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Two Injured in Violent Clashes in Charlottesville, VA; North Korea Warns Trump to Act Properly; Japan Moves Its Missile Interceptors into Place. Aired 11a-12p ET
Aired August 12, 2017 - 11:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[11:01:01] BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN ANCHOR: Hello. I'm Boris Sanchez, in for Fredricka Whitfield who is off this weekend. We thank you for joining us.
And we begin with breaking news from Charlottesville, Virginia where two people have been injured in an altercation with protesters who are out in force over the planned removal of a confederate statue. Watch this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Help, help.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Keep it going.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SANCHEZ: This ugly scene unfolded just moments ago. From what we understand, clergy members have just arrived at Emancipation Park -- that's the site of that protest today, leading groups in prayer. Meantime, militiamen armed with guns also began arriving a short while ago and you see the result.
Police are expecting thousands of people to show up for this demonstration today. The actual event was supposed to start an hour from now, but obviously the tensions in the crowd boiled over.
All of this following violent clashes breaking out at a white nationalist march last night at the University of Virginia.
CNN's Kaylee Hartung is nearby. Kaylee -- what are you seeing right now?
KAYLEE HARTUNG, CNN REPORTER: Yes, Boris -- the scene is escalating. We're here in Emancipation Park formerly known as Lee Park right in the middle of downtown Charlottesville.
Now two have been injured as you mentioned, but that did not happen in that altercation that was so vivid that you just saw. That happened a bit before that.
But the altercation is the first real show of violence that we've seen on any large scale; that was just the largest group of protesters at this point approached the park, clashed with another faction and that fight broke out.
Law enforcement did actually had to break it up. Pepper spray was used by one group against another and then both groups separated and each went their respective ways.
Tensions really escalating as you get closer to the noon hour. That's the time that this rally is scheduled to begin. But that large group you just saw, that was a big part of that fight breaking out, (inaudible) organizer of this "Unite the Right" rally. The Charlottesville locals really allowed this activism to catch the eye of white nationalists, supremacists across the country.
This debate that they're having here in Charlottesville, Virginia about the decision by the city council to remove the statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee from this park.
It's not a debate unique to Charlottesville. We've seen these debates all over the country. What's unique about what we're seeing in Charlottesville today is the sheer number of people who are turning out and the different extremist groups who are gathering here today and coordinating their effort.
Police say we could see anywhere from 2,000 to 6,000 people congregating in Charlottesville today. We're just in one park, the park that's at the center of the controversy where General Lee's statue currently stands.
But throughout the city of Charlottesville we've heard other gatherings, protesters, counter-protesters. And of course, you can't escape the images that were coming out of Charlottesville last night. A torch-lit rally led by the alt-right through the center of the University of Virginia campus.
We're early in this day, Boris, and already tensions here in Charlottesville are high.
SANCHEZ: Got that Kaylee.
From what we understand, we've just confirmed that police are trying to hold the line. Now this video is just from a few moments ago. We understand that pepper spray is now being used to try to control this crowd.
Kaylee -- if you could, we're seeing several protesters that appear to have shields and helmets and what appear to be batons or poles. What do we know about these people? It looks like they're, they're holding signs that have a white background and a black x on them. What do we know about them?
[11:04:59]HARTUNG: I can't specifically speak to what unified this group but I do know this was the group that Jason Kessler, the organizer of this event was seen marching in with. He said that there would be quite a show of force though he's tried to say that he encourages peaceful protests today by anyone that he's associated with.
But this group you're seeing and that you're speaking to most definitely a member of the alt-right community. You know, what's unique about today, as I mentioned is that you're seeing so many different extremist groups coming together and unifying on either side of the argument.
This group that you're speaking, the largest we've seen arrive in numbers. And it doesn't look like they're going anywhere any time soon. This rally expected to last until 5:00 p.m.
SANCHEZ: Kaylee -- we want to stay with you, we're watching some of these protesters try to get liquid in their eyes. It appears that they were hit with pepper spray.
From what we understand, this is more than a thousand law enforcement officers and first responders that are deployed there. It's supposed to be the largest deployment by Virginia state police in 30 years.
What have you heard about what law enforcement has done to prepare for this? And what are they doing now?
HARTUNG: Well that pepper spray that you mentioned -- from what I observed the pepper spray was not dispersed by police. The pepper spray was disbursed by men in the streets as they fought one another. There were chemical agents dispersed last night during that torch-lit rally by law enforcement which led to that gathering breaking up rather quickly. But the 1,000 law enforcement and responders that you spoke to, this is the third demonstration of this kind that Charlottesville has seen this summer.
