Return to Transcripts main page
ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES
Peaceful Protests in Ferguson; Religious, Community Leaders on the Streets; Concerns Around Grand Jury Process; Lt. Gen. Russel Honore Criticizes Police Response
Aired August 19, 2014 - 23:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Good evening, everyone. It is 11:00 p.m. on the East Coast, 10:00 p.m. right here in Ferguson, Missouri. And despite calls by officials to head home at nightfall, we've seen precisely the opposite. People streaming in, marching, always moving because police have told them they'll be arrested if they don't move along.
There are local clergy here. We've seen the Nation of Islam, other community organizers. People so far marching peacefully, smaller numbers than last night, no doubt about that. Remember though, it was right around this time last night when things seemed to get out of hand.
We've also in the last 90 minutes or so seen a number of police tactical vehicles come by and at least one take up position nearby, just about two blocks or so. And, as you can see, protesters are now moving behind me. So a group of maybe 200, 250 or so, and they're moving around in a circle in an area that is maybe a five-block area.
Once again, there is a mixture of calm and tension with everybody here -- those who want it quiet and the few who don't. Everybody here knowing how suddenly things can change.
There have been a lot of developments today and tonight. We just got our first video of the officer at the center of this all, Darren Wilson, who shot and killed Michael Brown a week and a half ago. The video from February showing Officer Wilson receiving a commendation.
Also tonight, late word from Governor Jay Nixon, a special video message calling for calm, and with Attorney General Eric Holder coming here tomorrow, promising justice. Listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. JAY NIXON (D), MISSOURI: Vigorous prosecution must now be pursued. The democratically-elected St. Louis prosecutor and the Attorney General of the United States each have a job to do. Their obligation to achieve justice in the shooting death of Michael Brown must be carried out thoroughly, promptly, and correctly. And I call upon them to meet those expectations.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: That's Governor Nixon. Tonight, a lot to get to in the hour ahead.
Our Jake Tapper is out on the streets f or us with the demonstrators. Jake, what has it been like over the last hour?
JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST, "THE LEAD": Well, there are two main differences that I can tell from tonight compared with previous nights. The first one is this is a much smaller group of protesters. And because it's smaller, they're able to be much more better organized, much more easily controlled by the protest leaders, by the community organizers, and the clergy that you mentioned. So that's been much more peaceful, much less opportunity for the bad actors that have been referred to in previous nights, to act out without being discovered.
The other thing is that the police are out here in force, but they are not all consolidated in one place. They are spread out throughout the entire course of this march. And so their presence is here if they are needed, if anything happens, if anything -- if any of the looting happens, if anyone gets out of line. But it is not in any sense confrontational the way that the police are. They're along the route, they're encouraging people to stay on the sidewalk, not on the street. They clearly are ready to go if anything happens. They have handcuffs, plastic handcuffs, shields, et cetera. But it's not the same kind of standoff that we saw just last night, Anderson.
COOPER: It does seem, Jake, like the tactics have changed almost really every night. Last night, we saw police identifying individuals who they thought were inciting people. They would move in and arrest those people and allow the demonstrations to continue, at least until kind of the pandemonium broke out.
As you said, though, tonight police seem a different tactic. They are more stretched out. And there is tactical vehicles on both ends of this avenue.
TAPPER: Yes, Anderson, actually, right now we're -- there seems to be some sort of arrest going on in a parking lot. We're going it right now. You can see something happened, and a young man is being escorted away by police. So there has now been an incident of some sort.
Police telling us to back up. Police telling us to get away. There was a fight. The police officers are saying it was just a fight. This is the first incident I've seen. But they're saying this was a fight. This was not necessarily related at all to the protests. This was just a fight that broke out. It just happens that there are several hundred police here as the fight broke out. So it was probably a bad time to express one's beef, as it were. But it doesn't appear to be directly related at all to violence between police and protesters, Anderson.
