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Interview with Martin Luther King III; Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee Talks Ferguson; Ferguson Business Owners, Residents Assessing Damage; Timing of Grand Jury Release Questioned.

Aired November 25, 2014 - 13:30   ET


MARTIN LUTHER KING III, ACTIVIST & SON OF REV. MARTIN LUTHER KING JR: The final thing I'll say on that, one of the things that might be considered that might be helpful in the future is civilian oversight -- which police might be against -- and civilian review boards -- complaint and review. And the final thing would be police cameras, cameras that policemen wear, body cameras. All of those are things that we probably need to consider at this time in our nation.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: What is your message to the looters, those who set buildings on fire, cars destroyed? What's your message to those folks who are expressing that anger in that violent manner?

KING: My message would be that somehow we have to find a way to constructively channel that energy that resulted in negative results. Violence may seem to work immediately, but it really will not yield the most effective result. Whether it's in Ferguson or whether it's anywhere in the world, it creates a short term in the mind of an individual who may be doing it. But what you want is long-term sustained victories. That's why I say we must always find ways to respond nonviolently. That's what my dad and his team always did. And I still believe that is prevalent today, even though it's been almost 50 years now since his assassination. But violence is just not the way.

But I do believe that there needs to be other voices. Young people have to come forward. There's got to be other voices, not just the voices of those or some of us who are in civil and human rights, the civil and human rights community. There must be voices of the entire community, the business community needs to come forward. The religious community had to continue to do this. Some of this has happened in this community. But we have to find a way to rebuild in light of this difficulty.

BLITZER: Martin Luther King III, thanks very much for joining us. Let's hope the folks out there heed your words, what your father would have wanted. Demonstrations, fine. Protest, fine. Expressing anger, fine. But do it peacefully and don't engage in violence.

KING: Absolutely.

BLITZER: That's your message and it's a strong message.

Thanks very much for joining us.

KING: Thank you.

BLITZER: We saw that violent response to the decision last night in Ferguson, Missouri, and it caused lots of destruction. Today, what's been going on has been a whole lot more peaceful. Also today, there are protests planned in dozens of cities across the United States, from Oakland to Allentown.

That includes Houston, Texas, the hometown of Democratic Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee. She's a member of the House Judiciary Committee.

I know you've been in close contact, Congresswoman, with the Brown family before this grand jury. Have you spoken to them since?

REP. SHEILA JACKSON LEE, (D), TEXAS: I have not. Obviously, we know how disappointed they are and that this is a time for them to find solace amongst themselves.

I have spoken to our Congressperson, Congressman Clay, who's engaged, and we know as well Congressman Emmanuel Cleaver, in that area. This is a very tense time, a time when the community of Ferguson and those who are seeking justice in a peaceful, nonviolent way are coming together. Many of us hope to be visiting Ferguson in the next couple of days and weeks.

BLITZER: How disappointed were you by all the looting, the fires, the violence?

JACKSON LEE: It was a dual disappointment. And thank you all for your coverage. But it was a dual disappointment. It was a disappointment because the deepness of the pain is hard to quash. And I realize that people were seeking a way to sort of stifle the pain.

And then the second disappointment was that those individuals who did not heed the call of Mr. Brown, who called for nonviolence and peace, and many of us who had issued statements -- the president and the attorney general who had asked for peace -- that's a disappointment because we consider Americans family. We come to them in their time of need and we hope that they are responsive to what would be the best direction to take. But, again, pain is very hard to stifle. And when there are those who really are not intending good things, we know that they can get engaged as well.

But I want the young people who are there to realize that we understand pain is difficult to contain when you're young. But I want to say to them, that they have the direction of this country in their hands. And they can be great leaders if they understand the value of nonviolence and directive, constructive solutions.

BLITZER: I want to read to you what Congressperson Marcia Fudge, a Democrat of Ohio, the chair of the Congressional Black Caucus, said last night in a statement: "It is a slap in the face to Americans nationwide who continue to hope and believe that justice will prevail. This decision" -- she's referring to the grand jury decision -- "seems to underscore an unwritten rule that black lives hold no value."