The mayor and other city officials, made a point of saying they've learned from the experiences of this summer, other gatherings and being very well aware of things with research and (inaudible) this group's interest in participating in today. They recognize that today was going to be different. They recognize that they were going to meet a different set of challenges because of the sheer number of people.
So today you're seeing a coordination of state and local officials as mentioned. This is the largest deployment of Virginia state police in one place in the commonwealth in 30 years -- that's a very strong show of support from the state of Virginia.
And also Governor Terry McAuliffe has said he's got the National Guard on standby if they should need to be deployed here in Charlottesville.
The Mayor Mike signer of Charlottesville, who's also a faculty member at the University of Virginia, has said he feels that his city has the resources they need to protect the people going about their everyday lives in Charlottesville. But, of course, will do their best to keep the peace among all of these visitors to Charlottesville, many of whom as you can imagine are coming here from outside of Charlottesville to take place in an effort to have their voice be heard.
SANCHEZ: Yes Kaylee -- the Southern Poverty Law Center called this the largest hate gathering of its kind in decades in the United States.
We're going to stay on top of the story, monitoring these live pictures and we will return to Kaylee as soon as we can.
Please stay with us. We're going to stay on top of this and all the latest breaking news when we come back.
[11:08:27] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
SANCHEZ: We're continuing to watch breaking news out of Charlottesville, Virginia where chaos has ensued. A white supremacist protest has turned violent. They're holding a rally against the planned removal of a statue of Robert E. Lee in the city and just about 20 minutes ago, things took a violent turn with protesters on both sides just going at it.
We have a reporter on the ground. We're going to continue to keep an eye on this situation and update you with the latest as it becomes available.
But now we must turn to North Korea which is firing off a new threat this morning warning President Trump to act prudent or America will quote "meet its tragic doom". Meantime, China is urging President Trump to use restraint. This comes after Trump continued his tough talk on North Korea last night.
He did offer hope for a peaceful solution but then he also hinted at potentially dire consequences. Listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We think that lots of good things can happen and we could also have a bad solution. But we think lots of good things can happen.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What would be a bad solution -- sir?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes.
TRUMP: I think you know the answer to that.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: When you say bad solutions, are you talking about war? Is the U.S. going to go to war?
TRUMP: I think you know the answer to that?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SANCHEZ: The President spoke with Chinese President Xi Jinping last night to pressure him about trade warning Xi that a U.S. investigation into China's trade practices could begin as soon as Monday. Xi in return is pressuring Trump to tone down the threats on North Korea.
Japan is also hoping for a diplomatic solution. But now they are ready to respond with massive missile interceptors in place should North Korea make good on its threat to strike Guam. President Trump in a call with the governor of Guam is pledging his support and promising safety for that tiny U.S. territory.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: We are with you 1,000 percent, you are safe. We are with you 1,000 percent and I wanted to call you and say hello. How are you?
GOV. EDDIE BAZA CALVO, GUAM: Mr. President, as the governor of Guam representing the people of Guam, and as an American citizen I have never felt more safe or so confident with you at the helm.
[11:15:00] So with all the criticism going over there, from a guy that's being targeted, we need a president like you. So I'm just so thankful and I'm glad you're holding the helm -- sir.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SANCHEZ: We have a team of correspondents covering all these angles from around the world. We are in Hong Kong, Tokyo, Guam, and with the President in New Jersey.
But we start in Seoul, South Korea with CNN's Anna Coren who has the latest on this war of words -- Anna.
ANNA COREN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Boris. Look, we haven't heard from North Korea ever since Donald Trump tweeted his "locked and loaded" statement. However, in the last few hours we did hear from North Korea via state media on KCNA. And I want to read you some of that statement.
It said if the Trump administration does not want the American empire to meet its tragic doom, they need to be prudent in what they say and how they act.
It goes on to say that the U.S. has done all sorts of wrongs to the DPRK but now it finds itself in an ever-worsening dilemma. This is tragic comedy of its own making -- obviously a direct statement to Donald Trump and the inflammatory language that he has been using.
Certainly here in South Korea, Boris, people are alarmed by the rhetoric. And yes, they're used to what comes out of North Korea. They're not used to it coming out of the mouth of the U.S. president.
They are in disbelief thinking that he is in fact escalating tensions here on the Korean peninsula. And they are saying that it is not just irresponsible but very, very dangerous -- Boris.
SANCHEZ: Anna in Seoul, South Korea -- thank you.
Let's turn to China now as that country's President Xi Jinping called for restraint during a phone call with President Trump last night. The White House is continuing to pressure China to use its influence on North Korea to end its provocations. And Trump is now ramping up the pressure with threats to investigate China's trade policies.
