August 14, 2014
Guest: Yamiche Alcindor, Lizz Brown, Lizz Brown, Ryan Reilly, Clarence
STEVE KORNACKI, GUEST HOST: Suburban war zone.
Let`s play HARDBALL.
Good evening. I`m Steve Kornacki, in for Chris Matthews.
Leading off tonight, all eyes are on Ferguson, Missouri, where
authorities are bracing for another night of protests over the shooting of
an unarmed African-American teenager by a police officer last Saturday.
Protesters are once again taking to the streets at this hour, and they`ve
been joined by local Ferguson police and the Missouri State Highway Patrol.
Ferguson police are expected to hold a news conference at any moment.
When that happens, we`ll take you there live.
Last night, the streets of the St. Louis suburb looked and felt like a
war zone. Police in riot gear fired rubber bullets and launched tear gas
and smoke bombs to try to disperse crowds. Some officers even had their
guns trained on the crowds while standing on top of their vehicles. They
arrested two journalists and fired tear gas at a crew from Al Jazeera. A
local politician was also arrested for, quote, "unlawful assembly."
Today, a host of national politicians, from Claire McCaskill and
Elizabeth Warren to Rand Paul, called the police tactics over the top.
Police say they were protecting themselves after getting attacked with
Molotov cocktails and bricks from some in the crowd.
President Obama spoke about the crisis for the first time this
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: And now is the time for
healing. Now is the time for peace and calm on the streets of Ferguson.
Now is the time for an open and transparent process to see that justice is
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: And meanwhile, Missouri governor Jay Nixon this afternoon
announced a major change. He appointed the state`s highway patrol to
direct the security situation in Ferguson.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. JAY NIXON (D), MISSOURI: What`s gone on here over the last few
days is not about what -- is not what Missouri is about. It`s not what
Ferguson is about. This is a place where people work, go to school, raise
their families and go to church, a diverse community, a Missouri community.
But lately, it`s looked a little bit more like a war zone, and that`s
unacceptable. That`s why today, I am announcing that the Missouri Highway
Patrol, under the supervision of Captain Ron Johnson (ph), who grew up in
this area, will be directing the team that provides security in Ferguson.
I just felt that -- that at this particular point that the attitudes
weren`t improving and that the blocks toward expression appeared to be a
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: And on MSNBC today, Civil Rights icon Congressman John
Lewis said that what he`s seeing in Ferguson reminds him of Civil Rights
struggles of the 1940s, `50s and `60s. And he had this advice for
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. JOHN LEWIS (D), GEORGIA: My own feeling is right now is that
President Obama should use the authority of his office to declare martial
law, federalize the Missouri National Guard to protect people as they
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: MSNBC`s Trymaine Lee is in Ferguson. Last night, he was
covering the protests when police fired tear gas.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRYMAINE LEE, MSNBC (via telephone): I`ve tried to get away from the
smoke. I can barely breathe. My nose is burning. My lungs are burning.
I can`t (INAUDIBLE) You can`t escape it. And the further back you go, it
still hangs in the air. And so it looks like the police have taken over
completely at the end of the street. But again, far down the street, the
clouds of tear gas kind of engulfing everything.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: And Trymaine Lee joins us now from Ferguson, Missouri.
Also with us from Ferguson is Yamiche Alcindor from "USA Today" and NBC
News senior political reporter Perry Bacon.
So Trymaine, let me just start with you. You`ve been doing,
obviously, incredible reporting out there. We really appreciate it. It`s
invaluable, especially last night.
So the governor of Missouri today holds this press conference. We
played just a clip from it. He said in that press conference that people
in Ferguson would notice immediate differences because he`s bringing in the
state highway patrol to oversee the security situation there. He said
immediate differences. He said that police would, quote, "step back a
little bit," going forward right away.
Now, a few hours later, are there immediate differences that are
apparent and noticeable?
LEE: Well, I think the most apparent and noticeable is that now they
have a black face to put on the law enforcement apparatus. Until today,
you saw mostly white county police officers, mostly white Ferguson police
officers manning the front line of this contentious battle between
protesters who have dug in and are going to fight for justice for the death
of Michael Brown.
And law enforcement, who are getting directed -- they`re getting all
the ire from the crowd. Earlier, I spoke with some people. They said he
was walking through the crowd, talking to people. He apparently grew up in
But I think the real difference -- we`ll see a difference in what
happens tonight. If it`s anything like last night, then I can`t imagine
it`ll be much different unless they are not firing rubber bullets and not
firing canisters of tear gas into the crowd, which we don`t expect. But
once nightfall hits in Ferguson, with this crowd growing, you never know
how it`ll turn out.
KORNACKI: Yes, well, Yamiche, I guess that`s -- that`s the question,
is so much has been happening sort of when the sun goes down the last, you
know, five or six nights out there. What are you expecting tonight in
terms of a police reaction to it based on the changes that were made today?
