tv Hardball With Chris Matthews MSNBC August 14, 2014 11:00pm-12:01am PDT
>> yeah, and it could have been done that day. lisa bloom and jim cavanaugh, thank you both very much for joining me tonight. >> thank you. >> chris hays is next. he's live now from st. louis. good evening, from ferguson, missouri. suburban war zone. let's play "hardball." good evening. i'm in for chris matthews. leading off tonight, all eyes are on ferguson, missouri, where authorities are bracing for another night of protests toefr shooting of an unarmed african-american teenager by a police officer last saturday. protesters are once again taking to the streets at this hour. they have been joined by local ferguson police in the missouri state highway patrol. ferguson police are expected to hold a news conference at any moment. when that happens we'll take you there live. last night the streets of the st. louis suburb looked and felt
like a war zone. police in riot gear launched teargas and smoke bombs to disperse crowds. some officers had guns trained on the crowds while standing on their vehicles. they fired teargas at a crew from aljazeera. a local politician was arrested for unlawful assembly. today a host of national politicians from claire mchaskill and elizabeth warren to rand paul called the police tactics over the top. police say they were protecting themselves after getting attacked with molotov cocktails and bricks from some in the crowd. president obama spoke about the crisis for the first time this afternoon. >> now is the time for healing. now is the time for peace and calm on the streets of ferguson. now is the time for an open and transparent process to see that justice is done. >> meanwhile, missouri governor jay nixon this afternoon announced a major change. he appointed the state's highway patrol to direct the security situation in ferguson.
>> what's gone on here over the last few days is not what missouri is about. it's not what ferguson is about. this is a place where people work, go to school, raise families and go to church. a diverse community, a missouri community. lately it looks more like a war zone. that's unacceptable. today i am announcing that the missouri highway patrol under the supervision of captain ron johnson who grew up in this area will be directing the team that provides security in ferguson. i just felt at this particular point that the attitudes weren't improving. and that the blocks toward expression appeared to be a flash point. >> on msnbc today civil rights icon congressman john lewis said what he's seeing in ferguson remientds him of civil rights struggles of the 1940s, '50s and '60s. he had advice for president obama.
>> my own feeling is right now is that president obama should use the authority of his office to declare martial law. federalize the missouri national guard to protect people as they protest. >> msnbc's tremain lee is in ferguson. he covered the protests last night when police fired teargas. >> i have tried to get away from the smoke. i can barely breathe. my nose is burning. my lungs are burning. can't escape it. the further back you go it hangs in the air. it looks like the police have taken over completely at the end of the street. but again, far down the street the clouds of teargas engulfing everything. >> trymaine joins us now from ferguson. also from usa today and perry bacon. trymaine you have been doing
incredible reporting. we appreciate it. it's invaluable, especially last night. so the missouri governor holds a prochbs. we played a clip. he said that people in ferguson would notice immediate differences because he's bringing in the state highway patrol the to oversee the security situation. he said immediate differences. he said police would, quote, step back a little bit. going forward right away. now a few hours later are there immediate differences that are apparent and noticeable? >> the most apparent and noticeable is now they have a black face to put on a law enforcement apparatus. until today you saw hostly white county police officers, mostly white ferguson police officers manning the front line of this contentious battle between protesters that dug in and they will fight for justice for the death of michael brown. law enforcement are getting all the ire from the crowd. i spoke with people earlier. they said he was walking through the crowd, talking to people. he grew up in the area.
we'll see what happens tonight. if there is anything like last night, i can't imagine it will be different unlessle they are not firing rub arer bullets and canisters of teargas into the crowd which we don't expect. once night fall hits in ferguson with the crowd growing you never know how it will turn out. >> that's the question. so much has been happening when the sun goes down the last five or six nights out there. what are you expecting tonight? in terms of a police reaction based on the changes made today? >> i think people are really -- and me, we are all expecting much of the same in terms of the idea that people aren't going to stop protesting. people aren't going to go home. a lot of people here are fed up. i talked to a man today who said we are happy the st. louis county police aren't here anymore. understand that we are united and we are frustrated and this the officer's name needs to be released. they want the officer charged with murder. so people have real issues here.
