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Streets of Ferguson Largely Quiet Overnight; Ferguson Police Set to Release Name of Officer Who Shot Michael Brown; Iraqi Prime Minister to Step Down
Aired August 15, 2014 - 06:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ANNOUNCER: This is NEW DAY with Chris Cuomo, Kate Bolduan and Michaela Pereira.
KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning, and welcome to NEW DAY, everyone. It is Friday. August 15th, 6:00 in the East. John Berman is sticking with us today. Chris is off.
And what a difference a day and -- let's just be honest -- a change of leadership can make. The streets of Ferguson, Missouri, largely quiet over night. A stark change from the Molotov cocktails of rubber bullets that we saw flying between police and protesters this week. And Missouri State Highway Patrol was brought in to do just that. To calm the situation after local authorities have been criticized in the wake of the police shooting of Michael Brown.
JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Thousands of people showing their support for Brown and his family and protests in several cities last night, including New York and Los Angeles.
The most notable question remaining -- who is the police officer who pulled the trigger? CNN has learned that the Ferguson Police Department will identify that officer today. I want to bring in Don Lemon who has been in Ferguson overnight on the ground there monitoring the situation. Good morning, Don.
DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR, "CNN TONIGHT": Hey, good morning to you, John. Good morning, Kate. Good morning, Michaela. It really is a big difference here, a sharp, sharp detour here in Ferguson. All week protesters just seemed to be waiting for some sort of confrontation with the police, but a much different story last night into this morning. Now the authorities and the protesters at times acting as one. Highway Patrol Captain Ron Johnson getting a lot of praise on helping restore order and, at one point, even marching along with those protesters. Certainly a welcome change here in Ferguson.
I'm joined now by CNN's Ana Cabrera. She has more on the developments overnight and what we can expect today. Good morning, Ana.
ANA CABRERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Don. Really, what a difference those new policing tactics have made in the past 24 hours. We're outside that burned down QuikTrip, the site of so much unrest over the past several days.
Remember, this is Wednesday night where all the chaos ensued. Well, not last night. It was peaceful here. Protesters basically picking up, leaving on their own, policing themselves, just a few hours ago. And we're hearing from them they feel that, for the first time in almost a week, they feel like their voices are finally being heard and that justice will be served.
CABRERA (voice-over): Calls for justice, peace, and answers. Anger and frustrations ravaging this community for days, finally calming after nearly a week of unrest following the fatal shooting of unarmed teenager Michael Brown.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hands up!
CROWD: Don't shoot!
CABRERA: Control over Ferguson's security now the responsibility of Missouri state troopers.
REPORTER: There it comes. They're firing on to the crowd.
CABRERA: After chaos broke out Wednesday night, police firing tear gas, smoke bombs and rubber bullets into the crowd.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Don't do it!
CABRERA: Overnight, no riot gear, no armored vehicles, no machine guns. Leading the charge is Ferguson local, Captain Ron Johnson, walking amongst the protesters, at times embracing them, telling CNN's Don Lemon he pledges to protect the community without gas masks, listen to them, and give them answers.
CAPT. RON JOHNSON, MISSOURI HIGHWAY PATROL: I think they know that what I'm telling them is true, and my feelings are true and my feel feelings are honest. And that I made a promise, and I made a promise about integrity. Integrity is something I can't get back. Trust is something that's hard to gain but easy to lose, and I think I've got their trust and I am going to do everything I can to maintain their trust.
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Good afternoon, everybody.
CABRERA: President Obama calling for an end against excessive used by police against peaceful protests, as did Missouri governor Jay Nixon, vowing to repair trust between residents and police.
GOV. JAY NIXON (D), MISSOURI: Ferguson will not be defined as a community that was torn apart by violence. It will be known as a community that pulled together to overcome it.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What do we want?
CROWD: Justice! UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When do want it?
CABRERA: Many saying the calm in the wake of the past days' chaos is because only now their voices are finally being heard and that leaders are listening.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: People out here feel that, because of those actions, that we're being able to freely express our grief, freely express our freedoms.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There is a different feel. There's not as much tension, but I feel a great positive force that's in the air. There's a lot of hope here.
