Return to Transcripts main page


Tamir Rice, the 12-Year-Old Cleveland Boy Shot by Police, Buried Today; Protesters Continue to March to New York

Aired December 5, 2014 - 15:30   ET


BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN HOST: You're watching CNN. I'm Brooke Baldwin. Thank you so much for being with me.

Have to talk about the trust, the trust between police and the communities that they serve and protect as we have seen this week alone it's really fragile at best and Cleveland, Ohio, that's one of those places. Federal government now keeping tabs on police there as we just heard from the attorney general yesterday saying officers have a pattern of using excessive force. The report comes as Cleveland police are really under fire for shooting a 12-year-old boy who had been pointing a toy gun at people in public at this park. Tamir Rice was his name. He was shot and killed two seconds after you see that police patrol car arrive.

Let me bring in Tory Russell. He was at Tamir Rice's funeral. He is also an activist and co-founder of hands up united. And we have talked a bunch of times on the show when you were in Ferguson. You just hopped on a plane this morning, got into New York to be able to take part and help guide and advise some of these marchers in New York.

But before we get to that, I just want to ask about Tamir Rice's funeral. How was that -- you were invited. How emotional was that?

TORY RUSSELL, CO-FOUNDER, HANDS UP UNITED: I just reached out to some black nationals and some Islam people and they said come up. So we drove nine hours. We got there -- I mean, it's the saddest thing to go to a 12-year-old boy's funeral. Change my mind. There was no casket. They have cremated him. So I'm trying to figure out, you know, where can we help on that as well?

BALDWIN: When you heard the -- when you saw Eric Holder in Cleveland and it wasn't even the Tamir Rice case. It was another case that they are looking at the police department's use of excessive force, what do you make of that?

RUSSELL: I mean, when I was up there they said that two officers jumped on the hood of a car and shot in 137 times and killed a couple. And they shrugged like that was the norm, you know. Every place that I go around the country, I go to Oakland, I go to Philly, I go to Atlanta, they say there is excessive force. And you know, I know we need to talk about how police need to respond to the community. But if that's the response, we need a complete reform and it needs to happen now in realtime. BALDWIN: You know, as we talk so much about excessive force and a lot

of people are talking about -- I mean, I was out there last night. I heard chants about racist cops over and over and over. But I want to play some sound, a few watch, with Don Lemon. It was Eric Garner's daughter was on with him last night. And she was saying she actually doesn't think this is about race. Take a listen.


DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR, CNN TONIGHT: You say this is not an issue of race. Do you think it's a racial issue?

ERICA GARNER, ERIC GARNER'S DAUGHTER: I really doubt it. It was about the officer's pride. It was about my father being 6'4" and 350 pounds and he wanted to be, you know, the top cop that brings this big man down.


BALDWIN: So she says it's about her dad's size, about this officer and abuse of power. Do you agree with her?

RUSSELL: I agree. It's partially race and, you know, partially police, you know, culture. We already know that the system has racial bias in it. And we do have people who don't live in the community who patrol the community with their own prejudice, you know. I heard a lot of things in Cleveland. I talked to a white mother who said her son was killed 12 years ago. And she felt it wasn't fully race.

It's not fully race. I think it was oppression. I just think the local name of it -- classism. There is a lot of things that we can talk about. But it seems like more and more often black and brown bodies are the ones that are being killed.

BALDWIN: You are in Ferguson, you are really sort of on the front end of some of this movement as it evolved and grown and matured and here you are now in New York. And I'm really struck by just the visual differences, right? It is young people but the visual differences between what we saw on the streets in Ferguson and now what we see in New York. What do you think the key difference is?

RUSSELL: I think Ferguson is a special kind of racism. It's unchecked. There is no checks and balances. There's no accountability and transparency and it's been going on for years. And no one has ever stepped in. It's a place where when Martin Luther King came, they didn't let him speak. It's, you know, the place where the Scott case --


RUSSELL: So, all of those things have never even been, you know, reexamined. So we have to live under that constant racial scrutiny all the time even when voting. We have officers sitting out in voting polls. People go to pick up their kids. That's a racket. I mean, then you just have over and over racism. BALDWIN: So because of all of that, that changes maybe the feelings

and sentiments among those who decide to come out on the streets, which is evidenced and, you know, materialized through what we saw on TV two weeks ago.

Tory Russell, thank you so much. Let's stay in contact with you and welcome to New York.

RUSSELL: Thanks for having me.

BALDWIN: Thank you.

You know, last night as we were talking so much about these marches, I spent eight hours with protesters. We marched from Manhattan over a bridge into Brooklyn and back into Manhattan. You'll see how fast these demonstrations grew and what they had to say next.


BALDWIN: There was orchestrated chanting, our streets, we can't breathe. Two of New York's most famous bridges partially shut down. You had several hundred protesters lying in silence in the middle of a major thoroughfare. Just remember the death of Eric Garner and what they were fighting for, yes, some accountability but others just wanted their voices to be heard. I was among them for several hours and multiple miles into the wee hours of the morning. Here are some moments from last night.