COOPER: And, Jake, I mean one of the things last night which you were reporting on -- one of the things, Jake, last night that you were reporting on from the midst of the crowd is the community leaders, clerical workers, reverends, trying to stand between police and protesters. Are you still seeing a presence of community leaders, faith leaders, there tonight?
TAPPER: There are. Without question, there are community leaders and they are trying to get people to go back to the march. But as is one's instinct in a situation like this, whether you're a reporter with a camera or just an individual with a smartphone, people are now running to this parking lot to see what happened. My guess is this will dissipate in a couple of minutes, and the people will resume marching.
But, yes, community leaders are out in force. A lot of clergy, a lot of individuals. We've seen Malik Shabazz, the lawyer activist from Washington, D.C. , who's been marching at the front of the group. A lot of local pastors also, local reverends.
But, you know, people are on edge because of what has happened the nine previous nights, obviously. Lots of alter in altercations, lots of fights, and then obviously in addition to people feeling very upset about Mike Brown, earlier today, there was a separate incident in St. Louis with a 23-year-old African American brandishing a knife, behaving erratically. Police came to the scene. This is four miles or so away from here. Going up to the policeman who told him to drop the knife. He did not drop the knife. He said, "Shoot me, kill me." And then he came at them with the knife. He came at them with the knife and the police killed him.
So I've seen signs here tonight mentioning this other death, apparently completely unrelated to Mike Brown, except obviously in the eyes of many in the community -- too many African American men, too many young African American men getting killed by police. Although obviously big difference between an unarmed African American man and one with a knife coming at you.
Still, one of the things, Anderson, that we were talking about the other day is what these protesters are marching for. They're marching for a sense of justice. They're marching for justice when it comes to Mike Brown. But as opposed to other marches of the past in other civil rights eras, there isn't a specific agenda. There isn't a specific list of items that they want. People are just angry and upset and they want to see justice for Mike Brown, Anderson.
COOPER: Jake, appreciate that. We're going to continue to check in with Jake as events warrant throughout our coverage tonight.
I want to talk more about some of the racial realities that form the backdrop of all this. For better or for worse, whatever you think of the job the Ferguson police have done so far, the reality is that 94 percent white in a city that is 67 percent African American.
Joining me now, CNN "CROSSFIRE" host Van Jones is with me in Ferguson. Also CNN political commentator Charles Blow of "The New York Times".
You know, it's interesting, listening to General Russel Honore, who was on our program earlier and is going to be on again in this hour criticizing the way local police have handled this initially, pointing guns at at-the-time peaceful protesters, something he said in all his time in the military you never do. VAN JOES, CNN HOST, "CROSSFIRE": You never do. Well, first of all,
this has been a summer of shame and slaughter for the African-American community. Both you have street crime, street violence. You have way too many funerals. You talk about Chicago. And you now have police violence as well. And I think you've got it now at a boiling point in the African-American community where people are really desperate for answers.
And so in that situation, to have a militarized police response, everybody knows you point your weapon up. The first thing you learn in gun class, you point your gun up. You never point it at anything you don't plan on shooting. So when you have a militarized police response where people are literally -- you have pictures all over social media -- of the guns being level and aimed at people, that's a sneeze or a stumble away from a tragedy. That's not the right way to handle it.
But I think the bigger picture here, and why I think it's so important that Eric Holder is coming, is this summer has been a catastrophe for African-Americans. You have four or five unarmed African-American men killed by police. You have many, many more killed by other young black men. And we're at place now where we have to have a national conversation about what it would take to get jobs and education. You can't have high-tech weaponry without high-tech classrooms in these communities and expect to have good outcomes.
COOPER: Charles, do you agree with Van? That I mean, A, that this is a conversation which is larger than just what has been happening here in Ferguson with the death of Mike Brown -- and if so, how does that conversation even take place? Because I feel like after every one of these kinds of incidents we always talk about a national conversation, and we've done specials on it. We've done town hall meetings on it. And yet it doesn't feel like that conversation continues much beyond the immediate aftermath of something like this.
CHARLES BLOW, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Right. I do agree with Van. But I think it's not even just about the black community. The black community does not exist as an island. It exists within a society. It exists within a system.
