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Building Anger; ISIS Attack; Protests Across U.S. in NYPD Chokehold Case

Aired December 5, 2014 - 18:00   ET


WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Happening now: building anger. We're live on the streets of several major cities for protests against the NYPD chokehold death. Stand by for the breaking news.

Plus, the man behind the video. We're hearing for the first time from the person who recorded Eric Garner's fatal confrontation with police. He's revealing details about his appearance before a grand jury.

And terror exclusive. CNN is at the site of a deadly ISIS attack that's raising new questions about the actions of a key U.S. ally.

We went to welcome our viewers in the United States and around the world. I'm Wolf Blitzer. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

BLITZER: Tonight, protesters are back on the streets and they aren't letting up in their fight against deadly police tactics and their demands for justice.

We're following demonstrations in several major cities right now. It's been about 48 hours since a grand jury decided not to indict New York City police officer Daniel Pantaleo in the chokehold death of Eric Garner. And we're also hearing for the first time from the man who recorded the cell phone video of Garner's confrontation with New York City police.

Ramsey Orta testified before the grand jury and he says he was surprised by what went on in the hearing room.


RAMSEY ORTA, WITNESS: Nobody in the grand jury was even paying attention to what I had to say. Everybody was on their phones, people were talking. So I feel like they didn't even give him a fair grand jury either.

They put the video was going on, and they were asking me piece by piece where I was, where I was standing at, if I was the one who shot the video.

And then pretty much from there, he was asking me regular questions, but he wasn't even asking no questions about no police officer. He was asking everything towards Eric. What was Eric doing there? Why was Eric there?


BLITZER: We have our correspondents, analysts, newsmakers, they're all standing by. They're covering all the breaking developments

First, let's go to CNN's national correspondent, Jason Carroll. He's joining us from New York's Times Square -- Jason.

JASON CARROLL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, things looking calm here in Times Square right now. Just a few minutes from now, a demonstration expected to get under way in Columbus Circle, this as New York City and other cities across the country brace for another night of demonstrations.


CARROLL (voice-over): Anger over the grand jury decision to not prosecute officer Daniel Pantaleo unleashing fury from coast to coast, as protesters marched Thursday night.

Standoffs, but no serious violence in Dallas, Boston, Chicago and New York, protesters screaming for justice, demanding change in how law enforcement deals with people of color.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's happening in every city, every town. It's happening here in Pittsburgh.

CARROLL: In New York, the Brooklyn Bridge shut down by protesters and they brought Times Square to a standstill. Hours of peaceful protests there escalating, eventually reaching a tipping point, the NYPD cracking down, 219 arrested overnight, including several after a massive scuffle.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It was all pretty violent and they were just laying people down on the ground against the cars.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They were very much overly aggressive. What a surprise. When has NYPD not been overly aggressive to us?

CARROLL: Elsewhere in New York City, demonstrators staged a so- called die-in in Brooklyn lying in the middle of Atlantic Avenue. An eerie silence descended as protesters who had cardboard coffins stopped chanting.

In Washington, D.C., protesters flooding the streets, at one point blocking the busy 14th Street Bridge. In Boston, the annual downtown Christmas tree lighting turned into a protest, while, in Chicago, they swarmed Lake Shore Drive.

Eric Garner's daughter told CNN she appreciates the multiracial support.

ERICA SNIPES GARNER, DAUGHTER OF ERIC GARNER: This is not a black and white issue. This is a national crisis. (END VIDEOTAPE)

CARROLL: Well, Wolf, it's tough to predict what the night will bring, but one thing demonstrators say they can say for sure, they will continue to march for justice -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Jason, we will stay in close touch with you and see what happens on the streets of New York City.

We're also watching the protests here in Washington, D.C.

Let's check in with CNN's Athena Jones.

Athena, what are you seeing?


The protest has just begun here in Chinatown. This is in central Washington, a very busy area, especially on a Friday night. You can see them talking here. They have begun to shut down a major intersection. The goal is to disrupt, to bring attention to their goal of ending racial injustice and ending racial profiling and police brutality. The goal here is not just to shut down traffic and make it difficult for people to get to

They also want to make it difficult for people to get to the Wizards game tonight. The Wizards are playing at the Verizon Center just down the street here. We also know a group of protesters is planning to try to rush the floor of the Verizon game to try to shut it down there.

We also know this protest group has other groups dispersed around time. They're trying to disperse the police. We know there's a group of college students that they are sending to Union Station. That's the train station. There's also a separate group that right about now I'm told is headed to 395, and that's a major highway that they have shut down for the last couple of nights.

This is not the only protest going on in Washington, D.C., tonight. But this is the one where we're another and we will be watching -- Wolf.

BLITZER: We certainly will. All right, Athena, we will get back to you.

Our national correspondent Deborah Feyerick is tracking the protests and she at Federal Plaza in New York City.

