PoliticsNation, Monday, April 27th, 2015
Read the transcript from the Monday show
Show: POLITICS NATION
Date: April 27, 2015
Guest: Lisa Gladden, Mark Puente, Marq Claxton, Nick Mosby, Westley West, William H. “Billy” Murphy, Baynard Woods
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's "the Ed Show". I'm Ed Schultz. "Politics Nation" with the Reverend Al Sharpton starts right now.
REVEREND AL SHARPTON, MSNBC ANCHOR: We continue start with breaking news from Baltimore. These are live pictures from the city where clashes between police and an angry crowd have at times turned violent.
The tensions beginning late this afternoon, when police formed a line in the street and some people responded by throwing rocks and battles. The clashes quickly escalating. At one point, the crowd hurled a trash can at a police vehicle. Later, a police car was set on fire. The smoke and flames filling the street. Police say others in the crowd looted a store in the area. At least seven officers have reportedly sustained serious injuries.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CAPT. ERIC KOWANCZYK, BALTIMORE POLICE: They have broken bones, one of them is unresponsive. This is not OK.
We will do whatever is appropriate to protect the safety of our police officers and to ensure the safety of the people that live and work in the area.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: Earlier in the day, police said they received a credible threat that rival gangs are teaming up to, quote, "take out law enforcement officers." Officials have not said that these clashes are connected to that earlier report. All of this coming on the day 25-year-old Freddie Gray was laid to rest. He died just over a week ago, following a severe spinal cord injury, suffered while in police custody.
I want to say that I've been involved for many a years, fighting civil rights cases and calling for police accountability. I understand the anger and frustration probably as well as anybody in the country. But violence and recklessness is never justified. We cannot seek redress if we become like the forces that we are fighting.
The Gray family, even in their sorrow, like many families before them, begged and pleaded for peace, because they want justice for their son and justice means finding out the facts. Anytime I've seen facts come out and justice achieved, whether it was a case where there was successful prosecution or ultimately Rodney King, it was not based on violence. Anytime I've seen violence, I've seen people vent themselves and others exploited, because all of those out there are not protesters. Some are, some angry, some committed, but some just taking advantage. And they're doing it at the expense of real justice for this family. And real solutions so we will not be here again.
Joining me now is MSNBC's Brian MOOAR, on the phone from Baltimore, Maryland. State senator Lisa Gladden and Baltimore city council member, Nick Mosby. We're also joined by Marq Claxton, former New York police officer, director of the black law enforcement alliance. Thank you for being here.
STATE SEN. LISA GLADDEN, BALTIMORE (via phone): Thank you.
SHARPTON: Brian, describe for us the scene where you are.
BRIAN MOOAR, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT (via phone): Well, we are at the church, which was an oasis today, Reverend Al. A place of peace and a positive message, coming up to the pulpit, as Freddie Gray's family members and loved ones gathered to say farewell to him. But the overwhelming repeated often and often over and over again message was, there needs to be change, but it needs to be done peacefully. We need to give the system a chance to do it. We need to give the mayor a chance. The police say they're investigating this. Peace, that's what everybody was calling for today.
And here just a couple of blocks away now, is the epicenter of this situation, where it started out with a couple of young men near a mall. Police say that they were doing some mischief and moved in and it escalated. More and more kids coming in. We believe they were just coming out of school, and now we have this situation where a car has been set on fire, people have gone into the CVS and taken items out.
You know, I think the person who summed it best is the Gray's family attorney, Billy Murphy, who told us that this is the Gray's family worst nightmare. That this is counterproductive. This is not helping anyone. In fact, it's hurting a family that's grieving, and it's overshadowing the very --
SHARPTON: On the day they're burying their son, the message has become this rather than the funeral services and the burial.
Councilman Mosby, you're in district seven. You represent that district. How do you deal with this?
NICK MOSBY, COUNCIL MEMBER, BALTIMORE: It's tough. I mean, the one thing I will say, Reverend, is, unfortunately, these children are expressing their pain, their anger, frustration for decades. I mean, many of these kids -- I've been out at many of the demonstrations all week and it was really warming to see young folks who have felt voiceless for so long, who feel completely disenfranchised from the system, really voicing their frustration in the policies that have governed us for decades. And to allow this to be the image of all of the work that they've poured in over the past two weeks is just really disheartening.
SHARPTON: But state Senator Lisa Gladden, no frustration justifies looting and burning in your own community and targeting police. None of us are justifying that.
GLADDEN: Let me tell you, I am here, I'm six blocks from the Mondawmin mall. And so I am unable to leave my house. Because we have sort of been instructed that we need to stay close and we need to not travel the streets that the police have blocked off. And so, I know that kids are frustrated. I know that residents are frustrated. But it doesn't require, and I don't think it rises to -- their frustration should not rise to the level of looting and any kind of behavior, that destructive behavior that would, I think, destroy our community. I don't like it at all.
SHARPTON: Now, Brian, are things now under some kind of control? Have they calmed down or are we still seeing incidents?
MOOAR: To tell you the truth, Reverend Al, we're de-camping because we've had rocks thrown at us and they're in a position that the truck and our crew just decided it was a little too unsafe to stay at the (INAUDIBLE) church, which was just an oasis today, such a calm, peaceful, positive place in the middle of such a tragedy.
But one of the side streets we just passed, there was a very large number of mostly young people, and police officers sort of blocking the intersection, traffic coming through, but this seems to be a sort of cat and mouse game, where police are letting people gather in some areas, trying to disperse them, and then they pop up in others. And the process continues, and police are just trying to wear them down at this point.
