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THE SITUATION ROOM
Organizers Call for New Protest This Hour; New Protests in Baltimore, Police Expect Large Crowds. Aired 5-6p ET
Aired April 29, 2015 - 17:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[17:00:13] WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Happening now, waiting game. Protest organizers schedule a rally this hour in Baltimore. And with the sun going down soon after that, will things heat back up?
Aftermath. The governor says Baltimore has turned the corner. But more than 200 people have been jailed, and as police examine surveillance video from the rioting, will hundreds more join them?
And Gray investigation. Police are keeping quiet about their probe of Freddie Gray's death, but they're due to present their findings to prosecutors this week. Will that spark new unrest?
I'm Wolf Blitzer. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.
BLITZER: The breaking news: organizers are calling for another protest to begin this hour in Baltimore. And police say they expect large crowds. There's tension in the streets of Baltimore once again with police and National Guard troops lining those streets and community leaders linking arms to keep a lid on the situation. The violence that began raging 48 hours ago clearly has faded; arrests have plummeted. Maryland's governor says Baltimore has turned the corner.
But an overnight curfew remains in effect. And with the Freddie Gray investigation due in the hands of prosecutors this week, the potential for unrest remains very real.
Our correspondents, our analysts, our guests are all standing by with all the late-breaking developments. But let's get the very latest from the streets of Baltimore. Brian Todd is on the scene -- Brian.
BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, we're at the epicenter of where the violence has occurred. This is Pennsylvania and North Avenue.
You will notice, looking around here, no visible police presence now. Not sure if that's going to stay the case, stay the case tonight. We're going to see what happens later on tonight. You have street speakers speaking over here. All these people kind of congregating. More of a street festival atmosphere.
But as you mentioned, protests are planned later this hour, a protest march downtown. We're going to be there. Also, you know, police and local residents hoping for a peaceful night
tonight, but everybody around here understanding that the anger in the streets still has not dissipated. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We want justice.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We want justice.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We want justice.
TODD (voice-over): On the streets, a sense that this city is still very much on edge. Protesters picket the state's attorney's office, demanding justice for Freddie Gray.
Police are maintaining a strong presence, trying to make sure whatever comes next is more like Tuesday night than Monday night.
CAPTAIN ERIC KOWALCZYK, SPOKESMAN, BALTIMORE POLICE: We have resources staged throughout the city. Obviously, we're monitoring social media. We have extensive resources that are on the ground.
TODD: But not everyone followed the mandatory curfew last night. Joseph Kent was out in the streets after curfew. He walked back and forth in front of the police lines. Suddenly, a military Humvee pulls alongside of him. At the same time, the police line opens up, and Kent is grabbed and arrested.
(on camera): What do you make of that tactic?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Very smart. That's how you train. And what I mean that's how you train, you're trained to make arrests as quickly as possible. The longer it goes, the more chance of someone getting hurt, the more chance of others joining in.
TODD (voice-over): Tuesday night, the police were prepared, just over 30 arrests compared to over 200 from Monday night.
We spoke with residents of the neighborhood where the rioting was worse, asking if they thought the 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. curfew was a good idea.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think it was right because the only thing you're doing, you're tearing up your own neighborhood.
TODD (on camera): Should they have done the curfew or not?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No.
TODD: Why not?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's 10 p.m. What the hell? We're grown. How you going to tell grown-(EXPLETIVE DELETED) that ya'll get in his house at 10 p.m.?
TODD (voice-over): The co-owner of this discount store says he needs the curfew. He showed us surveillance video of his store getting ransacked for two hours Monday night. He says he lost $22,000 worth of goods.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We was cleaning all the morning, just -- just trying to get back on our feet.
TODD: And today one thing was missing from the Baltimore Orioles versus Chicago White Sox baseball game -- fans. In a historic and controversial move, Major League Baseball banned fans from the game, citing safety concerns.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A few people decided to send out some Instagram messages and say, "Hey, Camden Yards, such and such a time." And then all of the sudden, you've got hundreds or thousands of people converging on Camden Yards. There's no way you can respond quickly to that.
