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THE SITUATION ROOM
Police, Troops Enforce State of Emergency in Baltimore; Mayor: Damage Will Disrupt Lives 'In a Major Way'; Commissioner: We Need to Change Police Department Culture; Interview with Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake. Aired 5-6p ET
Aired April 28, 2015 - 17:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Happening now, stand-off: a night of violence, looting and arson brings a state of emergency in Baltimore. But protesters gather as troops and police line the streets, and community leaders try to prevent another flare-up.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: You've got some of the same organizers now going back into these communities trying to clean up in the aftermath of a handful of protestors -- a handful of criminals and thugs who tore up the place.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: President Obama speaks out forcefully on the rioting. But he also says police and the public need to do some serious soul searching.
And city-wide curfew. Beginning just hours from now, anyone not going to work or going for medical treatment needs to be off the streets in Baltimore. I'll talk about all of this with leaders on the issues of race, the National Urban League president, Marc Morial. He's standing by live.
I'm Wolf Blitzer. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.
BLITZER: And the breaking news, 1,000 National Guard troops are now deployed in Baltimore, along with thousands of police officers as a state of emergency takes hold after a night of rioting. There have been many protesters on the street today, with only isolated incidents of breaking or relative calm.
As community leaders try to keep the peace, it's a far cry from the rock throwing, the looting, the burning that's shaken Baltimore to its corps. But darkness is just a couple of hours away, and the city remains very tense right now. Authorities are taking no chances. They'll impose an overnight curfew.
Our correspondents, analysts and guests are standing by with all the late-breaking developments. But let's begin on the streets of Baltimore. For the very latest, Brian Todd is standing by -- Brian.
BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, this has turned into a very dynamic street protest here. It started just over here on the corner of North Avenue and Pennsylvania avenue. This is one of the flashpoints where a lot of the violence, the looting, the burning took place last night.
These protesters started there. They just walked about six blocks around, ending here, converging, chanting support for Freddie Gray. So far it's been mostly peaceful. Many of these protesters are determined to keep it that way, Wolf. But all eyes are going to be on this neighborhood once darkness descends in a couple of hours.
TODD (voice-over): A city on the razor's edge of tension tonight. A daytime street demonstration boils over when one vocal protester is detained by riot police.
Baltimore Police have called in reinforcements from other law enforcement agencies and the National Guard as they prepare for what comes next.
CAPTAIN ERIC KOWALCZYK, SPOKESMAN, BALTIMORE POLICE: We have the ability to respond quickly to incidents of lawlessness that take place.
TODD: Tonight, anxiety over what will happen when darkness descends on the neighborhoods and a curfew takes into effect. Last night, rioters took over several streets, throwing rocks and other objects at police.
At least 20 officers were injured, more than 100 cars, and at least 19 structures burned in the mayhem. One car sped past our cameras, straight for a police line, stopping just feet from the officers and narrowly escaping a police van that tried to cut it off.
This man said he wasn't looting but understood why others are rioting.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Just people tired of being pushed. You push me on the corner, there's only so long you're going to push them on the corner before they fight back. That's what all of this is: fighting back.
TODD: Hundreds were arrested. This mother might have saved her son from that fate. After she caught him rioting, she smacked him on the head and dragged him away. In the aftermath, many in these neighborhoods try to clean up and absorb what they've lost.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They shattered all the windows, came inside and broke inside the ATM machine. And it was actually a whole ATM machine that was fully functioning that we found around the corner. Broke in. All the money gone. It's actually ripped to pieces.
TODD: Constance Lee, who owns this check-cashing business, is despondent and angry. CONSTANCE LEE, OWNER OF CHECK-CASHING BUSINESS: I didn't sleep at all
last night. And it's very, very hard to take it all in. And just looking at these people smiling and laughing, thinking that it was all OK. I's not OK, you know? Because you don't know what we go through to try to keep our doors open.
TODD: And back at the protests, these people have just gone down on their knees in support of Freddie Gray. There's a speaker over here, just kind of exhorting them to march in peace. We're going to see where this demonstration goes. Like last night, Wolf, we were never sure when the -- where the marchers were going to go, when they were going to go there, and where some pockets of violence might pop up. We're going to be on the streets all night long, watching for all of that.
BLITZER: What's going on, Brian, behind you?
[17:05:07] TODD: Well, it's a street march, Wolf. It started over here on Northern Pennsylvania. It moved about six or seven blocks around the block, and these people are now just kind of congregating. Some came from that direction. Some came from this direction, and they congregated here to listen to this gentleman with a bullhorn, speaking in support of Freddie Gray, exhorting people to march in support of Freddie Gray. Again, this march has been largely peaceful.
There was some tear gas fired over here a couple of hours ago. That was a fairly minor incident with police. There was a man detained just over here earlier. And that agitated this crowd. When there is interaction with the police, the crowd does get agitated. As we saw last week and, of course, as we saw last night. So that's what we're going to be watching for all evening tonight, Wolf. So far this march, this demonstration, as of this hour, has been mostly peaceful.
BLITZER: And Brian, so right now it looks peaceful. I hope it stays that way. But police are there. They're on the scene if it doesn't remain peaceful, right?
TODD: That's right. They're less than a block behind us. We can't really get a shot, even if we can, over there, because they're behind this crowd here that our photojournalist, Chris Turner, is shooting. They're to the right of where Chris is shooting.
And there's a line -- there's a cordon of students that got between the crowd and the police. I asked them why they were there. They said just to make sure that there's no friction between the police and the demonstrators. So you do have people in the crowd policing the crowd. This is what we saw last week, as well. We did not see that last night.
So a key question tonight as darkness descends, as the curfew takes effect at 10 p.m. Eastern Time is, are these crowds going to be able to police themselves? And again, Wolf we saw it often last week, and it was peaceful. And these people were to be commended for it. Last night, of course, it got out of control. So all eyes are going to be on tonight when darkness descends in about three hours.
