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Fires, Protests in Minneapolis After Third Night of Protests; CNN Reporter and Crew Released After Being Arrested in Minneapolis; Governor of Minnesota Apologizes to CNN for the Arrest of its Reporter; Trump Calls Minnesota Protesters "Thugs". Aired 9-9:30a ET
Aired May 29, 2020 - 09:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
BERMAN: How people of color are treated versus white people. It was extraordinary. It played out before our eyes. Omar is back doing terrific reporting and that's what matter now.
CAMEROTA: CNN's breaking news coverage of all of this continues right now.
ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.
JIM SCIUTTO, CNN ANCHOR: Well, it's quite a morning in America. A sad one. A disturbing one in many ways. I'm Jim Sciutto.
POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: And I'm Poppy Harlow. This is the breaking news.
Minneapolis has entered day four of unrest after a chaotic and violent night of protests. The anger there, the outrage is growing, following the death of George Floyd, an unarmed black man who not only died in police custody but died after an officer there kneeled on his neck for more than seven minutes while he was handcuffed to the ground. All the while, Floyd said repeatedly, I can't breathe. The 3rd Police Precinct breached and set on fire overnight.
SCIUTTO: This is a vision in America, in the year 2020, a remarkable one to witness. Right now buildings still burning, streets littered with debris. After a night of looting and rioting, more than 500 Minnesota National Guard soldiers are now on the scene there.
The four officers involved in George Floyd's death still have not been charged. They have not been arrested. But this morning someone was arrested. A surreal moment. Our CNN crew on the ground doing their job, repeatedly asking state troopers where they need to be, where it's OK to be, and yet they were arrested, and handcuffed on live television.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OMAR JIMENEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I'm sorry?
UNIDENTIFIED POLICE OFFICE: You're under arrest. JIMENEZ: OK. Do you mind telling me why I'm under arrest, sir? Why am
I under arrest, sir?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCIUTTO: He has now been released as have his colleagues. The governor has apologized. The Minnesota State Police have not.
The president in all of this, not urging calm. He even called out Twitter for seeming to glorify violence.
First, though, let's get the facts on the scene. Our Josh Campbell, he is right in the middle of it right now.
Josh, you were a block away when that arrest took place. But covering the violence throughout the night. Tell us what's happening right now.
JOSH CAMPBELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Jim, just a night of utter chaos here in Minneapolis. You can see behind me, just some of the results of the destruction here. A shopping center nearby, a police precinct set ablaze.
You can see, as we pan across, the damage is not yet finished. You can see the fire still burning beyond and different buildings surrounding this area. One thing as we pan across this line of police officers, one thing that's different here that's different than what we saw last night is these robust police presence.
My colleague Sara Sidner and I, we were here throughout the night, covering this dramatic torching of a police precinct here, not far from where the death of a black man happened here in Minneapolis. Thousands of protesters showing up here, some of them turning violent against setting that building on fire.
You're now seeing the aftermath of that destruction. You have fire department vehicles that are here putting out certain hotspots. Beyond we can see vehicles from the National Guard that have showed up as well. They're assisting police in keeping this area cordoned off now. And again just you see these dramatic images. This is different than what we saw last night as that chaos was unfolding.
Police opting not to move in with the heavy presence, not to move in with the show of force and talking to experts, the reason we're told is because they thought being there themselves, showing up in uniform, showing up in riot gear, could lead to additional danger, possibly additional death. They decided to let this building burn rather than move in with a heavy presence. That's different than what we're seeing now. Police coming in, with that show of force, moving people back as this investigation continues -- Poppy and Jim.
HARLOW: Josh, we did learn something important this morning about where this goes from here, and that is when we heard just last hour from Minnesota's Attorney General Keith Ellison who said he has every expectation that charges will be brought against these officers. He explained it not happening yet, right? They haven't been arrested but our reporter was arrested because he wants the case to be airtight. Where does this go from here?
CAMPBELL: Yes, Poppy, this is always the debate with law enforcement. You want an airtight case, you want to gather all the facts, before you draw any conclusions. But the other side of the coin is that you have a community here that wants to see justice. We've seem a number of these instances in recent years where you have people of color that have confrontations with law enforcement, and, you know, we seem to move on, yet they continue to happen.
And we talked to a number of protesters here that tell us they want to see swift justice. The phrase we often hear, justice delayed is justice denied. They want to ensure that if this person is indeed charged with murder, that that happens quickly, and that people don't simply move on.
