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THE SITUATION ROOM
Protests Spreading in Major U.S. Cities over New York Chokehold Case; North Korea Suspected in Computer Attack
Aired December 5, 2014 - 17:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Happening now, breaking news. Nationwide protests, new demonstrations erupting in cities across the United States. The outrage over New York's deadly police chokehold case. That outrage is growing. Will tonight's protests remain peaceful?
Retraining police. We have new details of the plan to try to teach New York's 22,000 police officers how to avoid situations like the one that led to Eric Garner's death. Will it work?
Devastating cyber-attack. One of the world's most powerful entertainment companies crippled by hackers. Was North Korea behind it? New information coming in.
I'm Wolf Blitzer. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.
BLITZER: We're following the breaking news. A third night of protests over New York's controversial police chokehold case is now under way. Tens of thousands of people have taken to the streets since Wednesday when a grand jury declined to charge the police officer, Daniel Pantaleo, who put unarmed Eric Garner in a chokehold, resulting in a death that the coroner ruled a homicide.
Coming on the heels of the Michael Brown shooting in Ferguson, Missouri, this latest case has catapulted the issues of policing, race and excessive force right into the national spotlight.
We're covering the breaking news this hour with our correspondents, our guests, including New York Congressman Hakeem Jeffries. But let's begin with CNN's Brian Todd. He's here in Washington, D.C., where we've seen some major protests.
Brian, what are you seeing right now?
BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, we are here in the Chinatown section of Washington, just outside Verizon Center. We got word that there are protests planned for this evening. Police presence starting to be established here. Squad cars behind me. You've got police cars down here. We have seen police patrolmen just walking up and down the streets. I just saw two undercover cops with badges on, getting ready to blend into some of the crowds out here.
Police forces across the United States gearing up for more protests tonight. And this comes as the police force that's at the center of this whole controversy is undergoing major retraining tonight.
TODD (voice-over): Thousands protesting in New York, St. Louis, D.C. So-called die-ins in Chicago and Boston, a national outcry over police tactics and an appeal to prevent this from happening again.
ERIC GARNER, KILLED BY POLICE: I can't breathe. I can't breathe.
TODD: Now in New York, the nation's largest police force, reeling from the chokehold case, is retraining 22,000 officers, supervisors and executives. Each gets a three-day course. Not just a refresher on tactical training and the proper use of force but also problem- solving, learning how to talk through a tense situation.
BENJAMIN TUCKER, NYPD DEPUTY COMMISSIONER: What we want them to do is talk people down as opposed to having to take people down.
TODD: The goal? To use less force when possible. How does that translate to scenarios on the street?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The one officer who is in trouble slips behind. That's the position Garner's in right there.
TODD: Dan Bongino (ph) is a former New York City policeman. He shows me how, during an Eric Garner type engagement, an officer could change tactic.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Maybe the better way to train is a little wrist and elbow control. When you have the wrist and the elbow, it's not easy, but it's -- you see how your elbow goes with you? If I pull you and yank you and I take your center of gravity with me, then you're going to move.
TODD: One tactic being considered, bringing in a female officer or a suspect's mother to defuse a confrontation if possible. Also part of New York's training, how to keep egos and adrenaline in check to avoid confrontational scenarios like this one in Ferguson.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (UNINTELLIGIBLE)
MICHAEL JULIAN, NYPD DEPUTY COMMISSIONER: What we're teaching them is how to control that anger and how to channel that anger so that they don't act out.
TODD: It's all part of learning one crucial principle.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Your hands are kind of de-escalating, de- escalating. Sometimes you turn your hands over. It's kind of a more open position. But...
TODD: Body language?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Body language. But keep in mind, tactically speaking, I have the weapon. Now I know where it is, but it still enables me to respond quickly if I have to. You're almost in a boxing stance designed to not look like one. But it does matter.
TODD: Dan Bongino (ph) says if the New York police had had some kind of retraining before the Eric Garner incident, then maybe Garner's death would not have occurred. He said the police have to get away from those tactics like going for the head to try to bring down a suspect. But he says, you can't unlearn that kind of thing in just a three-day course, Wolf.