BLITZER: All right, Brian. Be careful over there. We'll stay in close touch with you. Brian Todd, he's on the streets of Baltimore for us, right in the middle of this latest demonstration, so far peaceful. Let's hope it remains that way.
Our justice reporter, Evan Perez, is getting new information on the investigation into the death of Freddie Gray, the 25-year-old man who was in police custody, wound up with a broken neck, a spinal cord -- and then he was in a coma, and he died a few days later.
Evan, you're in Baltimore. What are you hearing?
I don't think Evan is hearing us right now. We're going to try to reconnect. I can report to our viewers what Evan Perez has learned, that Baltimore Police are now planning on presenting their report to the prosecutors on the death of Freddie Gray this coming Friday. Baltimore Police getting ready to make their presentation to prosecutors on the circumstances leading up to Freddie day's death this Friday.
Let me check back with Evan Perez to see if he's hearing me now. Evan, can you hear me?
EVAN PEREZ, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Wolf. I can hear you now. As you just mentioned, the police department said that they're still planning to meet their deadline of Friday to turn over their investigative report to the state attorney's office. The state attorney's office is going to make the ultimate decision as to whether or not there will be charges in this case.
Now, you talk to people on the street, they're expecting charges on Friday. So that's one of the issues that authorities are now going to be facing, is that there's going to be an expectation on the streets of something that is not going to happen. That the state attorney's office is still going to be reviewing the case before making a final decision, Wolf.
BLITZER: So basically, they're going to make their report available in confidence, in secret, let's say, to the prosecutors, state prosecutors. They, then, will spend some time reviewing all of this before they decide if any of those six police officers who were involved in Freddie Gray's arrest will, in fact, be charged. Is that right?
PEREZ: That's right, Wolf. That's right. They're going to spend some time reviewing the case. And the police say that they're not done with the case. Even though they're going to present preliminary report to the state attorney's office with evidence of what they found so far, they say the case is not going to be done. They say it's going to take some more time, some more work on their part to finish this up.
BLITZER: All right. Evan, now where are you in Baltimore right snow? Where you are, is it quiet? Is it lively? What's going on? PEREZ: It's relatively quiet here, Wolf. We are in front of city
hall. There's a big police presence here. Just a little while ago I was over at the scene there at North Avenue and Pennsylvania Avenue. And you know, there's a lot of tension there because, you know, while you have a lot of peaceful protesters, there are a few agitators. There are people who are very, very angry. And at any moment you can sense that things can go -- the wheels can come off.
And there's a few times you see the police reaching in with their batons, with their shields, grabbing people and putting them back. They're detaining them because of the fear that those people would agitate the crowd and cause bigger problems.
[17:10:02] I heard from one law enforcement officer that someone was trying to set another fire at that CVS right there. So people were trying to set another flame, another fire at a place that had already burned down where people were trying to clean up earlier today, Wolf.
BLITZER: Yes. There's a lot of anger, as we can see on the streets of Baltimore right now. Evan Perez, thanks very much.
And once again, we're standing by for a news conference of Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, the mayor of Baltimore expected to hold a news conference shortly. And Captain Eric Kowalczyk. He's the spokesman for the Baltimore Police Department. We're expecting to hear from both of them.
And later we're expecting to hear from the governor of Maryland, Larry Hogan. So lots of live events coming up here as we cover the breaking news of Baltimore.
I want to go to CNN's Miguel Marquez. He's on the streets of Baltimore. He was there, as you saw, 24 hours ago during the worst of Baltimore's rioting. He's back with us on the scene right now.
What's it like where you are, Miguel?
MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, this is -- this is the epicenter of the anger from last night. When you and I were talking last night and that hose was cut, that was right down the street here about 50, 60 feet away.
You can see the mood here is much different. I want to show you what's going on. You have -- this is North Avenue. A major avenue up here. And you have the police phalanx across this avenue, keeping anybody from going down there.
Down there, a couple blocks down there is where Freddie Gray was arrested. A very symbolic place here.
There's also a lot of protesters yelling at the police here but in an organized way. In some cases, they have a bull horn that they allow protesters to have so they can yell directly at police.
But come over here. Check this out. On the other side, it's become almost a street party. So the mood here is much, much different today. But it does become scuffles at times. People get too heated at times, and things take off.
I tell you that a large number of people just went up this street. They're trying to organize individuals to help clean up the area here. So all of that is going on at the same time.
It is a range of emotions after the -- after the anger that we saw last night. And I can tell you, after spending so many days in this neighborhood, what we saw last night was -- was the manifestation of years and years of anger, with Freddie Gray as the lynchpin to all of it, just unleashing it.
And the job now for the Baltimore P.D. and the Baltimore mayor and this state is to put it back in a box. And I am not sure that they're going to be able to do that very soon -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Once again momentarily, we'll be hearing from, we believe, the mayor, Stephanie Rawlings-Blake; the captain, the police spokesman, Eric Kowalczyk. We're expecting that momentarily. We'll have live coverage of that.
You've been there now for days, Miguel. Are these the same people who show up every day or are there new faces in the crowd?
MARQUEZ: There are a lot of new faces. People from across Baltimore have descended on West Baltimore today to help clean up, to give it a new vitality. I mean, the music, this is -- it's actually too cool. Let me let you listen to it for a second. All impromptu.
And everybody who comes here will very quickly tell you about the issues that they have with the police, whether it was to themselves or to their brother or to their cousin or to their wife or to their mother. It goes on and on and on. There is long-standing resentment between individuals here and police. So in some ways, every rock, every brick, every bottle that was thrown was basically a personal -- a very personal act by the person who have been doing it -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Yes. It sounds a lot different than it did yesterday. But as we all know, just a few individuals can ruin what is, so far at least, right now very peaceful, loud but peaceful demonstration on the streets of Baltimore.
