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Trump Tweets about Charlottesville Clashes; Melania Trump Responds to Clashes in Charlottesville; Governor Declares State of Emergency Amid Violent White Nationalist Protests. Aired 1-2p ET
Aired August 12, 2017 - 13:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[13:00:06] ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.
BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN ANCHOR: It is just about 1:00 p.m. on the east coast. Thank you so much for joining me. I'm Boris Sanchez. Fredricka Whitfield is off today.
Let's get right to our breaking news out of Charlottesville where the governor has declared a state of emergency after white supremacists clashed with counter protesters during a white nationalist rally. The demonstration was planned after the college town decide to remove statues honoring its Confederate past. Today's rally started a few hours ago and things quickly turned ugly.
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SANCHEZ: Virginia state police have made several arrests already, moving to break things up after the city declared the gathering an unlawful assembly. Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe has declared a state of emergency in that area. And today's comes after a night of violence on Friday as hundreds of white supremacists marched to the University of Virginia campus carrying Tiki torches and shouting slogans like "white lives matter" and "Jews will not replace us." Police came in to break things up after fights started between demonstrators and counter protesters
I want to get to Kaylee Hartung. She's joining us from Charlottesville. She was there for the whole thing.
Kaylee, what is happening where you are now?
KAYLEE HARTUNG, CNN CORRESPONDET: Well, Boris, police, with the support of the national guard, have cleared Emancipation Park, formerly known as Lee Park, where Confederate General Robert E. Lee's statue stands, the center of the controversy here. The police have pushed protesters down either end of Market Street. We're hearing of them gathering in other places throughout this town. But that decision to their a state of emergency by the governor and to
declare this gathering an unlawful assembly came after the violence we saw. Protesters on both sides spraying each other with pepper spray. There were smoke bombs, water bottles being thrown, flags with the poles being used as weapons. Really, at times, incredibly tense and violent demonstration today, Boris.
This comes on the heels of a debate that is happening across the country, what place do Confederate monuments have in today's world. But Charlottesville has become a hot bed for this discussion.
This is the third demonstration of its kind that Charlottesville has seen this summer as the city council has voted to remove that statue of General Lee. But this one is different because of the violence, because of the sheer numbers of people that turned out today on both sides. Now, in previous rallies, you would see counter protesters outnumbering protesters. That didn't seem to be the case today. Thousands on hand here. And still marching through the streets of Virginia carrying their respective messages.
And, Boris, as the governor, Terry McAuliffe, declared a state of emergency, he tweeted, "The acts and rhetoric in Charlottesville over the past 24 hours are unacceptable and must stop."
We've learned that all scheduled events on the University of Virginia campus have been canceled. As well as police trying to keep the peace on a very tense day in Charlottesville.
SANCHEZ: All right, Kaylee. Thank you.
In a bit of an odd twist, the first lady is responding to the violence in Charlottesville. Odd because she isn't exactly an elected official. And she's the first voice that we've heard responding to this chaos from the White House. She sent out a tweet moments ago.
CNN's Athena Jones is in Bedminster where the president is on a working vacation.
Athena, the first lady, typically, she doesn't get involved in politics, but she is the first voice commenting on these events in Virginia. What does she have to say?
[13:39:28] ATHENA JONES, CNN WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Boris. Well, this is what First Lady Melania Trump tweeted. She said, "Our country encourages freedom of speech, but let's communicate without hate in our hearts. No good comes from violence, #Charlottesville."
But, Boris, as you mentioned, I think we cannot stress enough how unusual it is to have the first lady be the first White House official to comment publicly on this.
We have seen violence not just this morning, but also last night, and yet we have not heard from the president himself. We have not heard from the vice president. And we also haven't heard from Attorney General Jeff Sessions. Those are just some of the high-level officials you would expect to heard respond to this sort of violence. Traditionally, you have seen a president weigh in to try to calm tensions, to be, you could say, a consoler in chief. We've seen President Trump be campaigner in chief holding various rallies. We've seen him take seriously the roll of commander-in-chief, speaking out several times this past week about the tensions of North Korea and what is going on in Venezuela. We have yet to see him play the role of consoler in chief. I and several of my colleagues have, of course, reached out to multiple White House officials looking for a response on this.