SHARPTON: Now, let me ask you, Councilman Mosby, the young people that we've seen at the rallies and seen at the meetings are not necessarily the young people we see in the streets today.
MOSBY: No, not at all. I mean, there's no way of telling that. The one thing I will say is, what I heard earlier, this is not just a spontaneous, sporadic event. These children planned this, you know, we were tracking it via social media. They were talking of a purge event, starting out at the Mondawmin mall and working their way to downtown. You know, with the hiding of nature, of social media, you know, they're able to talk, you know, really quickly and --
SHARPTON: So this was planned?
MOSBY: This was planned by children. These are all children. These are children. These are 14, 15, 16-year-old, 17-year-old children who, again, decades old of abject poverty, lack of education and school -- productive school settings, housing, all the environments that really equal up to what we see in our inner cities all across America, you know, they have been in their frustration. These children in the past felt voiceless. They felt completely disenfranchised, and unfortunately the voice that they're showing tonight is that voice of anger and frustration, and they're calling out. And you know, I just hope and pray that none of our young children get hurt. I hope and pray that none of our police officers get hurt. And I hope that we have, from our city, the leadership that's going to step in and really provide real opportunities.
If I could say something, Reverend Al Sharpton, as young children, we go up and our parents tell us, we can be whatever we want to be, right? But unfortunately, that's not true in certain sections of our country. And these children are frustrated and angry and they're showing it in the wrong way. This is not what the family wanted.
SHARPTON: And they need to be engaged, even though, not in any way condoned, but they need to be engaged. I mean, I said earlier today, I accepted an invitation coming there this week.
One of the things we've learned, Marq Claxton, let me bring you in on this, is where you have strong intergenerational relations answers and can get answers that it does not even in very tense situations, and I've been in many, leading to people feeling that violence is going to be the answer when it never is. When you have cities that don't have that, that's where you end up where you have an explosion like this, Marq. And I think that you and I have seen from New York to Atlanta to L.A., cities that were able to deal with these things, because there were structures there to deal with it. And then you get cities that always demonize and denigrate those kind of structures, and then you end up where kids have nowhere to express themselves, and they take the way that is not in any way, shape, or form something that we would condone. Marq?
MARQ CLAXTON, FORMER NEW YORK POLICE OFFICER (via phone): Yes. Oftentimes, what you'll find is this reaction of violence and disorder, and what appears to be chaos, is a result of a lack of pro-activity in established and respectful and open lines of communication.
I think the frustration, the buildup of frustration, in regards of what the particular issue is, the frustrating part about it is, when people, especially young people feel as if, one, they're not being heard, and the second part being that no one is listening to what they're saying, and they're not being spoken to. And their issues aren't being addressed, as the councilman made reference to, you get this explosion, this reaction. It is the responsibility of sensible, responsible leaders, government officials, et cetera, to be proactive, prior to the fires, prior to the looting, prior to the violence. We have to establish these type of relationships early on, and before there is an issue that the young people and others just react on.
SHARPTON: Now, we're watching live shots, and it appears that a cell phone store, a lot of young people, but it also seems like some community residents are trying to talk to them and trying to discourage them. Which speaks to your point that we need those structures that are proactive before the point, not reactive, Marq Claxton.
CLAXTON: Yes, there has to be a preemptive strategy, a preemptive strategy, based on honesty and integrity. Because oftentimes, there can be outreach. But if people don't feel as respectful or honest, or it's just, then they don't respond accordingly. It's much more difficult, after the fact, or during the course of incidents such as these, to now make a connection and try to stop it, to try stem the tide, or stop this swell of emotion or outrage.
And also, we have to be honest enough to say that there are often times, many times, and even in legitimate protest movements, that there are elements outside of the organizers that are either criminal opportunists, who will look just for an opportunity to engage or steal or loot or rob, and then there are professional agitators. There are provocateurs who really seek, you know, get a lot of thrill out of watching this type of chaos and disruption. So, many people involved --
SHARPTON: But Senator Gladden, on that particular point, there are those that want to stroke the fires that don't really care about achieving justice, and that's why I say to a lot of the media, don't call everybody protesters or activists, that are not there to protest or active. Now, some of them are legitimately angry, but you're talking about these 14-year-old, 15-year-old kid. You're not talking about the young generations of activists. You're talking about 14 or 15-year-old kids --
SHARPTON: Some of them have been swayed by agitators, some are legitimately angry.
GLADDEN: They are, they are angry. And I understand that, but I do believe that there are opportunities for young people to not only make their voices heard, but also make their positions heard and recognize them.
I think that our community is proud of some of the strides we have brought. I look at this and I say, target came to an African-American community, came to a mall, where no one would go to when I was a kid. You were very afraid to go to Mondawmin. And now, today, Mondawmin is one the, you know, it's a vibrant community of malls.
And so it says to me that we can make our community stronger, we can make our community attractive, and we can make our communities, I think, alive. And you do so by making sure that these agitators that we saw on television today, that they realize that they got something to lose when they strike out in the way in which they did.
They got something to lose. And I know that they do and we need to make sure that they understand that today is the day that we're not going to loot, we're not going to rob, we're not going to steal, but what we're going to do is we're going to make sure our community gets all the things that it not only needs, but the things that it deserves.
SHARPTON: Now, Councilman Mosby, do we need to hear from the mayor and police commissioner tonight? And if so, what do we need to hear from them?
MOSBY: Reverend Al Sharpton, I think some of the issue has been lack of relationships. We need to understand, you know, where the relationships are and get to the people. You know, the people are crying out. Again, when we look at these children, in and out of these stores, running through the streets, breaking into cars, breaking out windows, this is the voice of frustration and we need to figure them out.