Once again, we're awaiting the mayor of Baltimore, Stephanie Rawlings- Blake. And the spokesman for the Baltimore Police Department, Captain Eric Kowalczyk. We expect them to be speaking to reporters momentarily. We're going to have live coverage of that.
Marc Morial is joining us right now. He's the president of the National Urban League. Marc, is there anything major you want to hear the mayor say right now?
MARC MORIAL, PRESIDENT, NATIONAL URBAN LEAGUE: I think the mayor has got to demonstrate a path forward, Wolf. She's got to ensure that she has a plan in place to ensure that the kind of disruption and looting doesn't occur, while at the same time protecting the rights of peaceful protesters to protest. She's got to articulate the beginnings of a path forward to deal with
the underlying issues. Miguel talked about them. They're related to the longstanding issues between the police and the community in Baltimore. It's related, Wolf, to the lack of economic opportunity and the high unemployment in Baltimore.
[17:15:04] These issues have melded and merged, and the reaction we see is a result of pent-up feelings. We're in the recovery, an economic recovery, yet too many people, particularly -- particularly in inner-city America, are being left behind.
BLITZER: Once again, Marc, we're waiting for the mayor, the spokesman for the police department. If I interrupt you, you will understand why.
BLITZER: I saw a quote that jumped out at me. You were quoted by a reporter in the news conference that the president had in the Rose Garden earlier today. Earlier you said -- and the reporter quoted this -- the U.S., your words, is in a state of emergency of tremendous proportions. We are in the throes of a national crisis. Explain what you meant.
MORIAL: So, let's look at the facts, Wolf. Twelve high-profile incidents in an 18-month period. Almost 20 police departments either under a federal dissent (ph) decree, or under investigation for pattern and practice violations of citizen's civil rights; combined with, in most major cities in America, a black unemployment rate that exceeds 15 and, in some cities, 20 percent. When you take all of these things together, it says national crisis. It says state of emergency. It says that we must take steps to fix these issues, to confront these challenges, or Baltimore today could be someone else's hometown.
Last year people asked was Ferguson an aberration? I think we understand today Ferguson was not an aberration. I said there are many Fergusons in America.
Baltimore is one of America's largest cities. It's the home of the Johns Hopkins Medical School and medical complex. It needs economic activity. It needs job creation. It needs to create hope for young men, hope for young people that there's a way up. And when you don't have that, and it's combined with police community tension, I think it's a national state of emergency and a crisis of significant proportions, Wolf.
BLITZER: I want to tell our viewers and you, Marc, what we're seeing right now. She's sort of hidden, but that's the mayor behind those people, Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake. She's got a little baseball cap on. Looks like an Under Armor baseball cap she's wearing right now. The founder of Under Armor from Maryland, from Baltimore, I think, specifically.
So she's there. She's going to be making a statement, we're told, and presumably answering reporters' questions, together with either the police commissioner or the spokesman for the Baltimore Police Department, Eric Kowalczyk.
But here's the mayor. She's about to speak. Marc, hold on for a second. I want all of our viewers to listen in. This is the mayor of Baltimore, Stephanie Rawlings-Blake. Let's listen in.
STEPHANIE RAWLINGS BLAKE, MAYOR OF BALTIMORE: Good afternoon or early evening. All right. We're getting started. Simmer down now. All right.
Good evening, everyone. Thank you for being here. Last night was a very rough period for our city. But today, I think we saw a lot more of what Baltimore is about.
We saw people coming together to reclaim our city, to clean our city, and to help heal our city. I think this can be our defining moment, and not the darkest days that we saw yesterday.
I spent the morning talking to residents. I visited along North Avenue where residents were cleaning up and tried to give comfort to people who know that their lives are going to be disrupted in major ways for a long time because of the damage that was done to their community.
I saw the damage that was done to Mondawmin Mall, and it breaks my heart. Because those of us who are from Baltimore know how hard we fought for those resources and those stores, to bring good quality products and items to our community and to have those stores destroyed, mom-and-pop kiosks destroyed senselessly. They are working to recover.
I also visited Lexington Market, where vendors are desperately trying to get back to normal. And dealing with the damage that was done, as well.
I want to sincerely thank the Baltimore City Police Department, and I want to thank all of our law enforcement partners who we have had in our city over the past week.
Commissioner, you're going to have to give all the counties who have been here, because I can't remember. But I know that several counties in Maryland have -- we have -- they have sent us resources over the past week. And they have been extremely supportive, and I'm very grateful for that.
[17:20:14] I'm trying to think if I missed anything.
And I also -- I should have started here, but I'll end here. I want to thank the members of the community. Not just the ones you see behind me but the ones that you haven't seen or won't see that have spent all day yesterday, all day today trying to figure out how we can come together as a city, how we can heal.
We have churches that are opening themselves up to be a sanctuary and a refuge, giving young people who are out of school a place -- a place to go and something to eat. We have, you know, so many in our community who are looking for ways to come together to heal. So I want to thank all of them and give a few community members an opportunity to give remarks.
The first I would like to ask, Mark Washington of the Coldstream Homestead Development Community -- Mark.
MARK WASHINGTON, COLDSTREAM HOMESTEAD DEVELOPMENT COMMUNITY: Hi. My name is Mark Washington. I'm executive director of the Coldstream- Homestead-Montebello.
While we stand here as a group of community leaders and representatives, what I want everyone to know is that we stand united as one Baltimore. We hear the cries, the frustration, the anger. We understand quite clearly that things need to change in Baltimore city.
But what we saw last night was not reflective of the majority of the city or the majority of youth in the city. We saw individuals take advantage of a situation and use it for their own cause. What they did was to try to diminish the legitimacy of the grievances that we do have in this city with the Baltimore City Police Department.
I want to make it clear to everyone that not only do I stand in unison with these community leaders here, but I stand in unison with this mayor, as we all move together forward for a better and truer Baltimore. Thank you.