What are you seeing over there, Deb?

DEBORAH FEYERICK, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: We got a couple dozen protesters and you can see they are all taking to the steps, they're talking about the government, they're talking about excessive use of force.

Everybody is sort of getting a couple of minutes to voice their opinion on the Eric Garner case as well as Michael Brown and the others saying that police are simply too aggressive when it comes to dealing with certain communities.

There's a light rain here. You can see the New York Stock Exchange just over here. What effectively they're going to be doing is you have got a couple of organizers and they're staging in different locations. What ends up happening is you have got these people here, they will join up with a couple other groups throughout the night. It's still early, light rain falling. Last night we were in Times Square and there, as you reported, it was really -- there was a lot of activity.

The protesters seemed to be peaceful for the most part. But then when confronted by the police officers, lines of police officers and barricades, that's when things really escalated. The mood of the second night of demonstrations much different than the mood of the first night when these demonstrators had a lot of -- really had free rein to the city streets, the avenues.

Police making sure that did not happen. There were many more officers that we saw out there, some of them actually really escalating the situation. It's almost as if the police played into the demonstrators' hands, the demonstrators played into the police's hands.

We know how it will work today. Can tell you that over the last two days, there were some 300 arrests. We don't know how many people will come out, but right now the sort of rallying of the crowd to see how this night progresses -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Deborah Feyerick, thank you very much.

Let's check in at another protest site that seems to be developing right now.

CNN's Chris Welch is over at New York's Union Square.

Chris, what's happening there?

CHRIS WELCH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, really we got here a couple hours ago. Things seemed to be pretty quiet for the most part. A few small groups, maybe about a dozen, actually predominately high school students, but really literally just before the show began, we saw a large group of protesters come down the street here next to us, probably a good I would say at least 100 people chanting I can't breathe 11 times, I can't breathe 11 times.

And we also saw almost the same number of cops following them right alongside with them, followed by a line of police vehicles. We did get a chance to ask a couple of them if they had a destination in mind and what their plans were tonight. No definite answers. Everything here seems to be very fluid and very organic. We saw a couple of people walking around trying to collect other people to walk with them and join forces.

But really at this point, I think it remains fluid and it remains up in the air. A lot of that could have to do with the ugly weather here. The rain has been coming down for quite a while and is expected to continue tonight, Wolf.

BLITZER: We will see the impact of the weather is on what's going on in New York and elsewhere. Chris, thank you.

Demonstrators are venting their anger about what happened in New York but they're also angry about the events in Ferguson, Missouri. We have some breaking news regarding the Ferguson riots.

We're joined by our justice reporter Evan Perez.

Evan, what's going on?

EVAN PEREZ, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, the ATF is offering a reward up to $10,000 for information, videos and particularly they want videos from people who were out on the scene, any videos of the fires that burned the night of the grand jury decision in Ferguson.

And in particular, Wolf, they're looking for videos of the fires at Flood Christian Church, which is the church that Michael Brown Sr. is a member of. You remember, Wolf, this fire in particular was very suspicious, because it burned away from the main commercial corridor where a lot of the other fires burned, and also because obviously of the connection of Michael Brown.

And so we know that the ATF has been looking at various things, including the fact that there were white supremacists and other groups that made threats ahead of the grand jury decision. Wolf, we know one of the things they're looking for is on the videos they can tell a lot of things, including the color of the fire, where it was burning, what time it was burning, and also who was in the crowd when the fires were burning. So this is information that the ATF is urgently asking the public to provide.

Again, they're providing a reward up to $10,000 for any information that they can use for this investigation -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Stand by for a moment, because I want to explain to our viewers what's going on.

The left part of your screen, that is Washington, D.C., in Chinatown right outside Verizon Center, where the Washington Wizards in less than an hour they are supposed to be playing the Denver Nuggets. You can see this is 7th and 8th Street Northwest and the protesters they are obviously very angry about what's happened in Ferguson, Missouri, what's happened in Staten Island, New York.

You can see on the right, you can see the demonstrators in Boston. They're continuing to move there as well. We're going to stay on top of all of these demonstrations. Hopefully, they will be peaceful. People can express their views. Let's hope it's peaceful no arrests.

Evan, the Justice Department, as you know, it's looking into both Ferguson and Staten Island. You had a chance to speak with the attorney general of the United States. These investigations, different investigations, but there are some parallels.

PEREZ: Yes. There are some parallels.

They're looking, Wolf, to see if there's any civil rights violations that have been made. You know the bar is very high for these investigations, and it's a question I asked of the attorney general when he was on his visit to Cleveland, and here's what he had to say. I believe we have some video.


ERIC HOLDER, U.S. ATTORNEY GENERAL: Yes, I don't want to raise expectations unnecessarily. But on the other hand, I do want to assure the people of this country that we take the obligation that we have very seriously, that we investigate thoroughly, and when we can hold people accountable, we will do so.