We do expect to see the president at 3:00 p.m. when he signs a bill at his Bedminster golf club. We expect the journalists there covering that event to be able to ask him questions about this. And so we could still hear some response. But, this, remember, this is a president who tweets often and watches a lot of cable television. These scenes, these violent demonstrations, these skirmishes have been on TV for the last several hours and we have yet to see him comment on Twitter, and this is very unusual -- Boris?
SANCHEZ: But, Athena, we have heard from some other lawmakers. What did they tweet out?
JONES: We've heard from multiple other officials, including House Speaker Paul Ryan, who tweeted, "The views fueling the spectacle in Charlottesville are repugnant. Let it only serve to unite Americans against this kind of vile bigotry." So in a similar tone to what we heard from the first ladies.
We also heard from the chairwoman of the Republican National Committee, Ronna Romney McDaniel, putting out a couple of tweets some time ago talking about how "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 loudly speak against it."
We'd like to hear, many people would like for hear the president loudly speaking against it. That is what we're awaiting.
We know that during the campaign, Candidate Trump got a lot of support from the Alt-Right, from Alt-Right leaders. He was endorsed by David Duke, a former Ku Klux Klan member. And we heard him disavow these groups in an interview, soon after being elected, with "The "New York Times" saying he doesn't want to energize this sort of activity. We still though have yet to hear him speak today and that is what we are eagerly awaiting -- Boris?
SANCHEZ: Athena, we will keep our eyes peeled for when we get a response from the president himself.
Athena, thank you so much.
We should tell you that the National Guard is on the scene in Charlottesville, Virginia.
We want to bring in Cedric Leighton, joining us now.
Sir, thank you so much for the time. What can the National Guard do to help calm the situation?
COL. CEDRIC LEIGHTON, CNN MILITARY ANALYST: You bet, Boris. One of the big things the National Guard can do is they can augment the police forces. We already know the Virginia state police are there, local sheriff's deputies, as well as Charlottesville police. And so what the National Guard does, it basically serves to emphasize the governor's intent to not only keep the peace, but enforce the peace. And what they do is they begin to switch roles from a military organization to a law enforcement agency along the lines of the state police. But their powers of arrest are limited in a case like this. So what they can really help with is keeping the crowds under control, doing things like providing logistical support to other agencies. And they can provide logistical support and medical support should law enforcement agencies and other personnel actually be injured in these protests.
SANCHEZ: Now, to be clear, sir, you're a military analyst for CNN, retired Air Force colonel. But when you look at what's happening there, what is your take on it as an American?
LEIGHTON: As an American, I'm saddened by these kinds of events because the military is an institution, of course, that I grew up in. It is an institution that really exemplifies the best traditions of Americans from all parts of the country. And one of the big successes of the military has been to integrate its forces. Events like this make it difficult to integrate national institutions like the military. They can often create a negative force that is very dangerous for the country and, of course, for our instruments of national power. And it becomes really important for us to, in essence, speak with one voice to condemn the violence and to also make sure that people understand that white supremacy has absolutely no place in the military or in any other organization. These kinds of acts can have a spillover effect, and military leaders, although they are not directly involved, have to be on their guard to prevent that from happening and poisoning the atmosphere in their units.
[13:10:09] SANCHEZ: Sir, you've seen protests and difficult situations all over the world. In a situation like this, where we saw some violence last night, we knew there would be some 6000 white supremacists and counter protesters there today, do you law enforcement should have done more to prepare for this or at least set up a barrier between the two groups?
LEIGHTON: Well, I think a barrier is always important. I've watched protests in places as far away as Libya and parts of Asia. I've seen how people actually create environments where there are some really difficult situations. And one of the key things that the law enforcement agencies have, which is similar to the military, is an intelligence apparatus. They can use that intelligence apparatus to anticipate things. Barriers between different protests groups are always important. Most law enforcement officials, I think, would agree with that. Part of it is also where you have the resources. And it becomes incumbent upon local and state officials to make sure that they have adequate resources to contain protests like this. Everybody has right to protest, but the key thing is that it has to be
peaceful and the property damage and damage to people, in terms of injuries and deaths, that that has to be prevented. And that is the primary job of law enforcement and now the National Guard in a situation like Charlottesville.
SANCHEZ: Colonel Cedric Leighton, we thank you again for your time, sir.
LEIGHTON: You bet, Boris, absolutely.
SANCHEZ: Our breaking news coverage of the clashes in Charlottesville, Virginia, will continue in a moment. Stay with us.