RAWLINGS-BLAKE: Thank you very much.
Thank you. Next I'd like to ask Mike Barb. I know I saw you somewhere. Very active in the Sandtown-Winchester community and with Habitat for Humanity. Mike. Sorry Mark. Mark, Mike. I know it's Barb.
MARK BARB, HABITAT FOR HUMANITY: It's been a long week. My name is Mark Barb and my title of my day job is chief officer of programs and community engagement for Habitat for Humanity in the Chesapeake. But I'm also a resident of Sandtown Community for almost the past 10 years.
And so the story of Sandtown-Winchester community goes a little bit like this. Since 1968, my neighbors in Sandtown has been working to rebuild from the stories we all know following Dr. King's assassination 50 years ago.
And it's -- for me it's a little bit personal to the extent that I was born in Baltimore in 1968, just a few months after that horrible time in our history.
But our community -- I'm so proud of my neighbors today, particularly, for stepping up and working so hard to reclaim the community, particularly from those who are trying to destroy it.
We know these issues behind everything that we're faced with this week are very, very complex. We're certainly not going to solve those overnight. But from a community perspective, what we're looking for is opportunities to facilitate these conversations and dialogue about these really difficult issues. You know, we understand issues of race and social justice in American
history context are very, very deep and very, very complex. And so that's very much a part of where we are today, and we still have a long way to go.
But from the community's perspective to the extent that I would feel comfortable speaking on behalf of my neighbors -- I apologize. It's just the -- you have to -- I have such deep admiration and appreciation for the sense of community in the Sandtown-Winchester community. And this is a very critical time.
But again, today I was so proud to see everybody out cleaning up, standing up to say this is not right in terms of destroying our own community. And we won't go backwards. We won't go back to 1968. We'll use this as an opportunity to continue the hard conversations and grow and continue the rebuilding efforts that have been going on for a long time. Thank you.
[17:25:12] RAWLINGS-BLAKE: Thank you.
Thank you very much, Mike [SIC].
And last, before I open up to questions, I'd like to ask Mr. Terrell. Thank you very much for being here and standing in unity with our communities.
MARK TERRELL, PRESIDENT, ASSOCIATED JEWISH COMMUNITY FEDERATION: I'm Mark Terrell, the president of the Associated Jewish Community Federation of Baltimore.
Let me start by saying I love this city, and I love all the people that have rallied in support of making sure that we get past this. It's clear that change must occur and that injustice corrected. But that needs to be done in a civil and resolute way. And I know that we have the right people together to make sure that we get past this to be an even stronger Baltimore. So I thank everybody for being here and for everybody working towards a productive goal. Thank you, mayor.
RAWLINGS-BLAKE: Thank you. Again I want to thank all of the community leaders who love our city so much and are willing to stand up and to help us get information out and to help us to rebuild. And just thank you.
I think I'm turning it over to the commissioner. I believe so. I think so. Yes, yes, yes. I'm sorry. It's been a long day. I'd like to turn it over to Commissioner Batts, who's going to give us a public safety update and then open it up for questions.
COMMISSIONER ANTHONY BATTS, BALTIMORE POLICE DEPARTMENT: Just a couple of thoughts before we get started. You know, my mayor takes a lot of shots, and she's courageous enough to stand up and lead this city.
You know, I've been doing this job for a long time, and I've been standing in front of microphones like this and news conferences way too many times. And I've lived through the riots of Rodney King, lived through riots in Oakland, and now I'm living through them in the city of Baltimore.
And when these things happen, this pain, this trauma that takes place in the community, you don't always see the richness of the community. These people who are standing behind me, those are the people of Baltimore that I know. People who care, who love this city, who are very good people and do a lot for this community. When you're from Baltimore, you're from Baltimore. It's something that's in your DNA.
At the same time as I see, behind these cameras, my officers boarding that bus behind you, they love Baltimore, too. I had officers come up to me and say, "I was born and raised in this city. This makes me cry."
One of my officers came and said, "I went home and cried last night. This is a sad part of my city."
But I think what you're seeing today within our community also is people out celebrating and trying to heal this community. It's clear that what we have to do is change the culture within the Baltimore Police department. That's something that we've started on two and a half years ago and doing things totally different, bringing this community inside the police department, taking the police department and sitting down and reading to five, six and seven-year-old kids. Bringing athletics and making police officers coaches.
We have more to do. But we can't do it this way by destroying this beautiful city. We have a lot of things that we need to change, and we're willing to work that direction.
Very shortly, we've had an OK day today. We had a small event that took place on the eastern portion of our city early this morning that resulted in a couple of arrests. We had some opportunists go into a couple of businesses. But overall today, it has been a very good day.
I was very pleased to see North and Pennsylvania we had dancing. We had people celebrating. We had people bringing calm and peace. We had one or two people that acted up that we made two arrests that are out there. But for the most part, the city has been calm today.
People may ask also and put the question, "Why didn't you move faster yesterday? Did you prepare yesterday?" Yes, we prepared. We had over 200, 300 police officers out there around that mall at the time that it took place. "Why didn't you move faster?" Because they're 14-, 15- and 16-year-old kids out there. Do you want people using force on 14-, 15-, 16-year-old kids that are out there?
And they're old enough to know better. They're old enough to know not to do those things. They're old enough to be accountable, but they're still kids, unfortunately. And so we had to take that into account while we were out there.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You obviously have a number of people still on the streets, a number of hours from now. Can you talk a little bit about the curfew... BATTS: We will continue to put information out on social media from
the Twitter. I would ask that you guys continue to put information out and make sure that the community is aware. We have no exceptions other than for medical or coming and going from work. That we will be stopping people who are out after curfew. That we're taking that seriously.
We don't want to engage in any forceful action whatsoever.
[17:30:17] We have the National Guard here. We also have state police and a multitude of other agencies outside from New Jersey, even from D.C., as well as multiple counties in the state of Maryland. So we'll be out in strong numbers, making sure that we have no issues within our city.