PEREZ: Wolf, you know, it is an issue of expectations, because every time the attorney general and the president goes out there and talks about these investigations, I think the people marching on the streets there are looking for handcuffs on some of these cops.

The problem is, these cases are very hard to make on the federal level. So the answer might end up being reform of police departments, more training. And it's not clear whether that's the answer the people on the streets really want to hear, Wolf.

BLITZER: Evan Perez, thank you very much for that report. We will monitor these two separate federal investigations.

Joining us now is a former top official of the New York City Police Department, Philip Banks. He's got 28 years in the NYPD, working his way up to chief of department.

Chief Banks, thank you very much for joining us.

I just want to point out what you're hearing, some of the demonstrators here in Washington, D.C., as well as in Boston, they're obviously very angry about what happened in your city of New York as a result of this nonindictment in Staten Island.

You have watched the video, as all of us have. What happened here, Chief? Because you spent 28 years in the NYPD.


The video is very disturbing. I think to the layman, it's much more disturbing. They look at an individual with multiple police officers and the end result is the loss of a life. I certainly understand anyone looking at that video has to be alarmed and outraged. So I certainly do understand exactly what's going on today.

BLITZER: And just to explain, you were the chief of department until recently. Is that effectively the number two person in the NYPD?

BANKS: Well, there's the police commissioner who is the number one person. Then there's the first deputy commissioner, and most people refer to that position as the number two people. But in reality, the chief of the department is the day-to-day operational person.

That's the position that has the influence and the power for making moves day by day.

BLITZER: So you're uniquely qualified to take a look at these police officers who were involved in the Eric Garner chokehold, if you will. What did they do wrong, if anything?

BANKS: Well, I don't want to be in a position now, because I certainly think this may not be over, to critique.

It was a situation where officers responded. We ask the officers to do this single day, thousands and thousands and times. They get it right the overwhelming majority of the time. In this situation here, the question could they have done something differently?

I think if you speak to any of those officers, they probably would say, maybe I could have done this or I could have done that. Does that rise to the level of criminality? I'm not sure whether I should comment on that or not.

We could have waited for a supervisor to come to the scene to take charge of that situation and it's a judgment call whether they should have given more time to speak with Eric Garner or not.

BLITZER: What was also very disturbing, you see the whole video, it's about seven minutes or so, after he stopped talking saying, maybe 11 times, I can't breathe, I can't breathe, I can't breathe, he was just there on the sidewalk. It didn't look like there was much effort made to try to resuscitate him.

I was concerned, I'm sure you were concerned about that as well.

BANKS: You know what, that's probably the most disturbing aspect of the video. I think most people understand that police officers have to take action. Most people understand that they are in situations like this every single day. And most people understand the dangerous facets of their job.

I think what aroused just the anger of people is when he went down, it appears that there was a lack of concern for human life. By looking at the video, I certainly understand that appearance, and thus the outrage that's taken place in the aftermath.

BLITZER: There -- as you well know, and you spent 28 years in the NYPD, Chief Banks, so you know the inner workings well.

In the African-American community in New York and elsewhere, there's concern there's really a two-tier justice system, to which you reply? BANKS: Well, listen, I grew up in New York City, right?

And I speak to as my 28 years in the police department -- one of the things I used to mention to my executives, and I used to mention, is that you need to spend a great part of your day speaking to the nonmembers of the NYPD, because that's the learning process.

So this anger and these complications that we face are nothing new to me. I have been hearing that and I have been dealing with that every single day. It goes back to this, that in certain communities, they feel as though the criminal justice system can't be trusted. They feel as though there's an inequity of justice that's been given out.

And historically if you looked at that, there is something to that. People do fall back -- I would like to say this, Wolf. I had a conversation with a young man the other day. He was approximately 16 years of age and I asked him about the Eric Garner incident. He believed that the decision from the grand jury was inaccurate.

When I spoke to him about it, he said every day he's on the train platform and police officers walk by and they look him up and down. They don't say anything to him. They look him up and down. It's a very intimidating process for him.

Therefore, he's basing his opinion on the New York City Police Department on these officers because they have shaped that particular model. What we have to do in law enforcement is to make sure every single day we have a million opportunities for people in the public to see us in the most professional manner. The question is, are we maximizing that opportunity?

The last point I would like to make on that is when people look at police-community relations and realize that that's a great mistrust or there's something wrong, it always falls back that it's the police department's fault.

I'm not sure it's strictly the police department's fault. In any relationship, husband and wife, boyfriend and girlfriend, et cetera, when there's something going on, you can look at and say that there's responsibility on both sides. Until we stop pointing fingers about it's your fault or it's not your fault and realize that there's fault on both sides, but more importantly, there's a solution that each of us can come up with to correct these problems, it's frustrating to me, because I think it's a lot easier than we're making it out to settle some of these issues.

