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Town Hall: Black and White in America
Aired August 19, 2014 - 22:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.
DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR: Breaking news.
You're looking live at Ferguson, Missouri, where there are protests tonight, where it's 10 days after the death of Michael Brown. He was shot to death by a police officer.
Good evening, everyone. I'm Don Lemon, and I want to welcome our studio audience. This is CNN TONIGHT.
LEMON: It's a live special town hall. It's called "Black and White in America."
LEMON: Ah, welcome, everyone. You excited to be here? We are excited to have you here, because, tonight, the events in Ferguson are sparking a national conversation. Do we have a race problem? Do we have a police problem? Or do we have both?
Black, white, everybody has an opinion. And we're having the conversation live right here in our studio. And you can be a part of it at home. Make sure you tweet us your questions using #FergusonQs, #FergusonQs.
We need answers. The lives of our young people depend on it. And we have got a team of very distinguished guests right here in our studio.
But before we get into our conversation, we want to go to Ferguson, where CNN's Jake Tapper and Anderson Cooper are both live.
And I want to begin with Jake, who is out in the crowd again tonight.
Jake, what are you seeing?
JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR: Well, as you can see, the protesters are out here in force. It's a much smaller crowd than, for instance, last night by about -- it's about one-eighth the size, one-eighth the size of what we're used to, but boisterous, as they have been.
Here we go. We're turning here. They have decided to basically focus on this one square block and just go up and down, up and down. There are members of the clergy here and other leaders. But it's a smaller group than we have seen in previous nights, a more
energetic group, a lot more young people in their teens and 20s, far fewer children, far fewer women. Some community religious leaders have already expressed to me some concerns about a small pocket of troublemakers, potential troublemakers on the other side of the road here.
So far, the police presence is relatively small, and not the kind of militarized presence that we have seen in previous nights. There are pockets of police officers, law enforcement, state troopers here and there, but not the show of force we have seen in the past, not certainly what we saw last night.
It's really -- anything could happen tonight. You know that some officials, local officials asked that there not be any protests tonight, that this be a night of peace, that there not be any protests after dark. But those heading up the protests said no way, they were going to exercise their First Amendment right.
Also, I'm sure you know, Don, I'm sure you reported on it earlier, there was an incident earlier today in Saint Louis where police officers killed a young African-American man. He was armed. He had a knife. He was according to police coming at them with a knife, saying, shoot me, kill me.
And they did. We have heard some of the protesters talk about that. I don't see any specific relation between the Mike Brown story and that, but police taking the life of another young African-American man, in the minds of some of these protesters, there is a connection -- back to you, Don.
LEMON: All right. Jake Tapper out in the field, marching with the protesters tonight, Jake, we will get back to you.
I want to go to Anderson now. Anderson, you just spoke to Ben Crump. I just saw your conversation. He is representing Michael Brown's family. How is the family doing tonight?
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Well, obviously, we have been focusing in the last week or so on the protests here.
But this is a family in mourning. This is a family who lost their son a little bit more than a week ago, killed just about three blocks from where I'm standing and where these crowds have been gathering. And on top of dealing with the mourning process -- and today we learned there will be a funeral and a public memorial service on Monday -- that was announced today by the family and by their attorneys.
But this is a family that has also been now suddenly thrust into the national spotlight. And they want to pursue what they consider to be justice for their son. They want to see this case go to trial. They want to see an arrest of the police officer involved here. As Jake may have mentioned, a grand jury is set to begin as early as tomorrow. But that process may take several weeks.
And so in addition to mourning the loss of their 18-year-old son, they are concerned about the ability to get justice and to get answers about which they still do not have about how their son died and why.
LEMON: Anderson, you know, we were out there last night. There doesn't appear to be as many people as when you and I were out there last night. But what is the crowd like? At your location, what is the scene like?
COOPER: Yes, it's definitely a lot different than it was last night when you were out here. And, Don, you know better than anyone. You have been covering this now for days.
The crowds are much smaller. They have been much smaller all throughout the day. The crowd that Jake Tapper was in, there were probably about 150, 200 people maybe in that crowd marching around. But that's really the only large crowd that we have seen. There are a number -- several dozen people around here.
And there is a heavy police presence. And, as you know, last night, they had a different tactic last night. Police would try to identify one or two individuals who they saw as causing trouble. And they would go in, try to arrest those one or two individuals and then move out and continue to allow the crowds to protest. That worked for a while, until, as you well know, it didn't work any longer.