And we ask everybody to cooperate and be understanding at this point in time. I know it's a little -- it throws people off who want to go out and have dinner and different other events. But as we move forward to calm our city, have a little patience with us as we move forward, please.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The threat against police officers, are we receiving any new intelligence that that's still ongoing?
BATTS: We have no new intelligence. But also we had -- we had one gentleman who shot at officers last night at one event in the northwest. But we deal with threats on a common, common basis. That's the reality of policing.
I don't want to focus on that. I'd rather focus on the fact that we have these wonderful citizens behind us, and they're standing there, and they're willing to be the positive and not the negative within our city.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: ... of Saturday's protest, which ended pretty badly at the end of the night. Announced today and is circulating flyers for a protest here this coming Saturday. Is the city prepared for that and how does the city respond to it?
BATTS: We're putting -- we're bringing in a lot of resources that continue to come in, like I said, from other states: Jersey, Pennsylvania, also from the Washington, D.C., area. So our numbers are growing with the National Guard here, state police here also. Our numbers are growing, in all to keep this city quiet and make sure that everyone is safe.
You know, it's the same thing. When people come inside -- come out from outside, it's one thing when people are saying, "We have pain within our community." It's one thing when people say, "We want this police organization to change," and since they pay our salary, we need to change to adapt to how the citizenry says here.
But when people come outside and hurt this community, and then when it's done, they leave and go home, and then we have a shattered infrastructure, it's just not the right thing to do. So what I've been told is that activists within our community,
ministers within our community are trying to have conversations with people who are leading this stuff to remind them this is where we live. This is where we worship; this is where our kids go to school. So don't destroy it.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: ... any link to a group of high school students that were demonstrating and the social media posts. Did you find a district (UNINTELLIGIBLE)?
BATTS: I think probably that there was a social media posting that said come out to Mondawmin Mall at 3 p.m., and we're going to do a purge. The only thing I know about purge is a movie that's part one and two about running on a rampage.
The kids came out of high school. So I guess you could make a corollary about some of those kids being out there at that location. Also that, Mondawmin there is also a hub for, I believe it's about eight different schools. So on a daily basis we have big number of kids that drop off there on a constant basis.
That wasn't just one high school that was there. When we started making mobile field force movements there, there were buses in line, and they let the kids off the buses. So we had even greater numbers that grew out there.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do they have arrest powers in Baltimore City? How does that work? Are you concerned with coordinating that and keeping them in line with the approach you're trying to take?
BATTS: Well, my responsibility as the incident commander that oversees all of these responsibilities within the city of Baltimore is to make sure that they act at the level that we have expectations with our citizens, citizens and our residents.
So we're working through that. I just had a conversation with the colonel of state police. We're discussing how to make sure that we operate appropriately and by the same procedures.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (UNINTELLIGIBLE)
BATTS: I'm sorry. One more time.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What's the latest on the injured police officers from last night?
BATTS: I went -- we had -- we had a number of police officers, and I have to check on the firefighters. I had about 15 of our officers, and a lot of them were bruises from -- bruises on their hands from rocks and bottles being taken. I had one Officer O'Brien who was in the hospital. I went to see him. Got struck in the head. He was held overnight, because they had to do scans to make sure there wasn't any permanent damage. I hear he's doing well. All the rest of my officers have been treated and released at this point in time. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Thank you, guys. Thank you.
CAPTAIN ERIC KOWALCZYK, SPOKESMAN, BALTIMORE POLICE: We'll be doing another briefing in about an hour from now.
BLITZER: All right. So there you hear the captain of, the spokesman for the police department, Eric Kowalczyk, saying there will be another briefing in about an hour or so from now.
We heard from the commissioner, Anthony Batts, and we heard from the mayor, Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, making the case that things clearly are a lot better today, but they're taking, obviously, serious steps to make sure it stays that way.
[17:35:11] I want to get quick reaction from Marc Morial. He's the president of the National Urban League. Marc, what do you think of what we just heard?
MORIAL: Well, I think what you saw was an effort to demonstrate a united front of community leaders behind the idea that the violence that people have seen is not representative of Baltimore, of its young people, of people who want change in Baltimore.
And I think you saw the beginning of that effort by the mayor to put a coalition of community leaders together to speak along with her on that point.
Second, Commissioner Batts said we must change the culture of the Baltimore Police Department. And I think, long-term for the mayor, for the commissioner and for the community, getting their arms around how to accelerate, what steps you take, how you really begin to change the culture and the reality of the Baltimore Police Department is something I think we've got to keep a close eye on.
Thirdly, what we didn't hear, and that is an update on the investigation. I think there's going to be great anticipation about Friday. And whether -- whatever the Baltimore Police Department will recommend to the city prosecutor, to the city state's attorney, will be transparent and will be public.
So I think that this was an effort to take a different tack and to take a more forceful tack. And I think the mayor and the commissioners should remain visible. I think they should remain visible in coalition with community leaders who speak with them, so that people across the nation understand that there's outrage and that those who are outraged at the conduct of the Baltimore Police Department do not support and will not associate themselves with violence. Because that distracts from the real issue which is justice for the young man who was funeralized (ph) yesterday and lost his life in police custody.
BLITZER: Stand by, Marc. I want to just -- for viewers who are just tuning in, Evan Perez is our justice reporter. You reported the news this Friday, even, there would be the presentation from the Baltimore Police Department to the prosecutors, the evidence they have against any police officers who were involved in the arrest of Freddie Gray. Is that right?
PEREZ: That's right, Wolf. And the problem here is, as Marc Morial was just talking about one I think there's a lot of interest in the public. They want to see some of this public. They want to know what the police have. I don't think the police are ready to tell that. They want to present this evidence to the state attorney's office, which was going to take some time to review it and decide whether or not to bring charges. That's part of the issue. And a lot of expectation on the streets.