They are grieving here. People are angry. You could see that frustration playing out in so many ways through these dramatic videos, images of people torching buildings and causing destruction.
HARLOW: Thank you for that reporting, for being there throughout all of this. We appreciate it, Josh.
Let's talk more about everything that has happened. With us now, Cedric Alexander, former president for the National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives, and Laura Coates is also with us, our CNN senior legal analyst.
And Laura, I'd just like to begin with you because not only are you our senior legal analyst, this is your hometown. This is my hometown.
LAURA COATES, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: Yes.
HARLOW: You know, you lived here. And this is what has happened. And on top of all of it, they arrest our reporter in the middle of it for trying to report the news.
What are your thoughts this morning?
COATES: I mean, this is a surreal experience as you know, Poppy. Growing up there, seeing what's happening right now, there are so many instances when I have said to myself, is this really my hometown? From what happened with Jamaal Clark, to what happened with Philando Castile.
COATES: To what is happening now with Mr. George Floyd, and looking at this and saying, is this really the town that I knew and really it's a microcosm of what's going on all across this country. Because the reason you see all these protests from Arizona, to California, to Kentucky, to, of course, Minnesota and beyond is because it really is a George Floyd so to speak in every one of these places. There is a brewing frustration and in particular when you look at
what's happening at every instance, the question first begins, did an officer of the Minneapolis Police Department actually kneel on the neck of a person, a human being, simply because there was an allegation of handing over a counterfeit $20 bill? No indication the suspect is armed and that there is no indication the person is even resisting arrest. And I'm clear, resisting suffocation is not resisting arrest.
The second point of it is, are we really seeing -- it's really happening in our hometown that other officers are standing idly by while it happens? And finally, is it really the case that you're having a press conference where there has not been even an arrest made of these individuals and yet Omar Jimenez, exercising his First Amendment rights to cover this story, is complying with officers, is arrested along with his crew? And a white counterpart, Josh Campbell is not?
At every phase you're in disbelief.
SCIUTTO: Cedric Alexander, former president of the National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives, speaking about the killing of George Floyd, watching that as a law enforcement, someone wo was in law enforcement, tell us your view of that, not just the killing, but also other officers standing by.
CEDRIC ALEXANDER, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE NATIONAL ORGANIZATION OF BLACK LAW ENFORCEMENT EXECUTIVES: Well, first, let me start by saying this, myself, a 40-year veteran in policing, and I've been in communication with a great number of chiefs and sheriffs and police officers across this country, and these guys are outraged just as much as I am and they're both black and white and blue and green.
This should not -- is not hopefully indicative of every law enforcement officer in this country. Many police commissioners are speaking out against this. But for any of us who have any type of human decency, compassion, empathy towards people, it certainly was not demonstrated on Monday.
There you have four police officers, ashamed to say, four of them, one with his knee in his neck, as the life comes out of him, who goes into an infantile state, mama, mama, that's his way of saying, help me, please. Something is seriously wrong here. And that criminal justice system, in that -- in that department, within that -- there in Minneapolis, and I'm going to tell you why.
If you have a guy who don't have the compassion to stop using an untrained technique when someone is suffocating, dying, three other officers stand around and say nothing, the bigger issue for me with all of that is that the mayor, as great a guy as he is, as empathetic and very concerned as he is, I will say to him, as a former deputy mayor and as a former police executive, you have a cultural issue inside your police department that you need to address, and you need to address it immediately. Because something is inherently wrong here, when we hear the term
there are a few bad cops in each department, that is very true. But the bigger issue for me and always have been is very simply this. Is that if we have a culture, if we have a culture within our police agencies, that is holding these guys in place, then we have a bigger problem than we think.
HARLOW: You know, Laura, to that point, having the history in the city that you have, you know, you brought up Philando Castile, you brough up Jamaal Clark, and it doesn't stop there. And there has been a systemic issue within this police department and the community. Many of the officers don't live in the communities that they police namely and there are so many other things.
Considering that, sit with the fact that these officers haven't been arrested or charged and I understand what the attorney general is saying about needing a case to be airtight because many cases have fallen through in the past when things have moved too quickly.
But how do you explain that to all the people out here asking for answers?
