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Police Precinct Burns in Minneapolis Amid Protests; Violent Protests Over Death of George Floyd; Floyd's Brother Demands Justice; Twitter Responds to Trump's Tweet on Minnesota; Trump Signs Executive Order Targeting Social Media; California Records Most New Cases in 24 Hours. Aired 4-4:30a ET

Aired May 29, 2020 - 04:00   ET



NATALIE ALLEN, CNN ANCHOR: The Minnesota National Guard is deploying 500 soldiers to the area. No charges have been filed against the officers who detained Floyd. Authorities say they want to be sure. They're case is airtight.


ERICA MACDONALD, U.S. ATTORNEY: I cannot emphasize enough how important it is that all your ducks are in a row before you make that charging decision because you can't undo what you've done if you rush. But if you take that time, you're going to do it right the first time and you're going to get it done the first time.


ALLEN: Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey clearly anguished by the situation in his city spoke about the serious loss of property from fires and looting a short time ago.


JACOB FREY, MINNEAPOLIS MAYOR: The symbolism of a building cannot outweigh the importance of life, of our officers or the public. We could not risk serious injury to anyone, and we will continue to patrol the third precinct entirely. We will continue to do our jobs in that area and, you know, brick and mortar is not as important as life.


ALLEN: President Trump tweeted his disdain for the situation dismissing the protesters as thugs. Twitter tagged his tweet as a violation of its rules for glorifying violence but didn't block it completely. We'll have more on this in just a few minutes. The President also took a swipe at major -- mayor, excuse me, Frey, calling him weak. That prompted this reaction from the mayor.


FREY: Weakness is refusing to take responsibility for your own actions. 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 damn sure that we're going to get through this.


ALLEN: All the personnel in the third precinct got out of the building before it went up in flames. Minneapolis's mayor, you saw him there, said he made the call because he was concerned about the risk of serious injury. Our Sara Sidner was there when the fire started. Here she is.


SARA SIDNER, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Those are fireworks being fired off by the protesters. We are watching them being fired off directly in front of me. All of those sparkling lights that you over head if you can see that, that is from fireworks, but we are definitely now seeing a fully on fire third precinct here. That is clearly what's happening there.

There have been boards that have been put up outside of the third precinct and those boards are on fire but it looks like the fire has gotten even bigger at this point in time. And you can see protesters so close to the fire that they are getting hit with sparks from the fire coming off of that building. So that is what's going on right now. It is official that the building is on fire. The third precinct is on fire. We do not know where the police are.

We see the Minnehaha liquors, that is on fire on the other side of the street. We see a fire behind the precinct. We also see protesters throwing fireworks at the precinct and the fire alarm is going on inside of the precinct. This is a scene that is completely changed from earlier today when things were peaceful, people cheering and more fireworks going off as literally the police precinct is burning.


ALLEN: In neighboring St. Paul, more than 170 businesses were damaged or looted. Police said dozens of fires there were set but there were no reports of serious injuries. Our Miguel Marquez was on the streets of St. Paul Thursday evening. Here's what he saw.


MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Two more fires have started down university towards the state capitol down there. I don't know if you can see that. But I want to show you what's happening here where protesters have been challenging police at this fire. Several businesses, including a Napa auto parts, are on fire up here. A large group of protesters just came up. It looked like they had been marching perhaps downtown and they came up -- very young protesters as well. They have now moved towards police not realizing just how liberal they're being used -- they are with the use of mace, tear gas, pepper bowls and flash bang grenades. So I'm guessing that police are shortly are going to try to disperse this crowd. [04:05:04]

This is what we've seen the entire day with the crowds that are growing, surging towards the police up here and then when they deploy some of those nonlethal types of weapons, then the crowd then shrinks back. And it's really gotten much, much bigger in the last few minutes. It's a little unclear -- I'm going to stop over here because is an area -- there's a large number protesters here. You can see them shooting pepper bowls here at those individuals.

Jake, step back a second. We have another fire truck coming through here. It's not clear what direction they are headed. They're probably headed down to these -- I can see two -- what appears to be two different fires about two blocks away towards the state capitol from where we are and I assume that's where that fire truck is headed right now.