They're hoping it will remain peaceful tonight, as we are. We're going to continue with to monitor it all throughout this hour and live into the next hour.
LEMON: All right, Anderson, thank you very much. Thank you very much, Jake.
Just before I move on to my next guests, can I get a show of hands of people here in the audience who think that the people should still be allowed to protest after dark in Ferguson?
You think they should, even with all the violence? OK. We will talk about that tonight.
So joining me now here in studio, Daryl Parks is attorney for Michael Brown's family,CNN law enforcement analyst Tom Fuentes, Martin Luther King Jr. III -- or Martin Luther King III. He is a global civil rights activist and the eldest son of the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. And Kevin Jackson is the executive director of the Black Sphere and the Black Conservative Location, also CNN legal analyst Mark O'Mara, and Tunette Powell, the CEO of The Truth Heals, a nonprofit for individuals and families affected by fatherlessness.
And also joining us is CNN's Nischelle Turner with a look at why your attitudes about the shooting of Michael Brown may have a lot to do with whether you are black or white.
Nischelle, what did you find out?
NISCHELLE TURNER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You know, Don, this has been a really interesting 10 days for me, because on one hand, I have been looking at this story like a journalist.
But on the other hand, I have family who live in that community in Ferguson. So I have been looking at these images play out with angst every night, praying that the people that I love will be safe in their homes.
I think all of this playing out on television has definitely forced Americans to take a good look at ourselves. And there is a brand-new poll out tonight that has some very telling numbers about how blacks and whites look at race in America.
TURNER (voice-over): For the past 10 days, America's eyes have been transfixed on these images, many questions and few answers about the death of Michael Brown. But opinions are taking shape, and the contrast between black and white is stark.
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I have to be very careful about not prejudging.
TURNER: President Obama called for calm and caution, but, according to a Pew Research poll of one thousand adults, minds are already made up.
When asked if Michael Brown's shooting raises important issues about race in America, 37 percent of whites say yes. However, 80 percent of blacks say this case is sparking important racial conversation. Is the race issue being overplayed? Forty-seven percent of white adults say, you bet. But among African-Americans, only 18 percent of black adults say race is getting more attention here than it deserves; 65 percent of blacks say police have gone too far in responding to the shooting's aftermath.
That's in contrast to a third of whites, who are divided, 33 percent saying too much, 32 percent saying the response has been about right. And about the investigation itself into the killing of the unarmed 18- year-old, 52 percent of whites polled say they have a great deal or fair amount of confidence in the investigation, but among blacks, 76 percent saying they have little or no confidence in the investigation.
These numbers paint a picture of a deeply divided America and the fine line the president must walk as he bridges the gap between black and white.
OBAMA: As Americans, we have got to use this moment to seek out our share of humanity that has been laid bare by this moment.
TURNER: And I have seen a lot of raised eyebrows in here when those numbers came out. But if you can believe those numbers, this isn't even as divisive as Americans were after last year, when a Florida grand jury -- when a Florida jury -- excuse me -- found George Zimmerman not guilty in the killing of Trayvon Martin.
At that time, 60 percent of whites said they felt like race played too much of a part in that case -- Don, send it back to you.
LEMON: Definitely interesting. And there is a divide.
Everyone here, looking at the monitor when the numbers came up for poll, you were shocked, Mark O'Mara. You were shocked.
Daryl Parks, do we have a race problem or do we have a police problem?
DARYL PARKS, ATTORNEY FOR FAMILY OF MICHAEL BROWN: We have a problem that encompasses that, plus some other factors, education, economics.
And, you know, when you think about Saint Louis -- I was talking with a couple of leaders there who are friends of mine -- the problems that we see in Saint Louis right now don't start with Michael Brown, but cover an amount of time that has been there.
And so I think that this happened at a time where all of those problems have festered and are coming to fruition at this point.
LEMON: So, I want to ask you, Tom Fuentes, because we know that a grand jury is convening tomorrow. And so we are finally is going to -- the justice part of this is finally going to start rolling.
The big investigative part of this is finally going to start rolling. What happens next here? Do you think that all of this in any way, the protesting, is this delaying the judicial process at all?
TOM FUENTES, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: It's not delaying it. The prosecutor will be going before the grand jury and presenting the evidence as they have it now.
But they don't have all the evidence yet. Some of the forensic reports are not completed. The autopsy, the toxicology reports, which are body fluids and fluids from the organs, blood, that takes four to six weeks to get that result from Michael Brown. And all of these physical, chemical-type tests take time. And they won't have that yet.
