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Anger Rages Across America Over Floyd's Death In Custody; Stars, Activists Demand Arrests And Charges In Floyd's Death; Officer Who Knelt On George Floyd Taken Into Custody. Aired 1-1:30p ET
Aired May 29, 2020 - 13:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
CHARLES RAMSEY, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: And they'll do what they do in areas that aren't as well protected.
So they've got to really have a good plan in place and it needs to include a high level of mobility for some of those platoons that they've got out there.
JOHN KING, CNN INSIDE POLITICS: We'll watch as it plays out, Chief. I appreciate your perspective. I'm going to hand off our coverage right now with Brianna Keilar.
BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN RIGHT NOW: John, thank you so much.
I want to get everyone up to speed on the two crises unfolding here in America. After three nights of violent clashes with police, the unrest and outrage in Minnesota has reached a boiling point. The National Guard has now moved in and the images are resonating across the country.
Walls of officers trying to contain crowds, a police precinct engulfed in flames, demonstrators storming buildings and businesses and igniting several fire. Minnesota's governor says the ashes symbolized the generations of pain that have gone unheard.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. TIM WALZ (D-MN): We cannot have the looting and the recklessness that went on. We cannot have it because we can't function as a society and I refuse to have it take away the attention of the stain that we need to be working on is what happened with those fundamental institutional racism that allows a man to be held down in broad daylight, and thank God, a young person had a camera video it. Because there's not a person here listening today that wonders how many times that camera is not there.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KEILAR: Now, that video, of course, the catalyst for these protests. And though I must warn you it is difficult to watch. It's important to remember why this all started. George Floyd was unarmed, he was handcuffed and restrained while a Minneapolis police officer kneeled on his neck even when Floyd pleaded that he could not breathe. He died as a result of what you're watching right here.
Demonstrators are outraged that charges still have not been filed against these officers, but Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison says that he has every expectation they
will be arrested.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KEITH ELLISON, MINNESOTA ATTORNEY GENERAL: Everybody keeps on asking the question, when, when, when, when, when? And this is a perfectly legitimate question. It is important to know that under Minnesota statues, the primary jurisdiction for criminal prosecution is with the county attorney on which offense occurred. And I believe that the message has been sent and received that the wheels of justice must turn swiftly.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KEILAR: More than 500 National Guard troops are headed to Minneapolis and neighboring St. Paul, where police say more than 170 businesses have been damaged or looted.
President Trump stoking these tensions in a tweet this morning, calling the protesters, quote, thugs, and seemingly threatening even more violence with this quote, when the looting starts, the shooting starts. We'll have more on that later this hour.
First though, CNN's Omar Jimenez is live from Minneapolis. He's joining us live. Omar, we heard Minnesota Governor Tim Walz attempting to calm tensions across the state. Are they preparing for more protest tonight or are they hopeful that they can deescalate this?
OMAR JIMENEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, I think it's a little bit both of this. They are preparing for what we have seen over the course of the past few days but then you talked about the added preparation they have put in place. They say that is not going to be the case.
We heard the governor described the past 24 hours as pure anarchy. And I can tell you, when our crews got here in the early morning hours, that's exactly what we saw.
Now, you talked about the National Guard being deployed there, in here, to assist local and state law enforcement, as you're seeing just behind me here. These officers are forming a perimeter as others are across this area basically around where we saw a large portion of the protests and we have seen over the course of the past few days.
It was last night where we saw just after 10:00 P.M. or so that the third precinct for the Minneapolis Police Department here was lit on fire. And that was just about a block from where we are right now. And so this entire area is closed down for crews to essentially get in here and clean things up and try to erase it in some ways, some of the literal anarchy that we saw here.
Now, another big theme of the governor's very passionate press conference, among the most passionate we have seen throughout this, he detailed a path forward, a long path forward admittedly for the State of Minnesota and, of course, here in Minneapolis. He says it starts with restoring order, which we're seeing some of the steps trying to be put in place, then trying to get swift justice. And if we are waiting to see if there are any charges filed by either Hennepin County or with the U.S. attorney's office from the FBI.
And the third one, he says, comes down to trust.
