August 18, 2014
Guest: Charles Ramsey, Bernard Parks, Dr. Cyril Wecht, Jeanne Cummings
Midwin Charles, Philip Holloway
CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HOST: Calling in the Guard.
This is HARDBALL.
Good evening. I`m Chris Matthews in Washington.
Tonight, all roads lead to Ferguson. The Missouri National Guard is there.
So is the group Black Lawyers for Justice and the Nation of Islam.
Attorney General Eric Holder is heading there Wednesday.
What will come of this national collision of emotions and demands?
Something better, a better chance at criminal justice regarding the death
of Michael Brown, a better chance for a wider social justice between the
deprived communities of this land and the wider America?
Will the police officer be dealt with in justice? Will the cries of the
Ferguson community for all kinds of justice be heard and satisfied? And
will there be peace as those who demand justice here await it? That is the
question on the streets of Ferguson tonight as the National Guard defends
the police against a repeat of last night`s chaos.
On Sunday night, shots were fired at authorities. Molotov cocktails were
thrown at a police command center. Looters targeted shops and restaurants.
The employees at one local McDonald`s hid in a storage room after the
restaurant was overrun by a crowd.
The police responded by firing tear gas, smoke canisters and rubber bullets
into the crowds. Hundreds of officers were deployed in heavy-duty riot
gear. Several journalists were threatened physically by police.
Tonight, well, that`s the question, isn`t it. Governor Nixon declared a
state of emergency and has, as I just reported, ordered in the National
Guard. Community activists are organizing their own security forces.
And late today, President Obama announced that Attorney General Eric Holder
will travel to Ferguson on Wednesday to meet with investigators and other
The president has today again called for an end to the violence.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We have all seen images of
protesters and law enforcement in the streets. It`s clear that the vast
majority of people are peacefully protesting. What`s also clear is that a
small minority of individuals are not.
While I understand the passions and the anger that arise over the death of
Michael Brown, giving in to anger by looting or carrying guns and even
attacking the police only serves to raise tensions and stir chaos. It
undermines rather than advancing justice.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: NBC`s Craig Melvin is on the ground tonight in Ferguson. Craig,
it`s 7:00 o`clock Eastern. What do you see coming out there? What do you
CRAIG MELVIN, NBC CORRESPONDENT: I think you can -- I think we`ve got a
live look right now for you, Chris. There is a march right now. And this
has become somewhat customary about this time every night. This is sort of
the main drag here in -- here in Ferguson. This is -- we are literally a
block or two away from where that shooting happened.
We have seen this crowd grow considerably over the past hour, hour-and-a-
half, two hours or so. So far, I can tell you that the protest itself, the
march itself has been -- has been peaceful. There was an incident I`d say
maybe 30 or 45 minutes ago. We were about a block down, in front of the
McDonald`s. And this of course, is a McDonald`s that has been -- it`s been
sort of the epicenter for a lot of -- a lot of the action here.
That McDonald`s, we should note, by the way, is closed. It has been closed
for several hours, businesses on both sides boarded up. Businesses on both
sides have been vandalized, as have dozens of other businesses up and down
We were in front of that McDonald`s because we were told at about 5:00
o`clock, there was going to be a meeting where they were going to
essentially organize a peaceful protest. So we went expecting to have this
meeting. About, you know, 15, 20 minutes after 5:00 o`clock, all of a
sudden, there was just a swarm of police cars that showed up in front of
the McDonald`s. We went down, and at that point, it became clear that the
police were telling the protesters that they could not stand there, that
they could not assemble there. They had to keep moving. And that`s the
word that we`ve gotten, and it sort of spread down the street, as well.
The protests can go on, they just can`t stand in one spot.
So at that point, I`d say maybe a hundred or so folks who`d gathered in
front of the McDonald`s -- they start to move across the street,
megaphones, and we ended up in the parking lot of a bank. One of the
principal organizers, so to speak -- one of the principal organizers at
that point vowed to continue protesting throughout the night, also said
that they were prepared to get arrested, also said that they were going to
hold off because they didn`t have the numbers at that point. There were
more police officers than protesters. So they wanted to wait until they
got more numbers to continue to protest.
It appears as if, Chris Matthews, we are in for another long night here in
MATTHEWS: When do you see the trouble perhaps beginning? Apparently, last
night, there was the peaceful protest, and then what the president called
the bad crowd showed up, the people that were looking for trouble. When`s
that -- when would that come? I know there`s no -- there`s no curfew
tonight, so there`s no law against coming out.
MELVIN: No curfew.
MATTHEWS: But what do you expect to happen later tonight?
MELVIN: When the sun goes down. That`s typically when it has started to
get bad, so to speak, when the sun goes down. And as you can see here,
probably, the sun is starting to go down. It`s been a hot day here in
Ferguson, north of 90 degrees. The temperature has also started to go
down, as well.
We`ve also been told that a number of the protesters come out after work.
They come out after their jobs. They get off at 5:00, 5:30, 6:00 o`clock,
and they come here.
One of the questions that I asked over and over today to the protesters
was, What`s it going to take for this to end? How is this going to stop?