YAMICHE ALCINDOR, "USA TODAY": I think people are really -- and me --
I`m all -- we`re all expecting kind of much of the same in terms of the
idea that people are not going to stop protesting. People are not going to
I think a lot of people here are really fed up. I talked to a man
today who said, We`re happy the St. Louis County police are not here
anymore, but understand that we are united and that we are frustrated and
that this the officer`s name needs to be released. They also want the
officer to be charged with murder.
So people have real issues here. They have real things that they want
to happen. So I think changing the police is going to, hopefully, maybe
help people understand that this is a different regime, that maybe things
will be a little bit calmer. But in fact, people still have the exact same
grievances. So we have to keep that in mind when we think about what`s
going to happen tonight. People are mad that a young, unarmed black man
was shot in Ferguson.
KORNACKI: Well, today, Ferguson police chief Thomas Jackson described
the situation as a powderkeg. He defended the response from police, but
also acknowledged that they need a new plan.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
THOMAS JACKSON, FERGUSON POLICE DEPARTMENT CHIEF: What`s happening
now is not what any of us want. Last night, we started getting -- started
getting rocks, bricks, bottles thrown at us and then a Molotov cocktail,
and then gunfire went off. We need to get everyone to calm down and try to
bring some peace to this. We want everybody to be able to protest. We
know they`re going to protest. We want to facilitate their ability to
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: Well, Trymaine, let me -- let me go back to you on that
because this is the line we`ve heard. We hear it right there from the
police department that last night, the police were under attack. It was
the Molotov cocktails, bricks being thrown at them.
You`re on the ground there. What you`re hearing from the police about
what they`re saying the protesters are doing to them, what you`re hearing
from them -- does that square with what you`re seeing on the ground?
LEE: From my vantage point, about 35 feet away from where the first
canisters were fired, I didn`t see any rocks being thrown. I didn`t see
any Molotov cocktails. Indeed, someone did throw something at one of the
police vehicles, and I heard it kind of bounce off the truck just a moment
before they ordered the crowd to disperse.
But again, my vantage point was mine. From all -- everything that
I`ve seen, it was a mostly peaceful protest. Now, there were some people
in the crowd who were belligerent, who were increasingly angry. But that
was by and large just a small minority of people who came out, and overall,
protested peacefully last night.
KORNACKI: Yes, and Yamiche, I wonder, too, the response you see from
the crowd there -- we`ve talked so much about the -- I guess the term we
use is the militarization of the police. You have these officers walking
around, you know, camouflage, heavily armed. You know, almost looks like
(INAUDIBLE) a war zone over there. What effect does that have on the
ALCINDOR: I think I`ll -- I have an anecdote. I think -- last night,
I was at the Ferguson police station, and there were probably about 50
protesters there. And they weren`t throwing rocks. They weren`t doing
anything. The crowd started -- it started getting late. At 2:30 in the
morning, the St. Louis County police showed up in tanks. There were about
four tanks and about 60 officers, so more officers than protesters, saying,
We want a non-violent protest. We want you to put down your weapons. We
want you to put down your rocks.
And that was when people really got fired up. That`s when I saw
people really get upset. So I think that -- I think that when the cops
were telling people, This is how you need to act, this is what you need to
do, you need to make sure you`re not violent, nonviolent, that`s when
people really got upset. That`s when people really felt like they were
being profiled because I think, before that, the crowd was pretty calm.
So I think there`s really something to be said there. I talked to the
St. Louis NAACP today, and they said that we really need to make sure that
the police are not coming expecting the worst and then creating the worst.
KORNACKI: Well, President Obama today talked about the need for
people in positions of authority to hold themselves to high standards. He
also criticized people who would use this tragedy as a cover for vandalism
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: Of course, it`s important to remember how this started. We
lost a young man, Michael Brown, in heartbreaking and tragic circumstances.
He was 18 years old. His family will never hold Michael in their arms
And when something like this happens, the local authorities, including
the police, have a responsibility to be open and transparent about how they
are investigating that death and how they are protecting the people in
There is never an excuse for violence against police or for those who
would use this tragedy as a cover for vandalism or looting. There`s also
no excuse for police to use excessive force against peaceful protests or to
throw protesters in jail for lawfully exercising their 1st Amendment
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: Perry Bacon, let me bring you in here. We know whenever
there`s, you know, a contentious issue really anywhere in the country,
there`s always a lot of conversation in the White House about whether, when
and how the president, you know, can or should speak out about it.
In terms of this particular situation and the remarks we got from the
president today, what do we know about the deliberations that were going on
in the White House in terms of why they chose today to speak and what
specific message they wanted to send today?