they have real things they want to happen. changing the police will hopefully help people understand this is a different regime that maybe things will be calmer. in fact, people have the exact same grievances. we have to keep it in mind when we think what will happen tonight. people are mad that a young, unarmed black han was shot in ferguson. >> today, ferguson police chief thomas jackson described the situation as a powder keg. he defended the defense from police and acknowledged that they need a new plan. >> what's happening now is not what any of us want. last night we started getting rocks, bricks, bottles thrown at us and a molotov cocktail and gunfire went off. we need to get everyone to calm down and try to bring some peace to this. we want everybody to be able to protest. we know they are going to protest. we want to facilitate their ability to protest.
>> trymaine, let me go back to you. this is the line we have heard. we hear it there from the police department. last night the police were under attack. it was the molotov cocktails, bricks being thrown at them. you're on the ground. what you are hearing from the police about what they are saying protesters are doing to them. does that square with what you are seeing on the ground? >> from my vantage point 35 feet away from where the first canisters were fired i didn't see rocks thrown. i didn't see molotov cocktails. someone did throw something at one of the police vehicles. i heard it bounce off the truck just a moment before they ordered the crowd to disperse. again my vantage point was mine. from everything i have seen it was a mostly peaceful protest. there were people in the crowd who were belligerent, who were increasingly angry. but that was by and large a small minority of people who came out and protested peacefully last night. >> i wonder, too, the response you see from the crowd there.
we have talked so much about -- the term we use is the militarization of the police. walking around camouflaged, heavily armed. almost a war zone. what effect does it have on the crowds? >> i have an aneck do it. last night i was at the foerg son police station. there were 50 protesters there. they weren't throwing rocks or doing anything. the crowd starteded -- it started getting late. at 2:30 in the morning the police showed up in tanks. there were four tanks and 60 officers. more officers than protesters saying we want you to put down your weapons, put down your rocks. that was when people got fired up. people got upset. when the cops were telling people this is how you need to act. this is what you need to do. make sure you are nonviolent. that's when people got upset and felt they were being profiled. before that the crowd was pretty calm.
there is something to be said there. i talked to the st. louis naacp. they said we need to make sure the police aren't coming, expecting the worst and creating the worst. >> president obama today talked about the need for people in positions of authority to hold themselves to high standards. they criticized people who would use this tragedy as a cover for vandalism and looting. >> of course it is important to remember how this started. we lost a young man, michael brown, in heartbreaking and tragic circumstances. he was 18 years old. his family will never hold michael in their arms again. when something like this happens, the local authorities, including the police have a responsibility to be open and transparent about how they are investigating that death and how they are protecting the people in their communities. there is never an excuse for violence against police or for those who would use this tragedy as a cover for vandalism or looting.
there is also no excuse for police to use excessive force against peaceful protests or throw protesters in jail for lawfully exercising their first amendment rights. >> perry bacon, let me bring you in here. when there is a contentious issue anywhere in the country there is always a lot of conversation in the white house about whether, when and how the president can or should speak out about it. in terms of this situation and the remarks we got from the president today, what do we know about the deliberations that were going on in the white house in terms of why they those today to speak and what specific message they wanted to send today.
>> last night's events with the teargas and the intensity last night. reporters arrested and things that happened last night drove them. felt like the president had to talk today. felt like today he had to talk. he had a statement on tuesday. felt today he needed to address this personally. the key thing in terms of what he said was -- you have heard this not only from the president but attorney general holder, claire mchaskill, rand paul. there was a big focus today on reducing the tone, the intensity and trying to communicate to the police officers that the militarization was a problem. the a.g. had a very strong statement. the idea that whatever is happening there, the militarization, all the tanks, the guns have ratcheted up in a way that the president was trying to calm down today. >> to go back to you in ferguson, the president's words today, perry is describing what they were hoping to achieve. can you see on the ground a difference? any result on the ground of what the president said today? did it have an impact? >> i talked to a number of people who hadn't even heard anything about the president's statements. it's unclear whether it trickled down. everyone is out on the streets, not necessarily in front of their tvs. they may not be tuned in to social media.