For more, let's go to CNN's David McKenzie. He is in Hong Kong -- David?
DAVID MCKENZIE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, that's right -- Boris. This was a critical phone call between Chinese President Xi Jinping and Donald Trump on Friday. And essentially what the Chinese leader told the U.S. President is to calm things down after a week of increasingly bellicose rhetoric saying that relevant parties should exercise restraint, that there shouldn't be an escalation of tension and calling for dialogue and a political settlement.
Well, this has been, Boris, certainly what China is saying for many months now. That the only solution they say is really for the sides to somehow sit down and talk. They say the rhetoric is just increasing the tension in the region.
And they also pointed out common ground between the U.S. and China, which is of course, that North Korea doesn't get any kind of fusible nuclear weapons. And that's certainly something that China wants to see as well as the U.S. -- Boris.
SANCHEZ: Our David McKenzie in Hong Kong -- thank you.
Now as China urges restraint from all parties, President Trump shows no signs of toning down his rhetoric on North Korea.
We go now to CNN politics reporter Dan Merica. He is in Bridgewater, New Jersey where the President is on a working vacation.
Dan -- what is the President saying about his call with Xi Jinping and this situation in North Korea?
DAN MERICA, CNN POLITICS REPORTER: Well, the President's working vacation here in Bedminster, New Jersey has been dominated by this North Korea tensions.
And the President is saying basically I'm standing by what I've said in the past. At first, he promised fire and fury. He then said that wasn't strong enough. And just yesterday in a free-wheeling conversation with reporters, he even went further and threatened Kim Jong-Un even more.
Take a listen to what he said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: I think it's pretty obvious. We're looking at that very carefully. And I hope that they are going to fully understand the gravity of what I said, and what I said is what I mean.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MERICA: so China's Xi Jinping and President Donald Trump spoke yesterday and the Chinese president asked for calm and to calm tensions. It remains to be seen whether President Trump will hear that call because right now, you know, he has not weighed in this morning on Twitter or elsewhere about the North Korea situation.
We will continue to watch and see if that tone and his rhetoric that he's carried out for the last week continues here in New Jersey.
SANCHEZ: Dan Merica from Bridgewater, New Jersey not far from where the President is vacationing. At least he has his hands full during this vacation.
President Trump warns that there will be quote, "big trouble" if North Korea continues to threaten Guam and that the U.S. will come to that island's defense.
Guam has thousands of residents and two big U.S. military bases, including Andersen Air Force base. It is a key point in the Pacific for the United States. So how are people on the island handling the threat?
CNN's Martin Savidge is in the capital of Tumon. Martin -- the threats from North Korea aren't exactly new. So how are people there taking this?
[11:20:01] MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: This one is being taken with a dose of a great deal more reality than say previous ones in 2013 -- the most recent example of that primarily because we've seen a very aggressive testing of the North Korean missile system.
And then on top of that we have a new president who is not afraid to speak out and in this case he's being quite adamant in making his own responses to the North Korean threats. So those two factors have the population of this small island, greatly concerned.
In fact, it's just after we're already into Sunday here, early. And in the churches all across this island, they are going and asking for prayers for peace. There will also be a rally for peace that will take place later today.
So while that happens, there is not just the concern of military action, there's the concern on the economic impact. Tourism is huge here -- 60 percent of the economy.
If you listen to further conversations between the governor of the island and the President -- they talk about it. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: I think I have to tell you, you've become extremely famous all over the world. They're talking about Guam and they're talking about you and I think tourism, I can say this, your tourism, you're going to go up like ten-fold. (inaudible) So I congratulate you.
It looks beautiful. You know, I'm watching, we're showing so much -- it's so, it just looks like a beautiful place.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SAVIDGE: Of course, it's no laughing matter. I think that what you're hearing the governor is sort of relaxing to hearing that the U.S. is backing them economically, as well as militarily. They need tourism here. They're afraid that tourists will stay away. It hasn't happened yet. But as long as this goes on, it could. And that would be devastating here.
SANCHEZ: A brief moment of relief during a very tense time for that island. Martin Savidge reporting from Guam -- thank you.
The growing tension has rattled other American allies in the region including Japan, which is located between North Korea and Guam. Japan is now moving its missile interceptors to strategic bases.
And earlier today the Japanese self-defense forces confirm that interceptors have arrived at three different Japanese bases.
Let's bring in CNN's Kyung Lah from Tokyo. Kyung -- tell us about these missile interceptors.
KYUNG LAH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well Boris -- they are ground-based, PAC-3 missile interceptors. They stay on the ground, the missiles point to the sky. If anything is coming toward Japan, the missiles fire hoping to intercept it.
