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THE LEAD WITH JAKE TAPPER

Police To Finish Gray Death Investigation Friday; How Baltimore Stood Up To Rioters. Aired 4:30-5p ET

Aired April 28, 2015 - 16:30   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


[16:30:03]

JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: The team postponed last night's game, as the city exploded in violence and fires and looting. There's a state of emergency, as police make more arrests today and desperately trying to keep the peace.

Let's go to CNN anchor Brooke Baldwin. She's been in Baltimore all day.

Brooke, safety a major concern across the city right now. You're near the scene where that CVS was looted and burned last night and you have been in Baltimore all day. Has the increased police presence made an impact?

BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I think it definitely has.

In fact, let's spin around and you can see some of the police presence here and they haven't really moved for a couple of hours. I was here a couple of hours ago. And then as you can see, these young people peacefully protesting with their backs to police.

Not to make you dizzy, I just wanted you to get all of the angles here as we're talking. Let me just make the point back to the Orioles game, because that news is just starting to leak out to people here in Baltimore.

I want to turn these young men around, because we reached out, CNN reached out to the MLB and they actually talked to one of the Major League Baseball historians and they actually think it's entirely unprecedented, that never in the history of baseball have you had a game played without people in seats.

Would you all mind giving me your perspectives?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Philip N. Joseph (ph). Philip.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Chris (ph).

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Joshua Meddes (ph).

BALDWIN: And when you hear that, listen, the MLB says this is about protecting the people. We saw the scenes that played out here last night. It's about protecting people in case something like that could happen again, but at the same time others are saying it could be furthering the notion of fear.

Do you think that the game should be played with people?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The game should definitely be played with people. By blocking people out, it's just going to make them mad, because a lot of people are like season ticket holders. You're just going to infuriate them and then they're trying to try to get in. And then you got a whole 'nother epidemic.

BALDWIN: Just quickly, what signal do you think it's sending to the city?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: To be honest with you, negative, honestly. If you're pushing people out from going to the game, it doesn't make any sense. It's a bad look, honestly. It doesn't look good. It doesn't.

BALDWIN: OK. Thank you guys so, so much.

So, Jake, that's just -- I just wanted to be able to talk to some people, some young people who are in the thick of this. As you mentioned, we're just about a couple of yards away from the CVS that's burned down. Trying to get a sense of how people are feeling as the sun will eventually go down. People are not exactly in love with the idea of the game not being able to the public, Jake.

TAPPER: All right, Brooke Baldwin, thank you so much.

Some sharp criticism today came for Baltimore's mayor. She had said over the weekend that the city had given protesters space to destroy. We will go into her comments in detail next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[16:36:42]

TAPPER: Welcome back to THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper.

You're looking at live pictures of a crowd gathering in the streets of Baltimore right now. We're going to continue covering our national lead today, the chaos in Baltimore last night.

The mayor of that city has faced growing criticism over what some have characterized as a flat-footed response to the riots and violence we saw over the weekend and again last night. Questions are being raised about why the city did not have more officers on the ground, why police did not react more forcefully to quell some of the rioting.

CNN's Anderson Cooper is live in Baltimore.

Anderson, as we discussed yesterday on this show, it's not just the response to yesterday's violence that has people upset. It's also some of the comments that the mayor made over the weekend.

COOPER: Yes, that's right.

The mayor, Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, she had already raised eyebrows, as you said, over some of the comments she made this weekend. She made those comments shortly after we got our first glimpse that these protests were taking a turn over the weekend. Here's what she said.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

STEPHANIE RAWLINGS-BLAKE (D), MAYOR OF BALTIMORE, MARYLAND: While we tried to make sure that they were protected from the cars and the other things that were going on, we also gave those who wished to destroy space to do that as well.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: Now, the mayor had said those comments were taken out of context, that they were twisted, that she wasn't saying she was giving space to people to destroy property and businesses. She was saying that unfortunately the space they had given to peaceful protesters, she meant was used by people, some people for violent purposes.

Nevertheless, people lost businesses who are left wondering why law enforcement officials didn't do more earlier, Jake. There's a lot of people who are starting to doubt this mayor here on the ground.

TAPPER: That's right. Even if you talk what the mayor said on face value as to what she says she intended, there's a big question about the policing. Anderson, stay with us.

I want to bring in CNN legal analyst Sunny Hostin, along with CNN senior legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin.

In full disclosure, of course, Sunny, I know you have a close personal relationship with Mayor Rawlings-Blake.

Now, Sunny, she says her words were twisted. As her friend, do you understand why people took her words the way they did?

SUNNY HOSTIN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: You know, I don't actually understand, because anyone that knows this mayor, anyone that knows Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, they understand that she's a daughter of Baltimore. They understand that her father was a very well-known legislator.