what happened last night is the local law enforcement agencies created adversaries they didn't have days ago. there were people at the local target in the wendy's who said before tonight i was on the fence. they came out with snipers, rifles and the chief said it was a powder keg. if so, the way law enforcement handles this could be a torch. again, senator mchas kill is saying today will be a new day. national leaders and local leaders saying this is a time for peace. tonight will tell the tale whether we are inching forward to peace or escalating the situation. >> thank you. coming up, how police tactics made the situation worse and what they can do to calm things down. covering the biggest story in the country. we'll talk to two reporters cuffed and arrested last night. president obama, the first african-american president, finds himself confronting a racially charged situation. finally, we'll finish with
something we haven't seen for a long time in american politics. senators saying this time the police have gone too far. this is "hardball," the place for politics. so this board gives me rates on progressive direct and other car insurance companies? yes. but you're progressive and they're them. -yes. -but they're here. -yes. -are you... -there? -yes. -no. -are you them? i'm me. but the lowest rate is from them. -yes. -so them's best rate is... here.
so where are them? -aren't them here? -i already asked you that. -when? -feels like a while ago. want to take it from the top? rates for us and them. now that's progressive. in a statement today attorney general eric holder said law enforcement in ferguson should try to reduce tensions not heighten them. he said at a time when we must seek to rebuild trust between law enforcement and the local community i am concerned with the deployment of military equipment and vehicles sends a conflicting message. at my direction department officials conveyed the concerns to local authorities. also at my direction the department is offering through our cops office and office of jut programs technical assistance to local authorities in order to help conduct crowd control and maintain public safety without displays of force. local authorities in missouri have accepted the offer of assistance as of this afternoon. we'll be right back after this.
there is an element that tries to provoke officers to take action. the officers by and large have responded very well. the amount of people and the amount of looting and some of the violence and virtually nobody got hurt. that's a credit to restraint. >> back to "hardball." that was thomas jackson of ferguson, missouri, yesterday afternoon for the images over the subsequent 24 hours paint a different picture. we saw how a heavily armed police swat team trained rifles on protesters demonstrating a few yards away. we saw police descend on the crowd of 150 people after nightfall firing flash-bang grenades and teargas to deafen and blind targets. all while knowing a dozen or so journalists were embedded it didn't resemble the restrained response the police chief described earlier in the day.
it's raised questions about whether the line between law enforcement and military force has been blurred in recent years. according to a report in "the economist" magazine this year between 2002 and 2011 the department of homeland security disbushed $35 wl billion in grants to state and local police that cob used to buy surplus military equipment from the pentagon. according to the defense logistics agency, quote, in 2013 alone, $449 million worth of property was transferred to law enforcement. that can include anything from rifles and ammunition to mine resistant ambush protected vehicles. in ferguson over 400 are in the hands of domestic law enforcement. the vehicle you see there was used by the military in the middle east. it's now the property of the connecticut police department. across the country, local and state police departments have
been rapidly militarizing forces. the underlying question is how you use the force prudently, if at all. joining me now is law enforcement analyst jim cavanaugh. former atf special agent and liz brown, attorney and columnist for the st. louis americans. jim, let me start with you. this has been a wake-up moment for a lot of americans, myself included. we realize the scope of the equipment and the raw force at the hands of police forces all across the country, even in places like this. this is a town of 20,000, 25,000 people. it raise it is question when you look at the equipment we were talking about. you look at the equipment being used in ferguson. how much of this stuff do police force miss this country actually need? >> they need less. they could use more negotiators equipment. you can go to almost any police department and talk to the negotiators. they will tell you they can't get the money for rescue phones which is a sophisticated phone we use to deal in barricades or hos taj situations.
