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THE SITUATION ROOM
Interview with St. Paul, Minnesota, Mayor Melvin Carter; Minneapolis Police Officer Charged with Third-Degree Murder; Protests in Multiple Cities Over George Floyd's Death. Aired 6-7p ET
Aired May 29, 2020 - 18:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: In Minneapolis, authorities are hoping to avoid yet another explosive night of unrest, as protesters are getting some, but not all of what they have been demanding.
One of four police officers involved in the death of George Floyd is in custody tonight. Derek Chauvin is charged with third-degree murder and manslaughter after he kneeled on Floyd's neck for nearly nine minutes without stop, as Floyd cried out repeatedly: "I can't breathe. I can't breathe. I can't breathe."
The criminal complaint reveals that Floyd was unresponsive for almost three minutes before the then police officer finally removed his knee.
The racial tensions and inequities at the heart of this case are on display, as a CNN correspondent and crew covering the protest, they were inexplicably arrested early this morning. Minnesota's governor is now apologizing.
All of this unfolding in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, which has now claimed more than 100,200 lives right here in the United States.
Let's go to Minneapolis right now.
Our national correspondent, Sara Sidner, is on the scene for us.
Sara, so describe the situation the ground now.
SARA SIDNER, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: I want to let you see it, Wolf.
We are standing up the street from the 3rd Precinct. You see two layers of law enforcement. You have the state patrol that is standing here, and behind them, the sheriff's department. They are also facing off with protesters now who are still very angry about what has happened in this case. They say justice is not served until all of the officers have been detained and arrested.
UNIDENTIFIED PROTESTER: No justice.
UNIDENTIFIED PROTESTERS: No peace!
UNIDENTIFIED PROTESTER: No justice.
UNIDENTIFIED PROTESTERS: No peace!
SIDNER (voice-over): Calls for justice continuing today in Minneapolis and across the country, as Derek Chauvin, the officer seen here kneeling on George Floyd's neck, is arrested and accused of third- degree murder.
MICHAEL FREEMAN, ATTORNEY, HENNEPIN COUNTY, MINNESOTA: Has been charged by the head of a county attorney's office with murder and with manslaughter. This is by far the fastest we have ever charged a police officer.
SIDNER: Chauvin's lawyers have not responded to CNN's request for comment. Prosecutors say the other officers involved are also under investigation and will likely face charges.
Still, Floyd's supporters say it is not enough.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No, we are not satisfied with one officer. That's crumbs. All of them.
SIDNER: Hennepin County officials say, Chauvin knelt on Floyd's neck for eight minutes and 46 seconds, including nearly three minutes after Floyd had lost consciousness.
But, according to preliminary results of the medical examiner's autopsy, there are no physical findings that support a diagnosis of traumatic asphyxia or strangulation. Still, the report acknowledges that the combined effects of Mr. Floyd being restrained by the police, his underlying health conditions and any potential intoxicants likely contributed to his death.
Overnight, protests left police precinct and parts of downtown in ruins.
REP. TIM WALZ (D-MN): Your pain is real. The chapter that's been written this week is one of our darkest chapters.
SIDNER: Minnesota Governor Tim Walz now vowing solidarity and pleading for calm.
WALZ: And I will not patronize you, as a white man, without living those lived experiences, of how very difficult that is. But I'm asking you to help us. Help us use a humane way to get the streets to a place where we can restore the justice.
SIDNER: The Twin Cities tinderbox set ablaze Monday by this devastating scene.
GEORGE FLOYD, DIED IN POLICE CUSTODY: I can't breathe.
SIDNER: Now new cell phone video first obtained by NBC News shows Chauvin and two other officers pinning Floyd to the ground. He ultimately died.
We are also now learning Chauvin and Floyd used to work security at the same local nightclub, according to the owner.
MAYA SANTAMARIA, FORMER NIGHTCLUB OWNER: Chauvin, we all know, has had a little bit of past with his temper and feeling maybe afraid when he's around African American men.
SIDNER: Thursday night, police say more than 170 Minneapolis businesses were looted, damaged or destroyed.
Protests also erupted in Colorado, New York, Tennessee, Kentucky, Arizona, and Ohio.
L.Z. GRANDERSON, ESPN: It is so stressful at times just to be black in America. I still tense up, because I don't know if this is the day. And it's real. It's not made up. This is real.
SIDNER: This morning, the nation shocked at another arrest, CNN's own Omar Jimenez arrested live on air.
OMAR JIMENEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Do you mind telling me why I'm under arrest, sir?
SIDNER: He and his team were inexplicably arrested this morning. They were held for some 90 minutes. Governor Walz now strongly denouncing their treatment.