And just to be very honest, I never see so many black people on TV until we have a racial incident. And then it seems like it is just us talking to ourselves. I really want -- you can't have a conversation if you're talking to yourself. You have to have a conversation where everybody.
Understand that you are part of this system. This system has developed over the course of the development of this country. Some people have benefited from it and they call that privilege. Some people have been oppressed by it. But we are all the fruit of that system. And we all have to understand that we are all "raced", as Toni Morrison says. You are a race if I am a race. It is all constructed. But if I am part of a race, then so are you. That means it is part of your conversation too.
You know, I can talk and Van can talk. I actually need someone else to talk. Because I -- we get so tired of this conversation. But we can't wish it away; we have to work it away. And we need everybody participating in that conversation.
COOPER: And yet, to Charles' point, you have this Pew Research poll that came out yesterday showing the different viewpoints, the different ways that people see this, what happened here in Ferguson, based on race. White people not seeing it as significant as African- Americans, seeing it through a very different lens.
JONES: Well, it is amazing. It's half of the African-American community thinks that the officer should face charges. Only 17 percent of white people do. That lets you know that people are having different day to day experiences. I think people think well, listen, if I have a positive relationship with my law enforcement officer, probably everybody else does too. But that unfortunately is not the case.
One thing I think is very good, though, that is happening, Chris Cuomo pointed out that it doesn't seem like there is much of an agenda here. It actually is now the case, as of tonight, the young people have been meeting. They have come forward. And a lot of groups you haven't heard of -- Color of Change, Million Hoodies Movement -- both groups came out of Trayvon Martin. You have a new minister, McBride, Pastor McBride, young guy who's got their attention. They are coming forward with real answers. And I hope that we will continue the conversation, as Mr. Cuomo said, beyond just the flash point to get to the solutions. Because the solutions are out there.
COOPER: Van Jones, appreciate it. Charles Blow, as always, thank you.
Just ahead, what a number of what the observers believe police have done right and what they've done wrong from the moment Officer Wilson fired to what is happening even tonight as our special coverage continues. We'll be right back.
COOPER: It is a hot night here in Ferguson. There was one arrest, a young man was cuffed, taken into custody. It has been overwhelmingly peaceful here, not only tonight, but all throughout the day as well.
Chris Cuomo witnessed it. Chris, did it have anything to do with this protest? Jake Tapper was saying it seemed to be more of an altercation between two people.
CHRIS CUOMO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I think Jake is absolutely right. We were here as it was going on, Anderson, and literally what it looked like was a couple of young kids overheated, kind of framing up on one another. And there is so much police here and so much hypersensitivity that they closed it down right away. And it's just very dramatic and draws a lot of attention because everybody's nerves are obviously on edge.
And I think that's an important part of the reporting tonight is what is going on, but also what is not going on. As you know very well, and Jake as well, tonight is a very different night. The night is not over and we're all hoping it sustains, but the vibe is different. The population of the protesters, the peace marchers, they want to be called tonight. You have white and black. You have people who aren't from this community but they're not agitators.
And tonight, because it was relatively calm here, we went down Canfield Drive, which as you know has been a dicey proposition since the shooting on August 9th. And we were the only media there but it was completely solemn and quiet. When people saw us coming down there, they were having their moments of reflection by the shooting site. But, Anderson, there was no hostility. It was nothing like it's been this the past.
And it's really interesting that there was also no media there. And I think that goes to what kind of story you want to tell in a situation like this, but certainly the fight that happened here was just that. It was just a fight. It was closed down, and it's over.
COOPER: There is also -- there is a lot of religious leaders here, community leaders here, and it really does seem -- it's a smaller crowd than we saw certainly last night. But they have been doing a very vigorous job of talking to people, walking with people, and kind of monitoring the situation. You've been seeing that, yes?