I think that having another press conference is not going to do it. I think this takes real engagement. It takes face to face, it takes the being on the streets. It takes the leaders of these folks trying to wrap them together. I mean, I know that it's enough easy. It's going to take a very complex situation, and it's going to take a lot of time for a lot of healing, from the residents to the store owners, to the community members, to the police, but you have to do it in a way where it's built off of real relationships and not just press conferences.
SHARPTON: Marq, how has the police response been so far in your judgment to this afternoon?
MARK PUENTE, BALTIMORE SUN: Well, thus far they're spread throughout the city, trying to keep control of some spots. They're taking criticism and their first priority is to protect life, their own life, and then they'll go after the people looting the buildings.
SHARPTON: That's Mark Puente with "the Baltimore Sun".
Marq Claxton, how do you, as a former police officer, how do you assess the police response?
CLAXTON: Well, I think they've shown a tremendous amount of restraint, especially when you consider that several of their members have been injured, and the reports are accurate, pretty seriously. I think there had -- I think what is obvious, or what should be obvious to many is that perhaps they underestimated the level of emotion or they did not anticipate or see this coming to this extent. It just really appears that they were under resourced or undermanned, to really deal effectively with large crowds, mobile crowds, et cetera.
So I'm sure, at this point, and this is a scary proposition, but we have to be honest, nighttime is approaching. And I'm sure just as, perhaps, some of the agitators of the criminal element may be kind of multiplying. The police forces or resources are being mobilized ahead that way, and so there's an increased level of danger for both police and the community. And we have to be wary of that.
MOOAR: Reverend Al, can you hear me?
SHARPTON: Yes, is this Mark?
MOOAR: It's Brian Mooar. And I can tell you, Reverend Al, that this is not an issue of the police being under resourced. The Baltimore police have called in multiple jurisdictions prior to today.
I spoke with a police source of mine who two days ago knew he was going to be in downtown Baltimore today. And what they're doing, they're deploying these assets. And as we're going from one location to another. We passed the area that is sort of the epicenter right now, and saw probably about 30, 40 police officers standing by, as you were talking about that cell phone store, being pillaged, looted, these officers were standing by.
What this looks like from, you know, albeit, looking through the key hole, this looks like a controlled burn where the officers are allowing people in the certain place to get out of control. But to the point of young people crying out or doing this for a reason, my photographer and I saw a group of probably about 15 young kids in their teens, very fresh-faced, young kids, wearing clothes, it looked like they were heading to a baseball game. They were heading the to the place where all of this stuff was happening and it looked like they were caught up in the excitement, something big is going on in their neighborhood and they wanted to see what was happening.
SHARPTON: So you're saying that the police are standing around, allowing it to happen?
MOOAR: I'm saying that police are standing on the sidelines, in a very difficult situation. Where if you go in, you're going to enflame it. And if you don't do anything, it's literally going to flame out of control. And at this point, I think that the mayor and the police commissioner, On the Record, said that their way of dealing with this is to allow space for protesters to vent their frustration.
And in some cases, they have vented it violently. And I don't want to editorialize here, but I think that they're counting on what happened Saturday night, which is members of the community, to step in and say, hey, young man, stop it. This is not doing anything.
And let me add something else. I went to Kent State University in Ohio. Taunting people with guns who are frustrated has potentially tragic consequences. And I hope that members of the community can speak with these young people and talk them off a ledge. I wouldn't say that the police are standing by, letting an area burn, but I think what they appear to be doing tactically right now is sort of quarantining a small area, where driving around in downtown Baltimore, and you would not know right now that things are happening in that little enclave there.
SHARPTON: Mark Puente, let me bring you. Tell me what you've seen today and how you assess it this afternoon.
PUENTE: I've been in Baltimore for a year. And we did a six-month investigative series on Baltimore (INAUDIBLE) against the police department. And I lived in Detroit and Cleveland for most of my life. And what I've seen in this city in a year is more frustration towards the police department than those two other cities. Whether be 15-year-old kids who, in my story, up to 75 and 80-year-old woman, they distrust the police. That is a major problem in the city. It's not just a couple small pockets of kids, it runs the gamut from young people to adults. Because of some of how some of these police have treated citizens throughout the years. The city has paid out millions in lawsuits, broken bones, battered faces. But let's me stress what's going on today isn't what took place on Saturday. This is rioting. This is not peaceful protests.
SHARPTON: Now, Saturday was 99 percent peaceful protests. There was a couple of incidents later at night. This is a whole different world.
PUENTE: This is a whole different -- this is not the same. Saturday night, a few people got out of the same late at night. This is not the same. The police put the alert out earlier today that there was a credible threat against law enforcement from three gangs, one that target police and put everybody on alert and this kind of triggered and spun off that.
SHARPTON: Now, Councilman Mosby, the fact is that if you say this was on social media and organized, then it is possible that the police also knew, which is why people were on alert, as Brian was telling us, and that reinforcements were already in place, but decided to step back and not enflame the situation. We're told the governor has mobilized the state troopers, and they can be deployed, but again, they're on alert. We have not seen evidence of them there yet.
MOSBY: Yes, Reverend. Police knew about it. Mondawmin mall was actually shut down earlier today prior to the 3:00 meet up that the folks all agreed to do over social media. And there was tons and tons of police car -- I mean, that's where the armored truck first appeared. It was at the mall.
And basically the area we're looking at, this vantage point on television is right south of there. And the police basically chased all these folks right south of there. They created their line and pushed all these children, packs and packs of children spread out throughout this neighborhood.
