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THE SITUATION ROOM
Dozens Arrested in Latest Protests; New Police Shooting Near Ferguson; Ferguson Police Tactics Questioned; Rocket Fire Exchanged as Ceasefire Breaks Down; Gov. Rick Perry to be Booked, Take Mug Shot
Aired August 19, 2014 - 17:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
BRIANNA KEILAR, HOST: Thank you, Jake.
Happening now, a SITUATION ROOM special report, breaking news. Bracing for trouble after some of the worst clashes yet in Ferguson, Missouri.
City officials plead for quiet, but are we about to see more of this?
Shooting near Ferguson -- St. Louis police shoot and kill a young African-American who they say approached them with a knife.
And the Feds step in after scenes like this. The U.S. attorney general heading to Ferguson, where dozens of FBI agents are already on ground.
Wolf Blitzer is off.
I'm Brianna Keilar.
You are in THE SITUATION ROOM.
ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.
KEILAR: Breaking news -- city leaders in Ferguson, Missouri issue an urgent plea for quiet and reconciliation. This follows another night of violence, gunshots, firebombs and clouds of tear gas.
Here are the latest developments.
The city of Ferguson is urging people to stay home tonight and allow peace to settle in and let the justice process run its course. Seventy-eight people were arrested on the streets last night and jail records show many of them came from out of state. Authorities and protest organizers are blaming the violence on a small number of agitators. And there's also been another police shooting near Ferguson. St. Louis authorities say officers shot and killed a young African-American man who allegedly advanced on them with a knife.
The police are now moving the media out of our broadcast location there in Ferguson.
But our correspondents, our analysts and guests are standing by with complete coverage. And we start with CNN national correspondent, Jason Carroll.
He's in Ferguson.
Tell us the latest there -- Jason.
JASON CARROLL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Brianna, just to give this a little bit more perspective, when we were out here last week, we heard from officers on the ground about these people coming out from out of town, these out of town agitators. They were here last week. They are here this week. And police are still struggling with how to keep the peace at night.
CARROLL (voice-over): What began as peaceful protests quickly deteriorated into chaos, with tear gas and gunfire, injuries to authorities and protesters...
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (INAUDIBLE) just take a deep breath.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All right.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Take a deep breath.
CARROLL: And more than 70 arrests. Four officers were injured and at least two people were shot, but not by police. This morning, Michael Brown's mother called for calm.
LESLEY MCSPADDEN, MOTHER OF MICHAEL BROWN: We have to remain focused and we have to remain strong and the violence needs to stop. When justice is prevailed, then maybe they'll regain their trust in the locals. But right now, it's really out of control.
CARROLL: Attorney General Eric Holder is expected in Ferguson tomorrow, as the Justice Department opens a civil rights investigation into Brown's death and a local grand jury could begin hearing evidence in the case this week.
(on camera): There are a bunch of stun grenades. That's tear gas.
(voice-over): Police and protesters blame outside agitators for much of the violence here. The state Highway Patrol captain in charge is urging the community to protest during the day going forward, not at night.
CAPT. RONALD S. JOHNSON, MISSOURI HIGHWAY PATROL: We expect peace and that's the way that we're going to approach it. And Thursday we had a positive outlook. Some dynamics changed. And so, hopefully, we can get back to that. But the people want peace.
CARROLL: Meantime, support is growing for the police officer who shot Michael Brown. A Facebook page called "I Support Officer Wilson" is up and has more than 35,000 likes. And the page on a crowd funding site "Go Fund Me" has raised more than $25,000 to help with Darren Wilson's finances and legal fees.
(END VIDEO TAPE)
CARROLL: And, Brianna, Captain Johnson, who you heard from there in the piece, also said that he is not going to let criminals define this community. They are going to be going after that element tonight, which is why, again, he is urging demonstrators to protest during the day and not tonight -- Brianna.
KEILAR: Jason Carroll for us there in Ferguson.
And there's been another police shooting not far from Ferguson. Officers in St. Louis have killed a young African-American man who allegedly came at them with a knife.
