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Violent Protests, Fires in Minneapolis Over George Floyd Death; Trump Silent as 100,000+ Americans Die from Coronavirus. Aired 6-6:30a ET

Aired May 28, 2020 - 06:00   ET

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


ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

[05:59:15]

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 28, 6 a.m. 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 protestors took to the streets demanding justice for George Floyd, 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.

Meanwhile, you can see police using tear gas, also reportedly, rubber bullets, to disperse the crowds overnight.

At least one man is dead. Police say he was shot and killed outside of a pawnshop near the demonstrations.

As for the developments in coronavirus, this morning, the silence is deafening from the president of the United States as the death toll surpasses 100,000 Americans. President Trump has made no public reaction. There's been no national moment of grief and mourning for the 100,000 lives lost in less than three months.

But we begin this morning with the breaking news in Minneapolis.

CNN's Omar Jimenez is live at the scene with all of the breaking details.

What's the situation on the ground, Omar?

OMAR JIMENEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Alisyn, things devolved pretty quickly, and the situation changed, as we see. This is what parts of Minneapolis are waking up to. This is less than a block away from the police precinct that has been sort of the central point of these protests, again, in the death of George Floyd.

When we first got to the scene, this construction building -- it seemed to be under construction when we got here, was completely engulfed in flames. And you see, it is no more.

This new one is a plastics company as we understand. That developed over the course of an hour and a half. When we first got here, it was smoking. And now all the glass is shattered completely. You see the flames billowing off the top.

And again, these are the images that Minnesotans are waking up to as we see the tail end of what has been two days in a row of protests over how the death of George Floyd unfolded and how it has been handled since.

The central point in all of this is that the family, the citizens and now the mayor of Minneapolis want for more than just these police officers to be fired. They want criminal charges to be filed.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JIMENEZ (voice-over): For a second night in a row --

JOHN ELDER, MINNEAPOLIS POLICE SPOKESMAN: Tonight was a different night of protesting than it was just the night before.

JIMENEZ: Minnesotans take to the streets over the death of one of their own, George Floyd.

The protests turning dangerous overnight. Fires burning on the streets. Local firefighters rushed to extinguish this billowing fire at an Auto Zone.

Flash bangs and fireworks rang out on the streets well into the night. Some taking advantage of the unrest, looting a local Target and clashing in the streets with police. Emblematic of a pain felt in this community and beyond over how, in just a matter of minutes, the 46- year-old father of two went from pleading for help --

GEORGE FLOYD, KILLED IN POLICE CUSTODY: I can't breathe, officer.

JIMENEZ: -- to what eventually became an eternal silence.

DONALD WILLIAMS, WITNESSED GEORGE FLOYD'S ARREST: I'm going to hear my man say this, I can't breathe. I want my mama. And I'm coming to find out that this man who died two years to the day that his mom died. I'm a mama's boy, bro. It's like that (EXPLETIVE DELETED) hurts. He's telling his side, bro. And like, something needs to be done, or something needs to be done.

JIMENEZ: Williams says none of the officers responded to his pleas to let up at the scene.

The mayor of Minneapolis is now calling for charges to be filed. MAYOR JACOB FREY (D), MINNEAPOLIS: I've been asking myself that core, underlying question: why is the officer that killed George Floyd not in jail right now? And I can't answer that question.

JIMENEZ: Newly-released records from the Minneapolis Fire Department show when medics got to the scene, they were working on a, quote, "unresponsive, pulseless male." Floyd was declared dead later on at a nearby hospital.

The circumstances that led to the encounter is among what investigators are trying to understand, including at the FBI and the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension.

All of it circling the question of whether the four officers involved will face more than just being fired. Criminal charges. That includes Officer Derek Chauvin, the man seen on video restraining Floyd with his knee, according to his attorney.

The Police Officers Federation of Minneapolis says the officers are cooperating with the investigation.

The Floyd family wants murder charges to be filed.

RODNEY FLOYD, GEORGE FLOYD'S BROTHER: It hurts me that I am crying on TV. Another -- we are -- another black family going through this nonsense.

JIMENEZ: And within the community, the pain persists.

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

(END VIDEOTAPE)

JIMENEZ: And in this, again, as we are seeing these images unfold, we know that at least one person was shot and killed. We know that from police. Under what circumstances, they are still investigating, including the -- the allegation that we have seen that it came from a pawnshop owner in the midst of looting.