So the whole process takes a while. That's the state system. The federal investigation by the FBI is completely separate, and it's a criminal investigation. And that will also be analyzing all of the evidence and looking at that.
Now, one thing about the federal system is, with the federal Speedy Trial Act, if they choose to bring charges against officer Wilson, they have to go to trial in 90 days.
FUENTES: So they have to be prepared. They have to have the evidence together, the reporting together. And the FBI will not want to get it wrong. They will rather be slow than wrong.
LEMON: Mark O'Mara, I want to go -- is that -- 90 days, is that enough time to prepare for a case like this?
MARK O'MARA, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Absolutely not.
And the problem with it is that we have sort of a dichotomy between the people who want something done now, because this is when emotions are at their most raw. They look at it and say, how can you not be doing something? How can there not be an arrest today?
But what I say to you is, look, in Florida and in Missouri and in the federal system, there are time limits from the date of arrest to the date of trial. Rushing it now is actually counterproductive.
LEMON: So rushing an arrest, you mean.
LEMON: Because there is a time limit. So, everyone is saying arrest, arrest, arrest, but is that necessarily what people really want?
O'MARA: If what they truly want is justice defined by the way of having an adversary process address this issue and resolve it properly, give the prosecutor time to build their case.
O'MARA: Let them do it, because if they do it rushed, if they go to the grand jury tomorrow just because people want them to and they're not ready, then some criminal defense lawyer six months from now is going to say, you didn't do it right.
Did you guys know that? Were you guys aware of that? Does that change your mind possibly if you thought that this police officer should be arrested, that he should be? Does that change your mind at all?
LEMON: No? OK.
All right. We will talk more about that.
OK, Martin King, let's talk about this. You have dealt with this. Your father did. You witnessed a lot of it in the 1960s. What do you think about when look at Nischelle's story there that this -- what does 2014 look to you, race in America?
MARTIN LUTHER KING III, PRESIDENT & CEO, REALIZING THE DREAM: Well, it certainly looks challenged.
But we if we compare this to 50 years ago, we certainly have made incredible strides. However, I would like to think that had my dad and Robert Kennedy and others lived, this nation would be a totally different nation, and we would certainly be further along.
Dad wanted to eradicate the triple evils. He called those triple evils, defined them as poverty, racism, militarism, and violence.
LEMON: Is this a part, you think, that has not been addressed because it's probably the least of these? Many times, this happens to people who don't have resources. This is -- it's not just about race. This is about class as well. Correct?
KING: Well, yes. Oh, absolutely, absolutely.
But race is the predominant factor. And what I mean by that is, it should be clearly known that the treatment certainly of young African- American males is different than the treatment of young white males as it relates to justice in America.
LEMON: OK. OK. The amens are going off in the audience here. Hallelujah. Amen. OK.
LEMON: So, listen, Linda (ph) is saying -- this is a question. This is an audience question from Linda. Where is Linda?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Here.
Hi, Don. My question is that, what if the officer who shot Michael Brown was black? How would that have changed the course of this conversation?
KEVIN JACKSON, The BLACK SPHERE: I think you could ask it a couple ways. I don't believe it would have changed the conversation much.
To be honest with you, I think a lot of people in the black community would have called him a sellout. They would have said he was a turncoat going against his own people and a lot of things like that. I think the dynamic would change if the victim had been white and the cop had been black.
You would have then seen a lot of black people talking about, we got to let this black cop get his justice and so on and so forth. And that's the problem in America is, we are so colorized that we can't just say a tragedy has happened for two people.
I'm going to tell you something. That cop is struggling with this. Whether people want to believe this or not, he is struggling with this. And he is upset. Whether people -- you can say what you want. I don't know him, by the way. I'm only speculating.
But you can't kill a human being and just go to sleep at night and think everything is cool. So we got to look at both of these things and stop colorizing and just say, look, let's get to the bottom of it. I feel for Michael Brown's family. I want justice for him. But I won't do it at the sacrifice of letting this man's story come out.
LEMON: But, Kevin, when you talk about he would have been called a sellout and a number of other names, the man who is in charge of this, the response now is an African-American man, is a black man, and has lived his entire life in that community. He has a black family. He has dealt with discrimination his entire life. He is being called a sellout. He is being called an Uncle Tom. He is
being called a coon. What do you guys think of that? Because he is a police officer and he is not necessarily carrying the narrative that many people in the community want him. Is that right?