PERRY BACON, NBC CORRESPONDENT: I think last night`s events, with the
tear gas and the particular intensity of last night, reporters arrested and
things that happened last night, really drove them where they felt like the
president had to talk today. They really felt like today was (ph) he had
to talk. He had a statement on Tuesday, but they felt like today
(INAUDIBLE) needed to address this personally.
Now, the key thing, I think, to look at in terms of what he said was -
- and you heard this from not only the president but Attorney General
Holder, Claire McCaskill, the senator, even Rand Paul, a senator, as well.
There was a big focus today on tone -- you know, reducing the tone,
reducing the intensity and trying to communicate to the police officers
that the militarization was a problem.
The AG particularly had a very strong statement about (INAUDIBLE)
president (INAUDIBLE) as well, the idea that whatever is happening there,
the militarization, all the tanks, the guns have sort of ratcheted up in a
way that the president was trying to calm down today.
KORNACKI: So I wonder -- to go back to you, Trymaine, in Ferguson --
the president`s words today -- Perry`s describing what they were -- what
they were hoping to achieve. Can you see on the ground a difference, any
result on the ground of what the president said today? Did it have an
LEE: I talked to a number of people who hadn`t even heard anything
about the president`s statements. And so it`s unclear at this point
whether it actually trickled down because everyone is out on the streets
and not necessarily in front of their TVs. They may not be tuned in to
But what happened last night is the local law enforcement agencies
actually created adversaries that they didn`t have days ago. There were
people at the local Target and the Wendy`s who said, you know, Before
tonight, you know, I was kind of on the fence.
But they came out with snipers, with rifles. And the chief said
(INAUDIBLE) a powderkeg. If so, the way law enforcement handles this could
be a torch. But again, Senator McCaskill is saying that today will be a
new day and national leaders and local leaders saying it`s a time for
peace. Tonight will tell the tale whether we really are inching forward to
peace or if we`re only going to escalate the situation.
KORNACKI: All right, thank you, Trymaine Lee, Yamiche Alexander --
Alcindor -- excuse me -- in Ferguson. Perry Bacon, appreciate that.
And coming up, how police tactics have made the situation worse and
what they can do to calm things down.
Also, covering the biggest story in the country. We`ll talk to two
reporters, one of whom was cuffed and arrested by police last night. Plus,
President Obama, once again, the first African-American president, finds
himself confronting a racially charged situation.
And finally, "Let me Finish" with something we haven`t seen for a long
time in American politics, a Republican senator saying, This time, the
police have gone too far.
This is HARDBALL, the place for politics.
KORNACKI: In a statement today, Attorney General Eric Holder said law
enforcement in Ferguson should try to, quote, "reduce tensions, not
Holder said, quote, "At a time when we must seek to rebuild trust
between law enforcement and the local community, I am deeply concerned that
the deployment of military equipment and vehicles sends a conflicting
message. At my direction, department officials have conveyed these
concerns to local authorities. Also at my direction, the department is
offering through our COPS office and Office of Justice Programs technical
assistance to local authorities in order to help conduct crowd control and
maintain public safety without relying on unnecessarily extreme displays of
The local authorities in Missouri have accepted this offer of
assistance as of this afternoon.
We`ll be back after this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JACKSON: There is an element that tries to provoke officers to take
action. I think the officers by and large have responded very well, you
know, considering the amount of people and the amount of looting and some
of the violence and virtually nobody got hurt. So I think that`s a credit
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: Back to HARDBALL. That was police chief Thomas Jackson of
Ferguson, Missouri, yesterday afternoon. But images out of Ferguson over
the subsequent 24 hours paint a different picture. We saw how a heavily
armed police SWAT team casually trained their rifles from an armored
vehicle on a group of protesters who demonstrating peacefully just a few
yards away. We saw how police later descended on the crowd of just 150
people after nightfall, firing flash-bang grenades and tear gas to deafen
and blind their targets, all while knowing that a dozen or so journalists
were embedded among the demonstrators.
It was a show of force that to the average observer did not appear to
resemble the kind of restrained response the police chief described earlier
in the day. And it`s raised questions about whether the line between law
enforcement and military force has been blurred in recent years.
According to a report in "The Economist" magazine earlier this year,
between 2002 and 2011, the Department of Homeland Security disbursed $35
billion in grants to state and local police. That money, in turn, can be
used to buy surplus military equipment from the Pentagon.
According to the Defense Logistics Agency, quote, "In 2013 alone, $449
million worth of property was transferred to law enforcement." And that
can include anything from mere rifles and ammunition to mine-resistant
Well, now in Ferguson, over 400 of those (ph) are in the hands of
domestic law enforcement, according to "The New York Times." The vehicle
you see there was used by the military in the Middle East, and now it`s the
property of the Connecticut police department. Across the country, local
and state police departments have been rapidly militarizing their forces.
The underlying question is, how do you use that force prudently, if at all?