Do you agree with her? JACKSON LEE: What I will say, Wolf, as I travel around in my

community today, I'm out trying to provide some joy with giving turkeys away. People are asking the question, is there inequality in the criminal justice system of loss of all lives, African-Americans, Hispanics, Asians, women, men and Anglos. As a lawyer, I'm extremely disappointed in the process that Prosecutor McCulloch used. All of us who have followed the criminal justice system know we have to let the system work its will. But we also know, in the instance of Missouri, we know there's a grand jury process, secret, private, no one knows what's transpiring, and there's a process where the district attorney, who represents the victim, and must be balanced, of course, can engage with the idea of charges. It doesn't say what kind of charges the individual can bring. But it does say that they make a case before the grand jury. That did not happen.

And so, yes, there can be a question. If that did not happen, Mr. McCulloch, what value did you put on the life, the young life of Michael Brown, going to college in the next couple of days before his death? It doesn't diminish Officer Wilson and his status. But it says, what weight do you give?

Let me tell you how painful this is for me. I took an oath as a lawyer. I practiced law. I've sat on the bench. And I would simply say it raises a lot of questions. And now we must look to the federal government for its vigorous investigation, one that will not end quickly and that will look to how we balance this terrible tragedy.

BLITZER: I don't know if you've had a chance -- you probably haven't -- to go through the thousands of pages of transcripts that were released by the St. Louis county prosecutor in the aftermath of the grand jury decision. But I assume you've read some of it, gone through some of it. And you're a member of the Judiciary Committee. Bottom line question, do you believe justice was served?

JACKSON LEE: Well, it is en route. But I've looked at some summaries and I would simply raise the question. And I want this to be taken in the way that I'm presenting it. I'm a great believer in the Constitution. And I have seen cases that have disappointed me. Trayvon Martin was one, several cases here in Houston, Texas, that we've gone through. But I hold an unwavering dedication and commitment to this justice system as it relates to the Constitution, the trial by jury and otherwise.

But in this instance, I would say the police operate under color of law. And so that is the law. That is the Constitution. That is America's standing when you are confronted by a law enforcement officer. There should be a degree of respect. But at the same time, I believe that there is a question of whether or not alternative practices could have been implemented by this officer and whether or not that question was appropriately raised and investigated in this grand jury proceeding.

Where was the questioning of Officer Wilson? I will be reading those thousands of pages. It's going to be long. But I think it's appropriate for those of us who are lawyers, who are in a legislative position, that we should be informed. But, no, Wolf, I question whether or not in the immediate instance --

and I know those grand jurors did the very best they could. They are laymen. So I put their job aside. But I will say that the officers of the court -- and that is the district attorney -- I'm disappointed in the lack of vigorousness that this open process projected. He gave one answer, which is, I let it all hang out. That's not what we are called to do as members of Congress. That's not what we're called to do as members of the court. He is an officer of the court. It's his responsibility to make sure that the appropriate presentation is made before the grand jury. And in this instance, I'm very doubtful that that occurred.

I still pray for peace and nonviolence. And I say to the young people, there is a solution. And I think we should be working on it, Wolf.

BLITZER: Let's hope that tonight there is no violence, no more looting, no more fires. People can express their anger and frustration, but do it the democratic way, the peaceful way. That's what you want and what Martin Luther King Jr would have wanted. We clearly heard that from his son, Martin Luther King III.

Sheila Jackson Lee --

JACKSON LEE: Absolutely.

BLITZER: -- the Democratic congresswoman from Texas, thanks for joining us.

JACKSON LEE: Thank you having us. Nothing has countered Martin's position on violence. It is still strong. Thank you, Wolf.

BLITZER: I hope that message resonates with a lot of the young people who are clearly frustrated and not happy with this decision.

We'll continue our conversation, Congresswoman. Thanks very much.

Up next, what's next for Ferguson, Missouri, as it tries to pick up the pieces? Our coverage from Ferguson continues right after the break.


BLITZER: Let's take a closer look now at some of the stunning video from Ferguson, Missouri, last night. What you're going to see is Michael Brown's mother's very emotional reaction to the grand jury's decision, no indictment. Then listen closely to what Michael Brown's stepfather shouts to the crowd.


LESLEY MCSPADDEN, MOTHER OF MICHAEL BROWN: I've been here my whole life. I ain't never had to go through nothing like this. Don't none of y'all know me but I don't do nothing to nobody. Anybody say so, they're a liar. They're a damn liar. (INAUDIBLE).





