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Minneapolis Protests Over George Floyd Death Turn Violent; COVID-19 Death Toll Crosses 100,000 as U.S. Begins Reopening; China Pushing Ahead with Hong Kong Security Law; COVID-19 Cases Spiking in Brazil As Bolsonaro Pushes to Reopen. Aired 5-5:30a ET

Aired May 28, 2020 - 05:00   ET



ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

LAURA JARRETT, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome to our viewers in the United States and around the world. This is EARLY START. I'm Laura Jarrett.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: And I'm Christine Romans. It is Thursday, May 28th. It is 5:00 a.m. in New York.

We begin with breaking news this morning. Parts of Minneapolis are burning right now after hundreds of people took to the streets late into the night protesting the death of George Floyd. He is the 46- year-old black man who died after pleading for help as a police officer pinned him to the ground with his knee on Floyd's neck.

The demonstrations last night began peacefully but Minnesota Governor Tim Walz says they later turned extremely dangerous. Protesters targeted a police precinct smashing windows. Officers responded with tear gas. Buildings could be seen burning nearby.

CNN's Omar Jimenez joins us now from Minneapolis.

Where it's still an active scene right now, Omar. What are you seeing?

OMAR JIMENEZ, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It's still a very active scene. As you request see, this building behind me is now newly on fire. We got here about an hour ago, it was smoldering a little bit. You can see how quickly the flames have overtaken this spot. It was the place across the street from it.

This building that seemed to be under construction that was completely engulfed when we got to this scene. You may be able to see some of the spectators, potential leftover protesters are still gathered around. The demonstrating has stopped. At this point everyone is watching, standing back, taking pictures and video of their city, parts of their city across from the police precinct on fire.

And for those police, they are all stationed here trying to hold peace as best as they can, or at least hold down some of these locations. You see them stationed outside of Cubs Food here, a grocery store here in Minneapolis area. This parking lot is basically across the street from the police precinct which is over there.

Let's remember why these demonstrations started. This started trying for Minnesotans to try and protest against how George Floyd ended up dying. We've all seen the harrowing cell phone video with the officer's knee on Floyd's neck.

While all those officers, four officers involved were fired less than 24 hours after this happened, the family and others want criminal charges to be filed, and that's a call that we heard echoed from the Minnesota Mayor Jacob Frey late yesterday as well. We heard from a witness who was at the scene as this was happening visibly shaken up who said that he pleaded with the officers, especially the one with the knee to let up but he said he got no response.

We also learned from fire department records that when EMS got to the scene and George Floyd was loaded into that ambulance to be taken to the hospital, they said in their notes they were dealing with someone who was unresponsive and did not have a pulse, even though he was later declared dead at an emergency room.

We've also heard from the police late last night who says they support the demonstrations, but what this has turned into they say is an embarrassment for the city and we have seen, again, widespread looting that has occurred. We have seen many buildings on fire. We have heard shots fired in many different portions of this area as well.

So very chaotic scene that is very dynamic. It is continuing to evolve and Minnesotans may not recognize parts of the city that they wake up to compared to what they saw when they went to sleep.

ROMANS: Do police have the scene, Omar, under control right now? You say there are spectators who are watching. But has the large scale protests died down?

JIMENEZ: The large scale protests seems to have died down. I bring you back over this way. You see all the people just hanging out here.

There was one incident where a car seemed to speed through missing the crowd but towards the officers. They all jumped out of the way. The car came back and eventually these police officers seemed to pursue the car as well afterwards.

In regards to the original question about the protests dying down, we haven't seen any chance, any demonstration at this hour even though that's what we were seeing in the earlier hours. What we are seeing is people standing much like I am right now in awe of what this situation has become.

This building, again, smoking just an hour ago, now fully engulfed in flames and has jumped across the street based on how that building under construction began under fire.


So, a very concerning situation at least for fire department officials that are right around the corner presumably working on that original building that was on fire.

A lot of these places that you see, this Target that you see over there, the police precinct, the Cub grocery store where the officers are stationed, the glass is all broken in. People have been in there. They've looted. It's all graffitied.

These are situations where these businesses and the police officers and the first responders are going to be building essentially from scratch to clear things out.


JIMENEZ: And if anything, despite what this has devolved into, it highlights some of the anger of this community over how this situation has unfolded.

ROMANS: Absolutely. We've seen the voice of the unheard looks like looting and violence when people feel so angry about what's happened in their community.