WALZ: I don't care at this point what the circumstance was why they got arrested. It is wrong. It is unacceptable. And we needed to correct it.
SIDNER: And there is a change in what is going to be expected out here from authorities as far as the protesters.
They have now put in a curfew, both here in Minneapolis and in St. Paul. But, for now, protesters are making their voices heard here in front of police, the State Patrol here.
We are just down the street from the 3rd Precinct that we watched burn last night -- Wolf.
BLITZER: We certainly did.
All right, Sara Sidner on the scene for us, be careful over there. Thank you very much.
I want to go to our chief White House correspondent, Jim Acosta, right now.
The president just reacting to what's been going on in Minnesota. Update our viewers. JIM ACOSTA, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Wolf.
The president was just speaking with reporters a few moments ago, said he's spoken with a family of George Floyd. He said, when he spoke with the family, that they were grieving, and he passed on his condolences.
Now, as for the controversy that he started last night, when he tweeted, "When the looting starts, the shooting starts," the president was asked whether or not he knew the origins of that remark, which date back to 1967, when the then Miami police chief used that expression, when the looting starts, the shooting starts, to talk about how his police department would handle unrest in that city.
The president claimed just a few moments ago to reporters he didn't know the origins of that statement. Here's what he had to say.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
QUESTION: You tweeted, "When the looting starts, the shooting starts."
How would you know that phrase and not know its racially charged history?
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Well, I have heard that phrase for a long time. I don't know where it came from, where it originated. I view that phrase as...
QUESTION: In 1967, the Miami police chief used it.
TRUMP: Well I don't know. I've also heard it from many other places, but I've heard it for a long time, as most people have.
And, frankly, it means, when there's looting, people get shot and they die. And if you look at what happened last night and the night before, you see that. It's very common. And that's the way that was meant, and that's the way I think it was supposed to be meant.
But I don't know where it came from. I don't know where it originated. I wouldn't know a thing like that. But I will say, it's very accurate in the sense that, when you do have looting, like you had last night, people often get shot, and they die. And that's not good and we don't want that to happen.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ACOSTA: Now, Wolf, the president is denying knowing the origins of the phrase, but he is mischaracterizing the meaning of that phrase.
When the police chief in Miami in 1967 used that phrase, he was essentially saying that police officers in Miami would use force and would shoot looters if they were to go out and start looting in that city.
And if you go back to the president's original tweet, there is some, I think, indication that the president knew full well what he was tweeting. He says in the tweet: "Just spoke to Governor Tim Walz and told him that the military is with him all the way. Any difficulty and we will assume control. But when the looting starts, the shooting starts."
It strains credulity to think that the president did not mean that some use of force would be used against looters when he talks about the military being with the governor of Minnesota all the way.
The other thing we should point out, Wolf, at the beginning of that tweet, the president refers to So, "these thugs." He uses the word thugs. He puts the word thugs in all capital letters.
The president was just asked a few moments ago if he thinks any of the protesters in Minneapolis are -- quote -- "good people." And he said, yes, he believes some of the protesters are good people, but that there are other protesters there who obviously caused a lot of problems last night.
And you just have to wonder, Wolf, if the president would have avoided this entire firestorm of controversy if he had just put things in those terms from the very beginning.
But, as we have pointed out many times, Wolf, the president has a long history, a long track record going all the way back to the campaign, and even before then, of inflaming racial tensions and using those racial tensions for political gain -- Wolf.
BLITZER: We have been showing our viewers live pictures coming in from demonstrations around the country in New York, Atlanta, here in Washington, D.C., not just in Minneapolis and St. Paul, but other cities as well.
We will stay on top of that. Jim Acosta, thank you very much.
Right now, though -- right now, I want to show our viewers more of the arrest of CNN correspondent Omar Jimenez and his crew as it aired live on this network very early this morning.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JIMENEZ: Yes. We've got one person being arrested here.
JIMENEZ: We're media. Yes, we're good. Yes. Hold on. I got you, I got you. Hold on. They had us here. They had us here.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Stand by.
JIMENEZ: 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.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There are (OFF-MIKE) security guards.
JIMENEZ: This is the four of us. We are one team. Just...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (OFF-MIKE)
JIMENEZ: Put us back where you want us. We are getting out of your way. So, just let us know.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (OFF-MIKE)
JIMENEZ: Wherever you would want us, we will -- 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.
And this is the scene here playing out in Minneapolis. This is part of the advanced 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, saying and scattering the protesters at that point for people to clear the area. And so we walked away.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (OFF-MIKE)
JIMENEZ: I'm sorry?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You're under arrest.