TODD: And right now, Baltimore police are all about sending the message that they are looking to get out ahead of whatever happens on these streets tonight and the rest of this week after finally getting -- gaining the upper hand on Tuesday night -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Brian, we're going to stay in close touch with you. Thank you.
Organizers are calling for new protests this hour. Let's bring in CNN's Miguel Marquez. He's also on the streets of Baltimore, different location. Miguel, what's happening where you are?
[17:05:04] MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, we're very near to where he is. But look, I think people on the streets here and in this neighborhood in Gilmore Homes, they want ways to have their voice heard. They are frustrated and angry. The curfew is a way of, they feel, sort of shutting them down.
So the protest, I think, tonight, is going to be akin to what we've seen in the last couple of nights. It's people marching in the streets angrily, loudly but peacefully, as well.
I can tell you, here at the corner that was shut down yesterday, as sort of a carnival combined with a political rally, combined with a protest, today is open and business as normal.
People have come up to this intersection from Montgomery County here. "Taking Back Our Streets" is this group. They've come up to do Tae Kwon Do and chess. There is -- over in this area, where the CVS was burned down, just a night or two -- on Monday night, there were people coming up from Washington, D.C., to -- to an impromptu jobs fair. Out of the chaos, order, perhaps.
And I think people are optimistic, cautiously so, that tonight may not be quite as difficult as last night in enforcing the curfew and in future nights to come, that things will start to grow. But I think we have a couple of days yet before anybody is going to be able to breathe out with complete comfort -- Wolf.
BLITZER: We're showing our viewers, Miguel, live pictures. The protest march has now begun. They're marching down Charles Street in Baltimore. Looks like a very significant large crowd. They're carrying banners. They're carrying signs, very peaceful right now. They're moving forward. There you see that march. It's probably going to gain people as they continue their march here on Charles Street right now.
The -- the events that you're seeing over there, Miguel, it's obviously day three, shall we say, very, very quiet so far. The curfew, though, remains in effect going into next week, right?
MARQUEZ: It does. And it's not going to be well-received in this neighborhood. They didn't like it last night. They don't like to be told sort of when to go to their homes.
The reason you had the atmosphere that you had out here last night was because -- or yesterday all day yesterday was because they wanted to show police, who were lined up across Pennsylvania Avenue blocking flow of North Avenue, which is a major thoroughfare here that they wanted to show police that this was their neighborhood.
I think the protests you're going to see tonight will be much of the same. But as you know, in these situations, they can get out of control very quickly. Everybody is watching everybody and every move very closely.
So I think both the city, the police and the protesters, they're all sort of doing this dance. And we will see if it continues down that way and if they can continue to dance or if it turns into something more.
BLITZER: Let's hope it's a quiet, peaceful demonstration which, of course, is everyone's right in this country. Miguel Marquez, thanks very much. We'll stay in touch with you.
Joining us now is the Baltimore city councilman, Nick Mosby. He represents the district where a lot of the violence actually took place.
Nick, thanks very much for joining us. You welcome the fact that this curfew is going to continue for a few more days, right?
NICK MOSBY, BALTIMORE CITY COUNCILMAN: Yes, I think it's important. You know, we can't be overly optimistic about what took place yesterday. We have to continue to bring calm to our constituents, to our most vulnerable folks in the community.
And I think the curfew worked last night. The enforcement worked last night, and we have to continue to do it until we're out of this dark period in Baltimore's history.
BLITZER: And everything you're hearing right now, Nick, is that this demonstration -- we see a lot of folks walking down Charles Street -- is going to be peaceful? It's not going to turn violent, right? MOSBY: Yes. I would hope that -- about 90 percent of all the
demonstrations that have taken place for the past two weeks have been very peaceful. And the expectation is that they'll continue to be the same way. You know, I hope that we're past what we saw Monday night. And I hope that we have the tactical operations in place to ensure that, in case anything comes about, it won't escalate the way we saw it on Monday.