the money doesn't go to the softer side, the brainy side. it goes to the vehicles and a lot of the heavy equipment. it's not needed. the police don't need the mrat. we were the bomb investigators for the government. we didn't get many mines. you don't need that kind of vehicle. now an armored vehicle commercially built that the police use, there is a standard for that. the police do need that. even if if you're going to negotiate someone out of a barricaded situation, the person nowadays shooting ak-47s at you. just so the viewers know, an ak-47 rifle which is very common -- there are millions out there
-- will go through the vest, go through the officer and out the officer's vest in the back. there is no protection for the officer. so they do need armored vehicles. not tanks with mounted guns on them. basically commercially made armored vehicles. there is a place for those. there are probably way too many. every little town doesn't need one. law enforcement needs access to the equipment. >> just today there was a bipartisan call to demilitarize the police. here is what claire mchaskill of missouri told politico today. >> i have been working to demilitarize the police response over the last 24 hours. i want to make sure that the people i work for understand that i want them to have respect and safety as they exercise their constitutional rights to protest. >> rand paul echoed the sentiment today in time magazine. when you couple this militarization of law enforcement with an erosion of civil liberties and due process
we have a very serious problem on our hands. let me ask you this, liz. we look at the equipment, heavy equipment like police forces have. i wonder if it warps the response in ferguson. it's what we can see in communities across the country where the police departments don't need. they have military equipment. because it's there they feel compelled to use it. >> absolutely. >> then you have situations like this. >> absolutely. forgive me for sounding sexist, but it's boys and their toys. if you have things there, there will be a desire to use them. the channel to every community when they have the opportunity to get these kinds of tools in their department have the protocols kept up with the onslaught of all of this equipment. i think the answer is clearly no. i can't imagine that the small departments are keeping up with the rules that should be in place if we have these things.
i just have to ask this question. what is it about the behavior of americans that support the need for this type of equipment? what are we doing now that requires that we have tanks at situations? the protest in ferguson is really similar to the protests that have happened decades before us. it's not any different behavior. why do we need this enhanced 2014 tank-like response to it. >> that's the other thing i'm wondering about. the basic relationship that should exist ideally between the police force and the community. it serve it is idea of to protect and serve. the police force looks like military, an occupying forcement when it ends up looking like that there is no relationship. there is not going to be any trust. >> absolutely. you also have to think about the difference between the protocol of the police officer and the protocol of a military person.
if you're taking on the military persona, the military is not object -- they shoot first, right? they do not serve and protect. they kill on behalf of their country. so it's a different mindset. it's different directives. it's being absorbed by local law enforcement when you dress people up like a military person how are they going to behave? like a military person. >> jim, quickly, i'm curious your response to what lizz is saying. is that part of the issue? boys with their toys. is there an issue here where people are attracted now to become police officers because they get to play with the tanks or whatever? >> i think there is an attraction for that in the police service. people become police officers, as joseph wallbaugh said is because they want to be where the action is. that's the same reason journalists are journalists. they want oh to be there when things are happening. what policing requires and i'm building on what lizz is saying. she's correct in her argument.
what policing requires in a democracy is restraint. restraint is the hallmark of the police. we send you out as a are police officer, you will be cursed at. we don't expect you to curse back. you will be punched. we expect you only to punch back with enough punches to effect an arrest and no more. it is not a mixed martial arts ground and pound beat-down. we expect you to use only enough force to save your life or another's. in every aspect of democratic policing, restraint is built in. the father of policing in the west was robert peale. his famous quote was the people are the police and the police are the people. that's where we get police from. we are not an occupying military force. >> you wouldn't know it by looking at them. >> i have to jump back here. thanks to james cavanaugh and lizz brown.
lots of news to get to. it's a busy night. >> thank you. >> we'll talk to one of the reporters on the ground in ferguson, missouri, who was arrested trying to cover the story. this is "hardball," the place for politics. [ female announcer ] rock a 3d white smile. with crest 3d white luxe toothpaste. only crest 3d white has whitelock technology. it removes stains within the microfine lines of your teeth... and locks out future stains. crest 3d white luxe toothpaste. life opens up with a whiter smile.
welcome back to "hardball." today president obama, attorney general eric holder and ohs urged authorities in ferguson to stop bullying and harassing journalists covering the protests there. over the last 24 hours reporters have been arrested, teargassed and forced to stop filming protests. two reporters, ryan reilly and wesley lowry who set up camp at a nearby mcdonald's were taken into custody after police swept into the restaurant. lowry filmed the police officers in the moments before his arrest. >> grab your stuff. let's go. >> i'm working on it. >> stop videotaping. >> i have the right to videotape you, sir. >> let's go. >> please don't wave your gun at me. >> let's go.
