Return to Transcripts main page


Coronavirus Cases Rising in 16 States; Outrage Grows Over George Floyd's Death. Aired 3-3:30p ET

Aired May 28, 2020 - 15:00   ET



BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN HOST: Hi there. I'm Brooke Baldwin. Thank you for being with me. You're watching CNN on this Thursday afternoon.

And, today, millions of Americans are feeling grief, outrage and frustration, as two tragedies leave the nation reeling. More than 100,000 Americans have now died from coronavirus, President Trump marking the moment in a tweet, saying he extended his heartfelt sympathy to the loved ones of those who have passed.

And in Minneapolis, city on edge now after the killing of 46-year-old George Floyd, the unarmed black man who died in police custody after being pinned down to the ground by a police officer.

The video of Floyd's death setting off a chain reaction of events, including the firing of the four officers involved and the launch of a Justice Department investigation.

And we want to show you the video, but I just need to warn you it is difficult to watch, it is graphic. And in this video, you will see the officer with his knee on Floyd's neck for several minutes while he calls out for help over and over, saying, "I can't breathe."

He was declared dead at a nearby hospital shortly afterward. And the -- just the anger felt by the community spilling out into the city streets for a second straight night of protests, some of which turned violent, as demonstrators and police clashed.

The Floyd family, who described him as a gentle giant, is urging calm for future protests. And in an emotional interview, his younger brother spoke to CNN about his pain and what he wants to happen next.


PHILONISE FLOYD, BROTHER OF GEORGE FLOYD: I grew up with him. That was my oldest brother. I love him. I'm never going to get my brother back.


FLOYD: We need justice. We need justice. Those four also need to be arrested.

They executed my brother in broad daylight. People had to film that. People had to see that. People pleaded for his life.


BALDWIN: CNN's Miguel Marquez is live right now in Minneapolis.

And, Miguel, the police chief issued an apology for what he called the devastation and trauma for George Floyd's death. You tell me -- you're talking to folks in the community -- what are they sharing with you today?

MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, look, this is -- this is -- it is anger and it is rage in this community right now, and it is not very clear which way this is going to go tonight.

That's what people are talking about now. As we learn more about these officers, Derek Chauvin, that officer who had his knee on the neck of Mr. Floyd for several minutes until he died, he was -- he was -- had 18 different complaints against him over his career.

Two of them, he was punished for. Two other officers had -- had been involved in being involved in excessive force complaints against the department, those were settled by the city at some point as well.

I'm going to show you what's happening. This is sort of where the 3rd Precinct is. That was an AutoZone across the street. It's a big sort of four-way shopping area here. The stores behind it, there was a six- story building under construction behind there. That has all collapsed from the fire.

On this side of the street, there's a Target, Cup Foods, Dollar Tree. All of those were broken into. The reason that they are focusing on this area, this is the 3rd Precinct. This is where at least one of the offices worked.

You can see the officers up on the roof there. These barricades were put into place this morning. You can see the windows behind there and the paint as well on the building. This is the focus of a lot of the rage. And it's still here. This is what we're dealing with right now, people who are coming here shouting the name George Floyd, shouting expletives at police as well.

There is clearly still great anger. You have -- you have a community group here that has sort of taken it upon themselves to come in here and separate the crowd from the police behind, police in full riot gear here with the 3rd Precinct.

I want to talk to Trehern Pollard (ph).

Mr. Pollard, you were a friend of Mr. Floyd. Is that correct?


MARQUEZ: What sort of a guy was he? How is this much anger possible out of that one death?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Because it's been happening way too long. And so what you is, you have is the people is just fed up with it. And

they want to see results. They want to see results. I knew him very well. He's a peaceful brother, man. He was a peaceful brother. He...

MARQUEZ: I heard you calling him the gentle giant earlier.



MARQUEZ: This is a big guy, but this is somebody who was -- would do anything for anyone?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Absolutely, man.

And so that's what I'm trying to be remindful of to the crowds. If you are out here and you're standing up for George, then we have to stand for what he stood for, which was being peaceful. He loved everybody and did everything...

MARQUEZ: What would he make of this?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He probably -- he's smiling about this, because it's peaceful.

He would frown upon what occurred last night.

MARQUEZ: So, he plans to be here all night, as long -- as well as others, trying to keep the level of violence and keep that level of anger down.

But I can tell you it is going to be extremely difficult, not only here. St. Paul right now, there are reports of looting and concerns there. And there's another protest planned for downtown Minneapolis later tonight.

So it is an all-hands-on-deck for the Minneapolis police -- Brooke.

BALDWIN: No, and I appreciate you being in the middle of that crowd and just listening to his friend still speaking about him in present tense.

You just can feel the emotion from that city.