Again, these were protests that begin largely peaceful that, as we got into the nighttime and overnight hours, devolved into looting, rioting and, of course, buildings on fire that we are waking up. And again, the images that people here are waking up to.

[06:05:13]

There's a lot of pain in this community, as we are seeing in places across the country, as well. Especially in the black community, left wondering. I this case, the name is George Floyd, but they are left wondering not if another incident like this will happen, but when -- John.

BERMAN: Omar Jimenez, thank you for being there with us. Please keep us posted. We will come back to you throughout the morning as this story continues to develop. Joining us now, CNN political commentator Bakari Sellers and CNN law

enforcement analyst James Galiano. He's a retired FBI supervisory special agent.

Bakari, you wrote overnight that being black in America is almost a perpetual state of grieving. So if you will, I just want you to reflect on what you're seeing this morning and also what you're feeling this morning.

BAKARI SELLERS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, it's tough. I mean, I think you can dust off a shirt that we had six years ago with Eric Garner that said, "I can't breathe" and use it again today.

And before we go down a path of blaming these people who are filled with pain, Dr. King called rioting the language of the unheard. And there's no other way that many people feel that they can hash out this pain, because it's a pain that we feel so often.

You know, John, it's every single day, it seems, that we have a Breonna Taylor, that we have an Ahmaud Arbery. I mean, it goes back to, you know, Emmitt Till. It goes back to Jimmy Lee Jackson. It goes back to the four little girls in Birmingham, all the way up through Trayvon Martin and Tamir Rice, Alton Sterling, Walter Scott, Keith Lamont Scott, Sandra Bland. I could sit here all day and call names out of unarmed black men out of the hands of law enforcement.

This man cooperated. George cooperated. (AUDIO GAP) -- it's not definitely (ph).

Let me just tell you one thing about these law enforcement officers. I have the most respect for law enforcement. And uniquely enough, my own father was shot by law enforcement. But I had a unique, interesting relationship but a great deal of respect for law enforcement.

But you cannot tell me those law enforcement officers saw George as being human. And that's the problem we have in this country, that many people of color, many black men, in particular, are being looked at as something less than human. And they don't give us the benefit of our humanity. If they want us to stop rioting, John, then they have to stop killing us.

CAMEROTA: And James, from the police perspective and law enforcement perspective, what's taking so long? I mean, why -- we all saw this with our own eyes. Obviously, there's other video that maybe the prosecutor is privy to that we're not, but we didn't see George Floyd resisting. We did see the crowd begging for that police officer to get his knee off of George Floyd's neck. We did see that he didn't take it off his neck for at least five minutes.

So from -- you've done this so many times. What -- what more needs to be investigated before charges can be leveled?

JAMES GALIANO, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Sure. Alisyn, a couple of points here. First of all, I'm going to -- I'm going to piggyback onto what Bakari said, because he stated it eloquently. There is no way any law enforcement professional in a good conscience

can condone, sanction, support or provide any cover for what took place in Minneapolis. Full stop.

Those police officers are going to rightly face charges. The FBI is involved. There's a civil rights case initiated right now. They're going to look into whether or not the Minneapolis Police Department officers willfully deprived George Floyd of his rights and privileges protected in the Constitution.

And you know what those rights and privileges are? The right to breathe and the right to exist.

Bakari nailed it. This man was no threat to those officers. Once a police officer has a suspect, and he was a suspect in a forgery case. He wasn't a violent criminal. Once they have him proned out, handcuffed behind the back, that's where it ends. The bell has rung. You now have that person's safety and health in your hands. That did not occur.

And just one last thing, I just want to add here. I'm not defending these police officers. There's no way to do it. Police have about 250 million interactions with the public every year. About 1,000 people are fatally shot by police every year, and somewhere around 30 or 40 or 50 are considered unarmed. It's an infinitesimal amount of those that turn out to be bad shoots.

This wasn't a shooting. But I guarantee you, these officers are going to be brought up on murder charges.

[06:10:03]

BERMAN: Bakari, I know the issue runs deeper than this, though, because just this season, we now know that, if you're black, you can't necessarily safely go for a jog in America. If you're black, there are questions if you bird watch in America.

