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Protests in Minneapolis Over Death of George Floyd at Hands of Police Turn to Riots; Mayor of Minneapolis States He Believes George Floyd was Murdered; Violent Protests, Fires in Minneapolis Over George Floyd Death; Disney World Proposes July Reopening for Theme Parks. Aired 8-8:30a ET
Aired May 28, 2020 - 08:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: Responsible for Floyd's death and for that officer to be charged. He will meet with the Floyd family by video conference today.
Moments ago, we spoke with George Floyd's heartbroken brother.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PHILONISE FLOYD, BROTHER OF GEORGE FLOYD: I grew up with him. That was my oldest brother. I loved him. I'm never going to get my brother back. We need justice. We need justice. Those FOUR officers need to be arrested. They executed my brother in broad daylight.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: Let's begin our coverage with CNN's Omar Jimenez. He has our breaking news, he has been on the ground all night. What is the situation, Omar?
OMAR JIMENEZ, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Alisyn, for starters, the city that parts of Minneapolis knew when they went to sleep is not the same that they know as they are waking up today. They are waking up to buildings are on fire, and in some cases grocery stores like this one completely shattered and looted. You see in there, the sprinkler systems are going off right now, water completely filling up this location. And all the groceries that, again, are on the ground as people smashed into this place in the overnight hours as protests devolved into rioting and looting as we are now seeing with the sun coming up.
Now, all of this stems back to the death of George Floyd and how that death actually unfolded. When you look out into this parking lot as well, you see graffiti on that target over there that was also broken into and looted. The police precinct is over by those trees, completely boarded up at this point. And then in the distance you see firefighters continuing to work on buildings on fire that, again, are still burning this morning.
But going back to the central point in all of this, it is George Floyd, not just how he died, but how this is being handled in the aftermath of his death. The police department acted swiftly, firing the four officers involved here. But the family says that's not enough. Protesters say that's not enough. And now the mayor of Minneapolis saying that's not enough. They want to see criminal charges filed in this as -- for the mayor saying, at least the arresting officer. We are waiting to see how that investigation plays out here.
But when you look at these images, this, again, is the striking one that stands as the sprinklers fall on an empty grocery store, doors completely ripped off to the side, and in some ways highlighting the anger that is in this community and in places across the country, again, over how this has been handled. Moving forward, the mayor has obviously advised against this and wanted people to stay away from going into, and, again, rioting in some of these places. But one of the things I've heard from people that have just going by here is saying, now do we have your attention? That seems to be the sentiment that many people have, even as they get criticism for going into this extra step of, again, trashing through some of these places in this city. It is, again, that mentality of trying to get people's attention, and getting them to care over what happened to George Floyd.
CAMEROTA: Omar Jimenez, thank you very much for covering all of the breaking news for this morning.
George Floyd's brother reacted to what is happening in Minneapolis earlier on NEW DAY. We asked what he wants to see next with the police officers involved in his brother's death.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PHILONISE FLOYD, BROTHER OF GEORGE FLOYD: It just hurts right now. Just, I'm constantly seeing it. This is -- this is going to be forever. This is not a one-time thing. It is going to last forever. It just hurts, constantly it hurts a lot. I grew up with him. That was my oldest brother. I love him. I'm never going to get my brother back.
CAMEROTA: I'm sorry.
FLOYD: We need justice. We need justice. Those four officers 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. Kids, I know they were out there seeing this. Nobody wants to witness that. Nobody. Nobody should have to witness that.
And I understand and I see why a lot of people doing a lot of different things around the world. I don't want them to lash out like that. But I can't stop people right now because they have pain. They have the same pain that I feel. I want everything to be peaceful. But I can't make everybody be peaceful. I can't. It's hard.
CAMEROTA: What is your message to police? What do you want the rest of us to know about what your family is experiencing?