They understand that she is a lawyer. She is measured. She is a critical thinker. They understand that she still lives in the same home that she's lived in for 20 years in not the greatest neighborhood here in Baltimore, that her brother was almost killed on her doorstep. Yet she still remains in this city.

She loves this city dearly. And the suggestion somehow that she intentionally allowed people that were less than peaceful to destroy her city, I think, is certainly a mischaracterization, not only of her words, but of this mayor. So, I don't understand that. I do understand though some of the criticism that she's getting in terms of this flat-footed response.

But Jake, I have to say, we have seen in Ferguson, I think, this militarization of police. And there are two schools of thought. You can do it that way, and some people will say that that is excessive and that that leads to the sort of destruction that we have seen here in Baltimore.

[16:40:15]

Or you can have this measured response that this mayor had, which I think it's too soon to tell whether or not either process works. I just don't know if something in the middle is possible when you're dealing with a very fluid situation and when you're dealing with anger in this community.

COOPER: But the problem is -- and, Jeff, I want to bring you in, is that the criticism of the mayor for those comments, it did -- the idea that she was giving space to people to be violent, people saw police officers standing back while people were looting and not moving in on them, which does sort of validate those who believe that's what she actually intended, was giving space to people.

Do you believe she deserves the criticism she's been getting?

JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: I don't know what she meant over the weekend. And, frankly, I'm not sure how important it is. I think what's far more important was the shockingly incompetent and inept performance of the city of Baltimore and the Baltimore police yesterday, letting people loot for hours at a time.

That is not how police should behave. That is not how a city should be managed. Of course, the principal responsibility belongs to the criminals who were destroying their own neighborhoods. However, the shopkeepers, the people who live in these neighborhoods, who work in these stores, who shop in these stores, they have the right to be protected, too. And I think the city of Baltimore is going to pay a price not for years, but for decades, for what went on yesterday.

TAPPER: Sunny, I want to play a clip from a news conference the mayor held last night and then ask you about it.

Let's play that clip.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RAWLINGS-BLAKE: There is a difference between what we saw over the past week with the peaceful protests, the difference between those protests and the thugs who only want to incite violence and destroy our city.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

TAPPER: Both Mayor Rawlings-Blake and President Obama today using the word thugs. Sunny, you take issue with that.

HOSTIN: I do.

It's not a word certainly that I am comfortable with. It's not a word that I use. I think that we can all agree that that word, that term has been racialized. And I think what I saw during the riots was I saw a lot of crimes being committed, I saw assault, I saw theft, I saw arson. And those are crimes.

Should we call them criminals? Yes. Thugs? I'm not comfortable with that. There's not a place for name-calling, especially racialized name-calling. But I do think it's fair to call them criminals, because that is what we saw.

COOPER: Jeff, what about the governor? He seemed to go out of his way in the press conference last night to point out that he couldn't act until the mayor called him. He said the mayor did finally call him -- 30 seconds later, he said there was a state of emergency and the National Guard were being called in.

Do you believe -- what do you make of his response at the state level?

TOOBIN: It's a pretty unseemly spectacle to have a governor and a mayor blaming each other for their joint failure regarding the people of the biggest city in their state.

You know, as far as I understand it, Governor Hogan's phone has a dial or buttons on it where he could have called her and said what the hell are you doing, why don't you bring in the National Guard? I'm ready to act.

So, you know, his behavior that, oh, you know, I was just waiting around, it's not a governor's job simply to wait around. We're going to be talking about for a long time how the government, broadly defined, of Baltimore failed. But let's be clear. It failed. And somebody, and maybe a lot more than one person are going to be responsible and you know who it was precisely is hard for me to know.

(CROSSTALK)

COOPER: And, Jake, just very quickly, I should point out, I think the governor said that he had attempted to reach her and had been unable to. But we need to learn more obviously about the timeline of all of that.

TAPPER: All right, Anderson, Sunny Hostin, Jeffrey Toobin, thank you all so much.

When we come back, lost in the mayhem of last night is the reason these protests started more than a week ago, Freddie Gray's mysterious death while in the custody of Baltimore police. We will look at the new details of this investigation into what happened to Freddie Gray next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

TAPPER: We're back with live pictures from Baltimore from our affiliate WJZ. You see some protesters on the ground chanting justice for Freddie Gray. Right now a city on edge Baltimore, fueled by the death of the 25-year-old Freddie Gray, all ignited by cell phone video.

The images showing officers pulling Freddie Gray, with what appeared to be limp legs, into a police van. Gray ended up in a coma that day. He died a week later from a severed spinal cord. Police are yet to speculate how he may have become so badly hurt, fatally hurt.

CNN justice reporter, Evan Perez, joins me live from Baltimore. Evan, Baltimore police said that they would wrap their investigation by this Friday. But believe it or not, we're being told that the findings may not be made public that day. Why, Evan?