What do you want to see? And everyone I asked that question to, young and
old alike, they all said the same thing. They`ll go home, they`ll stop
once there`s some sort of punishment for the officer involved, whether
that`s charges, whether that`s the indictment, whether that`s (INAUDIBLE)
whether that`s termination altogether. But they all said the same thing.
So you know, based on those conversations, I tend to think that we`re going
to continue to see this thing play out until something like that happens.
I also asked whether they thought the lifting of the curfew was going to
have any sort of measurable effect. No one that I talked to thought that
MATTHEWS: OK, thank you so much, NBC`s Craig Melvin, who`s in Ferguson.
Charles Ramsey`s the Philadelphia police commissioner and Bernard Parks is
the former police chief of Los Angeles.
Commissioner Ramsey, thanks so much for coming on and taking time from your
duties tonight. I had a lot of respect for you when you were D.C.
commissioner. Now you`re Philadelphia commissioner, big-city
responsibilities. Is there a best practices for dealing with the situation
we face tonight, following a night of chaos in Ferguson?
CMSR. CHARLES RAMSEY, PHILADELPHIA POLICE DEPARTMENT: Well, I don`t know
if there`s any one best practice, but certainly, you want to try to control
things best you can. You want to protect people. You want to protect
property. You want to do the best you can and keep things at as low a
temperature as you possibly can while using a minimal amount of police
presence and/or force.
MATTHEWS: What would be the impact on the people, do you think, of seeing
National Guardsmen in fatigues, soldiers of America, not police officers
but soldiers? Will they be more respectful of them, do you think?
RAMSEY: Well, it`s difficult to say. I certainly can understand why the
governor took the steps that he took. My understanding is that the Guard
will have a limited role in support of the county police and the state
police. And that`s probably needed. It`s been a week now that we`ve had
these protests going on that have turned violent, unfortunately, at night.
And you`ve got to bring peace and calm to the streets of Ferguson. Nothing
much can be accomplished if you don`t do that. So depending on the role of
the National Guard, I think it could be of help.
MATTHEWS: Let me go to Chief Parks. I guess the toughest thing about
being a police officer, especially in a tough neighborhood, is discernment
and not profiling people, not treating people as identity based upon
numbers or statistics, but treating people as individuals. How do they
discern the difference between protesters out there for legitimate anger
and public statement and freedom of assembly and all those rights of
citizenship and somebody out there to do harm to property or others?
BERNARD PARKS, FMR. LOS ANGELES POLICE CHIEF: The single most important
thing is, what are their actions? It`s clear as it relates to the crowd
that is there to be positive and deal with the issue of demonstration.
They`re not the ones that are throwing firebombs. They`re not the ones
that are creating havoc. And the mere fact that you have protesters that
may carry signs or speak loud is not an indication that they`re violating
But I think you go by their actions. And if you can surgically remove
those who are creating the havoc and creating the criminal activity, you
can allow that peaceful demonstration to continue. If it`s so intertwined
that you can`t distinguish the law breakers from the demonstrators, then
you`re going to have to call it unlawful assembly. And no longer do you
have a peaceful demonstration when the law breakers have taken it over.
MATTHEWS: Chief Ramsey -- Commissioner Ramsey, what about the culture of
police? I know Philadelphia has had a long police culture since the days
of Frank Rizzo, tough guys. Is there a sense that you have to change the
lingo, practice on the crowd on nights like this where you have to say,
Please move along, use the word "please," use words that suggest, We`re not
Are officers in these cases, or officials in these cases taught to tell the
troops, Get out there and do it a little different tonight, or you just do
it the way you`ve always done it?
RAMSEY: Well, I mean, I can only speak for Philadelphia, Washington and
Chicago. Those are the three agencies I`ve served in. And you know,
things have changed a long time ago. You have to respect people`s right to
protest. That`s not an issue.
We need to treat people respectfully at all times, even those that may not
be respectful toward us. And I think if we can establish communication, if
we start off by treating people in a respectful manner, then sometimes
things don`t escalate.
And I think that oftentimes, you know, things begin to escalate.
Deescalation techniques need to take hold so that we can bring things back
to a reasonable level so that people can talk, people can demonstrate. We
don`t have people getting injured, we don`t have businesses being looted,
all those kinds of things.
But police spend a lot of time in training, at least in the agencies that
I`ve been in and the ones that I`m aware of, working on deescalation and
how to better handle crowds while respecting people`s right to protest.
MATTHEWS: Well, Commissioner Ramsey, the old thing I grew up with in
Philly was Frank Rizzo, who was no friend to the African-American community
at many times. He would bring out -- he always believed that overwhelming
force -- you had to confront the situation with overwhelming force.
Does that, in fact -- and I want Chief Parks to respond to -- does that, in
fact, now today incite a crowd, the sign of militarization, as it`s called?
PARKS: Well, I think you get a sense of that from what the tenor of the
crowd is. I think a show of force for no reason could be inciteful. It
depends on when you bring it forward. You can often have resources that
are allocated out of the sight of the public only to be brought in if
something gets out of control.
MATTHEWS: I see.