CNN's Chris Cuomo is tracking that for us -- Chris, you were at the scene, weren't you, of this officer-involved shooting.
CHRIS CUOMO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Brianna. We made it there to the scene. You know, this morning, on "NEW DAY," leaders from the community were saying hopefully, there's no more violence. Well, exactly what they did not need to happen happened. Officers were called to the sign of a -- to the scene of a local market, where there were allegations a shoplifter wasn't cooperating with the story owners. Two officers showed up. A 23-year-old man came at them. They say he charged them with a knife, daring them to kill him. And the officers did just that.
When news came out that there was another body outside a store in the locality here, people came out -- 50, 100, 150, 200 people, most of them African-Americans, many of them young males, all of them very, very angry.
Now, unlike the Michael Brown situation, this is time the scene was tidied up quickly. Even the story owners came out literally hosing down the sidewalk. But the stains were already in place for the crowd. And the idea of there being quiet tonight was greatly compromised, because in this crowd, Brianna, it's not just that there was another shooting, but it does matter to them it was white police officers shooting a black man. And while they're aware of the -- the crowd was aware there that was a knife involved, that he supposedly charged, there are allegations from those who knew him that maybe he had some instability issues.
And yet, they say, but why was the only option for police to shoot this man?
Why couldn't they tase him?
Why couldn't they detain him a different way?
And the crowd got very angry quickly, chanting and promising that they will not let this situation rest, because they're afraid it will simply happen again.
KEILAR: Yes, it reveals, as well, just so much distrust there of the police in that area.
You've been speaking, as well, with local leaders.
How is this affecting their plans there in Ferguson, just a few miles from this latest shooting?
CUOMO: No, a big concern. You know, they tried to get traffic going in the situation of this latest shooting, again trying to get some normalcy back. You have to remember, this entire community has been frozen by Michael Brown shooting. And now there's been another one.
The chief went and addressed these protesters directly. But they were not satisfied with his answers.
So then we circled back with the local leaders, who were saying this morning, if they want what they were calling a moratorium or a ceasing to any protesting to allow some quiet, allow some calm in, and for authorities to isolate these agitators that Jason was reporting on earlier, that they would cooperate.
Well, now that doesn't seem to be the situation. Local leaders are getting a lot of appeals from the people in this area to protest. They're hoping they can keep it peaceful. That's what they want is the message to come out again tonight.
But I would be surprised if everyone stays home -- Brianna.
Chris Cuomo, thank you so much.
We know you'll be keeping an eye on things there in Ferguson.
There are dozens of FBI agents who are on the ground in that city. And Attorney General Eric Holder is heading there tomorrow, as federal authorities investigate the Michael Brown shooting.
So let's turn now to CNN justice reporter, Evan Perez.
What are you learning about this visit?
I mean this is a -- this is very significant, that the attorney general is heading there...
EVAN PEREZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Right.
KEILAR: -- in a way, almost filling -- he's sort of the face of the Obama administration there.
PEREZ: Right. And this is very unusual. The attorney general heading to the scene in the middle of an ongoing investigation. It's very hands-on. I was told in the last hour that the attorney general got himself a briefing from the investigators on the federal autopsy, which was done yesterday.
They're not releasing details of this autopsy, obviously, until after the federal investigation is over. This is a civil rights investigation, which is separate from the criminal investigation being done by the St. Louis County police.
Now, he is going to be there tomorrow. He's going to be meeting with the investigators doing the investigation, the FBI agents, the prosecutors in the U.S. attorney's office.
We also expect that he's going to meet with the Brown family. In the last hour, on Jake Tapper's show, you heard from the Brown attorney that they've arranged for a visit with the attorney general and also with some local leaders.
But the focus here, Brianna, is really on the investigation and to make sure they can reassure the people there that this is going to be done properly.
KEILAR: So if these autopsies -- these federal autopsy results come out -- because, at this point, there have been three autopsies done.