>> you are see me working. >> don't tell me -- >> time to go. >> don't wave a gun at me. >> we are down to 45 seconds. let's go. >> can i missouri my -- move my car? >> you can move your car if it's out here. >> that's what i was asking. you didn't have time to answer that or you're just being mean? >> let's go. you can move. let's go. >> sir, please. >> let's move. >> sir. >> in a separate incident caught on tape by a local nbc affiliate police fired what appears to be teargas at an aljazeera america film crew. after they fled two police officers are seen dismantling the lights and tilting the cameras toward the ground. in a press conference today ferguson police chief thomas jackson said he wasn't aware of the incident but made clear the media is not a target. the huffington post ryan reilly is with us along with elizabeth matthews who witnessed the aljazeera incident last night.
ryan, thanks for being here. i will start with you. quite a night for you last night. the police chief today insisting the media are not a target. we had the president of the united states. we played this a while ago saying the police should not be targeting journalists. is anything different today? are you noticing a change in the police approach to this at all in interactions with the media? can you see a difference at all? >> absolutely. it's a complete contrast to what it was 24 hours ago. last night you had an army out there. you had people in full s.w.a.t. gear, people being aggressive about clearing the streets. way too many officers were then actually needed for a peaceful protest. tonight i think obviously we have -- they have backup and are ready for anything that takes place down the street. it's not necessary. this is a peaceful protest now. there are a few officers in their regular clothes not military gear accompanying and they also had one of the officers -- some of the officers
taking part in the protest and walking with the group here. it's just a completely different dynamic. one that's so far working better than what we saw last night when it was an antagonistic situation where the officers were aggressively going after anyone who was out on the streets. so i think so far it's obviously working. >> elizabeth, we showed a little bit of the clip there. you witnessed the police disbursing the aljazeera america crew, pointing the cameras to the ground. the video we played with wesley lowry said what one of the things that upset the officer was that he was trying to film him. how widespread is that? have you noticed the police trying to keep people from filming them and catching their activities on the tape at all? >> they have never said anything to us. we have been out there since saturday obviously when the shooting of michael brown happened. saturday afternoon. then sunday when it really started to get intense later in
the night. we never had instances where the police officers were coming up to us, moving our cameras railroad touching us. they would tell us to missouri back for our safety. we agreed because the swags were getting more intense every second that went by. we were never told to stop filming. at one point last night when we were filming what happened to aljazeera's crew we got a little nervous. so we stopped filming. it wasn't because they told us to. >> was there anything in particular -- i'm curious. the police tried to disburse the film crew and then their first thought is to point the cameras on the ground. there is something going on or about to go on they don't want people seeing? did you notice anything in particular they didn't want people seeing? >> no. where we were last night, we were doing a story about the school district that was supposed to start and they pushed it to monday. we were in a residential area, completely safe for our standards anyway.