BLITZER: As you know, Baltimore police, they're expected to send the Freddie Gray investigation findings, at least the preliminary report, Friday to the state's attorney -- state attorney's office. Your wife is -- happens to be the state's attorney. I know you have no involvement in her office.
But sources are telling us here at CNN it's far from a clear-cut case. Our Evan Perez, our justice reporter, has learned that. A council -- you're a councilman. How concerned are you about how Baltimore residents may react, their expectations, if we don't learn a whole lot more, let's say this Friday, when this preliminary report is handed over to the state's attorney?
MOSBY: Wolf, I think the most important thing is that, from a communications perspective, the police department are transparent to the level that they need to be transparent to the citizens.
I mean, you have a seemingly healthy 25-year-old man, who is -- seems suspicious to the police. They ensue. They chase him. They detain him. They arrest him. And immediately, the community doesn't necessarily get the information that they're looking for while they know that this young man is laying in a shock trauma bed.
I think that that was the crux of the matter associated with the initial onset of the protests. And I think that's the type of information that the folks want the know. They want to know the specific, you know, high-level information so they really know what took place on that particular day.
BLITZER: Do you think we're going to get that on Friday?
I would hope so. I mean, I know that the police have been working around the clock. I know the Department of Justice are doing their own independent civil rights investigation. And I know the state's attorney's office has been working around the clock to do their own independent investigation.
So I think the answers or the facts that can be communicated out to the public will eventually get there. I think it's critically important that as a public servant, we ensure the communication is getting out through the right mediums at the right time. And I think we haven't done necessarily the best job of that in the past, but we have to ensure that we're proactive about it for Friday and the coming weeks.
I want you to stand by. Nick Mosby is the Baltimore city councilman. We have more questions for you. We're watching the demonstration now. It's peaceful. They're going down Charles Street in Baltimore. We'll take a quick break. Much more right after this.
[17:16:04] BLITZER: We're back with the Baltimore city councilman, Nick Mosby. Nick, I'm showing our viewers these live pictures coming in. These are protesters. They're marching towards downtown right now. We're told they're heading towards the main train station, Penn Station in Baltimore right now. They're going down very peaceful. They're carrying their signs and placards. They're moving along the street. We're watching closely to make sure it stays this way.
You've said, Nick, that this is a lot more what's going on in Baltimore right now than just Freddie Gray and the incident surrounding him. "The Baltimore Sun," as you know, reports that Freddie Gray was not the first to sustain serious injuries from inside a Baltimore police van. They've reported what they describe as years of police abuse in Baltimore. So explain why the anger now, why Freddie Gray was the tipping point?
MOSBY: I think he was the tipping point, because at the end of the day, again, a seemingly healthy 25-year-old man goes on a chase and then 40 minutes later is basically paralyzed with a severe spine. I mean, that's troublesome. I think police didn't necessarily have the immediate information of, one, why he was chased, two, what he was ultimately charged for and arrested for. And I think that just grew concern.
I mean, it happened on that Sunday. I got calls to my office that Monday morning regarding the incident, and we immediately started to look into it.
At the end of the day, folks are tired; they're fed up. And the one thing about this particular movement, it transcends race; it transcends age. It transcends so much. I mean, you've seen so many different folks joining the movement of just fairness and equality associated with this thing.
We understand and know that urban enclaves like where Mr. Freddie Gray lived are really disproportionately impacted by the criminal justice system, and unfortunately, there are thousands upon thousands of Freddie Grays. And a lot of them have been joining the movement. I think that that's one of the key things that we take away from this time. Hopefully, this is a defining moment, not just in the city of Baltimore, but in America as a whole.
BLITZER: The new attorney general of the United States, Loretta Lynch, she spoke out today on what's going on in Baltimore. She called -- she's calling the violence that occurred, senseless acts of violence. She said it represented a grave danger to the entire community and that all of that must stop.
What's your reaction to what you heard from the attorney general? She was only sworn in, as you know, on Monday.
MOSBY: Well, this is a critical issue for her. And she's dead-on. I mean, this is senseless violence. And it must stop. I mean, we must, again, develop the type of policies and procedures to ensure that we have enough tactical forces to ensure that we don't do this.