So it's going to be a challenge for them to keep the streets calm while they still ask for patience while people finish doing their work here in the police department.
BLITZER: Let me get Sunny Hostin into this. Sunny is our CNN legal analyst, a former U.S. -- assistant U.S. attorney.
You were a prosecutor, Sunny. I know you're also good friends with the mayor of Baltimore, Stephanie Rawlings-Blake.
That's appropriate. If the police are making their presentation of evidence that they may have to the prosecutors, city or state prosecutors, it's appropriate to keep it secret, right?
SUNNY HOSTIN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: It is very appropriate. Because let's face it: it's still an ongoing investigation. The police department will make their presentation. They will go over the evidence that they have gathered thus far, and they may recommend charges.
But it is up to the government. It's up to the state attorney's office to determine what the evidence is and what evidence supports which charges. And so that investigation is going to continue.
It doesn't end with a tiny little package or rather a tidy package given to the state's attorney's office. And any leaks as to what the police department has found could jeopardize that investigation.
And so I hope that the public understands that that is the process. That is the process that is undertaken in every single criminal investigation that is forwarded to a prosecutor. And I hope that they will give the state attorney's office the time that it will need to either make a case or not make a case.
BLITZER: Yes. Go ahead, Marc.
MORIAL: Yes, I think -- I think Sunny is right. But the expectation has to be set. One concern that they should be aware of is, while there may be an effort to keep it secret and in the normal course and scope of things, that's what is traditional and normal and appropriate.
I would have a concern that misinformation, incomplete information could leak out and make a more -- a very fragile situation in the community more difficult. [17:40:13] I think they're going to have to reconcile -- certainly, if
the prosecutor receives the information on Friday. At what point is there going to be a preliminary review, a preliminary, if you will, status report given to the public?
This is a public, the nation and others, having seen a man lose his life in police custody. And with certainly a concern and a suggestion that a crime has been committed.
The prosecutor and the police have to be very mindful of the fact that their responsibility is also to deal with public transparency and people's concerns about what happened.
I would point to an interesting situation that just occurred. And that was in North Charleston, where a decision was made to, if you will, arrest and book an officer after review of the tape, prior to an investigation by the prosecutor.
Now a prosecutor could take that arrest, take that booking and certainly take it in whatever direction they want to, consistent with their prosecutorial responsibilities.
So I think there's got to be some reconciliation that, while Sunny is right, and traditionally this should be confidential, it should be private until the prosecutor is willing to act, the need here to satisfy the distrust that is in the air about whether this investigation is going to be thorough and fair.
So maybe the prosecutor and the police department must be jointly to set the community's expectations, I might add, at some point before Friday.
BLITZER: I think that's a fair point. Because expectations are going to be high. But you don't want to do anything to jeopardize any legal case if there is going to be a prosecution against any of the police officers involved in the arrest of Freddie Gray. You don't want to jeopardize that.
Hold on. Evan Perez is getting some more information on a separate investigation. The arson that was going on last night. Is that what you're learning, Evan?
PEREZ: That's right, Wolf. We now -- we're hearing that the ATF is bringing a second national response team here to the Baltimore area to help with the local fire department and local police department to investigate all of these arsons.
The plan is to bring some of these cases to the federal -- to the federal court to bring federal prosecutions in some of these arsons. As you heard the police say, they've brought in resource, not only from the federal government, but police in New Jersey, even from D.C., to help with the situation.
And we've already seen a difference on the streets. Just earlier today we saw them just grabbing people off the street, just people who who were agitating, as opposed to yesterday where they were trying to hold back a little bit. They said they were caught off-guard. Because this began as a bunch of 14- and 15-year-olds, as the mayor and the police said, and then turned into something much more serious. Only about three dozen of the 235 arrests, Wolf, were actually juveniles. So you can see, this turned into something quite different than they were not expecting.
BLITZER: I want to ask Tom Fuentes to weigh in on this part.
You heard the police commissioner, Tom, Anthony Batts, say that The reason they didn't rush to that CVS Pharmacy or some of the other stores that were being looted, because they were afraid that there were 13-, 14-, 15-year-old juveniles there who were involved. And you know what? You don't want to hurt young kids like that.
But in the statistics that Evan just pointed out, police said there were 235 arrests, and most of them were not juveniles. They were people 18 to 30 years old, and only maybe 15 or 20 were juveniles.
FUENTES: That's right. And even if they were juveniles, so what? Are you going to let juveniles burn businesses out, loot, create mayhem for police office? I don't care if they're five years old. If they're in a position to do that, that needs to be stopped. We're talking about a handful of teenagers overwhelmed one of the biggest police departments in the country? I don't buy it.
JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: And how about the number just watching CNN. You could see those were not juveniles burning down that buildings. You could see those -- those were not juveniles looting those -- looting the CVS. Those were grown-ups.
BLITZER: So you're saying -- Jeffrey Toobin, is our senior legal analyst. What you're saying is the commissioner was wrong when he didn't send in the troops, send in the police to deal with it, because he was told that they were a bunch of kids, as opposed to adults?
TOOBIN: Absolutely. And he didn't have to be told. He could have just turned on his television and saw who was looting. Those were not children looting. And as Tom said, even if they were children, you don't get to loot if you're a 14-year-old old. But they weren't children.
BLITZER: Pamela Brown, a quick thought. Our justice correspondent:
BROWN: I have a hard time buying that that was the only reason why they didn't go in, and why they exercised this kid of restraint. I've been speaking to law enforcement officials today, asking them what they thought was at play here, and what I've been told is that it appears that they didn't plan effectively. That they miscalculated what this crowd was capable of. And that perhaps because of all the criticism against police in Ferguson and the over-militarization of police then, that that may have played into this restraint that we saw yesterday there in Baltimore and perhaps they sort of went overboard.
