tv Velshi Ruhle MSNBC August 12, 2017 9:30am-10:00am PDT
charlottesville, virginia, as you're seeing a profound police presence. it is stronger than what we have been able to capture with our cameras since earlier in this day when things got very heated as a result of a rally that was supported by white nationalists, white supremacists, members of the kkk all trying to march to emancipation park where their noon rally which has now been cancelled due to unlawful assembly rulings, they were protesting the removal of the robert e. lee statue there. there were all sorts of people coming out in force as well supporting anti-fascism and that is when things got very heated. this is the virginia state police. we've seen the charlottesville police and to a degree the university of virginia campus police. we know one of those officers was injured earlier today and it's not hard to see why. some of the pictures we have been able to show you, you have seen people throwing bottles, rocks, there have been baseball
bats used to beat people back. it has been pretty horrific and quite violent at we look at this
from just moments ago. i want to let all of you know we are getting word from officials, elected and otherwise, throughout our country. let's go right now, i want to show you what house speaker paul ryan, reminding all of you that he is a republican certainly, the views fueling the spectacle in charlottesville are repugnant. let it only searrve to unite americans against this kind of vile bigotry. he is echoing the sentiment of republicans and democrats condemning this kind of behavior. maya rodriguez has been doing an outstanding job covering this developing story. i know that you've gotten out of the way of danger. i believe you are with this shot that we are seeing right now, maya. great, good to see you and know what you're safe. because i know the police moved you out of the way for youyour safety. tell me where things stand right now. it looks calm. so where do things stand? >> reporter: well, this is a huge difference from what we saw
just about an hour ago. this was the main intersection where everything was basically going down. you had counterprotesters on this side. on the other side, which is emancipation park, formerly known as robert e. lee park, you can see the statue there, that is where the white nationalists, alt-right was located. it is a little higher from where we were standing right now. there was a whole bunch of bottles being thrown back and forth between people count counterprotesting on this side of the street and people who are protesting for that monument to stay in the park. as you see here, we have state police here that have basically blocked off this entire area. they are not allowing people in here whatsoever. they have cleared out the area. you can see further down the street we have more police that have blocked off this street. they have cleared this entire area out. this is where we saw hundreds of people protesting from both sides. we were right here actually when all of this started. this was our little setup area. this parking lot was supposed to
be considered a safe zone for the media. that changed very, very quickly. police told us this area was no longer safe. in fact we had smoke bombs, tear gas being thrown towards our tent, towards our crew. you saw some of the images that some of our photographers were able to get out in the crowd. i can tell you that they were hit with tear gas. we had to move back towards that brick building back there because, again, this entire area was deemed unsafe because things did escalate so quickly. you know, the rally wasn't even supposed to start until noon, but around 10:00 this morning we started seeing people stream into this intersection. the street had been shut down in advance of this rally. people who were both counterprotesting and the alt-right white nationalists were all coming together and converging right here in this intersection, separated by maybe 20 or 30 feet. and again, that's when we saw all of the screaming, the yelling and then all of those
water bottles and smoke bombs being thrown back and forth. alex. >> so, maya, one thing that was very concerning just to someone observing the situation was the presence of a militia. i don't know if they had an official name, but they were marching in file carrying guns, rifles and guns. don't know what they were supporting necessarily. some also had -- there was a confederate flag i saw, there was some banners. where did those people go? were you concerned seeing that as well? because they were trying to do some sort of de facto security of their own. >> reporter: they were. in fact that militia, which again we don't know what specific militia they were with or aligning themselves with, they were some of the first people who arrived here on the scene and they did in fact sort of act as a de facto security force, if you will, for the white nationalists and the alt-right groups who were up here in the park. they came in here, they checked in with police. then they came back up here and
positioned themselves right here where you see all of these folks lined up here on the sidewalk. at that point about 30 minutes later, you had some counterprotesters starting to come out. you're right, they were out there carrying their weapons. that is legal here in virginia, you are allowed to open carry. so they were not breaking any law in that sense, but we did hear some people on the counterprotesting side say they were quite intimidated by that entire show of force. >> i have to talk about this for any parents that are watching and they have put down their deposits to send their kids probably incoming freshmen and otherwise to the outstanding university of virginia university there which is in charlottesville. i know it was the site of the protest, unintentionally so last night, and we had the president of the university issuing a statement whatever happened on our campus does not reflect the values of this university. but today, it's my understanding everything has been cancelled, all university events. do you know how many students may be on campus already with
orientation i think not until next weekend for freshmen? i mean does it look pretty empty, which means safer than normal school periods? >> reporter: i think you could characterize it that way. the fact is school has not started full force again here. and like you mentioned, orientation is coming up, so there weren't as many students on campus as there might have been, say, in two or three weeks from now. so in a way that was a good thing. of course you saw the video from last night. you had the white nationalists, alt-right, members of unite the right rally, going to the campus, to the jefferson statue carrying torches. and then of course a very small number of counterprotesters who showed up and were surrounded by people carrying these torches. so if there's any good news in that, it's that there weren't sort of the full staffing of students on campus at that point. >> okay. maya, one last thing. i understand the university hospital there, well renowned, that they have dialed back on the amount of elective surgeries