No. Why does that happen? We will talk about that as well.
So, everybody, stay right here. Stay where you are. We are going to have the latest from the protest in Ferguson as it happens. And we have got a lot of tough questions to get to tonight, questions like, are police targeting black men? What do black parents tell their sons to keep them safe? And, more importantly, what do we have to do to stop the violence?
We want you to be a part of the conversation at home. Make sure you tweet us your questions using #FergusonQs.
We will be right back with our live town hall.
LEMON: Welcome back, everyone, to our live town hall, "Black and White in America."
Ferguson police and Missouri Highway Patrol, you see they have been criticized harshly for the response of the ongoing crisis, as we look at these live pictures. This is what is happening on the street. It looks to be a different story than it was last night. Fingers crossed, right, everyone? Yes, we certainly hope so.
So back with us now, our studio audience, of course, Daryl Parks, Tom Fuentes, Martin Luther King III, and Tunette Powell.
So, Mr. King, what we saw last night in Ferguson looked like a lot of key moments from the history of our country dealing with race. Do you see this as an extension of those events of the civil rights movement?
KING: Well, I would say that it is civil rights, but human rights, because how we -- and in fact my dad began to change in the mid-'60s from civil rights to addressing human rights.
There's a basic human right hopefully to have a decent job, to have the best education, to have health care, to have justice. And that is really where we are at this point.
LEMON: OK. Let's talk about the police and the police officers' response, because, Tom, I spoke with the Missouri Highway Patrol captain that we talked about in the block last night and I spoke to him today.
And he talked about his response. He defended the police department's response last night. He said his officers were screaming for help and felt threatened by guns and Molotov cocktails.
What were the officers supposed to do? FUENTES: I think last night, they did what they had to, and that was
to go in and surgically remove the hooligans that have put themselves in the middle of decent protesters and are trying to stir up the police. What they're trying to do is get the police to launch the tear gas, to launch the aggressive tactics against the peaceful protesters and agitate the whole system.
And this is something that, you know, the police have seen this in many other rallies. They have seen it across the board, where hooligans travel in to cause trouble on purpose, and, in essence, use the community leaders in a sense as human shields, that you have these decent people in the community that want the answers and want to honor Michael Brown and all of the events, but there are some hooligans that go in there, the ones that do the looting, that they could care less about Michael Brown.
LEMON: Quickly, you thought the force was appropriate?
FUENTES: As I saw it. I didn't think it was inappropriate.
Someone said hmm.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There were a couple of huhs.
LEMON: You didn't think so?
Do we have a microphone? Do we have a microphone? I want to see why she thought it was inappropriate. Can you bring that microphone over to her?
Why did you think it was inappropriate? What's your name, by the way?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: My name is Ajuba Grinaj Bartley (ph).
LEMON: Why did you think it was inappropriate?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Because, from where I'm sitting, I saw the police coming as occupants of the community. And I felt that they were provoking. I felt -- I saw many instances where people weren't doing anything, and police officers really carried on.
LEMON: Thank you. You said Ajuba?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes.
LEMON: All right. Thank you, Ajuba.
FUENTES: Well, that may be true in a general sense that the overall presence was more -- was too aggressive.
But with these individuals that decided to throw Molotov cocktails and shoot bullets at the police, that's a different story. And I don't think the police, their presence alone, whether it was too militaristic or not, is responsible for that. These guys went to Ferguson to cause trouble. And it had nothing to do with whether the police were out there driving military vehicles or golf carts. It was going the happen in their mind.
LEMON: OK. Let's move on, because I want to talk about retired General Russel Honore. I have family -- I'm from Louisiana. I grew up in Louisiana. And I got to witness what he did during Hurricane Katrina and how he got the city back together.
I had him on my show not long after this began, and here is what our conversation was about. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LT. GEN. RUSSEL HONORE (RET.), U.S. ARMY: And it's not the job of the police or any service of the armed forces to threaten people with weapons.
You're there to protect people and be prepared to deal with people who may break the law. But you are there to protect the people. And they need to sense that from you. But when you have an officer, as we saw in the last 24 hours, sitting there looking through a scope into a crowd, that sends the wrong message.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: What message, Daryl, does that send to the people?
PARKS: Well, I think in this situation -- you and I were out there last night, and we saw a very peaceful rally that all of the sudden had a drastic change in less than an hour.
And we saw a dark mood come across the whole area. And it was very clear that there were a group of people who had come in with a specific idea. It became extremely dangerous for everyone there.