BLITZER: All right. Don Lemon is joining us. He's on the streets of Baltimore right now.
Don, where are you? What are you seeing? What's going on?
DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR: OK. I'm in West Baltimore and I'm at a park called Druid Hill Park where -- it's really kind of unbelievable here because you've got members of the Crips, you got members of the Bloods, you've got members of -- promise of truce to try to crush the unrest and the violence here.
We're at a park and there are a couple of hundred people here who have gathered. They have music. They're playing sports. There are kids here. And this was organized by an anti-violence activist, his name is Carmichael Stocki here at Kennedy. And also there are NBA players here who have all come out to try to get the young people to do something positive. There's food, they're barbecuing, there's wings, potato chips, they're drinking soda.
And it's really quite peaceful. And it's good to see some people doing something positive. To piggyback on what you're saying about the young people --
BLITZER: Don lemon, we're losing the connection.
LEMON: -- arrest records.
BLITZER: Go ahead. I think we've re-connected. Go ahead, Don.
LEMON: OK. All you have to do is -- all you have to do is get the arrest records. It will show the ages of the people who were arrested. Most of them, they'll show, are not teenagers. There may be people in their 20s, some in their 30s, and maybe even older.
The interesting thing is that I was out on the streets today. Fells Landing which is the original harbor up here in Baltimore, a beautiful area. And little markets and bars and restaurants -- a couple of shops raided last night and looted. And one particular convenience store, the owner's brother said he was there and he saw people he serves every day. And he said he saw people with their kids. One guy had his kid. One kid was 8, one kid looked to be about 6 or 7 years old. And he also saw young kids looting his business as well.
We have pictures of it tonight. They have surveillance camera video of the people who were doing it. It's not all just young people who are doing this.
BLITZER: That's a good point.
Stand by, Don.
Brian Todd, you're there on the scene as well. What are you seeing?
BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, we're kind at the epicenter of the activity in this section of Baltimore right now. This is the intersection where Freddie Gray was arrested on April 12th. This street demonstration still going on. Speakers here again voicing support for Freddie Gray. Justice and freedom are the common calls here. They want to call attention to injustices, for Freddie Gray, for Michael Brown, for all of the people who have been targeted by police in the past year.
And to tell you how this has run the gamut of protests from last night, and the rioting and the looting that took place, that's one extreme. Here's another extreme. Look at these two young ladies reading their Disney books while this protest is going on. This is Shanaya (ph) and McKenzie. They're sitting here reading their books as this protest is going on. These protesters should be on the move pretty soon.
BLITZER: All right. Brian Todd, stand by. The mayor of Baltimore, Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, is joining us now.
Mayor, thanks very much. I hope you can hear me OK. Can you hear me OK?
MAYOR STEPHANIE RAWLINGS-BLAKE, BALTIMORE: I can hear you, yes.
BLITZER: Thank you very much. I want to look back a little bit and look forward. I know you have a limited amount of time. Was it a mistake to allow the looting to go on for so long yesterday without police vehicles rushing to that CVS pharmacy or that liquor store or the cell phone store, the cash check store, and let the looter do what they were doing for at least an hour or two hours?
RAWLINGS-BLAKE: So I want to say, just to be very clear, a lot of this started with high school kids. And we tried to have a response that was appropriate and not excessive. And that's what our parents are asking us for. We worked very closely monitoring the situation trying to make sure that we were responding appropriately. We've had other jurisdictions have their officers in our city for over a week.
We've been working to amp up our resource to make sure that we were able to respond. So, you know, we didn't -- it wasn't allowing rioters to loot and to burn down. It was making sure that we had a -- an appropriate response to what was going on and we swiftly moved in.
[17:50:06] BLITZER: But most of the people who were arrested -- I think the police said 235 people were arrested, almost all of them -- except about 20 who were juveniles, almost all of them were adults. They weren't kids.
RAWLINGS-BLAKE: Well, we're talking about how this started. And you talk about, you know, over an hour. And it was an evolving situation that started with a lot of kids after they got out of school.
BLITZER: That's -- originally at that mall, that's when it started. The kids got out of school. They were talking about that film "Purge" and that was that. But I was anchoring our coverage for a couple of hours yesterday afternoon. We had the Baltimore affiliates of ours. They were showing live pictures of helicopters flying over that area for at least two hours, showing people simply going in and then eventually started to burn that CVS pharmacy.
And my own sense was, and correct me if I'm wrong there, that if you would have sent a few police vehicles, all those people would have run away as quickly as possible, and maybe some of that CVS pharmacy, the other stores would not have been looted that quickly.
RAWLINGS-BLAKE: You know, what we had was pockets of people all over the place. And we were -- we were responding to situations as they occurred.
Nobody wants to see rioters and looters. And when they happen, the reason why we have coverage of looters and rioters, not just in Baltimore, but all over the country when these things happen is because they strike quickly. They move in small groups, and, you know, the police officers have to make measured and appropriate responses.
We were focused on trying to get this riot. We didn't want any loss of life. We wanted to make sure that we responded appropriately. We got additional resources in. And we're prepared for this evening.
BLITZER: So tell me what happens this evening. Let's say hopefully it won't happen. But let's say some stores are being looted. What are you going to do?
RAWLINGS-BLAKE: What we've done. We had over 200 arrests last night. We have had very -- you know, we've been having peaceful demonstrations during the day, that area that was burned yesterday. While we did have a few incidents pop up, what you did see was communities coming together, people coming together to celebrate our city and to clean up our city.
And the communities really coming together in a way that the police can't necessarily do, stepping in and talking to the people who are intent on creating mayhem and saying, you know, not in our city. We don't want this for Baltimore.
BLITZER: We're showing viewers some live pictures of people walking through the streets now. Hopefully it will stay peaceful. It will stay quiet, as it has been through much of this day, almost the entire day. But clearly, you're ready for the worst-case scenario.