BLITZER: All right. Brian Todd outside Verizon Center where the Washington Wizards will be playing, in a little while, the Denver Nuggets later tonight. We'll see what happens outside the Verizon Center. Thanks very much.
We're also seeing protests growing in Chicago tonight. Take a look at these live pictures coming in right now. New York City, by the way, also seeing some protests. The largest protest the past couple of nights.
Let's go to our national correspondent, Deborah Feyerick. She's on the streets of New York. What's happening right now, Deb?
DEBORAH FEYERICK, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, we're actually down on Wall Street. This is going to be one of the gathering points. That's what protesters are doing: they're getting the message out on social media, specifically on Twitter, as to where everybody should gather. And then we've been seeing over the last couple of nights, is they all meet up and they sort of surge and they go in whatever direction they decide, usually against traffic. The goal, to stop traffic.
Right now, not a lot of protesters. What you're seeing, actually, are more tourists than anything else. But if we swing the camera around here over to the federal hall, you can see that there are some members of the SWAT Team. They are here. They're protecting the building. The barricades were just put up a short while ago.
We are hearing that there's going to be a big demonstration that's going to take place at Columbus Center, which is -- Columbus Circle, which is right outside of our main headquarters, that within the next hour.
But, again, this is one of those things, you've got groups of different protesters. They figure out where they're going to meet up and then, all of a sudden you can go from 1,000 to a couple of thousand protesters.
Right now, a little bit quiet, light drizzle. So it will be interesting to see just how many of the protesters who have met over the last two nights come out tonight, as well -- Wolf.
BLITZER: We'll see if the weather is a factor and that deters people from going out on the streets. All right, Deb, thank you.
Let's talk about all of this. Joining us, Democratic Congressman Hakeem Jeffries. His district encompasses parts of Brooklyn and Queens. Congressman, thanks very much for joining us.
REP. HAKEEM JEFFRIES (D), NEW YORK: Thanks for having me.
BLITZER: And I just want you to explain. You called the grand jury's decision out on Staten Island the other day not to indict the police officer, Daniel Pantaleo, you said it was a stunning miscarriage of justice. Elaborate. Because we now know -- we don't have all the details, obviously, all the testimony. But these 23 members of the grand jury, they did meet for several weeks. They heard dozens of witnesses, saw a lot of evidence, 23 members of the grand jury, 14 whites, nine non-whites. Why was this a stunning miscarriage of justice?
JEFFRIES: Well, first of all, Eric Garner was unarmed, and he did not resist arrest.
Second of all, there was a chokehold used, resulting in his death, and that chokehold, Wolf, has been banned by the New York Police Department for more than 20 years.
Third, there was a medical examiner who concluded that Eric Garner's death was the result of a homicide: chest and neck compressions that came about as a result of that chokehold that was used.
Fourth, on 11 different occasions, Eric Garner said, "I can't breathe." But at no point -- not after the first time, the second time, the third time, all the way through the 11th time -- did Officer Pantaleo relent.
And perhaps most importantly, Wolf, the entire confrontation was caught on video for all the world to see. Eric Garner was killed in plain sight. And there's no disputing what happened.
And so it's inexplicable that this particular grand jury could arrive at this result. That's why I've concluded it's a stunning miscarriage of justice.
BLITZER: Let me press you on that point, Congressman. Because you're a member of the House Judiciary Committee; you're a lawyer. You understand how these things go. They presumably saw the same videotape, all of the same videotape and other videotapes that we have now -- that we have now seen repeatedly. How do you explain their decision not to indict?
JEFFRIES: Well, that's the interesting thing, Wolf. It's inexplicable. There is no rational way to explain it. But what we can do is try and get some transparency as to what actually transpired in those grand jury proceedings.
The prosecutor has to appeal to a judge under New York law in order for the proceedings to be released. That differs from the situation down in Ferguson, Missouri.
We're hopeful that we can get some understanding as to what took place, what questions were asked? Was Officer Pantaleo aggressively cross-examined for his reasoning behind the use of the chokehold and his failure to relent during any of the moments when Eric Garner said he couldn't breathe? These are just some of the questions.
