon in Tulsa.
We`re going to take a quick break. We`re going to come back with continuing coverage of what`s going on in the streets of Charlotte.
Mayor Bill de Blasio, it`s an honor to have you here tonight, sir. Thank you.
We`ll be right back.
MADDOW: We`re monitoring developments tonight in downtown Charlotte, North Carolina. This is in the business district of Charlotte.
If you`ve ever been there, it`s very much a big city skyscraper kind of downtown. A lot of banks headquarters there. A lot of big businesses headquartered there. Among the big downtown hotels is where we`ve seen the very tense and difficult confrontations between protesters and police tonight.
As we`ve had our cameras trained on these scenes, we`ve seen arrests, we`ve seen volleys of tear gas. We`ve seen police in riot gear coming down in formation and taking up sort of lines in the street to control the location of protesters.
We`ve also seen some sweet scenes of protesters hugging one another and praying. We`ve seen young men with a trash can basically picking up trash in the street and trying to keep things orderly. It`s a diverse screen and it appears to be a diverse group of protesters, including what`s been described to us by a couple of different reporters on the scene, as mostly a group of peaceful protesters but interspersed with some real provocateurs and agitators who are trying to make this a contentious thing.
I want to go to Tammy Leitner, our NBC correspondent who is right in the middle of things on the ground.
Tammy, what are you seeing now and what do you think is happening in terms of the trajectory here tonight?
LEITNER: Rachel, as you mentioned, mostly peaceful, but we know that one person was injured and was transported according to EMS.
We saw that a police officer was injured. His fellow officers were helping him to walk. He was unable to walk, sat down on a bench. They haven`t transported him or moved him, but it was obvious he was injured, we don`t know what.
And, you know, it seems that more protesters have actually showed up. They had dispersed for a while and more have come back. Police have drawn a line at this intersection and they seem to be pushing everybody back a little bit. We`ve seen at least ten arrests.
All the police officers in riot gear have flex cuffs on them. We`ve seen at least ten arrests. Several women, multiple men. They were searching all of them, going through their bags, they have them in flex cuffs putting them in a prisoner transport vehicle.
Can you swing over here? We have a group of people that are linking arms that were obviously trying to protest peacefully, but they continue to get closer and closer to the line of police in riot gear, which isn`t going to end well.
There was more tear gas shot off just a few minutes ago. That`s why we backed up a little bit. And there`s a line of people -- I don`t know if you guys can see this but there`s a line of people being arrested. Can you come over here and show them this?
Sorry, guys. There`s a lot of different things going on out here. Chaotic, as you can imagine, Rachel. We`ve got people being arrested on one side. We`ve got an injured police officer on another side. And we`ve got protesters that just continue holding the line with police -- Rachel.
MADDOW: Tammy, just to clarify in terms of the injured police officer, you saw one police officer who was clearly injured?
LEITNER: That`s correct. He was clearly injured. We don`t know what his injuries were but he was being helped by four fellow officers unable to walk on his own.
He sat down on a bench. His head was dropped back and we couldn`t see what his injuries were or how he got them, but yeah, one officer injured that we`ve seen where we are. And keep in mind, this is at least an almost entire half of a block, you know, hundreds of police officers out here in riot gear.
I can`t tell how many protesters are on the other side of the intersection, on the other side of the lines of police officers. I can only tell you what`s here. And what we`re looking at is about 75 protesters right now at this point, still here pressing up here where we are.
MADDOW: OK, Tammy Leitner, NBC correspondent, just invaluable reporting. Thank you.
Let me tell you what else we`ve got in terms of our news desk here. We`ve been reporting earlier on a shooting on reports of gunfire, Gabe Gutierrez was actually quite near where that shooting appears to have happened. It was described to us earlier as a possible life-threatening gunshot wound and a person was transported, we believe, to Carolina`s medical center.
That`s now being described in a tweet by the city of Charlotte as a fatal gunshot. Again, this is a tweet from the city of Charlotte and what they`re saying in toto is fatal shot uptown was civilian on civilian. CMPD, Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department did not fire the shot.