FLOYD: To the police, I want them to get everything right. Start doing your job the right way, because I haven't been seeing it. Years and years, down the line, I haven't been seeing it at all. I'm tired of seeing black men die. Black lives matter too.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CAMEROTA: Joining us now, CNN law enforcement analyst Charles Ramsey, he's the former Philadelphia police commissioner and the former chief of the Metropolitan Police Department in Washington, D.C. Also joining us is CNN political correspondent Abby Phillip. Chief Ramsey, what do you think, from the police perspective, which you obviously share, hearing George Floyd's brother just beseech police to do it differently, to get it right?
CHARLES RAMSEY, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: He's right. First of all, I saw the video, and especially when the second video surfaced, there was absolutely no excuse for what happened. There was complete disregard for this man's life, his safety. He was already handcuffed. There was absolutely no reason for this to take place. And do police need to do it differently? The answer is yes. I had the honor of serving as co-chair on President Obama's task force on 21st century policing, and we addressed that very issue. Police reform is needed.
The enforcement part of this is that not all police officers act the way those four police officers acted. Not only the one with his knee on the neck, but the others just standing around. They have a duty to intervene, to stop that sort of thing from taking place. And yet they stood around and they did absolutely nothing.
So I don't believe the autopsy reports have come in, but I would be shocked if there were no criminal charges filed. This is just absolutely unacceptable, and it should send shockwaves throughout police departments across the country that that that kind of behavior or anything even remotely like it cannot be tolerated. They don't deserve the right to wear the badge of a police officer.
JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Abby, one thing that we've heard over the last couple of hours, in the last two days since this has developed, I don't think is surprise or shock within the African-American community, but the word I keep hearing is "tired." We're just tired of this.
ABBY PHILLIP, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yes. I think that is pretty much where black people in this country are, because this type of thing has such a long history. It goes back so far, all the way to the era of Jim Crow, people -- black people walking down the street, being stopped by police officers for infractions like looking at someone the wrong way or addressing them the wrong way, and being brutalized and incarcerated.
And in this case, George Floyd was killed in this interaction with police, but it's the year 2020, and I think that in this country, what you're seeing on the streets of Minneapolis and what you're seeing all over the country is just exhaustion from having to have these conversations over and over again, when the concept seems so simple, just treat black men like human beings and not like they are the source of your fear or some kind of entity that does not deserve a treatment like a human.
And I think that that's why -- that's why you're seeing this frustration, there is always this -- it's always a temptation to just focus on the reaction of people in the streets, but I think that we need to maintain our focus on what they are protesting about. And in this case, it is something really basic. It is the right of someone to be able to have an interaction with police without losing their life.
CAMEROTA: Chief Ramsey, what was that? What was that police officer doing? I know you can't get in his head, but the idea that a police officer, who has been trained, though, of course, what he did is in no training book, stayed with a knee on a neck of someone for more than five minutes, while people around him were filming and regular citizens were saying, hey, man, he's asking you to get off, he can't breathe, what are you doing? What came over that policeman? What was he doing from what you have seen?
RAMSEY: I have absolutely no idea. Absolutely no idea. I don't know what was going on in his head. And in a lot of ways, I can't, I don't know what is going on inside his head, because if I did, I'd understand him and I'd probably be doing the same thing. It was stupid. It was dumb. It was illegal. It was everything you could possibly think of. If nothing else during training officers are taught when an individual taken into custody is flat on the ground, facedown, there is something called positional asphyxiate, where just putting weight on their back and neck can actually cause serious injury or death.
And if you do have to take a person to the ground, it should be for a very brief period of time, you sit them up and make sure they're OK, and so forth. He just -- he had one hand in his pocket. He wasn't even trying to do anything. He just had his knee on his neck, and when the man was constantly telling him, Mr. Floyd was constantly telling him, I can't breathe, the pressure on my neck, he just looked at him and just kept his knee right there. It was sadistic. It was sadistic. And there is no excuse, and Lord knows I cannot get in his head, nor I do want to get into his head.
BERMAN: Abby you talked about the pictures that we have seen and the violence that did take place in Minneapolis overnight. And there is a quote from Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. that people often repeat at moments like this, frankly we've had too many opportunities to repeat them over the last few years, and that is "Riot is the language of the unheard." The question, though, this morning is why people aren't hearing, why people aren't hearing what the protesters are saying.