PARKS: So the key is how -- not that you have the force, but how do you
choose to use it and what the timing of it, as it relates to then quelling
a problem. You don`t let the problem get so far out of hand that you then
have to use excessive amount of resources to bring it back, but you
certainly want to deal with issues as they confront you.
One of the things we found in Los Angeles is that we had far greater
success when we had situations such as this that helped those who wanted to
demonstrate -- we helped them plan it and worked with them. And many
times, you`ll see in LA, the police are actually escorting demonstrators
through the street to allow them to demonstrate and not be in a traffic
But these are the kind of things you learn as you go forward. Force is
necessary at times, but just a matter of display of force unnecessarily
could work against you.
MATTHEWS: Right. Well said. So it`s great having you on, both
Commissioner Charles Ramsey and Bernard Parks of the LA Police Department.
You were there.
PARKS: Chief Ramsey, hello.
MATTHEWS: Thank you so much for -- thank you so much --
RAMSEY: Good. How are you?
MATTHEWS: -- for joining us. You`re a great group to have on, you two
fellows. And thank you very much. And I think the big goal tonight, and I
think we all agree, is nobody gets killed tonight. That would be good
MATTHEWS: Coming up: The autopsy commissioned by the Brown family
concludes that Michael Brown was at least shot six times, including twice
in the head. And one of those shots was at the top of his head. Famed
forensic pathologist Cyril Wecht, one of the best in the business, will be
here to talk about what that autopsy tells us and how prosecutors could use
it, maybe should use it as they investigate Brown`s death.
Plus, once again, the first African-American president is confronted with a
racially charged incident. What`s happening in Ferguson is a grim reminder
than we`re not yet in a post-racial America.
And this is HARDBALL, the place for politics.
MATTHEWS: We`ll be coming right back with more from Ferguson, Missouri,
where protesters have begun to march after a chaotic night. Police in
Ferguson are insisting that the protesters keep moving.
HARDBALL back after this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BENJAMIN CRUMP, BROWN FAMILY ATTORNEY: Dr. Baden met with the mother. She
had the main question, as any mother would have, Was my child in pain? And
Dr. Baden shared with her, in his opinion, he did not suffer.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL. That was attorney Benjamin Crump, who
represents the family of Michael Brown, describing there, of course, the
question Brown`s mother, Michael Brown`s mother, had following an
Well, this autopsy commissioned by the family reveals the unarmed 18-year-
old was shot at least six times, including twice in the head. A separate
federal examination of Brown`s body is also being performed as a result of
what the Justice Department calls extraordinary circumstances. And the
county of St. Louis has conducted an earlier autopsy, the results of which
have not been released, although NBC News has confirmed with the St. Louis
County medical examiner`s office that Michael Brown was shot multiple
times. That was the phrase from them.
Joining me right now is forensic pathologist Dr. Cyril Wecht. Dr. Wecht, I
watched you earlier this morning. I`ve always respected your judgment.
How much can we expect to get from this autopsy, all three together or the
one that you were talking about today, the second one for the family?
DR. CYRIL WECHT, FORENSIC PATHOLOGIST: I don not believe anything more
will be learned from the third autopsy. It`s too bad that the feds could
not have moved a little bit faster and gotten together with the family and
arranged for an observer participant to be there with Dr. Baden. That`s
the way it should have been done.
Remember, each time a body is dissected, things are changed. The
obfuscation after two autopsies is great, not a matter of malevolence and
deliberate deceit, incompetence or negligence. But each time you dissect
and examine bullet wounds and internal organ and tissue damage, then you
are altering the anatomic picture and hence the ultimate pathological
What we have learned is, about the six wounds. And Chris, something that
must be kept in mind with regard to the arm wounds -- the arm moves in all
kinds of positions.
WECHT: So supine, the palm up or prone, the palm down, we call supination
and pronation. You bring that arm in many different directions. So you
can`t be sure what`s front and back and how those shots were fired.
With regard to the two shots to the head, two things come to my mind.
Number one, this young man is 6-foot-3. Obviously, it wasn`t sniper fire
from a two-story building or a tall tree. So that means that the young man
was falling when those shots were fired. And those are the shots that
killed him, particularly the one that entered the top of the head and went
into the brain.
The shot that entered around the eye and moved downward through the jaw and
reentered in the superclavicular region just above the collar bone, the
clavicle, that shot -- just think, there`s no way it could have been
inflicted other than Michael Brown falling, toppling down so that the trunk
of his body is almost parallel to the ground, and the shot comes in. And
it really is -- has a parallel course by when the body is erect or lying on
the autopsy table, it appears to be perpendicular.
So there`s a lot of things that have to be done. How many shots were
fired? Were the casings all obtained to show where the shooter was? Were
there other shots fired? What examination of the car was conducted for
gunpowder residue? The clothing, I do believe that that`s important.
But I think that we`re probably going to find the shots fired beyond 18, 24
inches, which is the distance of a handgun beyond which you don`t get
gunpowder residue or stippling patterns. But we will see exactly how that
plays out when the clothing analysis is released.