We can't allow a great American city to continue to be erupted like we did on Monday. It's just not good for us as a community. It's not good for us as America. So we must stop it.
But I think bigger than that, it's not necessarily the what. It's the why. I think that's where we have to go and look at the root cause of what's going on.
And I think urban America is speaking out. When you look at places like Baltimore, folks are tired. These young guys are tired of carrying their father's weight. They're tired of carrying their grandfather's weight. You know, these are decades-old systemic issues that have plagued this community. And I think it's at a tipping point. We've seen not only in America, but we've seen throughout the world's history it was the young folks that really drive change. And I think that's what they're showing us in these protests and this movement.
BLITZER: I read an important article in "The Baltimore Sun" today, Nick, by Michael Fletcher, who's lived in Baltimore for 30 years. And he says, for all practical purposes, there are really two Baltimores, a more affluent Baltimore but then a very, very poor Baltimore.
I suspect that's the situation in a lot of major cities around the United States right now. But talk about the two Baltimores.
MOSBY: Yes, it's true that there are two cities. And you're right. Again, this is not a Baltimore thing. This is just an American big- city thing, you know?
It's interesting, when you drive through the city of Baltimore, literally, you can go from block to block from an affluent area to an area that has significant troubles and hardships.
You know, we have continued to do an excellent job of building up our downtown area around the harbor, spreading out the harbor east and down (ph) into a project called Harbor Point. And many folks say we're continuing building downtown. How can we start building uptown? And I think that's a lot of the frustration that we're seeing specifically in the central west Baltimore corridor and throughout the city.
I think the infrastructure is here. The interest is here. The one thing I'll say is, Wolf, we're at a time when interest rates are probably as low as they'll be in my lifetime. There's a lot of time. There's a lot of attention, a lot of energy in building back cities like Baltimore. And I think that we need to just develop those innovative and creative ways to build back our communities, provide the right infrastructure and the right opportunities for the folks in those communities.
BLITZER: Nick Mosby, Baltimore city councilman. Thanks very much, Nick, for joining us. Good luck.
MOSBY: Thanks for having me on, Wolf. BLITZER: Coming up, the nation's new attorney general calling the rioting that occurred Monday night a grave danger. We're digging deeper to expose the root causes of the mistrust that's under way right now between the Baltimore community and the local police.
[17:25:45] BLITZER: We're following the situation in Baltimore right now. Protesters, marchers, they're on the streets right now. They face a curfew in only a few hours.
President Obama once again today condemned the rioting, but he also spoke of what he calls the enormous tension between police and some communities. The nation's new attorney general, Loretta Lynch, also is calling for calm.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LORETTA LYNCH, U.S. ATTORNEY GENERAL: These senseless acts of violence are not only a grave danger to the community and they must stop, but they are also counterproductive to the ultimate goal here, which is developing a respectful conversation within the Baltimore community and across the nation about the way our law enforcement officers interact with the residents that we are charged to serve and to protect.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: Our CNN anchor, Don Lemon, has more now on the root causes of the mistrust between police and citizens in Baltimore.
DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): Painful images seen around the world.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I told you guys from the jump that this was going to happen.
LEMON: We're hearing harsh reminders from the people in Baltimore, local leaders and even President Obama, that this night of violence was years in the making.
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: This has been a slow, rolling crisis. It's been going on for a long time. This is not new. And we shouldn't pretend that it's new.
LEMON: The unrest happened just a few blocks from the house where Congressman Elijah Cummings lived for 33 years.
REP. ELIJAH CUMMINGS (D), MARYLAND: I've had my turn. I want them to have their turn.
LEMON: Cummings is very emotional about the lack of education and job opportunities for many young African-American men.
CUMMINGS: They feel as if nobody hears them.
LEMON: Cummings and other black leaders fear those young men may turn to crime and other violence or wind up like Freddie Gray, a symbol of another long-simmering problem.
