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Soon, Minnesota Governor to Hold News Conference Amid Minneapolis Unrest; CNN Reporter, Crew Released after Being Arrested in Minneapolis & Minnesota Governor Apologizes; Mayor Melvin Carter (D-St. Paul) Discusses Minneapolis Unrest, Business Damaged in St. Paul & Trump Comments about Looters; Trump Suggests Shooting Minneapolis Looters; Twitter Censors Trump Tweet on Minneapolis Unrest; Minneapolis Mayor: "Trump Knows Nothing About the Strength of Minneapolis"; 15 States See Rise in Coronavirus Cases; NY Governor Signs "No Mask, No Entry" Executive Order. Aired 11-11:30a ET
Aired May 29, 2020 - 11:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
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"NEWSROOM" with John King starts right now.
ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.
JOHN KING, CNN ANCHOR: Hello to our viewers in the United States and around the world. I'm John King, in Washington. Thank you for sharing your day with us.
It is a sad day, a very sad day, as tragedy begets rage and an city burns. Take a look, fires, looting. Minneapolis police precinct overrun and burned to the ground. A chorus of "I can't breathe" and "George Floyd" puncturing the night. It was Floyd's death while his neck was pinned to the ground by the knee of a white police officer that ignited this anger.
In Minneapolis right now, a fragile calm. You see there, riot police, National Guardsmen lining mostly empty streets, still under the shadow, in some cases, of smoke.
Governor Tim Walz will hold a news conference later this hour. We'll take you there when that happens.
The mayors in Minneapolis and neighboring St. Paul appealing for calm today and that any protests be peaceful.
The family of George Floyd and those protesting want to know why the officers have not been charged. They were quickly fired. And prosecutors are asking for patience, saying they are gathering evidence as quickly as they can, and they want to make sure that any cases they bring are airtight.
The president of the United States is once again being anything but helpful at a moment of racial tension. He tweeted minutes ago, "Respect to George Floyd's memory."
But after midnight in a tweet last night, the president said he would take charge of the city if there's not calm. Then he added, "When the looting starts, the shooting starts."
CNN's team covering this important story became a part of it this morning.
Correspondent Omar Jimenez and his team were arrested right there on air, on television. They were soon released and the governor apologized.
But a tweet by the state police explaining the arrest mischaracterizes what happened. Trust is one of the issues in Minneapolis right now and in communities across America. Police statements that are false do not help.
Omar Jimenez joins us live now. He is back at work.
Omar, I want to get to your interesting morning in a few moments.
First, the big picture there. The protest last night and more looting. Calm at the moment, but still tension.
OMAR JIMENEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Calm behind me at the moment, but this was a calm that was really put forward by the resources that were deployed here.
So you see behind me here, obviously, we've been looking at the line of state patrol officers here, but you look at the empty parking lots here with graffiti, the remnants of smoke off in the distance. And as you pan over to the left, you see what is left after what has been days of protesting and rioting and looting.
And it is off in the distance just about a block away, the Minneapolis Third Precinct that we saw go up in flames just past 10:00 p.m. last night.
This is essentially giving them a chance to clean up as we're watching. But when we first got here in the early morning hours, there was a building that was completely on fire. There were people running through the streets.
We did not see any form of law enforcement for at least two hours that we were there. And then in a matter of minutes, everybody seemed to come at once. The fire department came to put out the fire that had been going, in front of our eyes, for only two hours, and then they were accompanied by local police officers.
Then as we were backing up from that, we turned and there was a line of state patrol officers that were slowly advancing up the block as they were giving commands for everyone to clear the area, which people did.
So what you're looking at is a perimeter around the Minneapolis Third Precinct that is about a block out to make sure no one gets back in there.
Now, we still haven't heard about charges against the officers in this, so there's still a lot of energy and passion amongst the protesters. And you wonder at what point this will -- or how long, I should say, this security protocol will hold.
But we do know, from the mayor, from the governor as well, while they do support protesting, they do not support what has come after it, the rioting, the looting, the destruction of property. They said they wouldn't stand for it. And this seems to be the physical manifestation of that statement.
KING: That is the challenge, can the leadership make a bond of trust with the community so you can have peaceful protests.