[13:15:36] SANCHEZ: We're following braking news and waiting to hear from the White House and the president over the ugly event that took place in Charlottesville, Virginia, today.
As we do that, let's bring in Cornell William Brooks. He's a CNN contributor and a former head of the NAACP.
Sir, thanks so much for joining us this Saturday.
It feels like history is repeating itself, seeing people fight like this on the street over race.
What was your response?
CORNELL WILLIAM BROOKS, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Horrifying. The fact that the polo-shirt-wearing preppy Ku Klux Klansmen and Neo-Nazis do not have a place in Charlottesville. They stand in the ugly legacy of their violent forbearers. And this is absolutely reprehensible.
And the fact of the matter is our president, president of the United States, must condemn the actions of these protesters. He has engaged in nuclear-trash talk with Pyongyang. He needs to condemn the nuclear mushroom cloud of hate hanging over Charlottesville. This is not a moment for moral silence. This is not a moment for him to hide behind other issues. He needs to speak up and speak out and man-up and call it out. Because the protesters in Charlottesville receive their basic training, their marching orders, so to speak, and certainly their inspiration from the Trump campaign rallies. This is the misbegotten fruit of what happened prior to the recent days. And the president needs to call it and call it what it is. It is bigotry, it's anti- Semitism, it's racist, and it has no place in American society, in civil society.
SANCHEZ: During the campaign, he did say that he disavowed David Duke and these groups. You don't think that is enough?
BROOKS: Absolutely not. When Steve Bannon is appointed as his adviser in a de facto office of legitimacy for the Alt-Right it's created in the White House, when the president has been slow to condemn anti-Semitism and bomb threats on Jewish community centers, when he's declined to condemn, thus far, the bombing of a mosque in Minnesota, when he has been slow to speak or has not spoken against hate crimes, it has provided de facto encouragement of these hate crimes and the hate speech and the rise in racial animus of the country. The president of the U.S. is not only commander-in-chief, he is the tone-setter in chief. And in moments of crisis, people expect him, citizens expect him to speak up and to speak out. And right now, thus far, we've not heard one word from our commander-in-chief.
SANCHEZ: What do you make of the fact that we first heard from the first lady instead of the president? And it seems that -- she's not an elected official, it doesn't seem like she would be the first voice that we should hear from the White House after something as vile as this takes place?
BROOKS: That is precisely it. While we appreciate the words from the first lady, the first lady was not elected commander-in-chief. The first lady was not elected president of these United States. So this is basically a rhetorical shell game where we had the first lady delivering a muted message as opposed to the president delivering a strong clear message against hate, anti-Semitism and racism in Charlottesville, Virginia. So we need him to speak up and speak out, even if it means fracturing and cracking his base.
SANCHEZ: Go ahead.
BROOKS: This whole Alt-Right or these Neo-Nazis, these Neo-Klansmen have no place in American society. Let me very clear about this. The violence that we're seen, the rise in hate crimes that we have seen, is an ugly harbinger of what is to come if we're not careful, if we do have a president and, let me note this, an attorney general who is willing to speak out on this.
The fact of the matter is this is a dangerous situation. Charlottesville is a wonderful community. It is -- the University of Virginia is an extra ordinary institution of higher learning. But both are being tarnished and stained by the bigotry in our midst.
[13:20:16] SANCHEZ: And, sir, very quickly, as these cities move to continue to disassemble these statues and symbols of the Confederacy, do you think this is going to be a continuing issue with these white nationalists, white supremacists fighting people in the street, at this point, emboldening them?
BROOKS: I'm not sure if the bringing down of Confederate statues and monuments is emboldening the so-called Alt-Right or the white supremacists, or rather is there is a larger phenomenon in American society that has been encouraged and inspired by the Trump campaign. The fact of the matter is this is not merely about the removal of a statue, this is about the emboldening of the most-ugly forces in our society in terms of bigotry, racism, anti-Semitism and xenophobia. So we can't blame the fact that we have people who want to bring down these monuments to a past, that should actually be past. That is to say the Confederacy. The Confederate forces lost. We need to get over that. SANCHEZ: Cornell William Brooks, we thank you for the time, sir.
I do want to point out, the president just tweeted about this. There it is on your screen. He writes, quote, "We all must be united and condemn what that hate stands for. There is no place for this kind of violence in America. Let's come together as one".