BLITZER: Chief Banks, I'm going to have you stand by, because we have more questions for you.

These are demonstrators in Boston. You see right now also in Chicago. I want to go to Chicago.

CNN's Kyung Lah is on the streets of Chicago.

Set the scene, Kyung. What's going on over there? KYUNG LAH, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It's a smaller crowd out

here this evening, Wolf. What they have been doing is walking down the sidewalk.

So it's a bit of a tactical change. But you can hear they're still very energetic, they have been walking with through the city since about 1;30 this afternoon. I don't see a lot of faces I recognize from last night, so it looks like different people.

But I want to give a sense of what we're doing here. This is a crowd and they're on a street corner. It's in downtown Chicago, if you're familiar with this area where it's State and Jackson, and it's a major part of the business district here in Chicago.

And I'm going to have my cameraman swing all the way around. Everywhere in the city of Chicago where they have walked, you see this image as well. The Chicago Police Department following the protesters on their bicycles to try to create a barrier between people who are trying to commute home as well as the protesters who are here.

But you see it's a sizable crowd right now. It's about 100 people. But compared to what it was last night, it does appear to be smaller. But it is still a very energetic crowd -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Kyung Lah, stand by. We will get back to you in Chicago. Our reporters in New York, here in Washington, in Boston, also the former NYPD chief of department Philip Banks is standing by.

We will resume the breaking news coverage right after this.


BLITZER: Let's get back to downtown Chicago.

Kyung Lah is on the streets of Chicago. These are pictures coming in from Boston. There are other demonstrators moving around in Chicago right now. Kyung Lah is on the scene for us.

Kyung, tell us what you're seeing.

LAH: What you're seeing -- I want you to walk with me a little bit. You can see this is a very peaceful crowd. But the reason I want to walk through, you can see it's actually a very diverse crowd. A lot of the people who are here...


LAH: And they have been here since 1:30 this afternoon walking through the streets of Chicago.

And what they're trying to do is hit all the different -- and we're walking -- they're trying to hit the different intersections of the city. They are doing something a little bit differently than they did yesterday. Yesterday, we noticed that they were trying to block the streets, block the roadways. Today, they're walking through the streets, trying to basically

take up most of the sidewalks. You see how wide the sidewalk is. And I want you to take a look and listen to what they're saying.

Hands up, don't shoot. That's what you're hearing in all the other cities across the U.S. The message is basically the same, is that they want to have a dialogue, the people of the city, with the police as well.

As far as what the police are doing, I don't know if you can see, Wolf, but the police department is basically trailing them on the streets via bicycle, via chopper. We're hearing a lot of police activity on the scanners saying they're going here, they're going there. They want to try to avoid what happened yesterday, which is basically the protesters shut down major arteries in the city of Chicago.

So, today, I think they're trying to look at longevity. They want to stay out here as long as possible. Starting at 1:30 in the afternoon today local time, and they are still going. You can hear the energy here, Wolf.

They're very, very energetic. She says she's not going anywhere. A lot of people who are here say they are in it for the long haul. Today is one day. We're hearing there will be protests throughout the weekend as well, Wolf.

BLITZER: All right, Kyung Lah in Chicago, we will come back to you. If you have a chance, maybe you will speak to one of those demonstrators, get a little personal account of what is going on.

On the left part of your screen, Columbus circle right in New York City in Manhattan. Demonstrators are gathering there right now as well. This is right outside the Time Warner Center, where CNN has its studios in New York City. So it's not just in Chicago, it's not just in Boston, it's in New York, it's right here in Washington, D.C., as well.

Let's bring in once again Philip Banks, and he's the former NYPD chief of department. Spent 28 years in the NYPD.

Watching what's going on, Chief, this is a difficult assignment for a lot of police officers. There were about 60 arrests in New York City two nights ago, more than 200 last night. What do you do if you're a cop on the streets? People are simply lying down, whether on the West Side Highway or Times Square, or Columbus Circle, blocking traffic. What do you do?

BANKS: Listen, this is a tough assignment. It certainly is very, very tough.

But the New York City Police Department has a lot of experience in protests. There's a lot of demonstrations that take place, unfortunately, but we certainly do have a lot of experience in that. So the police officers are tough. I think they're certainly the best in the business. And they will weather the storm.

BLITZER: And if they're provoked, these police officers, by demonstrators -- most of them have been extremely peaceful, they're expressing their views as they have a right to do. But if they're provoked, the police really have to show a lot of restraint, don't they?

BANKS: You know what? They have to show more restraint now than they did even before.

The message going out to the officers, many officers is that this is not personal, this is not against you, this is the frustrations against the entire criminal justice system. A good police officer cannot thin skin, have to have thick skin and cannot personalize this, and certainly has to remain professional at all times. And I would expect, under the leadership of police Commissioner Bratton, the police officers will perform their jobs professionally in regard to these protesters.