EVAN PEREZ, CNN JUSTICE REPORTER: That's right, Jake. The problem is they say that the investigation is going to continue for some time. They say it's not over. However they're going to stick with their original deadline of Friday to turn over an investigative report to the state attorney's office.

These are the prosecutors who are going to decide whether to bring charges. I think people on the streets are expecting charges on Friday so that's going to be a problem.

[16:50:10] TAPPER: And Evan, you also have some new information into the fires that we all witnessed during the riots last night. What have you learned about those?

PEREZ: That's right, Jake. The ATF is sending its arson investigators here and they're planning to bring federal charges in these fires. They already have some promising leads, particularly in one that destroyed a senior housing center in Baltimore. They say they're going to plan to bring a federal prosecution of these fires if they can find them.

TAPPER: All right, Evan Perez in Baltimore, thank you so much. Coming up, they stood up to the violence yesterday, local pastors marching arm in arm. A Vietnam veteran standing between rioters and police even a mother dragging her son home. The other side of last night's riots, the people who should be celebrated next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[16:55:19]

TAPPER: Welcome back to THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper. Finally from us today, right now Baltimore is bracing for more potential riots. A prospect that looms large over a city that spent much of the day sweeping up glass shards and sifting through the debris, literally picking up the pieces.

But in the night filled with so much ugliness, if you paid attention, you could glimpse hope.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

TAPPER (voice-over): Today thousands of Baltimore residents are coming together to support their city.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I saw a need for change. Somebody had to do it. And the first step is to step out here and do it.

TAPPER: Trying to polish Baltimore's reputation after Monday's riots left it badly tarnished. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is called a love line. This is separating what's going on back here and what could go on back there.

TAPPER: As tensions continued to simmer in the streets, former Baltimore Raven's player, Ray Lewis, voiced his displeasure on Facebook. The controversial figure posting this passionate message in morning.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Go home, stay home! You don't have no right to do what you're doing to this city!

TAPPER: With law enforcement under threat and spread thin last night, a call to defend charm city was made to ordinary residents.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Get out there and stand tall, stand up for your neighborhood.

TAPPER: And they did, local pastors.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: These are our jewels in the community.

TAPPER: Community groups and lone intermediaries. They all took a stand. Take this woman moving between police and a growing group of police officers, armed spread wide, shouting pleading for peace.

When this woman recognized her son as one of the rioters, she took things into her own hands. Blocks away, hundreds of local pastors paraded in unison.

Posting this Facebook video of a march down North Avenue to declare God and peace. As darkness fell, more local heroes emerged. Robert Valentine, a Vietnam veteran is no stranger to standing his ground and on Monday night he had no plans to back down, standing between police and taunting teens.

ROBERT VALENTINE, BALTIMORE RESIDENT: I've seen more than all this. I have been through the riots already. This right here is not relevant. They need to have their butts at home.

TAPPER: For the family of Freddie Gray, the violence that erupted after his funeral on Monday was unacceptable.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: To see that it turned into all of this violence and destruction, I am really appalled.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I don't agree with this. This is too much.

TAPPER: Now as Baltimore prepares for another potential night of unrest, residents are once again looking to each other to help keep their community strong and safe.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We don't worry. It's Baltimore. We ready.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

TAPPER: Blessed are the peacemakers. Before we go I want to go back to Anderson Cooper live on the ground in Baltimore. Anderson, what are you expecting this evening? What do protesters, police, people, what are they anticipating is going to happen?

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: You know, I think people really have no idea. There's a lot of talk, a lot of rumors. But I think a lot will just depend on what happens in the hours ahead. But I think what you said in that piece is so important, focusing on the people and the individuals that you focused on, is so important.

Because that was critical last night and I think it's going to be critical tonight, the response by parents and grandparents, the response by men and women in the community, the response by church groups and pastors.

We saw the Nation of Islam out on the streets very actively trying to stop people from throwing things at the police, trying to cordon off businesses from being looted.

I think you're going to see large numbers of those same people coming out tonight, the Robert Valentines coming out to try to do what they can to save their communities and to keep the focus on Freddie Gray, which is most of the protesters.

The people who have been peacefully protesting over the last week or more, that is what they want, the focus should be on Freddie Gray. As Mr. Valentine said last night, the people who were committing violence last night, they're not respecting the memory of Freddie Gray.

TAPPER: I've spent a lot of time in Baltimore, the people, the peacemakers, we saw in that piece, that's the Baltimore I know. The mayor, we're expecting her to make remarks up. Anderson Cooper, I know you'll be live in Baltimore throughout the night. Let's go to the mayor who is going to be speaking on "THE SITUATION ROOM" right now.