Omar, thank you so much for that.

CNN's Chris Cuomo spoke to a man who witnessed the police arrest George Floyd and the tragedy that followed. Doug Williams became emotional as they recounted the incident on CNN lat night.


DONALD WILLIAMS, WITNESS TO GEORGE FLOYD ARREST: I heard my man say this, I can't breathe this. I want my mama. And I'm coming to find out that this man who died two years and a day that his mom, I'm a mama's boy, bro. (EXPLETIVE DELETED) hurts me deep down inside, bro. Like something needs to be done.

As a black community, as America, we've got family. We've got to make a change, bro.


ROMANS: Now, fired Minneapolis Police Officer Tou Thao has been identified as one of the four officers involved in Floyd's death. He was named police officer of the month for the third precinct in January of 2015. In 2017, Officer Thao and two other officers were named in a lawsuit alleging the use of excessive force.


JARRETT: The other major story this morning, United States has now reached the tragic milestone that is still so hard to comprehend. More than 100,000 Americans killed by coronavirus in less than just four months. While the death toll continues to climb in some places, it's declined and leveled off in others which leaves most of us wondering what future milestones could still come as the country begins to reopen.

CNN's Jason Carroll has more now. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JASON CARROLL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Laura, Christine, that 100,000 mark is really especially meaningful to the people of New York City. So, many of the victims came from right here in New York, as you know, the epicenter of this pandemic. The numbers in New York, though, when you're looking forward are really trending in the right direction. They are trending downward.

As we've seen in other parts of the country like the Midwest, but you look at the southeast and the numbers are still trending in the wrong direction. That's why the nation's leading expert on this pandemic says going forward it's really important for people to continue to practice social distancing and to wear those mask.

DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASES: It's sort of respect for that other person and have that person respect you. You wear a mask, they wear a mask, you protect each other. I mean, I do it when I'm in the public for reasons that, A, I want to protect myself and others and I want to make it a symbol for people to see that that's the kind of thing you should be doing.

CARROLL: Meanwhile, across the country, more and more signs that businesses are starting to reopen. Take a look at Florida, for example. Disneyworld and some of the surrounding theme parks have announced that they're going to be reopening in July.

In Nevada, Caesar's and MGM Resorts will be opening marquis properties in Las Vegas. That's going to be happening next week on June 4th. Going forward, health experts say that what's really important is for anyone visiting any of these places, any of these businesses that are reopening to check to see what if any kind of health measures they may be taking -- Laura, Christine.


JARRETT: All right. Jason, thanks so much for that.

Dr. Fauci also sounded optimistic about the race to develop a coronavirus vaccine. He believes with a little good fortune, we could have one in a matter of months, not years.


FAUCI: I still think that we have a good chance, of all the things falling the right place that we might have a vaccine deployable by the -- by the end of the year, by December, November, December, I believe. The kind of acceleration that we're doing, which I must emphasize, is not at the expense of safety, nor at the expense of scientific integrity. Such as making vaccine before you have a clear-cut signal that it works.

That means if it does work, you've gained f. It doesn't, you have lost resources. You haven't put anyone at risk.


JARRETT: Many health experts have been predicting a second wave of the pandemic in late fall or early winter. But Dr. Fauci insists that scenario is avoidable.


FAUCI: It could happen, but it is not inevitable. If we do the things we are putting in place now to have the workforce, the system, the will to do the kinds of things that are to be clear and effective, identification, isolation, and contact-tracing, we can prevent this second wave that we're talking about, if we do it correctly.



JARRETT: Fauci says doing it correctly involves wearing facemasks in public.

ROMANS: And how far to stand apart? Six feet may not be enough social distance after all. In the commentary for the Journal of Science, three experts say the six food guideline comes from research about relatively large respiratory droplets from sneezing and coughing. But the trio of experts in chemistry and infectious disease say tiny aerosols from talking or just breathing can stay in the air much longer and travel much farther. The scientists say their analysis explain the importance of universal mask-wearing, widespread testing, and further research.

JARRETT: We get more now on Disney's plans to reopen the theme parks in mid July. CNN has reporters across the country bringing us the latest developments.



Walt Disney World has proposed reopening its four Orlando theme parks in mid-July. The Orange County, Florida, mayor has already approved the plans. And it's now being considered by the state of Florida. If approved, Magic Kingdom and Animal Kingdom will open on July 11th, followed by EPCOT and Hollywood Studios on July 15th.