And if you're black, you can't safely comply with police during an arrest in America. At least not according to the video we're seeing now.

You quoted Dr. Martin Luther King, riot is the language of the unheard. That is often repeated, sadly, when we see what we're seeing right now on the screen.

What we don't often ask, though, is what isn't being heard and more importantly, why? Why isn't it being heard?

SELLERS: Well, you have these communities that are being ravaged by these systemic injustices. And right now, not only do you have these systemic injustices that are plaguing these black and brown communities, but you overlay them with the pandemic.

And let me just say that racism and implicit biases and such didn't start when Donald Trump inherited the White House. This is an issue that we have to look deep in the soul of our country to find answers for. I don't want anybody to look at it to be that simplistic.

But you have these individuals who are living in environments where they're suffering from environmental injustice, educational injustice, economic injustice. And then you look at a situation -- and I don't -- I'm not sure that people understand the correlation between what happened with Amy Cooper in the park of the bird watcher, with the bird watcher and what's watching in Minneapolis. So let me draw that direct line for you.

You know, there was a young lady named Carolyn Bryant who once lied on Emmitt Till, and he found himself on the bottom of the Mississippi River. And those memories are really fond in the minds of us all.

And so when you think about that, and you have a lady like -- like Amy Cooper, who is now saying that I'm going to lie on you and call law enforcement and subject you to whatever may happen, you think about that. You think about the danger she put this man in.

And then you look at what happened when -- in Minneapolis when George was complying. You look at the fact -- and this is why I appreciate our guest this morning, because there -- there is no -- there is no justification for this. We can speak out and what many people, what many Americans would view as it being on the opposite side. We're really not. We're both on the side of justice.

But the biggest problem we have is that they killed him like a dog. And that imagery -- I mean, that imagery is sticking out to us all. They put their knee in the back of his head. He was yelling for his mother. A grown black man on the ground.

And you know, that would not happen. You know, I'm -- you know, this is a dangerous statement to make. But I find it to be true. That would not have happened to a white man in today's America. But it did happen to George.

And I'm not making everything about race. But what I am saying is that we have a race issue in this country. We have an issue where people of color are not given the benefit of their humanity. And we've been screaming out about conditions of injustice for a very long period of time, and now it's bubbling over, because we keep seeing images of us being killed on camera, from Breonna Taylor to Ahmaud Arbery, to now George in Minneapolis.

CAMEROTA: James, the mayor has spoken out. The mayor of Minneapolis wants to know why there aren't charges yet. Let me play just a little bit, one moment of the mayor.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

FREY: The officer who had his knee on the neck of George Floyd should be charged. And I'm calling on Hennepin County attorney to do that.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CAMEROTA: James, here's what the Hennepin County attorney has said yesterday: "We are working with the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension and the Hennepin County medical examiner to expeditiously gather and review all of the evidence in this tragic death of Mr. George Floyd. The videotaped death of Mr. Floyd, which has outraged us and people across the country, deserves the best we can give, and this is what this office will do."

I mean, that kind of language that says that he's outraged, it sounds like he's inclined to charge. I mean, do you think that something will happen today? Have they had enough time now to level charges?

GALIANO: Well, first of all, I mean, politicians have to be ultra- careful. Because we're sitting on a tinderbox right now. We all remember six summers ago, the summer of Ferguson. We all remember going back to 1992 in L.A. The last thing we need to do right now is pour kerosene on any fire.

I'm not suggesting that his words were intemperate. And yes, we want, we demand, we deserve swift justice in this country.

And look, Bakari and I have come down on different sides on certain police interactions involving, you know, fatalities, officer-involved shootings or deaths in police custody. We are firmly on the same side on this one.

I am confident the system is going to work here. And I know people don't want platitudes; they don't want bromides. They don't want, It's coming; be patient. But unfortunately, it's the way the system works.

[06:15:08]

Three ways that this can happen. A complaint can be filed. An information can be filed or a grand jury is empaneled, and the grand jury would hear the evidence. I think that's what's going to happen here. And whether it happens at the state or the federal level, I'm confident -- I'm going out on a limb here to suggest -- these officers will be indicted. They will face justice. But Alisyn, they're entitled to due process, and sometimes that takes time.