GERALD STANSBURY, NAACP MARYLAND STATE CONFERENCE PRESIDENT: Baltimore has a long history of police brutality and racial profiling. And Mr. Gray's death represents another example in a series of tragedies of black lives being lost at the hands of someone in blue uniforms.
LEMON: We've heard charges like that and we've seen pictures like this in Baltimore, in New York, and in Ferguson, Missouri.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Black lives matter!
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Black lives matter!
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Black lives matter!
LEMON: But when and how will the cycle end?
OBAMA: We don't just pay attention to these communities when a CVS burns. And we don't just pay attention when a young man gets shot or has his spine snapped.
CUMMINGS: I'm telling you, Baltimore can happen anywhere, and you've got people looking at us right now saying, that will never happen in my community. But, yes, it will.
BLITZER: That report from our own Don Lemon. Elijah Cummings, the congressman from Baltimore, obviously very emotional, very passionate on this issue.
Joining us now in THE SITUATION ROOM, our CNN law enforcement analyst, the former FBI assistant director, Tom Fuentes; "The Baltimore Sun" investigative reporter Mark Puente, whose work exposed other instances of the Baltimore police using undue force. Also with us, the president of the National Organization for Black Law Enforcement, Cedric Alexander; our CNN legal analyst, Sunny Hostin; and our CNN justice correspondent, Pamela Brown.
I want all of you to stand by. I want to go back to Brian Todd first .
Brian, you're marching with those protesters. What's happening? Brian, I don't know if you can hear me. Tell us what's going on.
TODD: Wolf, this is a group of marchers that started back in the Gilmore neighborhood are of Baltimore, walking along St. Paul Street here towards Penn Station, making a lot of noise.
We are told that this is a group of mostly students leading this rally. Don't know exactly which student is the march leader. We're going to find that out in a few minutes hopefully. But they've been walking a long way.
And this is a common refrain from the people who have been marching in favor of justice for Freddie Gray, justice for some of the other victims of police violence.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Black lives matter! Black lives matter!
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Black lives matter! Black lives matter!
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Black lives matter! Black lives matter!
[17:30:04] TODD: And if experience serves us well, they're going to be marching a long way tonight. They're going to Pennsylvania Station right now. They're holding sort of a gathering to gather more protestors. And they plan on marching to city hall.
Usually, they cover a lot of ground, Wolf. So we're going to see where they go after they get to city hall. Sometimes it gets a little bit more -- a little less structured at that point. And then we start following them. They may go back up to the Gilmore neighborhood. We'll see where it goes from here.
BLITZER: And obviously, what's on a lot of people's minds is that 10 p.m. curfew that's going to go into effect tonight. So right now, they're heading towards city hall or Penn Station?
TODD: They're going to Penn Station, because that's where they plan to start their march at 5:45 p.m. Eastern. Obviously, they've started it a lot sooner. They've picked up people along the way.
Trying to gauge how many they've got here. At least a couple hundred extending back at least one block. So pretty sizable group of marchers here in keeping with what's been happening over the past week. We've caught several of these over the past week, all very spirited. They have some anger, they have some passion, very large but peaceful crowd just about every time we've marched with these folks.
BLITZER: Are these high-school students, college students? Because they seem very young.
TODD: We are told that they are mostly college students. And a, I've just kind of gotten together with them here. We just caught up to them on the street, and we are trying to find out exactly which student leader is kind of organizing this and leading it. We're going to try to talk to that person as soon as we can.
BLITZER: All right, Brian, stand by. We're going to continue to follow the march together with you. Cedric Alexander, for police -- and you're the president of the National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives, it's a sensitive moment right now. You allow the peaceful protests to go forward, but you've got to make sure they remain peaceful so you keep a distance. Is that what you need to do right now?
ALEXANDER: Certainly you do. What you want to allow people to do is exercise their First Amendment right such as what we see here.
We don't necessarily have to like what people are saying, but they do have the right to march. And they have the right to march peacefully. As long as they're allowed to do that and it's a measured approach by the police department, which is there for the safety of everyone that's involved, if we can continue in that tempo, allow people to be able to march, that's a good thing.
BLITZER: Pamela Brown, you're getting new information on the investigation into Freddie Gray's death, right?