CUOMO: Absolutely. Watching your reporting last night, Anderson, you were asking where the leaders were, the local leaders from state government on down. And today we saw a very vigorous, literally a door to door effort by clergy and local electeds that were out here. And they were actually frank, meeting local members of the government, saying we're here today. This is my time. I want to let my constituency know that I'm here.
They did call for this day of quiet. Why it was an odd word to use in this situation, many people felt it was suppressive of their right to speak. And thing is as close as they could have hoped for tonight. But there are a lot more electeds here. There are a lot more people from outside the community in a good way. We've all been hearing about this third element, the cops, the people who are here who are upset and these outside agitators. This seems to be a new third element here tonight, which is one trying to help the enforce the peacefulness of this situation.
COOPER: All right, Chris, I appreciate that. We'll continue checking in with you.
Speaking of the community leaders, I want to bring in someone who is both part of the protest and part of the effort to keep it peaceful. Pastor Robert White of the Peace of Mind Church of Happiness, and I love that name of that church. How it is tonight? You've been out there, you've been walking with protesters.
PASTOR ROBERT WHITE, PEACE OF MIND CHURCH OF HAPPINESS: Well, it's -- the temperature is up, but the crowd seems to be under control. We've been partnering with the police and other community leaders to try to keep the crowd down. Some of the onslaughts that happened last night, we were able to stop from happening, because when the police communicated with us who the agitators could have been, we've actually either calmed them down, they've either gone home, or in some cases they have been arrested.
COOPER: So you've had police say to you in previous nights, all right, we think this gentleman is causing problems and you've been able to go and talk to that person.
WHITE: Not in previous nights. We've been asking for that, but after last night and some of the things that happened --
COOPER: So that has been a change.
WHITE: It's been a change. And we're meeting with them daily to talk about things e can do differently each night. So after last night, that was one of the things we agreed to. That you guys give us an opportunity to stop it. We know these people. These are our community members. So we've talked to them. We talked to some other leaders. And then we were able to resolve some of this I think.
COOPER: So you've really seen police kind of changing their tactics with each night, kind of trying to learn how to basically do it better every night?
WHITE: Well, police are out here just to protect us. I mean, if we can get most of our protesters to protest with a purpose, then it will go smoothly.
COOPER: Do you find that some of the -- I mean there's been -- I talked to Ron, Captain Ron Johnson who said that there is a lot of -- a lot of the people who have been arrested or causing issues have been from outside the community. Not necessarily outside the state, but just not from Ferguson itself. Do you find that in some of the people?
WHITE: As a lifer in St. Louis, that doesn't bother me as much. I mean, what we want you guys to know, I'm not from Ferguson. So that means, as a protester, I'm not from Ferguson. So we are metropolitan area. I'm more concerned with the out-of-state folks --
WHITE: -- who go around and cause all the havoc that has been going around. If someone from South St. Louis comes out here and does anything, that's not too big of a concern.
COOPER: Right. What do you want and what is your hope beyond justice, beyond transparency? What is your hope for this community moving forward? Because there are businesses now that have been shut down there. There's going to be needs in this community moving forward to get it back up and running if not the way it was before, even better than it was?
WHITE: I'm glad you asked that. The biggest thing I want to say tonight is why don't we give Ferguson a break? I can't imagine having to go to bed in this community right now. Let's head out to Clayton. Let's head out to the city government, to the county government, and go out there and protest with a purpose.
You know, give these folks a break. Let some of these businesses come back around and then take our protest areas somewhere else. And go home tonight. Let's go home and get some rest. Let's go home in peace tonight. Each night we're worried about how many folks got hurt, how many folks got arrested. And, tonight, man, if we can end tonight without one person getting shot, that would be a blessing.
COOPER: One of the things that I think doesn't come across on TV, and I think it's important to point out, and I was talking to people earlier today in the area where Mike Brown was killed, this is a real community.
COOPER: I mean, there are -- there are people who have lived their entire lives, who go to work every single day, who come home, you know, are raising their kids, and have been here -- I was talking to a gentleman who's lived here for 35, 40 years -- who care about this community and really hope that something comes out of this, that this community can move forward.