But the two pieces of news there from the city of Charlotte, they`re saying this was civilian on civilian, but also they`re saying that was a fatal incident. That`s the only further information we`ve got on that reported gunshot wound which the city says was a fatal gunshot wound.
Excuse me. In terms of what Tammy Leitner was just saying seeing an officer that was injured, even though she couldn`t see the source of his injuries, or the nature of his injuries, he could just tell he couldn`t walk. She saw his head lull back when he was put down in a seated by his fellow officers.
There`s a tweet now that I can tell you is from WCNC, which is our NBC affiliate in Charlotte. They`re citing Charlotte City Councilman Kenny Smith as saying that seven Charlotte Mecklenburg police officers have been taken to area hospitals tonight. Seven hospitalizations of police officers this evening.
We don`t have more detail on that. We don`t have another source on that besides this Charlotte City councilman as reported by WCNC. And we don`t have any news on whether or not there had been protesters who had been injured this evening as well. We`ve seen a heck of a lot of tear gas in the air.
Joining us now on the phone is NBC News Gabe Gutierrez who did hear that gunshot outside the Omni Hotel.
Gabe, you heard my update there in terms of what we`re being told about that gunshot. What else can you tell us?
GUTIERREZ: Yes, hi there, Rachel.
Significant development that officials are confirming that was a fatal gun shot. We were able to transcend back the video of that sound and that tense situation that we saw outside the Omni Hotel about an hour or so ago. Take a listen to what we heard.
MADDOW: OK, OK.
(VIDEO CLIP PLAYS)
GUTIERREZ: Rachel, it was a very tense scene. Shortly after that we saw someone being taken into the Omni Hotel carried by a group of people. You mentioned that officials are saying that this gunshot was civilian on civilian, that Charlotte police did not fire that gunshot.
But again, as we were discussing earlier, this all started as a peaceful march from Marshall Park, went through downtown Charlotte. The group had stopped at several intersections trying to stop traffic. Some were going into the downtown area at certain shops trying to really make their voices heard in a peaceful way. That`s what we kept hearing over and over again.
But, again, when we arrived to the Omni Hotel, things got very tense very quickly, police in riot gear were protecting that hotel. Afterwards, we heard witnesses saying that person had been shot. Then there were several windows broken inside the Omni Hotel.
Shortly after we left, we also spoke with one of our producers who was also there. He describes that there was tear gas being thrown outside the Omni Hotel. I know Tammy is reporting from that area as well.
But that gunshot happened an hour ago, again. We`re hearing from officials that, yes, it was a fatal gunshot. A person transported to the hospital. Civilian on civilian. Charlotte police did not fire a shot. But again a very tense situation in parts with Charlotte and we`re still waiting to see how this plays out throughout the night.
MADDOW: Thank you, Gabe.
I`m going to ask our control room if they can rerack that tape in terms of hearing what we believe to be those gunshots. Again, this was not something that has just happened within the last several instances. Gabe is describing this about an hour ago.
But watch this.
(VIDEO CLIP PLAYS)
MADDOW: Again, this is the moment following -- immediately following what we believe were gunshots, immediately following this moment we see somebody rushed into the omni hotel. This appears to be mostly carried by protesters with police mixed in. Maybe police clearing the way to have this happen so that this person can be helped into the hotel.
Again, at this point, Gabe giving us sort of the crucial context that the hotel had its doors locked and they weren`t allowing anybody in there at that point. But they made way for this person. The gunshot wound suffered by the person who we believe to be that person in that shot by the NBC News crew, that that person died as a result those wounds. It`s being described as a civilian on civilian gunfire incident. The city of Charlotte sending out notice by twitter tonight that the police themselves did not fire those shots.
I want to bring in now to the conversation, Donna Brazile. Donna Brazile is the interim chair of the interim Democratic National Committee. We had Donna Brazile booked tonight obviously to talk about the 2016 campaign. Instead, we`re not going to let her go. I would like to get her take on what is unfolding in Charlotte and what we`re seeing here.
Madam Chair, thanks for being with us tonight. I know this is a change of plans. I appreciate you staying with us.