The protesters on this other side of this street, they have really been challenging the police and this is where most of the activity has been today. These young protesters have just showed up. I'm afraid there may be an effort by police to move them back using non-lethal means here very shortly.


ALLEN: Our Miguel Marquez earlier following that development there. The outrage over George Floyd's death is spreading across the country. Dozens of people were arrested during demonstrations over his death in New York City. Authorities said nearly 40 people face charges ranging from obstruction to criminal possession of a weapon. Several police officers were injured as well, including one who suffered a possible concussion.

Now to Louisville, Kentucky, where there were reports of shots fired. Outrage over Floyd's death there combined with anger over a different shooting. An African-American woman named Brianna Taylor who was killed in a police raid in March. There were demonstrations out West in Phoenix, Arizona, Denver, Colorado, and in the mid-south in Memphis, Tennessee.

George Floyd's death is not an exception. A rash of killings of black men has many in the country's African-American community feel like they are targets. George Floyd's brother spoke, Philonese Floyd spoke a few hours ago with CNN's Chris Cuomo to express his anger, his hurt and to demand fairness and justice.


PHILONESE FLOYD, GEORGE FLOYD'S BROTHER: Everybody's reacting off of pain. Black men dying every day. They tired of seeing the same thing over and over. Everybody wants justice. It's just going thing these days. Justice for black people. Black lives matter.

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR, CUOMO PRIME TIME: How do you help somebody to understand the hurt that comes with hearing about your brother on top of what you believe is a reality that's almost as likely for you as it is for any other African-American?

FLOYD: I just tell 'em, just look back and look at everything that's going on. Eric Garner had to die. He couldn't breathe. That hurt me more than anything. Trayvon Martin, everybody. And get to 2020, my brother, all he did was go in the store, come out, they handcuffed him, put him in different angles. People record him left and right, checking on him, and all of a sudden, they just put him on the ground and one of them put their knee in his neck to execute him. What more can I say about anything? Everybody has the footage.

CUOMO: What was the hardest thing for you emotionally in finding out that this time it was your brother?

FLOYD: Just waking up to this. It's not right. I woke up irritated. I had to get up and go to work, and then I wake up to this, crying. My wife calling me over and over telling what's going on. I can't even shake it because I didn't understand because she kept telling me, my brother has passed, my brother has passed. I was like, what? No. But to find out that he was killed by people who supposed to serve and protect? No. I couldn't stand for that. I don't -- I want justice, and I'm not going to stop until I get the death penalty for those officers.

CUOMO: That's what you're calling for is the ultimate punishment. What do you think the chance is that that happens?

FLOYD: I don't know, but I'm calling for it because I know firing them, that was the first step. But they can go in another county and get a job.


But what I am seeking is that because they executed my brother. I want justice. You know, I want an arrest for all four of those officers tonight. A murder conviction for all four of those officers. I want the death penalty. I have not slept in four days, and those officers, they at home sleeping. No, I can't stand for that. They need to be locked up tonight. I want justice served. Arrest those officers so my family and the world can have closure.


ALLEN: The brother of George Floyd there. CNN has also been speaking with the Vice President of the Minneapolis city council, Andrea Jenkins. Her message is a call to declare racism itself a public health emergency. She also highlights the effect of the COVID crisis on America's black communities. Here she is.


ANDREA JENKINS, VICE PRESIDENT, MINNEAPOLIS COUNCIL: It actually is a public health crisis, and when you think about the COVID-19 and the coronavirus, who are the people that are dying, that are most likely to die from this disease? And it's black and brown people. It's elderly people, but even within that population of elderly people, it's still mostly black and brown people. And so it's a public health crisis because we are relegated to these jobs that put us in harm's way. We are relegated to substandard housing and overcrowded communities. Our communities are over policed. We don't have full access to health care.


ALLEN: CNN is putting together a special on this issue that we really invite you to watch. It is a new report examining race relations and police brutality in the United States. It is called "I CAN'T BREATHE, BLACK MEN LIVING AND DYING IN AMERICA" airs Sunday evening at 8:00 in New York. That is Monday at 8:00 in the morning in Hong Kong for our international viewers right here only on CNN.