BLITZER: Again, that's Michael Brown's stepfather there at the very end, not his father, who's been pleading for peaceful protests over all of these weeks.

The anger, the violence, the destruction throughout Ferguson, Missouri, that we all saw last night, that's the result of the fallout following the grand jury's decision not to indict the police officer, Darren Wilson. Businesses burned to the ground. Cars were set on fire overnight.

Let's go to CNN's Jason Carroll, who's live outside of Ferguson.

Jason, what's it like there today?

JASON CARROLL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, it's heartbreaking for a lot of the small business owners, some of them now coming here back to what used to be a beauty supply store, coming here to clean up, Wolf, after so much of the destruction last night. Coming out here to clean up and try and make sense of what happened. And it's not just business owners coming out here. Finally coming out here along West Florissant, residents who live in the area are coming out as well.

We ran across Walter Brewer and his son, Donte, as well.

You guys came out here. We were talking. As some of the cars came by, we heard some people shout, "Tear it down for Michael Brown." You were disappointed to hear that?

WALTER BREWER, FERGUSON RESIDENT: Absolutely. I think the whole of St. Louis City and County is disappointed. It's heartbreaking. It's very depressing that we can do this to each other. It's sad. I come outside this morning and all I see is smoke and ashes and bricks on something that used to be standing there. I used to shop at this store for my wife and for my son. Now I come out here on a Tuesday morning and it's gone.

CARROLL: Walter, you were telling me you brought Donte -- he's 11 years old -- because you felt as though this was a teachable moment. Tell me about that.

BREWER: Absolutely. I don't want my son to grow up to be a part of something like this. I always tell my son, if you want to get out of this, do good in school so you will never have to -- and I hope that he never has to even experience anything like this ever again.

CARROLL: I think voices like yours -- I've heard them here on the ground. Unfortunately, they seem to be getting lost when you see so much destruction like we're seeing here and all along West Florissant. Why do you think that is?

BREWER: We don't have no -- it's like we don't have a voice sometimes. When we have to do stuff like this, reckless stuff like this to get our voices heard, but sometimes this is not the case. We should not have to do this to one another to make a statement.

I just want to give my heart and my soul out to the Brown family. I understand what you're going through. About eight months ago, I lost a twin brother. As a matter of fact, his name is on West Florissant, Emmanuel Eugene Brewer. That's my twin brother and I loved him so much. So I understand what you're going through.

St. Louis, I know what you're going through as well. 137 murders and counting still. That means 100-something families is hurting right now. We want answers and justice as well. But this is not how we're going to get it.

CARROLL: I can't thank you enough for coming out and expressing your emotions and bringing your son out here as well. A lot of people in this community feel the way you do. I'm glad we were able to have your voice here.

BREWER: Thank you. I appreciate it.

CARROLL: Thank you, Walter. Thank you, Donte. Thanks as well.

I know it's a teachable moment but --

BREWER: Wake up, St. Louis. Wake up. We can come together in one accord and be a whole lot more positive than this. This ain't where it's at for us. This is not where it's at.

Thank you. Thank you for time.

CARROLL: You guys be good, all right?

Teachable moment, also a tough moment as well.

Wolf, back to you.

BLITZER: Very well said by Walter. I'm glad his son, Donte, was there.

Jason, appreciate it very, very much. I'm sure those views represent so many of the people there, the majority of the people. There are those, though, who reacted violently, and that is so tragic and so awful.

Jason, thank you.

Much more of our special coverage coming up. The violence, the aftermath of the grand jury decision in Ferguson, Missouri. Much more right after a quick break.





BLITZER: Those are some of the scenes from Ferguson, Missouri, last night after the grand jury decision came down.

What about the timing of the announcement and the preparation of the local, state, federal authorities?

Joining us now to discuss what happened, our CNN law enforcement analyst, former assistant director of the FBI, Tom Fuentes. Also joining us from Baton Rouge, Louisiana, the retired U.S. army lieutenant general, Russel Honore, the commander of the Joint Task Force for Katrina. He's also the author of the book "Leadership Is the New Normal."