CABRERA: This, as police announcing they will release the name of the officer who shot Michael Brown today. And new video emerging from moments after the shooting, showing Michael Brown's body lying uncovered in the street, his uncle pushed away while crowds at the scene yelled at police that Brown did nothing wrong.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: With hands up.
CABRERA: Brown's family attending a protest vigil at the St. Louis arch, later telling CNN's Wolf Blitzer they wanted to be surrounded by peace as they try to grieve.
ERIC DAVIS, MICHAEL BROWN'S COUSIN: We haven't had time really to grieve much. It's been a very long, stressful time. We don't really have many answers to what occurred on that day and she can't rest as a result of not knowing everything that occurred on that evening.
CABRERA (on camera): Again, the headline today, we're expected to get the name of the officer involved in the shooting death of Michael Brown. So we may get one answer that has been on the minds of so many in this area -- who killed the unarmed teenager? But it could still be weeks, possibly even months, before we know why. Don?
LEMON: Yes. If we ever know why.
Thank you very much for that, Ana Cabrera. Appreciate that. I'm joined now by Mr. Chris King, he's the editorial director of the "St. Louis American", a Missouri newspaper.
I want you to take a listen now to what Mr. Johnson had to say about living in this community, and then you and I will talk.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOHNSON: This is my community. I walk down here, saw people from my church, people I went to school with and people that I feel that are a part of this. And the frustration is in my household too. I've got a young son that's 21, a daughter that's 23, and I have to answer the same questions that the parents out here have to answer. And those are can my son and daughter walk the streets and feel safe? Can my son and daughter walk with pride? And I'm going to make sure I do everything that they can have that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: St. Louis is a very insular community. I lived here and it's about where you went to high school? What are your community roots are? The fact that he has roots in the community, that makes a big difference, doesn't it?
CHRIS KING, EDITORIAL DIRECTOR, "ST. LOUIS AMERICAN": It made a huge difference. He really made good commands decisions. He took the SWAT team off the street. The previous chief had kind of an active shooter model. You're training a sniper on peaceful protesters like they're all running around with guns. What you need to do is find the dangerous element and isolate it and neutralize it, not point guns at innocent and peaceful people.
LEMON: As I was sitting back in New York on the days leading up to last night and all of the unrest, people could not believe what was happening, they could not believe it looked sort of like sort of an occupied territory here, occupied by the military. And then once I got here and Captain Johnson was in control, it was quite a different feeling. People were walking up to him as he came to our camera position last night, hugging him, wanting to touch him. What made the difference here? Is it because he's African-American? Is it because he's part of the community? Is it because they can relate to him?
KING: Well, I'm sure that the young men and women that really led the protest saw in him a more sympathetic, more paternal figure. That was a huge, huge influence on the outcome. But really it was the command decisions, treating it like a protest rather than like an active shooter, like every person's running around with a gun when actually the only people with the guns were the police officers.
LEMON: Do you think that this was a political decision or do you think it was a social decision to have Captain Johnson come in?
KING: Well, it technically was a political decision because politicians made it, and they made it always with political calculation. But they wouldn't have put a commander in place, replacing one who had done such a bad job, they wouldn't have given it to a commander who wasn't ready for the task and obviously this man was.
LEMON: You had some very harsh things to say about the St. Louis County police chief, Jon Belmar. You think he really botched this.
KING: He completely, completely botched it and he shouldn't have his job after this.
LEMON: Why do you say that?
KING: If you had a job and your decisions brought a militarized atmosphere to a relatively peaceful community, you would lose your job. This man should not have his job after today.
LEMON: Do you think that police can have the confidence of the community -- and I'm talking about the Ferguson police? Do they have the confidence of the community after this? Because, essentially, they have been removed from their posts here.
KING: They don't have the confidence of the community. The captain of Ferguson --
LEMON: Can they police here again?