Do you mind telling me why I'm under arrest, sir? Why am I under arrest, sir?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Officer, we're with CNN, and he's on the air right now.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He is on the air with CNN.
You are arresting him live on CNN. We -- we told you before that we are with CNN.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: What an awful, awful situation that was.
Omar Jimenez is joining us now live from Minneapolis.
Omar, I can't tell you how happy we are to see you, to know that you're OK. What an ordeal you and your photojournalist Leonel Mendez and producer Bill Kirkos went through early this morning, detained, handcuffed for, what, 90 minutes.
Tell our viewers what it was like. And did the police give you any explanation at all why the three of you and I think the security guard that CNN had were being detained?
JIMENEZ: Well, that was the question that we were asking from the very beginning.
You heard me on tape there literally asking, why are we being arrested? And we never really got a clear answer there. The most we got was me speaking to my particular arresting officer as we are walking away. And he was cordial with me, I will say.
But when I was talking to him, I said, hey, what guidance can you give me, because we will be here all week? Why were we being arrested? He said: "I'm just following orders, man. I don't know."
So it's not clear who gave those orders. But, clearly, they were being carried out. As I mentioned in there as well, we were reporting on -- or, I should say, within Governor Walz here has described as 48 hours of anarchy here in the city of Minneapolis, where the scene that we were on when we got there just past 2:00 in the morning, there was a building completely on fire, no fire department anywhere to be seen, no law enforcement there at all.
And that was when -- what we were reporting, until literally a wave of fire department, local police, State Patrol came in almost all at once, and we saw the situation unfold there.
We got led away, my crew and I, as you saw that there. And we were placed in a police van as we were waiting to get taken downtown. And one of the things that we were all trying to figure out again at the time is, later on, when State Patrol said they were trying to identify us and confirm us as reporters, there was a long period of time where we sat in that van, before we didn't go anywhere, a long period of time for them to be able to confirm whether we were reporting, not to mention the fact we are literally live on air as this was happening, Wolf.
BLITZER: And so you were -- were you handcuffed, the three of you, the four of you, I think, were you actually handcuffed that whole time?
JIMENEZ: Yes, so it was myself, my photographer, Leonel Mendez, our producer Bill, and then our security that was with us as well.
All four of us were handcuffed. We were led over to that police van, as I mentioned. And we were in that van, all handcuffed, stationary for around 30 minutes or so. Then we began the process downtown to the public safety building there.
Then we waited inside the van for what seemed like another 30 to 40 minutes, still handcuffed in the back. And little did I know there were calls being made behind the scenes to try and help us and clear the air here, because, clearly, we were doing what we have been doing this entire week. And one of the things that we were discussing is that, in many ways,
this was a microcosm of the story that we are here to cover in the first place. When you look at what's happened with George Floyd, part of why it is so -- it has struck a chord with so many people is that it was on camera, in plain view for everyone to see. You couldn't dispute what was happening in front of your very eyes.
And this was the story we are trying to tell. And then that ended up happening on a much smaller scale to us, when we were telling that story.
And we felt thankful that this happened, again, live on air for everyone to see. No one could dispute how we were acting with law enforcement. No one could dispute that we were as cordial as we could possibly be, which we oftentimes see in situations and interactions with police.
They are characterized as unruly, potentially, and sometimes when that's not warranted. And so we were thankful for that reason. But we also have seen in recent -- in situations past, like in the case of Eric Garner, for example, just because something is on camera doesn't mean it is foolproof.
And that's part of what's giving these protesters energy here, waiting to see what will happen with the fate of these four officers. Just because this was on camera, will these officers get the fate that these protesters feel they deserve? We don't know. And we will just have to wait and see, Wolf.
BLITZER: I got to tell you, Omar, that it was live on CNN here in the United States, indeed, around the world in more than 200 countries and territories.
And people around the world were getting in touch with me and saying, what is going on in the United States of America right now? They're arresting a journalist for simply doing his job, reporting the news.
You're going to be with us for the rest of the hour, Omar, but a quick question, because I know you had a chance after you were released to call your grandmother and your mother. Tell us about those conversations.
JIMENEZ: Well, as you can imagine, they both were watching on air as this was happening. And so in the time where I did not have my phone, and I was being transported to the public safety building downtown, my mom, as I found out later, was calling every single person on the planet, basically, trying to figure out where I was going.
And for the people that could find out where I was going, I hadn't been booked, so there was no real record of where I actually was. So, for my mom, her biggest worry was that she had no idea where she was -- or where I was.
And even though we have a working relationship with the police, as we often do, as members of the media, to her, she doesn't know the officers that led me away. She doesn't know exactly how safe I am or not in those moments.
