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Minneapolis Protests Over George Floyd Death Turn Violent; No Acknowledgment From Trump As U.S. Death Toll Reaches 100,000; Historic SpaceX Launch Scrubbed Due To Bad Weather. Aired 5:30-6a ET

Aired May 28, 2020 - 05:30   ET



OMAR JIMENEZ, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Pictures like this in various portions around. At least in just this area, in particular, you see this construction building on fire -- the building that was under construction. This office building that is newly gone up in flames.

And there was one other concerning aspect if you are watching here. You notice how close it is to power lines. What you see just to the right of the edge of the office building that one of the power lines has completely been severed through the middle by the flames. You see those embers still burning within that as well.

It prompted at least some police to come over. You see this new added police presence that just came in the last 20 minutes. They seem to be speaking with the firefighters that have come over, they are dressed in full riot gear as well, and they are face-to-face across the intersection with a set of spectators here.

We haven't seen any demonstrations since we have been out here over just the past hour and a half or so. Instead, what we are seeing is people literally sitting in awe of these buildings on fire -- again, in the aftermath of these protests.

Now, this all began, of course, as Minnesotans took to the streets over how the death of George Floyd unfolded. Obviously, that cell phone video that is so difficult to watch has circulated not just throughout the city and throughout the country but throughout the world as well -- him pleading that he can't breathe while onlookers are asking police officers to let up, but also to check for a pulse.

And we do understand from newly-reported data from the fire department when EMS arrived to pick up Floyd, their report was that they were dealing with someone who was pulseless at the time. There was questions as to whether, again, he had a pulse when he was being picked up. That is our answer from the fire department report. He was later declared dead at a nearby hospital.

Now, another incident that we are looking into this morning or are trying to nail down reports, we do know of shots that were fired in the area. And as we understand from police, it seems that one person was killed, it seems, that we are following. The theory they are looking into is whether that stemmed from some looting here and whether the shots came from an actual shop owner. It definitely, as they say, did not come from police.

As we see more law enforcement rolling into the area here it seems that they're trying to form a protective line between the spectators and, again, these buildings that are on fire, littered with graffiti. Some saying I can't breathe, I can't breathe; others, expletives towards the police department.

There is a lot of anger in this community, again, over how this has unfolded -- anger that we have seen play out not just here in the Minneapolis area but across the country as well.

What they want -- the main thing they seem to be pushing for is not just the firing of these officers that came within 24 hours of this unfolding. What they want is criminal charges to be filed. It is something the Floyd family has pushed for. It is something we have heard repeatedly from protesters.

It is something the Minneapolis mayor, Jacob Frey, came out and said he is pushing for in regards to this. In his words, he does not understand why at least the arresting officer in this is not in jail.

We know the investigation is still playing out right now at both the FBI level and at the state level as well, trying to get everything together. In the words of the attorney general here in Minnesota, Keith Ellison, saying that he wants to obtain a complete picture and have all the facts in order before they present their findings -- at least the county attorney's office and the FBI -- before they present to the U.S. attorney for any federal charges, Laura.

LAURA JARRETT, CNN ANCHOR: Yes, the community, clearly there, still in so much pain. It feels like deja vu -- the scene playing out there behind you. We've seen it so many times before but it just -- it doesn't get any easier.

Omar, thank you so much for being there for us. We'll see you soon.

CNN's Sara Sidner was also on the ground as the situation in Minneapolis grew intense. Here's what she saw.


SARA SIDNER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: This is the police department, the third precinct here in Minneapolis. They have created a barrier around the particular precinct that some of the windows have been smashed in. And they've been battling back and forth with protesters, many of them throwing water bottles. The police responding with beanies and some responding by shooting tear gas.

But now, we're seeing all those lights for, you're hearing people yelling at the police with their hands up. Those lights are actually the fire department because just across the street, the AutoZone is on fire. So you can really see it -- it's starting to billow and I'm going to have (INAUDIBLE) push in. Now, the sounds that you are hearing are flashbangs and fireworks. So

sometimes you're hearing the flashbangs from police and many times you're hearing fireworks that are from the protesters who are sometimes blowing those off near different parts.

Now, we do not know how this fire started at AutoZone, but this whole area here -- this whole city block here has been a hotspot all day. East Lake Street, Minnehaha, they are right there.


They're starting to -- we're going to -- we're going to move back. They're starting to -- they're starting to throw Molotov cocktails. We're going.


CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: And that's our Sara Sidner there at the site of the protests last night.

All right. The United States has now reached the tragic milestone we hoped to avoid -- more than 100,000 Americans killed by coronavirus in less than four months. That threshold was crossed yesterday but President Trump has yet to acknowledge it and that fits with the history of downplaying the virus.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: By April -- you know, in theory, when it gets a little warmer it miraculously goes away.