Race also playing a big role in the coronavirus pandemic in the U.S. African-Americans are more likely to get COVID-19 and to die from it. We talk about that next.



ALLEN: The Minneapolis police department's third precinct burned Thursday night in protests over the death of George Floyd. And St. Paul authorities say dozens of businesses in that city were damaged -- of course these are Twin Cities. The unarmed black man, Mr. Floyd, died in police custody. No charges have been filed yet against the officers involved. Who were all fired. Attorney and CNN political commentator Bakari Sellers called what happened to Floyd a lynching.


BAKARI SELLERS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I think that for many people we have to define what racism is. I've said that before and I'll say it again, Stokely Carmichael defined racism as this. He said, if you want to lynch me, that's your problem. But if you have the power to lynch me, then that's my problem.

And what we are seeing is that they are lynching us in the streets. Brianna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery and now George Floyd. I mean, just think about all of the lynchings that we're seeing with our own eyes. I am worried about the systems of oppression that people of color live in in this country. I'm worried about the systemic racism that we face on a daily basis.


ALLEN: Bakari Sellers there. We've been sharing with you President Donald Trump's recent tweets about the unrest in Minnesota. He had this to say about the protests. Here's a quote.

These thugs are dishonoring the memory of George Floyd and I won't let that happen. Mr. Trump went on -- any difficulty and we will assume control, but when the looting starts, the shooting starts.

The words of the President. You can see at the top that Twitter took note a short time ago. It flagged that tweet saying this tweet violated the Twitter rules about glorifying violence. However, Twitter has determined that it may be in the public's interest for the tweet to remain accessible.

Let's talk about this with our business reporter Hadas Gold. She joins me now live from London, of course. The President already going after Twitter for starting to label his tweets when they deem them not factual. Now they're labeling them about violence.

HADAS GOLD, CNN BUSINESS REPORTER: Yes, Natalie. This is a much further action because the other labels we saw earlier this week, many of those tweets stayed up. You can still interact with them. They just had a fact checking label and link to them for more information. This action though actually hides the tweet from most people's timelines. And if you want to view it, you have to click through it.

Now this policy was enacted in June of last year. But this is the first time that Twitter is ever actually enforcing it against the President of the United States. Despite the fact that many people have said several other Trump tweets in the past year have warranted this label. So what this label means is that not only is it hidden from people's timelines, but also you can't reply to it and you can't just retweet it. If you want to retweet it, you have to add your own comment to it.

This is a very decisive action and this is one that Twitter has not taken to a lot of politicians. Because this new policy they said, while this tweet would violate its rules in other situations, it would potentially just be removed, because of the public interest, that is why they're keeping up.

But it's essentially Twitter just putting into action the policies that it already has on paper. But as you noted, it's coming at an interesting time, just one day after Trump signed that executive order that's trying to take away some of the protections that social media and Internet platforms have against being sued by users.


Essentially there was a 1996 law that says that internet platforms are not liable, they're not publishers in the traditional sense. They're not liable for what other users say or do on their platforms. And what this Executive Order is trying to do is place more of the responsibility on the social media platforms themselves. Of course, there are going to be many roadblocks to this. There are a lot of critics about how Trump is doing this. Because it's essentially in retaliation to what Twitter has done earlier, and Trump has made that very clear that he thinks that the social media companies are biased against him.

But also because the social media companies and Internet platforms because this action would affect all the Internet, not just social media platforms, will challenge this in court on First Amendment grounds. Since the government is trying to limit their First Amendment rights. And also, this is a law, Natalie. It would require Congressional approval if they actually wanted to fundamentally change that 1996 law. ALLEN: Right, the question remains, can his executive order be


GOLD: Well, there are some elements of the Executive Order, for example, federal spending on the social media companies that, yes, they can be enforced. But will we actually see what Trump actually wants from this Executive Order take place? And the answer is for most legal scholars, unlikely spur that to happen.