We also need to know, Wolf, did this prosecutor actually request that Officer Pantaleo be charged with manslaughter, with criminally negligent homicide, with reckless endangerment of human life? There's a whole variety of different things that could have resulted in a criminal charge. And people are stunned all across the country and all across the world. And that's why we see these protests.
BLITZER: We know that Daniel Pantaleo, he's at the center of this case, and it's a pretty horrific, tragic case, we all know. The other police officers, all of whom testified who were with him and were holding Eric Garner down, I understand they all testified. But they received immunity from any prosecution. Is that a problem?
JEFFRIES: It's absolutely a problem, and it's further evidence that the grand jury system is broken and that this particular prosecutor didn't seem to be interested in aggressively arriving at the truth.
There should have been an indictment. We should have a trial. It should be public for all the world to see. At this point, if these officers have been given absolute immunity which appears to be the case, then they can't even be prosecuted for other potential violations of the law because they were essentially bystanders in most instances as Eric Garner was being killed on video live on a Staten Island street for everyone to see.
We've got a broken grand jury system. We've got a broken criminal justice system. And I think across the country, we've got to examine whether prosecutors can credibly be asked to aggressively bring charges against police officers who they work with each and every day. There's an inherent conflict of interest that seems to exist.
BLITZER: Do you have confidence, Congressman, in the New York police commissioner, Bill Bratton?
JEFFRIES: I have confidence in the mayor's good faith, willingness to resolve this problem. I'm hopeful that the police commissioner will be willing to take a complete look not just at retraining -- that's a good step in the right direction. But it's his broken windows policing strategy which aggressively targets nuisance violations, particularly in communities of color, that led to this encounter. And that's a big problem.
In other words, this would not have occurred unless those officers were instructed to aggressively police the sale of loose, untaxed cigarettes. That's not something that New York Police Department resources should be spent on. Perhaps the New York State Tax Department. We want the New York City Police Department to go after persistent criminals, gang bangers and others who really pose a threat to the well-being and to the public safety of the people in New York.
So Commissioner Bratton, we want you to come to the table and have a real discussion, not just about training but about police tactics.
BLITZER: That sounds like less than a ringing endorsement of the police commissioner. I take it you have confidence in Bill de Blasio, the mayor, but I'm not hearing that endorsement, that ringing endorsement for the police commissioner.
JEFFRIES: I have confidence in the mayor. But he's also going to have to step up. As the president has said, people all across the country, we don't want words, we want action.
Now, the responsibility also rests with Congress. That's why we want Congress to address the problem, not run away from the problem. This is an American issue, not just a Democratic issue or Republican issue or conservative or progressive issue. I think all good Americans have been disturbed at what we've seen, particularly as it relates to the death of Eric Garner.
BLITZER: All right. I want you to stand by, Congressman. We have a lot more to talk about. What can Congress do? What should Congress do about all of this? We'll take a quick break. We're watching, by the way, the protests that are just developing -- these are pictures coming in from New York. We've got pictures from Washington. This is Cleveland, Ohio, by the way. Chicago, elsewhere. We're going to keep you up to speed on what's going on around the country. There's a lot of anger out there.
BLITZER: Take a look at this. These are live pictures coming in from Cleveland, Ohio. Just listen in quickly to hear what they're saying.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What do we want?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Justice!
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Justice!
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Justice!
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: When do we want it?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Now!
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Now!
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Now!
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What do we want?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Justice!
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Justice!
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Justice!
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: When do we want it?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Now!
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Now!
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Now!
BLITZER: What do we want? Justice. When do we want it? Now.
You see the demonstrations in Cleveland. These are pictures coming in from Chicago where the crowds are growing over there. In New York, as well. Right here in the nation's capital in Washington, D.C.
We're following the breaking news, the new protests nationwide over the New York police chokehold case. We're watching those marchers in various cities. You saw Cleveland, streets of Chicago.