we have been out there and we know when you're in the heart of what's going on or outside the perimeter. we were outside the police perimeter. aljazeera and our crew were outside the perimeter. i didn't see where i was located last night a single mass crowd. we were not in the heart of it, like i said. we weren't around the big crowds. we were on a side street in a residential area. i did hear that perhaps when they laid down the lights with the aljazeera crew they were trying to get rid of the lights. why they touched the camera, i don't know. >> ryan, have you been told why you were arrested? >> no. i think we are trying to -- i didn't come down to be arrested or have a story about myself. i came to report on what's going on. what i had been tweeting about and was planning to write about was the huge militarized presence there and the very
aggressive tactics being use fd broad daylight against a peaceful protest. we have seen the contrast tonight. no doubt based on the involvement of some other police officers and the fact that isn't being run anymore by the st. louis county police, sort of been taken out of their hands. i think we have seen major differences. it seems to be going well. hopefully that's the situation for the rest of the night. >> i have to ask you. after what you went through, i appreciate as a reporter you want to talk about the story. you don't want to talk about yourself. at the same time journalism is a story when reporters are arrested like you were last night. do you believe it is appropriate for charges to be pressed against the police for false arrest? >> we haven't made that determination so far. i think that's something we are putting on the back burner for now. trying to do some reporting when i'm out here. what's important here is the way i was treated wasn't because i
was a journalist. it was because i was a citizen. the way i was sitting in a mcdonald's working on my laptop. it doesn't matter i have a few thousand twitter followers or i work for the huffington post. i was sitting in a mcdonald's, trying to conduct my business and was a customer there. i was sort of -- aggressively attacked by this militarized police force. i think what we are seeing tonight is a hopeful sign. hopefully things will continue like this throughout the night. >> thank you to ryan reilly, elizabeth matthews. appreciate your time. up next once again president obama is forced to address a racially charged incident that's become national news. this is "hardball," the place for politics. when you run a business, you can't settle for slow.
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>> welcome back. president obama spoke out today, according to an administration official because the racial unrest in ferguson was escalating with no sign of calming down. the moment to speak was right. it's not the first time president obama made a formal statement on a race related incident and became national news. nearly a month after trayvon martin an unarmed african-american teen was shot and killed in florida by a neighborhood vigilante, president obama addressed the outcry for justice. >> all of us need to figure out how something like this happens. that means we examine the laws and the context for what happened. as well as the specifics of the incident. my main message is to the parents of trayvon martin.
you know, if i had a son he'd look like trayvon. >> in president obama's fist year in office henry lewis gates, a black man was arrested for breaking and entering into his own home. here again the president spoke out. >> i think it's fair to say number one any of us would be angry. number two that the cambridge police acted stupidly in arresting somebody when there was already proof that they were in their own home. number three, what i think we know separate and apart from the incident is that that there is a long history in this country of african-americans and latinos being stopped by law enforcement disproportionately. that's a fact. >> president obama was subjected to a lot of criticism for
characterizing the police as having acted stupidly which led to the infamous beer summit at the white house with gates, the president, joe biden. obama's comments on any racial incident carry resonance. once again during his tenure as president another race-filled conflict has become national news. joining me is huffington post's howard fineman and clarence page. it's a tough situation for the president to be in. the unfortunate reality is there is a crowd out there that's just waiting for him when situations like this oh occur. just waiting for him and they want the to stoke the worse impulses out there. we have seen it before. >> i was wondering how long it would take before the first right winger comes along to accuse president obama of dividing america by race.
his statement was neutral and even handed. he said both sides are responsible. he didn't address race as much as justice and the proper use of force need for a proper investigation, et cetera, which is fine. look at the contrast with statements about zimmerman, trayvon, henry lewis gates. in my mind he was reassuring black americans they will get a measure of justice. it was immediately interpreted by newt gingrich and other people on the right as dividing americans by race. it's already divided. look at the footage from ferguson. >> what clarence is talking about there jumped out at me. the difference between five years ago calling police in cambridge saying they acted stupidly versus the tone today. is that a result of -- it struck me when he made the statement
five years ago the white house was caught off guard by the backlash they stirred up. is it a result of the backlash and others like it that we have today's statement? >> race is a historical privilege of the president to discuss of. also a tricky burden for him to bear. any time he speaks on this the temptation is he's speaking for or specifically toe the african-american community. i was struck by the pact that the most passionate of the clips you showed was involving the most trivial incident involving henry louis gates. that was when the president was new in the job. it was when he was trying to feel his away long in terms of his new historical role as the first african-american president. the one you saw today, it was business-like.
it was cautious. it addressed both sides. it also made a very important point about the press. we didn't play that part of the clip. my colleague ryan reilly is a great reporter. he wanted to emphasize the fact that he was a citizen as well as the reporter. i would say it's also important that he was a reporter. the president acknowledged that. in a way the president was dealing with a wider scope of things today in not just speaking directly only to the racial issue while at the same time dispatching, in effect, his attorney general, also african-american, and the fbi to conduct a dual investigation. it would have been a different statement by the president today had not the governor brought in the state troopers. think that was crucial. those things had to happen at the same time. they did. it wasn't just obama himself. it was a much larger framework and landscape he was working on. >> clarence, i wonder, too.