The confidence is strong here at least with the Japan military that they will be able to protect the homeland here. That's why they put it there. This is also a sign of force and reassurance hoping to help calm the nerves of people who are in this area.
And the reason why they've been situated there, is because these are the areas that North Korea said they would be able to fly over with a missile that would target Guam.
So part of this is reassurance. Part of this is a military action to try to help protect the homeland. So far, the philosophy here in beefing up defenses has been yes, this is a war of words. This is about heated rhetoric.
But Japan needs to move to try to protect its people just in case. Because they believe that this could spiral out of control very quickly -- Boris.
SANCHEZ: That is certainly the fear all across the world.
Kyung Lah reporting from Tokyo -- thank you.
The U.S. has had many stand-offs with North Korea before. The difference this time, of course, is President Trump's aggressive push for action.
Let's bring in Balbina Hwang, the former senior adviser to Ambassador Christopher Hill. Balbina -- thank you so much for joining us.
BALBINA HWANG, FORMER SENIOR ADVISER TO AMBASSADOR CHRISTOPHER HILL: My pleasure.
SANCHEZ: First and foremost, how real is this threat? Is this just rhetoric or are we really on the brink of war?
HWANG: Well, we have to remember that technically, we have always been in a state of war with North Korea since the armistice temporarily halted the wide-scale war in 1953.
So when you ask about which threats will lead to war, let's be very clear and I think what is lost in all of this recent rhetoric is that President Trump has been very consistent in pointing out that this is essentially a matter of deterrence.
He has not stated that he's going to strike preemptively; what he has said is if North Korea takes action. So the point here is that we have to remember exactly why we are in this tense situation.
It is because of North Korea's steady provocations and North Korea's pursuit of nuclear and missile programs for the last 20, 25 years.
SANCHEZ: Well, as you said for decades, the U.S. has effectively punted on dismantling the North Korean nuclear program. There have been several efforts to slow it down with diplomacy and sanctions.
I want to you listen to what the President said about that.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: We think that lots of good things could happen. And we could also have a bad solution. But we think lots of good things can happen.
[11:25:01] UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What would be a bad situation -- sir?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes.
TRUMP: I think you know the answer to that.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Tell us more, Mr. President, please -- when you say bad solutions -- are you talking about war? Is the U.S. going to go to war?
TRUMP: I think you know the answer to that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SANCHEZ: So do you think this more aggressive tone from the White House is more effective than what we've seen before in strategic patience?
HWANG: Well, you know, aggressive -- I mean I think what we have is an unusual president who likes to use very blunt language. That is certainly unusual. I don't necessarily think this is that much more aggressive. Again, he's not saying that we're going to go to war and he's going to strike first.
This is -- I mean remember, President W. Bush was actually quite strong and many people back in the early 2000 were rather afraid that President Bush was extremely aggressive. President Bush also pursued very steady negotiations.
And President Trump -- the official White House North Korea policy is to pursue maximum pressure, but also engagement. And I think his statements yesterday again point out that possibility. These military actions will take place if North Korea acts first by shooting missiles, which by the way are considered illegal by international standards and existing U.N. sanctions.
SANCHEZ: I have to ask you this, because for months the President has tried to put pressure on China to do something about North Korea. And he's voiced frustration at their reluctance to do so.
But ultimately doesn't having North Korea as a proxy to destabilize American interests in the country ultimately benefit Beijing? In other words what does China gain from trying to tamp down this thing that's destabilizing American interests in that part of the world?
HWANG: Well, I think you're exactly correct. But remember, President Trump is not the only president frustrated with China even going back to President Clinton. So every consecutive U.S. president has been very frustrated by China's unwillingness, lack of willingness, or we should also consider that frankly, maybe China is not quite able to make Kim Jong-Un do exactly what we want him to do.
But the point is that for China, instability on the Korean peninsula is the last thing that China wants. On the other hand, you are correct that I think resolving this problem permanently and essentially would be in the favor of the world. The United States, South Korea, Japan and the rest of the free and Democratic world. That does not necessarily serve China's interests.
SANCHEZ: And it's interesting the point you make about them being unable to fully have Kim Jong-Un comply. They are basically, correct me if I'm wrong, 90 percent of North Korea's economy, aren't they?
HWANG: Well, we think that China has as much as up to 90 percent of North Korea's external trade. But again, China is not the only country that trades with North Korea. North Korea is involved in quite a lot of unofficial or illicit trade and economic relations with other countries.
And I think that's the point. I think Pyongyang wants to reduce its dependence on China. And Kim Jong-Un has specifically pursued policies that show that it resents China's influence and control.
SANCHEZ: Balbina -- I have another 40 questions to ask you, but we are out of time. We thank you so much for sharing your perspective with us this Saturday.