DONNA BRAZILE, DNC INTERIM CHAIR: Well, first of all, April, I have to tell you on my way over, I got a call from my sister in Baton Rouge. She is my youngest sister. She said, I can`t believe this is happening again.
I have to tell you my heart is heavy. There is no question that seeing and hearing two African-American men killed over the last 48 hours and watching a peaceful protest turn into this violence that we`re witnessing tonight, we need to develop stronger bonds between the police and the community.
And I talked earlier tonight with G.K. Butterfield from North Carolina, the congressman, the head of the Congressional Black Caucus. And tomorrow at 12:00 noon, Mr. Butterfield and other members of the black caucus will be walking from the capitol to the justice department to give Attorney General Loretta Lynch a letter.
This is a plea, a plea for us to find a way to end this type of violence that is killing, and to really strengthen the bonds between the law enforcement officials and there are many honorable law enforcement officials. I have so many of in my own family and the community that wants to be protected, but don`t want to be profiled or stopped and frisked as a certain presidential candidate discussed today.
MADDOW: Well, you know, on this issue, as you`re talking, we just saw a very violent arrest by a number of police officers in heavy-duty riot gear going after an individual protester. They sprung out of the line to go grab somebody specifically and arrested that person. Obviously, this is still a very live situation. And we are a country that has a lot of challenges right now that all need good leadership.
When you think about the kind of national leadership the Democratic Party is trying to offer here, and that you feel like you`re in real competition with Donald Trump on the Republican Party on this, is there any room for a bipartisan coming together for a sort of moment between the parties, between even the candidates on nights like this, both on the issue of police violence, but also on peaceful protests in a way there could be any sort of coming together to try to lead the country in these tense moments?
BRAZILE: Well, as you know, Secretary Clinton today, she addressed it. She said we have to invest more resources into pulling these communities together, pulling the police, pulling the community together, making sure as I heard earlier from Mayor de Blasio that there is training, that the community knows that are good police officers out there, and that individuals are not unnecessarily targeted.
Again, I think Secretary Clinton`s approach that she has outlined on many occasions, and I`m sure you`ll hear more from her in the coming days is to ensure that the resource are there, the police and the community have an opportunity to talk about these issues that we address, bias in our police department and provide the right, adequate training. But also the community is well aware that we have good honorable policemen doing their job each and every day. And we got to find a way to make sure that these incidents stop occurring.
MADDOW: Donna Brazile, the Democratic National Committee interim chair. Madam Chair, we will have you back to talk about the early voting numbers in North Carolina and the ground game in the swing states and all those things. I promise. But I really appreciate you being with us on this tonight. Thank you for being with us.
BRAZILE: Thank you.
MADDOW: Because of the drama that we are looking at in these live shots from our NBC News crews on the ground, and our MSNBC news crews in Charlotte, I do want to go back to Tammy Leitner, our NBC correspondent on the ground.
Tammy, we feel like we have seen police really springing into action, singling out individual protesters and arresting them. There have been some seemingly violent arrest there`s. What are you seeing?
LEITNER: I can tell you some of the protesters are agitated. Other ones are calm. We just saw one more person get arrested. That would probably be up to 10. Let`s walk over here. Let`s walk over here. Let`s walk over here.
All right. So there are still about 100 protesters where we are. And I would say there have been about -- OK. That is a flash-bang. As we explained earlier, it`s on the other side of the intersection, which is about 75 yards away from where we are. They set that off. It temporarily stuns the crowd so that they can either come in and make arrests or not make arrest. You can see that definitely has agitated the crowd.
Most of the time -- can you hear what they`re saying?
MADDOW: I can`t make out what they`re saying. I can tell they`re saying something.
LEITNER: Most of the time they`ve been saying "hands up, don`t shoot".
MADDOW: That makes sense, yeah.
LEITNER: Indicating they want this to be a peaceful protest. But they`re not backing down. In fact, the crowd of protesters where we are has gotten larger.
Now I can see on the other side of us where there is probably another 100 police in riot gear. They seem to be moving the crowd back, using the flash-bangs to move the crowd back. You can see they were just up here at the light. They were only 50 yards away from us. They`re moving forward, dispersing the crowd.