A new attendance reservation system would be used to reduce guest capacity. All guests three and older would be required to wear face coverings and everyone must go through temperature screenings. Parades, fireworks, character meet and greets will be temporarily suspended.

ALEXANDER MARQUARDT, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: I'm Alex Marquardt in Washington, D.C., where the mayor has just announced the first phase of reopening the nation's capital. That is due to start happening on Friday. The stay at home order is being lifted, but the mayor is calling the next step is stay at home lite, which means continuing to follow all the precautions that we have heard so much about, but nonessential retail businesses will be able to open for curbside pickup. Restaurants will be able to open outside with social distancing measures and a number of other steps can be taken to slowly stop reopening the city.


In just a few days from now, Georgia could be lifting more coronavirus restrictions. Governor Brian Kemp's executive order is set to expire on Sunday and he will have to decide whether he will allow bars, nightclubs, and live performance venues to reopen. Now, Georgia was the first state to begin slowly reopening its economy in April and the preliminary data suggests that Georgia's reopening did not lead to a spike in cases. But data does show that the state saw a seven day average of more new coronavirus cases in the past week than it did two weeks ago.

SHIMON PROKUPECZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I'm Shimon Prokupecz in New York City.

The governor of New Jersey saying he is positive there will be summer camp activity for many of the kids in New Jersey. Of course, parents all across the country concerned about what they're going to do with their kids for the summer. The governor in New Jersey saying that he is confident there will be camps. He's saying right now, he's not putting a timetable on it, but if the numbers keep going in the direction that they're going, he's confident there will be summer camp activity.


ROMANS: All right. A couple of programming notes. Tonight, join Anderson Cooper and Sanjay Gupta with science writer David Quammen, author of the book "Spillover." Why he says coronavirus like COVID-19 will keep happening. "Coronavirus: Facts and Fears" live tonight at 8:00 Eastern.

And the Sesame Street crew returns to CNN for a second town hall on coronavirus and staying safe. "The ABCs of COVID-19" airs Saturday morning, 10:00 eastern, right here on CNN.

And the first one was fantastic. My kids love it. I really encourage everyone to watch.

JARRETT: Yes, I know so many families looking forward to that on Saturday.

Well, just moments ago, China followed through on the new national security law that sparked so much protest in Hong Kong. We are live there with reaction and the economic impact for the United States, next.


[05:18:13] JARRETT: China pushing forward just a short time ago with a national security law that has provoked months of sometimes violent protests in Hong Kong. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo denouncing the move in advance yesterday as a disastrous decision, saying the U.S. will no longer consider Hong Kong autonomous from China on trade and economic matters.

For the very latest, let's bring in CNN's Kristie Lu Stout in Hong Kong.

Kristie, can you explain exactly what does this new law do?

KRISTIE LU STOUT, CNN ANCHOR & CORRESPONDENT: Yes. I can tell you first the reaction to this new law. There's a sense of acceptance and also all out anger after earlier today in Beijing, the national people's congress, as expected rubber stamped this and it would criminalize in very sweeping terms three different types of behavior in Hong Kong -- sedition, secession, as well as foreign interference. It would also allow China's ministry of state security to establish themselves here in the territory and to enforce the law themselves.

Reaction was swift once this legislation was rubber stamped in Beijing. We heard from the chief executive of Hong Kong, Carrie Lam, who praised and welcomed the legislation. We also heard from opposition lawmakers who have condemned, including Claudia Mo who said this: This marks the beginning of a sad and traumatizing era for Hong Kong. They have practically taken away our souls, unquote.

Beijing argues this law is necessary to fill a loophole because of unrest and violence we have seen over the last year because of the Hong Kong protests, which many Chinese official see as a direct threat to China sovereignty.

But among many people, especially the protest movement, there is all out anger about this. We have seen a number of protests break out in the last week alone, leading to mass arrests.


Three hundred and sixty people arrested on Wednesday. On Sunday, 180 people arrested as we witness scenes like this one. Police officers in the Causeway Bay District, full riot gear on making arrests on the street. These people have been arrested on charges like offensive weapons possession or unauthorized protests. Once this security law sweeps its way to Hong Kong, they could be arrested on far more serious charges like secession, sedition, and foreign interference.

Back to you, Laura.