MATTHEWS: Can forensic science and autopsies together tell us whether a
person was brought down after the shots not to his head? In other words,
was it necessary of the shooter if they were fighting in self-defense here,
acting in self-defense, to shoot a person the fifth and six time if those
were the head shots after they already shot them three or four times to
stop them from coming at them if they were the aggressor?
WECHT: Well, we know that a shot to the brain in this case would not have
allowed Michael Brown to engage in any kind of activity. So, it is almost
certain that that shot and most likely then the other shot because it
struck him in the face, too, that those shots were fired at the end after
the four shots to the arm.
And that`s deeply regrettable, because the four shots to the arm, while
nobody would like to be shot in the arm, it would not result in death or
even the loss of that limb.
MATTHEWS: Would it stop the assailant, if he was an assailant? Would it
stop a person in their tracks? Would it remove them as a threat?
MATTHEWS: No. No, no. Shooting somebody in the arm would not stop him in
Shooting him in the face and certainly a bullet into the brain is going to
stop him pretty much in his tracks. There will be a little bit of
movement, momentum of the body, but not anything of a prolonged, sustained,
MATTHEWS: Thank you so much, Dr. Cyril Wecht. Thank you for coming on
today. I thought you were great this morning.
WECHT: Thank you. Thanks.
MATTHEWS: A Missouri grand jury could be hearing evidence as early as
Wednesday in the shooting death of Michael Brown.
And joining me right now are two attorneys, Midwin Charles, a criminal
attorney who also hosts a raid program on WBLS, and Philip Holloway, a
former prosecutor and policeman both. Well, we have got two perspectives.
Ms. Charles, thank you for joining us.
And what do you think we will get from the science so far about the nature
of the incident? All we know is, it`s an incident as far -- we don`t know
it`s a crime yet. What can we tell?
MIDWIN CHARLES, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: I think what we can tell from
the autopsy, at least with the one we have by Dr. Baden, is how Michael
Brown died and the manner in which he died.
And that is what makes autopsies so important and so relevant when you`re
talking about criminal trials, because what they do is, they paint a
picture. They let people know exactly what happened, which is so important
for justice, because that`s the purpose of a trial.
CHARLES: And so when you start to look at the autopsy and you take it
along with the one done by the medical examiner of Ferguson, as well as the
one that will be done by the federal government, you put all three together
-- and I don`t think that you are going to get disparity from those three
But once you put it together you start to put together the pieces of the
puzzle with respect to what happened on that day. And that`s what the
people of Ferguson want. And it`s what America wants.
What do you think you could tell from the number of bullet holes, if you
will, in the body of Michael Brown and perhaps the sequence in which they
were fired? Can you tell that he should have been no threat to anyone
after being shot three times or four times in the arm, and therefore there
was no justification for shooting him in the head if those were the
subsequent bullets? What can we discern here so far, do you think?
CHARLES: Well, Chris, I will tell you this.
I have spoken with several NYPD officers. I have one or two who do
investigations for me at my law firm. And they have all said that six
bullets to someone who was unarmed is a little bit unusual. Usually, you
would fire off one shot. And then you would determine that the person
doesn`t have a firearm or is not necessarily a threat.
So, right off the bat, I`m thinking, six bullets is excessive. I also
think that those six bullets, the fact that he was unarmed as well as some
of the witness statements that we have seen so far give us enough probable
cause for at least an arrest.
I think a lot of the problems we have seen now is that people have been
conflating a trial with the standards for an arrest. And they are very,
very different. All you need for an arrest is probable cause.
MATTHEWS: Would you say probable cause is based upon the number of
CHARLES: For me, yes, the number of bullets and the fact that Michael
Brown was unarmed.
OK. Let me go to -- let me go to Phil Holloway.
Phil Holloway, Mr. Holloway, the same question to you. What can you
discern from the evidence so far that we have gotten in these two
PHILIP HOLLOWAY, FORMER PROSECUTOR: Well, I`m going to defer to Dr. Baden,
who earlier today said that we really don`t know from the forensics that he
was able to achieve today with his autopsy., we don`t know what happened in
the critical moment when the shots were fired, because you have got to
remember, police officers, whether or not somebody is armed or not, they
are authorized to use deadly force if they believe that they are in danger
of losing life or limb.
Police officers are trained to shoot, to stop the threat. They are not
limited to a number of rounds to achieve that goal. They will shoot until
the threat, as they perceive it to be, is eliminated. So, the ultimate
question for investigators is, what is the truth of the matter at the time
the shots were fired, each and every one of the shots?
Muzzle-to-target distance becomes an issue. All of these are things that a
good investigator will look at.
MATTHEWS: How do you discern -- how do you discern between what is
defending oneself against an immediate threat, which you`re allowed to do,
and anger which would cause you to keep shooting?
HOLLOWAY: A lot of that may be in the eye of the beholder. And of course,
a good investigator, as I was saying, is going to follow the evidence
objectively to the truth, whatever that truth may be.
We have already seen a lot of witness statements. We heard initially in
the days following the shooting that he was shot in the back. Well, today,
we now know that that`s not true. At the most he was shot in the top of
the head. Everything else was to the front. We know some of the
eyewitness accounts were not accurate. For what reason, that remains to be
seen, but there`s a lot that has left to be done.