The one thing I'll say, is you know Baltimore is a large city, right? It's not like Ferguson. So you have so many alleys. You have so many streets. It's very difficult. And when the police dispersed all these children, there were packets of kids everywhere. From 20 to 15 to 10 groups of children everywhere. I actually drove through north avenue, around 4:45, 5:00. I saw the police car get busted out, the windows being busted out. I saw the stores being busted open. And like I said, it was just packs and packs of children everywhere. But the police department knew this was coming. That's why they secured and protected Mondawmin mall and pushed them south. I guess the strategy now is to kind of sit and wait.
The one thing I would say is, not having a law enforcement background or any prior experience with riot preparation is, you know, what did they do differently in downtown Baltimore and around Camden yards is different than what's going on now with these kids running in and out of these stores.
GLADDEN: But see, the difference is it is also --
SHARPTON: This is state senator gladden, go ahead.
GLADDEN: I'm sorry. There is a high school right across the street from Mondawmin mall. And so what happened was the kids were dismissed and they could come directly -- and they knew, as I believe the council person has told us, they knew that something was going to happen and they looked on social media, they saw it, and they planned it. And so, it was very clear that the kids in the high school, when they got out of school, they came across the street to Mondawmin mall and did what they had to do.
The difference between what happens and in some of the places, downtown particularly, is there was no high school downtown. There is nothing but businesses downtown. And so, you didn't have the fuel of the students and the children to, I guess to incite some of the issues. Because you didn't -- you had businesspeople, you had older people who were downtown. But when you have energy and you have young people and you had them at the high school, coming across the street to the mall, that's what happens. And that's how you end up getting what we got today.
SHARPTON: We just got in word that the orioles have postponed their baseball game tonight in Baltimore against the White Sox. And a statement in from Maryland governor Larry Hogan. Quote, "today's looting and acts of violence in Baltimore will not be tolerated. In response, I have put the Maryland National Guard on alert so they can be in position to deploy rapidly as need. These malicious attacks against law enforcement and local communities only betray the cause of peaceful citizens seeking answers and justice following the death of Freddie Gray."
That, again, is a statement from the governor of Maryland, Governor Hogan.
Let me go back to you, Mark Puente. The frustration, and I've heard it at my civil right who has a chapter there, the national action network, and it seems that you raise a point that is true from the very young to the very old, there seems to be a stark distrust of the police, even more than in other cities. In your investigations, and you're an investigative reporter for the "Baltimore Sun," what have you uncovered has been the underlying causes for this?
PUENTE: Well, the biggest underlying cause is that we found that the Baltimore police department didn't have a tracking system. The Baltimore department didn't know that multiple officers were being sued at multiple times, where they paid multiple claims out, until we notified them. They didn't investigate claims when residents filed complaints for excessive force of brutality. They couldn't find the paperwork. People were injured, the city paid $100,000 in these lawsuits. Officers didn't get disciplined. They moved up the chain of command and became supervisors to lieutenants, captains, and majors. So you go back to talk to people on the street, it's the culture of distrust of this city, and it stems from the top to the bottom.
SHARPTON: Let me interrupt you. We now are seeing live pictures, it appears the CVS that was looted earlier is now on fire. And we are watching smoke come out of that CVS and a large presence as you can see of police coming down on the side of that store to the left looking forward or on the right, if you were on the ground, on the street there by the CVS that was looted earlier.
Again, it appears the CVS pharmacy store that was looted earlier today in Baltimore is now on fire.
Go ahead, Mark Puente, you were giving us some of the under occurring reasons you believe there is such a distrust between citizens and police in Baltimore.
PUENTE: Well, to get back to the investigation we did, of the 102 lawsuits that the city paid out in time totaling $6 million, the people that charges against these residents and questionable arrests were all dropped by prosecutors and judges. They were hindering an obstruction, assault on a law enforcement officer, disorderly conduct. So that stood out immediately. They're all questionable arrests. There are injuries, no paperwork to see what happened in any of these cases. That was the big -- that's caused part of the problem in this city 7
GLADDEN: Here's a question, how come the officers weren't charged? It sounds to me that citizens were charged with disorderly conduct or hindering arrest or whatever the charge might be. Were the officers ever charged?
PUENTE: No, there was --
PUENTE: The case we looked at in thousands of pages of court records I examined, none of these officers were charged.
SHARPTON: How did they explain that to you, Mark?
PUENTE: They said there's no tracking system. We're not here to talk about the past, we're here to talk about the future. We have no tracking system. Let's move on.
SHARPTON: But Senator, and you were raising the question there, I'm glad, this is part of the frustration and the anger that we're hearing, is that police are never charged. And clearly, we're not saying police are always wrong, but they're not always right either.
PUENTE: Look, if I can get one more point, we've uncovered a video that contradicted an officer that has been sued five times and the city paid out $600,000. The video showed the suspect being assaulted while he was handcuffed. The officer said he had assaulted and defended himself and then handcuffed him. He's been on paid suspension for six months. No one can say why he's been on paid suspension for six months where there is video evidence of the assault? That has angered people.
SHARPTON: But Senator, I think the point --
AL SHARPTON, MSNBC HOST, “POLITICS NATION”: But Senator, and you were raising the question there, Gladden, this is part of the frustration and the anger that we're hearing, is that police are never charged. And clearly, we're not saying police are always wrong, but they’re not always right either.
STATE SEN. LISA GLADDEN (D), MARYLAND (on the phone): That’s right.