JARRETT: All right. Kristie, thanks so much.

And, Christine, I know there are interesting potential economic implications from this. I know you're going to look at that, Christine.

ROMANS: Absolutely, absolutely. Well, this is a financial hub, Hong Kong is, right, and has been for sometime, and a trading partner, excuse me, of the United States.

Let's take a look at global markets. You can see Hong Kong's Hang Seng is down just a little bit. A mixed performance overall for Asian shares.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo saying Hong Kong is no longer autonomous from China. This could affect their trading status with the U.S. The loss of that status will have significant financial implications. It would endanger billions of dollars in trade and threatened Hong Kong's standing as an international financial hub.

Data from the Census Bureau shows the U.S. exported $6.36 billion in goods and imported $952 million from Hong Kong in the first quarter of 2020. The U.S. and Hong Kong's trading relationship has existed for decades, and it could mean higher costs for American businesses. Could rattle an already fragile economy and maybe hurt Hong Kong more than China.

President Trump and Congress will decide what actions to take next. Sources say the president could take executive action, Laura, as soon as Friday.

JARRETT: Well, Brazil's daily coronavirus death toll just surpassed that of the U.S. We're on the ground as the government moves to reopen, next.



ROMANS: Welcome back.

Coronavirus cases are spiking in Brazil. Only the United States has more confirmed cases, but President Jair Bolsonaro who has referred to the virus as a little flu is still urging businesses to reopen against the wishes of many Brazilian governors.

More now from Nick Paton Walsh in Rio de Janeiro.


NICK PATON WALSH, CNN INTERNATIONAL SECURITY EDITOR: It's startling to see the Copacabana Beach deserted. That is what the rules say here in Rio de Janeiro and at times firefighters are being seen on the beach getting people off of it.

But still, the boardwalk here at times busy, sometimes people seen not wearing masks, exercising and Rio de Janeiro potentially like many of the big cities in Rio about to see the worst of the peak in the week or so ahead.

Facemasks are mandatory here. Many businesses closed. But the issue, of course, for Brazil is how the federal presidential level of guidance has been significantly weaker. Jair Bolsonaro, the president, at times calling this a little flu, playing down its severity, and even now focusing more on the damage to the economy. Lockdown measures have been causing and, in fact, insulting the governors in cabinet meeting, the video of which was released by the supreme court as part of a separate investigation, insulting local officials who've implemented these lockdown measures.

So, many Brazilians here frankly looking to him for what they should do in their daily lives. The lockdown has been in place for months. And so, some pollings in fact suggested a slight increase in the reticence of people to go along with the more severe measures.

But this is, of course, at the very worse of times. The numbers in Brazil are increasingly bad. They are edging towards 400,000 cases confirmed. Those are just the people who have managed to get a test in a country where many occasion you seem to need three coronavirus systems to qualify for one. So, it's likely the full picture is, in fact, worse.

The death toll at about 24,000 or so but modeling from the IMHE in the United States suggests it could get to 125,000 by early August. That would itself be utterly staggering.

So, Brazil here, while frankly its natural iconic beauty not lost at all, it's a little more deserted and deeply anxious as the weeks progress as to how hard it will be hit by the virus's peak.

Nick Paton Walsh, CNN, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.


JARRETT: All right. Nick, thanks for that.

EARLY START continues right now with breaking news.

ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

ROMANS: Good morning. This is EARLY START. I'm Christine Romans.

JARRETT: And I'm Laura Jarrett. About 28 minutes past the hour.

And we are following breaking news this morning. Fires burning right now in Minneapolis after hundreds of people flooded the streets late into the night there protesting the death of George Floyd. He's a 46- year-old black man who died after pleading with the police officer who pinned him to the ground, with a knee on his neck saying he could not breathe.

The demonstrations last night began peacefully, but they later escalated turning dangerous. Protesters targeted a police precinct, smashing windows. Officers responded with tear gas.

CNN's Omar Jimenez joins us now live from Minneapolis, where it's still an active scene.

Omar, what are you seeing?

JIMENEZ: Well, Laura and Christine, this part we were standing is just about a block away from the police precinct where we've seen a majority of these protests happened.

And when you talk about this still being an active scene, those protests started around the afternoon time yesterday. And as the sun went down and nighttime descended, things also seemed to devolve into violence. And we have seen pictures like this in various portions around, at least just this area in particular, you see this building under construction on fine.