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Obama No Excuse For "Excessive Force"; Bipartisan Calls To "Demilitarize" Police; Highway Patrol Takes Control Of Ferguson; Robin Williams Had Parkinson's Disease

Aired August 15, 2014 - 07:30   ET


JOHN KING, CNN HOST, "INSIDE POLITICS": Am I right to say it's a very calm but almost a textbook use of the bully pulpit? A very balanced statement. The president is critical of the violence, critical of the looting, but then he essentially without using hard words criticizes the police and the governor, and says, "Change your ways."

MAGGIE HABERMAN, POLITICO: Yes, and the governor acted very quickly after that, as we saw. The difference between what we've been seeing play out on TV between even yesterday morning and this morning has been remarkable since the highway patrol took this over.

But, yes, the president did a very measured, careful statement. He's not the mayor, he's not the police commissioner; he does have a responsibility to be careful. * KING: And the tone I thought was perfect in that I would love to know what they privately said to the governor, and to be fair to the governor, we don't know if it was just the president's intervention that had him change his behavior. But within hours of the president calling him and calling him out publicly, he see changes the command structure on the ground.

NIA-MALIKA HENDERSON, "THE WASHINGTON Post": Yes, and you see the difference today. I mean, this guy who is on the ground, the mayor has been hailed and sort of greeted as a hero. I think you know, when people look back at this, there is a question, about whether, I was looking at this in the conversation on Twitter.

And Twitter's been very engaged in this. Some were saying, why did it take the president so long to even do this? Because you did see that swift change. Could he have done Monday or Tuesday? A place essentially on fire by Wednesday night and Thursday.

For the president to act because it seemed like once he stepped out you had a flood of action and a flood of other politicians also there on the ground.

KING: And White House officials say they were trying and hoping to leave this to the local authorities and then they reached the conclusion to your point, it was spinning out of control and then it was bad and likely to get worse.

And the president came out and spoke and also we should remind folks there is a Justice Department investigation of what happened at the Michael Brown shooting. We'll watch it unfold.

A calmer day this morning and we're grateful for that. Also a fascinating and potentially interesting political conversation happening. You have people on the left and on the right looking at the images. We can show you some of these images.

This is from the Wednesday night protests where it looks like as the police say they're out on the streets to have crowd control, it looks like a military operation.

You have armored vehicles, police in camouflage and SWAT vests out there. So now Claire McCaskill, a Democrat in Missouri, she says she thinks too much police work has become like the army or like the military. Listen.


SENATOR CLAIRE MCCASKILL (D), MISSOURI: After 9/11, in a, sometimes in knee jerk fashion, we began equipping police departments with all kinds of tools that had not been typical of policing in this country.

And maybe it's time to look at all of that, and make a determination as to how effective is a show of what is military force in obviously an intensely and emotionally charged environment like the people of Ferguson are facing.


KING: You have Claire McCaskill there, a Democrat. This is her home state. She's talking about essentially the look. How you have people out protesting peacefully what does it feel like in your community to see an army coming at you? The interesting part is the conservative reflex over the years in these situations has been to defend law enforcement.

But you have a number of Republicans, I'm going to quote Rand Paul here, the senator for Kentucky libertarian streak who says this, when you couple this militarization of law enforcement with an erosion of civil liberties given these developments, it is almost impossible for many Americans not to feel like their government is targeting them.

He goes on to say, given the racial disparities in our criminal justice system, it is impossible for African-Americans not to feel like their government is particularly targeting them. So a bipartisan consensus, will something happen or will we just talk about this?

MAGGIE HABERMAN, "POLITICO": I suspect talk about it for a while, but the conversation is moving from both the left and the right. Messages from the post-occupied Wall Street days on the one hand and then you have judicial reform coming from the right on the other.

But Rand Paul's comment on this was actually very different than what a lot of his party was. Some people spoke out about the arrest of reporters when the colleague was arrested. That struck them as over the line.

But in terms of where Rand Paul went, that really was sort of a wake- up call to his party, I think more than you've seen anyone else do.

KING: I will say police hassling, arresting, reporters is over the line. Much more important is the treatment of citizens in this community. I'm not minimizing the work of the brave reporters who were out there, too.

But when you see these pictures, I think both have a point. If this is your neighborhood, your neighborhood, you're out on the streets and 99.9 percent of these people are out there peacefully protesting what does it feel like?