BALDWIN: Everyone is sort of moving because I'm in Foley square staring at the federal courthouse, police headquarters, everyone is starting to move. This is the first time. Let's just roll with them.

John, walk and talk with me here as we watch everyone head in a direction. You said you wanted to come out. You live in Brooklyn. Why was it important? It's one of the coldest nights in New York. Why are you here?

JOHN, ACTIVIST: Because it's a bigger crime not to say anything than the crime committed. You know what I mean? If you want change, you got to get out here and fight for change, but not fight literally. Everyone is out here peaceful. And we want change.

BALDWIN: We just left Foley square in midst of hundreds of people. Many of whom, just like this gentleman, walking with their hands up, but you are hearing hands p, don't shoot. You are hearing I can't breathe.

CROWD: I can't breathe! I can't breathe!

BALDWIN: It appears we're walking toward the Brooklyn bridge. So we're just now passing New York police headquarters. We thought initially that we would stop here. We'll show you. Go ahead and show everyone, police headquarters. We thought initially the crowd would stop. But everyone is continuing ahead. I'm Brooke with CNN. Nice to meet you. We're live on the air.


BALDWIN: Tell me why you wanted to come out and walk?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is really an important issue for New York right now. These people really care about just feeling safe and not feeling overburdened and overpowered by this police force. So I'm just happy to be here with my friends who are excited and mobilizing. Finally, this generation is mobilizing.

BALDWIN: We are now officially on the Brooklyn Bridge. We started at Foley square about half an hour ago. And I appreciate you all letting me walk with you. I think one of the big questions that we have asked today at least on our air was do you think that there are two separate justice systems in this country?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Absolutely. It makes no sense. My mom, just walking in the street on time, an officer approached her and he checked her I.D. and almost gave her a ticket for having both her permit and her with her. And I don't think it even make sense like what can we do? I was doing homework last night and I was like what's the point because nothing really matters actually.

BALDWIN: There are incredible, incredible members of our law enforcement in this country as well. Some one of the colder nights in New York so far. I've been impressed with the crowd size to be honest.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's actually getting colder. But I think we are also going to be here until really late.

BALDWIN: We're in the middle of Atlantic avenue in the middle of Brooklyn. I'm staring at the Barkley center. But you are staring at dozens of people who have been carrying different coffins, different cardboard coffins that represent each of the boroughs and more here in New York. There are 11 different names. Eleven names representing people who have been killed by New York police.

They have now in the last few seconds. They are staging what they call a die-in representing Eric Garner who died, who was taken down by police on that sidewalk on Staten Island which is a just a bridge away from where I am. But you can see the flashing lights in the distance. Police have been with us all along the way.

And something else I just want to point out to you. We found out there are three mothers we finally caught up to the front of this march. There have been three mothers each of whom have lost a son to police here in New York and they have been leading this. And if you try to get in front of them, you would be stopped by a lot of the organizers. They just wanted to make sure the mothers led this -- excuse us. They wanted to make sure the mothers led this and hundreds of hundreds of people. We have been marching for multiple miles tonight for multiple hours and it's quiet. And they are going to stay this way for just a little while. (END VIDEOTAPE)

BALDWIN: What a night. We all walked eight miles silence in the middle of New York City.

Coming up next, George W. Bush is among many conservatives questioning the grand jury's decision in the Eric Garner case. You'll hear from the former president ahead.

Plus, right now, protests under way in Chicago over that Garner grand jury decision. We'll take you there. Stay here.


BALDWIN: We wanted to just quickly skip over to Chicago. You are looking at live pictures here in downtown Chicago. It's just 2:48 in the afternoon local time. And you can see there's already a crowd forming marching through the streets.

Again, the Eric Garner grand jury decision here in New York coming down just on Wednesday. We saw marches in New York specifically that really, really grew last night and tonight being night number three anticipated here in New York City obviously as you see in Chicago and beyond. So stay tuned to CNN as we cover it entirely tonight.

Meantime, we're hearing a lot of folks saying this Eric Garner case in New York is not as nearly as close as a call in Ferguson, Missouri, a case with all kinds of contradictory claim. This case, yet another death at the hands of police and then again, no indictment is raising questions, it is raising concerns from across the political spectrum.

How about this? Former president George W. Bush speaking with CNN's Candy Crowley.


GEORGE W. BUSH, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: You know, the verdict was hard to understand. I haven't seen all of the details. But it's sad that race continues to play an emotional divisive part of life. I remember back when I as a kid in 1970s and there were race riots where cities being burned. And I just think we've improved. I had dinner with Condy (ph) the other night and we talked about this subject. And yes, she just said you just have to understand that there are a lot of, you know, black folks around that are just incredibly are more and more distrusting of law enforcement, which is a shame.


BALDWIN: President Bush there with Candy Crowley. Let me bring in our chief Washington correspondent, host of "the LEAD" Jake Tapper.