Omar, you're doing fabulous work. And I know you don't want to be made part of the story. I want to go back to this morning. You're back on live television.
I believe we can show photos of it. Members of the Minnesota State Patrol came and arrested you and your crew. You were polite to them and the officer arresting you, I believe, was quite cordial to you.
Here you see other scenes playing out in the street. This is not the arrest of our crew this morning.
If we can get to those pictures, please. Here we go.
Let me just listen for a minute.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JIMENEZ: All 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.
UNIDENTIFIED MINNESOTA STATE PATROL OFFICER: (INAUDIBLE)
JIMENEZ: This is the four of us. We are one team. Just --
UNIDENTIFIED MINNESOTA STATE PATROL OFFICER: (INAUDIBLE)
JIMENEZ: Just put us back where you want us. We are getting out of your way, so just let us know. Wherever you want us, we will go. We were just getting out of your way
when you were advancing through the intersection. So just let us know and we got you.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: So, Omar, it progressed from here and the officers would not -- you were trying to get out of the way, and you were still showing the video there.
You have your credentials. The producer was identifying himself. You were with the photojournalist as well. And the police took you, anyway. I have word that the particular officer that handcuffed you and took you away was cordial to you.
Number one, did you ever get a good explanation of why?
JIMENEZ: Not from anyone on scene and anyone at this point. I have not gotten a good explanation as for why exactly.
The statement that was put out by the Minnesota State Patrol was, as we noted, as our communications team noted, was slightly inaccurate, as I am noting as well.
Not only did we identify us multiple times, but when we were led away, we sat in that van for -- it must have been 20 to 30 minutes. Plenty of time for it to be circulating to show that we were literally on live TV. You could match up my name, which they had taken at that point, with my CNN credential badge here, with the fact that we were on CNN literally live on television.
And even after those 30 minutes or so, there was a long van ride -- or about a 10-minute van ride that took us downtown as well. Again, plenty of time to know and identify even before we got to the downtown public safety building that we were reporters.
And so that part was -- it was telling, I should say, the explanation that they had given. But in short, to answer your question, no, we did not get any clear explanation as to why exactly that happened.
By the way, we had been reporting in front of that line for about 15 or so minutes. It just happened to be within that shot that they decided to make the move to arrest.
KING: And to that point, I will say this, you were incredibly calm and professional throughout. There can be confusion in these cases. You need to give the officers some grace. They have been out for hours. They are tense as well.
We need to respect that there was more than enough time to sort this out. We need to find out, A, if they had orders from somebody and, B, why they put out a statement that mischaracterized the situation.
Omar Jimenez, we'll see you later in the program. Thank you for your great work on the ground there. Now, we move on to neighboring St. Paul Minnesota where police say
more than 170 businesses have either been damaged or looted, prompting the mayor to call in the National Guard.
St. Paul Mayor Melvin Carter joins us today.
Sir, thank you so much for you time today. I know you're very busy. I know it is a tense time in your community.
I just want to know, as you watch these scenes play out in the city you love, what do you believe should be the circuit breaker? How do you get people in the community who have understandable anger to walk up to the line of peaceful protest, and maybe loud peaceful protest, but not violence that, in the end, hurts them and their community?
MELVIN CARTER, (D), MAYOR OF ST PAUL, MINNESOTA: Thank you very much for having me on.
And you're right, it's heartbreaking to see these scenes play out in our community.
We draw a sharp line, a sharp distinction between the protesters, who very rightly want to say that George Floyd should still be alive today, who very rightly want to say those officers should be in custody, should be in jail already and need to be placed under arrest as soon as possible, and those who want to walk down the street and bash a window and take a TV and loot.
That's unacceptable. It further traumatizes the same people, the same communities, the same neighborhoods who are already traumatized by this in the first place.
But we have to know that, while we address the how, while this anger, this rage is predictable, it's understandable, it's being expressed in a way that's very destructive and unacceptable. We're not going to accept that.
But as we address the how, people are protesting, we also have to know that we're addressing the why people are protesting. And I think that's going to be critical in order for us to turn the page.