There's also breaking news in another controversial case involving the NYPD. The district attorney in Brooklyn has now announced he'll launch a grand jury investigation into the death of Akai Gurley, an unarmed African-American who was shot and killed by a New York City police officer in a stairwell back in November. The NYPD has said the shooting appears to have been an accident.
We're back with Democratic Congressman Hakeem Jeffries.
Congressman, you represent parts of Brooklyn. You have confidence in this new grand jury investigation?
JEFFRIES: I do think that the Brooklyn district attorney has a history during his short time in office as a local prosecutor but also in his prior time as a federal prosecutor, of being willing to allow the law and the facts to lead him to a conclusion that is most appropriate. That's why I'm pleased that he's agreed to pursue bringing the case to the grand jury and hopeful that we will see an aggressive presentation of information and possibly an indictment so that we can have a trial.
This was a tragic case, Wolf. It occurred in my district. Akai Gurley, a 28-year-old young man, who was leaving an apartment, going downstairs. There were two rookie police officers who were together on patrol, unsupervised. It was late at night. The stairwell in the public housing development was dark.
And it appears that there may have been an accidental discharge. That's at least what the officers have indicated. But it resulted in a gunshot going through Mr. Gurley's chest, into his heart and killing him. Now, this may have been an accident. It also may have been criminally negligent homicide. The district attorney will ultimately have to determine that.
But this is an example of how there's a clear training issue inherent in many of these instances that may have resulted in the unfortunate death of Mr. Gurley here.
BLITZER: Mr. Gurley, Akai Gurley, African-American, right?
JEFFRIES: Yes, Akai Gurley, another unarmed African-American male...
BLITZER: And the two -- and the rookie cops white?
JEFFRIES: No. The officer who discharged the weapon was Asian American and I'm not clear as to the other gender. And you know, in most of these instances, Wolf, you do have an unarmed African-American who's killed. Oftentimes, it's a white officer. But it's not necessarily a white issue or a black issue as it relates to these police officers. It's an issue of being in the blue uniform and whether there's appropriate training, whether there's a real relationship between the police and the community.
In communities of color, we actually embrace the fact that there are police officers who are there to protect and serve. But we just want there to be a balance between effective law enforcement on the one hand and a healthy respect for our civil rights and civil liberties on the other. That's as American as apple pie.
BLITZER: You've said -- you've suggested, Congressman, that broader reform is needed in all of these cases, how they're prosecuted, and that Congress should play a role. What exactly can Congress do about any of this?
JEFFRIES: Well, one of the reasons why some of these encounters have unfolded in the view of many of us is that communities of color in some instances are policed in an overly aggressive fashion. Certainly, in the context of the death of Eric Garner, I think that seems to have been the case.
One of the changes that can be made, in the early '90s, there was funding that was provided for very robust community policing programs, proved to be effective. There were dramatic declines in crime in cities all across the country. But in the aftermath of the great recession, the funding at the federal level for many of these community programs has been severely scaled back.
One of the things we're going to need to do next year is take a look at whether we can increase funding to local police departments for these type of programs that strengthen relationships between the police and the community, because the community can be the best ally of the police department in fighting crime. But if there's no trust between the community and the police, but there's hostility instead, that's a problem for everybody.
BLITZER: How much money are you talking about?
JEFFRIES: We're talking about tens of millions of dollars, potentially, to large police departments. And -- but it's worth the investment. It's worth the investment not just because of the tragic loss of life. At the end of the day, equal protection under the law is important, and we want our relationships between the police and the community to be as strong as possible.
BLITZER: Hakeem Jeffries, thanks very much for joining us, the United States Congressman representing Brooklyn and a piece of Queens, I think.
JEFFRIES: A little bit of Queens.
BLITZER: A little bit of Queens but a lot of Brooklyn. Thanks very much. We have more breaking news coming up. We're going to get the latest
on the protests taking place across the United States. We'll also talk about what happens next. Hilary Shelton of the NAACP is standing by live.
BLITZER: We're covering the breaking news. For the third straight day, demonstrators are in the streets of major U.S. cities. Now they're already in Cleveland and in Chicago. We're going to be showing you the live pictures throughout this newscast.
