Mayor Knowles on plans to 'bridge the gap' in Ferguson

This is a rush transcript from "The Kelly File," December 1, 2014. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.


ERIC HOLDER, U.S. ATTORNEY GENERAL: In the coming days I will announce updated Justice Department guidance regarding profiling by federal law enforcement.


This will institute rigorous new standards and robust safeguards to help end racial profiling once and for all.


MEGYN KELLY, HOST: That was Attorney General Eric Holder just moments ago at the historic Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, home of the late-Martin Luther King, Jr. The attorney general talking about recent events in Ferguson, Missouri and then promising to end racial profiling by police departments.

Joining me now, the mayor of Ferguson, Missouri, James Knowles.

Mr. Mayor, thank you for being here with us tonight. And so, you're thoughts on Eric Holder suggesting, if not explicitly, at least suggesting that what this issue in Ferguson boils down to is racial profiling by police.

JAMES KNOWLES, FERGUSON MAYOR: Well, unfortunately, I mean, I think he's put the cart before the horse a few times already. And I don't think that the facts have bore out so far that it's necessarily an issue of racial profiling, at least this current issue that we've seen. But clearly racial profiling is an issue that we need to talk about across the country, but I don't think we can boil every issue especially this issue here necessarily down to racial profiling.

KELLY: He seems very focused on Ferguson, however. As soon as the grand jury decision came out he was sure to remind the nation that he still has a civil right investigation going into Darren Wilson as an individual and into the Ferguson Police Department as a group. And he said in October that he thinks --this is me quoting now -- "I think it's pretty clear that the need for wholesale change in the Ferguson Police Department is appropriate."  Do you believe that? I mean, he seems to be pretty certain that there is racial profiling or racial prejudice or inappropriate constitutional behavior coming out of Ferguson.

KNOWLES: Well, once again, I mean, I think some of the excerpts from his speech alluded to that they have not concluded what they've started investigating. That they're supposed to be open and fair with this rigorous investigation, that they have not prejudged that. But then again they've made statements -- he's made statements like this weeks, in fact months ago saying that there's an obvious need for wholesale change. That sounds like you've prejudged the situation to me.

So that is frustrating. I mean, I would like to see that the investigation into the Police Department and into the situation might warrant some improvements or some reforms that I think we could maybe all agree that there's always room for improvement. But he's clearly made his mind up that there's need for wholesale change. And that doesn't sound like someone who's open minded in their investigation.

KELLY: Uh-huh. I know one of the areas that you are looking to improve is the racial makeup of the police force since it is very disproportionate to the citizenry of Ferguson. And I think all sides have applauded that as something that might help bridge some of the divide between the community and law enforcement.

Let me ask you this. Darren Wilson is now out. He resigned. He's not going to get any severance package. Is that fair?

KNOWLES: I think it's unfortunate that his career's over. I mean, it's absolutely, you know, a situation where he did his job that the grand jury, you know, has said that there was no wrongdoing and I know he wants to be a law enforcement officer still. He stated that. But of course I think he thought it was best for both himself, his family and for the law enforcement officers to continue to serve in the city of Ferguson for him to move on.

KELLY: What's going to happen now with the looters? You know, we saw -- over 70 arrests with the, you know, with the looting of the stores and the arsons we saw and so on and so forth. What is the status of those criminal charges?

KNOWLES: I mean, that's still ongoing. For anybody who's been involved in any of the looting or destruction, anybody who's been caught has been charged. And those people will be prosecuted. There is still information out there, videos, you know, endless, and countless hours of video that has been captured and is being reviewed. There's many people out there who think they got away with it, and I think they're going to find out later on that they didn't.

KELLY: Last question, O'Reilly was on earlier suggesting that those riots that we saw, the looting and so on, he said created more bias against African-Americans. Do you agree with that?

KNOWLES: You know, unfortunately I've heard some people say that they've lost some sympathy that they might have once had towards some of the demonstrators. But, you know, we're focused on moving forward here in the city of Ferguson. We're looking at trying to bring the community together.  And so we continue to have conversations, we continue to look at ourselves and how we can improve ourselves. And hopefully in the end we'll all come together as a community.

KELLY: Good luck to you, Mr. Mayor.

KNOWLES: Thank you.

KELLY: All the best.

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