BERMAN: All right. James, Bakari, stand by for us over the course of the next few hours, if you will. Obviously, there is a lot going on, and it is developing before our eyes.

And Bakari, let me just note, you just have a book out, "My Vanishing Country," which covers so many of these issues. And I guess it's shocking but not surprising that a week after your book comes out discussing this, we have yet another example of a reason to mourn.

So 100,000 American lives lost and not a word from President Trump about it overnight. Why?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CAMEROTA: More than 100,000 Americans have been killed by coronavirus. One hundred thousand people, each with a family and a unique life story that ended too soon.

But that milestone met with no reaction from the president of the United States.

CNN's Brynn Gingras is live now in New York with more -- Brynn.

BRYNN GINGRAS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Alisyn, as you said, every death has a name, has a story, has a family, and of course, New York really knows the impact of that larger number. More than 16,000 deaths have occurred in New York City alone.

Now, listen, the numbers are going in the right direction now. They are improving; they're continuing to improve. That's not the case all across the country, particularly in the Southeast.

This as major entertainment venues are getting ready to also reopen.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

GINGRAS (voice-over): A heartbreaking milestone in the United States, marking over 100,000 lives reported lost to the coronavirus, according to Johns Hopkins University.

GOV. PHIL MURPHY (D-NJ): We can never let it become abstract. We have got to remember that these are precious human lives. We've got to remember that they -- they lived, that they had extraordinary lives, that they leave behind family and friends who will never forget the impact that they've had.

GINGRAS: President Trump staying silent on the staggering toll.

Former Vice President Joe Biden sending a message to people grieving loved ones.

JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: All of you who are grieving so badly, I'm so sorry for your loss.

GINGRAS: It's been over three months since the disease began gripping this nursing home in Washington state and overwhelming hospitals in cities across the nation. Now all 50 states are undergoing rollbacks of social distancing restrictions, while 16 of them are still seeing increases in new confirmed cases.

And with summer weather bringing more people outside, Dr. Anthony Fauci warning a second wave could happen if people do not change their behavior.

DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTE FOR ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASE: When you have situations in which you see that type of crowding with no masks and people interacting, that's not prudent, and that's inviting a situation that could get out of control.

GINGRAS: In California, retail stores are now reopened for in-store shopping. The stay-at-home order in Washington, D.C. will be lifted tomorrow, but the mayor warning --

MAYOR MURIEL BOWDER (D), WASHINGTON, D.C.: We can't go crazy or we know that -- that this virus can get out of hand in our city and in our region, and we could be back to square one.

GINGRAS: The Las Vegas strip will soon welcome back guests, with some MGM resorts and Caesar's entertainment properties set to open June 4 with enhanced safety procedures.

In Orlando, SeaWorld announcing its plans to reopen on June 11. And Walt Disney World proposing to begin a phased reopening of its theme parks July 11 at reduced capacity. But there will be no fireworks, parades or character greetings for now, and guests will be required to get temperature checks, practice social distancing and wear facial coverings.

BOB CHAPEK, CEO, THE WALT DISNEY COMPANY: I think that's really going to be part of the contract of coming to Walt Disney World in any capacity. We're going to enforce that rule. It's for everybody's safety.

GINGRAS: The nation's top infectious doctor endorsing wearing masks as more and more Americans re-enter society.

FAUCI: It's sort of respect for another person and have that other person respect you. You wear a mask. They wear a mask. You protect each other. I want to make it be a symbol for people to see that that's the kind of thing you should be doing.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

GINGRAS: Of course, we'll wait this morning to see if there are any remarks from the White House as we have reached this staggering death toll here in the country.

Meanwhile, in New York City, we're still weeks away from reopening from the phase one. The mayor says he's already having conversations with businesses to get ready for this, particularly with restaurants who will get to reopen in phase two, which of course will bring a lot of life back to the city that has literally been sleeping -- Alisyn.

CAMEROTA: Brynn, thank you very much for that report.

Joining us now is CNN political correspondent Abby Phillip and Dr. Ali Khan. He's a former director of the Office of Public Health Preparedness and Response at the CDC. He's currently the dean of the College of Public Health at the University of Nebraska Medical Center.

Great to have both of you.

Abby, this -- the president -- President Trump was silent yesterday as we hit this milestone. We knew it was coming.