MARK PUENTE, THE BALTIMORE SUN: Look, if I can get one more point, we've uncovered a video that contradicted an officer who had been sued five times and the city paid out $600,000. The video showed the suspect being assaulted while he was handcuffed. The officer said he had assaulted and defended himself and then handcuffed him. He's been on paid suspension for six months. Nobody can say why he's been unpaid suspension for six months, when there is video evidence of the assault. That has anger people.
SHARPTON: But Senator, I think the point that you’re making, is that is if they’re paying settlements on misbehavior, why wasn't anyone charges with misbehavior?
GLADDEN: Correct. That's exactly what I want to know. And I don't know the answer, as I said, and I say it all the time, I’m public defender who oftentimes represents people who are charged with these bogus charges. And I know that they exist. And I also know that people are charged, even though they did nothing, but the police did a whole lot, and they aren’t charged. And I want to know how come, how come the table is not turned in a way towards fairness. And I don't believe it's done fairly, and I don't think it's done in a way that, I mean, that evokes justice for all of us. Not at all.
SHARPTON: Now, Marq Claxton, as we are watching these live shots of the CVS Pharmacy Store that was looted earlier, now on fire, I notice that we have yet to see fire trucks there. Does that mean that it’s difficult for them to get through, because those areas have been cordoned off?
MARQ CLAXTON, RETIRED NEW YORK POLICE DETECTIVE (on the phone): Well, I would assume so. There’s -- some firetrucks -- I don’t what part of town that CVS (INAUDIBLE).
SHARPTON: And we're told by the family attorney, Billy Murphy, that the family is watching the looting and they're very upset, very angry and very sad. And again, I think with all of the frustration, all of the anger that we all understand the root cause of, Mr. Mosby, nothing is justified. And it almost means that sometimes people act like they agree. The families, the victims are non-consequential here. And they're the ones that’s seeking justice.
COUNCILMAN NICK MOSBY, BALTIMORE CITY COUNCIL DISTRICT (on the phone): Correct. Well, everybody's seeking justice. I think that, you know, Freddie Gray, how he's highlighted the issues in Baltimore and these communities to the rest of the world, but at the end of the day, Baltimore, like many other urban cities, has thousands upon thousands of Freddie Grays.
MOSBY: And that's what this is a culmination of me. Again, these children, you know, at the end of the day, who are acting inappropriately, who, you know, are creating this crime and this violence and it's not to be at all condoned or approved, at the end of the day again are bringing this to the forefront as their frustration. This is their speech. These folks felt like they’ve been disenfranchised, felt like they’ve been disrespected. They feel as if they have no voice in the political system, and yet, you know, through this past week, they have a voice. And unfortunately, the anger and the frustration are spilling out into these 14 and 15 and 16 and 17-year-olds. This is their voice. This is how they're speaking out. And they're crying and they’re begging for help. And yes, this is not -- shouldn't be condoned. Yes, they should be punished.
This cannot be tolerated in our city. But I think as leaders and as folks who understand and know that they're doing nothing more than but living out the since of generations ago. Failed policies to communities like West Baltimore and it's not just a Baltimore thing, it's an urban American thing. You talk about, you know, everything from the Iran contraband all the way up to stop and frisking policies, over-policing policies, the pipeline to imprisonment. You know, at the end of the day, you know, in these epicenters where you have high proportional amount of poverty, where you have an educational system that fails, when you try to tell these folks they have opportunities everybody else has, this is their frustration.
SHARPTON: Well, one of the things, Senator, that has been said, Senator Gladden, Martin Luther King, Jr. 50 years ago said that these riots that he certainly were against were the voice of the unheard and I think what a lot of people do in the sanitizing of history is that you had the watch riots when Dr. King was alive.
GLADDEN: That's correct.
SHARPTON: We act like we didn't have riots -- Dr. King had cities that grew up that he couldn't talk to. And he himself heckled in certain cities. So we've always had those whose tempers would boil over, but it was always because they felt they were unheard. And this is not the way to be heard but we've seen this happen even in the day of Dr. King. So, this year we celebrated the 50th anniversary of the vote rights act, but it’s also the 50th anniversary of the watch riots, Senator.
GLADDEN: That's right. And I would say that since I was born in '64, I know exactly about what happened, because my family made sure we knew about it. But let me say this. That although we -- you had people who in 1964 and '65, they were protesting and that they were, they were challenging whatever was happening. They had a goal. And I’m not so sure that today, these kids have any goals, other than to burn the CVS, or to burn the --
MOSBY: Reverend, if I can --
GLADDEN: And that's problematic, because it's one thing when you have a goal and you have a righteous goal, but I do not believe that the kids out there today have any kind of goal. And yes I was out there too, just to see what was going on, and it was clear to me, there's no goal, and there is no --
SHARPTON: Marq Claxton, you wanted to respond to that?
MOSBY: I want to say, I agree on those comments. I think what's important here is that not necessarily these young people out here engaged in this crazy behavior on the streets and destruction and stealing and fires, et cetera, but there are goals that are set from other individuals that have been expressed, and there's a desperate need on a national level --
MOSBY: -- whether it be through legislation or other means, that there needs to be a redress and something dealt with in the criminal justice system as a whole and policing as well. So one of the goals, and although many people have different ways of expressing this goal, is a call for national movement, national legislation, Reverend Sharpton, you've been, you know, spearheading this call for this stuff. And that's the desperate need. People need to see a response or a reaction when they are in pain. They need to understand that. So, and even on that point, something that city government can do, that perhaps would alleviate some pain or at least give people the impression that we're hearing you is, we don't have to wait until May 1st to get a report of what happened on Freddie gray. We don't have to wait this long to get a full report of what happened to Freddie Gray. So, let's make an honest effort to get as much information out. Let's start the communication there and expand from that point forward. But along with that, there must be a national movement towards criminal justice reform.