COATES: Well, the legacy unfortunately in Minnesota goes far beyond even the more modern cases I reach. I mean, we're talking about we're almost 100 years to the date of a lynching of three African-American men in Duluth, Minnesota, who were accused of approaching a white woman and that was -- that spurred action in the legislature in Minnesota to say that the officers in that case, who released these three men to a lynch mob to be lynched, there was actual legislative action taken to hold those officers accountable.
That was 100 years ago we're talking about now. In terms of Jamaal Clark, a few years ago. there was legislative action and interest and also the police manual changed to now include a duty to intervene if an officer were to see one of their colleagues engage in excessive force. And what you have here is, although there has been an action and then a reaction to try to change the system in some way, to try to either legislate or make a policy change, that there is still an emboldening nonetheless.
There is still action happening nonetheless and one of the reasons for that is to go outside of Minnesota, to go to the Supreme Court, Poppy, because there is a thing called qualified immunity. And the Supreme Court has created qualified immunity to say, although we honor the idea that an officer or a public official cannot deprive you of your constitutional rights, we're going to essentially cloak them and make it nearly impossible for you to prove a case unless you can actually show specifically factually analogous case, which is almost impossible to do.
So we can look at what is happening in Minnesota. We can look at what is happen at this police department, and we have to look beyond the executive branch and over to the judicial branch and say, what more can be done to undermine this emboldened state of police and also to incentivize police training to ensure that they are at the very minimum valuing human life, not much to ask for.
SCIUTTO: Listen, Laura Coates, Cedric Alexander, thanks to both of you. So sorry. Didn't mean to cut you off. Final thought, Mr. Alexander, before we go on what needs to change so we don't see this again.
ALEXANDER: Well, what needs to happen is this, we need to understand and I want to say this, that thousands of men and women out there who are serving as police officers every day that is doing a great job, we all have a responsibility to support them. But they also have a responsibility to call out those that they know are doing immoral acts.
But in addition to that, something that Laura said, training is hugely important. And I'm a big supporter of training. Always have preached training. Nut here's is something you cannot teach. You cannot teach a person to be moral, and you cannot teach a person to be empathetic and decent.
That is something that you grow up with. And before you become a police officer, we need to make sure you have those things intact. So that you have some humanistic feelings about someone else, which is hugely important. And the four men I saw up the start, they didn't appear to have any of that and it is shameful to the profession at large.
SCIUTTO: And to your point, we had the St. Paul police chief on yesterday, white man, who condemned this behavior, said you need that empathy, we've heard from the New York police department commissioner saying exactly the same. We need more voices like that.
Laura Coates, Cedric Alexander, thanks to both of you.
ALEXANDER: Thank you for having me.
HARLOW: Thank you.
SCIUTTO: Well, the city of Minneapolis, it's is still burning. And the president fanning the flames. Talking about shooting looters. We're going to talk about it more.
HARLOW: And a stunning moment just this morning, all on live television, as our friend and colleague Omar Jimenez is arrested by Minnesota State Police for simply doing his job. He has been released and he's with us next.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED POLICE OFFICER: You're under arrest.
JIMENEZ: OK. Do you mind telling me why I'm under arrest, sir?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
JIM SCIUTTO, CO-ANCHOR, NEWSROOM: You might expect to see this in China, in Russia, in Iran --
POPPY HARLOW, CO-ANCHOR, NEWSROOM: Right --
SCIUTTO: Where it happens --
HARLOW: Yes --
SCIUTTO: Regularly. Reporters arrested, silenced for doing their job covering the news. It happened this morning live on television, in Minneapolis, Minnesota here in the U.S., in the year 2020, a CNN crew covering the protests repeatedly identifying themselves as journalists showing their credentials as journalists, arrested nonetheless on live television. Have a watch.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OMAR JIMENEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, you've got one person being arrested here. We've got -- we're media, yes, we're good, yes -- hold on, I got you, I got you, hold on, hold on. They had us here. They had us here. We're speaking with state patrol right now, give us a second, guys. We can move back to where you'd like. We can move back to where you'd like here. We are live on the air at the moment.
This is the four of us, we are one team. Just put us back where you want us, we are getting out of your way. So just let us know. Wherever you'd want us, we will -- we will go. We are just getting out of your way when you're advancing through the intersection. So just let us know and we got you. And this is the scene here playing out in Minneapolis. This is part of the advance police presence that we saw come over the course of really minutes when the local police showed up at the Fire Department or with the Fire Department, I should say on the building we showed you that was burning.