We now have to turn to this violent event at a White Supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia. Thousands are expected there today to protest the planned removal of a confederate statue and things got ugly.
We'll take you there in just a moment. Stay with us.
[11:28:47] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
[11:33:13] BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN ANCHOR: We're following breaking news in Charlottesville, Virginia, where protests are turning violent. Several people have been injured during an altercation with protesters at Emancipation Park there. White supremacist groups have been planning a rally there to start at noon.
It was over the planned removal of a confederate statue and things went completely out of hand. All of this following violent clashes at a white nationalist march last night at the University of Virginia.
It looked to be complete chaos and a few moments ago we learned that Charlottesville police declared a local emergency for the area near the protests. That allows them to request additional resources.
We understand that pepper spray was disbursed in the area. It's unclear if it came from police or some of the protesters themselves, which we should point out appear to be very well organized with shields, batons and helmets.
We want to bring in CNN's Kaylee Hartung, she's on the phone with us and watched it all unfold. Kaylee, describe the scene now. It looks much more calm.
KAYLEE HARTUNG, CNN CORRESPONDENT (via telephone): Yes, it has calmed down just a touch, but it was moments ago that our crew moved to a safer location, Boris, after smoke bombs were thrown from one side to the other.
And then you could smell the scent of what my security team tells me is homemade pepper spray in the air. We've seen water bottles being thrown back and forth. Some say they have cement in some of the water bottles.
I have not been able to confirm that with my own eyes, but law enforcement is allowing for the most part demonstrations to take place without inserting themselves until necessary.
Now we have seen those moments where it's been necessary in just the past couple of minutes, but tensions continue to be high. You can hear the beating of drums. Shouting from both sides.
[11:35:07] Now these two different factions with keeping their distance from one another which is why you see water bottles being thrown and smoke bombs being thrown. There was the physical altercation that we all saw around 11:00 a.m., but since that physical altercation, we haven't seen the two sides come fist to fist -- Boris.
SANCHEZ: Kaylee, we want to set the scene for viewers, we know that there was this alt-right demonstration planned today over the removal of a confederate statue. If you could, give us an idea of why this is happening in Charlottesville.
HARTUNG: So there is a discussion going on in cities around the country, Boris, of what place do confederate monuments have in states. There's a lot of rich history in Charlottesville, but also it has tones of racism. There's a statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee over what was for a long time known as Lee Park. A month ago, it was renamed by a vote of the city council to Emancipation Park.
And that's where the heart of the controversy lies and that's where the largest protest in Charlottesville is happening before our eyes. So, while this discussion and debate is not unique to Charlottesville, this has become a hotbed of discussion here in particular for several reasons.
Now what makes today different for two other rallies that the city of Charlottesville has seen that this summer is the sheer number of demonstrators expected today. Police are saying anywhere from 2,000 to 6,000 people could turn out.
We haven't (inaudible) any crowd size estimates yet today, but also the number of different white nationalists and white supremacist groups who are gathering today and in previous demonstrations, you would see far more counter protesters.
Last month, there were about 50 Ku Klux Klan members from North Carolina who came to Charlottesville, but they were outnumbered by a thousand counter-protestors. Today, the numbers seem to my eyes, a bit more even.
Right now, we've seen many of the alt-right side of this inside the park, as many of the counter-protesters surrounding them on the outside. Law enforcement doing all that they can to keep them separate and keep order in any way that they can with barricades and whatnot.
But as many people have explained to me since I've been here in Charlottesville, Boris, on both sides of this issues, this is about so much more than a hunk of stone. It's about more than the statue in the middle of a park. It's about all that is symbolizes and the emotions it evokes for people on both sides.
SANCHEZ: All right. That was Kaylee Hartung reporting from Charlottesville, Virginia, we'll stay with her and continue to check in on the situation there.
We want to bring in David Swerdlick, a CNN political commentator and assistant editor at the "Washington Post," and Salena Zito, a CNN contributor and a columnist for "The New York Post."
David to you first, what's your response to seeing something like this? This seems like a microcosm, one minor example of the tension and divide that we are facing in this country right now.
DAVID SWERDLICK, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yes. So, Boris, what I see from some of that footage you played earlier in the hour, people throwing punches and swinging at each other is a failure to understand the Democratic process, right?
You have a situation where you have heated opinions on both sides. But you have a duly elected city council making a decision to remove the Robert E. Lee statue and I think some other monuments and the so- called alt-right or white nationalist protesters that have showed up obviously have a right to come and protest that decision.
As well as the counter-protesters, having a right to protest the protest. That is our First Amendment right. The question is whether or not each side has a right to charge into the other, with shields or throwing fists or projectiles, and the answer is no.