It is the first that we've heard from the White House after the events in Charlottesville.
Mr. Brooks, if you are still with us, if you are still with us, Mr. Brooks, I'd like to get your response to this tweet.
BROOKS: I'm heartened of a tweet by the president. That is certainly a commendable microscopically small first step. But the president needs to speak out with the same moral vigor and force that he's spoken about with Korea. He does not need to treat this as something that can be dispatched or dismissed with a tweet. And more to the point, the president has to model the kind of behavior that we need to see the streets of our cities and towns. That is to say, each and every time racism rears its ugly head in this society, he has to speak out and to act with both policy and words to confront it. So a tweet is fun for what it is, but it is only a tweet. Let us note, we have a president who is a prolific tweeter. He uses tweets quite often at all hour of the day and night. So let's be clear about this, having Neo-Nazis, Klansmen fighting in the streets of Charlottesville, terrorizing our citizens, must be met with moral force which is sufficient for the cause. And that means he has to speak out vigorously and consistently. Let's be clear about this, this is not a moment, a Twitter moment or a moment in a news cycle. But, rather, an ugly chapter in American history unfolding as we speak. And so the president can start with a tweet, but he needs to follow up with more words and more action and, most importantly, more policy. That means he has to model what we need to see on our streets and in our towns and cities, and certainly Charlottesville, Virginia.
SANCHEZ: Cornell William Brooks, we thank you again for the time and for helping us interpret this breaking news.
We want to go to Athena Jones, in New Jersey, where the president is having a working vacation.
Athena, we finally heard from the president.
JONES: Hi, Boris. That's right. Let's read again what the president just tweeted in the last five minutes. He said, "We must all be united and condemn what that hate stands for. There is no place for this kind of violence in America. Let's come together as one."
We finally heard from the president, after we heard some time ago from the first lady, Melania Trump. Rather unusual to hear the first lady speaking out, being the first high-level official, non-elected official to speak out in terms of a situation like this.
And we also heard, before the president's tweet, we heard from his assistant to the president on Homeland Security and counterterrorism, Thomas Bossert, also talking about the hate in Charlottesville are unacceptable. "Protests must not undermine law and order, confidence in state and local law enforcement."
[13:25:07] We could hear more from the President Trump a couple hours from now. We're expecting to see him at a bill signing at 3:00 at his Bedminster golf club.
But of course, this is something getting attention not just for several hours, when you also last night. We know the president is an avid viewer of cable news, and this has been covered widely on cable news, and that he tweets often about matters large and small. So there was a lot of concern and consternation about the fact that the president hasn't yet weighed in on the violence that we're seeing on the streets in Charlottesville.
Of course, we know presidents have traditionally had to play the role of consoler in chief after a national tragedy, after a mass shooting, and certainly, in the face of this sort of violent protests and these confrontations between white nationalists and the counter demonstrations. It's notable, given the fact that hit Trump did get a lot of support from the Alt-Right and from white supremacists and their leaders and white supremacists individuals during the campaign. After he was elected, he gave an interview to "The New York Times" as president-elect in November saying he disavowed those groups. But this is one of the additional reason that is there has been stop focus on the fact that we did not hear from the president for so long. But we now have heard from him via Twitter. And we'll be watching for see what more reaction we get from the White House, from the vice president, from the Attorney General Jeff Sessions, and any others -- Boris?
SANCHEZ: We will look forward to their responses as well.
Athena Jones, thank you so much, reporting from New Jersey.
Stay with us for special coverage of the violence in Charlottesville, Virginia. We will be right back.
[13:31:11] SANCHEZ: President Trump just weighed in on today's violence in Virginia, tweeting this, tweeting, "We all must be united and condemn all that hate stands for. There is no place for this kind of violence in America. Let's come together as one."
But that tweet came after his name was invoked by white supremacist, David Duke, who was at that demonstration in Charlottesville and said this. Listen.
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UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: What does today represent to you? To the cameras right here. What does today represent to you?
DAVID DUKE, WHITE SUPREMACIST & FORMER KU KLUX KLAN MEMBER: This represents a turning point. When people are disgusted, we are determined to take our country back. We will fulfill the promises of Donald Trump. That's what we believed in. That's why we voted for Donald Trump because he said he will take our country back, and that's what we have to do.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SANCHEZ: I'm joined by CNN political commentator, Brian Fallon, and former senior Trump campaign advisor, Jack Kingston.