The coronavirus, which is -- you know, very well under control in our country. We have very few people with it. The people are getting better -- they're all getting better.

We're going down, not up. We're going very substantially down. None of the original 15, as I call them, eight of them have returned to their homes -- to stay in their homes. When you have 15 people and the 15, within a couple of days is going to be down to close to zero, that's a pretty good job we've done.

It's going to disappear one day. It's like a miracle -- it will disappear.

And we would have lost two million. We would have lost more if we did it a different way. But you're talking about 100,000 more or a little bit less -- more -- who knows?


ROMANS: For more now, let's turn to White House correspondent Kaitlan Collins.


KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Christine and Laura, the president was hoping to mark a much different milestone yesterday, traveling to the Kennedy Space Center here in Florida, hoping to see that first American astronaut launched into space from American soil on an American-made rocket. But, of course, because of poor weather that was scrapped and pushed until Saturday.

And instead, as the president was returning to Washington, he was facing a much grim -- much more grim milestone, that of 100,000 deaths here in the United States from coronavirus, a death toll the president once predicted that we would never hit. And he thought it would come substantially lower than that, he told reporters, just in April not so long ago. And now just a few months after the U.S. confirmed its first case of coronavirus, it has now passed that six-digit mark.

Instead, the president has now been focusing on that death toll that was coming near in recent days. He was using his Twitter to amplify a baseless conspiracy theory about an anchor on another network committing murder -- or at least implying basically everything but that.

He's also aired his grievances with Twitter after they fact-checked his claims about mail-in ballots. And the White House now says he's going to sign an executive order on social media companies, though the details on that still remain far from clear.

And the one time the president did address the death toll approaching 100,000, in recent days, he talked about the fact that if he had not taken the steps he had taken, he says the death toll would have reached 1 1/2 million to two million people in the United States. Though we know based on those models that we saw and that the White House has cited that was based on if there was zero mitigation efforts happening here in the United States.

And the president is still going to be facing that criticism and that scrutiny over whether he took too long to respond and that is what played a role in this substantial death toll that we're now seeing.


ROMANS: All right, Kaitlan for us. Thank you for that.

History is on hold right now at Florida's Cape Canaveral. More on that, next.



JARRETT: Welcome back.

SpaceX, NASA, and space geeks everywhere will have to wait at least a few more days to make some big history. Rachel Crane has the story from Cape Canaveral.


RACHEL CRANE, CNN BUSINESS INNOVATION AND SPACE CORRESPONDENT: NASA and SpaceX's historic launch of Crew Dragon was scrubbed just 16 minutes and 54 seconds before its scheduled liftoff of 4:33 local time.

The president and the vice president were here when that scrub occurred. They had traveled to Kennedy Space Center to witness what everybody hoped would be a historic launch.

Astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley were already strapped into the capsule and the hatch door had been closed when the scrub occurred. And a million pounds of repellent were being pumped into the rocket when they called off the launch.

The launch window was instantaneous, meaning that they had to take off at the exact right time in order for the rocket to have liftoff so it could rendezvous with the space station 250 miles above earth at just the precise moment.

But all is not lost. The launch is rescheduled for this Saturday at 3:22 local time. Until then, the astronauts will head back into quarantine.

If successful, this will be the first time in nearly nine years that American astronauts are launching on American rockets from American soil. And it will put SpaceX in the domain of governments, making it the only commercial company that has ever launched astronauts into orbit. So fingers crossed that Mother Nature is on our side -- Christine, Laura.


ROMANS: All right. Thanks so much for that, Rachel.

Let's get a check on CNN Business this morning. Taking a look at markets around the world, a mixed performance in Asia, but European shares have opened slightly higher.

On Wall Street, futures this morning pointing mixed here. Nasdaq down, but Dow is up.

Stocks rallied Wednesday looking ahead to a strong recovery in the economy later this year. The Dow up 553 points. The Nasdaq and the S&P 500 closed higher.

But millions of Americans are still filing for unemployment. Another 2.1 million Americans likely filed for first-time benefits last week. It would still be the 10th week in a row with claims in the millions.

Another Ford plant shut down Tuesday after an employee tested positive for Covid-19. The Kansas City plan was shut shown for only an hour but it highlights the difficulty of keeping assembly lines going while keeping workers safe. It's the third time a Ford plant has suspended work since it reopened its plants in the U.S. last week.