just given, as howard says, the situation in cambridge, mass, in 2009. the streets didn't look like the streetses in ferguson do now. given that this is a tinder box now, does that account for some of the tone he struck today? >> well, yeah. also this case is under investigation. the local police won't release the police officer's name. this whole deal has been handled terribly by the local police. i will say it was handled stupidly by the local police. even today the police chief sounded like he wasn't sure who was in charge . you're the chief. you don't know who's doing what out there? thank goodness the governor brought in the state police to help reassure people out there. he's been criticized for waiting so long. president obama didn't want to step right in the middle of this. reminded me of richard nixon commenting on the manson trial. >> right. >> he thought it was best to stay back and not say anything.
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some big breaking overseas news to tell you about. iraqi prime minister nuri al maliki addressed his country tonight and announce he will be stepping down. maliki threw his support behind his nominated replacement. maliki was fighting to keep the job as iraq failed to counter the islamic militant group, isis. if he does step aside, it could end the political deadlock that's ham strung iraq. when we return, back to the tension in ferguson, missouri, something we don't see too often, a republican saying the police have gone too far. be right back.
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what events like those playing out right now in ferguson, missouri, used to bring out in our politics. two very different, very clear sets of reactions that broke very predictably along ideological lines. for a long time in this country, it was the left that would raise questions and concerns about the tactics and conduct of police, and it was the right that defined itself by its absolute unwavering reverence for all things law enforcement. no matter what. in many ways this is the story of the creation and the rise of the modern political right. which was born in reaction to the turmoil and upheaval of the 1960s and '70s. civil unrest in america's cities, student protesters on campuses. a crime rate that suddenly exploded out of control. it made many americans unease city. it made them nervous. afraid. some of this was understandable. who wouldn't be unsettled if the world around them suddenly became violent? those emotions played right into the hands of the political right which told the fearful americans they could have their security, could have their comfort, could have their country back if we just got tough. if we stopped listening to the lawbreakers, stop trying to understand them as the liberals
were trying to. if we stop doing that and crack down firmly and unapologetically, if we did that, it would all be okay. there was a clear racial component to this. no coincidence, that the segregationist alabama governor who ran as independent for president in 1968, he and nixon ran on law and order. talking to the same voters, same white voters who agreed with them that the police were our friend, allies, in this battle with us to protect the america we know. whatever the police need to do, well, that's okay with us. that was a powerful message in this country for a generation. how in the 1970s frank rizzo went from being the police commissioner in philadelphia to being the mayor. he called himself a tough cop. he talked about his patrolmen as an army. he bragged of the vicious and humiliating tactics his forces in the name of law and order and made rizzo a national folk hero on the right. a message that propelled ronald reagan, confronted with student protests when governor of california, drew the hardest of
hard lines against them. if it takes a bloodbath, reagan said, let's get it over with. no more appeasement. that was the foundation on which the modern right was built. always, always on the side of police. now, in the tragic shooting by police of and armed black teenager in ferguson, missouri, and a very aggressive response by police in that city to the protesters, we're seeing a very different political reaction in this country. one that's not as predictable and neatly divided as it used to be and driven home this afternoon when "time," an essay from rand paul, expressed grave concern about the conduct of scenes in can dem. paul, resemble war more than traditional police action. there's yet a systemic problem with today's law enforcement. used to be that the right never, ever questioned law enforcement. that was something for the criminal coddling liberals. that may be changing now. rand paul is speaking out.
question now is who on the right will join him? that's "hardball" for now. thanks for being with us. "all in with chris hayes" starts right now. good evening from ferguson, missouri. i'm chris hayes. this is "all in." it is this area right here about a block and a half away from here that just a few days ago an 18-year-old man, mike brown, was shot. he was unarmed and he was killed by ferguson police officers.