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Minneapolis Mayor Calls George Floyd's Death "Murder"; Coronavirus Taking Deadlier Toll On African-American In U.S.; Minneapolis Officials Speak On Protests After George Floyd's Death. Aired 12:30-1p ET

Aired May 28, 2020 - 12:30   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


[12:30:00]

JEREMIAH ELLISON, MINNEAPOLIS CITY COUNCIL: And so I think that it's while I don't like everything that I'm seeing from the protest that, you know, as it's evolved, I'm struggling to feel like we as a city have any more ground to stand on, given the way that our police department is acting or has acted in response to those protesters on the first night.

JOHN KING, CNN HOST: Do you have any hope, that's a tough word to use in a situation like this. We've all seen the video, a man was killed, and he was crying for help and there was no help given to him and he deserved that help. He deserved a chance to breathe.

Hope -- so maybe hope is the wrong word. But when you have the Mayor saying I believe this is a murder, when you have the local district attorney investigating, and now you have the FBI, and the U.S. Attorney's Office investigating. Do you have confidence that this will be handled appropriately?

ELLISON: I'm cautiously optimistic. I say cautious because I do feel like it's taking us a bit of time to make this arrest. I think no one else would enjoy this kind of privilege, if they had murdered someone on camera the way that this officer murdered George Floyd.

And so I'm cautiously optimistic. But I think that the balls in the district attorney's court and we should make the charges and we should make the arrest. And I think that's taking a bit long.

KING: And I mentioned the quick reaction from the federal government. You're also seeing there been protests around the country in honor of Mr. Floyd. I say in honor of him because people want justice done. They believe this is a great injustice.

You also see on Twitter, LeBron James among some of the national celebrities and athlete in his case, pointing this out. He's showing the picture of the officer there in Minneapolis with his knee on Mr. Floyd's neck and then obviously Colin Kaepernick and his silent protest. This is why LeBron James tweeting, and this is why, this is why whether you agree or disagree with Colin Kaepernick, this is why he started this some time ago because of the problem in cities all across the America of police treatment of African-Americans.

Do you believe that a legacy here if it can be something positive is, do you believe this national attention on the -- what was done to Mr. Floyd will bring focus to this issue?

ELLISON: I hope so. You know, I know that there have been a lot of people who have had to die this way for us to generate this amount of conversation. And that, to me, is completely sad. People should -- people like George Floyd shouldn't have to die in this way for us to generate this kind of conversation.

But I am glad that is happening. And look, we can have all the trainings in the world. We can have body cameras. And we can hire diverse police forces, if there is not, if there are not criminal consequences for criminal behavior from police officers, then accountability is going to always elude us, I think. And that's why I think it's important that we not drop the ball here, that the prosecutors, that the investigators, and that the courts a vet this. And look at the evidence and I think in many ways the video is self evident.

KING: Councilman Jeremiah Ellison, very much appreciate your time today, Sir. Let's keep in touch as we go through the difficult days ahead.

ELLISON: Thank you.

KING: Thank you sir.

ELLISON: Thank you.

[12:33:18]

KING: Up next for us, the country passes 100,000 deaths. It is grim for everyone. The African-American communities across the country hit the hardest.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: Coronavirus is taking a disproportionate impact on African- Americans across the United States the rates of infection and the rate of death higher in minority communities. CNN's Abby Phillip has more on these troubling numbers.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Go daddy.

ABBY PHILLIP, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Terrence Burke was a doting father, a Navy veteran, and a hard charging high school basketball coach.

ARNETHA BURKE, DAUGHTER OF TERRANCE BURKE: He was really big on family. He love coaching.

(voice-over): In March, the Prince George's County Maryland resident became one of the first people in the state to die from the coronavirus.

BURKE: It's just very surreal. I didn't really expect it to happen, like, my dad would be like the example for the State of Maryland.

(voice-over): Burke's death was a canary in the coal mine for his community in the Washington D.C. suburbs and for the entire nation.