None of this situation rises to the level of what either side is entitled to violence. You showed some of those -- the footage earlier of some of the so-called alt-righters carrying their long guns, if they have the right permits, that's allowed in Virginia.
There is a Second Amendment right to that, but what it says to me, whether or not they have a right to do it, is that they're looking to ratchet up the confrontation rather than to sort of peacefully express their views.
And now you have a situation where the city of Charlottesville has a public safety situation on its hands that looks like they're really struggling to contain.
SANCHEZ: And Salena, I don't want to you speak for anyone, but you've really had some unique insight into Trump's base, and to Trump supporters, from what we know, a lot of his support comes from the alt-right. How do you think the average Trump supporter feels right now watching this unfold?
SALENA ZITO, CNN COMMENTATOR: The average Trump supporter watching this is appalled by this. You know, it's really interesting that you said that because during the election, I never even heard of word alt- right until we started seeing it show up.
[11:40:08] And certainly, you know, voters that I spoke to, they weren't aware of this sort of fringe part of the base. If it is even part of the base, I don't know if these people showed up to vote, I don't know, whatever.
What I think and I really agree with David. Like this is a really important conversation that we have to have as a country in terms of debating where the placement of confederate statues belongs and memorials to them.
I mean, do we erase history? Do we discuss it? I think it's, it's like a very important thing for us to address. There's confederate statues all over the country, here in Pennsylvania, there's an entire ridge lined with them in Gettysburg.
And so, you know, it brings -- you know, it's an important thing for us to discuss. It turns into this is just a tragedy. Because it makes, we don't discuss history, we then end up discussing these idiots who are -- protesting something that is, is beyond the discussion of the statue, and the history and how we sort of negotiate that going forward.
SANCHEZ: Now, David, Salena brought up an interesting point, obviously, we don't know what effect the alt-right had on Trump's election, vote by vote. But there were several figures from that fringe, David Duke, Richard Spencer, that vocalized support for the president.
Should we hear more from the White House, pushing back on their support, and saying essentially that if this is what you believe, you should not vote for me, breaking off any affiliation to these groups at all.
SWERDLICK: Sure, Boris. Now two points, one, I think Salena and I are mostly on the same page, as far as the underlying issues at stake here in Charlottesville. I will say that I think the so-called alt- right.
And for reasons that I won't go into, I think that's a weird and probably a misnomer of who these sort of either online organizations or white nationalists sympathizing sort of collections of folks are.
That being said, the alt-right as it is, is sort of part of the Trump coalition. I think it's unfair to say that that's the majority or the bulk or even the you know, the heart of the Trump coalition.
I think Trump has a lot of voters who don't look at this favorably, but they are part of the Trump coalition, I think. That's accepted. And so, going forward, yes, President Trump, it is incumbent upon him as president of the United States, certainly to speak out and condemn people protesting violently as opposed to protesting peacefully.
And yes, he could have during the campaign. Change the tone then as well as now. If he had in a more full-throated way sort of distanced himself from David Duke, for instance, when David Duke said that he was offering some support to president Trump.
President Trump could have been more clear, but much more clear about saying that he didn't want there to be violence at his rallies when he in fact did egg on some, some violent incidents at some of his rallies.
The fact that he hasn't spoken out today, obviously he has the North Korean situation on his plate, Boris. But it would behoove him when you see these pictures, to offer a statement that shows the nation that look, he wants to move people forward.
Not sort of have them mired down in this us versus them thing. That he, it has to be said, he's not responsible for people throwing punches, but that he has stoked over the course of his campaign.
SANCHEZ: Before I go to you, Salena. I want to point out things again are getting very heated on the streets of Charlottesville, Virginia. It looks like punches were thrown. I see at least one person bleeding right now. It looked like several objects were being thrown, even a newspaper stand.
Now we've seen two people bleeding. We already know that several people have been injure and the local police have declared an emergency nearby. It's not clear, though, that they are prepared to move these protesters out of that area.
Salena, back to you, tailing off of what David said, do you think the president needs to do more to tone down the divisions in this country?
ZITO: Yes, I mean, I think that's a responsibility of all presidents. I mean, all presidents could spend a day in forever disavowing every fringe group that supports them. Having said that, I thought it was important that President Obama joined the unrest that we had in 2015 and 2016.
That he addressed you know, when the arrests -- when the unrest became violent or destructive to communities. I thought it was important that he said something at the time to sort of calm things down and try to bring the country together.
[11:45:09] I believe that President Trump has the same responsibility. And as we see today unfold, if that, it appears that it's you know becoming just as bad, that needs to be addressed because presidents are supposed to unite.