Joining me now is MSNBC law enforcement analyst Jim Cavanaugh, former
ATF special agent, and Lizz Brown, an attorney and columnist for "The St.
So Jim, let me start with you. I think this has been sort of a wake-
up moment for a lot of Americans, myself included, who realize the scope of
the -- just the equipment and the raw force that`s at the hands of police
forces all across the country, even in places like this. This is a town of
20,000, 25,000 people. This itself isn`t even a major city.
I guess it raises the question, when you look at that equipment we
were just talking about right there, you look at the equipment that`s being
used in Ferguson, how much of this stuff do police forces in this country
JAMES CAVANAUGH, FMR. ATF SPECIAL AGENT, MSNBC LAW ENFORCEMENT
ANALYST: You know, they need a lot less than they actually have. I mean,
they could use a more negotiators` equipment. You know, you can go to
almost any police department and talk to the negotiators there, and they`ll
tell you they can`t get the money to get rescue phones, which is a -- kind
of a sophisticated phone we use to deal in barricade or hostage situation.
So, the money oftentimes doesn`t even go sort of equally to the softer
side, the -- the -- you know, the more brainy side of trying to get people
out without violence. It goes to these vehicles and a lot of that heavy
equipment, which is not needed.
Look, an MRAP that you just showed up there, Steve, the police don`t
need an MRAP. That is just completely...
KORNACKI: This is the mine-resistant -- right.
We are not facing mines. I was in the ATF 33 years. And we were the
bomb investigators for the government. We didn`t get many mines. So,
there`s not -- you don`t really need that kind of vehicle. Now, an armored
vehicle commercially built that the police use, there is a standard for
that. And the police do need that.
I mean, even if you`re going to negotiate someone out of a barricaded
situation, the person nowadays, they`re shooting AK-47s at you and .223
And just so the viewers know -- I know you know, Steve -- but an AK-47
rifle, which is very common -- there`s millions of them out there -- will
go through the officer`s vest, go through the officer, and go out the
officer`s vest in the back.
So, there is no protection for the officer. So they do need some
armored vehicles. They`re not tanks. They don`t have mounted guns on
them. They`re basically a commercially made armored vehicle.
CAVANAUGH: There is a place for those. There are probably way too
many. Every little town doesn`t need one.
But people need -- law enforcement needs access to that equipment.
KORNACKI: Well, just today, there has been a bipartisan call to
demilitarize the police. Here is what Democratic Senator Claire McCaskill
of Missouri told Politico earlier today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. CLAIRE MCCASKILL (D), MISSOURI: I have been working to try to
demilitarize the police response over the last 24 hours.
And I want to make sure that the people I work for understand that I
want them to have respect and safety as they exercise their constitutional
rights to protest.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: And Republican Senator Rand Paul echoed that sentiment
today in an opinion piece today in "TIME" magazine.
Quote: "When you couple this militarization of law enforcement with an
erosion of civil liberties and due process, we begin to have a very serious
problem on our hands."
Lizz, let me ask you this, because here`s what I`m wondering. We look
at all of this equipment. This is heavy equipment now that police forces
have. And I wonder if it warps their response, if that is what we`re
seeing in Ferguson, and it`s what we could see in communities all across
the country, where these police departments have this equipment they don`t
need, have military war equipment, it`s there, and because it`s there, they
feel compelled to use it.
LIZZ BROWN, ATTORNEY: Absolutely.
KORNACKI: And then you get situations like this.
And forgive me for sounding a bit sexist, but it`s boys and their
toys. If you have the things there, there is going to be a desire to use
them. And the challenge to every community when they have the opportunity
to get these kinds of tools in their department, have the protocols kept up
with the onslaught of all of this equipment?
And I think the answer is clearly no. I can`t imagine that small
community -- small departments are keeping up with the rules that should be
in place if we have these things.
And I just kind of have to ask this question. What is it about the
behavior of Americans that support the need for this type of equipment?
What are we doing now that requires that we have tanks at our -- at
situations? The protest in Ferguson is really similar to the protests that
have happened decades before us.
It`s not any different behavior. So, why do we need this enhanced
2014 tank-like response to it?
KORNACKI: Well, that`s the other thing, Lizz, that I`m wondering
about, too, is just the basic relationship that should exist ideally
between the police force and the community. It serves that whole idea of
to protect and to serve.
BROWN: And to -- to protect.
KORNACKI: When the police force looks like military, an occupying
force almost, when it ends up looking like that, there really is no
relationship. There is not going to be any trust.
And then you also have to think about the difference between the
protocol of a police officer and the protocol of a military person. If
you`re taking on the military persona, the military is not about -- they
shoot first, right? They do not -- they do not serve and protect. They
kill on behalf of their country.