KING: As a black man, sir, you would have more credibility with some of these protesters, who have legitimate anger than many other leaders of the moment.
Are you convinced, when you listen to the Hennepin County prosecutors, the state attorney general, the federal officials have come in, that they are moving as quickly as they can? And do you accept their peace that if we want to have an airtight case, that if we want to not only press charges but get convictions, we need a little more time?
CARTER: I tell you this. My goal is to see those officers convicted and see somebody held accountable. Those folks in the street last night are my young people. And myself
included. I ran for office as one of the few elected officials in the country that knows what it feels like to be pulled over while black.
I'm also the son of a retired St. Paul police officer, so I grew up praying for the safety and security of our police officers every day.
This is about George Floyd. But not just in a vacuum. This is about all of the names, all of the hash tags, all of the videos and, ultimately, all of the trials we've seen unsatisfactorily end with no one held accountable.
Unfortunately, it becomes difficult to look at history and find some historical basis for confidence that somebody absolutely will be held accountable for this.
I know those people you're talking about from the Hennepin state attorney general. And I'm very hopeful that we can show them, that we can show the country that we do have a legal system, we do have a judicial system that's capable of pursuing justice, especially for something as egregious, as blatant as this that was caught on videotape.
KING: I just want to ask you -- I'm going to hold up a couple headlines, because you mentioned the history. And it's not just in Minneapolis-St. Paul. It's around the country.
This is the "New York Post" today. It says, "Minnesota Is Burning." This is your hometown newspaper, "The Star Tribune," "Minnesota in State of Agony." I know this has to hurt you as a resident and a leader. The "Dallas Morning News. I want to hold up another one. This is getting attention around the country.
As it gets attention around the country and you mentioned the history, Mr. Mayor, that gives you legitimate pause to think that you'll get to the right conclusion here.
And in the middle of all this, after midnight, the president of the United States threatened, calling the looters thugs. I'm not here to defend looting. But the president of the United States at that moment calling them thugs and quoting from the 1960s a Miami police chief at the time, "When the looting starts, the shooting starts."
I assume that is anything but helpful.
CARTER: That's everything but helpful. One, I do make the distinction between the vast majority of people, I think, who are hurting right now, who are angry right now, who are sad right now. Those are the only human responses to that video who demand to see somebody held accountable for that.
We have people in our community that's part of our mission right now. Our police officers and our firefighters, I think did a heroes' job last night of both protecting the rights of those people who want to peacefully protests and say this has to change, this has to be different, while pursuing and protecting our public life, health and safety of our city. That's very critical.
We have to remember this is a president who looks at a white supremacist rally and tweets, there are good people on both sides. To take the anger and the sadness and the frustration that people are understandably feeling right now and turn it into that tweet is just more of what we've seen from somebody who has proven himself incapable of leading us through tough moments.
KING: Mr. Mayor, if the leadership doesn't come from here in Washington, it will have to come from the ground. We wish you the best of luck in these tense days ahead, sir.
CARTER: Thank you very much. I appreciate you having me on.
KING: Thank you, Mr. Mayor. We will circle back, I promise.
Let's continue the conversation. The president again playing the role of racial agitator.
His initial response to George Floyd's death is what we should expect from the president. He said he was troubled by the video and he asked the Justice Department to quickly investigate.
But as we noted, after midnight, the president defaulted to the instincts we have seen for many years now. "Thugs" is his label for the black man on the streets of Minneapolis. "When the looting starts, the shooting starts," was his threat last night, to use military force, if necessary, to quiet the unrest.
Twitter flagged that tweet as a violation of its guidelines, saying the president is glorifying violence.
CNN's Abby Phillip joins me now.
Abby, as the mayor was just discussing, you can look at one tweet and think the president didn't quite mean it, didn't choose his words the way he wanted to. It was after midnight. Maybe he was rushing.
Except there's a long history here, that not only through the three- plus years of his presidency, but through the decades of his life as a businessman in New York.
ABBY PHILLIP, CNN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, absolutely. And I think that's the context that all of this is happening in. It's that when there's an opportunity for the president to play a role that presidents typically play to calm tensions, to bring the country together at times like this, he seems to do the opposite.