Campaigns, that's -- you kind of get into the divisional thing. To try to shore up your base. Once you are president, you are president of all of the country and it is incumbent on you to try to calm things down and bring people together.
SANCHEZ: David, I just want to point out to you, there are several people in the crowd and I'm not sure if they're part of the same group or different groups, but they appear to be very, very well coordinated. They have shields, you can see them in the top left of your screen.
They have shields with emblems on them. They have what appear to be tactical vests or defensive vests. Helmets, batons, how do you receive that? I mean, it's frightening, isn't it, that such a well- coordinated effort is out there?
SWERDLICK: Yes. It suggests to me again, Boris, as you say, that folks have come to these protests with the idea that they are going to sort of ratchet up the level of confrontation that they are expecting it not to be peaceful.
That's an unfortunate sort of turn in the way that many protests we now see are taking place. You know, the idea that people would have police-style shields, who are not police, the idea that people would bring long guns, the idea that people would have, as has been reported, I don't know this for a fact yet.
But perhaps you know, water bottles filled with cement or people are wearing helmets or did you is show footage of some protesters swinging clubs, suggests to me that we've moved beyond people expressing their first-amendment right to publicly demonstrate.
Expressing their first amendment right to disagree with the lawful decision of the Charlottesville City Council into a point where they're sort of seeking this us versus them confrontation. It's unfortunate and that is something that they don't have the right to do.
SANCHEZ: I do want to point out, we did see protesters with what appeared to be pepper spray, spraying it in the face of some of the counter-protesters. I just want to ask our producers, we have Kaylee Hartung on the line still because it looks like police are mobilizing right now. Is she there?
HARTUNG (via telephone): Boris, I'm here.
SANCHEZ: Yes. What is going on? We see a very long line of police. They've got riot gear on and shields. It looks like they're moving.
HARTUNG: So the police you see in riot gear have just assembled moments ago in front of the barricades directly in front of the statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee, the center of this controversy that has brought everyone out here today.
You mentioned pepper spray. My security team here telling me that pepper spray, homemade, based on the scents that they could smell in the air after it was disbursed. We've seen both sides of this argument.
People well equipped and recover from it. We've seen flags, weapons, I see bats swung, clubs as well. Water bottles, flying through the air. I'm currently being held at a safe location from the middle of the madness.
I can't tell you exactly what is transpiring or what instructions are being given from the police along those front lines. But if you give me a couple of minutes I will do my best.
We've got, I see an officer now on a bullhorn directing folks. I cannot make out his instructions to the crowd, but we are seeing a lot of movement here.
SANCHEZ: Yes. It looks like there's several people moving away from the statue now. Kaylee, we're going to get back to you in a moment. Let us know what you're seeing.
Salena, I did want to ask you about the organization and what looks like coordination and preparation behind these groups. It is kind of unsettling to see such a coordinated force come out, looking like they were ready for a fight.
ZITO: Right. Either way, whether it's coordinated or -- sort of this emotional thing and people start you know, just reacting to what's happening in front of them, all of that is sort of very unsettling and the violence that unfolds from that.
You know, I've covered protests where things got out of control and it's hard to describe, but there is this human emotion that sort of, that takes common sense away from people.
And it can become very dangerous. I'm not surprised that there was a coordination. You see that in protests in the past I would say in the past decade as social media ha connected people in ways that they have never been connected before.
[11:50:11] And they can coordinate their movements. They can coordinate how they are going to behave. They can be coordinating it in real time. And that is sort of the new challenge that law enforcement face as well as people who come to protest either to be part of it or to counter punch against it.
SANCHEZ: All right. I want to turn now to Harry Houck. He is on the phone with us. He is on the phone with us. He is a CNN law enforcement analyst, a retired New York City Police Department detective.
Harry, when you are looking at the police response here, what do you think, does it appear that they were prepared for this kind of chaos?
HARRY HOUCK, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST (via telephone): You know, I've been watching this for quite a while now and it seems to me that when you have demonstrations like this and people garnishing things that can be used as weapons, they need to be taken away from them immediately.
You can see all types of weapons being used, all the kinds of shields being used, people wearing helmets. People that have those types of weapons to defend themselves are here for one thing and one thing only, for violence.
All right, when this thing first started, the police should have been right on top of it, all right, and it's taking all these weapons away from people. I'm sitting here look at people with poles, baseball bats. You know, this should not be allowed at any type of demonstration at all.
We're seeing this too much and the fact here is also we've seen in the past a lot of violence and police didn't protect people like what we saw over in California. So now people on the right probably think listen, we need to be able to protect our own people, so now they bring weapons.
