NBC: Ferguson Protesters Won't Let Cops Getting Gunned Down 'Slow Their Movement'

During a report on Friday's NBC Today about the manhunt for suspects in the shooting of two police officers in Ferguson, Missouri, correspondent Craig Melvin touted protesters in the community being undeterred by the violence: "One of the protest organizers, Rasheen Aldridge, says he hopes for the officers' recovery, but is determined not to let the shootings slow their movement."

Melvin asked Aldridge: "What's the end game?" Aldridge replied: "The end game is to continue. Continue to fight until we have a system that is going to be equal to everyone." Melvin turned to another protester and wondered: "We had three top officials step down over the past week or so in this area. Is that not enough?" The unidentified woman declared: "No, it's nothing."

Wrapping up the segment, Melvin continued to promote protester demands: "Keep in mind, since that grand – since that Justice Department report came out, the scathing report, the police chief has stepped aside, a municipal judge has stepped aside, a city manager has stepped aside as well. A number of folks last night telling me that now they want to see the mayor of Ferguson resign as well."

Following Melvin's report, co-host Savannah Guthrie interviewed Missouri Senator Claire McCaskill and pushed the same demands: "I mean, we've seen the city manager go, the city clerk, the municipal judge, the police chief. Has Ferguson done enough to clean house or do you think the federal government needs to step in and shut this police department down?"

After McCaskill dodged the question by discussing the importance of Ferguson citizens participating in an upcoming election, Guthrie pressed further: "...let me try to pin you down on it. Do you take a position on whether the federal government should shut down the police department, dismantle it?"

McCaskill responded: "I think the federal government needs to continue doing exactly what they're doing, and that is, tell the Ferguson Police Department that some of the conduct they've engaged in is unacceptable and they must change it. And hopefully this will happen in a cooperative fashion moving forward."

To Guthrie's credit, she also asked McCaskill: "Do you worry at all – I mean, other jurisdictions from Missouri have come in and they're going to manage security for any protests or demonstrations that happen there in Ferguson. Are you concerned about a climate of danger where police wearing any uniform could be a target?"

Here is a full transcript of Melvin's March 13 report:

7:00 AM ET TEASE:

SAVANNAH GUTHRIE: Breaking overnight. New protests in Ferguson as the manhunt intensifies for whoever shot and wounded two police officers there and some tough words from the Attorney General.

ERIC HOLDER: This was a damn punk. A punk.

7:01 AM ET SEGMENT:  

GUTHRIE: We want to get to our top story this morning. Tensions are high in Ferguson, Missouri once again as police search for the suspect or suspects involved in the shootings of two officers there. Today national correspondent Craig Melvin is on the story this morning, he's got the latest. Craig, good morning to you.

[ON-SCREEN HEADLINE: Manhunt for Shooting Suspects; Pres. Comments Overnight Amid Vigils & Protests]

CRAIG MELVIN: Savannah, good morning to you. Those two officers are at home with their families this morning, they are expected to recover. Meanwhile, a senior law enforcement official tells me while they do have some strong leads in the case, at this point they do not have any suspects. So as the intense manhunt continues, overnight, so did the protests.

[PROTESTERS CHANTING "BLACK LIVES MATTER"]

Overnight dozens of protesters once again gathered and chanted outside the Ferguson Police Department as people here grapple with another outbreak of the violence that's plagued this community for months. When police moved through the crowd to clear the streets, some were met with angry words. But nothing like the night before, when two officers were shot as they stood guard outside the police station, an intense manhunt is still underway.

LT. JERRY LOHR [ST. LOUIS COUNTY POLICE DEPARTMENT]: It's an ugly reminder of what can happen. You know, there are people out here that want to hurt the police.

MELVIN: Thursday afternoon, three people were taken in for questioning from this Ferguson house, but soon released. Police say they don't have any suspects.

President Obama appeared on Jimmy Kimmel Live and condemned the violence.

BARACK OBAMA: I think that what had been happening in Ferguson was oppressive and objectionable and was worthy of protest, but there was no excuse for criminal acts.

MELVIN: Attorney General Eric Holder was more blunt.

ERIC HOLDER: This was a damn punk. A punk.

MELVIN: One of the protest organizers, Rasheen Aldridge, says he hopes for the officers's recovery, but is determined not to let the shootings slow their movement. [To Aldridge] What's the end game?

RASHEEN ALDRIDGE: The end game is to continue. Continue to fight until we have a system that is going to be equal to everyone.

MELVIN [To another protester]: We had three top officials step down over the past week or so in this area. Is that not enough?

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: No, it's nothing.

MELVIN: Late Thursday, a pause among the protest for a candlelight vigil. Different races, different denominations praying for the same thing – peace.

A law enforcement officials says that they fully expect the protests to continue through the weekend, at least here in Ferguson. Keep in mind, since that grand – since that Justice Department report came out, the scathing report, the police chief has stepped aside, a municipal judge has stepped aside, a city manager has stepped aside as well. A number of folks last night telling me that now they want to see the mayor of Ferguson resign as well. Savannah.

GUTHRIE: Alright, Craig Melvin in Ferguson this morning, thank you.

NB Daily Protesters Race Issues NBC Today Missouri Video Craig Melvin Savannah Guthrie Claire McCaskill

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