And I think the part of the tweet that is beyond just the labeling of looters as thugs, but the part of the tweet that I think caught a lot of people's attention, caught Twitter's attention, was the, "When the looting starts, the shooting starts." That's the part that caused the social media company to say, we need to put a flag on this tweet.
And that's because that tweet seemed to signal to whether it was the military or to whoever that an appropriate punishment for looting would be to shoot those protesters.
I think we're going to put up on the screen the response that the White House has given now to this. And they basically are saying that the president was trying to condemn violence. It says, "The president did not glorify violence, he clearly condemned it."
John, I think it's clear -- what is really clear is that is not what was happening in that tweet, despite what the White House is saying.
And while this is now becoming a little bit about the president and his feud with the social media company, it really is about what's the appropriate role of the president of the United States, and is he using his platform in a way that is appropriate.
I think a lot of people are saying there's no basis in law for that kind of comment. And beyond that, that comment has a very specific racist history.
KING: It is not the first time the White House, the president's team, has had to say what the president meant to say. But his words are his words.
And I just want to get to the history. "When the looting starts, the shooting starts" is from a 1960s press conference by a then-chief of Miami police, when we would like to think was a very different time in our country, when we would like to think it's something that's behind us.
So when the president says that, the staff try to say he didn't mean it.
I want you to listen, Abby, to the mayor of Minneapolis, who is trying to lead his city. I just spoke to the mayor of St. Paul. They are trying to lead their communities through a tough time. I'm sure they would appreciate calming words from the president of the United States.
Instead, the Minneapolis mayor says this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JACOB FREY, (D), MAYOR OF MINNEAPOLIS, MINNESOTA: Weakness is pointing your finger at somebody else during a time of crisis. Donald Trump knows nothing about the strength of Minneapolis. We are strong as hell. Is this a difficult time period? Yes. But you better be damned sure that we're going to get through this.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: You see the anger there.
And again, you have mayors, Minneapolis/St. Paul, neighboring cities closely connected, who are under a lot of pressure. Testing time for them right now. And they don't think the president of the United States is helping them. In fact, they think he's making it worse.
PHILLIP: Right. And the president and his allies, you've seen in the last several hours, have shifted the blame to the Minneapolis mayor, to the mayor of Minnesota, who is also a Democrat.
But, you know, when we look back -- we were talking a little bit about history. One of the problems here for the president is that, if we look back to Charlottesville, for example, when there were white supremacists and Neo-Nazis protesting in the streets then, the president called them very fine people.
He has not really, in any way, acknowledged what is being protested on the streets in Minneapolis. And I think that that is one of the reasons why people see such a gulf between the president's comments on Twitter, and then also his claims that he is going after the African- American vote in this 2020 election.
There's a gulf between those two things based on his own words and his own actions -- John?
KING: A gulf is a polite way to put it.
Abby Phillip, appreciate your reporting and insights there.
A special note. A CNN special program tonight covering the George Floyd killing. Why do black people keep dying at the hands of police? When will this end? Join CNN's Don Lemon for the important conversation. "I CAN'T BREATHE: BLACK MEN LIVING AND DYING IN AMERICA." That's Sunday night, 8:00 p.m. Eastern, only here on CNN.
Up next for us, as we wait for the Minnesota governor to speak, we'll give you a state-by-state look at the coronavirus reopenings. States are heading down in 25 states, but there are 15 states we need to watch closely in the days ahead.
KING: We remind you we're waiting for the Minnesota governor, Tim Walz. He has a press conference scheduled in just a few minutes to update us on his view of the unrest in Minneapolis and St. Paul. We'll take you there live when that happens with Governor Walz.
To the coronavirus headlines right now. This week will be remembered for its very grim milestone, 100,000 American deaths from the coronavirus. The CDC now projects that number will surpass 123,000 just three weeks from now.
Today, Washington, D.C. will begin reopening as reported cases in the nation's capital are heading down.
In Illinois, the governor says all areas of his state are eligible to begin phase three of the Illinois reopening. That despite a recent spike in the number of deaths there.
The state-by-state look is a mixed bag this Friday. Let's take a look at walk through it.