LEMON: But do you think the force was excessive?
PARKS: No, it wasn't, because, for example, we -- you and I were standing there when the first person was arrested.
PARKS: And they went in. They were very strategic.
LEMON: So you're fine with the military type -- the way police moved in? You're OK with that?
PARKS: Maybe it's unfair, but I have been up close and seen it personally every day.
LEMON: OK. All right, great.
We have an audience question from Brandon (ph). Brandon -- do we have the microphone?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's right here.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hi.
LEMON: There you go. OK. There you go.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Given the incidents that we have seen recently, what policies or safeguards are there out there that we can enact to prevent the tendency for officers to overreact when dealing with black men?
JACKSON: We talked about it earlier, that the simplest solution is put cameras on all the officers.
The first thing that happens when a camera comes on -- if we were having a conversation in the green room and I turned the camera on, you and I both know that the dynamic changes just a bit. And, as an officer, if you have had a bad day -- let's face it. We don't know what these guys have run into all day long.
You think, I'm a good guy. Why are you pushing up on me? Well, you don't know who he just met. With so if there is a camera, he knows he's got to check himself. And if you know an officer has a camera, you also have to check yourself.
LEMON: And it also may change the kind of person who becomes a police officer if you don't want those things caught on tape.
JACKSON: I would not be a cop.
LEMON: I'm just going to be honest with you. Last night, one of my producers said that they -- I won't say if it's a he or she, because I don't want to give anyone away -- said that they came in contact with one of the members of the National Guard, and that they said, "You want to get out of here because you're white, because these N-words, we're going to -- you never know what they're going to do."
True story. I kid you not, 2014, a member of the National Guard. And my producer doesn't lie. It is a true story.
Stick around, everyone. Everyone, stay with us.
Up next, we're going go back to Ferguson and see what is happening there tonight. And we will take a look at the response of the officials at the local, state and federal levels. Are they making things better, or are they making things worse?
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) LEMON: Look at the live pictures in Ferguson, Missouri. You see
officers on the scene, and you see protesters out. And we like to call them peace marchers, as well, because it seems to be peaceful tonight. So we're back with our town hall, "Black and White in America." My CNN colleague, Chris Cuomo, is in Ferguson, Missouri.
Chris, what's happening there right now?
CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: Hey, Don, how are you? Thank you very much for using that term "peace marcher," because I really think it's appropriate tonight.
Right now we're on Canfield Drive. OK? The scene behind us, this is the scene that's driving so much of the emotion here in Ferguson, and let's be honest around the country, because all eyes are on this city right now. This is where Michael Brown was shot by a police officer and killed.
And over the course of, let's say, two weeks since August 9, the night that this happened, there's been so much drama. There's been so much attention, especially on the street, but not tonight. Tonight there are solemn moments of slow drive-bys, people taking photos in front of the site. Some prayerful reflection going on. People who live here are walking by. And there's not a celebratory atmosphere, obviously, but people are talking. They're talking about what they want for their community. They're talking about each other.
And it's so interesting to me that there's no other media here tonight. This has been a place where everybody came to pay attention when things were going wrong. But tonight when it's peaceful, we're the only ones here, Don.
But this is the site tonight. This is where Michael Brown was shot. These are the people who live here, who have to live with what's going on here. And tonight they are just praying for peace at the site of the killing.
LEMON: Again, two reasons, Chris, I'm probably thinking. One, there's been so much corralling by law enforcement there. And No. 2, quite frankly, many people in the media were afraid to go into the neighborhood, because they think it's a, quote, "bad neighborhood." But I'm glad you were there for us tonight, Chris, and you are showing us in many ways otherwise.
And I want to bring in now Van Jones, who is the host of CNN's "CROSSFIRE."
Van, you know, you are there in Ferguson. What is your experience there? What has it been so far?
VAN JONES, CO-HOST, "CROSSFIRE": Well, you know, I've got a chance to talk to some of the people who are the leaders, the young activists. Not the ones who you see doing all the screaming and the yelling sometimes. But the people who are literally two blocks from here, who are meeting tonight. They're strategizing. These are very sophisticated, smart young people. They understand
that this over-incarceration of their generation is holding them back from getting the jobs that they want, the education that they want.
And when Holder comes here tomorrow, if he's willing to meet with these young people, he's going to hear a very, very wise, reasoned argument from both why policing has to change in America, but why opportunity has to change for these young people. This has become, I think, a defining moment for a generation.