Boeing laid off nearly 7,000 workers Wednesday, part of its plan to cut 16,000 jobs because of the plunge in air travel. Most of the workers will be paid through the end of July. At the same time, the company restarted production of the troubled 737 MAX. Even though it hasn't been approved yet to fly, Boeing expects approval in the middle of this year.

JARRETT: All right. Coming up, we remember just a few of the more than 100,000 people we have lost in the coronavirus fight in the United States. Stay with us.


JARRETT: The numbers on the side of your screen there are just staggering -- more than 100,000 dead in just less than four months. But behind each one is a person who led a life before Covid-19 and a family that misses them dearly.


Here's Wolf Blitzer with just a few of their stories.


WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR, THE SITUATION ROOM WITH WOLF BLITZER: Valentina Blackhorse was a member of the Navajo Nation. She won several pageants, including Miss Western Navajo.

As the pandemic swept through her reservation she warned others to stay home, wash their hands, and wear masks. She died one day after testing positive for coronavirus. She was 28.

Wilson Roosevelt Jerman worked at the White House under 11 U.S. presidents. He started as a cleaner during the Eisenhower administration. He was promoted to butler under President Kennedy, a move his granddaughter says was orchestrated by then-first lady Jacqueline Kennedy. In all, he served more than 50 years, ending with President Obama.

Forty-two-year-old Sundee Rutter was in remission from breast cancer when she became ill with the coronavirus. Her six children said their last words to her through a walkie-talkie placed at her bedside.

Rutter had been a single mother since her husband's death in 2012. Her six children, age 13 to 24, now left without a father or a mother.

Leslie Leake, her daughter Enekee, and her son John Leake Jr. all died in the span of one month. Surviving daughter Shanta says her mother always helped others despite being on a fixed income herself. She says her sister was the social butterfly of the family, and her brother John was the chef who cooked at every family gathering.

Ellis Marsalis Jr. was a New Orleans jazz legend and the patriarch of the Marsalis family. The mayor of New Orleans called him a teacher, a father, and an icon. Ellis Marsalis was 85.

Mary and Wilford Kepler were married for more than 73 years. They went to the same high school in Wisconsin and wed in 1946. They had three children, eight grandchildren, and six great-grandchildren.

Because they both had coronavirus, they were able to stay in the same hospital room with their beds pushed together. They died within six hours of each other. Their family says in their final hours they were able to hold hands and say I love you to each other one last time.

Assistant school principal Joe Lewinger was a father of three. In his final moments, doctors handed him his phone so his wife Maura could say goodbye.

MAURA LEWINGER, WIFE OF JOE LEWINGER: Every single day my husband wrote me beautiful love letters in my lunchbox -- not just have a great day, but just beautiful letters about what I meant to him.

I thanked him. I thanked him and then I prayed. And then the doctor took the phone and he said I'm sorry, but there's no more pulse. And then I played our wedding song for him and then -- and then, that was it.


JARRETT: Our thanks to Wolf Blitzer for telling all those stories. We have posted more remembrances at

Please join us on Sunday for "WE REMEMBER: A NATIONAL MEMORIAL HONORING VICTIMS OF COVID-19." The show will include prayers from faith leaders, musical tributes, and personal stories from the families who've lost loved ones. That's Sunday at noon eastern only on CNN.

And, Christine, I think it's so important that the families get to tell these stories because we see the numbers every day. But there is a face to this disease and the families --


JARRETT: -- deserve some time to talk about what their lives were like before Covid-19.

ROMANS: I agree. You know, it's how somebody lived, not how they died. But we have been in this -- in this emergency for four months, right, and people don't have the chance to grieve the way we normally do. So I wonder at what point they'll be this national moment of grieving for us?

I mean, just trying to comprehend 100,000 people lost, it's overwhelming. It's been an emergency. The numbers are overwhelming. But to hear the stories from those families, I think will be a beginning of that process.

JARRETT: For sure.

ROMANS: Thanks for joining us, everybody. I'm Christine Romans.

JARRETT: I'm Laura Jarrett. "NEW DAY" is next.



ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome to our viewers in the United States and all around the world. This is NEW DAY. It's Thursday, May 28th, 6:00 here in New York.

And we have breaking news that we have watched unfold over the last few hours, and it's still developing now. A painful night in Minneapolis in the middle of a heartbreaking moment for America.

Fires are burning in Minneapolis at this moment after protesters took to the streets demanding justice for George Floyd, an unarmed, handcuffed black man who died after pleading that he couldn't breathe to a police officer who had a knee on his neck.

The city's mayor is urging people to leave the area and has reportedly asked the governor to call in the National Guard.

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: The Minneapolis mayor is also calling for the arrest of the police officer responsible for Floyd's death and for that officer to be charged.