BROWN: Absolutely, Wolf. And as it turns out, the investigation is far from over. My colleague, Evan Perez, has been on the ground there talking to officials. And he's been told that this was not clear cut.
There seems to be a disparity, Wolf, on the perception on the streets in Baltimore of what's going to happen and where things stand in the investigation.
After all, we still don't even have the medical examiner's report which could really hold the key in determining what caused Freddie Gray's death. That is key here. But we do know the initial report, the preliminary report the Baltimore Police have been putting together will be handed over to the state's attorney's office on Friday. And then the investigation will enter into the next phase, the consideration of whether these officers involved will be charged.
BLITZER: And the state's attorney -- correct me if I'm wrong, Cedric -- will have to make an important decision, an important decision for her. Do they submit the evidence to a grand jury, do they begin to look into allegations of wrongdoing on the part of the police officers? Or does she simply go ahead and file charges?
That will be her decision based on evidence that's presented to her, whenever that evidence is delivered. She'll make a decision either to go forward with charges OR go before a grand journey.
BLITZER: Or decide there's not enough evidence...
Or maybe not enough evidence to do anything. There will be a number of options there which she has to very carefully look at and make a decision on.
BLITZER: It's a sensitive decision. I want you to stand by.
Brian, I take it some of the protesters have arrived now at Penn Station?
TODD: They have arrived at Penn Station, Wolf, where another group of protesters has been waiting for them. A very sizable crowd. I'd estimate it at maybe 300 to 400 people at this point, very spirited, mostly young people. We are again trying to find the organizer. That may become evident pretty soon when somebody steps up to speak and starts lead some of the chants and lead the march to city hall, which is where they say they're going to end u,. BLITZER: All right, Brian, stand by. We're going to get back to you.
I want everyone to stand by. Let's get another quick break, resume our special coverage right here in THE SITUATION ROOM.
[17:39:15] BLITZER: New protests on the streets of Baltimore. Take a look at these live pictures coming in right now. A lot of these marchers converging on Baltimore's main train station, Penn Station.
Police are expecting large crowds as the evening goes on. They're calling on all of the marchers to be peaceful. They're also reminding everyone there's a 10 p.m. Eastern curfew in place, not only today but in the days to come into next week.
We're back with all of our correspondents and our experts. Let's check in and see what's going on, on the ground over there at Penn Station. Brian Todd, what's happening now?
TODD: Wolf, we're with two of the organizers of this march. This is Enya (ph) -- Tiara Langley (ph) and Enya Bias (ph).
What made you decide to take part in the organization of this march in the first place?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There were numerous protests going on in the city of Baltimore and we feel Baltimore is our home, our city. And so we decided it was time for us to take a stand in solidarity with these communities, because of the injustice against a black life anywhere within our city in America is an injustice anywhere. And we feel that it is important to take care of it right now.
BLITZER: Do you feel like, with the violence that has taken place in recent nights, that the focus has just kind of been taken off Freddie Gray, taken off some of these issues?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think it has been. People need to know that Baltimore is not violent. We have been under a lot of duress. And this is -- the violence that erupted the other day is only the reaction in the years and decades of oppression and police brutality.
TODD: You're going from here and to city hall and then where?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We're looking for another leader to lead us down there. We really want to make a stand (UNINTELLIGIBLE) -- we will not tolerate (UNINTELLIGIBLE)...
TODD: So you feel that the city leaders have handled this situation after Freddie Gray's well, not well? What have they done wrong in your view?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think the mayor is wrong in calling us thugs. We are students. We are not thugs. We are citizens of the city.
TODD: Have they reacted positively in any way? UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I don't think they have reacted positively.
They have not served Baltimore the way we would like to see it. You ask a lot of the people who have lived here for decades will also say they are not happy with the mayor calling us thugs (UNINTELLIGIBLE)
TODD: Thank you very much for speaking to us -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Just to point out, the mayor has now apologized for calling some of those rioters thugs. We'll get into that a little bit later.