Jack, first to you.
What is your response to David Duke saying that, that the events of today are fulfilling President Trump's promise to take America back?
JACK KINGSTON, FORMER SENIOR TRUMP CAMAIGN ADVISOR: I think he's misconstrued the president's promise. The promise wants economic strength and military strength, he wants to give everybody to an opportunity to participate in the American dream. And that is something that all Republicans and Democrats and Independents should agree on. It's a good vision for American.
David Duke is also a reliable sound bite and I understand how he may be used against a certain party of philosophy, but when he endorsed the president, the president did denounce his endorsement. So I think he made it clear.
I think frankly the people saying why hasn't the president spoken up, I don't think that is a big issue here. I think the president has spoken up. Maybe he didn't do it at 8:00 a.m. this morning, but I did not hear the same anti-Trump critics saying the same thing on May 10th or in May when Black Lives Matters broke out with 10 arrests in Los Angeles just a couple months ago. They weren't out there denouncing the protesters either -
SANCHEZ: With all due respect, sir, there weren't people like David Duke saying this is Donald Trump's dram or rather promise fulfilled. Does the president have an obligation to put even more distance between himself and some of these folks who are clearly white supremacists and his supporters?
KINGSTON: Well, let's put it in perspective. And I understand this is a political opportunity for the left to say, ah, gotcha, but there is no parallel. David Duke is a guy that is out there. You can't blame the Orlando terrorists who murdered I can't remember how many people in the night club, his father came to a Hillary Clinton rally. You can't blame his attendance on Hillary Clinton. Sometimes your supporters come from all walks of life and you can't choose your supporters. David Duke can say something like that, but I think the president made it clear last year when David Duke endorsed him that Mr. Trump did not want his endorsement.
SANCHEZ: Brian, your response to Mr. Kingston?
BRIAN FALLON, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I find the president's tweet to be pretty generic. But I think it's meaningful that it took him long to issue that milquetoast three-line statement. You didn't hear from help last night when you saw the horrid pictures emerging from Charlottesville of the torch literally. We didn't hear from him for several hours this morning. And it's for the same reasons that you haven't heard him from condemning the bombing of the Muslim mosque in Minnesota. It's because the president and his advisors consider these loathsome elements to be a critical part of his base. He cultivated them during the campaign. Even before the campaign quite famously, he was a promoter of the racists Bergerism (ph) movement. During the campaign, he would frequently retweet anti-Semitic and racist memes online. You saw him elevate Steve Bannon to the upper rungs in his campaign and now to the White House. So really, if you look at the images you saw last night, the only difference between these latter- day demonstrators that you saw in Charlottesville last night and the KKK of old is now they feel no shame and they are not embarrassed. They don't even wear hoods to protect their faces anymore because Donald Trump has taken the movement mainstream.
[13:35:24] KINGSTON: Brian, do you know how many protests there were versus counter protesters? Because a month ago, there were 50 protesters versus 1000 counter protesters. Do you know that number? And as I read it, only one person has been arrested, whereas in the Black Lives Matter protests in May, 10 were arrested. And in the west coast protests, the Resistance, there were hundreds arrested. So I think the left is just desperately looking for an issue here. And if they can drive a wedge between African-Americans and the Republican Party, they will take advantage of it at every moment they can. But there is no case there.
I frankly hope that the president was in meetings this morning focusing on North Korea because I think the urgency of that and the severity is far greater than what is going in Charlottesville.
And I would add, where is Terry McAuliffe? I know he has declared it an emergency, but why isn't he Charlottesville with Tim Kaine, with Mark Warner, with Chuck Schumer? If the left is so wonderful at reconciling difference, why aren't they in the middle of this and saying, come on, let's get together? Where are they? And why aren't we hearing from people like Cornell Brooks. Where's Chuck Schumer?
SANCHEZ: Sir, I was going to ask you why are we hearing from Melania Trump before we're hearing from the president about this.
KINGSTON: It's possible that the president was in a North Korea meeting. I'll be 100 percent honest, I don't know where the president was. But I think Melania Trump weighing in there, she is using the power of the bully pulpit. She is a woman who has a strong following of her own. But where are the Democratic leaders of that state, that Tim Kaine is their Senator? He was a Democrat vice presidential candidate. Why Charlottesville right now calling on -
FALLON: Jack, Jack, you know I like you. I've gotten to know you a little bit over the last few months, but this is pathetic. This is attempt to -- (CROSSTALK)
KINGTON: It's not pathetic.