Look, in 1992 when the Rodney King thing happened, I was a young guy. That changed my whole relationship to my country for ten years, because I was afraid maybe America was not on my side if I had black skin. We should not let these young people go through that kind of estrangement.
There's a moment here now, as things have gotten peaceful, where we can reach out to this generation, listen to what they want. They want black lives to matter. They want to be able to go to school. They want to be able to get a job. They want the cops to be on their side.
The stuff they're asking for is just liberty and justice for all. If we can get past some of the theatrics and listen to what these young people want, I think America will be proud of these young people, proud to stand with these young people and proud to give them a better shot in this country.
LEMON: Van, I want to talk to you a little bit more about Eric Holder. You mentioned him. Because he will be in Ferguson tomorrow. He's published an op-ed in the St. Louis paper with a message to the people of Ferguson. And I won't read it. But -- because it's quite a long message here. But what do you think Eric Holder and other officials can do to fix this?
JONES: I think there are two issues here. One has to do with the specific case. I think until this officer is charged and given a chance to present his case to a jury of his peers, I think people are going to feel that there's a double standard.
This's no unarmed person in America can be shot six times, including once in the head and nobody goes to trial. So I think has to happen. That is a specific case.
But the general case of the sense that, if you're a young African American, if you're a young Latino, if you're a young person of color, that you're kind of guilty until proven innocent, not innocent until proven guilty, that has to be addressed.
And one of the things I'm very interested in is this whole idea of cognitive. We have come to a point -- and you said this so many times, Don, where in our conscious mind, everybody is with Dr. King. Nobody consciously any more wants to be a racist. You have very few people who feel that way, and they're going away. They're graying out.
But what is being shown now by the science, Don, it is our subconscious minds, where when you put the wires on people's head and show them a picture of a black youth, even people who don't want to be racist still have that fearful reaction, including some African- Americans. Until we can have that deeper conversation, not about willful racism, but that subconscious, unconscious bias, I think we're going to have these kind of scenes play out over and over again.
I would love to see the Justice Department and the Obama administration talk about the fact that we have come a long way as a country when it comes to consciously wanting to do better. But we still have those fears.
LEMON: Van, OK, we want to get to our panel. Thank you very much. We appreciate your thoughts on that.
How many of you think that -- that racism is better? He said graying out. That was the term people used.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No doubt.
LEMON: You think it's better.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You think it's better. OK. A show of hands from the audience. Let me see. Visibly show of hands. No. You don't think it's better? Who has a microphone in here? Give me the microphone. Hand me that microphone. I'm going to stand up here. I'm going drive my producers crazy. Let go around here. You said no. Why is that? Hang on. Why is that?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Just more undercover. You may see the face of someone, and they may say that they're not, but then you get that look. And you know that it's there. It's seething underneath. And that's the way it's going to be until someone brings it out. We all have to get more conversations like this.
LEMON: All right. Show of hands. Who thinks it's better or graying out, as they say?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think it's better, but not enough.
LEMON: Say again.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think it's better, but certainly not where we should be.
LEMON: Explain yourself.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: If something like this can happen, then we're certainly not ahead of, you know -- of getting better. But I do think it is better, because I grew up in the '50s where schools were segregated. And I had a black friend. And it was -- it was like I was killing somebody in the neighborhood.
LEMON: Right. They were like what is wrong with you?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That's right. And they blamed it on my parents.
LEMON: Yes, yes. I just went home to do a story in my hometown. And we were driving around with the people who were tracing my ancestry. And we -- my mom and I drove by the school she went to, her junior high school. It was a black high school and a white high school, and they were on completely separate sides of town. And that was back in the 1950s. It hasn't been that long ago. It hasn't been that long ago.
When we come right back, we're going to do more with our live town- hall panel. The challenge for black parents. How to raise young black men in America and keep them alive.
LEMON: You're looking live at the scenes in Ferguson, Missouri. We're keeping a close watch on that, and hopefully they remain peaceful. Everything remains peaceful there.
So we're back with our live town hall, "Black and White in America." In the wake of the shooting death of 18-year-old Michael Brown, a lot of black parents in this country are having uncomfortable conversations and worrying more than ever about their children.
Tunette (ph) is here.
You have a daughter. You have a daughter of a drug addict father, right? And you have -- you have kids. They've been suspended. They're young kids. What's your concern for them?