HENDERSON: And this is a community, right, that has had an issue with race. I mean, it's a predominantly African-American community. The police officers there overwhelmingly white. I think there are three African-American police officers.

So you have Rand Paul now emerging as the Republican race man. The only Republican, really, to come out and say the words African- American, and mention race and talk about the inequality in terms of the treatment that African-Americans receive in the criminal justice system.

Something that Obama didn't do. He was criticized by some for not at least showing some empathy with the African-Americans, who do see this through a racial lens in the way he did with the Trayvon Martin statement. Rand Paul, I mean, fascinating and really taking a risk in talking about race.

KING: A lot of the left criticized Rand Paul. They question whether he's genuine here because in the past, he has questioned the reach and the scope of the Civil Rights Act. I think -- let's see if he means it.

Let's have the conversation and see if he delivers and goes forward because I do think -- it is, how often do we sit here in the morning and say you have Democrats and Republicans actually talking about something where they might agree? So we'll see where this one goes.

We are having a complementary conversation about people speaking out about this now. There's this. I don't know what to say about this. Congressman Steve King Republican of Iowa, a Tea Party favorite.

You might remember just a week ago or so ago, there was public TV footage of a confrontation with some dreamers, some young, undocumented Latinos who wanted to approach him about immigration views.

He was on News Max Television. It's a conservative outlet. He was interviewed, asked a question about the Congressional Black Caucus complaining there might be racial profiling in Ferguson. Here's what he said.


REPRESENTATIVE STEVE KING (R), IOWA: This idea of no racial profiling, I see the video. It looks to me like you don't need to bother with that particular factor because they're all, appear to be of a single, you know, of a single origin, I should say, continental origin. Might be a way to phrase that.


KING: Or it might not be.

HABERMAN: Might not be.

HENDERSON: Definitely would not -- you could not go with that.

HABERMAN: Yes. This -- Steve King has not really been known as a racial healer. So this is not, I don't think it's a surprise if you had to name somebody who might say that. That was not wise.

KING: Right. How about, they're Americans. They're our neighbors?


KING: Yes.

HABERMAN: And when you're looking, as you said, in your community, in your homes, in your neighborhood, when you are seeing this image of rifles being pointed at people who live there, that's hard to get past.

HENDERSON: And I think that's how Americans saw this. They saw this as a neighborhood and they saw those militarized police and those tanks moving in and said, what's going on here?

KING: Nia, Maggie, thanks for coming in. John and Kate, Michaela, let's get back to you. At least Steve King accepted, we are having a different conversation this morning about Ferguson. Let's hope that that continues.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Steve King has a very different conversation about Ferguson, it seems.

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Than anyone else and the Maggie put it well. Not a racial healer.

KING: Thanks, John.

BOLDUAN: Thanks, John. Coming up next on NEW DAY, just when Ferguson, Missouri, seemed on the brink of collapse, order is being restored. Captain Ron Johnson with the highway patrol led the charge to make it happen. It happened overnight. We'll have his take on how to reach out to the community coming up after the break.


DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome back to NEW DAY, everyone. I'm Don Lemon live in Ferguson, Missouri. I want to show you what's happening here over my shoulder right behind me. That is the police chief of Ferguson, Tom Jackson, out this morning actually talking to protesters. Coming out to shake hands. We're going to have a live interview with him just a little later on here on NEW DAY to talk about the releasing of the name of the officer involved in the Michael Brown shooting, but I have to say what a difference from earlier in the week that we have been witnessing here as protests over the Michael Brown shooting turned violent.

And the police response didn't do much to slow the trouble. So after days of living and what amounted to really a police state. The Highway Patrol is in-charge now.

It is led by Captain Ron Johnson who managed to connect with the community and restore a sense of calm here. I spoke with Captain Johnson last night here on CNN. Here's some of what he said about how to bring normalcy back to this community.


CAPTAIN RON JOHNSON, MISSOURI HIGHWAY PATROL: I'll tell you, we have changed that. We have taken gas masks off. You're not seeing officers with gas masks on their legs and they're not going to put them back on, but I can tell you we will protect the safety of the people in this community.

We will protect the health and welfare of the small business owners in this community. I walked down the street and saw my favorite barbecue restaurant with boards on it. That's a small business person that marks our community, and there's several small businesses that make this community.

And when this is over, I'm going to ride up and down this roadway and go to the restaurants and the bars down the street and have me a beer or two, so we are going to preserve that, and this is my community. I walked down here, saw people from my church, people I went to school with and people that I feel are a part of this.