KING: Well, they will continue to police it. Will they police it any more responsibly and will they police it in a way that doesn't rile these folks up again, we're going to have to see. They're going to need to do diversity training, they're going to need to diversify their leadership, they're going to need to diversify their beat cops. They're going to need to completely rethink how they do everything in the police force in Ferguson and in St. Louis County.
LEMON: It was interesting to me last night, because as I was going to see Captain Johnston to appeal to him to come on to CNN, he was surrounded by local police officers, and police officers from all over Missouri. And as we walked up, the police officers are like, "What are you doing here?" And Captain Johnson was like, "Let them come in.?
What is it? What is the disconnect here that people don't understand? People -- we're not here to cause trouble, and I think most of the people who are here, even the people in the community who are protesting, are not here to cause trouble. But they're looked at as a troubling figure.
KING: Well, Don, how did this start? It started with two young men being told in a rude tone and with a curse word to get out of the street. If that police officer initially saw those kids on the street, would have just let them walk down the street. Or would have said, "Hey, folks, could you guys get off the street?"
There's no rapport between the police force and the community. That's how we got here. And it was exacerbated by terrible command decisions. We should never have gone through a war zone. We should be grieving Michael and we should be investigating his death. We should know the shooter. We should have an autopsy report. There's a lot of things that should have happened other than diffusing a militarized situation.
LEMON: I wish we had the name. You want to know the name of the officer.
KING: We deserve to know the name of the officer.
LEMON: Thank you. Chris King, appreciate it.
Kate, still few stragglers in the back, people who have been up all night and they're still carrying signs and they're still saying, hey, no justice, no peace. But pretty much as I have been saying and Ana has been saying, it was a very peaceful protest last night. People just wanted to let off steam and they just wanted to be heard, Kate.
BOLDUAN: And as they continue to let off the steam, the questions remain. Now the focus can turn to the investigation and to getting some of those answers. Don, thanks so much. We're going to be getting back to Don throughout this show. It's always great to have him here.
Told to turn our attention, though, overseas to the other big story that we're walking in Iraq. Iraq's current Prime Minister Nouri al Maliki finally giving to pressure and stepping aside, paving the way for what could be a more unified Iraq that can go on offense against ISIS. Al Maliki is now pledging support for the Prime Minister Delegate, Haider al Abadi.
Meantime, President Obama says the militant siege in northern Iraq has been broke with the help of U.S. air strikes. But the Yazidi leades claim thousands are still trapped on Mount Sinjar.
CNN's Nick Paton Walsh is live in Baghdad with the very latest. So could we -- I mean, so what do you make now of the latest statement from Nouri al Maliki?
NICK PATON WALSH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, finally after days of pressure, Kate, he said that he would finally relinquish power. The writing has been on the wall though from anyone. His backers, Iran, Shia politicians here who backed him in the past, Washington, Paris, all saying it was time for him to go. He was holding out for something. Perhaps he got it. Maybe some sort of guarantee for his safety in the future. Appeared on state television, said quite clearly, "I'm willing to step back now. I don't want any innocent blood to be spilt in a political crisis," and said now it's time for Haider al Abadi, the prime minister designate, welcomed to the post by Washington, a man who President Obama spoke to and said could potentially bring some is sense of unity to a fractured Iraq.
Maliki it said it was time for al Abadi to take up the job. He's got 26 days now to get a cabinet together and a big task of trying to heal the rift between the Shia majority that run much of the government here in Baghdad and the Sunni minority in the north who feel disenfranchised and many say have allowed lots of space for ISIS militants to take control.
Why is that important for America? Well, U.S. officials say ISIS are perhaps worse a threat now than al Qaeda. At this stage it's the Iraqi army who has to do the bulwark of the fighting to push them in Iraq and remove that sanctuary they have in the north. Without a new government of unity here, America wasn't willing to give more military aid to the Iraqi army. Now they may have that in Haider al Abadi, if he can pull that together. Lots of signals from everyone today that they hope that's the case, including from him, he's saying it's a tough road ahead but if we pull together, maybe I do it. If they have that unity, then maybe more aid can come in and maybe ISIS can get pushed back. Kate?