It's been pretty stunning to watch, you know, really across the board, especially when it comes to politics, many of these folks united in how they feel about that decision from the grand here jury in New York. JAKE TAPPER, CNN CHIEF WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: The difference with

this case is that it's on videotape. And for that reason, you have individuals like Charles Krauthammer, the conservative columnist, or Glenn Beck, the conservative pundit, George W. Bush that don't have to read a newspaper story in which a policeman gives his version of what happened and then there were 20-odd witnesses that all have their different versions and it becomes a muddle.

We're all witnesses to it. We all see the entire thing. We see what Eric Garner said and did. We see that when people say he was resisting arrest, we see exactly what they mean, how much he was resisting arrest. We see what killed him, which was obviously the actions of those police officers, not just the one charged with the chokehold, although not charged, I should say, but accused of and brought before the grand jury cleared.


TAPPER: But all the police officers because the medical examiner said it wasn't just the chokehold, but also the pressure on his chest and the fact that Eric Garner was force to lie from. We see that other videotape in which he lies there for four minutes before anybody checks his pulse, seven minutes before he's put on a gurney and it's rather stunning.

Now, as the president, former president, insinuated, we don't know all the details of what the grand jury was told. We don't know all the information and all the testimony, but we are all witnesses to what happened to Eric Garner. And I think that's the key difference between this case and all the other cases that we've seen.

BALDWIN: And why we've seen so many seemingly divisive yet united voices on this particular case. And now as we know up to the federal government, if they will bring the civil rights charges.

Jake Tapper, I know you'll have more on this at the top of the hour on "the LEAD" in eight minutes.

TAPPER: Well actually, we'll be talking to the daughter of Eric Garner at the top of the show.

BALDWIN: Great. We will look for that. Thank you, Jake.

TAPPER: Thank you.

BALDWIN: You know, after the break here, we'll talk to a black pastor on what he will be telling his congregations this coming Sunday.


BALDWIN: Live pictures in Chicago here on the right side of your screen. We want to keep these images up. I mean, they are starting early here. It's just about 3:00 local time there. The non- indictment, the grand jury decision here in New York, not to indict a police officer in the death of Eric Garner. Those, you know, marches began to materialized Wednesday night. They grew much larger last night. And here we are, night number three, and it looks like it's now begun.

I want to talk about how this and also how this will be discussed in church this weekend with long time pastor of Abyssinian Baptist Calvin Butts.

Pastor, welcome.

PASTOR CALVIN BUTTS, ABYSSINIAN BAPTIST: Thank you so much, Brooke. Good to be with you.

BALDWIN: So, Sunday, what do you say?

BUTTS: Well, we talk about our outrage because we are outraged not only that this happened in Staten Island recently, Richmond County, but also that it happened in Ferguson, Missouri, Cleveland, Ohio and in so many other places across this nation.

And I think it's proper to talk about how outraged we are based on our history here in New York. If we go back to Michael Stewart (ph), (INAUDIBLE), Ivan Smallwood (ph) and so many more -- but outrage is not enough.

BALDWIN: Protesting is not enough, you say?

BUTTS: Protesting is not enough. Protest without progress is void. But we will talk about our frustrations with the district attorney in Staten Island, his failure to adequately prosecute this case and the fact that he should be voted out of office. We will talk about our frustration with our current leadership in the police department here in New York City.

There are many who believe that Bratton is not sufficient to carry on this work. We will talk about our frustration with the kind of history that has existed and I've been involved in this for a long time.

But then, this is advent. So we'll talk about the hope and the hope that we have is that we will continue to organize around voting so that the prosecutor in Ferguson as well as the one in Staten Island, Richmond County will be removed. We will talk about the importance of becoming involved in the political process and the economic process. We will talk about the importance of what many call economic sanctions, some call days of absence. But we must not continue business as usual. The model with that is Montgomery busboy cop (ph) and so many other things where we withdraw our dollars, not from anybody specifically, but we couch it in, save your money. Save your money and begin to focus on those things that are important to all humanity. The beauty of the protests, they're not all African- American.

BALDWIN: They are not.

BUTTS: They are not all African-American. And so people are beginning to become even more concerned about human rights. And our human rights are being violated. Finally, I must say that this is not a mark against the New York City

police department in its entirety. We have members of our church who are members of the NYPD. Most of them -- and we've said this across 40 years, most of them are good people. They want fairness, they want justice. You've got a handful of bad apples that need to be pulled out. And you won't change until you start teaching them a lesson. And that is what must start happening.

BALDWIN: Maybe the teaching of the lesson happens when they are entirely retrained, though talking to a mother who lost her son to police brutality two-and-a-half years ago, she says three days of retraining is three days not enough.

But Pastor, I'm out of time. I would love to have you back after this Sunday. And I would also just love to hear about your own personal emotions as a man who has witnessed some things and its day. And also has a couple of grand kids. I love to hear some of those conversations.

BUTTS: I have five grandsons.

BALDWIN: Would you come back?

BUTTS: I will come back because I'm concern about them and all of our children.

BALDWIN: Pastor Butts, thank you so much for joining me. I appreciate it.

And thannk you for being with me as well. I'm Brooke Baldwin. "THE LEAD" with Jake Tapper starts right now.