So it`s a different mind-set. It`s different directives. And it`s
being absorbed by -- by local law enforcement. When you dress people up
like a military person, how are they going to behave? Like a military
KORNACKI: You know, Jim, Jim, Jim, just very quickly, I`m curious
your -- your response to what Lizz is saying there. I mean, is that part
of the issue here, that, as she says, boys with their toys?
Is there sort of an issue here where people are sort of attracted now
to become police officers because they get to play with these tanks or
CAVANAUGH: Well, I think there is an attraction for that in the
People become police officers, as Joseph Wambaugh said in one of his
writings, because they want to be there. They want to be where the action
is. That`s not a bad thing. It`s the same reason journalists are
journalists. They want over to be there when things are happening.
But what policing requires, what -- and I`m building on what Lizz is
saying -- I think she`s correct in her argument. But what policing
requires in a democracy is restraint. Restraint is the hallmark of the
police. We send you out as a police officer, you are going to be cursed
at. We don`t expect you to curse back.
You are going to be punched. And we expect you only to punch back
with enough punches to effect an arrest and no more. It is not a mixed
martial arts ground-and-pound beat-down. And we expect you to face someone
with a gun, but only to use enough force to save your life or another.
So, in every aspect of democratic policing, is -- restraint is built
in. The father of policing in the West was Robert Peel, who found the
London bobbies, the Metropolitan Police of London. And his famous quote
was, the people are the police and the police are the people.
CAVANAUGH: So, that`s where we get the police from.
CAVANAUGH: We are not an occupying military force. So, we need
BROWN: But you wouldn`t know that by looking at them.
KORNACKI: All right. Well, I have got -- I have got to jump out of
KORNACKI: But I want to say thanks, though, James Cavanaugh, Lizz
Brown. Really appreciate it, though. A lots of news to get to, though.
It`s a very busy night. Really appreciate the time.
BROWN: Thank you for having me.
KORNACKI: Up next, we will talk to one of the reporters on the ground
in Ferguson, Missouri, who was arrested as he tried to cover the story.
This is HARDBALL, the place for politics.
KORNACKI: Welcome back to HARDBALL.
Today, President Obama, Attorney General Eric Holder and others urged
authorities in Ferguson to stop bullying and harassing journalists covering
the protests there.
Over the last 24 hours, reporters have been arrested, tear-gassed and
forced to stop filming protests.
Two reporters, The Huffington Post`s Ryan Reilly and "The Washington
Post"`s Wesley Lowery, who had set up camp at a nearby McDonald`s, were
taken into custody after police swept into the restaurant.
Lowery was filming the police officers in the moments before his
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Grab your stuff. Let`s go.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I`m working on it.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Stop videotaping. Now, let`s grab our stuff and
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: ... right to videotape you, sir?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hurry up. Let`s go.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Please don`t wave your gun at me.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Let`s go.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You see me working.
Please don`t tell me not to...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Time to go. Let`s go.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Please do not wave a gun at me.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We are down to about 45 seconds. Let`s go.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Now, is the street...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Let`s go. Let`s go.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Can I move my car?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You can move your car if your car is out here.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It is. That`s what I was asking. You didn`t have
time to answer that, or you`re just being mean?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Let`s go. Let`s go. Let`s go. There`s a door
over here. Let`s go. Let`s go. You can move. Move. Let`s move. Let`s
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: In a separate incident caught on tape by a local NBC
affiliate, police fired what appears to be tear gas at an Al-Jazeera
America film crew. After the crew fled, two police officers are seen
dismantling their lights and tilting the cameras toward the ground.
In a press conference today, Ferguson Police Chief Thomas Jackson said
he wasn`t aware of the incident, but made clear -- quote -- "The media is
not a target."
The Huffington Post`s Ryan Reilly is with us now, along with KSDK`s
Elizabeth Matthews, who witnessed the Al-Jazeera incident last night.
Ryan, thanks for being here.
I will start with you. Obviously, quite a night for you last night.
So, the police chief today insisting the media are not a target.
Certainly, we had the president of the United States. We played this a
while ago saying the police should not be targeting journalists out there.
Is anything different today? Are you noticing a change in the police
approach to this at all in their interactions with the media at all? Can
you see a difference at all?
RYAN REILLY, THE HUFFINGTON POST: Absolutely.
It`s a complete contrast to what it was last night, just 24 hours ago.
Last night, you had basically an army out there. You had people in full
SWAT gear, and you had people who were being very aggressive about clearing
off the streets.
And way too many officers then were actually needed for a peaceful
protest. Tonight, I think obviously we have backup -- they have backup and
are ready for anything that actually takes place down the street. But it`s
not necessary right now. This is a peaceful protest right now.
And there are a few officers in their regular clothes, not military
gear, who are accompanying. And they also had one of the officers actually
-- some of the officers taking a part in the protest and walking with the
group here. So, it`s just a completely different dynamic and one that`s so
far working a lot better than what we saw last night, when it was an
antagonistic situation, where people -- the officers were aggressively
going after anyone who was out on the -- out on the streets.