But listen, there have been calls for social media regulation from both sides of the aisle for quite some time. People are looking, for example, here in Europe where in countries in France and Germany there are strict rules against hate speech on social media companies that places the onus on the social media companies to remove that hate speech within a specific period of time or face strict fines.

But the way this is being done and the way that it is being approached makes it I think unlikely that there will be some sort of Congressional approval. And the social media companies and internet platforms are going to be fighting hard against this. Twitter called it reactionary and politicized. Facebook said it will restrict more speech online and Google has actually warned that it will hurt the economy.

ALLEN: Hadas Gold following this for us from London. Hadas, thank you.

The protests we are watching unfold in Minnesota are happening in the middle of course in a devastating global pandemic. The coronavirus has now killed more than 101,000 people here in the United States. And while many states are opening up and loosening restrictions, more than one dozen of them are seeing an increase in the number of infections, mostly in the South and West of the country. CNN's Jason Carroll has more about it.


JASON CARROLL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Just as California has begun moving forward with reopening comes word the state is now reporting the largest single day increase of confirmed coronavirus cases since the beginning of the pandemic. The California health department now reporting 2,617 new cases in the past 24 hours.

Meanwhile, in New York City, the epicenter of the pandemic scores of ambulance crews who came to New York to help during the height of the crisis returning home with fanfare. This as New York City's mayor reaffirms that the city is just weeks away from reopening.

BILL DE BLASIO, NEW YORK CITY MAYOR: We are getting to the point very, very soon where we can take the first step to restart in phase one.

CARROLL: When that happens, 2 to 400,000 people will head back to work.

DE BLASIO: You have earned it. CARROLL: New York is one of two dozen states seeing a decrease in new

cases, but there are 16 states, mostly in the southeast, with an uptick. Arkansas the worst among them recording a 46 percent increase in cases among children. A spike also in Mississippi. But that's not stopping the governor from lifting the stay at home order on Monday.

TATE REEVES, MISSISSIPPI GOVERNOR: There will still be health and safety guidelines for people to follow, but we cannot have an endless shutdown.

CARROLL: And with cases in Alabama also on the rise, concerns remain over the number of ICU beds.

STEVEN REED, MONTGOMERY, ALABAMA MAYOR: So we're down to two this morning as of the last update I had. So we're not doing better. We're actually doing worse unfortunately. We are in a place that, you know, would be considered a crisis at this moment.

CARROLL: The Centers for Disease Control now highlighting a new forecast predicting an increase in hospitalizations across the country next month. And as more businesses reopen or are poised to reopen, the CDC issued new guidelines for employers to help keep their workers safe. Including increasing outdoor air circulation and installing barriers to separate people when social distancing is not possible. Still new research showing six feet of social distancing may not be enough.

DR. JEANNE MARRAZZO, UNIVERSITY OF ALABAMA AT BIRMINGHAM: If you are in an area where you are really close to people and that virus is not in air that's circulating well, it's going to be easier for you to breathe it. And the role rule is 15 minutes, right. So closer than 6 feet for longer than 15 minutes, that's the threshold that we have been using.


CARROLL: Going forward, health officials recommend socializing outdoors when possible. And yet one of the nation's oldest outdoor events the Boston Marathon canceled for the first time in its 124-year history. So much uncertainty but also examples of the power of the human spirit. Take Jean Stenya, a 103-year-old grandmother from Massachusetts who survived COVID-19.


CARROLL: And celebrated with a bud light.

Jason Carroll, CNN, New York.


ALLEN: How wonderful for her.

Coming up here, anger continues to explode in the U.S. over the death of a black man in police custody. We'll have the latest on the protests the violence and protests going on across the country. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

ALLEN: And welcome back to our viewers here in the U.S. and around the world, I'm Natalie Allen live from Atlanta.

I want to bring you the latest on what's going on in Minneapolis. Some 500 National Guard troops are on their way to the Twin Cities in Minnesota in response to the escalating street violence. Angry protests in the cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul have escalated into volatile scenes of fires, looting, tear gas and pepper spray from police. A police station and numerous other buildings are now in flames. I

t is a chaotic situation that's been building ever since an African- American man, George Floyd, died Monday in police custody after video showed an officer kneeling on his neck.