Let's begin by going back to the beginning of the month. This is May 1st, 50 states beginning the reopening. Eighteen at the beginning of the month heading up in the wrong direction. Their case count heading up. You see the darker red? That's heading up badly. Twelve states were heading up, 20 were heading down.
Look at Texas, flat by holding steady when we started the month. Middle of the month, May 15, tracking the cases as we go through it. Texas at this point was heading up. This part of the country looking a little better.
May 15th, nine states going up, 18 going down, 23 holding steady. You see Virginia and North Carolina here, but Texas, Florida and Louisiana all heading up in the middle of the month.
Here's where we are today. Florida heading down. Texas and Louisiana down as well. Progress for those states, states that have been hard hit. But look at this swath here. Across the southeast, you have a number of states going up. In total, 15 states up, 10 holding steady, 25, half the states, heading down. That's good news.
Let's bring in our chief medical correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta. He joins us live.
Sanjay, one thing catching our attention on recent days is this, is this recent uptick in cases in several southern states. What do you see happening there?
DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, you know, you start to think about when these states reopened and see if there's a connection there between these states reopening and seeing this increase in cases. Some of the states you just mentioned there, John, 50 percent increase just over the last week.
It's hard to draw these lines, John. When we're looking at these snapshots, if we're looking at new infections versus new hospitalizations versus new deaths, every single one of those measures is a lag time in between that and when the person may have become actually exposed to the virus. You're talking about weeks in between.
There are so many factors that go in here. If you follow this day by day, a certain number of tests may have been performed on a certain day, a certain number of tests may have been read on a certain day, hospitals may have been more accessible during the week versus the weekend, whatever it may be.
You have to look at these things -- as you do so well, John -- over the longer trend here. As you heard Dr. Fauci say and others on the Coronavirus Task Force, you can't measure this in hours and days. This is really about weeks and months in terms of seeing the impact.
We know these numbers will all go up. All of these states are going to go up as we reopen. The virus is the only constant out there. The question is: How much will they go up, and what's the plan in these states if they go up significantly or exponentially?
KING: That's what we'll have to watch. Just because a state is going up a little bit, that's to be expected. The question is, can they manage it. We'll keep track of that.
Sanjay, this is a public health crisis. But there's inevitably politics involved. Just yesterday, the governor of New York, Andrew Cuomo, saying he will sign an executive order that allows a business, if you're a bookstore, a coffee shop, a retailer, you can have a policy, if you wish, requiring anyone who comes in, any customer to wear a mask. The governor gave them that authority. They don't have to use it, but they gave it to them.
The same day, the president retweets a conservative article that essentially says this is the government trying to impose power, force over you by telling you, you have to wear a mask.
You have these competing views, from the president of the United States and this governor of the state hardest hit. We're watching the mask deal play out across the country. Walk us through the importance.
GUPTA: This is ridiculous, John. As we go further and further away from this, it's going to seem mor ridiculous because it's become increasingly clear that masks can have a significant impact.
First of all, the policy now in New York, as you say no mask, no entry, that is the executive order the governor signed there. There was a state law in place, as you may know, John, for some time that previously prohibited masks, unrelated to this pandemic, but prohibited masks in group gatherings. That law is obviously overturned by this executive order, so no mask, no entry.
I think there are places all over the world that measure their death counts in the thousands, not the hundreds of thousands, and how is that? They don't have a vaccine or medicine or something we don't have. It was all basic public health stuff, testing, isolating, people wearing masks, physical distancing.
That should inspire people. Look, we can do this. We can actually get through this in a safe as possible way, reopening and all that. But masks are an integral part of that now. We now know that. We've been gathering the evidence.
So we can't keep going backwards. We can't keep stutter-starting this -- John?
KING: You make a great point. The evidence is right there. Anyone can find it. You don't need to trust somebody on television. Get it yourself.
KING; Look at Singapore. Look at Taiwan. Look at other places around the world that, as you know, Sanjay, none of these numbers are good but they are not as bleak.
Dr. Sanjay Gupta, thank you for your insight and expertise there.
Coming up for us, we're waiting on the Minnesota governor, Tim Walz. He's moments away from holding a news conference after several days of unrest in Minneapolis.
Stay with us.