So I think it`s -- so far, it`s obviously working.
KORNACKI: So, Elizabeth, last night, you -- we showed a little bit of
the clip there. You witnessed the police sort of dispersing the Al-America
Jazeera crew, pointing their cameras down towards the ground.
That video we played a minute ago of Wesley Lowery just before he was
being arrested, he`s saying he thinks what seems to have upset the officer,
one of the things, was the fact that he was trying to film him, it seems.
How widespread is that, have you noticed, that police trying to
actively keep people from filming them and catching their activities on
tape at all?
ELIZABETH MATTHEWS, KSDK REPORTER: They never said anything to us.
We have been out there since Saturday, obviously, when the shooting of
Michael Brown happened, Saturday afternoon, and then Sunday, when it really
started to get intense later on in the night. And we never had any
instances where the police officers were coming up to us and moving our
cameras or touching us.
They would tell us at some points move back for our safety. And we
completely agreed because those situations were getting to start more
intense by every second that went by. But we were never told to stop
filming. At one point last night, when we were filming that Al-Jazeera,
what happened to them, to that crew, we actually got a little nervous. So
we stopped filming. But it wasn`t because they told us to stop filming.
KORNACKI: Well, what was -- was there anything in particular -- I`m
curious. So, the police tried to disperse this film crew, and then their
first thought apparently after they get rid of the film crew is to run over
there and point the cameras at the ground.
It`s on their mind. There is something going on or about to go on
that they don`t want people seeing? Did you notice anything in particular
that they didn`t want people seeing?
And where we were last night, we were doing a story about the school
district that was supposed to start today. Actually, they pushed it back
until Monday. So, we were just located in this really residential area.
We were completely safe, from our standards anyway, because we have been
out there so many days.
And we kind of know when you`re kind of in the heart of what`s going
on or when you`re outside the perimeter. And we were outside that police
perimeter, Both Al-Jazeera and our crew both outside of that perimeter.
I did not see -- where I was located last night, I did not see a
single mass crowd. We were not in the heart of it, like I said. So, we
weren`t around those big crowds. We were on a side street in a residential
I did hear that perhaps when they laid down the -- the lights with the
Al-Jazeera crew, that they were trying to just get rid of the lights. Why
they touched the camera, I don`t know.
So, Ryan, have you been told why you were arrested?
And I think that sort of we are trying to turn the page. This isn`t -
- this isn`t what I came down here for. It wasn`t to be arrested. It
wasn`t to me -- have a story about myself. I came down here to report on
what`s going on here.
And I think that even before I was arrested last night, I think that
what I had been sort of tweeting about and sort of was planning to write
about was the huge militarized presence that was there and just the very
aggressive tactics that were being used in broad daylight against a
And I think that we have seen that contrast tonight, no doubt based on
the involvement of some other police officers and the fact that isn`t being
run anymore by the Saint Louis County police, sort of been taken out of
So, I think that we have seen some major differences. And it seems to
be going well so far. And hopefully that`s the situation for the rest of
KORNACKI: I got have to ask you, though, I mean, do you -- do you
want, after what you went through last night -- I appreciate, as a
reporter, you want to talk about the story. You don`t want to talk about
At the same time, journalism itself is a story here when reporters are
arrested like you were last night. Do you want -- would you -- would you -
- do you believe it is appropriate for charges to be pressed against the
police for false arrest?
REILLY: We haven`t -- we haven`t really made that determination so
far. I think that`s something that we are sort of putting on the back
burner for now. I`m trying to going to get -- and actually do some
reporting when I`m out here.
So, I think that`s something that just sort of will be in the back of
my mind for a bit. But I think what is the really important issue here is
that I was -- the way I was treated, it wasn`t just because I was a
journalist. It`s because I was a citizen and the way that I was sitting in
a McDonald`s working on my laptop.
It doesn`t matter that I work for The Huffington Post. It doesn`t
matter that I may have a few thousand Twitter followers. It -- none of
that matters. What matters is that I was sitting in -- sitting in a
McDonald`s, and trying to conduct my business and was a customer there.
REILLY: And I was sort of -- was aggressively attacked by this
militarized police force.
REILLY: So, I think what we are seeing tonight is a hopeful -- is a
hopeful sign. And, hopefully, things will continue like this throughout
KORNACKI: All right.
Thank you, though, to Ryan Reilly, Elizabeth Matthews. Appreciate the
And up next, once again, President Obama is forced to address a
racially charged incident that`s become national news.
You`re watching HARDBALL, the place for politics.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I know that emotions
are raw now in Ferguson. There are certainly passionate differences about
what`s happened. There are going to be different accounts of how this
tragedy occurred. There are going to be differences in term of what needs
to happen going forward. That`s part of the democracy. But let`s remember
that we`re all part of one American family.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
STEVE KORNACKI, GUEST HOST: Welcome back to HARDBALL.