TUNETTE (ph): Well, I think first I want to point out I -- you know, when I watch the news and all these other segments, it seems like we always get away from the fact that a teenager was murdered. And I think as a mother, that's what's troubling for me, because we don't stay focused on that.
LEMON: But you were labeled -- the reason I mentioned that, you were labeled a troublemaker.
TUNETTE (ph): Absolutely.
LEMON: And now your kids are going through the same thing.
TUNETTE (PH): And they are. And that's -- that's what really brings up the questions are, you know, where can they go? The education, you know, system doesn't want to work with them. You know, the police department and that justice system doesn't want to work for them and with them. Then there are very few options of places that will, you know, take them in and love them.
We're loving them at home. But when they go outside of those walls, there is nothing for them.
LEMON: Did you know that was a theme? Did you know that kids as young as nursery school...
TUNETTE (ph): Absolutely. Three years old is my youngest son.
LEMON: ... could be suspended. Did you guys know that?
TUNETTE (ph): Three years old.
LEMON: And that the rate of African -- unbelievable the rate of African-American kids, and then that continue. It becomes -- it snowballs.
TUNETTE (ph): Absolutely. And it tells, you know, when you see white kids with the same behaviors staying in class and not being suspended, it says, "We're willing to work with you. But we're not willing to work with you." And when you tell a kid that at 3 and 5, it does affect them.
LEMON: So you have to have that conversation with your kids and try to convince them that they're not bad.
TUNETTE (ph): Absolutely. You want to teach them that teachers are not bad and neither are the police.
LEMON: There's a question. This is Michelle. Where is Michelle in the audience to talk about? There she is right there. So Michelle, you're afraid for your boys to go out?
MICHELLE, MOTHER: Yes. Good evening. I'm a mom of a young black male. I'm a wife of a black man who is in the -- he's an auxiliary police officer. And I'm an educator to middle-school and elementary black boys. And I won't say I'm in fear, because I pray. But I'm in angst every day.
LEMON: Did you have the talk with them about how to conduct themselves?
MICHELLE: Absolutely. I mean, there are times in the classroom and certainly at home the conversation has changed. This is what you do. You have to walk with I.D. When the police tell you to stop, stop. Put your hands up. Talk to them a certain way. Don't be disrespectful.
And it's really -- you know, the summer is one of the hardest times for me, because my son goes out. My husband goes out. I pray they get back home. But I wonder what students are going to come back in September.
LEMON: You pray they get back home. Not -- it's not necessarily from police officers. It's also because they can be killed in their own neighborhood.
MICHELLE: Absolutely. So we're dealing as parents, as black mothers, we're dealing with a double-edged sword. It's not only the community that's against them, each other; they're against each other. But it's -- it's, you know, police and the law enforcement, as well.
LEMON: Martin, is this a vision your dad had for a young black man? MARTIN LUTHER KING III, SON OF CIVIL RIGHTS ACTIVIST: Absolutely not.
It's not a vision that probably anybody has. I don't think anybody wants to see this vision being manifested. There is a vision of wholeness. Dad wanted to create what he called was the beloved community. And that's what he worked on and my mom dedicated her life to that, as well. And I hope that's what I'm trying to do.
LEMON: Can I hear your response?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We can't have our cake and eat it, too. We want more young black men to become police officers, because when you were a kid it was, you know, cops and robbers, right? And you wanted to be the cop. But we have "F" the cops in our neighborhood.
So then Jesse Jackson says we -- you need more diversity. Well, why am I going to be a cop? So you have that aspect.
You have, you know, the aspect of you know cops -- if I'm going to be -- I'm going to be the pink elephant in the room, right, or the black elephant. The fact of the matter is we know what is going on in our neighborhood with teenagers, with black teens. I've raised four. I have three that are men and one that's a little boy. And I'm going to tell you, it's a difficult situation to raise black teens. And there's a lot of fatherless black teens who are rogues out there.
LEMON: You do have a point when it comes to -- when it comes cops, right? Because the officer, that outstanding young man in Ferguson, Missouri, who is now heading up this, Ron Johnson, is being called everything but a son of God by members of his own community.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, I hadn't heard that until you said it.
LEMON: He talked about it today.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Did he?
LEMON: He goes -- he said, "I'm a man, and I'm a black man. And I'm an officer." He says but it's hurtful to him, because if you conduct yourself in a certain way, then you have somehow defied your race, because you don't fit the narrative.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, just one of the...
LEMON: Do you find that at all, Darryl Parks?