They're protesting the police treatment of African-Americans, the grand jury decision in New York not to indict a New York City police officer in the chokehold death of an unarmed man.
Our CNN national correspondent Jason Carroll is joining us from New York right now.
Jason, you're in Times Square. I know the police there, others are getting ready for more demonstrations tonight. Set the scene.
JASON CARROLL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, obviously, they've been out here getting ready, Wolf, based on what we've seen the past two nights. The amount of protesters have been growing. Last night, thousands hitting the street, not just here in Times Square but over on the West Side Highway, in Brooklyn, as well, they're becoming much more organized, using social media to spread the word, whether it's here in New York City or in Chicago or Cleveland, which was coming in from protestors. Boston, as well.
One of the other things that we've noticed from protesters here on the ground in New York is what they're doing, some of them using headphones and walkie-talkies to communicate to each other as they move through the city. So they're becoming much more organized.
As for tonight, we're already here A protest is scheduled to get underway in downtown just a few minutes from now. And then another protest just about half an hour from now up at Columbus Circle. So you've got police on standby, getting ready for another wave of protests that will be happening here in the streets tonight in New York -- Wolf.
BLITZER: And Jason, you'll be there watching what's going on. We'll check back with you as the story, obviously, develops.
Joining us now right here in THE SITUATION ROOM is Hilary Shelton. He's an NAACP senior vice president and director of its Washington office or Washington bureau, as you like to call it. Mr. Shelton, thanks very much for coming in.
HILARY SHELTON, NAACP SENIOR VICE PRESIDENT: Great to be with you.
BLITZER: Now, has the NAACP as an organization -- I know individuals -- as an organization issued a formal statement reaction to that grand jury decision? SHELTON: Absolutely. As a matter of fact, we're deeply concerned
about the results of that grand jury. When we watch what happened in that video and we see there's plenty of reasons to actually indict this police officer. Again, Wolf, as you know...
BLITZER: The one police officer or several of the police officers?
SHELTON: Well, that one particular police officer, as a matter of fact. As you know in this particular case, what we're talking about is something that was on video, something that people saw from beginning to end. One of the reasons the demonstrators are so amped up about what happened in New York is because you watched a man killed on video.
And in essence, we saw plenty of opportunities for them to actually let him up, stop choking him and allow him to live. So it's there.
BLITZER: And so how does that happen in the United States? I mean, what's your explanation for that?
SHELTON: Well, plenty of things. Number one, bad training, number two, poor oversight, number three, no accountability. So in essence when we talk about cases like this, the United States has no clear use of force paradigm. That is, at what point could you use so much force in the apprehension of a suspect? In this case, we're talking about someone who was a suspect in a minor petty crime.
BLITZER: And that day presumably, this is what we've been told by several people, he wasn't even trying to sell cigarettes that day, although he did have some criminal charges selling illegal cigarettes over the past few years.
SHELTON: Absolutely. But nothing that involved crime or violence, nothing very serious, petty things and whatnot. Not the kind of crimes that you'd use deadly force to bring somebody to justice.
BLITZER: Is the justice system in the United States fair?
SHELTON: No, it's not. As a matter of fact, if we look at the evidence, what we see are so many problems in how the process moves forward. As we talk about even what happens with police officers that misbehave themselves, that actually break the law, we talk about them being brought before grand juries, well, we have some problem with prosecutors that are actually dependent upon those same police officers to bring so many other cases.
Don't forget, in our criminal justice system, police officers serve as our investigators, they serve as those that actually bring the evidence in, a prosecutor can't make a case without the coordination with the police department.
BLITZER: So how do you fix that?
SHELTON: Well, a number of ways. Number one is when you have a case that involves a police officer, we need to bring in a special prosecutor right away. That is exactly what the NAACP asked in the case in Ferguson. We said that Mr. McCulloch is too close to these issues. He works with these police departments, he comes from a family of police officers. We need to bring in a special prosecutor to actually to bring this charge and make sure that the grand jury process works the way it's intended.
BLITZER: So you don't think the grand jury process in Staten Island in this particular case of Eric Garner worked the way it was intended?