PHILLIP: That is so obviously the question. We have come a long way from five years ago, six years ago, when there were protests on the streets of Ferguson, and protests all over this country over police brutality and mistreatment of people in this country, but at the same time, one of the things that does not seem to have changed is that there is a sense in the police departments across the country that that the reaction to these sorts of things is always to get defensive first. And I think it would really be in everyone's interest if the police
forces and political leaders moved with a kind of speed that I think most people right now are calling for, and act when they see something that is so egregiously not allowed. And if that were to happen, then you probably would not see this kind of protesting on the streets.
I think one question that people have is why is it taking so long for prosecutors in this case to make a determination about the course of action to move forward. And I think that when we see this kind of delay, it is something that angers people. It sends them out to the streets because it signals to them that their government, their institutions that are supposed to protect them, are not listening to them and not acting --acting in their best interest.
CAMEROTA: Chief Ramsey, do you understand what is taking so long?
RAMSEY: Well, let me just say this. First of all, as far as the police chief went, he fired those four within 24 hours. I've not seen that before. So that was about as fast an action as you could possibly imagine as far as I'm concerned. So that part of it moved fast.
As far as the prosecutor, and I don't believe the autopsy is done probably because of toxicology results, I don't know, but there should be enough there for some charges, maybe not homicide charges, because until you know manner and cause of death, that would not be a charge that you would be able to place at this time. However, there are charges that could be placed.
There are also, my understanding is the FBI, the Justice Department, are taking a look at it as well, perhaps for some civil rights violation or what have you, although I have to say that this current Justice Department has not taken police reform as seriously as they should. They just flat out haven't. They stopped many of the efforts that were taking place prior to them taking over.
And they need to understand this is serious stuff. And right now, people are focused on COVID, and rightfully so, but that doesn't mean the problems facing the community and facing police have gone away. They have not gone away. We're sitting on a powder keg, and examples and cases like this can touch it off across the country. We have to take this seriously. We have got to deal with it, deal with it swiftly, deal with it decisively. But I have to commend the chief there in Minneapolis, he did not hesitate. He took immediate action.
BERMAN: And it is worth noting the mayor of Minneapolis just this morning says he thinks what happened is murder. Again, this is all developed very quickly, you see the political leaders and the police chief acting at least in the same direction. Abby Phillip, Charles Ramsey, thank you both for being with us this morning.
CAMEROTA: So fires are still burning in Minneapolis. We have our breaking news coverage that continues next.
[08:17:59] JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: All right. The breaking news, buildings still burning in south Minneapolis at this hour after a second night of protests over the death of George Floyd.
Joining us is Jerry Demings. He's the mayor and former sheriff of Orange County, Florida.
We have a number of things to talk to you about this morning, and you are uniquely situated to discuss what's happening in Minneapolis after a career in law enforcement.
What are your feelings this morning as you see these buildings burn and you see the video of George Floyd dying with a police officer's knee on his neck?
MAYOR JERRY DEMINGS (D), ORANGE COUNTY, FLORIDA: Well, I can tell you, I spent 37-1/2 years in law enforcement, from being a police officer, being Orlando police chief, Orange County sheriff. And I can tell you that it saddens me to see what is happening in Minneapolis.
And being a law enforcement officer is a tough job, but I can tell you sometimes, our law enforcement officers get caught up in the moment, and they don't perform as we would have them to perform. And the way that we try to hedge our bet that they'll perform in an admirable way is to make certain that they have the appropriate training and supervision. And that is the only thing that when they are in the midst of a crisis that can allow them to react in an appropriate way.
And my observations of what occurred in that case from the video, if that's accurate of what occurred, it appeared that the police officer got caught up in the moment and did not follow the training that he had been given.
BERMAN: The mayor, this morning, called it murder. Based on what you saw, does that apply?
DEMINGS: Well, there is probably too early to make the determination whether or not it is murder or not.
BERMAN: All right. We may have -- we may have lost the --
DEMINGS: And so, that's something that will happen over time, but certainly I would be surprised if there are not criminal charges that are filed in this case.