WHITE: Well, one thing that has come out of this is unity. There are some stories going around, there are some clergy members, for instance, their specific goal is to get the persons who live in this community, who are uncomfortable coming home. We're finding housing for them outside of Ferguson until this -- I don't know even know what to call it -- until what is going on is over with so they can go home in peace, they can work in peace, they can sleep in peace and eat in peace.
So those are a lot of activities. But unity of the community where St. Louis has been full of separation since its inception. But now you have organizations -- Muslims, Christian, Jews -- coming all together, black, white, working together for peace.
COOPER: All right, Pastor White, I appreciate what you're doing.
WHITE: Thanks, man.
COOPER: Appreciate it. Great to have you.
Coming up, the man in charge of Seattle's police force during the violent WTO protest weighs in on what's happening here in Ferguson. We'll be right back.
COOPER: Welcome back here in Ferguson. We've seen a variety of police tactics here, and if you've been watch, you have as well, many of them aggressive in posture and appearance in weaponry has some experts concerned that the forces charged with keeping the peace here have been having a hard time finding the right tactic.
Joining us is Norm Stamper, former Seattle police chief and author of "Breaking Rank: A Top Cop's Expose of the Dark Side of American Policing". Captain, I appreciate you being with us, Chief. Norm, you say that you're seeing the authorities here in Missouri make some of the same mistakes that you believe you made handling the protests in Seattle in 1999. What are those mistakes?
NORM STAMPER, FMR. SEATTLE POLICE CHIEF: Well, I know I made mistakes that I now claim, and I believe that what I'm seeing in Ferguson, certainly earlier in the week, was a repetition of those mistakes.
You don't use chemical agents, a euphemism for tear gas, against nonviolent protesters. You don't, for god's sakes, bring a police dog into the equation at the end of a leash being held by a white police officer in the face of many young African-Americans. That is evocative of an earlier and very ugly chapter in the history of this country.
COOPER: I spoke earlier -- someone from the St. Louis Police Officers Association, who is defending the police response, who said that the way the crowd has reacted here has nothing to do with the posture that the police have taken, of the police response. That he said that you have to get out of the mindset that the police provoke a certain response. Do you believe that's true? Because a lot of people here certainly would argue against that.
STAMPER: Well, I do not believe it's true. And I'm offering this simply as a belief, as an opinion. I'm not there, I haven't investigated the conditions that gave rise to all of this.
But I would submit this. The pastor earlier mentioned that he and members of his community are all about partnering with the police.
If there had been in place an authentic partnership between community and police, where the community is actively involved in police policymaking and program development, crisis management and the like, had they developed and had the police developed with them a mutually trusting relationship, I submit to you that we would not be looking at the problems we're seeing today.
So that does have an awful lot to do with what happened before a week ago Saturday.
But what has happened since, I think, needs to be understood in light of the provocative nature of aggressive militaristic tactics early in the proceedings. Had those tactics not been employed, I think, it's -- there is every reason to believe -- there may have been sporadic and isolated instances of -- and perhaps even some violence.
But the police would have been much more able to cope with those conditions. And I think what is up for me very much is this crisis will end. We can only hope and pray that it's on that path right now.
But then the fundamental question is what then?
What will replace the existing conditions and the preexisting conditions of mistrust and distrust between community and police?
COOPER: Also we've learned, obviously in the wake of this, something a lot of people weren't aware of this, is just how many police forces have received, you know, weaponry, armored vehicles from the military since 9/11?
So you have police forces which look in many ways like front-line combat troops.
Do you think police receive the kind of training that they need, not only to -- not just to operate this weaponry, but to use it at the appropriate time and, maybe more importantly, when not to use it?
STAMPER: Well, the short answer to that question Anderson, is no. The federal government has no requirements that they'll be receiving police agencies, law enforcement agencies actually engage in training or, for that matter, even maintain the equipment such as the Department of Defense is parceling out to local law enforcement.
That, I think, represents a real challenge legislatively. It is important, I think, that we attach some strings to that military surplus.