BLITZER: Chief Banks, I want you to hold on with me for a minute.

Athena Jones is here in the nation's capital outside Verizon Center, that's the home of the Washington Wizards. They're supposed to be starting their game against the Denver Nuggets in about a half- hour or so from now.

Athena, what are you seeing?

JONES: Hi, Wolf.

You can look around me and see many of the protesters lying on the ground. We have seen this all over the county, they call it a die-in. They're doing it to represent the young men whose lives have been taken by police. They just got here and got on the ground.

They're of course blocking traffic here and blocking traffic to make it hard for people to get to the Wizards' game, to make it hard for people to get home. The goal of course is to disrupt in order to bring attention to their cause, which is ending racial injustice, ending racial profiling.

As you can see, they are upset that we are talking, they want this to be a moment of silence. But this is part of the protesting that we have seen around the country.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You are not respecting the moment of silence that we have just asked for all of the victims of police brutality in violation of their human rights. We asked for a moment of silence, and you can't even give us that?

JONES: So, here we are...

BLITZER: All right, Athena, you know what? I'm going to give them a moment of silence. We are going to come back to Athena Jones. She's standing by over there outside Verizon Center.

Chief banks, you see what's going on in Washington, D.C., this die-in, if you will. People are lying on the streets, preventing presumably people from showing up at Verizon Center, where there's a Washington Wizards NBA basketball game. It's supposed to begin.

What do the police do about a situation like this? It's obviously a very sensitive moment.

BANKS: Yes, it is very sensitive.

I don't want to comment on Washington, D.C. I certainly wouldn't be in a position to be critical, not understanding the full culture and the essence of what's going on down there.

But I certainly would implore the Washington Police Department that they need to, in fact, utilize as much restatement as they can. They need to be sympathetic to the protesters.

But on the other hand, it comes to a point when, if they're breaking the law and if the breaking of that law goes into a dangerous situation, then certain action has to be taken.

From what I'm seeing now, it does not appear that that is happening. So I would certainly implore support for the local police to have that support, have that restraint, but certainly, you're going to have to at some point see whether or not it continues, will it -- can it evolve into a situation where lives can be lost?

BLITZER: These people are -- these people are lying on the streets. So obviously, traffic is not going to move on this street over there outside Verizon Center. If this were to happen outside Madison Square Garden on Southern (ph) Avenue or something and people couldn't get to a Knicks game and you were a cop in New York City, and you used to be the No. 3 cop in the NYPD, what would you do?

BANKS: I'd do a lot of praying. I'd certainly -- listen, the New York City Police Department, I do think they would respond. I've been involved in a lot of situations like that. That's not a textbook answer. You have to be out there on the ground. You have to be speaking with the organizers. You have to certainly feel what they're going through.

And a lot of these are a lot of last-minute changes that you have to make adjustments. I think that the new chief of the department, James O'Neill, has a lot of experience in this particular area, and I'm confident that he will handle this very professionally.

BLITZER: You still have confidence in the NYPD?

BANKS: Sure, I do. I think it's the best organization around. Certainly, it has problems that it has to fix. It has to acknowledge that it has some problems. It has to realize when mistakes are made and regroup. But I certainly do believe it's the best organization around. I'm very proud of that. And I have a lot of confidence that they will continue to do good work. But they have to acknowledge, and I had to acknowledge when I was

there, that there are some things that you did today that you can't do tomorrow. You have to evolve in that. And that acknowledgement has to take place on the community side, as well. Like I mentioned to you, Wolf, this is not local law enforcement is wrong and everybody else is right. This is to say how do we each come to terms with our faults? How do we each come to terms so that we can make progress?

BLITZER: Phillip Banks, the former NYPD chief of departments, spent 28 years in the NYPD, joining us from New York City. He's got an excellent perspective on what's going on. We'll continue our conversations, Chief Banks, with you. Thanks very much for joining us. And thanks for your 28 years of public service. We appreciate it very much.

BANKS: You're welcome. Thank you.

BLITZER: We'll take a quick break. We're monitoring the breaking news. The demonstrators, the numbers growing right now in several major cities, in Chicago, Boston, New York City, right here in the nation's capital. Much more of our coverage right after this.


BLITZER: These are live pictures right here in the nation's capital, Washington, D.C., right outside Verizon Center where the Washington Wizards are supposed to be playing about the Denver Nuggets in about 30 minutes or so. People are protesting the grand jury decision in New York City. Let's listen in now to hear what they're shouting.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Shut it down! Shut it down! Shut it down! Shut it down!

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Shut it down! Shut it down! Shut it down! Shut it down!

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Shut it down! Shut it down! Shut it down! Shut it down!





UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: When do we want it?








UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: When do we want it?




BLITZER: All right. Let's go to Chicago right now with CNN's Kyung Lah. Also demonstrators pretty angry over there. Kyung, they're on the march in Chicago, right?

KYUNG LAH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: They are marching quite a bit through Chicago, Wolf. What we're seeing is that they're trying to stick to the sidewalks here, unlike yesterday where they're trying to shut down streets. They are saying the same things, "Hands up." They want people to stop, look and talk about police brutality. They want to talk about all the issues in their community. And the people here have been diverse; they've been young. They've been, like LaShawn Ivory (ph), who we just met. How long have you been out here walking?


LAH: Since 2 p.m., and there's so much energy in this crowd. Tell me what -- on the second day, what is the message to the city?

IVORY (ph): We are tired of the abuse and the racism being silenced. We really are. And it's about time our voices be heard for the first time in 60 years.

LAH: There have been a lot of police officers here, but it has largely been a peaceful protest. Have you had any encounters with the police officers, any of the protesters?

IVORY: Sadly, we have one. One of our leaders was pushed and assaulted by a police officer earlier, right up here at this intersection here, and he was arrested. Luckily, we have it on video. So that's good for us.

LAH: LaShawn (ph), thank you very much.

He's a student at Harold Washington College, like a lot of the people here.

And Wolf, what is really remarkable is, if you think about it, after hours of walking, he mentioned one arrest. There has been no violence. The police officers have been extremely patient with these protesters, and they've been able to walk through this city through major thoroughfares where it's crowded as people are heading home, on Friday night. People are going out to dinner. They've still been able to keep up this energy, Wolf.

BLITZER: Are you on Michigan Avenue over there? Where are you guys?

LAH: Yes. OK. Let me show you where I am. If you're familiar with Chicago, that is Trump Tower over there. There is the Wrigley building. We are at the heart of Wacker and State. They are basically giving us a foot tour of Chicago, just like we got yesterday.

But I want you to look at what I'm standing on. Basically, I'm on the sidewalk. Yesterday what they were trying to do is shut down Lake Shore Drive, shut down Michigan Avenue. And standing on Lake Shore Drive, walking among traffic. If you are from Chicago, it is extraordinary.

I've never seen it before, to have people spilling into Lake Shore Drive, spilling onto the Dan Ryan. It is really something that they have been able to do that. And that there hasn't been a ton of arrests, and they've been able to do it peacefully and get this message across.

BLITZER: All right, Kyung, we're going to check back with you. Kyung Lah in Chicago. Demonstrators continuing in Washington, D.C., in Boston. You see the live pictures coming in. Also from New York City.

Let's go to New York. CNN's Don Lemon. He's standing by in Union Square in New York for us right now. What's going on, Don, where you are?

DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR: Well, we see protesters, Wolf, come and go. They come; they go. We see maybe 100, 150. Quite frankly, as many police officers with them. Right now they have moved (UNINTELLIGIBLE).

There's also a rally about to start. It should start downtown. So it's not much organization. They meet, they text, they get on social media. And then they sort of figure out where they're going to walk around to. We've had people come up and ask us where are we supposed to meet people.

But considering it is a rainy night, as you can see here. I'm wearing this jacket and an umbrella. That may have dampened the protesters a little bit, tamped it down a little bit. But again, off and on, we're seeing groups of protesters coming in and out. We're in Union Square on 14th Street and Union Square.

BLITZER: Don, stand by. We've got a lot to discuss. Don Lemon in New York for us.

Athena Jones is here in Washington, D.C., outside Verizon Center. What's the latest over there, Athena?

ATHENA JONES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Wolf, they've been blocking down traffic here now for about an hour. You can hear them chanting, "No justice, no peace." They've been chanting, "No justice, no peace, no racist police." Saying "If I can't breathe, you can't breathe." Of course, a reference to Eric Garner's last words.

The goal here, of course, is to disrupt. They want to disrupt to bring attention to their cause, which is to end racial injustice. They want law enforcement and the justice system to treat everyone equally.

I spoke to a young woman who arrived here just by chance. She came at the spur of the moment; was riding the bus and saw this protest happening. She got off the bus and said she had to join. Why did she have to join? She said as a young black woman she can relate to the victimization of young black men. She's angry about it. She says that too often people in the black community have said, "Don't make noise. Don't make noise, don't rock the boat." And she said it's time to make noise to make a change. She's glad that people are out here taking this action. And she believes that bringing attention to this cause will actually bring change.

So that's why we're out here tonight. Some joined through social media. That's why they came out. Others just happened upon the scene. And we're hearing a lot of the chanting saying get off the street -- get off the sidewalks into the streets. Join us. And so that's what we've been seeing here tonight -- Wolf.

BLITZER: All right. Athena, we're going to get back to you in a few moments. We're watching all the protests erupting now in several major U.S. cities. We'll continue our special coverage right after this.