PARKS: You find that sometimes. I mean -- but you still have to speak truth to power in all situations and stand for right. And I think without question, I think people of good will see that Captain Johnson has done an incredible job. He's put his reputation on the line; he's put himself on the line to really stand up. And I think not only should Missouri be proud of him; all of America should be proud of him.
Coming up next, does anyone have a solution to the problems facing black and whites in America? How do we stop the conflicts? And we're going to get a live update from the latest on the streets of Ferguson, Missouri. That's coming up next.
LEMON: Live now, you're looking at pictures of Ferguson, Missouri. Obviously, somebody out there getting their workout and their protest on at the same time. Right? You guys see that? So we're keeping an eye on that.
So I want to put up a tweet, because this person on Twitter said, and I'm paraphrasing here, "I'd love to be able to talk more openly about race, but I've seen the disdain when I've tried." How many of you are afraid to open to talk openly about race?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: None of us.
LEMON: Nobody. Mark, you're miked.
O'MARA: I'll say yes, and here's why. Because I'm white, and I'm going to screw it up somehow. And when we try and talk about race, and I have these built-in insensitivities that are seen by the black community, anything that I say is going to come across from my filter and it's going to be seen possibly badly. So am I afraid about it? I'm afraid of screwing up, but I want to have the conversation.
LEMON: Yes. Well, before the show, I told the audience, I said how many of you knew that, before the George Zimmerman trial, that Mark O'Mara spent his entire career fighting for civil rights and for young black men? Did you guys know that? Context is everything. Right? You didn't know that. You take one aspect of someone's life, and you judge them by it completely.
Are you afraid to talk about race?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: In certain places, yes.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Because today I said to a policeman, "I'm glad that I see a police presence." And a man standing next to him, and it was a black policeman, said, "That's because you're white." And that made me very uncomfortable.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You know, I'd just like to say that if white people feel uncomfortable talking about race, they need to talk about race with other white people.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They don't need to talk about race with black people unless you're friends or want to be friends or your work together or go to school together. White people need to talk among themselves about race.
(CROSSTALK) LEMON: I don't know. Does that -- but does that help if you only talk amongst yourselves?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They should be -- they should be able to talk to anybody about race.
LEMON: Go ahead.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: First of all, you can't legislate hate. So talking amongst yourself is not going to solve anything.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You could learn.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: People need to have the courage to dialogue openly with people of all different nationalities. And truthfully about the pain that has existed in this country for century after century after century.
LEMON: And you knew she was passionate, because she grabbed the mic. And I am not -- I am not letting go.
I'm going to over here. What did you want to say, sir?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think the question is are we afraid to listen about race? I think we're so busy talking about it. But we have to have empathy. And I think that's one thing that's missing when we talk about race is empathy.
LEMON: Not everything, though. You know, not every time people want to -- white people talk about race, right, and there has -- you have to learn something when you're doing it. Right? You have to have an open mind.
Like, I came back from the beach and someone said, "I didn't know you got a tan." And I thought it was the weirdest thing. And it's someone who works with me, and I could have been, "Oh, my gosh, you're racist." Instead, we went to the bar across the street, and we talked about it. Right?
And so there's no -- it seems kind of silly in 2014 that no one would know that. I'm not going call him out here on national television.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But you can tan, by the way.
LEMON: Hello, no supposedly, you know, I got darker makeup or I was trying to become blacker so that I could fit in. A whole bunch of things.
Thank you, guys. We're going to be -- we'll be right back. Don't go anywhere.
LEMON: So I'm going to give the last word to the most boisterous person before the show. Maciel (ph) Thompson, what's the last word on this?
MACIEL (PH) THOMPSON: I think in America we need to sit down, black and white, and bring this thing in the open. Stop pushing it under the table. Black and white for all these years. We need to stop this, put it in the open. Let everybody know that blacks and white, they don't get along. Let's try to get along. But bring it on top of the cover. Stop hiding it. Black folks hiding it. White folks hiding it.
LEMON: Thank you, Maciel (ph) Thompson. We appreciate that.
And you have to remember: We're doing this because of the death of an unarmed teenager on the streets. Many people believe he was gunned down. We should let the investigation play out, but we should also remember that we must be respectful to the family and honor the memory of a young man.
Thank you, everyone, for joining us. Thanks to my panel. Thanks to my audience. We appreciate it.
That's it for us tonight. I'll see you live from Ferguson, Missouri, tomorrow. "AC 360," live from Ferguson, starts right now.