PEREZ: Right. Exactly. KEILAR: We know the results of the autopsy that the Brown family commissioned.
KEILAR: We don't know the federal autopsy results.
When might the investigation wrap up so that we can figure out what that autopsy says?
PEREZ: This is probably not going to happen for, frankly, for months...
PEREZ: -- because they first want to wait to see what the St. Louis County Police Department does. They're beginning to present evidence to a grand jury tomorrow. So that process is now ongoing.
But the FBI is already ahead of the game here. They have done interviews that even the St. Louis County detectives haven't been able to do because, obviously, they're stretched thin.
KEILAR: What is this -- and I want to bring in Tom Fuentes. He's our CNN law enforcement analyst.
What does this do, having the attorney general go to the area?
What does this signify?
What does it achieve, aside from something symbolic?
TOM FUENTES, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Well, that's enough in and of itself. KEILAR: Yes.
FUENTES: He wants to convince the local leaders there that the federal government is performing as diligent and meticulous and proper an investigation as it possibly can, to assure them that's going to be the case.
Now, the FBI had dozens of agents there almost from the beginning, when the request went of having a civil rights investigation. The 40 that were -- that was an additional 40. That was a surge of more FBI agents, on top of the dozens that were already there. So you have a very meticulous investigation going on.
But, you know, in order to have justice served in a case like this, the investigation has to be done exactly as properly as possible, to meet federal investigative guidelines. And it's very unforgiving. If the FBI comes out there and they don't investigate this absolutely the way it's supposed to be, it jeopardizes the case. It could jeopardize a prosecution.
So they're not going to be able to rush that.
Also, on these autopsies, you know, the family possibly did itself a disservice because three autopsies...
KEILAR: This is an interesting point you brought up yesterday when we were talking...
KEILAR: -- off camera, three autopsies.
FUENTES: Three autopsies.
KEILAR: Some doubt, perhaps.
FUENTES: If -- exactly. And if there's doubt, that gives a...
KEILAR: In a criminal case, if there's doubt in a case against the officers (INAUDIBLE)...
KEILAR: -- he goes to trial.
FUENTES: -- hypothetically, if Officer Wilson is prosecuted and there's a discrepancy among the three autopsies, that plays into the defense trying to raise the reasonable doubt issue.
FUENTES: So that would -- on top of that, that autopsy that was done by the family was really an incomplete. They didn't have the clothing, they didn't have the other...
KEILAR: They didn't... FUENTES: -- (INAUDIBLE).
KEILAR: -- they didn't have very important facts. That's a very good point.
Tom Fuentes, Evan, thank you so much.
And next, push comes to shove in Ferguson, as police respond to violence with tear gas, stun grenades and arrests.
Is the crackdown the right way to handle things?
And we'll go back live to Ferguson, which is a community now bracing for more trouble, even as we get new details on another police shooting in nearby St. Louis.
KEILAR: Our breaking news, city leaders in Ferguson are calling for quiet and reconciliation after a night of protests marred by violence and a tough crackdown by police. That is raising fresh questions about the tactics used by authorities there.
CNN's Brian Todd has been looking into that. Brian, what are you finding?
BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Brianna, those tactics have been all over the place, from military-style crackdowns to letting protesters roam freely to bringing the hammer down again. It has led to criticism that this police response has been too inconsistent, punctuated by poor communication and leadership problems.
TODD (voice-over): Police in Ferguson fire tear gas and stun grenades. They say they were responding to being targeted by rocks, Molotov cocktails and gunfire. The central question in Ferguson is as persistent as the violence itself.
(on camera): Were those police tactics appropriate for what was happening at that moment?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You needed a show of force by police officers. The fact that they're wearing military style uniforms was very provocative. Had they been wearing police blues, I think there would have been a different feeling.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Here they come. We've been pushed out of the way.
TODD (voice-over): Some experts say the police performance in Ferguson has been disjointed. They say it started with a confused leadership picture. Ferguson Police Chief Thomas Jackson, heading up securing the city, then handing it off to Captain Ron Johnson of the Missouri Highway Patrol.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Tells me that they're not certain who's in control and how to control this civil strife. They are experimenting. They're making things up as they go along.