Look, there will always be times and places and occasions when a military-like appearance, a military-like set of tactics are employed. Think of Sandy Hook. Think of Columbine. Think of the McDonald's massacre, which I saw in the immediate aftermath, where a crazed gunman took out 20 children, women and men at a fast-food -- an iconic fast-food restaurant in San Ysidro, a neighborhood of San Diego.
What if we had had the appropriate military-like equipment such as an armored personnel carrier?
STAMPER: We could have driven that vehicle up to the door, perhaps even through the door and perhaps ended the carnage much, much earlier.
So there is a time; there is a place. But there is no substitute for the very, very careful selection of the people that you employee as SWAT officers, no substitute for ongoing education and training. It requires a lot of self-discipline, a lot of maturity and, frankly, a lot of courage to take on that job. But those officers are out there. We just need to be more selective.
COOPER: Norm Stamper, I appreciate you being on. Thank you very much for your expertise.
I'm joined once again tonight by CNN senior legal analyst and former legal prosecutor, Jeffrey Toobin, and legal affairs commentator Areva Martin.
Back to the legal side of this, Jeff, the Brown family is very concerned. I talked to their attorney, Ben Crump, earlier, is very concerned about the grand jury process. The prosecutor could have gone the route of a probable cause hearing, right? Can you explain what that is and the difference? Because presumably then, my understanding is all the evidence would have basically been laid thought the open in open court.
JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: Right. A probable cause hearing, which is not usually how these things work -- Missouri, like California and many other states, has an option for the prosecutor. One is simply to bring charges and then have a preliminary hearing, a public preliminary hearing, where the government has to show probable cause. It's a very low barrier.
Alternatively, the government can go to the grand jury, which is a secret proceeding, no judge, and the prosecutor puts evidence before the grand jury, asks the grand jurors, do you find probable cause, then they issue the indictment. One is a public process, one is private.
The grand jury process is much more under the control of the prosecutor and they can put exactly as much evidence as they want into it.
Now, it's not necessarily private forever. A grand jury proceeding is private when it's happening, but the prosecutor certainly has the option of releasing much of that evidence later. So it's not entirely one's public and one's private.
COOPER: You know, Areva, people here are saying they want justice and they want transparency. And many people here, certainly the Brown family, wants to see the officer who shot their son arrested and prosecuted.
But at what point does the family, the community here, have to just put their faith in the judicial process? Because the grand jury system, it's going to take a while. I mean, it can be weeks while evidence is being presented to a grand jury. There can't be protests here every single night for -- until a decision is made.
AREVA MARTIN, LEGAL AFFAIRS COMMENTATOR: You know, I think you're right, Anderson. And I think the people on the street are becoming fatigued with all of the protests. We're certainly hearing that from some of the community leaders.
But, you know, the concept of justice has to begin with fairness and transparency. And we haven't seen a lot of that from the Ferguson police department. And I'm very concerned about the prosecuting attorney, Robert McCulloch.
If you look at his history, his father was killed by an African American man on duty. He was a police officer. He has a very negative history with the African American community there.
So his decision to take this case to a grand jury rather than have an open preliminary hearing, I think, just fuels, again, the mistrust that this community is already experiencing.
I don't think we can take this case in isolation. We must put it in the larger context of the incredibly negative relationships that African Americans have with the judicial system and with the police in that community. And when you put it in that context, I think the prosecutor should go
above and beyond to ensure that there aren't claims of unfairness by making the process more open and more transparent.
COOPER: Jeff, what about that? What about this prosecutor?
TOOBIN: Well, you know, I don't think the fact that his father was murdered in 1964 by an African American should have any relevance to whether he can preside in this case.
Frankly, he has been the D.A. there since 1991. He has been elected overwhelmingly. He is the representative of all the people of St. Louis, of the county. You know, that just does not strike me as something that requires his recusal.
I know there have been cases before where he has chosen not to prosecute cops. But that's true of a lot of prosecutors.