FALLON: You saw Democrats speak out quite clearly as soon as we saw these imagines spill out last night.
And frankly, Boris, one of the problems that we have to come together to address is the attempt to put euphemisms to this movement. We've talked now for several months about the Alt-Right movement and now there is this other movement trying to spring up and call itself the Alt-Light. These are all attempts to airbrush the racism out of these movements. We need to call them for what they are. You saw the images today. You see the Nazi flags and Nasi salutes. You see Jewish words being used as epitaphs for all the people. You saw urine thrown at members of the press today. These are loathsome elements that need to be called out for what they are, which are white supremacists. Just because they are dressed up in button-down shirts and khakis instead of loose-fitting T-shirts and cargo shorts, we shouldn't think that they are any less intolerable than the old KKK and Neo-Nazi movements that we condemned in the past. There is a reason why David Duke was there today and there is a reason why Richard Spencer, who is a Nazi sympathizer, is there today. And let's call out these groups trying to pretend that they are ironic and just pro-male, pro-Western. They are hate-filled groups just the same. You have groups like the Proud Boys. The organizer of this event today, Jason Kessler, is a member of the Proud Boys. So let's hear from the founder of the Proud Boys who tries to say this is all satirical and it's just a game and doesn't means to actually condone racism.
SANCHEZ: Gentlemen, we're limited in time.
Jack, a very, very brief response.
KINGSTON: I just want to see the Democrat leadership of that state, two U.S. Senators and the governor, I want to see them in Charlottesville pulling people together. And I can tell that you Republican House members will join in that effort. I stand with Brian, let's condemn the hatred, but also let get reconciliation and the only way it is to work together.
SANCHEZ: Jack, will you condemn -- will you condemn Richard Spencer right now? Will you condemn Richard Spencer right now?
KINGSTON: Brian, Brian, I'll take your world. I've never heard the guy. But I'll condemn him if that's all the bad things that you say. But let's --
KINGSTON: -- a man of your world. But let's --
(CROSSTALK) SANCHEZ: A spirited conversation.
Jack Kingston, Brian Fallon, gentlemen, thank you again for the time this Saturday.
KINGSTON: Thanks a lot.
[13:39:26] SANCHEZ: We have plenty more to get to. We hope you'll stay with us. We'll be right back.
SANCHEZ: Back to our breaking news. The city of Charlottesville is under a state of emergency after a white supremacist rally turned violent. The governor, Terry McAuliffe, made the emergency declaration a short time ago as police moved in to break to break up fighting between white nationalists, Klan sympathizers and counter protesters. The demonstration came in response to a decision by the college town to remove statues honoring its Confederate past. The trouble started last night as hundreds of white supremacists marched across the UVA campus carrying torches and shouting racist slogans.
President Trump reacted to the violence moments ago on Twitter, writing, quote, "We all must be united and condemn all that hate stands for. There is no place for this kind of violence in America. Let's come together as one."
I want to bring in CNN's Kaylee Hartung, in Charlottesville.
Kaylee, the mayor of Charlottesville, Mike Singer, just tweeted out in response to the president, he writes, quote, "Thanks at long last for condemning hate speech and action. Our work is just beginning. Yours is, too."
What is the mood there right now? What are you seeing?
[13:45:01] KAYLEE HARTUNG, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Boris, a very different scene here in downtown Charlottesville than we saw not long ago. Emancipation Park, formerly known as Lee Park, the home to the statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee, has been cleared as police declared it an unlawful assembly. They removed everyone from it and shouted that anyone who stayed would be arrested. Protesters and counter protesters disbursed down different ends of Market Street. I can see a cleanup effort by some members of the community beginning now.
You have to remember that all of these protesters and counter protesters are still in the area. They were all leaving on foot. A minute ago, I saw a group with a Confederate flag marching down the street. The National Guard is here in support of the Virginia police. They have marched down to my left.
I now hear some commotion around me as you can hear helicopters still and sirens still in the area monitoring where these protesters have continued to march within the city of Charlottesville. Quieter now, Boris, but tensions are still high. Jason Kessler, the organizer of these Unite the Right rally, he went
to Twitter and said, "Be peaceful, get to safety, leave the Lee Park area."