TODD: Heavy-handed tactics at the beginning, then stepping back and allowing protesters to roam. Then clamping down again as the threat changed. To some, that's disastrous indecision. To others, that's adaptability.
RICHARD WURLBLATT (ph), FORMER POLICE CHIEF: They went too heavy- handed in the beginning, but they have to keep changing and assessing their tactics. That's what good policing does. It's a constant assessment of threat and trying different things to find the right mix.
TODD: Communication with the public and the media has also been too inconsistent, analysts say. Police haven't articulated the rules on the street clearly and seem to be constantly changing the rules on the fly, sometimes on live TV.
DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR: I think we're about to be arrested, because we're standing on the sidewalk, and you said you want to...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Move out of the way, sir. Move!
TODD: But some law enforcement veterans say an ongoing civil disturbance in a glaring public spotlight is unlike anything else.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The problem is this is such a big dynamic situation.
TODD: Now, we relayed some of these criticisms to the Missouri Highway Patrol and the Ferguson Police. We have not heard back from them.
Now, what about the Missouri National Guard? They're not involved in the specific policing of the crowd. The guard is there just to protect the command center. Should all of that change? Some analysts say the police are exhausted, that the National Guard should deploy to relieve them and maintain order, but then you get into those images of militarization on the streets of Ferguson yet again, Brianna. That's been a problem.
KEILAR: And Brian, this other point of point of criticism of the Ferguson police department was that release of the video that showed Michael Brown in the convenience store.
TODD: That's right. Now, some analysts say they waited way too long to release that video. It took several days to do that.
Critics say before the video was released there was one narrative of Michael Brown. Then when they released it, another different narrative was created. That was on the same day they revealed the name of the policeman who shot him. That was a public relations disaster for the police, and it led to unrest that very night.
KEILAR: All right, Brian Todd. Thank you so much. Let's go in-depth now with CNN senior legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin, as well as CNN law enforcement analyst and former FBI assistant director Tom Fuentes.
To you first, Tom. As the former assistant director of the FBI, if you were on the ground there, if this is a law enforcement situation for you to deal with, what would you be doing?
TOM FUENTES, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Well, first of all, you have to have a plan of how you want your people deployed, what the first plan is, and then how you're going to respond to different possibilities of potential violence as the night progresses.
As importantly, you have to communicate to the public where they can march, where they can stand to the media, where they can position themselves. And if you're going to change that, that has to be announced. And there's been changes in that policy that people didn't understand or weren't told of in advance, and you know, and you have to have some judgment here.
If you're a police officer and I was a police officer in front of crowds as a young cop, when that happens, if you've got an individual, a reporter on international television broadcasting to 2 billion people on a live camera, you can wait two minutes before you ask them to back up till the interview is over.
KEILAR: Yes. It seemed the officer might not have known that, that Don was indeed live yesterday.
Jeff, as you watch all of this, you watched the response here. You're watching these pictures. Are police responding appropriately here?
JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: I don't think so. I think this it is wildly excessive. I mean, just look at the simple matter of pointing rifles. Do you know what a provocative and dangerous act it is to point a rifle at someone? All of these police officers with these very powerful rifles. I don't know what that accomplishes, except to inflame people who are already highly emotionally charged.
Now, I think it's important that we realize, there are people in these crowds who are intentionally provoking the police. There are people from outside St. Louis who have come in with the intention of stirring things up and making the police look bad. But you know what? It's part of the job for cops to know how to deal with that. And the excessive shows of force seem to play right into the worst of what the protesters are doing.
KEILAR: Tom brought up an interesting point that I want to get your feedback on, Jeffrey. He said that the Brown family, while they have commissioned an autopsy, you have the local autopsy. You have the Brown family commissioning this autopsy. You have the federal autopsies. Three autopsies. And one without, for instance, access to clothing. Is there a chance this creates doubt in a way that actually benefits Officer Wilson, should he go to trial?