ANGELA ALSOBROOKS, PRINCE GEORGE'S COUNTY EXECUTIVE: Oh my god, it was so terrifying.

(voice-over): Just miles outside of the nation's capital, one of the wealthiest majority black counties in the nation has been ravaged by the coronavirus pandemic.

ALSOBROOKS: We heard what the aggregating factors where. We started saying, oh my god, you know, that's us.

(voice-over): In Prince George's County, black residents like Burke have been contracting and dying from coronavirus at alarming rates.

STEPHEN B. THOMAS, MARYLAND CENTER FOR HEALTH EQUITY AT THE UNIVERSITY OF MARYLAND: We have some of the highest per capita PhDs, college educated black folk in the nation, and it is not protecting us.

(voice-over): And the data shows it's a trend playing out all over the country in urban, suburban, rural, wealthy, and poor areas and in more than half of the country according to a recent study by the nonpartisan APM research lab.

In Detroit 65 percent of cases and more than 80 percent of people who have died of COVID are black. In Washington D.C., black residents account for nearly 75 percent of coronavirus deaths. In New York, the epicenter of the U.S. outbreak, 26 percent of deaths have been among black residents, even though they are just 14 percent of the population. And in Maryland black residents account for 42 percent of COVID deaths but 29 percent of the population.

[12:40:09]

Prince George's County Executive Angela Alsobrooks says, decades of racism are having a devastating impact here and all over the country.

ALSOBROOKS: We also have had a really, really difficult time just trying to attract restaurants to come here, the grocers to come here. And it's not because we're not, we don't have the wealth and income. It infuriates me for people to say that people here are sicker because of our life choices.

(voice-over): Coronavirus deaths are concentrated mostly among older Americans and those with preexisting conditions, such as hypertension, diabetes, and heart disease that are common among black Americans. But that doesn't explain all of the disparities.

THOMAS: Our workers are residents of senior living facilities, who works in those facilities? Low paid workers who have now been designated essential. (voice-over): Maryland officials are moving to ramp up testing at sites like these, now testing asymptomatic residents to stop outbreaks before they start. Thomas says more helpful undoubtedly be needed, including from the federal government.

THOMAS: We're going to have to save ourselves. We need a national commission on the colors of COVID-19, one that addresses all people of color.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

KING: That's CNN Abby Phillip reporting there.

For city leaders across the country, this is the dilemma of the moment. How do you balance the need to keep people safe versus wanting and needing to get the economy back open? These questions even more difficult when your city is home to a large percentage of black and brown people. Listen here to the Mayor of Richmond, Virginia, Levar Stoney

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MAYOR LEVAR STONEY (D), RICHMOND, VIRGINIA: Given the added tools that are disposal, the current trends in our local data, and my faith and belief in Richmonders to look out for one another. I believe that Richmond can cautiously, and I repeat, cautiously, move into phase one starting this Friday, May 29th.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: I want to take you live now to a news conference in Minneapolis about the protests last night. This is the mayor.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

MAYOR JACOB FREY (D), MINNEAPOLIS: To ignore it, to toss it out, would be to ignore the values we all claim to have that are all the more important during a time of crisis.

I believe in Minneapolis. I love Minneapolis. And in believing in our city, we must believe that we can be better than we have been. We must confront our shortcomings with both humility as well as hope. We must restore the peace so that we can do this hard work together.

I want to know what George's girlfriend, Courtney, said about George. He was all about love and all about peace. He did not receive that love and that peace from our officers on the night of May 25th. But we can still honor him by practicing those values during a time of great strife.

That is the task ahead of us. And at this time when one crisis is sandwiched against another, this could be the marker. This could be a point in time when several years from now, we can look back to know that we rose to right the wrongs of the past not just with words but with action. We will be working with community. We need to be working with community to sort through those set of action steps. Time when we were picked up the rubble, a time where we picked up the rubble, the glass and found peace in our hearts, not an ignorant piece, but an awakened one where we can truly make change possible.