President Obama spoke out today, according to an administration
official, because the racial unrest in Ferguson was escalating with no sign
of calming down. The moment to speak was right.
It`s not the first time President Obama made a formal statement on a
race-related incident and became national news. In March of 2012, nearly a
month after Trayvon Martin, an unarmed African-American teen, was shot and
killed in Florida by a neighborhood vigilante, President Obama addressed
the outcry for justice.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: I think all of us need to figure out how something like this
happens. And that means we examine the laws and the context for what
happened, as well as the specifics of the incident. My main message is to
the parents of Trayvon Martin -- you know, if I had a son, he`d look like
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: In President Obama`s fist year in office, Harvard Professor
Henry Louis Gates, a black man, was arrested for breaking and entering into
his own home. Here again the president spoke out.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: I think it`s fair to say number one any of us would be angry.
Number two that the Cambridge police acted stupidly in arresting somebody
when there was already proof that they were in their own home. And number
three, what I think we know separate and apart from the incident is that
that there is a long history in this country of African-Americans and
Latinos being stopped by law enforcement disproportionately. That`s just a
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: President Obama was subjected to a lot of criticism for
characterizing the police as having acted stupidly, and that led to the
infamous beer summit at the White House with Gates, the policeman, the
president, and Vice President Joe Biden. As the country`s first African-
American president, Obama`s comments on any racial incident carry a certain
resonance. And once again, during his tenure as president, another race-
filled conflict has now become national news.
Joining me: "Huffington Post`s" Howard Fineman, and "Chicago Tribune"
columnist Clarence Page.
So, Clarence, it`s a tough situation for the president to be and I
think because the unfortunate reality is there is a crowd out there that`s
just waiting for him and when situations like this occur. It`s just
waiting for him to weigh into it, and they just want to go and stoke
basically the worse impulses that are out there.
Do you think that reality -- and we have seen that in response to some
of those clips we just played before, do you think that reality affected
the message that the president gave today?
CLARENCE PAGE, CHICAGO TRIBUNE: Well, even before he gave his message
today, Steve, I was wondering, how long it would take before the first
right winger comes along to accuse President Obama of dividing Americans by
And I notice that his statement was remarkably neutral and even-handed
when it comes to race, Steve. He said both sides are responsible. He
didn`t address race as such as much as he address justice and the question
about the proper use of force and the need for a proper investigation, et
cetera, which is fine.
But look at the contrast with his statements about Zimmerman, or
Trayvon, or about Henry Louis Gates, where he was kind of in my view,
talking to Black America, reassuring Black Americans, that they will get
some measure of justice. And that was immediately interpreted by Newt
Gingrich, a number of other people on the right as dividing Americans by
Hey, it`s already divided. Look at the footage out of Ferguson.
KORNACKI: Yes. Well -- I mean, so, Howard, that actually, what
Clarence is talking about there jumped out at me, too, the difference
between, you know, five years ago calling police in Cambridge saying they
had acted stupidly versus the tone that he struck today. Is that a result
at all of -- it always struck me when he made the statement five years ago,
the White House was caught off guard by the backlash they stirred up.
Is it a result of the backlash and other backlashes like it that we
have today`s statement?
HOWARD FINEMAN, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, race is a in a way
both a special historical privilege of the president to discuss, but also a
tricky burden for him to bear, because as you point out, any time he speaks
on this, the temptation is to say he`s speaking either for or specifically
to the African-American community.
I, too, was struck by the pact that the most passionate of the three
clips that you showed was the one involving arguably the most trivial
incident, which was the one involving Henry Louis Gates. That was when the
president was new in the job. It was when he was trying to feel his away
long in terms of his new historical role as the first African-American
The one you saw today, it was very -- it was business-like. It was
cautious. It addressed both sides. It also made a very important point
about the press. We didn`t play that part of the clip. But my colleague
Ryan Reilly is a great reporter. He wanted to emphasize the fact that he
was a citizen as well as the reporter. I would say it`s also important
that he was a reporter.
And the president acknowledged that. So, in a way, the president was
dealing with a wider scope of things today in not just speaking directly
only to the racial issue, while at the same time dispatching, in effect,
his attorney general, also African-American, and the FBI to conduct a dual
It would have been a different statement by the president today had
not the governor brought in the state troopers. I mean, I think that was
crucial. Those things had to happen at the same time. They did.
It wasn`t just Obama himself. It was a much larger framework and
landscape he was working on.
KORNACKI: Yes, that`s -- well, that`s -- Clarence, I wonder, too.
Just given, as Howard says, the situation in Cambridge, Mass, in 2009. The
streets around Cambridge didn`t look like the streets in Ferguson do right
Just given that this is a tinder box now, does that account, do you
think, too, for some of the tone he struck today?