But we've heard various reports of those white nationalists and supremacists gathering in other areas of this town. Kessler also, on his Periscope Live feed, said, "This is not over."
SANCHEZ: Certainly, some concerning words there.
Kaylee Hartung, thank you so much for the report from Charlottesville.
And just a short while ago, the vice president tweeted this out, quote, "I stand with the president of the United States against hate and violence. The United States is greatest when we join together and oppose those seeking to divide us. #Charlottesville."
Our special coverage of the violence there continues after a quick break. Stay with CNN.
[13:51:21] SANCHEZ: At this hour, Charlottesville, Virginia, is under a state of emergency after violence broke out at a white nationalist rally there. State police say they've made several arrests. And the president has tweeted out, quote, "We all must be united and condemn all that hate stands for".
Let's bring back CNN military analyst and retired Air Force colonel, Cedric Leighton.
Colonel, you watched some of this unfold earlier today. What's your take on what happened there?
COL. CEDRIC LEIGHTON, CNN MILITARY ANALYST: Well, Boris, I think what we saw is, you know, two groups, two basic groups in American society not agreeing on some basic aspects of our history. And when you look at that, that obviously has social implications, it has political implications, and it has implications for our daily lives. And when you see what happened here, it becomes very hard for people to reach a common understanding and a common agreement. But the thing that happens is society makes progress. Society makes progress in several different ways. And one of them is in some cases to do away with some symbols of our history and bring in others. All of it is part of our collective history. The question is which part of it do you want to emphasize. And I think that's the clash that we're seeing played out here. And unfortunately, it's not just a verbal clash, it's also a physical clash.
SANCHEZ: Yes, and after something like this plays out, how likely is it that we could see investigations? A lot of people on camera doing some very heinous things.
LEIGHTON: Absolutely. So there will be two types of investigations, I think, in a case like this, Boris. What you'll see is they'll go after people that show up in camera footage that has happened as a course of the events from last night and from today. So those will be kind of the tactical investigations that happen. If the law enforcement community is really looking for this the way I think they should, they will take some of the investigations that the FBI and some other law enforcement agencies have done and bring those together with what happened last night and today in Charlottesville. And they will then hopefully be able to figure out exactly who is behind this. Perhaps there will be charges filed against those who committed acts of violence, those that incited people to riot, things of that nature. And of course, those who -- getting back to the tactical aspect, those who actually caused physical damage, they could be in a heap of trouble because of some of the investigations that will be carried out as a result of this.
SANCHEZ: Sir, as we mentioned when you were on with us earlier, you've seen a lot of unrest and protests all over the world. Would you say the law enforcement response here was adequate? We heard earlier in the day from CNN law enforcement analyst, Charles Ramsey, who was asking in this video of people brawling in the middle of the street, where are the police. Do you think they did enough?
LEIGHTON: You know, I'm beginning to think they didn't do enough. There are clearly reports out there and that video that you mentioned that I'm sure the police were either standing by and doing nothing and letting people beat each other up, which is unacceptable. You don't let that happen nowadays. This is not, you know, the days of the caveman. And we have to make sure that law enforcement is there to protect all citizens from violence. And when they're standing there doing nothing and they could get involved, that becomes a real problem. So I think they have to look at it at what point do they intervene, was intervention adequate enough, was it a type of intervention that was proportionate to the issue at hand, was it too little, was it too much. Right now, we have no reports of it being too much, but again, that's something that has to be examined.
So when you look at this, you know, how U.S. police agencies handle this, how different local jurisdictions handle it, and compare it to what goes on around the world, there are definitely different techniques and procedures that are used. In Europe, police are much more likely to be tougher on protesters. They use things like water cannons and use those in a way that tends to disburse crowds. In the U.S., we tend do use techniques like that but not as frequently as some of the European police agencies do.
[13:55:41] SANCHEZ: Colonel Cedric Leighton, again, we appreciate your perspective and for you sticking with us throughout the day. Thank you, again, sir.
In just an hour from now, the president will be signing the Veterans Affairs Choice Employment Act of 2017. We're going to monitor that event to see if he talks about the unrest and chaos in Charlottesville, Virginia.
Stay with us. We'll be right back after a quick break.