And listen to how he what that process is going to be like for the community.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WALZ: I understand clearly there is no trust in many of our communities. But I am asking you to help us. Help us use humane way to get the streets to a place where we can restore the justice so that those that are expressing rage and anger and demanding justice are heard, not those who throw firebombs into businesses.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
JIMENEZ: And then he talked about some of those firebombs into businesses. Again, when we came here in the early morning hours, there were multiple businesses already on fire. We knew from the night before, the fire department told us there were 30 different fires they responded to over the course of just Wednesday's protests.
And with regards with some of the missions that, for example, the National Guard is assisting in, one of them was simply escorting Minneapolis Fire Department to some of these locations so that they could safely put out some of these fires.
So these are the dynamics that are at play, as officials here try to get a handle on the situation. But just because they may get a better handle on things tonight doesn't mean the passion has gone anywhere, the demand from protesters, the families, and even as we have heard from the Minneapolis mayor, to see charges against these officers.
But we know that there is a very thorough investigation going on. We heard from a county attorney who says he wants to examine all facts. And we are not going to get an answer to those charges question until that process is complete, Brianna.
KEILAR: And, Omar, earlier this morning, you and your team became part of the story, which is -- that's not why you were there to cover the story but you were arrested on television. The governor has since issued a public apology for that. Can you walk us through what happened?
JIMENEZ: Yes. We honestly did not know what was going on in the initial moments of that. I mentioned that we had gotten there in the early morning hours. We were talking about some of the buildings that were on fire and the protests and the anarchy we were seeing. And when we turned around, there was a line of Minnesota State Patrol officers. They were making their way down the street toward us, and they were telling people to leave.
So protesters were scattering. We made our way out of their path and then they sort of made their line and we kept on reporting. And then at some point, over the course our reporting, what seemed like protester ran past us, they tried to circle that person. And then the last thing we knew, they were circled us. And then I kept reporting even though there is a state patrol on my arm. But then, eventually, they said you're under arrest.
I asked why. I did not get a clear answer there. And, eventually, I was cuffed along with my crew members, my producer, Bill Kirkos, and my photographer, Leonel Mendez. And then as we were taken away, the officers were pretty cordial with us.
I asked them why we were being arrested and he said look, I am just following orders here. And we went through the process, we got back out and now we are back here on the scene trying to continue to telling the story of what has been an awful week for the City of Minneapolis and one where protesters are trying to demand justice for George Floyd days after his death here, Brianna?
KEILAR: Did you ever get an answer, Omar, about why you were arrested?
JIMENEZ: I have never gotten a clear answer from anyone reaching out to me, personally. We saw the Minnesota State Patrol did put out a tweet but not all of that was accurate. They claim that they only released us once they were later able to confirm that we were reporters.
We showed them multiple times, I showed them my badge. They knew we were reporting. They could have -- we were in the van for 30 minutes before we moved. That was plenty of time to verify if we were actually reporters. And it was happening live on air at that point.
So there were many ways to verify that before we had gone to the process of being taken downtown. And, again, right now, while the governor has apologized, and we do appreciate that, and the governor did help get us released in that sense, we didn't get a clear reason for why exactly we were being arrested.
KEILAR: All right. Omar, thank you for your reporting from Minneapolis. And standby for us because we're awaiting a news conference from activists right now.
Former President Barack Obama just released a statement on George Floyd's death and the protest. And here is what it reads in part. It says, it's natural to wish for life to just get back to normal as a pandemic and economic crisis upend everything around us.
But we have to remember that for millions of Americans, being treated differently on account of race is tragically, painful, maddeningly normal, whether it's while dealing with the healthcare system or interacting with the criminal justice where jogging down the street or just watching birds in the park. This shouldn't be normal in 2020 America. It can't be normal. If we want our children to grow up in a nation that lives up to its highest ideals, we can and must be better.
Joining me now is Laura Coates, she's a former federal prosecutor, she's one of our legal analysts here at CNN, and us now Michael Eric Dyson, who is the author of Tears We Cannot Stop, A Sermon To White America.
I wonder, Michael, as watched this press conference from authorities there at the state level, what you thought about the reaction, what did you think about what the governor was saying?
MICHAEL ERIC DYSON, AUTHOR, TEARS WE CANNOT STOP, A SERMON TO WHITE AMERICA: Well, look, it is time for responsible politicians like the governor, the mayor, the city council, the police chief all to be galvanized by what they see reflected in the streets here. This is a systematic problem. That means it's deeply entrenched and structurally reinforced by practices over years, decades, and as the mayor of Minneapolis has said, 400 years.