PAGE: Well, yes. Also, this case is under investigation. The local
police won`t release the police officer`s name. This whole deal has been
handled terribly by the local police. I will say it was handled stupidly
by the local police. Even today the police chief sounded like he wasn`t
sure who was in charge. You`re the chief. You don`t know who`s doing what
I mean, thank goodness the governor finally brought in the state
police to help reassure people out there. He`s been criticized for waiting
so long. So, President Obama didn`t want to step right in the middle of
this, kind of reminded me of Richard Nixon commenting on the Manson trial.
KORNACKI: Yes, right.
PAGE: He thought it was best to stay back and not say anything.
KORNACKI: Yes, definitely. Well, thank you to Howard Fineman,
Clarence Page. Appreciate that.
And we`ll be right back after this.
KORNACK: We talked early about those two reporters who were arrested
last night in Ferguson, Missouri. Here was President Obama today, as
Howard Fineman just mentioned, discussing some of these incidents of press
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: Here in the United States of America, police should not be
bullying or arresting journalists who are just trying to do their jobs and
report to the American people on what they see on the ground.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: We`re back after this.
KORNACKI: Some big breaking overseas news to tell you about. Iraqi
Prime Minister Nouri al Maliki addressed his country tonight and announced
he will be stepping down. Maliki threw his support behind his nominated
replacement, Haider al-Abadi. Al-Maliki was fighting to keep the job as
Iraq failed to counter the Islamic militant group, ISIS. If he does step
aside, it could end the political deadlock that has hamstrung Iraq.
When we return, back to the tension in Ferguson, Missouri, something
we don`t see too of often -- a Republican saying the police have gone too
Be right back.
KORNACKI: Let me finish tonight with what events like those playing
out right now in Ferguson, Missouri, used to bring out in our politics --
two very different, very clear sets of reactions that broke very
predictably along ideological lines. For a long time in this country, it
was the left that would raise questions and concerns about the tactics and
conduct of police, and it was the right that defined itself by its
absolute, unwavering reverence for all things law enforcement, no matter
what. And in many ways, this is the story of the creation and the rise of
the modern political right, which was born in reaction to the turmoil and
upheaval of the 1960s and `70s. Civil unrest in America`s cities, student
protesters on campuses, a crime rate that suddenly exploded out of control.
It made many Americans uneasy. It made them nervous, afraid. Some of
this was understandable. Who wouldn`t be unsettled if the world around
them suddenly became violent?
But those emotions played right into the hands of the political right,
which told those fearful Americans that they could have their security,
they could have their comfort, they could have their country back if we
just got tough, if we stop listening to the lawbreakers, if we stop trying
to understand them as those liberals were always trying to do. If we stop
doing that and we just crack down firmly and unapologetically, if we did
that, it would all be OK.
There was a clear racial component to this. It`s no coincidence that
Richard Nixon and George Wallace, the segregationist Alabama governor who
ran as independent for president in 1968, that he and Nixon both ran on the
concept that year, law and order. They were talking to the same voters,
the same white voters who agreed with them that the police were our friend,
they were our allies, that they were in this battle with us to protect the
America that we know. And whatever the police need to do -- well, that`s
OK with us.
That was a powerful message in this country for a generation. How in
the 1970s, Frank Rizzo went from being the police commissioner in
Philadelphia to being the mayor. He called himself a tough cop. He talked
about his patrolmen as an army. He bragged of the vicious and humiliating
tactics his forces would employ in the name of law and order, and it made
Rizzo a national folk hero on the right.
It`s a message that propelled Ronald Reagan, confronted with student
protests when he was governor of California, he drew the hardest of hard
lines against them. "If it takes a bloodbath," Reagan said, "let`s get it
over with. No more appeasement."
That was the foundation on which the modern right was built -- tough
on crime, law and order, and always, always on the side of police.
But now, in the tragic shooting by police of an unarmed black teenager
in Ferguson, Missouri, and in a wake of a very aggressive response by
police in that city to the protesters, we`re seeing a very different
political reaction in this country, one that`s not as predictable and
neatly divided as it used to be.
And that point was driven home this afternoon when "Time" published an
essay from Kentucky Senator Rand Paul who expressed grave concern about the
conduct of the police in Ferguson, the scenes of camouflage, heavily armed
officers confronting civilians, Paul wrote, "resemble war more than
traditional police action. There is," he added, "a systemic problem with
today`s law enforcement."
It used to be that the right never, ever questioned law enforcement.
That was something for the criminal coddling liberals. That may be
changing now. Rand Paul is speaking out against the militarization of
America`s police. The question now is, who on the right will join him?
That`s HARDBALL for now. Thanks for being with us.
"ALL IN WITH CHRIS HAYES" starts right now.
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