SHARPTON: I think you're right. Mark? Mark Puente, I thought I heard you.
GLADDEN: I'm going to just tell you, what I heard was, reform for criminal justice -- that’s right.
SHARPTON: Senator, I did not hear your last point. Repeat that Senator Lisa Gladden.
GLADDEN: I'm sorry, I do believe that we need to change and we need to come up and to develop other strategies for not only reforming but restoring criminal justice issues in the city of Baltimore. We need somebody to say, this is what we need to do and this is what’s not happening. Because obviously, it's not done rights.
SHARPTON: I want to bring in the Reverend Westley West of faith and power ministries. Thank you for being here, Reverend. Reverend, you've been leading a lot of the daily, and nightly vigils, since this has happened with Freddie Gray, grassroots, people standing with you. What's your response to what we’re seeing right now?
REV. WESTLEY WEST, FAITH EMPOWERED MINISTRIES: What we're see right now, I’m very shocked, I’m very displeased, what's going on and transpiring in our city.
SHARPTON: Now, you've stressed and the family has stressed that you wanted nonviolence and I guess that’s the basis of you saying that you're shocked. But you've heard on the ground a lot of the anger and a lot of the outrage. What do you think needs to be done to restore not only order, but restore real peace, the presence of justice and the community feeling like they are heard and can expect that there will be justice between their relationship with police in your city.
WEST: Right now, Rev, I believe that the people need, some people that are relatable to them, that can relate -- right now, it's a trust issue between the police and also, you know, the mayor and sometimes, even when it came to me being on the ground, it's a lot of trust issues I'm hearing of the people, me being there, with local pastors and leaders, and, you know, the mayor and the police, it's a trust issue right now. Right now, I think we need people that are more relatable to the individuals to be able to reach them.
SHARPTON: Now, and when you say trust issues, you mean, across the board, they just don't feel people are being as straight and transparent with them.
SHARPTON: And I think that it has gotten to that point. You and I talked about that earlier. And I think, Senator, in many ways, the trust issue is because Senator Gladden, they've been disappointed so many times. Or find that people use a lot of their frustration for their own agendas.
GLADDEN: Absolutely. That's exactly what's going on. I just, I do believe, too, just as the reverend has said it, we need to make sure we cannot only can our voices be heard, but that they trust us. And trust us as we would trust them. And I don't believe that the community trusts the police. And I don't believe the police trust the community. And we just need to figure out a way to make it happen.
SHARPTON: Stay with me, Senator and Reverend West. I want to bring in NBC's Tom Costello, who's live in Baltimore outside City Hall. Tom, you were in the city, reporting on peaceful protests last week. What's changed?
TOM COSTELLO, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Well, first of all, let me tell you'll the reason we're downtown though, Rev, is because we were up in West Baltimore, things got extremely volatile, as you've seen on television. Our own satellite truck was pelted with rocks. Some individuals broke into the cab and looted it. It became an unsafe environment. We were literally just a couple of blocks or so from where the heaviest confrontations were going on with police. But you had these free lancers, if you will, kind of streaming through the streets, pass police lines, and acting up. So we decided, we had to get our crew out of here is simply wasn’t safe. So we moved down here to downtown Baltimore. A scene from down here if I can give you is that first of all the baseball game tonight between the Orioles and the White Sox has now been postponed. It won't happen tonight.
We have seen many, many, many police, officers streaming up into West Baltimore. They've been put on busses, they're in patrol cars, also, you probably know, the Maryland governors has put the National Guard on standby and the FBI now says, it’s now investigating this report of a threat against police. If you're asking me what's changed in the last week, we tactically on the ground, you know, I would say as an outside observer, I think maybe a couple of things. I think that there is this expectation that there is going to be an immediate justice. There is going to be immediate justice for those who the crowds believe are responsible for Freddie Gray's injury and death. And there seems to be not a lot of appreciation for letting that investigative process work out, or for that matter, allowing the judicial process to work out.
There simply isn't an understanding of the process, I think, among many of these individuals, and also, not -- people don't have patience anymore. And, of course, this pent-up demand, if I could be so bold, this pent-up demand for social justice, that has been percolating in Baltimore for, you know, not two weeks, but for 50 years. And the situation has grown worse and worse and worse, with high unemployment, 25 percent unemployment, in West Baltimore. With something like 16,000 homes that are abandoned and are dangerous. It's just a blighted, you know, portion of Baltimore. And crime and drugs and everything that can go into a recipe for a terrible mixture, that’s been now touched off by this incident with Freddie Gray. But, of course, many people will tell you, Freddie Gray is one of many Freddie Grays, and they are concerned about not only police violence, but violence, period.
I talked to many families who said, they are simply afraid for their kids’ lives, and not just even in West Baltimore, but it's spreading, if you will, into other neighborhoods. And so, you wonder, I was thinking about this as I was driving from West Baltimore to get down here to city hall, and it just seems like it was the perfect combination of everything that can go wrong in a particular part of a city, over the course of decades, going wrong and finally, it was just lit off.
SHARPTON: Reverend West, as you hear Tom Costello expand upon that, is that what you've been hearing in the street, from housing to unemployment to poverty? This just became the spark on something that was boiling beneath the surface for a long time, and they felt neglected and ignored?
WEST: Yes, sir, Reverend Sharpton, I have spoken to a couple of people in my town, in the community, and they have explained to me that they are, that's where they're going end to up being for the rest of their lives. There's no way out for them, there are no resources. They are afraid that their children will grow up to be just like them. That their jobs, they went looking for various -- went to various places for employment and have been rejected and denied. And right now they are afraid, so they don't actually know what to do.