Isn't it ironic that were such negative blowback against Nikole Hannah-Jones and The New York Times were talking about 1619, and yet what we're presented with is the empirical verification of the historic legacy of white supremacy, social injustice and anti- blackness that are deeply rooted into the culture.
So we applaud and appreciate the governor trying to grapple with this, trying to look at the broader view, trying to pull back and look at the systemic issues that reinforced the vulnerability of black bodies in American society. But it will take much more digging and much more reinforcement.
Law and order is a necessity, is understandable. But law and order, as Martin Luther King Jr. warned us in his letter from the Birmingham jail, when subordinated to issues of justice is fine. When it reinforces the vulnerable positions of black citizens, it is nothing but a cudgel to beat down on the heads of citizens who have already been deprived of their due process and rights in this country.
So I think at this moment, we've got to grapple not simply with the immediate moment of Mr. Floyd's death and the immediate consequences to that, but we've got to pull back and look at how we prevent this from happening again.
KEILAR: I am going to have you both stand by. The activists in Minneapolis are holding a news conference. Let's listen.
ADAIR MOSLEY, PRESIDENT, PILLSBURY UNITED COMMUNITIES: -- and that we can all see an inclusive and just society.
We are deeply saddened for the reasons that we're today. We stand in solidarity with the family of George Floyd and know that our hearts are extended to his family, and we continue to lift them up in prayer during this very difficult time.
This community stands with them and calling for the charges and conviction of the four officers that were responsible and that murdered George Floyd. We -- as a community, we stand in solidarity with that call to action and we expect to see those results soon.
We have been a community that has been fighting many individuals that you'll hear from today that have been fighting on the frontlines of social justice. And what we see happening in our community, why we are calling for safe and peaceful protesting, but what we're seeing is the symptoms of the problem. It is a problem that we have long ignored. But there are many people who are working tirelessly to change the conditions of black and brown people in this community, in this state.
And so, once again, we stand in solidarity with this family. We extend our hearts to Steven Jackson, who is here with us today, traveled all the way from Texas and has brought a wonderful group and showing of support.
So at this time, I would like to welcome Nekima Levy Armstrong to the stage.
NEKIMA LEVY ARMSTRONG, CIVIL RIGHTS ATTORNEY: Good afternoon. It is really unfortunate that we have to be here today because another life has been taken by Minneapolis Police Department and it is not as if these incidents simply happen overnight. What you see happening in this city, the social unrest, the civil unrest is the result of decades of police abuse and neglect of the African-American community.
As a civil rights attorney, I have joined activists in the streets for the last several years shutting things down, fighting for justice, coming to city hall, demanding that they treat us with dignity and respect for our humanity. That has not been case. And George Floyd is yet the latest victim in a series of black men who have been slain by Minneapolis Police Department officers and not one has been held accountable for killing an African-American person.
When you think about the most victims, we had Terrance Franklin shot in the basement of a Minneapolis home multiple times, unarmed man, not a single cop fired, not a single one went to jail for what they did.
November 2015, Jamar Clark shot in the back of the head at point blank range by Minneapolis police officers, unarmed, 24 years old, cops still down in the force (ph), never arrested, never charged, still walk in the streets, unacceptable.
We had Thurman Blevins being hunted down like a dog in the streets of Minneapolis, saying, don't shoot me, don't shoot me. And guess what? The blew him away. He was a father. He was a brother. And he cannot live to tell his story.
And you can go all the way back to Tycel Nelson, a young African- American man who didn't even see adulthood shot in the back by Minneapolis officers. When we went out to protest in front of the fourth precinct police station, the very officer who shot and killed Tycel Nelson was standing out there on duty.
That is a mockery of the pain of African-American people when we are constantly facing gaslighting, emotional abuse, trauma and being treated as if our pain does not matter. So we try to peacefully protest, but, no, we have no control over what is happening in the city. People are fed up, they are angry and they have every right to be.
And we are asking the media to be responsible and respectful of how you cover this story. Because some of these young people, our young people, there are babies in the streets, and they have a right to be angry. We don't condone violence. We don't condone looting. We don't condone rioting. We don't condone burning down buildings. But we do condone and stand for justice. And we hope today will lead to a paradigm shift and the City of Minneapolis where they will begin to recognize black lives matter.