But once again, these are live pictures we're seeing from Baltimore, right now protesters converging on Penn Station, the main train station there. Eventually, they say they're going to be heading towards city hall. We'll continue to watch it.
Mark Puente is with us, investigative reporter for "The Baltimore Sun" is with us, you've done amazing reporting over the years on police brutality in Baltimore. Give our viewers a little sense of what has been going on in your city.
MARK PUENTE, INVESTIGATIVE REPORTER, "THE BALTIMORE SUN": "The Baltimore Sun" did an investigation last year, and we showed from 2011 through 2014, the city settled 102 lawsuits and paid out nearly $6 million in brutality cases against their officers. A lot of individuals were injured, anywhere from 87-year-old grandmother down through teenagers.
BLITZER: And the situation today, has it gotten better based on everything you're seeing over the last year or two?
PUENTE: After the investigation was published, the Justice Department agreed to step in at the request of the city to curb some of the misconduct. Some reforms have been slow to come forward but they have vowed to curb the abuse by their officers.
BLITZER: So you, Mark, were not surprised in the aftermath of what we've learned about Freddie Gray and the fact that he died in police custody?
PUENTE: Freddie Gray's case mirrors a lot of the stories or cases we looked at in our investigation, whether it was questionable probable cause, why they stopped the individual. A lot of our findings show individuals had the same four charges which were quickly dropped by prosecutors and judges. Even the mayor of this city is questioning the probable cause in the Freddie Gray case.
BLITZER: Tom Fuentes, you're there on the scene there in Baltimore, as well. You're FBI law enforcement director. Tell us what you're seeing there. I think you've been in Boston for, I guess, the whole day so far?
TOM FUENTES, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Most of the day, I've talked to Maryland state troopers, members of the National Guard and Baltimore police, including a commander out in front of the CVS store this afternoon. And they've said that the entire strategy for tonight is going to be
similar to last night: trying to have a very measured, disciplined response with the idea that the troopers and the guardspeople are in the background and can be called out if violence comes up, but that they're not going to tolerate what happened Monday night, where properties are burned and businesses looted and 20 police officers injured and going to the hospital. So -- but they're trying to be very, very measured and low key tonight.
BLITZER: Sunny, I know you're friendly with the mayor, and you've pointed that out to us. Tell us why she felt it was necessary to apologize for using the word "thugs" in describing some of those violent rioters, the arsonists, the looters, if you will.
SUNNY HOSTIN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Well, listen, I myself have been critical of the mayor in terms of using that word. I think that what we saw when we saw rioters -- we saw assault. We saw theft. We saw arson. Those are crimes.
And so I think it's appropriate to call those people criminals. But thugs, in my view -- and I think some others share the opposing view, but in my view, has become a racialized term. And so I think that kind of name calling isn't helpful in a situation like that and -- like this. And I think it shows true leadership, quite frankly, from the mayor, someone that's able to take criticism, to accept it constructively and then change course. And perhaps that's why she changed course. She heard the views of others and of course the views also of the residents and citizens of Baltimore because quite frankly many people in Baltimore were critical of those comments made by the mayor and she responded.
BLITZER: The president of the United States also referred to those violent rioters, if you will, as thugs. You think he needs to take back that word?
HOSTIN: Well, I certainly won't comment on whether or not -- what the president should do. But in my view, Wolf, I do think that the term thug recently has become racialized. Of course, people of all races have been deemed that word and when you look in the dictionary, perhaps it's not a racial term, but it has been recently, I think, racialized and in terms of describing African-American young men as thugs. And I think that we need to move away from that and perhaps then discuss what the actions are. And, yes, we saw crimes being committed, call them criminals, not thugs.
BLITZER: All right. Sunny and everyone else, stand by. The protesters now, they seem to be moving from Penn Station towards city hall. We're moving with them. Our own Brian Todd is on the scene.
We'll take a quick break. We'll be right back.
[17:51:08] BLITZER: Once again we're looking at a large and growing protest in the streets of Baltimore right now. You're looking at live pictures. Marchers converging on Baltimore's train station Penn Station, just a little while ago. But they're on the move once again right now. We're told they're heading toward city hall.