The number 100,000 is actually almost impossible to get your head around. I mean, it's almost impossible to think of those -- of 100,000 as each separate life and of the toll that coronavirus has taken on the country.

And yet, the president was more interested, it seemed, yesterday in the fact that Twitter was going to fact check him. He devoted more time to talking about that.

And you know, we've seen this before from the president. He has -- he has a very hard time with empathy.

Remember that time when he was meeting with the families of gun violence, and the camera caught his handwritten notes as like a prod for what he was supposed to say to them? And one was, I hear you. You know, it didn't come naturally. He had to have it written down.

Why -- do we have any reporting on what was going on inside the White House and why he won't acknowledge this?

ABBY PHILLIP, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: You know, the White House, I think, people in the White House understand that this is not the president's strong suit.

I think some of them would argue that, in one-on-one settings, he can be -- he can express this empathy behind the scenes privately. But when it comes to his public demeanor, he has always struggled with this, and particularly with the coronavirus.

The president has been obsessed with this idea of credit and blame. Even early in the -- in the pandemic, he -- he publicly said that he did not want, for example to bring some Americans off of cruise ships that had been struck by the coronavirus, because he was concerned that it would raise the case numbers in the United States.

So when the president thinks about this 100,000 number, he always talks about it and then immediately says, Well, it could have been 1 million or it could have been 2 million.

Well, for the families of 100,000 people in this country, Americans who have lost someone, every single one of those lives matters, and it doesn't matter whether it could have been one or two million. But that seems to be all that the president is focused on.

And you saw yesterday he's tweeting about the number of tests that were conducted in the United States. That's great. That's important. But many of those tests came far too late to save far too many lives.

BERMAN: When you're thinking about numbers, the most important number is always one. The one person you know, that you love that may have been lost to coronavirus. Keep that in mind.

Dr. Kahn, the 100,000 dead, in some ways it's also uniquely American phenomenon. You know, South Korea, reported its first case the same day as the United States. And the death toll there is in the hundreds. It's smaller, it's smaller, but it is not that much smaller.

So why? What decisions were made? What went wrong in the United States that led to this enormous death toll?

ALI KHAN, DEAN, COLLEGE OF PUBLIC HEALTH, UNIVERSITY OF NEBRASKA MEDICAL CENTER: Absolutely. And good morning. Correct. So there was a different level of response in not just South Korea, but South Korea, New Zealand, China, Taiwan, Hong Kong. They had a much more robust response.

They decided very quickly that they were going to contain the virus. They had lots of diagnostic testing. They used good old public health: find those cases, quarantine the contacts. And they kept down their case numbers, and they kept down their deaths.

And unfortunately, we never took that approach originally. And to be honest with you, the biggest number that's important to me right now is 20,000, which is we still have 20,000 cases a day. So we're still minting 100 to 200 death certificates a day right now.

CAMEROTA: Oh, my gosh. I mean, again, the numbers, when you just frame it like that, are jaw-dropping.

Abby, former Vice President Joe Biden stepped in to, I guess, what he felt was a vacuum of empathy yesterday. And so he tried to console the country. So here is his statement.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BIDEN: To all of you who are hurting so badly, I'm so sorry for your loss. I know there's nothing I or anyone else can say or do to dull the sharpness of the pain you feel right now. But I can promise you from experience, the day will come when the memory of your loved one will bring a smile to your lips before it brings a tear to your eyes.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CAMEROTA: Abby, sometimes the White House is reactive instead of proactive, and so when they hear people criticize them for not saying anything yesterday for that milestone, do we expect anything today?

PHILLIP: Well, it's not clear. But I do think the White House was -- you know, they will say that, for example -- that their metrics, the numbers that they use to count deaths did not arrive at that 100,000 number at the same time that the metrics that -- that we at CNN uses and others news outlets use. So we could expect to see more from the president today.

But I also -- you know, when you watch that video from Biden, a lot of people have been criticizing him for being in his basement and doing these videos, not being out and about as much as, perhaps, the president has. But when the campaign sees this, they see an opportunity to really selectively draw contrasts with the president.

This is -- Biden is someone who -- for whom this is his strong suit. He suffered a number of enormous losses over the course of his life. His wife, his children.

END