and procedures they're allowing today. i mean they're up for emergency room operations, but other than that, do you know if that has been changed since it seems to be dialing back right now, the tenor of things? >> reporter: it does seem to be dialing back, but again, there are a lot of streets down here that remain closed to either vehicular or pedestrian access, so those elective surgeries, the hospital had put those off. again, if you didn't have to be in this area, you really didn't want to and that was probably something that they were doing to sort of keep in mind the safety of their patients. >> okay. maya rodriguez, thank you very much. i know it's an ongoing situation. you've got a lot of work ahead of you, but we thank you for joining us and hope to see you again. appreciate that. we're going to take another short break here on msnbc. we'll be back with congressman denny heck to get his thoughts weighing in on what he's seeing and the extent to which there are people perhaps at 1600 pennsylvania avenue who may be held responsible for this behavior. we'll be right back. you don't let anything
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welcome back, everyone. i'm alex wilt here at msnbc world headquarters at 41 past the hour as we're bringing you live video courtesy of nbc 29, that is our nbc affiliate in charlottesville, as you see what appears to be a winding down of tensions after an eruption of absolute hatred, vitriol and challenges from both sides. members of the kkk all heading to a scheduled rally at emancipation park to oppose the removal of the robert e. lee statue. you had a group calling themselves a group of anti-fascists and they were there. and when the two collided, that is when things got extremely out of hand. there have been a number of injuries. we know at least one university of virginia police officer has been injured. we don't know the extent of anyone's injuries, though. but there's a very strong police presence from the very state police as well as the
charlottesville city police right now. we are beginning to hear from elected officials and appointed officials and among those that would include our first lady melania trump who has just sent out a tweet reading our country encourages freedom of speech, but let's communicate without hate in our hearts. no good comes from violence. again, that our first lady melania trump. let's bring in right now representative denny heck, democrat of washington, to continue this conversation. your thoughts, sir, on what the first lady said and the extent to which you think the president should be making a statement at this time. >> i definitely think he should have been the one to lead on this. her statement as far as it goes is fine and well received and i appreciate it, but this country needs to hear from the highest elected official in the land and that's president donald j. trump, period, full stop. alex, it was just a couple of weeks ago that general kelly was brought in to be chief of staff to bring some order out of chaos, hopefully calm down the
almost random nonstop tweet storms. he didn't do very well at that. but right now, right now, right at this moment, both chief of staff general kelly and the president have a golden opportunity not just to come out and openly condemn this violence, but to take a specific and concrete action. and that is to fire steve bannon. and to paraphrase what the president said about how police should put suspects into cars, a statement that i strongly condemn, when he fires steve bannon, i don't think he should be too nice about it. >> i want to also bring you the latest statement just coming in to us from the gop chairwoman, rona romney mcdaniel who says the hate and bigotry on display in charlottesville is dangerous and cowardly. free speech may give them the right to do this, but also empowers us to unite to loudly speak out against it. congressman heck, you were on the show at the top of the hour and we had on from the nation, joan walsh, as well as the
former under the george w. bush administration chief counsel for legal ethics there, richard painter, both of whom were quite emphatic in not only placing blame at the feet of donald trump for the tenor of this rally, but also agreeing with you that he should be coming out forcefully and saying something. your thoughts on that inspect terms of placing the blame for this on donald trump. >> so i think we've got a great compare and contrast here between w., president george w. bush, and president trump. we will all recall frankly with admiration what it was that president bush said in the immediate aftermath of 9/11 about making sure that we don't blame all muslims throughout the world, let alone american muslims, for that horrific day and that terrible act. and that compares and contrasts it seems to me quite starkly with the president's, again, nonstop tweet storm to divide us, whether it's muslims or
transgender or latinos or hispanics or people that police are putting into police cars. you know, what this country needs more than anything is for the president to go on a tweet vacation, not just a vacation in new jersey, but just dial back the rhetoric, mr. president. dial it back. >> you know, congressman, we know that his newly installed chief of staff, general kelly, has indicated that's something he would wholeheartedly agree with you on, but the likelihood of him being able to do that, to literally take the phone from the president, not allow him to tweet, would that not allow the president to do, and i want to get just a little bit to north korea here, this sort of good cop/bad cop approach to dealing with the acceleration of tensions on the korean peninsula now? i mean you have the president talking very direct, some would deem outrageous from a diplomatic terms rhetoric, and then you have others dialing it back, be it the nsa, be it
secretary tillerson, anybody else who's making statements who tries to pull back a bit. >> no, no, no, alex. no, no, no. they need to be on the same page. this is a grievous error that you have secretary tillerson in one error, tai direction, the p going in another direction, nikki haley going in another direction. they need to be on the same page. this is not good cop/bad cop. americans must speak with one voice through their president and his team, period. >> all right, well, democratic congressman denny heck, we were going to do a lot more talking about north korea, but unfortunately i think that situation will allow us to speak again. thank you very much for weighing on everything we've got going on in virginia. have a good one. >> thank you, alex. >> it is 47 past the hour. we'll bring you more from charlottesville and more news of the day when we come back here on "msnbc live." but if that's not enough, we have 7500 allys looking out for one thing, you. call in the next ten minutes to save on...