So we are here demanding changes immediately. Mike Freeman, the Hennepin County attorney, has been responsible for the violence that we experience because he has rubber stamped officers' behavior by not holding them accountable.
As a matter of fact, the only officer who has faced charges and convictions for killing a person was a black Muslim Somali officer, Mohamed Noor, who shot and killed in the dark probably accidentally an actual white woman. And guess what, the man is in prison until this day. He was fired immediately.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Sorry to interrupt.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Not yet. Not yet.
ARMSTRONG: Excuse me, if you cannot be respectful --
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He's been taken into custody.
ARMSTRONG: Who was been taken into custody?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Chauvin, Officer Derek Chauvin.
ARMSTRONG: Okay, one officer has been taken into custody. That's what we've been told, but that is not enough. All four of them participated in killing with George Floyd. And we will not be satisfied until all the four of them are arrested and actually charged with the murder of George Floyd.
So that is what we are here to do. We are not satisfied with one officer with crimes. All of them were complicit in his murder and they all need to be held accountable, just as if it was four black men that killed somebody. They would be under the jail by now. So that's what we are here today.
So, next, I want to bring Pastor Brian Herron who is the Pastor at Zion Baptist Church and a former city council member for South Minneapolis. Please welcome him.
BRIAN HERRON, PASTOR, ZION BAPTIST CHURCH: I don't know what you're all clapping for. This is serious y'all. A man's life has been lost at the hands of someone who has sworn and protect and serve. I don't condone the violence but I understand it you want to focus on that rather than focusing on the violence that kicked it all off. We are never going to be distracted and we're not going to allow you to change the narrative.
That man pleaded for life and the camera is the witness, so I don't know how many more witnesses you need. It is time for justice to be served. We are tired. This is not a photo-opt. This is not a game. We wear this every day. You're all upset about Kaepernick taking the knee but you are not upset about the knee in that man's neck.
But, see, we are still here with hope. We are here with hope because we're not quitting and we're going to keep fighting. God said he gives us beauty for ashes.
And we believe that out of the ashes will rise a new Minneapolis and St. Paul. Out of the ashes, we're going to get justice and we're going to walk together and live together the way we were meant to.
My condolences, my condolences and I really appreciate you being here. I appreciate you all being here. God bless you all.
LESLIE REDMOND, PRESIDENT, NAACP MINNEAPOLIS: Fannie Lou Hamer once said, we are sick and tired of being sick and tired. And I stand here today exhausted. Black Minnesota, we are done dying. And, White Minnesota, you are done hiding. This has been a white Wakanda for far too long where black bodies drop like flies and nobody does anything.
I commend to Chief Arradondo for taking the right steps and immediately firing those officers. We want to be very clear that we stand with the first African-American chief. Now, Mike Freeman, where are you at, because we saw where you were at with Justine Damond when it was a white woman in South Minneapolis. We saw where you were and how eager you were to charge and prosecute a black Somali Muslim man.
Now, we want that same justice. We are here reclaiming our time and reclaiming humanity. Enough is enough. We want all four of the officers arrested and charged and eventually convicted. Those four officers stood, kneeled and killed George Floyd. All humanity should be outraged.
I also want to tell you all what you are witnessing in Minnesota as something that has been a long time coming. I can't tell you how many governors I have sat down with, how many mayors we've sat down with, and we've warned them that if you keep murdering black people, the city will burn.
We have stopped the city from burning numerous times and we are not responsible for it burning now. Mike Freeman is holding up progress. Poverty and oppression is holding up the progress. This is not simply looting. This is an uprising, an uprising of the oppressed people.
And we also need call out that there are many disruptors in our midst. Media, you need to cover the undercover cops who have been breaking these windows and breaking into businesses. We have -- burnt fire with specific triangles cut out. These kids are not equipped to do those kinds of things. So stop painting us to be monsters. This is your moment where you're trying to create super predators again. We see what you are doing. You're calling in the National Guard.
And I got a word to President Trump and I want to make sure you all get this word to him. I think that it's crazy that we're in a middle of a global pandemic, COVID-19, and you haven't sent a mask or any resources to the black people Minnesota, but you were quick to send your troops to kill us? We've already been seeing this open season all over the nation. You just opened it up even more.