Miguel Marquez, thank you.




BALDWIN: That voice you just heard was that of Minneapolis City Council Vice President Andrea Jenkins.

She joins me now. Excuse me. Ms. Jenkins, it's just that -- your voice, that song just

-- just everything that's been happening. You represent the neighborhood where this incident took place. You have said that George Floyd's death felt like a symbol -- quote -- "for a knee on the neck of black America."

Thank you so much for joining me today.

Can you just talk about how this death has impacted the community you represent and you personally?

ANDREA JENKINS, VICE PRESIDENT, MINNEAPOLIS CITY COUNCIL: Good afternoon, Brooke. And thank you for inviting me to be a part of this conversation.

You know, before I speak on your questions, I do want to publicly offer my own deep,sincere condolences, sympathies, apologies to the family of George Floyd. What a -- what a tragic, traumatic incident to happen to our city, to my community, to our nation, at a time when we are dealing with this -- this terrible coronavirus.

We are in the midst of a pandemic. And, unfortunately, we have two viruses that we have to deal with in America. And that is the coronavirus, as well as the virus of racism that has infected our entire society for far too long.

The people in my community are pained, are traumatized. You know, we have had so many high-profile hashtag moments in the city of Minneapolis, from Philando Castile, to Jamar Clark, Terrance Franklin, and Thurman Blevins, and, of course, Justine Damond, who we cannot forget.

And we saw justice in that case. We saw justice for Justine. We absolutely must see justice for George. That is what community is seeking. That is what community is asking for.

And the violence -- I do not condone the looting and the violence. I do fully understand the -- the outrage that people are expressing.

BALDWIN: How would you -- there are so many emotions.

As I'm sitting here listening to you, I'm having my own. I'm surprised at my own emotions on TV with you, but I have just -- as a white woman, aware of my own privilege in this country, I am so angry, and I can't even begin -- forgive me.


JENKINS: No, it's a human -- it's a human emotion, Brooke.

And I think what is so -- what sparked so much outrage is that there seemed to be no regard for humanity or for human life in the video that we all witnessed.

The officer sat there with his knee on Mr. Floyd's neck for an unbearable amount of time, almost 10 minutes. That is unconscionable. And he had a smirk on his face and his hands in his pockets, like he was totally relaxed.

And I think that -- that lack of humanity, that lack of respect for black life is what has enraged so many people in this instance.

BALDWIN: You talk about these high-profile deaths and hashtag moments, and describing George Floyd's death there.

And we know the mayor wants -- we know the officers have been fired. I'm just thinking of justice, Andrea.

And I'm just wondering, from your perspective, as you represent this corner in this city, what justice looks like for you in this community.


So, I, very early on, very publicly, called for the firing of the four officers. And, so, I'm glad that the mayor and the police chief responded to those requests and did the right thing.

But justice won't be served until these officers have been charged. That is what people -- charged and arrested. And so that is what people are calling for. That is what will, I believe, calm the...

BALDWIN: The gathering?

JENKINS: The gatherings, the rallies, the protests, the riots, I mean, because, at some point last night, what was a peaceful protest that I participated in became a riot.


JENKINS: And so I do not condone that in any way whatsoever.

However, again, I do understand the frustration. And the only thing I think is going to help us to resolve and bring down the temperature in this situation is if our county attorney, Mike Freeman, does the right thing and presses criminal charges against what we all witnessed, a crime, on that video.

BALDWIN: I think so many Americans are -- they have watched what happened in Central Park. They have seen what happened in Minneapolis. They saw what happened in Georgia and, lord knows the years, right? This is just...

JENKINS: Don't forget the young lady, #SayHerName...


JENKINS: ... that was murdered in her bed.


JENKINS: Sleeping in her bed. BALDWIN: And my question -- my question, Andrea, is what -- I'm getting a lot of incoming just messages from white viewers who are enraged, who don't know what to do with their emotion.

And so, as you talk about how -- you call it cancer -- cancer, it's a disease, in order to cure it. And the same as you I heard you say earlier with regard to racism in this country. What do you want to tell white America about what they can do, not just to listen, but to act?

JENKINS: Yes. No, that's a great question, Brooke.

And I wish I had all the smart answers to provide to -- to white people.

A, stop killing us. B, give us -- give black people opportunities to live full, healthy lives. That means access to employment. That means access to safe and affordable health care. That means access to safe and affordable housing.

We are in the midst of a pandemic right now, and we need to see resources going to the most vulnerable people. We have already identified who the most vulnerable people are. However, nobody is providing those kinds of resources. There's no testing. There's no drive-up testing in my community.

There is no PPE in my community.


JENKINS: We need the federal government to be providing resources to cities and states.