BERMAN: All right. Mayor Demings, a lot going on in your area around Orlando. Disney World, SeaWorld, Universal Studios, all announced their plans to begin opening up.
Just so people know what will happen at Walt Disney World, July 11th, the Magic Kingdom and Animal Kingdom will open. July 15th, EPCOT will. People will be required to wear a mask, staff will wear masks, will have limited capacity there.
You have approved their plans.
How can you guarantee, though, that with so many people perhaps coming in from all over the country, to visit these parks, that it will be safe?
DEMINGS: Well, I can't guarantee that. But we have a high probability that the likelihood that they can contact or contract the virus is -- had been reduced because of the various sanitary measures that have been put in place.
And so, for me, as we fight this pandemic, it's like a war between clean and what's dirty. And in this case, I believe that the Disney enterprise, as well as other theme parks that demonstrated that they have gone the extra mile to ensure that they can open up safely.
The other thing that I can tell you (AUDIO GAP) this virus within our community, today, we have tested over 67,000 people and we have a positivity rate of 2.8 percent, which is about half of what it is in the state of Florida.
I believe that the reason why we have low positivity rate has to do with early on some decisions that was made for social distancing, and we answer to the measures that are required to wear a mask, et cetera, over time.
In addition, I believe, one of the central reasons why we have a low positivity rate is because of the decision that the nation's largest single site employer, that being Walt Disney World, decided to shut down in mid-March and other major theme parks and attractions here in this area follow suit, and that put us in a position to where we were able to minimize the spread of the virus in our community.
We've had just under about 1,800 cases here in our community. And today, 84 to 85 percent of everyone (AUDIO GAP) currently infected in our community (AUDIO GAP) the Department of Health data that had been shared with me. So, I feel pretty comfortable that we have a low rate of the virus in our community. But it still lives with us. So, we have to make sure that as we reopen, we have to have all of these safety protocols in place.
BERMAN: And I appreciate your patience, we're having a little communications problem with your signal goes out every now and then.
Look, Mayor, you are in a unique situation. Your wife, Congresswoman Val Demings, her name is being tossed around as a possible running mate to former Vice President Joe Biden.
I see the smile across your face right there.
Does that mean this is something you're excited about? Why do you think she would be a good choice for the former vice president?
DEMINGS: Well, my wife has been a public servant for 40 years. She has worked at the state, the local and now the federal level. She's been put on front street as an impeachment manager.
And I can tell you, I know her very well. She's very well-prepared, she's on top of her game, and I believe that she understands the needs of the people of America from being the daughter of a maid and a janitor.
So, she started out with humble beginnings and she's been able to traverse up the ladder, and I think that she will bring a very authentic representation to the office of the vice president if certainly Biden chooses her to be his running mate.
BERMAN: I guess we'll count that as an endorsement from the mayor of Orange County in Florida, the mayor who also happens to be the husband of the person being discussed.
Mayor Demings, thank you for being with us this morning. Please stay safe.
DEMINGS: Thank you very much. Have a great day.
BERMAN: The United States has crossed now 100,000 deaths from coronavirus. The president as of a few minutes ago tweeted about all kinds of things, all kinds of stuff, conspiracy this, conspiracy that, but not anything about 100,000 Americans dying in this pandemic. That's next.
ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: This morning, the death toll from coronavirus well surpassed 100,000 Americans. "The Washington Post's" front page marks this moment in this country's history, as you can see, there with a dramatic visual. But so far, President Trump has remained silent on this milestone.
Joining us now, CNN chief medical correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, and CNN political analyst David Gregory.
I want to start with the politics, I guess, if that's what you call it of a president staying silent on a huge tragedy in the United States. You know, David, we talked about this a lot, the president has engaged in magical thinking and very misleading, false information, bad info that he's given to the public throughout all of this.
I'll just recap a couple of them. On February 26th, he said the numbers are not going up, they're going down. We're very substantially going down. Also on February 26th, he said the original 15 as I call them, eight of them returned to their homes to stay in their homes.
He thought that -- he thought 15 people were infected at the end of February and soon it would be gone. He said when you have 15 people in a few days it will be down to zero, that's a pretty good job that we have done.