BLITZER: We're following the breaking news.

And now, take a look at this. This is Miami, Florida, the demonstrators beginning to move over there, as well. They've really moved on the streets. There's a lot of backup as far as traffic in Miami is concerned. This is basically shut down, as you see, on I-95 in Miami.

We're watching what's going on closely in Miami, and Chicago and Boston, in New York, right here in Washington, D.C.

Let's bring in our senior legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin, our law enforcement analyst, Tom Fuentes, and joining us from St. Louis, Missouri, John Gaskin. He's been monitoring the situation in Ferguson, Missouri, for us, as all of our viewers know by now.

Jeffrey, three straight nights of demonstrations and they don't seem to be ending at all.

JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: No. And I don't mean to be Pollyanna about this, but I think things are actually going very well. These are people exercising their rights to speak out, they're angry, they're impassioned. The police are exercising a lot of restraint. I don't think anything is broken here. I think some traffic is

delayed. So what? This is important stuff.

BLITZER: But in New York, Jeffrey, two nights ago, there were about 60 arrests. Last night, more than 200. We don't know what's going to happen tonight.

TOOBIN: No, we don't. But, you know, 200 arrests in a big city like this on very minor charges of disrupting the peace, failing to disperse, those cases tend to go away very quickly. I think the protesters are doing an excellent job. I think the cops are doing an excellent job. This is democracy in action. I don't see a problem.

BLITZER: What do the cops do, Tom Fuentes, and you used to be a cop on the street before you went to the FBI, when people are blocking traffic on a major thoroughfare like I-195 in Miami?

TOM FUENTES, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Well, Wolf, it depends on what they want or an outcome. Would they take a chance on having a violent eruption and confrontation and, you know, a riot break out or as Jeff says, a little traffic being blocked? So what? Let it go. It is not worth the outcome that would happen if they tried to disrupt everything going on.

BLITZER: John Gaskin, you are in middle America over there in Missouri. How is all of this playing where you are?

JOHN GASKIN, COMMUNITY ACTIVIST: Well, I'm very encouraged by what Jeffrey Toobin has said and what I've observed. In New York, things appearing to be going much better than in Ferguson and in St. Louis. It appears the police there are using an incredible amount of judicious restraint in terms of how they're dealing with protesters compared to what we saw in St. Louis. The protests have been peaceful, and very similar to St. Louis. And obviously the reaction there to the grand jury's decision in New York was entirely different from what we saw in St. Louis. And so to kind of see those parallels, it is very encouraging.

But I had an opportunity to reach out to a number of organizers there in New York to hear what they have to say, to -- and they're encouraged that the movement that started in Ferguson is obviously continuing in Chicago and New York and other cities. You know, they really just shared with me that they are tired of hearing about the deaths of young African-American men, especially those of color, which ties into why you see so many diverse individuals within New York, because they told me, they said, you know, John, we see this happen all of the time, not necessarily to the level of what we saw about Michael Brown and Eric Garner, but we see this level of brutality in New York all the time and it is always swept under the rug.

And so, Eric Garner, from what I understand, was the straw that broke the camel's back for so many within the city of New York.

BLITZER: Don Lemon, are you still with us, Don? I know you were at Union Square in New York City watching what's going on. If can you hear me, Don, as these demonstrations continue in the self cities across the United States, some have suggested, Don, that a new chapter in the civil rights movement in the United States has now started.

Are you among those who believe that?

DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR: I really do. I do. And I think it is not only a new chapter, Wolf, but I think it's a younger chapter. And I think it is a more progressive and inclusive chapter. As I have been saying all along, a lot of people have been saying all along, where is the new generation, where is the new movement and what's going to happen next for -- you know, when it comes to politics and it comes to civil rights.

And I think this is it. And I think social media has a lot to do with helping people to organize, younger people are into social media so it is easier now to organize. You used to have to go to a church, you have to send out fliers, you'd have to get on the radio and make television appearances. Now you don't have to do all of that. I think this is a new -- just the new way.

Go ahead, Jeffrey. Sorry.

BLITZER: Don, where you are, in Union Square, relatively quiet right now, right?

LEMON: It is relatively quiet but that doesn't mean it is not going to -- that things won't come around here, because as I told you earlier, they are moving through the city. And it is raining now. And if this rain stops on a Friday night, then people in this city are going to come ought and they will rally and there should be protesters all over the city.

As you saw last night with my colleague Deborah Feyerick, with Chris Cuomo, with Brooke Baldwin, they were just walking through the streets on routes and just basically doing what you hear now, in the background, "Hands up, don't shoot" and going across the Brooklyn Bridge and the Manhattan Bridge and Columbus Circle and down in Times Circle.