SHARPTON: This kind of sense of an endless cycle. And again, none of us are justifying looting or violence in any stretch, but this kind of feeling that is adding to those that would agitate and misuse it, Marq Claxton, is something that has got to be navigated by legitimate people on the ground, like a Reverend West.
CLAXTON: Yes, oh, absolutely. And I think in addition to what Reverend West had indicated earlier on I heard, Councilman Mosby really lay out clearly what so many of the issues are that kind of lead to these type of violent outbursts. What's especially scary and troubling is that, you know, it's happening in Baltimore now. I was just in Chicago this past weekend, at a youth police forum and conference, and hearing the stories there, it really sounded as if, you know, there's a real connection between what's happening in Chicago and Baltimore and New York and in those many urban areas and all of these locations.
SHARPTON: And that is why -- and that is why I think we need to share information on what has worked and what has not worked and be heard, which is what Reverend West and all of us are talking about doing. But I think that at the same time, we've got to be honest about people, including you, and others have been demonized and denigrated for trying to deal with these issues. And when you try to discredit those that will stand up, then you only add to the frustration of those that feel they're not being heard, and anyone that tries to help them to be heard is going to be cut down.
Let me bring in Baynard Woods. He's a reporter with the Baltimore City Paper. Baynard, you were right in the middle of the clashes today. What's the scene now?
BAYNARD WOODS, BALTIMORE CITY PAPER (on the phone): Yes, we were. We're now over a little bit right by where it started, at the mall. But we left from Pennsylvania and North Avenue to get over here a few minutes ago. It was really getting intense, as the police started to move down. They had completely lost control of the area. Young people had taken police tape and -- had taken police tape and were wrapping it around the streets, blocking off the streets. Taking Coleman stoves, trying to set those on fire. And, you know, we've been out all week, and we saw my photographer Jim Jordano (ph), I filmed him being beaten by the Baltimore police the other night at a protest at the Gilmore homes, right where Freddie Gray lived.
And so, we saw them -- there were over 100 police for about 30 protesters, who were really residents in the neighborhood, who really were grieving. And so we see that this is really, you know, we saw them the other night and the protesters helped us. We were actually scared of the police, as they were charging, and we had nothing to protect ourselves from them. And so we got a sense of two white guys sort of what it’s like over in that area for them every day. I walked around the neighborhood asking people, and everyone said, I can't go to the store without being hassled, without being searched, without having to sit on the curb, right there for an hour while people come and you're humiliated. And so, you know, we saw that.
And so I really wasn't surprised. We ran over from the office to get to the mall today. It was war. It was tactical in both ways, with the riot police was shooting, gas shooting rubble bullets at the protesters and the protesters throwing rocks and bricks at them and then everyone trying to maneuver. And when we got over to the corners of Pennsylvania and North Avenue which is right, incidentally, right about where Freddie Gray was initially picked up or spotted by the police when he ran, people were really, really angry and serious. They were flaming at police cars and vans. And there was a feeling of, you know, it feels like the city’s leadership, most of whom is African-American, but the mayor and commissioner bass who, I covered all of the protests in the fall and he was out and every one of those.
And he's been notably absent at all of these protests and hasn't been treating the protesters in nearly the same way. He was giving a press conference a block away within minutes of when his men were jumping on and with their riots knocking down my photographer. And they took a Reuters photographer, so that they could -- and we got pictures of it. So that they could beat another guy who was threatening the cops. And the things we noticed -- was the way that everyone, it was sort of personal. How does it feel to you now, not to be able to talk back to me the same way that --
SHARPTON: When you say, "sort of personal," you mean, people talking to the police in these encounters?
WOODS: Yes, yes. So there would be a cop who had hassled them before, and the cop’s now standing in the line, having to be silent, in the same way that the people who live in Gilmore homes have to be silent all the time. And so I think there's a real rage that is coming out of because of the way that this city's police force treats, especially its black residents.
SHARPTON: Now, let me ask you, Senator, do you think -- Senator Gladden, do you think that the fact that there’s such a seeming disconnect, how do you repair in in an immediate crisis like this? I don't know that it's possible to repair this with a press conference or TV appearance.
GLADDEN: It's not a press conference or a TV event. I do believe that what we need is we need more police officers who live in Baltimore City, we need more police officers who are from Baltimore City, and we need more leadership, that is reflective of the community that they police. And so, we don't want outside. Outside agitators don't do it, but quite frankly, the Police Department, they look like outside agitators to us. And we want all of them to help us keep our community safe. And to do that, I think you need to get local police officers, who look like us, who went to school with us, and who can relate to us. But otherwise, they're not going to get the results that you’re looking for now. I believe that the police have got to do a whole lot too, but right now, we need to fix it from the inside, the Baltimore City Police Department.
SHARPTON: The fact that the mayor and the police chief, there seems to be a disconnect, Reverend West, even though they’re African-American. I think that a lot of people don’t understand, that there are different levels of communication and class and all, inside of any community, and it’s no different in the African-American community. Everyone is not the same.
WEST: I agree. I agree. Everybody is not the same. And I think that's the problem now. Again, like the chants that I heard today, when it came down to, when Shelia Dixon was recognized at the funeral today --
SHARPTON: Shelia Dixon, being the former mayor of Baltimore, for people who don't know.
WEST: Yes. When Shelia Dixon was the former mayor, was recognized today at the funeral, the chants for her that stopped and them came back the applause, it showed that she did have a connection with the people and a lot of people are also upset right now, with our current mayor, because right now, when her nephew passed away, it showed her she was more involved. But now she's less engaged with this and a lot of people are turned off by that as well.