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everyone, i'm alex witt at msnbc world headquarters. we're keeping a very close eye on things in charlottesville, virginia. it's been a hell of a morning since 10:00 a.m. local time when members of a militia and those expected to attend a rally in emancipation park that would have started one hour ago to protest the removal of the robert e. lee statue there, they got in each other's way, so to speak, and this is how it all went down. there was a lot of violence. baseball bats, you can see being used, pieces of wood, kicking, rock throwing, bottles being thrown, people trying to break up that kind of violence. things seem to have subsided to a degree right now. that rally was called off under the unlawful assembly laws. both the charlottesville city police and the virginia state police said that's it, no more, and they tried to disperse that crowd. mark newton has been patiently waiting with us on the phone. he is the assistant city editor with "the daily progress" in
charlottesville. mark, where do things stand right now? as we've just said, the rally is off. are people dispersing? are things calmer now? >> we're kind of in a holding pattern right now. once the unlawful assembly was declared, emancipation park was cleared out and the ralliers started to head toward mcintyre park, which is where the city had unsuccessfully tried to move the protest. and now richard spencer, leader of the alt-right, told the ralliers to disperse. we don't really know where they're going at this point. and the counterprotesters are now headed down toward water street, which is fairly close to emancipation park and the downtown pedestrian mall. so right now we're kind of in a lull right now, just because there's lack of direction of where everyone is going or if
this is over or not. but tensions are still pretty high. >> yeah, it's my understanding tensions have really been ongoing for about, what, some ten months or so. i mean things got under way with a tense tone back in october. talk about that. >> sure. so it all kind of began when a uva lecturer made a facebook post comparing black lives matter to the kkk. this resulted in a protest outside of the restaurant that he also runs and that involved the one city counciler who was african-american and this was alongside ongoing talks about either removing the statue of robert e. lee or changing the name of the park or doing a whole host of things.
and the organizer of today's rally kind of was irked and agitated by this and started to dig up into some past tweets of the city counciler that were pretty profane. but it's -- the organizer, jason kessler, has used that moment and that momentum to slowly build up a following and kind of a movement against the city council and the decision to move the statue, which kind of culminated into a failed petition to remove the city counciler from office. >> so it's pretty safe to say that things have been simmering and volatile at different points, if my recollection serves me right. i believe that there was a uva student who was at one point during the school year even injured as sort of an innocent
bystander in one of the protests that got somewhat unruly. mark, go ahead and stay on the line here, i want to bring back in richard painter, who was with us earlier, had to leave and take a phone call. richard, in your position as the former chief white house ethics lawyer for president george w. bush, what do you want to see happen from the white house as a result of this? do you expect anything to happen? should something happen? >> there ought to be more police presence down there. if we need support from federal troops, we're going to have to do that. president eisenhower was more than willing to do that when necessary to deal with these types of racists' assemblies that got violent. second, the president needs to dismiss everyone in his administration who has any association with the so-called alt-right, including the breitbart news organization. these are neo-fascist groups. i've known these type of people for 30 years i've been in the republican party, i'm still a
republican, but i know these people want to take over the party. steve bannon, sebastian gorka and the rest of them have done extraordinary damage. they are undermining our foreign policy, attacking mcmaster and mattis and the others who are in charge of trying to help us sort out the north korea situation. our country is in chaos because neofascists have infiltrated the united states government in the trump administration. they all need to be fired, all the alt-right people, all the breitbart news people. that's how we're going to make this thing go away. these people have been trying to take over our republican party for years and now they think they have done it. >> you mentioned breitbart, which of course brings up steve bannon, a senior advisor to the president, personal advisor there. i want to bring in kurt bardella one last time this hour. kurt, as a former consultant to the breitbart media group, i know you articulated the reasons for why you left that position because you didn't agree with a
lot of what was happening within that news organization. but how would you expect steve bannon to react to something like this, given that you must know him or at least his ideology pretty well? >> well, i think to know how steve thinks, look at what he said publicly. and i remember this "daily beast" story where steve flat-out said that it was his goal to destroy the state, to bring everything crashing down and destroy all of today's establishment. i think when you look at the pictures that are on our screen right now, what's happening today, this bears that out. this is exactly what steve has talked about, what he's wanted to have happen. it's exactly the type of ideology that breitbart has advanced as long as i can remember now, good grief, and everything that's playing out very much is bringing to life a lot of the things that we've seen written on the pages of breitbart, a lot of the incendiary and controversial headlines they have promoted and it ties in exactly with what steve has said in black and
white what he's wanted to do. >> incendiary is the operative word of the day as we give you a live look at charlottesville, virginia. this is just a few moments ago. i want to thank my guests in this block, mark newton, former chief white house ethics lawyer richard painter under president george w. bush, kurt bardella, formerly an advisor to breitb t breitbart. it's approaching the top of the hour. we're going to take a short break and come right back with more for you here on "msnbc live."
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