We need to fingerprint the car, we need to look at all of the evidence. We
need to look at shell casings, where did they land, what exactly did the
officer say? Can it be corroborated? All of those are things to have to
be looked at by an objective investigator before we can get to the truth of
MATTHEWS: Mr. Charles, what do you make of the phrases they have been
using? There have been some very loud and I should say loaded language
here, execution, broad daylight.
MATTHEWS: As if this police officer, people truly believe that a white
police officer was driving along and saw a large black African-American
fellow and decided just to shoot him. Do you think that`s what happened?
CHARLES: Well --
MATTHEWS: Just decided to shoot, gun the guy down. Do you think that`s
what happened here? You are pretty serious about believing the officer was
wrong. At what level do you think he was wrong? He just didn`t like the
guy`s looks, or what are you accusing him of right now?
CHARLES: Well, I`m not going to try him before the evidence is in.
What I`m talking him about --
MATTHEWS: But you want him arrested.
CHARLES: Of course. But that`s not a trial.
MATTHEWS: Well, tell me why you want him arrested. Why have you gotten
that far with this thinking, your own thinking?
CHARLES: Because he has killed an unarmed 18-year-old with six bullets.
And where I come from, that`s enough for probable cause.
I don`t understand why so people are kind of jumping through holes and
requiring so much information and so much evidence. This is not a trial.
Don`t conflate the standards. And from my perspective, especially when you
listen to what Dr. Baden said, where his head was somewhat bent, the bullet
entered through the top of his head.
CHARLES: And that was perhaps the fatal bullet. Now, what`s important is
how the bullets came in. What was the number of that bullet?
But, in and of itself, you have enough probable cause. Let`s not going to
lost into --
MATTHEWS: What would you charge with him, the officer?
CHARLES: Well, at the very least, manslaughter. Manslaughter, reckless
endangerment. There are officers who have been arrested in New York at
least who have been arrested for putting bullets into people.
MATTHEWS: If you were the prosecutor -- I just want to get your thinking.
If you were the prosecutor, you would do that if you thought you could get
MATTHEWS: So you think you could get a conviction if you were the
CHARLES: Right. But, remember, the prosecutors don`t arrest. The police
do. Like, we have to do this in order.
MATTHEWS: I`m just asking. You said that a minimal charge of
manslaughter. Then you must believe that you could get a conviction for
CHARLES: I do.
MATTHEWS: Do you?
CHARLES: I do. I do.
MATTHEWS: Already, based upon no -- no follow-up so far? Nothing beyond
what we know now, what we heard the first moment really?
CHARLES: No, nothing yet. But we are still waiting on additional
MATTHEWS: So, by the very fact of six bullets, you believe the man should
be convicted of manslaughter?
CHARLES: I think you have enough to try him for manslaughter, absolutely.
MATTHEWS: No, you just said you think he should be convicted.
CHARLES: I believe he should be convicted as well. You have enough
MATTHEWS: Already? With -- OK.
Well, where do you stand on that? What do you think of that assessment,
Mr. Holloway, of what you just heard?
HOLLOWAY: Well, I think that`s putting the cart way before the horse.
Dr. Baden said this morning that his wounds were equally consistent with
someone who might be charging at the officer, as well as someone who might
be surrendering to the officer. So, unless you have something to breaks
the tie, six bullets in and of itself doesn`t amount to the standard of
probable cause. It`s not in and of itself enough to charge someone.
CHARLES: I disagree with that.
HOLLOWAY: A lot more has to be done. You have to be thorough, and you
have to be unbiased and objective in the way you investigate all shootings,
especially one like this that`s caught such national attention.
MATTHEWS: I agree.
Last word, Ms. Charles?
CHARLES: I disagree with that. I think you do have enough probable cause.
When you are talking about convictions, you need an entire picture. You
need all pieces of the puzzle. But at the very least, for probable cause,
to get an arrest, you have it here. You have it. You have six bullets.
You have a young man whose head was bending down and the bullet entered the
top of his skull.
How is that? And especially when you take into the fact how Ferguson
police handled this investigation.
If you were -- Ms. Charles, if you were defending this officer, what would
you -- what would be your defense?
CHARLES: Well, right now, they seem to be doing a pretty good job with
respect to how they have been leaking out this information systemically.
MATTHEWS: And what would your defense be?
CHARLES: The defense would be that he feared for his life and that that
fear was reasonable, and so that`s why he shot him.
MATTHEWS: OK. Thank you so much.
CHARLES: You`re welcome.
MATTHEWS: Please come back on here. I want to see you again and hear your
views again and your assessment.
MATTHEWS: Thank you.
MATTHEWS: Mr. Holloway, thank you for being --
HOLLOWAY: Thank you.
MATTHEWS: I`m sorry for being slow in getting your name. It`s nice to
meet you, though.
HOLLOWAY: Thank you, Chris.
MATTHEWS: And, of course, Ms. Charles.
This is a hot situation to be talking about on national television.
CHARLES: It is.