What about the U.S. military? There is a state of emergency, as we all know in your beautiful city of Baltimore. There's National Guard troops. How do you coordinate when to send in the military as opposed to city or state police?
RAWLINGS-BLAKE: So part of our response time with bringing in the National Guard was negotiating those types of things. We have officers that are coming in not just from other jurisdictions around the state that we had to coordinate over the past week as they've been coming in, but we also had officers that are coming in from outside of the state.
So we've been negotiating the terms and coordinating how they can support us as well. It was very clear when the rioters got out of control, we needed to bring in the National Guard. And we wanted to make sure that we did that in a way that was coordinated and supportive. So we could bring peace, and not have the situation get even worse than it was.
BLITZER: As you know, President Obama today was speaking out forcefully and emotionally for about 15 minutes or so in the Rose Garden during a news conference over at the White House. He said he is seeing too many instances of police officers interacting, his words, with primarily African-American and often poor people in ways that raise troubling questions.
Here is the question for you, Mayor. Do you need to make major changes to the Baltimore Police Department right now?
RAWLINGS-BLAKE: Absolutely. And I'm sure you know we have the Department of Justice community policing office in Baltimore at my request to do collaborative reform. I'm not -- I'm not blind to the fact that we have to do a better job with our relationships between the community and the police. DOJ through the cops, the community policing came in last year and started this process of engaging communities and trying to get to better.
You know, I've committed my life, my adult life to improving Baltimore. And this issue around police brutality and police misconduct and holding officers accountable, this is something I've worked on for years. In the last session, I was down in our state capital. I was one of the only elected officials that was down there fighting for reforms to the law enforcement officers' bill of rights.
[17:55:10] I got a lot of pushback and not a lot of support. And not a lot of support. And I was down there because I didn't want to see something like this in my city. So I'm very keenly aware of the issues. And we've been pushing to get better in Baltimore.
BLITZER: We're showing viewers live pictures of people moving through the streets of Baltimore right now. Still peaceful. Hopefully it will stay that way, Mayor.
We're told now by our Evan Perez, our justice reporter, that on Friday, the police department will make its evidence available to state prosecutors as far as the death, the circumstances leading up to the death of Freddie Gray, the 25-year-old who was arrested, wound up with a broken neck, a spinal cord that was cracked, and he died after a coma. Is that information going to be made public?
RAWLINGS-BLAKE: Well, a lot of that information has already been made public with respect to the timeline and the information, the preliminary work of the medical examiner. But we will work in collaboration. You have to be -- we have to be very careful. And I've made a commitment to the state's attorney that we would be as transparent as we could with putting information out to the public.
But we couldn't for Freddie Gray's sake compromise the investigation and our ability to hold those accountable if she decides that there needs to be charges brought. We have to be careful with how that information is going out. So we can do more than just seek justice. We can have justice for Freddie Gray.
BLITZER: But do you think you'll be able to release something on Friday? Because, you know, the community wants something. They're -- I've spoken to the attorneys for Freddie Gray's family. They say they have not received information about what those six police officers who arrested Freddie Gray, what they said, five of them we're told, did offer statements to investigators. So you think you'll be able to release something on Friday?
RAWLINGS-BLAKE: You have to -- again, you have to understand that we're doing everything we can to put out information, as much as we can, but also protect the investigation. What we've seen in other jurisdiction where there have been information put out too early when the investigation wasn't completed, officers had a chance to collaborate or collude and get their stories together. And it wasn't helpful to the investigation.
We want to protect this process to ensure that Freddie Gray has justice. And it's a very delegate balancing act. And I'm determined to get it right.
BLITZER: The governor of your state, Larry Hogan, he said that he thought the police were overwhelmed yesterday, and he moved his staff and cabinet from the state capitol of Annapolis to Baltimore. Is the governor overstepping his authority?
RAWLINGS-BLAKE: You know, this is Baltimore, it's part of Maryland. And I am determined that I'm going -- I will work with our governor. I'm not going politicize this. We want those resources here. I'm grateful that the National Guard is here. You know, I'm not -- yes, I'm not going to let this turn into a political football.
BLITZER: Did you ever think, Mayor, that you would see a situation develop where the Baltimore Orioles, the Major League Baseball team, will be playing a game tomorrow, tomorrow afternoon in Baltimore, but there will be no fans in the stadium? It will be closed to the public because of security concerns. People will be able to watch it on television. But no fans will go to the stadium to watch.
Did you ever think something like that could happen in Baltimore?
RAWLINGS-BLAKE: This is -- absolutely not. I mean, we're a sports town. We love our O's. The fact that no one is going to be able to go to the game, it is another sad day in our city. But what I will say is these dark days aren't going to last, but Baltimore will. And we're going to grow better from this. We're going grow stronger from this.
What you've seen all over the city is community leaders coming together, looking for ways that they can engage with our young people, looking for ways that they can clean up our community. That's who we are in Baltimore. And that will continue to shine through.
BLITZER: Mayor, good luck to you. Good luck to the police commissioner. Good luck to everyone in Baltimore.
RAWLINGS-BLAKE: Thank you.
BLITZER: As someone who lives only about 40 miles away here in the nation's capital in the Washington, D.C. area. We wish you only the best. You've got a great city there. I speak as someone who --
RAWLINGS-BLAKE: We do.
BLITZER: -- actually went to graduate school at Johns Hopkins University so I know Baltimore quite well. And good luck to you and good luck to the whole community.
RAWLINGS-BLAKE: Thank you.
UNIDENTIFIED PROTESTER: Shut this down.
UNIDENTIFIED PROTESTERS: Shut this down.
ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.
BLITZER: And if you're just following us, we're watching what is going on, the breaking news, the state of emergency in Baltimore.
Once again, we want to welcome our viewers in the United States and around the world. I'm Wolf Blitzer here in THE SITUATION ROOM.
[18:00:01] Take a look at this.