And the fact is prosecutors and cops work together the vast majority of the time. So there is always a tension when you have a investigation of the police as you do here.
Now, fortunately, you also have the United States Department of Justice, FBI agents, who are working in parallel who are, I think, can't -- who can't be accused of any sort of local bias in this case.
MARTIN: You know, Anderson, I think the issue --
COOPER: Yes, there are certainly multiple investigations going on -- go ahead.
MARTIN: -- it keeps coming up about this prosecutor being elected so many times. It's only fair to note that the African American voter turnout in the elections related to this prosecutor have been so incredibly low, it's a misstatement to suggest that the African American community has wholeheartedly embraced this prosecuting attorney. That is just not factually the case.
The voter turnout of blacks in the last election was like 12 percent, even though the population is close to 70 percent. So we have low voter turnout, apathy amongst African American voters. So there is not some big vote of confidence for this prosecuting attorney simply because he has been elected.
COOPER: We only have one system.
COOPER: Areva, appreciate it, Jeffrey Toobin as well.
Just ahead tonight, a man with experience in situations like this one and some clear advice for law enforcement today. We're going to talk to Lieutenant General Russel Honore, who brought calm to New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina. What he believes should happen here, what has gone right and what has gone wrong, after the break.
COOPER: And welcome back to continuing coverage here in Ferguson. A smaller group of protesters walking by our location here now. Probably 100, 150 or so people. It's been dwindling really over the last 40 minutes or so. It has been peaceful here, except for the exception of one arrest for fighting. Jake Tapper was there. He joins us now.
Jake, talk about what you have seen over the last hour or so.
TAPPER: Well, gratefully -- and we should cross our fingers. But it's been a very peaceful night, as you mentioned. The crowd has been petering out.
And one of the things that I would say is that this, usually, this stage of the evening when the crowds have stopped marching -- this is when, yesterday and previous nights, trouble can happen because when there are bad actors, they tend to emerge at this point in the night and provoke.
And in fact maybe 45 minutes ago, some of us were marching and we heard somebody saying to people as they marched by, "Women and children go home, women and children go home, women and children go home," as if something was going to happen and they didn't want any women and children in the march.
But nothing has appeared. Nothing has happened.
And another reason why I think tonight has been successful -- and, again, I'm jinxing the entire thing by saying that -- is that the police presence has been much different than it has been in the past. They're still here, probably in the same numbers -- freedom of assembly, we all agree with that -- probably in the same numbers that they were in last night. But they are off to the side.
They are standing guard at properties, supervising the crowd. There are Humvees here as well. They're just off to the side, not making the same show of force. And I think this has been -- it seems, at least tonight, to have been a much more effective police presence than what we saw yesterday.
But also you can't discount the fact that so far there have not really emerged any of the outside influences or provocateurs or rioters or whatever you want to call them.
Nobody has thrown anything at the police. Nobody has provoked a fight with the police yet, thankfully. So the peace has been kept as of now. But there are still several hundred people on the street right now and tensions are still high. So anything could happen. But right now, all seems well, Anderson.
COOPER: Well, let's hope it holds. Jake Tapper, appreciate it. Lieutenant General Russel Honore emerged obviously as one of the
heroes in the days after Hurricane Katrina. He was commander of the military's response. You probably remember watching him, being calm to the city, really from the moment he first arrived. He joins me now tonight.
We spoke earlier and I think what you said was so powerful here. I wanted to kind of talk about it again, this militarized showing, rifles aimed at protesters, which we have seen night after night after night, though not tonight, tear gas thrown.
Do you believe that escalates tensions and antagonizes the crowd, perhaps needlessly so?
LT. GEN. RUSSEL HONORE (RET.), U.S. ARMY: That's my assessment. That's my judgment. And that's the doctrine that I learned in how you do crowd control, Anderson. And there is a document for it. The Army has a manual about that thick on how you do it. And none of it involves pointing weapons or sighting weapons on crowds or, in this case, during demonstration or during civil disobedience.