SHARPTON: All right. Let me interrupt you. I want to bring back in NBC's Brian Mooar, who's with the Gray family attorney, who I’ve known many years, Billy Murphy.
BRIAN MOOAR, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Yes. Billy, Reverend Al sends his regards. We're doing this the old-fashioned way like we talked about. Your thoughts on the situation that’s happening, the burning, the looting, the confrontation?
WILLIAM H. “BILLY” MURPHY, FREDDIE GRAY'S FAMILY ATTORNEY: I hope we're not inadvertently spreading it by covering it in the way that we are, because these are kids who are disconnected. They're 12, 13, 14, 15, 16-year-old kids. These are not the adults in the community who are doing this. And these are kids who haven’t been reached by our politicians and our educators and the systems in place that are supposed to be working, they’re not working to these kids, and so they don't have anything to do. And they see an opportunity and they get involved in the wrong way. But this is not representative of most kids in that age group in Baltimore and certainly not the adults in the community.
MOOAR: Counter to what you and the family asked for today, there’s not violence, we understand that the Gray family is watching this play out on TV in real-time on what is perhaps the worst possible day of their lives.
MURPHY: They're brokenhearted by this development. They don't want violence. They know violence is not the answer to Freddie’s legacy. They know that this is not going to push the ball forward, so that we can have a better police force. This is a distraction and we don’t need it. And we need to get out on the streets ourselves and calm these kids down, so they know what they’re doing is not helping. But they're 12, 13, 14, 15, and 16. They're not mature.
MOOAR: The police appear to be standing somewhat at arm’s length, letting some of this play out. What are members of the community doing? What should they be doing right now?
MURPHY: Well, obviously, if they’re your kids out there, you come and get them by the ear and pull them back in the house. But you see, these are kids who come from broken homes. These are kids who have time on their hands, and, you know, idleness is the devil’s workshop. And so this is something that's fun and exciting to them. And unfortunately, they don’t behave like they have an awareness of the seriousness of the issues surrounding Freddie Gray. Now, as a counterpoint to these kids, they are kids who are walking peacefully in other parts of Baltimore who are saying, Freddie Gray, we've got to do something about Freddie Gray. They're behaving intelligently, peacefully, calmly. And they're part of what’s constructive. And so, we don't want Baltimore to appear to be the way that these kids are behaving. There's a bigger, stronger, better Baltimore than that out there.
MURPHY: Now, we need to get involved.
MOOAR: The Reverend wants to ask a question. Reverend Al.
SHARPTON: Brian, so am I understanding Attorney Murphy, saying that these kids that are doing this, very young kids, are not the protesters or not the ones that have been involved in the last week in the gray movement. These are kids that are disconnected from that, who may be angry, but that should not be confused with the young and older activists that have been working on this case?
MOOAR: Yes. My observation as well. The reverend is asking from what you've seen, these youngsters out there, and they do appear to be youngsters, are not part of the protests, the demonstrations --
MURPHY: Not at all, not at all. They are part of the disconnected. They know about the problem of police brutality, because they feel it, they see it, but they’re not part of the organized protests that were occurring earlier. And I’ve toured the neighborhood surrounding this violence, just to see how widespread it is. Real calm, real quiet in these neighborhoods.
MOOAR: Just a few streets away, it's a completely different story.
MURPHY: Exactly. And the majority of the neighborhood, where these kids come from, is peaceful. And so, we hope that the police can contain this as an isolated phenomenon. But again, I don't want the media to inadvertently communicate to the other disaffected kids that they can join these kids. That would not --
MOOAR: That appears to be what the police are doing, is setting up a quarantine zone, not letting people in.
MURPHY: And that's smart policing. It's about time.
MOOAR: Thank you very much.
SHARPTON: I thank you, Brian. And thank Attorney Murphy. And again, I think it is important, Reverend West and Senator Gladden and others, that we not lose sight. Yes, there's systemic problems, yes, there's need for change, but that this is not the way to achieve it and some of those doing this are not at all connected with that, though they have an underlying frustration. So you got to, at one hand, demand to be heard, but on the other hand say, but you've got to operate in a way that leads to change, Reverend West.
WEST: Yes, exactly, I agree. We know that change isn't cheap, because sometimes I like to say that it will cost you a death to the old, just to experience a birth to the new. Which means we've got to get away from our old way of thinking in order to bring about change, because our old way it ain't working. The same old ways ain't working. Again, those youngsters that are out there now, certainly not the ones that have been out there, when I had been, you know, on the streets. In fact, I’m wary and I’m scared about the supporters -- I feel for the supporters that want to support, but now they're seeing this, it scares me to see if we would have their support because of this.
SHARPTON: Well, I think that you’ve been out there and leading peaceful protests and getting very low recognition for it but doing it out of your heart. And I think that those kinds of peaceful, affective protests are what needs to be highlighted and I intend to come in at some point and support you this week. But again, I think it’s important that the issues remain out there, that we deal with this underlying frustration. I want to thank all my guests who have helped me report this story tonight. We're watching these tragic pictures out of Baltimore. And I want to say that, again, 50 years ago, we had a great year. We got the voting rights act through, Selma became known all over the world, but we also had the violence in the watch.
We can see the results when you have a real poignant, organized movement, and when you do not. Yes, the frustration, the lack of being taken seriously sometimes push people certain ways. But if you really want to see something happen, for those that are abused and treated unjustly, you must deal with what will deal with the pain and the problem and not just express your feelings about the problem.
Thanks for watching. I'm Al Sharpton. "HARDBALL" starts right now.
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
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