I can only imagine they`re also going to come over to our side and do that. Now, there has been some people like this man in the white shirt. I`m not sure if you can see him, and some other people, some women that were between the protesters and the line of riot police.
And they told us they were from a local church. They were trying to make sure that things don`t escalate, and that actually nobody gets hurt.
Now, Rachel, I`m getting a chance to look around right now. I don`t know if you remember a short while ago, I told you that they have broken some windows and started kicking in some police vehicles.
I`m getting a chance to look at the police vehicles now and I`m seeing blood on the sides of the police vehicles. I`m seeing dented up doors. So there was a point about an hour ago when they were breaking windows, kicking in vehicles. But right now they`re just chanting and protesting the vehicle, the police transport vehicle is leaving. We`ve seen at least ten people be arrested. Ten people arrested since we`ve been here.
MADDOW: Tammy Leitner, NBC News correspondent -- Tammy, thank you.
Again, invaluable reporting from right there on the scene.
A lot of people you can see on the street, just on the sidewalk walking by these cameras. You can see the effect of just a lot of tear gas that has been used in this intersection tonight in downtown Charlotte.
Here with us on set is Yamiche Alcindor from "The New York Times" who I first met on the TV while we were covering protests in Ferguson, Missouri.
Yamiche, you have covered a lot of these types of events over the course of the past couple of years. What is your reaction to what you`re seeing tonight in Charlotte?
YAMICHE ALCINDOR, THE NEW YORK TIMES: I think this is really a ratcheting up of people being fed up. I interviewed the family of Terence Crutcher today. They said they told their son he had marched in Black Lives Matter protests. They had spoken about the fact that he needed to have his hands up. He needed to put his hands on his own car.
And that family was saying even with that he was shot. And the idea is that there is really no instructions to give your children that can keep them safe in interaction was the police. They feel like there is a tipping point. That people are so fed up and so angry that they`re doing this. That they`re really taking to the streets.
So, in some ways, I say this is kind of a failure of the system in total. I think journalists maybe we have some part to play in this in terms of how we`ve been really articulating people`s frustrations. This has been going on for decades.
But I also think police departments and the federal government, the family was saying to me today, we`re crying out to President Obama. We`re crying out to Loretta Lynch to say please do something that will really change things, because people just feel like things have not changed. And even after Ferguson -- even after Ferguson, nothing has really changed.
MADDOW: The family you`re talking to the family of the man killed in Tulsa, Oklahoma this past week.
MADDOW: And this incident yesterday in Charlotte. Part of the response, especially after Ferguson was the idea of body cameras, that with video, that would somehow get us some distance towards settling these matters as factual matters. We would all be operating from the same set of facts.
One of the contentious points is North Carolina authorities decided they will not release dash cam or body cam video from this incident. And there are two totally different sets of facts out there from the police side and from the family side and bystanders side in terms of what happened here.
ALCINDOR: The people I talked to both protesters, I would say experts. Even police officials that I talked to, they say the videos are not going to be the only things that are going to stop. This if you think about it, a lot of people think about Eric Gardner and people think he was choked and died on camera. You think of Tamir Rice, this young boy who police shot thinking he had this gun that was an air soft gun that was not a real gun. But people watched them kind go in to there and shoot a child within seconds. And that didn`t really change anything.
So, the family of Terence was telling me today even though we can see our son and our brother being shot on camera and we can see his hands are up, we don`t believe it`s going to change much. We hope it`s going to change. We hope people seeing this are going to be some kind of legislation or something that comes out of this.
But the idea is there has been so many videos and so many names and so many hashtags that people feel like maybe America is getting used to this. And maybe we`re all desensitized to these killings. And that of course is terrifying.
The history of African Americans, people have really felt like violence has been perpetrated on their body for years, both in slavery, but also in Jim Crow laws and again now with police. They really think that police are just kind of another way that the state is unfairly killing people.
MADDOW: That`s right. And having evidence of it is not the same thing as stopping it.
Yamiche Alcindor from "The New York Times" coming in on short notice tonight to help us with this -- Yamiche, thank you.
I`m going to hand over to my colleague Lawrence O`Donnell for "THE LAST WORD" tonight.
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED. END