I think my hat's off -- and, again, it may be too easy and too early -- but the tactics that the captain adjusted to tonight, integrating the police among the people, I've been seeing that for a couple days now. I'm glad to see they did it that way. And I think they will get great results because they show they're protecting the people as well as they're protecting property as opposed to being lined up on one end of the street and the people on the other.
So hopefully we'll end up with a quiet night. But that tactic appeared to be working, integrating the police among the people.
COOPER: It does. I talked to a pastor just a short time ago. It seems like they have also now tonight been communicating more effectively, community leaders, religious leaders and the police, trying to kind of work together to diffuse any problems before they really mushroom.
HONORE: Anderson, one of the things police have to have some patience with is, during a demonstration, misdemeanors, people taunting and antagonizing police and even throwing things at them, things that a policeman, on some normal time, may stop and do something about, you have to look past those minor infractions, because people are there to do civil disobedience.
Many of them come to demonstrate -- and this is documented -- to get arrested because they want to say I came, I spoke, I got arrested. And it might be a simple infraction.
So police need to understand that the role of the demonstrator is to practice civil disobedience when they go for peaceful demonstration, to get on the police nerves, to force the police to make an action.
So we need to arm ourselves with that. And we need to be able to know that people are going to do things that make the police angry and make them overreact, thus creating not only a safety issue, but creating a political issue.
COOPER: Lieutenant General Russel Honore, spelling it out for us, I appreciate it. Thank you very much.
Coming up, will a visit from Attorney General Eric Holder, who arrives tomorrow, will that do anything to boost the confidence of people in Ferguson who say they're looking for justice? That is next.
COOPER: And welcome back to here in Ferguson. A small group of protesters passing us by now. Probably maybe 100 or so at most at this point.
Representatives from Michael Brown's family say time and time again that they want justice. Attorney General Eric Holder is expected to come here tomorrow to check in on the civil rights investigation. In the "St. Louis Post-Dispatch," Holder says, "The people of this town can have confidence in the Justice Department. It intends to learn in a fair and thorough manner exactly what happened."
Back now, Jeff Toobin; also joining us CNN justice correspondent Evan Perez.
Evan, so what do we know about Secretary Holder's visit -- excuse me, Attorney General Holder's visit?
EVAN PEREZ, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Anderson, we know the attorney general here is really to get a little bit of a hands-on look at the investigation. He is going to be meeting with the FBI agents who are doing the investigation with the prosecutors, civil rights prosecutors who are here.
As you know, there have been over 40 FBI agents who have been canvassing, knocking on doors, doing interviews.
This is a very unusual visit. He doesn't normally come to places in the middle of an ongoing investigation. But it tells you a little bit about what they're trying do, which is to reassure the people of Ferguson; the family, who they're going to meet tomorrow, we expect, and also just to assure the public that this is going to be done fairly and that justice is going to be done for the family here.
COOPER: And Jeff, the investigation that he is heading, that's the investigation that the FBI is being used to actually investigate. They have dozens of personnel on the ground here, we're told.
TOOBIN: That's right. And the paradox of Attorney General Holder's visit is that that investigation, his investigation, is less likely to lead to charges than the one being led by the State of Missouri.
There can only be federal civil rights charges if they can prove intent to discriminate on the basis of race. That's very difficult to prove. It is mostly in a situation like the state charges that are brought. But as we've heard just earlier on your program, a lot of people in
the black community don't have confidence in the State of Missouri officials in that part of the investigation. So it will be interesting to see how the attorney general navigates and how -- whether he vouches for the state investigation as well as the federal investigation. I'm very interested to hear what he has to say on that subject.
COOPER: All right.
And, Evan, you're going to be following that a lot tomorrow.
Jeff, thanks very much and Evan as well. We'll be right back.
COOPER: That does it for this special edition of AC360. I appreciate you watching from Ferguson, Missouri. Our coverage, though, continues throughout the evening. We're not leaving this story. The crowds here really have petered out significantly.
The group which we had seen marching around has really dwindled. We'll continue to cover it, though. Our coverage continues with CNN International right now.