MATTHEWS: Anyway up next, back to Ferguson, where once again protesters
are taking to the streets. We are going to follow the events tonight,
because we don`t know where they again tend up.
And this is HARDBALL, the place for politics.
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.
Well, my MSNBC colleague Chris Hayes is on the ground in Ferguson,
Missouri, right now. He joins us now with the latest.
Chris, thanks for joining us. And there you are.
You know, I was away last week. And I`m trying to catch up with the story.
But also I call this the period of ingestion, not digestion. I`m not ready
to digest this story. But what is happening out there on the streets
tonight? How do you see the story developing as the night goes on?
CHRIS HAYES, HOST, "ALL IN WITH CHRIS HAYES": Well, there has been a
tactical shift tonight from law enforcement here tonight, a few big
One is, they have very early cut off access to the West Florissant Avenue,
which has been the main site of the protest. There is no vehicular access.
There are checkpoints on either side of me. There are a few residents, as
you can see, who are allowed to come through if they have homes or
What they are allowing, they are allowing pedestrians to march if they keep
moving. This is a policy that was put in place around 10:00 a.m. this
morning. It`s remained in effect all day. Basically, it is they are not
allowing anyone to congregate on the street in they are allowing, certainly
not the Q.T., which was the epicenter of the protests and some of the
clashes we saw with police in previous nights.
They are allowing people to walk up and down the street protesting. But
they have set up a security perimeter and a media staging area that`s about
200 yards down. We are inside the perimeter. We are on the inside of
that. We`re as close to the Q.T. as you could basically get at this point.
Curfew is off tonight, so the big question becomes, as the evening goes
down, what happens? Right now, it is an almost eerily quiet scene. You
have people who are walking and they`re with signs saying hands up, don`t
shoot. It`s folks. Frankly, it`s kids, it`s people, it`s seniors, it`s
people very peaceably assembling, expressing their First Amendment rights,
being forced to keep moving at all times.
But what`s happened in each of the last few nights is that when things have
escalated, it`s happened -- it`s escalated after dark. So right now, we
have a relatively quiet night here on West Florissant, but there is, as
there has been every night, a real thick tension in the air, particularly
now with everyone`s knowledge that the National Guard is in town.
Have you noticed a difference in the troublemaking crowd that the president
mentioned today who arrive later, who exploit the situation for criminal
purposes? Are they from out of town? Are they older than you think?
MATTHEWS: They`re just not teenagers? Can you tell who`s been breaking
the windows and looting? Who`s been doing that?
HAYES: There`s been a lot of speculation offered by law enforcement, by
the governor, even by the president about the troublemakers or the
contingent of people that are looting.
Given the circumstances under which that`s happening, it`s very hard to
interview them to get their -- to find out who they are and if they are
HAYES: At this point, it`s all -- as far as I can tell from my sort of
journalistic perspective, it`s all speculation. I haven`t seen a lot of
interviews with folks who are looting or a lot of interviews with folks who
MATTHEWS: Well, I there would be a Fifth Amendment matter. That would be
a Fifth Amendment issue, I think.
MATTHEWS: What`s it like to loot?
HAYES: There is a lot of -- there is a lot of rhetoric about the small
contingent. And what I will say from reporting here is, it`s undeniably
the case that there is a large group of people who are outraged and angry,
and who are exercising their First Amendment rights, even, I would say, in
the form of civil disobedience.
There were people the other night who were violating the curfew. Now,
violating the curfew is obviously violating the law. But they were
violating the curfew in a peaceful manner. It was a civil disobedient
HAYES: There are other people are breaking into stores. It`s undeniable.
You can see the -- you could see it last night. I saw -- late at night, I
saw a fire set inside a local market. So, those folks are around as well.
But there are -- it`s been maddeningly difficult. We had one report from
one of our own reporters, Amanda Sakuma last night from dot-com, who saw
someone fire a gun. There`s been reports last night on a key incident.
And we will have more details on my show about Molotov cocktails being
The people who participated in the march in question, the one that really
precipitated the heavy police response, including tear gas right near the
police command center, I talked to three clergy members in collars today
who led that march who said it was a peaceful march and there were no
So, it`s very difficult amidst these circumstances to kind of separate fact
from fiction, what`s going on. What is clear is, there is some small
unspecified numbers of people that are acting in a way that`s frankly not
lawful and -- and -- and -- and violent.
HAYES: How many there are or what their motivation and who they are, that
is completely unknown at the moment.
MATTHEWS: That`s why we have reporters like you. Thank you for being out
there, Chris Hayes. You will be on live at 8:00 tonight with "ALL IN."
You`re from Ferguson, Missouri, right now. You will be that way at 8:00.
We will continue to watch what`s happening in Ferguson right now tonight.
And up next, the scenes we have seen so far have looked like something like
something from the civil rights era, when the dogs were out. Rough stuff.
So, why is it still happening 50 years later?
Well, this is HARDBALL, the place for politics.
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.