But I think Jeffrey makes a good point, when he says he is heartened by what he is seeing, because this isn't Ferguson, we don't see people looting. We don't see fires.

And, of course, when you have large numbers of people gathering, you're going to have some people who are be arrested, disturbing the peace, blocking traffic, that's just what happens during protests and during rallies.

And so, everywhere I go, Wolf, I have to tell you, people are paying attention here. Young people -- they are tuned in. They're saying, I watch you every night, I watch Wolf, I watch Anderson, I watch Erin -- because they are glued to the television and they want change when it comes to civil rights and what they believe are police violations across the country. I think you are right. This is a new wave for the civil rights movement.

BLITZER: A lot of people say that. These are live pictures in the left part of your screen. The

demonstrators are blocking traffic on Interstate 195 in Miami. You can see them moving along that area right now, where the demonstrators are angry over the grand jury decision, Staten Island. I assume they're very angry about what happened in Ferguson, Missouri, as well.

Tom Fuentes, you see what's happening on this major interstate in Miami. What do the cops do in a situation like this?

FUENTES: Just what they are doing. Let them do it. Let them shut down traffic.

BLITZER: Shut down the routes?

FUENTES: They've obviously made the determination in all these cities that they're going to allow the protests to go on as long as they stay nonviolent and allow the traffic to be blocked. But, you know, the outcome is in the hands of the protesters, and not even the protesters but the others who may show up yet because you will see a different reaction from the police if shots are fired or if businesses start to be set on fire by hooligans that may come out, the police are going to be reacting to that and they will not tolerate that.

BLITZER: Look at that traffic blocked up because there is no -- there are no cars moving. That is Interstate 195 in Miami.

Jeffrey -- Jeffrey Toobin, take a look at these pictures. There's obviously a lot of people pretty upset that they are not going to get home -- it looks like any time soon because of that traffic jam developed because the protesters in Miami -- they're just blocking all of that traffic. It is a tough dilemma for what the cops should be doing in Miami.

TOOBIN: It is. And cops have to show a lot of restraint and a lot of savvy. I'd just like to respond to one thing Don said with a question and maybe a note of caution. You know, a lot of what he said about the energy of this movement and the importance of social media was said a year or two ago when Occupy Wall Street and Occupy all of the other cities really blossomed in rallies that weren't this big, but there were a lot of them. And there were more rallies than we've seen so far.

And you know what? Those -- that movement really petered out and has basically disappeared by this point, and I just raise that as a possibility and to point out that these movements are really hard to maintain. And without an election, without some forcing event, it really becomes difficult to maintain the energy and the civilized attitude we've seen in the last couple of days.

So, I just note -- I don't know what's going to happen, I don't have a prediction, but it is worth remembering the Occupy example of something that seems big at first and the cause there was income equality and now it is pretty much gone as a street force.

BLITZER: Yes. Well, that's fair enough. Don Lemon, I guess a lot depends on what happens in the coming days and weeks. LEMON: Yes. Listen, I think Jeffrey is right. This isn't the

only civil rights movement, the only way that civil rights will be handled. But I think people learned from Occupy Wall Street, which was -- and you have to remember, Occupy Wall Street was something that was nebulous, right? You talk about oh, there are big corporations in Wall Street, they run America and they are shutting the little guy out, and where is the middle class.

This is active. This is tangible. Someone lost their life on camera here and it's happening around the country. So, I think it is a little bit Wall Street but yet different. This engages people's emotions much more than Occupy Wall Street.

BLITZER: All right. Don, stand by for a moment.

John Gaskin and you are young and watching what is going on, is this a brief intermission or is this the start of something new and big?

GASKIN: I believe this is the start of a new movement which really, in my opinion, really started in Ferguson as people watch your network and saw what was taking place.

You know, as I spoke with those activists today, what is so different about this movement is these young people aren't waiting on civil rights leaders to advise them on what to do. They are not waiting on organizations like the Urban League and the NAACP. They are going out, they're taking action, they're going to the streets and they are exercising their rights to protest and they are doing it in a peaceful way, and in a way that is constructive and creative as well.

You see drums, you hear music and see a very diverse group. It is something more unique than what we saw of the civil rights movement in the '50s and if the '60s.

And I believe it's a movement that we're going to continue see gain momentum in various cities across the nation. Right in St. Louis today, you saw a number of protests and a number of walk-outs, the high school where Michael Brown went. Normandy High School had a major walk-out where thousands of students were walking with Michael Brown Sr.

BLITZER: John Gaskin joining us as he does everybody day. John, thanks very, very much.

Tom Fuentes, thanks to you, Jeffrey Toobin and Don Lemon.

We're continuing to monitor what's going on. You take a look at the live pictures coming in from Miami where traffic is stopped on I- 195. Here in Washington, D.C., demonstrators getting ready to go in New York, Boston and elsewhere around the country.

"ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" continues our special coverage.