SHELTON: Not at all. As a matter of fact, there are ways that you can overwhelm a grand jury to a point that they won't have what they need to actually indict. And this -- that was the case here. If you're overwhelmed with too much information, you can't reach that point of being able to actually bring those charges.
When a prosecutor wants to, he can provide the kind of understanding of the process and help provide what the grand jury needs to lead to an indictment so a jury can be put together, a judge can be assembled and we can have both sides of the issue balanced in our court of law.
BLITZER: Is this a nationwide problem? We've seen a problem obviously in Ferguson and in New York City and Staten Island, one of the boroughs in New York City. But are there similar problems? And you monitor this all over the country elsewhere.
SHELTON: Absolutely. Whether you're talking about Ohio, Missouri, whether you're talking about Atlanta, Georgia, Chicago, Illinois, Los Angeles, California, it's a problem regardless of where you go in the country and it has to be fixed nationwide.
BLITZER: Take a look at this, Mr. Shelton. This is Boston, Massachusetts. These are live pictures coming in from our affiliate there. You can see what's called a die-in, people just lying on the ground to protest what's going on, not a sit-in, but a die-in. You've seen these before.
BLITZER: We saw some in Washington, we saw some in New York yesterday. What do you think about all these protests?
SHELTON: I think it's so important. What it shows when we look at those who are demonstrating, just the diversity of people that are deeply concern about this and are actually demanding change in our country. They're utilizing the democratic process of demonstration. They're raising the issue of making sure that the proper attention is brought to it so finally we can bring some solutions.
Wolf, don't forget, this is not a problem that started with Ferguson. This is a problem that's been going on for years. Many of us remember Amadou Diallo, we remember the police officers beating Rodney King as they did and almost killing him in Los Angeles, California. There's nothing new about this yet nothing has been done.
BLITZER: Why hasn't this been fixed over all of these years?
SHELTON: There have been a number of problems. Look, the NAACP is 105 years old. We've introduced legislation to Congress with just everything from racial profiling to the use of force by police officers. But because of police unions and other issues along those lines, we've been unable to get the kind of hearing that it needs so some changes can be made.
If we're not able to recognize this time when we're seeing this coordinated challenge and problem across the country, because we're in an era now where everyone has a video camera on their telephones, thank God, we can bring more of that visual imaging and evidence before everyone, change can be made. So our process is to make sure that every member of Congress is held accountable.
Many of these changes can't be made without the Congress. We're delighted with how the president is moving forward, and the attorney general as well. I worked with Eric Holder on these very same issues even going back to the Janet Reno administration under the Clinton administration. So in essence it's been with us a very, very long time.
Last point I'll make is, even our founding member, W. E. B. Du Bois, 100 years ago said the major challenge of the African-American community is crime and violence. And until we have that coordination with law enforcement, we will not be able to solve it.
BLITZER: Do you want all police officers around the United States to wear body cameras?
SHELTON: Among other things. We believe body cameras are a good start. But we also want to make sure they're also using pistol cameras, dash cameras are still crucially important and even nonlethal tools like tasers. Tasers are also made in many cases with a video camera and we want those engaged, too.
BLITZER: Because in this particular case in Staten Island, there was videotape of the entire incident, seven minutes or so, and the grand -- members of the grand jury they saw that videotape, 23 members of the grand jury, 14 whites, nine nonwhites, and they said, no indictment.
SHELTON: Well, and that speaks to the issue of policy. The very clearly as to looking at the policy that provides attention to these kind of concerns, we have to make sure that we empower the right folks. There is no police accountability review board in New York City that has the power to subpoena, the power of independence, budgets for investigators, and also the power to bring forward the prosecuting attorney or a grand jury when necessary.
We need a number of things in place. We've got to change the law and we have to limit the kind of immunity police officers are so often given in these cases along these lines.
BLITZER: Hilary Shelton is the Washington bureau director of the NAACP, senior vice president as well.
Mr. Shelton, thanks very much for coming in.
SHELTON: Always a pleasure. Thank you for having me.
BLITZER: All right. We're going to show you these live pictures. This is -- these are pictures coming in from Boston, Massachusetts, right now. Other live pictures coming in from Chicago, from Cleveland, from New York, from right here in Washington, D.C.