TOOBIN: Well, I suppose that's possible. But if you are part of law enforcement, your job is to seek out the truth and get the best and most information. And if there is something that your pathologist misses in his or her autopsy, then it's good that you have another one there that can call attention to your error.
So, you know, I don't think -- when you're in law enforcement, you shouldn't be strategizing that way. Your goal should be getting the facts. And if -- if another autopsy can bring something to your attention, all the better here. Especially when you have highly competent people like Michael Baden, who was retained by the family who are doing work that may explain what happened here.
KEILAR: We'll have to see if that's the case or if maybe there are disparate conclusions reached in those autopsies. Tom, Jeffrey, thanks to both of you.
And coming up, we'll take you back live to Ferguson, a city that's bracing for trouble, despite new appeals for quiet and reconciliation. And another fatal police shooting today in St. Louis near Ferguson. We will get reaction from the NAACP.
KEILAR: We're getting new details now of a second officer-involved shooting in the St. Louis area. Authorities say police shot and killed a 23-year-old African-American man who was wielding a knife in a convenience store -- near a convenience store, I should say.
Meantime, Ferguson is gearing up for another night of protests after the latest standoffs. The quiet that city leaders are now pleading for actually took hold for a while last night.
CNN's Jake Tapper captured the tense mood shortly before things erupted. Here's some of what he saw and what residents have been experiencing on a nightly basis.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR: I just want to show you this. OK. This gives you an idea of what's going on. The protesters, here's the main intersection. The protesters have moved all the way down there. They're about half a block down here.
John, walk with me. They're all the way down there. OK? Nobody's threatening anything. Nobody's doing anything. None of the stores here that I can see are being looted. There's no violence.
Now I want to you look at what is going on in Ferguson, Missouri, in downtown America. OK? These are armed police with machine -- not machine guns, semi-automatic rifles with batons, with shields. Many of them dressed for combat. You know, why they're doing this I don't know, because there is no threat.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KEILAR: And Jake Tapper joining us now live from Ferguson. And Jake, we showed that, really, not to interject you into the story here but really to show an honest reaction to something that was going on last night. And that's really one of the best views, if not the best view that we got of what it is like to be in the middle of what many of these protesters have been experiencing every night.
Tell us a little bit, as you're there today, about the mood last night and also now today.
JAKE TAPPER, CNN CHIEF WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Well, first of all, we should say, when it came to last night, these things aren't black and white. They're complicated.
And what I was referring to was the intersection down there, where there were 200 or 300 police with rifles drawn aiming at the crowd, gas masks on, and very little in terms of any provocation coming from the crowd, which largely had dispersed.
Now, just after that, my crew and producer and I, we went down about two blocks away. And that was an intense scene, where about two dozen protesters were facing off and were definitely provoking the police. And that's where the stun grenades and the smoke bombs and the tear gas came into effect last night two blocks away.
And that was clearly -- the protesters were setting a barricade and throwing bottles at police. I have no criticism for the police response when it came to that. My criticism was about whether or not the consolidation of 200 or 300 police in full military regalia with rifles aimed at the crowd, when the crowd was largely peaceful and at that point largely dispersed, whether that was inflaming or calming the crowd.
From what I saw, it was inflaming more than anything. Now, there are a lot of concerns what's going to happen today, Brianna. There are a lot of contradictory things that we're hearing from different community leaders. There's really no one leader here. And that's one of the issues here, a lot of different groups with different competing agendas.
The local elected officials have said they would like tonight to be basically a night off. Protest, but then when it becomes dark, go home. No more protests after dark. That's what the mayor of Ferguson and others, community leaders of Ferguson, have called for.
But we also spoke with some religious leaders, Pastor Mike and Malik Shabazz, who are -- have played a more active role with the actual protesters. And they say that's not happening. There are going to be protests. And what they are asking for from police is that the path be longer than the two-mile-or-so path that happened yesterday.