BOLDUAN: Well then what is the role for the United States in Iraq going forward? That's a key question definitely from coming over here. Nick, thank you very much. We'll get back to Nick as well.
Let's get over to Michaela now taking a look at many of the other headlines we're watching this morning.
MICHAELA PEREIRA, CNN ANCHOR: You know, I was struck by what Nick was saying, disenfranchisement and the need for healing, you could say that about Missouri, you could say that about the area where he is, certainly could say that about Gaza.
The latest cease-fire is still holding in Gaza. Negotiations for a long-term deal are ongoing. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is talking tough, though, saying Israel will act forcefully even to a, quote, "drizzle" of mortar or rocket attacks. Israel is now preparing to defend itself in a war crimes inquiry over the Gaza conflict. Israeli leaders are skeptical of the U.N. Human Rights Council, saying past statements by expert chosen to head the commission rule him out as a fair judge.
The World Health Organizations says the African Ebola outbreak is quote, "expected to continue for some time." The WHO places the official death toll in the outbreak now at more than 1,000, but says the number underestimates the size of the outbreak. In the meantime, the U.S. began evacuating families of embassy staff in Sierra Leone Thursday. The State Department says it is done out of an abundance of caution.
Texas governor Rick Perry's actions to secure the border are in motion. The first wave of National Guard troops are taking up observation posts along the Texas-Mexico border. A thousand troops called up by Perry last month; the governor says they're necessary to secure the border and deal with a surge in illegal immigration.
Some new insight into Robin Williams' final days. His widow, Susan Schneider, says Williams had been diagnosed with Parkinson's disease but was not ready to go public with this. A family representative says the illness was in its early stages. Parkinson's is known to cause depression and may have exacerbated Williams' condition. His widow also says the comedian was sober in his last days.
BERMAN: It is interesting to hear that, with his battles with addiction over the years, she says he was sober; that was not one of the things he was facing. Maybe the Parkinson's has something to do with it.
Next up for us on NEW DAY, the name of the officer who shot Michael Brown is set to be released within hours. Why did police hold on to it for so long? And this key question now -- what happens when the name is out there?
BOLDUAN: Welcome back.
The scene in Ferguson, Missouri, is much calmer than just 24 hours ago when Molotov cocktails, tear gas and rubber bullets were exchanged between protesters and police. Instead, officers led by state trooper who are now overseeing the protest walked side by side with demonstrators last night. You see it there.
And today, the community may get an answer to one of their questions. Police are expected to release the name of the officer who shot and killed the unarmed teenager, Michael Brown.
Let's examine what has been happening on the ground there with Lieutenant General Russel Honore who coordinated military relief efforts after Hurricane Katrina, as well as Tom Streicher, the former police chief of Cincinnati and now consults for law enforcements.
Good morning to both of you.
TOM STREICHER, FORMER CINCINNATI POLICE CHIEF: Good morning.
BOLDUAN: We've said it a bunch of times this morning already. What a difference a day makes, which shows just -- I'm not sure if it shows, General, you can tell me, the change in 24 hours.
Does that show how easy it was to fix the problem, or just how bad the problem was?
LT. GEN. RUSSEL L. HONORE, U.S. ARMY (RET.): Well, I think you've stated it there. It was bad, and -- but the solution was leadership.
Leaders build teams. Teams build confidence. Confidence builds speed and speed saves lives. I think Captain Johnson understands that. He was in a position to see it. He was in a position to act, and that's what good leaders do and I commend him and his team to continue that work of working with and for the people.
BOLDUAN: Tom, lay it out for me. What was done right yesterday?
STREICHER: Well, I think number one, the police finally -- I shouldn't say finally, but the police understood that participate of their job is to protect, no doubt, lives and property. But the other part of it is to also facilitate the exercise of constitutional rights in America, and if the exercise of those rights happens to be free speech and people need to do that by walking down the street in mass to protest the actions of government, then that's certainly something that the agency has a responsibility to help do. And I think that the police agency did that very well last night.
BOLDUAN: And, General, look at the previous nights. What was done so wrong? Was it simply the riot gear that the officers were wearing? Was it the fact that the armored vehicles were kind of on the front line? What was done so wrong that sparked such violence?