A new poll shows sharp racial divisions in reaction to the Ferguson police
shooting. African-Americans are far more likely than whites -- no surprise
there -- to say Michael Brown`s shooting raises important issues about race
-- race itself. Eighty percent of blacks say it does. Just 37 percent of
whites agree. Sixty-five percent of blacks polled say the police response
to the shooting has gone too far. Again, fewer whites at 33 percent agree
Americans have elected an African-American president twice now. Yet
division is still cut around or along racial lines in response to events
like this Ferguson shooting.
Eugene Robinson is a Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist for "The Washington
Post" and MSNBC contributor. Michelle Bernard in the president of the
Bernard Center for Women, Politics, & Public Policy.
Gene, I want to start with you, and the reason we believe as almost a
religion in diversity is we know there are different perspectives. And we
know that if you go on television with a bunch of white guys, you`re going
to be ignored and should be, because we don`t know the American experience.
EUGENE ROBINSON, THE WASHINGTON POST: Yes.
MATTHEWS: We just don`t know the experience as a group. But as Americans,
we do know the American experience.
So, tell me your reaction to the whole thing. I think there needs -- boy,
there`s a time need for a discernment is right now. Discernment. What`s
ROBINSON: You know, why is this happening now when, as you mentioned,
there is an African-American president. There is an African-American
attorney general ordering a new autopsy and is on his way to Ferguson. The
police commander on the scene, the head of the state highway patrol is an
Yet, there is a civil unrest that is reminiscent of the `60s. I think the
reason isn`t that complicated, is that some African-Americans have done
extremely well over the last five decades and moved into the middle class
and beyond, assuming positions of power, influence and wealth undreamed of
in previous decades.
But a large minority of African-Americans have not done well. But, in
fact, I would argue are worse off now than they were back then. And there
is anger and frustration at this feeling that the deck is stacked against
And I think African-Americans in general recognize the situation. I`m not
sure white Americans are aware that, in fact, black America is not a
MATTHEWS: You know -- I agree. I`m a white guy and I think there`s
elements of social justice here, not just criminal justice. It`s not just
what the cop did or shouldn`t have done or whether there is murder here.
It`s the social reality that those people living in Ferguson have this
unemployment rate through the roof.
An 18-year-old kid, this kid 18 or 19, there`s no plan for him. Maybe he
was going to go to vocational school. We don`t know what his prospects
were. They probably weren`t great.
And a lot of the frustration in that community is about that fact. It`s
not just whether you hate the cops or not. Your thoughts?
MICHELLE BERNARD, BERNARD CENTER FOR WOMEN: Well, I mean, I --
MATTHEWS: I think.
BERNARD: I think that is a large part of it. But I think the greater
story in looking at what`s happened to this young man, what happened to
Trayvon Martin and what we see happening to so many kids, I think I`m going
to summarize quite easily by what my son said to me. He`s 11 years old.
MATTHEW: He`s outside.
BERNARD: He`s outside tonight.
And he looked at me and he said, is somebody going to shoot me? You know,
my daughter watched the news and looked at me and she said, why is it they
only do this to black people? So, there`s a large question --
MATTHEWS: What did you say?
BERNARD: I didn`t have an answer for her. I don`t have an answer that is
palatable to be able to look at my children in the face and say, there are
people in this country who not only do not like African-Americans but they
despise black men. There is a war on black boys in this country, in my
opinion. There is a war on African-American men.
And I think the fact that President Obama has repeatedly had to stand up
and look at members of Congress and say, I am the president of the United
States. Get over it. I think it enrages people. And we are seeing not
just the economic effects, we`re seeing the effects of a horrible public
education system that discriminates against our kids on the basis of race
and on the basis of their zip code. Things are getting much, much worse.
It is an absolutely deplorable situation that the United States which is
supposed to be the greatest nation on earth sits back and allows black boys
to be murdered.
MATTHEWS: I can`t let you go without your response to that, Eugene. And
that`s the question is, how much of this is about profiling and
prejudgment? The meaning of prejudice.
When you judge an African-American kid as dangerous for all kinds of
reasons of history, numbers, whatever, statistics, whatever you`re thinking
about, and the larger question of poverty leading in many cases to crime.
The situation with that is the only hope to get ahead.
ROBINSON: Chris, it seems clear to me that both are involved. Michelle is
absolutely right. I have had that talk with my sons. We discussed it on
your show. And she has had the talk with her son about what to do when
you`re confronted with police and you happen to be a black or black man.
It`s different from experience that other Americans have in dealing with
the police. And the relationship with the police is different. We do get
profiled and that`s the truth.
But Michelle said also zip code. Zip code is a factor here. The social
realities on the ground in Ferguson, on the ground in a lot of low income
African-American communities around the country are distinct, are
different, are worsening and do contribute, in my view to the anger,
especially and the frustration that we see stemming from this incident.
So, yes, it has to do with profiling. I think the social realities are
there. And you can`t ignore them.
MATTHEWS: I wish we didn`t listen so well in crisis, and listened more at
other times from you folks, I mean you two. I don`t mean blacks. I mean
MATTHEWS: I just wish we listen more until (ph) the hell broke loose.
MATTHEWS: Finally, sometimes we do the right thing only when there is no
other alternative. Anyway, I think it was Churchill said that about this,
Gene. America does the right thing when there`s no alternative.