It's relatively early in the evening. People are bracing for a lot more of these protests to develop. We'll monitor it for you. Much more of the breaking news coming up.
We're watching the protests over the New York chokehold case, once again, they're erupting in several major cities. We're about to take you live to a new protest, by the way, right here in the nation's capital.
BLITZER: The protesters in Boston, you can see them there, they are now on the move. We're watching where they were going. You just saw moments ago, there was a die-in, they were lying down on the street to protest the decision in the New York City chokehold case. Also protesters on the move in Chicago. It's happening as well right here in the nation's capital in Washington, D.C.
Let's go to CNN's Athena Jones.
Athena, where are you and what are you seeing?
ATHENA JONES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Wolf. Well, we're in Chinatown right now. This is a very busy part of town, part of central Washington, especially on a Friday night, lots of people going out. The plan, according to the protest organizer I spoke with earlier today, is for them to begin to gather here right about now and to begin to block traffic, to shut down the intersections around here so that people cannot get home from work and have trouble also getting to the Wizards game.
The Wizards are playing in the Verizon Center behind me at 7:00. And so that is the plan. We're waiting to see whether protesters gather and what it looks like when they start shutting down the streets -- Wolf.
BLITZER: All right, Athena, stand by. We're going to get back to you shortly. Let's bring in our legal analyst, Jeffrey Toobin, he's monitoring what's going on. Also our law enforcement analyst, Tom Fuentes, he's a former assistant director of the CIA.
Tom, I look at the numbers, 200 protesters arrested in New York last night, 61 the night before -- more than 200 actually last night. Tonight's Friday night, I don't know if it's going to rain or drizzle or whatever. This could be escalating, if you will?
TOM FUENTES, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: I think it is escalating, Wolf. And it's pretty clear the weather is not diminishing the interest in the people to come out and have the protests, try to shut down traffic and do that. So now that it is Friday night and tomorrow's Saturday night, it could be much worse.
BLITZER: If people are blocking the streets, Tom, in New York City, what do the police do?
FUENTES: Well, what they've been doing is try to be kinder, gentler reaction. But at a certain point, their patience runs thin. They say, wait a minute, you can't shut down this city. It affects business, it affects tourism. And at a certain point, the police won't allow it.
BLITZER: Jeffrey, Hillary Clinton who might be the Democratic presidential -- nominee coming up, she said yesterday, she said the criminal justice system in the United States, in her words, the system was out of balance. Do you agree with her?
JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: Well, that is so vague that it is hard to agree or disagree. And this is a situation -- the criminal justice system is one that African-Americans in particular are not too happy about. You know, I've had the opportunity in my work to go to a lot of prisons and the overwhelming impression one has in almost any prison in America is there are an awful lot of people of color in this prison, disproportionate to the population.
Now there may be various explanations for that. But it is something that is of concern to a lot of people. African-Americans feel they are unfairly treated in arrests, in prosecutions, once they are actually in the prison system. So, yes, I think there is a lot in the system that is out of balance. The question, of course, is what you do about it. And that answer is far from clear, at least to me.
BLITZER: And the sad thing, Tom, is that a lot of people out there, they've lost confidence in the entire justice system here in the United States.
FUENTES: Well, they have. And I would agree that black people get poor treatment in the criminal justice system. But as I said, I don't think it's because they're black or Hispanic. It's because they're poor. The guys that walk into court or the women that walk into court that are well-represented with the best lawyers money can buy get a better treatment than people that rely on public defenders who are so overworked and so under-resourced. And that -- from what I've seen, that's the difference.
And at the federal level I dealt with, you know, the Organized Crime Program of the FBI which I ran for five years, you know, when those gangsters walk into court, they also had tremendous legal representation and even though we were able to get the convictions we got, the federal system doesn't see this happen to the great extent that the state and local system does which I saw in Cook County, Illinois.
BLITZER: It's more of a socioeconomic factor.