You were crying, liberate Minnesota, when it came to economics, property and money. When are you going to tell them to liberate black people in America? Anyone believes in humanity, we are asking you to stand up. This is not just a black people issue. This is a human rights issue. And we are pleading with you young people, we are standing with you.
We want you to know that there are multiple ways to get your point across, and we are here to help you. You have a village that will help you strategize. I know that you are operating out of pain. Since no one else will talk to you, they just keep talking at you and keep referring to you but I haven't seen one of them on the ground trying to deescalate any situation. I've (INAUDIBLE) tear gas with you and I haven't thrown at you a rock yet. At some point, it's called defense.
And so, again, I will say, black Minnesota is done dying and white Minnesota, you are done hiding. You're white Wakanda has been discovered and it's for black people humanity to be recognized.
ARMSTRONG: Next up, we have Tamika Mallory who is here as the co- leader of the National Women's March and also the co-Founder of Until Freedom.
TAMIKA MALLORY, SOCIAL JUSTICE ADVOCATE: I heard some folks up there saying, no justice --
EVERYONE: No peace.
MALLORY: No justice.
EVERYONE: No peace.
MALLORY: No Justice.
EVERYONE: No peace.
MALLORY: And if we don't get no justice, there ain't going to be no damn peace. That's the bottom line. Let me just start off by saying to you that black people are in a state of an emergency. We are in a state of emergency, black folks in America. And those who support us need to understand that depth of the state of Emergency.
And it didn't just start today, but it is at a critical point. We are at a point where folks, grandmothers, all the way down to little babies are tired. People realize that this attack that we're under, I heard someone saying on T.V. today that it feels like every black person in America is being hunted. That's how we feel. And so that state of emergency is causing all types of things.
But out of the White House last night, we heard the president of the United States say that when the looting starts, the shooting starts, which we know is a reference to another racist time in the history of America where police abused our people.
That same president, he is the same man that in 2018 in one of his speeches, Donald Trump says that he is a nationalist. Now, this is important for people to understand what we are dealing with here so that you know when we say a state of emergency, what we mean.
From the president of the United States' mouth he said he is a nationalist. And if you understand the history of white nationalism in America to have the president say that, we were in a state of emergency at that moment.
He also went on at another press conference or another event to say to police officers, don't be so nice when you arrest them. You all got to remember the history of the man who was in the White House. He said, don't be so nice to them. Hit him in the head when you put them in the car. These were his words as the president of the United States.
This is not an isolated situation. These instances are not isolated. What is happening in America is that white nationalism ideology is running wild. And the reason why buildings are burning is because this city, this state would prefer preserving that white nationalism and that white supremacist mindset over arresting, charging and helping to convict four officers who killed a black man. That is the reality of what we are dealing with. This is not just a few cops doing things across --
KEILAR: All right, we are interrupting this news conference of the activists in Minneapolis to let you know that a Minneapolis Police Department officer, Derek Chauvin, the one that you saw in the video right there with his knee on the neck of George Floyd has been taken into custody. This is according to the Minnesota Department of Public Safety.
I want to go right to the ground there in Minneapolis where our Omar Jimenez has been covering this day in and day out for us. What can you tell us, Omar? I mean, we just heard from activists as they -- actually, I want to bring in Laura Coates, our legal analyst, to talk about this.
This isn't enough for activist, Laura. They made that clear. They feel that all four of these police officers should be held responsible. But what do you think about what this means that he has been taken into custody here on Friday after this death occurred on Monday?
LAURA COATES, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Well, this is actually one of many steps that needs to take place. Remember, we heard the press conference yesterday that they were looking at dotting all there is, crossing all their Ts, examining the full body of evidence to determine whether they had anything substantial to have probable cause.
Compared to beyond a reasonable after a conviction, probable cause is quite a low bar. It means that it probably happened and we know who caused this actually happened. We have a videotape that shows us that. We have more than seven minutes of footage to show what his actions were.
And so when we talk about a call for justice, it's a flowchart in many ways. It's about, number one, the firing, number two, it's about the arrest. Number three would be what charges will be presented here. And that's going to be the very big indication here. That will be the true barometer of how the Hennepin County Attorney's Office truly views the action of this particular police officer and his three remaining colleagues.
Why? Because it's going to be about whether the person was acting intentionally in a premeditated fashion.