But they want five miles to walk. So what happens tonight is really going to be anyone's guess. I would expect passions, especially with the other death of an African-American man, this one armed with a knife in Saint Louis, I would expect the passions will be even more inflamed than they were last night.
We have already seen some people referring to that other death earlier today, Brianna. KEILAR: All right, and, Jake, real quick before I let you go, I know
there have been some issues with the areas where you and some of our other colleagues have been broadcasting from. When we go to cover these stories, we work with local officials and law enforcement so that we know obviously where we're setting up so much equipment is OK, that we basically having permission to be there.
What's going on as they are trying to move you? Is that what's happening?
TAPPER: Well, they came -- my show's on from 4:00 to 5:00 Eastern time, as you know. They came at roughly 4:15 and said we had half-an- hour to leave, which even if we had shut down at that moment and gone to dead air on CNN, we would not have been able to move all of our equipment to here.
But the police worked with us. We made our case. And, thankfully, they said they understood and they let us continue to broadcast until the end of the hour. And we are now moving about a block away. This is about the third different media staging area that I'm aware of since this crisis in Ferguson began.
At one point, we were all set up -- no, I'm sorry -- yes, we were all set up down there by the convenience store that had been burned out the night that Mike Brown was killed. Then we were moved to the liquor store where Mike Brown allegedly stole cigars the day he was killed.
And now we're here at had this public storage area. We do what the police tell us to do in terms of this. We try to work with them. But it's kind of confusing as to why we keep getting moved around. I suppose that they have their security reasons -- Brianna.
KEILAR: Yes. Yes. And that's some of the complaints from protesters as well. It's a bit confusing why they're being moved to different places.
Jake Tapper in Ferguson, stand by for us.
Let's dig deeper now.
Joining us, John Gaskin. He's the chair of the National Youth Corps Committee of the NAACP.
Thanks, sir, for being with us.
And just now that we're learning of this other officer-involved shooting really just a few miles from where Michael Brown was killed, keeping in mind that this suspect allegedly was wielding a knife at officers and coming toward them, that's what we're hearing from authorities, but still I imagine there's a tremendous amount of distrust even in terms of this shooting from folks there in the community.
How do you think it's going to affect things tonight there on streets of Ferguson?
JOHN GASKIN, NAACP BOARD MEMBER: Well, we hope that people will remain calm, obviously.
As Captain Johnson mentioned earlier today, he's hoping that as people are protesting that they will do it during the day, so that we can make a very distinct distinction between the individuals that may be trying to cause some problems vs. those that want to peacefully protest and make their voices heard.
As you mentioned, there's a lot of distrust, there's a lot of questions. With the shooting that took place today, we don't know a lot. We know some small details, but as information becoming forthcoming, we want people to certainly be aware. We want people to be very vigilant of what's taking place.
But we certainly don't want anyone to jump to any conclusions.
KEILAR: Yes. And you don't want them to jump to those conclusions.
We're hearing from many people. They say it's outside agitators, it's really just a small fraction of the crowd there at night in Ferguson that are causing the big problems, that are being violent.
Who are these outside agitators, do you know? And are most of the folks causing problems from out of town?
GASKIN: Well, it's our understanding from our communication with folks is that many of these people that are causing these issues don't live in the Ferguson neighborhood. And that's a problem.
Many of these individuals are from out of town or from a pretty good distance away. But to reinforce the point that Captain Johnson made this morning, we -- we strongly encourage people to protest during the day. It's safer. And you're able to put a real distinction in between those individuals that may not be on our team to peacefully protest and be with us and be aligned with trying to get justice for Mike Brown and just maybe trying to cause some issues.
KEILAR: John Gaskin there joining us from Ferguson with the NAACP, thank you, sir.
And on CNN tonight, the dividing issue on race in Ferguson, Missouri, and America as well. Don Lemon hosts a special "CNN TONIGHT" town hall event. And he is taking your questions. That is tonight at 10:00 Eastern on CNN.
And just ahead, we are getting major details of a major assault by Hamas with dozens of rockets hitting Israeli targets, and Israel is firing back. Stand by for the latest on that.