This is among the state patrol unit that was advancing up the street, singing and scattering the protesters at that point for people to clear the area. And so we walked away -- I'm sorry.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You're under arrest.
JIMENEZ: OK, do you mind telling me why I'm under arrest, sir? Why am I under arrest, sir?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Officers, we're with CNN and he's on the air right now. You are arresting him live on CNN. We told you before that we are with CNN.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Can I put my phone in my pocket?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't know about that -- guys, we were just out here reporting the closure of the streets, they just -- Omar was just arrested. I believe they're about to -- we're all about to be arrested. That's our producer. I'm probably going to be taken in a minute. We were just -- like I said just reporting on the closure. Why -- guys, why are you -- why are you arresting us? I mean, we're just passing along the message, your message. I'm done -- well, you know, we're just out here doing our job as well as you are. Can you tell me what I did?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You're under arrest --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We have to arrest --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm being arrested now. I've got to put -- can I put the camera down?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARLOW: That happened this morning on live television, our Omar Jimenez has been released after being arrested for no reason, and he's with us now. I'm so sorry, Omar. I'm sorry from us, and I'm very sorry for the place that I loved and grew up in, Minneapolis, that this happened to you. You were trying to do your job in reporting. Can you just reflect on what you've gone through?
JIMENEZ: Well, in the moment, you saw some of the clips play out there, it was a surprise for us. I think in those last few moments, we were still in reporting mode, showing that protester that sort of ran through, and then the police and the state patrol were trying to corral that person because that was very emblematic of what we had seen throughout the morning.
Them trying to clear out that area. It wasn't until -- I should say, even when they had their arm around -- when they had their arms around me, I was continuing to talk because I thought they were just kind of holding me there to keep me in place, and I was -- I still felt comfortable. But then the reporting mode sort of switched off once they said you're under arrest, because then it became, well, what exactly are we doing?
We've been out here for days really at this point, all hours of the day, night, documenting some of the struggles that law enforcement has had trying to contain some of the emotion that has been in this community and the pain that has been in this community. So it was -- it was a little confusing, and, look, we understand it has been such a stressful time for everybody over the course of this week.
And when you're dealing with protests, a lot of times reporters are mixed in with those protesters, but this wasn't the case. They had already cleared out the entire area. It was just us.
HARLOW: Yes. SCIUTTO: Omar, as you know, the governor of Minnesota has apologized.
Minnesota state patrol, however, that arrested you and your team, has not. I just want to read their statement here, they say that, "three were released once they were confirmed to be members of the media, just to fact-check that seeming or attempted justification.
We're going to play now you identifying yourselves multiple times as members of the media and showing your credentials. Let's play that, and I want to get your reaction afterwards.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JIMENEZ: OK, do you mind telling me why I'm under arrest, sir? Why am I under arrest, sir?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Officers, we're with CNN and he's on the air right now.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCIUTTO: Beyond the obvious that you were broadcasting on the air as you were arrested, did the officers while you were in detention explain to you the justification for the arrest and the handcuffing?
JIMENEZ: Well, that was what I was trying to get out of some of the officers as they were leading me away. They were -- at least the one that was leading me away did seem to be cordial, so we spoke and I said, hey, just -- we're going to be out here for the next few days, so can you lay out how we want this to work, how close do you want us? We'll be in the spot where you want us.
But obviously, we both have to do our jobs here and he just said, I'm following orders, man, I'm sorry, this is -- this is just how it's going to go. So, we never really got an official explanation as for why this happened, but we do know it did happen.
SCIUTTO: I'm following orders, those are the words, remarkable. Omar Jimenez, thanks for staying with it throughout. We appreciate it.
HARLOW: Can I just say something, Jim --
SCIUTTO: Sure --
HARLOW: That, I mean, Omar has been -- Omar started here eight years ago as an intern. I remember working with you, Omar, and how much you helped us, and you have just been --
JIMENEZ: Yes --
HARLOW: Remarkable throughout this, you and your entire team and Bill and Lionel(ph), and we're just grateful and you are -- you are a treasure for all of us, and thank you for what you're doing.
JIMENEZ: You are the best, thanks for leading me along the way, I'm glad to be here.
SCIUTTO: Well, the president took to Twitter overnight to call the protesters there in Minneapolis thugs and suggesting it seems with the phrase, when the looting starts, the shooting starts, that he might send in the military to shoot them? Remarkable words from that building right there, the White House, we're going to have more after this.