TOOBIN: Wolf --
BLITZER: Go ahead, Jeffrey. TOOBIN: Just one issue that I think really underlines how
interrelated these things are, one thing that happened here in New York just a couple of weeks ago is the city decided they are going to effectively stop making arrests for small amounts of marijuana. Marijuana arrests are a major civil rights issue in this country because African-Americans in New York and elsewhere are arrested with small quantities of marijuana in disproportionate numbers.
Now they usually don't go to prison. But they do get an arrest record, which makes it harder to get a job, which dogs them forever. So that, I think, is one area where actually Democrats and Republicans might agree on the over-incarceration, overcharging of that particular crime.
BLITZER: All right, Jeffrey, stand by. Tom, stand by. We have much more to assess. We're watching all the breaking news this hour. The new demonstrations, these are pictures coming in from Boston right now, live pictures. People protesting, they're on the march right now. They're very angry over that grand jury decision not to indict a white police officer in that chokehold death of an unarmed black man.
We're watching other stories as well including investigators now zeroing in on whether Kim Jong-Un's North Korea is behind a devastating cyber attack on, of all things, a movie company.
BLITZER: We're continuing to watch the protests in Boston, you're looking at these live pictures. Cities across the country right now. We're going to check back with all the latest information. Much more on this coming up.
We also have some new details about a massive cyber attack that crippled Sony Pictures, spread some of its biggest -- and spread across some of its biggest movies across the Internet.
Brian Todd is here, he's watching what's going on.
Brian, what is going on?
BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, I spoke to a Sony executive who tonight is giving new details of the scope of this attack and it has been massive. The executive said just about every division of this company, which has 6600 employees worldwide, was affected by this hack. And Sony Pictures has still not completely recovered.
TODD (voice-over): A devastating hack, crippling one of the world's most powerful entertainment studios. Sony Pictures Entertainment tells CNN it's still investigating what it calls a very sophisticated cyber attack. The FBI is on the case.
Five of its new movies, including "Fury" and the remake of "Annie," were posted on illicit websites and very sensitive, confidential information started to appear online, including the multimillion dollar salaries of top Sony executives, Social Security numbers of employees. Some staffers had to work with pen and paper.
MARK REACH, CYBER SECURITY ANALYST: These people are prodding and provoking Sony. And they're doing it deliberately. They are -- this is not the kind of thing where they just want to go in and steal some movies. They're trying to stick it to Sony and in particular Sony executives.
TODD: A group calling itself the Guardians of Peace has claimed responsibility for the hack, but it's not clear if they were behind it. A source at Sony tells us the company is looking into the possibility that hackers working for North Korea could be behind the attack. Sony's upcoming release of the move "The Interview," a comedy about a plot to kill North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un, is cited as a possible provocation.
SETH ROGEN, "THE INTERVIEW": You want us to kill the leader of North Korea?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes.
JAMES FRANCO, "THE INTERVIEW": What?
TODD: The North Korean regime has called the movie an act of war, a moral attack on its leadership. Analysts say the North Koreans have a dedicated hacking ability that they've been working on for a few years.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And they've largely targeted commercial sites in South Korea. They haven't really gone after the United States as much so this would be new if the reports are true.
TODD: "The Interview" was not one of the Sony movies leaked out by the attack. One cyber security expert says that may point away from Kim's regime.
REACH: North Korea would be wanting to attack this particular movie and the people responsible for this particular movie. This is a much broader attack.
TODD: There were reports today that some Sony employees have gotten e-mails from hackers threatening family members of the Sony employees. We asked Sony about that just a couple of seconds ago. Got a statement saying, quote, "We understand that some of our employees have received an e-mail claiming to be from the GOP," that's the Guardians of Peace, the group that claimed responsibility for this hacking attack.
The statement says, "We are aware of the situation and are working with law enforcement," Wolf. So there may be something to these reports that Sony employees got threatening e-mails.
BLITZER: Pretty chilling when you think about it.
All right. You looped us in when you get more information. TODD: Sure thing.
BLITZER: Brian Todd reporting.
We're following the other breaking news, the latest on the nationwide protests against the New York police chokehold case.
Also coming up this Sunday night, CNN Heroes.