KEILAR: President Obama is resuming his vacation a day after addressing the unrest in Ferguson. And he has no current plans to visit the Missouri town.
Let's get more now from CNN senior White House correspondent Jim Acosta -- Jim.
JIM ACOSTA, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Brianna.
That's right. And you just saw a few moments ago the president leaving to resume his vacation up on Martha's Vineyard, leaving the White House with his daughter Malia about an hour-and-a-half ago. We will have to see how long this vacation lasts, Brianna, especially with everything that is happening on the ground in Ferguson.
As for those calls for the president to head out to Ferguson to see what's happening on the ground there, I have been talking to White House officials throughout the day. And they're saying right now, there are no plans for such a trip, but they're not ruling it out in the future. So, it's possible we may see this down the road.
There's just not a plan for it at this time. And in response to those calls for a big speech on race relations -- we have seen that throughout the day -- I talked to one senior White House official earlier today who was cool to that idea, saying it could really pour gasoline on the fire.
So, they really feel like this cautious approach, this measured approach the president is taking is the right one. They feel that way after talking with civil rights leaders, big city mayors, congressional leaders around the country, members of the Congressional Back Caucus.
So, I think we can expect to see more of that from the president. But in the meantime, they're waiting to see how this trip with the attorney general, Eric Holder, who is scheduled to arrive in Ferguson tomorrow, and just how that will go.
Just in the last several minutes, the White House tweeted out an op-ed that will appear in "The Saint Louis Post-Dispatch" tomorrow, Brianna. Just to read you a couple of lines -- it's from Eric Holder.
And it says basically: "In order to begin the healing process, we must see an end to the acts of violence in the streets of Ferguson." He says: "We understand the need for an independent investigation. And we hope that the independence and thoroughness of our investigation will bring some measure of calm to the tensions in Ferguson."
But, clearly, what the White House wants to see first is for the protesters who are clashing with the police, for that violence to stop.
In the meantime, Brianna, I'm also being pointed to another visit from an administration official, Ronald Davis, who heads the Justice Department's COPS program, or Community Oriented Policing program. He is arriving in Ferguson some time today to start meeting with police officials to start working out a smarter policing strategy to deal with all those protesters to try to calm things down.
The White House is hopeful that will help as well -- Brianna.
KEILAR: All right, Jim Acosta at the White House. And those were some live pictures that we were seeing there not too far from Martha's Vineyard, near Cape Cod, where Air Force One is landing before the president makes a helicopter ride over to the island of Martha's Vineyard and continues what has been very much a working vacation.
Now, we're also following the situation in Ferguson, Missouri, but first this important breaking news from the Middle East. Rockets are flying again between Israel and Gaza, as a U.S. official confirms the cease-fire has broken down.
Let's go straight now to CNN's Frederik Pleitgen in Gaza City.
What's happening, Fred?
FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Brianna, it seemed as though negotiations were at a dead end for the better part of the day. They were set to expire at midnight local time anyway, so about 44 minutes ago.
What happened then is in the early evening hours, there was a barrage of rockets that was fired from Gaza towards Israel. It only took about 20 minutes for the Israeli air force to then respond. There were some air strikes, really all across the Gaza Strip.
And then what happened was there was one massive strike in central Gaza City, not very far from our location here. We've heard at least four major explosions. Those apparently took out a house in central Gaza.
And after that, what we've seen is a barrage of rocket fire going from Gaza towards Israeli territory. The Qassam Brigades, the armed wing of Hamas, say they fired about 70 rockets. The Israeli Defense Forces so far are confirming that at least 50 rockets have been fired towards Israeli territory including the towns of Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, Be'er Sheva and Shira (ph), including some others, as well.
Some of those rockets have been shot down by the Iron Dome missile defense system. However, at this point in time, we are still hearing jets overhead. We're hearing drones overhead. So a cease-fire that the two parties, of course, were aiming for is something that seems a very remote possibility at this point in time. In fact, I just heard rockets go off just a couple of minutes before we went to air just now, Brianna.