Brian Todd is walking with them.
Set the scene, Brian. Update our viewers if they're just been tuning in on what's going on.
TODD: Yes. Let's go over here.
BLITZER: I don't think Brian can hear me.
TODD: Yes, Wolf.
BLITZER: Go ahead.
TODD: One thing I can tell you is just going to laying out the dynamic of this crowd and the size. First of all, this is much bigger than many of the protest marches we've covered in recent days. This march is several thousand people strong and extends back several blocks long.
As for the dynamic of the crowd, very energetic, angry, passionate. Very peaceful, so far. And of course the makeup, the age and everything else, in recent days, we've seen kind of a very diverse group of people. Older people marching with very young children in the streets. This is mostly college aged students. We're just speaking to some students from John Hopkins University a short time ago.
But there -- we're told that there are kids from many, many different colleges that's taking part in this march. So they've got a lot of energy. They're college age, which means they could probably march all night. We'll see if that happens -- Wolf.
BLITZER: And Cedric, as we see these marchers continue to move, the allegations of police brutality in Baltimore, you believe this is part of a nationwide problem.
CEDRIC ALEXANDER, INTERNATIONAL ORGANIZATION OF BLACK LAW ENFORCEMENT EXECUTIVES: Well, you know, if you think about it, Wolf, in this country, there has been a long history of separation between communities of color and police. However, there have been tremendous gains as well, too, that we have to note. But still, in this country and a number of cities across this country, we have communities and police that are still struggling with issues around brutality, mistrust, and we got to somehow begin to get past that so that we don't have another Baltimore, we don't have another North Charleston, we don't have another Cleveland.
But there are some things that apparently that we have to begin to work towards. Building those communities, working with those police departments as well, too, because it's a partnership in this. It's not just police alone, responsibility. It also becomes a responsibility of police and the community.
BLITZER: Pamela, you know, Loretta Lynch, the new attorney general was sworn in on Monday. She spoke out today. She deployed what she called the senseless violent acts -- acts of violence that occurred in Baltimore. She's got a tough road. She's got to walk right now, as well, including whether or not she actually goes to Baltimore and makes some sort of -- her presence felt like Eric Holder, for example, did in Ferguson, Missouri.
PAMELA BROWN, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely. It's a tough decision. This is really her first big test as attorney general. She was just sworn in on Monday. Hours later, the violence erupted in Baltimore. We know she met with the president at the White House and then today made her first public remarks.
And she wanted to make it clear that she's doing everything she can right now to ensure that there's calm and peace in Baltimore by sending the two top people at DOJ, that's Benita Gupta, in charge of the Civil Rights Division and Ronald Davis, who was part of the review of the Baltimore police station.
That is significant they were sent. And what -- the sense I get, Wolf, is that DOJ wants to sit back, see how it plays out, and then make a determination whether it makes sense to send Loretta Lynch to Baltimore.
BLITZER: Would it be smart for her to show up? Would it be smart for the president to show up?
ALEXANDER: Well, I think that's a decision that the White House have to make as we continue to progress in this process that we see that's taking place. They'll make that decision based on a number of variables, I'm quite sure.
But let me say, though, Wolf, if we go back and look at the task force, 21st Century Policing Task Force report. Inside that report, you're going to find a number of recommendations that are going to be so good for this.
[17:55:01] BLITZER: And you're a member of that task force.
ALEXANDER: Yes, sir.
BLITZER: We will stay in close touch with you.
Guys, stand by. Coming up, as these protesters once again take to the streets of Baltimore, Maryland's governor is getting ready to update us on the situation there. He's getting ready to speak to reporters. We'll have live coverage, that's coming up next.
BLITZER: Happening now, protests under way. Will Baltimore police and demonstrators show restraint as sunsets and a curfew takes effect? We're live on the streets where marchers right now. You can see them, they're on the move.
[18:00:00] We want to welcome our viewers in the United States and around the world. I'm Wolf Blitzer, you're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
ANNOUNCER: This is CNN Breaking News.