And so in the coming days, we will have an all out effort to restore peace and security in our city. I've authorized unified command structure that allows our Chief Arradondo to utilize resources, personnel from other jurisdictions. We've requested assistance from the state and we are thankful to the governor for the support as well as from the State Patrol.

[12:45:07]

This work is about protecting community. This work is about protecting infrastructure needed to get through this pandemic together. Our communities need these assets, especially during a pandemic. Our communities need grocery stores for food. We need banks for cash. We need pharmacies for needed medication.

Let's hold these communities dear, by doing right by them and by safeguarding them. And these community assets that we know they need, especially during a pandemic. We need to offer radical love and compassion that we all have in us. I believe leaving the city and I know that you do too.

Next, I would like to invite up Council Vice President Andrea Jenkins, who has been a tremendous leader.

ANDREA JENKINS, VP, MINNEAPOLIS CITY COUNCIL: Amazing grace, how sweet is the sound, that saved a wretch like me.

I grew up in a religious family and religious home. I grew up in the church with Reverend Jeremiah Wright. And he talked about these in justices every Sunday.

I want to offer some amazing grace to Bridget Floyd, to Philonese Floyd, to Tara Floyd, Rodney Floyd, to entire Floyd family. My deepest condolences and sympathies are with you in this traumatic, tragic moment of grief.

I also stand here to grieve with my community today with all the black people all throughout this country, all throughout America, and right here in Minneapolis. We feel as if there was a knee on all of our collective necks. A knee that says black life does not matter to the institutions that dictate what happens in this culture and society.

I am a part of this system to help, to take that knee off of our necks. And that is to work that I will be doing.

As we stand here grieving yet another loss of black life, a senseless tragic loss of black life, I really don't have many words. But I know that something's got to change. And so, I am asking my colleagues, the Mayor, and anyone else who is concerned about the state of affairs in our community, to declare a state of emergency, declaring racism as a public health issue.

[12:50:00]

Until we name this virus, this disease that has infected America for the past 400 years, we will never, ever resolve this issue. To those who say, bringing up racism is racist in and of itself. I say to you, if you don't call cancer, what it is, you can never cure that disease.

And so in an effort to try and cure this disease, I am stating exactly what everyone else has witness and that is racism. Today is a sad day for Minneapolis. It's a sad day for America. It's a sad day for the world.

I want to remind all of the people that are in the streets protesting, you have every absolute right to be angry, to be upset, to be mad, to express your anger. However, you have no right to perpetrate violence and harm on the very communities that you say that you are standing up for.

We need peace and calm in our streets. And I am begging you for that calm. We will be working with black community leaders to develop and create a healing space at the site of the third precinct, so that people can grieve, express their concerns, their anger in a safe and humane way.

This is a tragic moment. Like Mayor Frey, I love the City of Minneapolis. I have spent the last 41 years as a resident of this city and this is my home. And we cannot allow outsiders or our own Minneapolitan residents to destroy our city. So we want to work together to ensure that people have their voices heard in a safe manner. And that's my commitment.

In the words of Leroy Williams (ph) who was a firsthand I witness to Mr. George Floyd's terrible demise. We got to make a change, bro. Thank you.

CHIEF MEDARIA ARRADONDO, MINNEAPOLIS POLICE: Thank you, Mayor Frey. Thank you, Council Vice President Jenkins.

I want to first by saying that I'm absolutely sorry for the pain, the devastation, and the trauma that Mr. Floyd's death has left on his family, his loved one, our community here in Minneapolis, and certainly across the country in the world.

And I know that our community is in trauma and that they are trying to find ways to heal. From the very beginning, I wanted to make sure and ensure and we will continue to do that, that those who are wanting to express their first amendment rights and go through this healing process that they will absolutely have that from me, and that is a guarantee as your chief.