And the frustration is in my household too. I have a young son that's 21, a daughter's that is 23 and I have to answer the same questions that the parents out here have to answer, and --

LEMON: Those are?

JOHNSON: 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.

LEMON: Actually I was in New York on the anchor desk last night watching the unrest happen here. When I walked up today, there was no fear. Have you been out speaks to do people, and what are they telling?

CHIEF JON BELMAR, ST. LOUIS COUNTY POLICE: The interesting thing about tonight, there's a lot of energy but it's positive energy. That's a new thing. We saw a lot of energy over the last few nights but it wasn't positive like it is today. There's been a true change. There really has been.

LEMON: Is it -- is this an admission from you that the tactics were, police handled the next couple of nights wrong?

BELMAR: I'd like to explain a little. The energy is better. Regardless of the optics, I had an opportunity to talk to Reverend Sharpton this morning. He called me at home. The optics are not pretty. If you're here over the last few nights you've seen that.

What we're proud of is not one protester or one rioter and most importantly the people that live in this community have been seriously injured during this. So I'm sorry about the optics, I understand that. But this positive energy here tonight it is really -- it encourages me.

LEMON: The citizens are saying, listen, there's always one in the crowd, and the citizens are saying that they are the ones who are being intimidated by police and they feel like they were positive for the most part, but officers weren't positive.

BELMAR: I understand the perception in the community about that. I honestly do and again, we just want to build on the atmosphere here tonight to make sure that everything stays as safe as it possibly can.

LEMON: Many people who live in the Missouri people say they feel like they're under, they're in militarized zones that they're occupied. What do they need to do? The police, do police need to reflect the community that they serve in?

MAJOR RONNIE ROBINSON, CITY OF ST. LOUIS METROPOLITAN POLICE: I believe in true diversity. The police department should reflect the community they serve and part of the strategy as far as any agency and police department throughout the United States so people know the cultures of different people.

All kind of people make a community. If you got people in your agency that know the culture already, we can spread that knowledge among all officers to build the trust and rapport with the community again.


LEMON: Members of the county police department, city police department, I'm talking about St. Louis and Ferguson police, highway safe patrol, everyone promising transparency when it comes to the investigation and also how they're dealing with the citizens.

A big part of that transparency coming up very shortly as they announce the name of the officer involved in the shooting. That is, you see here that is Tom Jackson. He is the chief of Ferguson police.

He's coming over, going to do a live interview with us to talk about the releasing of the name and also how they're handling the situation here in Ferguson going forward. That's going to be at the top of the hour right here on NEW DAE. Kate, back to you.

BOLDUAN: It seemed first, they needed to find calm in the city and then the focus could really turn where it needs to be, on the investigation, and really getting down to the answers of what happened that day. That seems a step forward is going to happen today. Don, thanks so much. We'll get back to you very shortly.

Coming up next on NEW DAY, talking about Robin Williams. His widow revealing details about the actor's final days. His depression and a private battle that no one had known about previously. His battle with Parkinson's disease. We're going to talk about that with CNN's chief medical correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta. He'll be here.


BERMAN: Welcome back to NEW DAY, everyone. We are learning more about the final days of Robin Williams. His widow revealed he was in the early stages of Parkinson's disease when he committed suicide. She also said he was sober at the time, but struggling with depression and anxiety.

The question now, could Parkinson's have added to his depression? Could it have been the root in some cases of his depression? Joining us entertainment correspondent, Nischelle Turner and also with us chief medical correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, great to have you both with us.

You know, Nischelle, this news came out yesterday, I think it was a surprise to a lot of people. Robin Williams was wide out in the open with his battles of addiction over the years.

We knew a little bit about the depression, but the Parkinson's a secret. Any word why he may have kept it a secret and why his widow went public with it when she did.

NISCHELLE TURNER, CNN ENTERTAINMENT CORRESPONDENT: It's interesting. She said in her statement that he just didn't feel comfortable releasing it yet. We don't know when the diagnosis happened so maybe he was still trying to come to grips with this diagnosis of having Parkinson's disease.

So he just wasn't comfortable talking about it yet or he may not have ever wanted to talk about it, but I do think her releasing this information was really interesting, and you and I were talking about why would she do that?

Well, sometimes, and we don't know this to be the case, but sometimes like if a celebrity has information and a tabloid gets a hold of it and they know that they're going to release it, they want to get out in front of the story, they want to control the conversation, control the dialogue.