General, as soon as we heard at around 1:00 p.m. eastern yesterday that the decision had been reached by the grand jury and would be announced at night, 8:00 p.m. local time, 9:00 p.m. eastern, immediately said, well, why would they make an announcement like this at night assuming there's going to be no indictment? That's going to make it more difficult to keep the calm. Was that a blunder on the part of whoever made that decision to announce it at night?

LT. GEN. RUSSEL HONORE, U.S. ARMY, RETIRED & COMMANDER, JOINT TASK FORCE, KATRINA & AUTHOR: I don't know the reason they did it, Wolf, but if I was advising the governor, the senior elected official in that state, I would recommended that this be a morning, a daytime announcement. We ran into issues like that during Katrina, trying to get certain people out, do it at night or wait until first thing in the morning. And we always had best results first thing in the morning. Dealing with civilians as well as trying to do a crowd control, it's almost impossible at night. You could have put the entire 82nd Airborne Division in there. They did not control Ferguson last night because you can't protect every building, Wolf.

BLITZER: I totally agree.

And I know you do, as well, Tom. The governor, Jay Nixon, of Missouri, he says it was up to the St. Louis county prosecutor, Robert McCulloch, who decided he would do 8:00 p.m. central, 9:00 p.m. eastern. That sounded so strange to me. But give me your thoughts.

TOM FUENTES, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Well, it did, until he gave the reason as being that the schools would be closed, the businesses, the shoppers would be gone. Most people would be home, at least people not involved in the protest. And there would be less chance of danger to innocent people. If you remember, the Los Angeles South Central Riot where the truck driver was dragged from his truck and beaten and, to this day, suffers brain damage, I think that's still in the mind of authorities, to not do this at a time when innocent people are going to be in jeopardy.

BLITZER: If they put you in charge of this area right now, General Honore -- and you did a brilliant job in Katrina -- what would you advise? What would you tell the folks? For example, tonight, how do they prevent more of the looting, the fires, the violence?

HONORE: I would remind them, they have a civil right to assemble, that practicing civil disobedience in terms of violating curfew or being in a place you're not supposed to be, but you can assemble any place. What you don't have a right to do is to throw things at police, to burn buildings and destroy police cars. We've got to differentiate the right to assemble from people who do break the law and put other people and property in danger. We need to call them back to the -- the example of Dr. Martin Luther King, who changed this nation in more ways than one. And it was all nonviolent.

You can break the law by standing in the street. You can -- you can force issues to the politicians. There will not be a police solution to this, Wolf. It's going to need a political narrative that the governor is going to have to engage with his people and connect with them. And that's where I would be coaching him hard, that we need to push hard on making sure people understand there's another process in the democracy to deal with this.

But for the time being, if you break the la law, you're going to be dealt with as that regard. This is not worth it. The way to do this, and the way to respect Michael Brown is peaceful protests, make yourself heard, but nonviolent.

BLITZER: General Honore, well said, indeed. Always good to have you here with us on CNN.

Tom Fuentes, we'll see you back here later today. Thanks very much for joining us.

For our viewers in North America, Anderson Cooper getting ready to pick up our special coverage.

For our international viewers, "Amanpour" is next.

I'll be back 5:00 p.m. eastern in "The Situation Room."

But first, we want to leave you this hour with a closer look at the sights and sounds from the turmoil overnight in Ferguson, Missouri.



ROBERT MCCOLLOCH, ST. LOUIS COUNTY PROSECUTOR: They determined that no probable cause exists to file any charge against Officer Wilson and returned on each of the five indictments.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We'll join Michael's parents in asking anyone who protests this decision to do so peacefully. CAPT. RON JOHNSON, MISSOURI STATE POLICE: We have to understand, this

community has to be whole. And right now, this community is really fractured.

UNIDENTIFIED CORRESPONDENT: Right now, I'm standing outside the McDonald's and people are throwing stuff at me right now. People are throwing stuff at me right now. It's that kind of scene out here.

UNIDENTIFIED CORRESPONDENT: I'm just south of the Ferguson Police Department. Right here, you can see what's left of a vehicle here that is on fire.




UNIDENTIFIED CORRESPONDENT: Tear gas just drop right near us. It's going to get bad here if we don't have masks.




JON BELMAR, CHIEF, FERGUSON POLICE DEPARTMENT: What I've seen tonight is probably much worse than the worst night we ever had in August. And it's truly unfortunate.