And we need white America to be calling on these resources in these underinvested communities, these overpoliced communities. We need white people to stop perpetuating the system of racism.

And I'm not calling any one person a racist, but I do know that people who benefit from it are the only people who can end it.

BALDWIN: It's a tough conversation. It's a necessary conversation.

Andrea Jenkins, thank you.

JENKINS: Thank you, Brooke.

BALDWIN: We continue on.

New coronavirus cases rising across 16 states, most of them are in the South. We have those details ahead.

Plus, President Trump finally recognized that the virus has killed 100,000 people in the United States, and he did it in a tweet, as he prepares a new executive order targeting social media companies. And new evidence of, as we were just discussing, the devastating impact to the coronavirus is having on communities of color, autopsies now revealing bodies of African-Americans filled with blood clots -- what this means.

You're watching CNN. I'm Brooke Baldwin.



BALDWIN: We are back. You're watching CNN. I'm Brooke Baldwin.

Overall, across the United States, the number of new coronavirus infections is on the decline, but 16 states are reporting an increase in cases over the past seven days. And you can see by looking at the map most of the states are clustered in the South.

As Axios noted this morning, the progress nationwide is good news. But it's fragile progress, and not universal across the states. Stubborn pockets of infection put lives at risks, and they can spread.

So, with me now, Dr. Ashish Jha, director of the Harvard Global Health Institute.

So, Dr. Jha, thank you so much for being on.


BALDWIN: What is behind the spike in cases in the South?

JHA: Yes.

So, as a country, we are declining, as you said, but there's a lot of variation. And, ultimately, what we know drives this virus is people interacting with each other, people getting out and interacting with each other in a way that's maybe not socially distanced, spending too much time close to each other.

And then, of course, the fact that we don't have a great testing and tracing program across the country really has put us behind the eight ball. So I think some states may have just opened a little too early or opened too aggressively, without having the right infrastructure to do it.

BALDWIN: What about social distancing? Because now we're hearing from some experts saying that six feet apart may not be enough to stop the spread of the virus.

Do you agree with that? And, if so, how far apart are we supposed to be?

JHA: Right.

Look, there is no magic number, right? We have said six feet, because that's pretty good, and it keeps most of -- most people pretty safe. But is there like a magic cut point at six? No.

So, what I encourage people is whatever you can do is good, and at least six feet. I do think, for most people, it protects them. But if you can be more like eight or 10 feet apart, it's probably a bit better in terms of making sure you don't get infected by somebody who's spreading the virus.

BALDWIN: This morning, President Trump retweeted this article that claims that wearing face masks is not about public health, but about social control. Did you catch that?

And what were you thinking when you saw it?

JHA: I have heard that idea. I missed that tweet. But I obviously have heard people suggest this.

I find it puzzling. I think it's the opposite, because what mask wearing does is lets you get out. If everybody wore masks, if most people were masks, we would dramatically reduce the amount of infections. We would probably dramatically reduce the severity of those infections.

And that would mean that we could get our lives back. And, in fact, to me, masks represent freedom, freedom to get our lives back, not social control.

BALDWIN: And with regard to masks, there are these two new studies that show that the asymptomatic spread of coronavirus may be much more widespread than we all thought.

The experts behind the studies are calling for more widespread testing to find these cases. Just knowing that, how -- Doc, how should people respond? Should they be limiting their contact with even more people?

What say you?

JHA: Yes.

So, I think what most of your listeners and viewers really need to understand is, we think probably about half of all the spread that's happening, maybe more, is from people who have no symptoms, who feel totally fine.

So, what do we do about that? Well, maintain as much social distance as you can, but we do have to get some of our lives back. So I'm not saying people should be shut down. We have got to have an aggressive testing regime that tries to seek out and find asymptomatic carriers.

And then people should be wearing masks. Is that perfect? Is that going to keep everybody completely safe? No. But it dramatically reduces your risk if we can do all of those things. And that's all we need to be doing right now, is reducing our risks, trying to keep ourselves as safe as possible.

BALDWIN: I take away from all this you saying masks equal our freedom. Dr. Ashish Jha, thank you very much.

JHA: Thank you.

BALDWIN: And just a programming note for you. The "Sesame Street" crew is back on CNN. Watch the new family town hall about COVID-19 and staying safe this summer. Love that. Love that song.

That is "The ABCs of COVID-19" Saturday morning at 10:00 Eastern here on CNN.

The president stoking culture wars and picking fights with tech companies, as the death toll now past the 100,000 mark -- details on his executive order targeting social media companies ahead.


And bodies riddled with blood clots -- the new evidence showing how the coronavirus is having an especially brutal impact on the black community. Let's talk about it.


BALDWIN: Today, President Trump is waging a war against