KEILAR: Things changing very quickly. Fred Pleitgen for us in Gaza City, thank you.
Now coming up, we're actually watching a lot of breaking news. We are about to see something you don't see very often, a governor, Texas Governor Rick Perry who has been indicted by a grand jury in Travis County, Texas. We're expecting him to do something you don't see very often, again, when you're talking about an elected official at this level: go there to essentially turn himself in, be fingerprinted, be booked and take a mug shot. We expect him to talk, as well, and we'll be listening to what he has to say. Also we are live on the streets of Ferguson as the city braces for
another night of protests. I'll be talking to CNN's Anderson Cooper, who is on the ground.
And as a St. Louis police officer, two of them actually, shoot another young African-American man, many are questioning the state of race relations in America. Stand by for our panel on that.
KEILAR: We're following the situation in Ferguson, Missouri. But it is a very busy news day, and we want to bring you some other important breaking news.
Texas Governor Rick Perry is about to be booked on two felony charges. The potential 2016 presidential contender will be fingerprinted and have his mug shot taken. Extraordinary measures for a governor. And Perry, of course, is accused of coercing a public servant and abusing his veto power.
CNN national political reporter Peter Hamby is here with us. We also have senior Washington correspondent Joe Johns.
There is sort of the law here and there's the politics of it. Let's start with the legal side of things. What is -- how serious is this? What is he facing?
JOE JOHNS, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Well, it's serious, and it's a real charge. He was indicted on Friday. The charge is essentially abuse of power. There are two counts there.
All of this has to do with his threat to veto the funding for an office inside the prosecutor's office there in Travis County, Texas. He eventually went on to veto that funding, about $7.5 million.
And now, Governor Perry is indicted on charges of trying to coerce the prosecutor into leaving her job. Why? Because she, in fact, got arrested on charges of drunk driving and served time, basically did her penance and said she wouldn't do it.
The one thing that gets lost in this story, again and again, I think, is that there is actually a special prosecutor who brought this case before a grand jury there in Travis County.
KEILAR: Who came from outside of Travis County.
JOHNS: Was named by a judge and thought these charges serious enough to go before a grand jury.
KEILAR: OK. And so part of it is, he threatened to veto the funding.
KEILAR: He made good -- he made good on that, as well.
JOHNS: It is very unusual, because this is not your typical public corruption case.
JOHNS: This is not money under the table. The governor said he'd lost confidence in this prosecutor. But the truth is, that Public Integrity Office inside the prosecutor's office has been a thorn in the side...
JOHNS: ... of Republicans for years and years and years.
KEILAR: And to that point, Peter, I mean, this is -- so this is Travis County. This is a Republican governor. Travis County is a liberal enclave. This is a Democratic D.A. Talk about some of the politics that are playing out here and that we've seen before, too.
PETER HAMBY, CNN NATIONAL POLITICAL REPORTER: Right. Joe is right, that the legal questions are very serious. Politically, the Perry team feels like they are winning. They're totally emboldened at the moment. They think they're winning this in the court of public opinion, and they think they're winning this politically.
If you look at some of the commentary out there today, the "New York Times" editorial page, for example, not really a friend of Rick Perry, said this case was totally ridiculous.
Out of the gate, David Axelrod, President Obama's former advisor, tweeted that the case was flimsy. Other Republicans, including some like Ted Cruz and Chris Christie, who are not best buddies with Rick Perry by any -- any stretch of the word, have come to his side. The Republicans all over the place are rallying to his defense. Red states, the conservative blog is rallying to his defense.
So look, they're going to go to this courthouse. I would be shocked if Rick Perry didn't come out of here, out of this with the mug shot, smiling. They think they are winning this case. But again, it does come down to legal issues.
KEILAR: And he'll try for a P.R. win today. And we'll see about that. Joe, Peter, thank you so much.
And coming up, we are going live back to Ferguson as the city prepares for another night of protests. Stay with us. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.