HONORE: I think the use of the amount of non-lethal weapons. And I might say this, Kate -- non-lethal weapons are really not non-lethals they can hurt you. They can incapacitate you, and they create like a shock and awe on the ground.
I think that stunned a lot of people across America who earlier had seen people out trying to exercise their constitutional right to assemble, and to speak about an issue that had concerns with and the heavy use of those military weapons -- the challenge we're going to have going into the future is that there are a lot of those weapons available. Non-lethal, contractors come to police departments, to help them write out the grants, sending the grant requests to DHS and the all of a sudden you start getting the body armory in, the night scopes as well as these non-lethal weapons.
So I think police across the country, hopefully will learn from this and take a look at when should you use this and how do you go to that level of escalation and use of force?
BOLDUAN: Well, I'll tell you, it's already being met with criticism. This move by the government to come in and put the state highway patrol in the leadership role rather than the county police.
Tom, let me ask you this. The St. Louis county prosecutor said this about this changeover. He called it shameful. He says that it denigrates the men and women of the county police, and he also said this. He said, "I hope I'm wrong, but I think what Nixon" -- that's the governor of the state -- "did, may put a lot of people in danger."
Is there any way that this could backfire?
STREICHER: Well, here's something I think you have to think about. The issue here is that government has to act as a whole. Local government certainly feeds into state government. State government feeds into the federal government.
From the governor's perspective and I'm assuming this is what he's thinking is that something wasn't working, because there was so much activity that was undesirable activity, was occurring over the last four nights that that governor felt he had to make a change and sometimes a change in leadership is something that's necessary.
That doesn't necessarily mean that someone has to have their head cut off, but it does certainly means we need to go in a different direction. If someone can identify the correct person which it looks like they did in this case, to move in, change the philosophy how the police are addressing the situation, help restore calm so that people can come together and create a dialogue about what's occurred and really take a hard look at everything that occurred under these circumstances, draw out of it lessons that we can learn and apply those lessons to future training and policing, as well as in their dialogue with the community, things are going to get a lot better and much quicker.
But you have to include that community in all of these types of situations. Without the community, who by the way are the people that provide the agency with the authority and power that they have, are very necessary component of any, any effort moving forward from this point on.
BOLDUAN: And Tom hits on a really important point we should end on, General, and I want to get your take. You got the short-term problem, at least for now seems they've been able to calm. Then, you have this long-term issue of trust amongst the community.
How does the county police -- I mean, you could go from the top down, the governor to state patrol to the county police to the local police. How do they begin to regain the trust of the community? But you can't -- you've got these local police forces who need to work amongst these citizens?
HONORE: I think you'll see a lot different police department, I hope, after they get a couple days' rest and come back on the line and do self-reflection and do, as we say in the trade, some after-action report, lessons learned, that this will be a time for them to reflect, and, remember, at the time, the worst night we had, two nights ago, those police officers in a department that size were probably operating on two or three hours sleep. That adrenaline is flowing and they think they're doing the right thing by suppressing the crowd as opposed to protecting the crowd, I think you'll see a different police department when they roll back out under the circumstances that they've been through -- Kate.
BOLDUAN: You can be sure that the community and beyond are going to be watching that really closely now.
General Russel Honore, Tom Streicher, thank you guys both so much. It's great to have your insights and also good to see calm down there in Ferguson, Missouri. Thank you, both.
Let's take a break. Coming up next on NEW DAY, President Obama weighing in on the events of Ferguson, Missouri, but is he doing enough? Some say he should be discussing matters of race and police brutality much more. We're going to dive into that debate.
Also ahead, a Russian truck convoy said to be carrying humanitarian aid for eastern Ukraine is now at the border, but Ukrainians don't want it. Many fear the standoff could stark fighting between the two.
BERMAN: Welcome back, everyone.
Breaking this morning, Russian armored carriers have crossed into eastern Ukraine. This happened not far from where another convoy of Russian trucks are gathered near the border. Ukrainian border guards were inspecting those trucks overnight.