So, you get violence begetting violence here. And the police see demonstrations like this, and they know something like this will occur and you see buses rolling up with people with weapons.
That bus should be surrounded. The police should say you can come out and you can demonstrate if you want, but nothing that can be utilized as a weapon will be off this bus. And we see people coming down the side streets. Getting ready to assemble.
They should be stopped. They should be checked for weapon. They have to take their masks and helmets off. That should not be allowed because, you know, when somebody people wears a mask, they feel more empowered to commit violence because it's harder to identify somebody.
So, they can just commit violence and run off and police can't catch them. Now we see the police getting ready to move in on the crowd. We'll probably have a lot of violence here. This should have been slowed down and stopped in the beginning. Fights were going on between both sides and I didn't see any police intervening at all. So supposedly they were prepared for this, but it doesn't seem that they were that well prepared.
SANCHEZ: All right. Harry, thank you for that. I want to go back to Kaylee Hartung, who is on the ground right now. It looks like people are dispersing. Kaylee, what are you seeing?
HARTUNG: Well, Boris are now announcing that this has been declared an unlawful assembly. They are asking people to leave immediately or they will be arrested. My question now is where do all of these people go.
Charlottesville is a town of about 10 square miles I believe. Everyone is on foot right in the middle of downtown and they are for the most part following orders of the police to disperse, but they have to go somewhere.
SANCHEZ: Yes. Kaylee, we talked about the number of police officers that were going to be out there, it was something like a thousand law enforcement officers and first responders. Supposed to be the largest deployment by Virginia State Police in decades. But did you see a police response when the fighting was breaking out?
HARTUNG: I saw the same thing that you guys were talking about, very little police intervention into the middle of the scuffle and the violence that we saw between protesters.
But to your point of coordination of today's activities when I spoke to Jason Kezler (ph), the organizer of the "United The Right" rally from the alt-right side of this, he told me plans had been underway for two months.
Boris, I'm sorry, we have a lot of movement right here, people are running quickly. But coordination for this event, I know from the alt-right side has been under way for two months in the lead up to this day.
SANCHEZ: Kaylee, I just very quickly want to turn to CNN senior media correspondent, Brian Stelter. Brian, you've been watching this.
[11:55:02] We've seen some responses already on social media after the white nationalist march with apparently Tiki torches last night. The mayor of the town responded on Twitter. What are people saying?
BRIAN STELTER, CNN SENIOR MEDIA CORRESPONDENT (via telephone): That's right. And Kaylee makes a great point that this is a stage of sorts of these protesters. It was set up a long time in advance and authorities knew this was going to happen.
It started Friday night with this rally on the campus of UVA. These pictures of mostly young people holding these Tiki torches. Some of them are openly white nationalists, others perhaps wouldn't identify that way. But given the alt-right element of this, these extreme right-wing protestors over there. It is worth-noting, we've heard from the chairwoman of the RNC in the past 2 minutes, (inaudible) McDaniel, tweeting that the hate and bigotry on display in Charlottesville is dangerous and cowardly.
Free speech gives them the right to do this, but also empowers us to unite to speak out against it. So, I know some folks have been talking about whether the president should or will weigh in.
So, I think it is notable that the Republican National Committee is weighing in along with the Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe, a Democratic governor saying the actions are unacceptable and must stop.
Our right to speech is no right to violence. And we've seen these images before in other cities, most memorably Berkeley, California, New York and other places. You get extreme far right-wing protesters who are emboldened by what they read on the internet. They are radicalized (inaudible) --
SANCHEZ: I think Harry was trying to say something --
STELTER: There are a wide variety of counter protesters, as well, and I think these events become --
HOUCK: All I keep hearing is alt-right. There is a battle going on between two different groups because what has been going on in this country.
SANCHEZ: Brian, your response?
STELTER: Right rally, originally unite the right, extreme right-wing protesters that were out there with Tiki torches last night. But I agree with you, Harry, what we saw in Berkeley for example earlier this year, an example of leftists who were out there with anti- fascists.
And these events they become a stage partly thanks to the television cameras. You get these protesters and counter protestors not just using the words, but resorting to physical action.
SANCHEZ: Brian, I have to cut you off there. Brian, Kaylee, Harry, David, and Salena, thank you so much for joining us. Please stay with us. Our coverage of this ugly situation in Charlottesville, Virginia continues after a quick break. Stay with us.
SANCHEZ: Thank you so much for joining me. I'm Boris Sanchez in for Fredricka Whitfield, who has the weekend off.
We start with this breaking news out of Charlottesville, Virginia, where clashes have erupted between white supremacists and protestors over the proposed removal of a confederate statue.
We've seen several people injured.