But that being said, even prior to Mr. Floyd's death, we have had a community that has been in trauma for quite some time. And what I cannot allow as chief is for others to compound that trauma. And so of individuals, as it occurred last night, are committing behavior and acts which are criminal which are looting our businesses as Council Vice President Jenkins had mentioned, are so vital to the health and vitality of our community.

[12:55:07]

If they're looting those stores, if they're robbing people of essential needs and services for themselves, their families, and certainly in this pandemic, their loved ones, if they are setting buildings and structures on fire, which are harming the safety of our elderly and our youth, I cannot allow that as chief.

And so I know that there is currently a deficit of hope in our city. And as I wear this uniform before you, I know that this department has contributed to that deficit of hope. But I will not allow to continue to increase that deficit by retraumatizing those folks in our community. So I am committed to making sure that we restore peace and security in our community.

As Mayor Frey said, we are going to have a unified command system. We are going to have resources to make sure again that all parts of our city, from the Phillips neighborhood to North Minneapolis to downtown that all of our sections of our city have that.

We want to continue to make sure that community can come and gather in spaces, to again, to heal, to grieve, and honor certainly of Mr. Floyd. But I cannot allow criminal acts to occur and threaten the safety and also, again, compound the trauma that already exist.

I have been in constant communication with community leaders, members from our faith community, community healers, and as both Mayor Frey and Council Vice President Jenkins had mentioned, they want to make sure that we have that space and a safe space for those folks to do that.

And so, we will continue to do that. But again, I also again, want to just acknowledge my condolences to Mr. Floyd, his family, and friends. Thank you.

FREY: We'll stand for a few questions. I need to leave in a few minutes though.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How do things gets on hand last night? Are you prepared for what happened after, some of your thoughts?

ARRADONDO: what we experienced, which was a different dynamic shift from the first evening of the demonstrations where, there was a different tenor last night.

There was a different group of individuals. I want to preface this. The vast majority of people that have come together have been doing so peacefully. But there was a core group of people that had really been focused on causing some destruction. Certainly, we saw that with some of the looting and in setting fires.

We were certainly prepared in terms of that immediate area to provide for the safety. But if any, of you followed, of course, the events last night, the crowds got large and they became more mobile. And so, you know, our number one priority is the preservation of life. And so we wanted to make sure that we were looking at that from those who are gathering peacefully in the area who are also being threatened and risk our neighboring residents and also those businesses. And so there was a shift that certainly occurred last night.

(INAUDIBLE)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: -- there are allegation that there are some of the people who started some of the break-ins, looting businesses, where folks outside agitators. We've been hearing people all over social media right now. Any leads on that?

ARRADONDO: We continue to follow that information, that intel. I'm keeping the Mayor briefed on that as we speak. I will just say that it was clear to me and also hearing from our local community leaders, that many of the people that were involved in the criminal conduct last night were not known Minneapolitans to them.

And so, so yes, there were certainly people who were involved in activities last night that were certainly not recognized as being here from the city.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Any police officers hurt from yesterday and National Guard coming in or any update on that towards the night?

ARRADONDO: So we did have some reports of injuries to some of our police officers. I'm happy to report that no significant injuries. There were some community members who were out there demonstrating, who also suffered some minor injuries and again, fortunately, no significant injuries that I am aware of.

Mayor Frey, in terms of a National Guard requests, Mayor Frey is the only person that can make that formal declaration. And as he mentioned, he has had conversations with Governor Walz.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Do you feel you have control over the city and can you ensure people safety tonight?

ARRADONDO: Well, one of the things that I'm very proud of also being a born and raised here in the city. Over the course of the last several days, I've been talking to many of friends, family, in our broader community who have said they want to make sure that even though we're experiencing trauma and pain and grief in our city, they don't want to exacerbate that.

So they're going to be out there. You're going to start seeing more of our, again, community healers, faith leaders, our elders, and even our youth.

[13:00:04]

And so, I think you'll see a shift in that today. So I'm always hopeful because --