BERNARD: Well, I hope so because this is -- it`s going to turn into
genocide if it doesn`t stop.
MATTHEWS: Thank you. Thank you, Michelle Bernard. And thank you, Gene
Robinson. Thank you.
We`ll be right coming back. President Obama deploys Attorney General Eric
Holder out to Ferguson. So, it`s getting to be a federal case. The
president`s response is next.
And this is HARDBALL, the place for politics.
MATTHEWS: We`ll be back with President Obama`s response to the protests in
HARDBALL returns after this.
MATTHEWS: We`re back.
As I reported earlier, President Obama has announced today that Attorney
General Eric Holder will travel to Ferguson, Missouri, on Wednesday. It`s
the second time the president has addressed the situation in Ferguson,
Howard Fineman is an MSNBC political analyst, and Jeanne Cummings is deputy
managing editor for politics at "Bloomberg".
Jeanne, it`s clear to me that the president of the United States has had a
history himself on the racial front. He`s experienced being watched in
department stores, being trailed around in a way that a white person
wouldn`t -- this despite his upbringing, his education, everything. He
still gets treated like a possible danger to the clothing store manager,
whoever else, the clerk on the floor.
So, he has some experience, probably catching a cab in New York, uptown,
he`s probably had some of that experience, like we`ve all seen happen to
African-Americans. So, he does have that.
So, he also is, look in the mirror, he`s African-American. He`s part of
the community, you know, and he does know that he`s part of it and he`s
going to have to face and his children will face it. So, there`s empathy
that comes through like today.
JEANNE CUMMINGS, BLOOMBERG: It definitely does come true. After Trayvon
Martin, the president talked about how he experienced people crossing the
street when they saw him coming. So, all those things you speak of, he has
lived. He also has lived through now three cases where the issue of race
has been brought up in this criminal justice sense. You had the --
MATTHEWS: But he doesn`t bring it up. The news seems to come to him.
CUMMINGS: It does come to him.
CUMMINGS: But back in 2009, when he said James Crowley, the police officer
in Boston, had acted stupidly when he erroneously arrested Henry Louis
Gates at his own home, the president looked back on that and said, "I
should have calibrated my remarks." He did today.
MATTHEWS: So, he is today. I thought it was interesting how he showed
discernment about the whole thing. The guy is unbelievable sometimes.
HOWARD FINEMAN, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, he also pointed out that he
dealt with this, as he said he said, before you guys knew how to pronounce
my name and when I still had black hair, I was a state legislator in
Illinois, and I dealt with these issues.
He dealt with racial profiling. He dealt with the need for the police
interrogations to be recorded. This has actually been a fairly
longstanding, public and legal and political concern with him for decades.
It`s really the first and real he, frankly, only thing that he really did
in Springfield when he was a state legislator.
MATTHEWS: Constitutional rights on the street corner.
FINEMAN: Yes. He`s a constitutional lawyer and he also is the president
and he did make the -- remind people that this is both peace and justice
and order on the streets of Ferguson.
MATTHEWS: Save and develop your thoughts. We`ll be back on this tomorrow
night. This is a big story for this country. And not a good country, but
certainly a learning experience.
Howard Fineman, thank you as always, my friend.
And Jeanne Cummings, thank you.
We`ll be back after this.
MATTHEWS: Let me finish tonight with this unhappy situation in Missouri
because -- let`s face it, it`s not about Missouri, not just Missouri. I
think it`s important both for those up close and those of us at a distance
to see the competing realities at work in this national conflict.
One is the killing of Michael Brown, itself. Was it the case of a police
officer acting not only defensively, but appropriately? Was his response
proportional and limited to the perceived threat? Was it?
The other reality is the larger question, did young people -- do young
people like Michael Brown suffer an injustice that attacks them early in
their youth, an injustice that says you ain`t going anywhere in this world,
you`re going to live in this neighborhood and die here, and in between,
nothing very good is either going to come your way or even hit you as a
possibility. Is there another better word for that than injustice? Is
I know they`re all the focus right now, all the pressure, all the heat is
now on the police officers involved, or the police generally in this
country. Perhaps it should be.
But this is as good a time as any to deal with the job we give some police
in the country that is stocked with injustice. When we assign blame, let`s
not ignore the way the world really is, the way economic opportunity is
really shared in thus country of ours, how unevenly it is shared.
It is not the cop who decides how much money a family has, what jobs or
life opportunities are passed out to the young people of Ferguson, what
neighborhood kids get to grow up and live in, what hopes they can hold when
they two to bed at night.
No, it`s the policeman`s often lonely, often dangerous job to keep a just
order -- yes, a tight lid on an unjust world, an injustice that doesn`t
work at an eight-hour shift.
This isn`t just about the cops, my fellow Americans, it`s about our
country. If you want lasting peace and not just a tighter lid on
injustice, we have got to lead our young people to productive paths. We
need to find them jobs. We need to teach them the joy of hope.
That`s HARDBALL for now. Thanks for being with us.
"ALL IN WITH CHRIS HAYES" starts right now.
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