And they don't want a tabloid splashing their information all over it. So it could have been a situation where she said listen, I need to get out in front of something, I want to make sure that people know this our way and that we control this conversation.

BERMAN: Sanjay, I know a lot of doctors were looking at this and when this news came out aha, the National Parkinson's Foundation says, what, they've seen studies where there is a connection between Parkinson's and depression in some 50 percent of the cases? DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, there's a real connection here. I don't think it's one causes the other, you have Parkinson's disease necessarily causing depression, but I think it can exacerbate it and some of it is psychological.

There's no cure for this disease, people can get good treatments, but there's no cure that can be psychologically tough. You used to like to exercise and bike ride to relieve his anxiety that so could be part of it.

But there's also a neuroscience component to this as well. We know patients with Parkinson's disease tend to have less serotonin in the brain and that's sort of the feel good, one of the feel good neurotransmitters in the brain. So it could worsen signs of depression that already existed.

BERMAN: One of the interesting ironies, Nischelle, is that Robin Williams had done work for Parkinson's disease with Michael J. Fox, who everyone knows has been dealing with Parkinson's disease. He sent out a tweet "stunned to learn that Robin had PD. Pretty sure his support for our foundation pre-dated his diagnosis. A true friend I wish him peace."

TURNER: Yes, it's interesting. We also heard from Holly Robinson Peat whose father died from Parkinson's disease and she said the same thing that, you know, sometimes exercise and those type of things really can help. And if he had a fear that he couldn't continue the biking and exercise because of the disease maybe it would lend to more of a depressed state.

BERMAN: You know, Sanjay, we also talk about Parkinson's disease, just one of these things, usually diagnosed as an absence of something else. Right, you look at it, I guess what I'm saying no one knows what causes it, but people have looked into over the years whether there's a link between cocaine abuse and Parkinson's. Robin Williams admittedly was dealing with cocaine early on in his career.

GUPTA: You're right, first of all, they often call that a diagnosis of exclusion. If nothing else fits it ends up being that disease, that's sometimes how Parkinson's is diagnosed. There's a lot made of the idea cocaine would cause people to have Parkinsonism later in the life, that's never been proven.

I think there was a lot of theories going on based mainly on lab studies, when they exposed animal brains to high doses of cocaine, they lost a certain thing in the brain called dopamine. But that's never really proven out.

What's interesting is that from a scientific perspective, you know, in the '70s and '80s, sort at the height of the cocaine use, those people who are doing that are now starting to become baby boomers.

So within the next 10 to 15 years, we'll have a better idea long-term if the cocaine use led to the symptoms, but that has not been shown for fact. BERMAN: Quickly, Sanjay, this presumably was the early stages of Parkinson's for Robin Williams. What was he facing going forward? What kind of treatment would he have had?

GUPTA: You know, it's interesting, people focus on the tremor when they think of Parkinson's disease, but there's a lot more that's going on in the body. People can start to have difficulty with balance. They can problems with their blood pressure.

They can develop what's called the masked face and you may have noticed this. They start to lose expression in their face. Treatment wise, there's some very good treatments as I mentioned. There is medications to replace the dopamine, which has gone from the brain.

Interestingly, John, you were mentioning some of his work for the Parkinson's Foundation. He played one of my favorite characters in "Awakenings" a fictionalized Oliver Sachs. He worked on the medication that treats Parkinson's disease.

That was what the character was in the movie, but there's deep brain stimulations, there's a clip there, deep brain stimulation is another option and stem cell transplants being worked on. There's no particular cure, but there's people who live productive lives with this.

TURNER: Sanjay mentioned the masked face thing because Robin Williams made his life on his expression.

GUPTA: Right.

TURNER: So that could have been a really big fear of his, if things like this were starting to set in with him.

BERMAN: It would have been understandable and fitting that one of his great movie roles was as a doctor and Sanjay, not surprising one of your favorite movie heroes was a doctor as well. Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Nischelle Turner, great to have you here with us. Really appreciate it.

Don't forget to tune in to "SANJAY GUPTA M.D." weekends right here on CNN. It airs Saturday at 4:30 p.m., Sundays at 7:30 a.m. Eastern Time. Don't miss it.

Next up for us on NEW DAY, President Obama looking to calm tensions in Ferguson, Missouri. He said there was no excuse for the excessive force by police or for violence toward law enforcement. We'll speak with Ferguson Police Chief Thomas Jackson ahead.