And those were some of the things that were going through her head. And my grandmother was the exact same way. My grandmother was telling me that -- and during the civil rights movement, she was arrested as a protester. And she looked at me almost saying it as a badge of honor for sticking up for and standing your ground.
And I'm thankful to say we were able to do that by doing our job, a constitutional protected job. But, at the end of the day, it was a lot of scary moments, even more so for my friends and family and loved ones watching what was happening, even if my crew and I, we were together, still, in some ways in work mode, understanding the magnitude of what was happening.
BLITZER: Yes, given the climate there, I was watching, like everybody else. I was so worried about you, Omar.
And, fortunately, it turned out OK.
I want to thank the president of CNN, Jeff Zucker, who made a very, very important call to the governor of Minnesota, who helped get you released and our crew, our photojournalist Leonel Mendez, our producer Bill Kirkos.
JIMENEZ: And, Wolf, on that, I...
BLITZER: Yes, go ahead.
JIMENEZ: On that, I want to say that Jeff Zucker said that -- right after I got out, he told me that he made the most important call of my life for me.
So, I assumed it was to the governor. And he said, no, that most important call of your life was to your mother. He called my mother to tell her and let her know that I was OK. And I really did appreciate that, as she did as well.
BLITZER: Yes. And I'm grateful, we're all grateful to Jeff for getting involved immediately and getting that done -- 90 minutes, though, you were handcuffed and detained.
All right, stick around. Don't go too far away, Omar, because these demonstrations are continuing all around the country.
Shimon Prokupecz is in Brooklyn for us right now.
Shimon, tell us what you're seeing there.
SHIMON PROKUPECZ, CNN CRIME AND JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Well, so we just walked over the Brooklyn Bridge. We have been walking with this group. It's been several groups.
They have now gathered here at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, in Flatbush, downtown Brooklyn area. It's the home of the Nets. And what the police have done is, they have allowed them all to gather
here. This is by far, Wolf, the largest protests that we have yet seen here in New York City this week, when all the protests here started. It's been mostly peaceful.
Police have made a couple of arrests, not here, though. Here, a lot of the police are on the perimeter. They're allowing them to gather here, to stay here. We're hearing chance of "Black lives matter," "No justice, no peace."
And they're just peacefully gathered here. There's a lot of clapping. There are speeches and people just gathered all around. More people are streaming into this location. So it's probably going to get bigger as the hour goes.
But what's been significant here is that a lot of the folks here gathered in Lower Manhattan. They crossed the bridge, peaceful while they walked over the bridge. There were no incidents on the bridge. The police have allowed them to march, to walk the streets, to chant.
A few arrests. What happens usually is, when protesters head into the street, that is when the police move in. But if they stay on the sidewalk, and they follow the laws, the police don't move in.
So it's been peaceful. A good place here, Wolf. It's a large location, plenty of space for the protesters to gather, to march, to voice their frustrations. And that's what they have been doing.
You can hear there's chanting and there's clapping behind me. And most important, of course, is that it's been peaceful. And people have been able to gather here. And the police have allowed them to gather here.
And, really, Wolf, I think this is -- what's so significant here is that how big the crowd is. I mean, this is the second day that I have certainly -- I have been covering protests here. And I have covered other protests through the years here in New York City. This is a sizable crowd.
Of course, for New York City, they have gone through their own share -- the folks here have gone through their own shares with issues with police. Omar mentioned the Eric Garner case was a significant case here involving the police with interaction with a black man in Staten Island that they put in a choke hold, almost in a similar situation to what we're seeing play out now.
There as well, the police put him in a choke hold. He eventually died. And, of course, there was an investigation that went on for years, and nothing ever happened.
So we're hearing Eric Garner's name mentioned here, and really just a very peaceful, orderly crowd, as they continue to gather here, Wolf, and just police really allowing them to gather, to chant, to voice their frustration, Wolf.
BLITZER: You know, a lot of anger around the United States in a lot of cities over what happened in Minneapolis.
Shimon, we will get back to you.
Shimon is in Brooklyn, New York.
I want to go to St. Paul, Minnesota right now, which also has faced some serious protests and unrest.
The mayor of St. Paul is joining us, Melvin Carter.
Mayor Carter, thank you so much for joining us.
So, you have been watching all of this unfold. You're up close. It's very personal for you, I know, as well.
What's your response, Mayor, in your community of St. Paul, as the fired police officer, Derek Chauvin, is now charged with third-degree murder and manslaughter in the killing of George Floyd?
MELVIN CARTER, MAYOR OF ST. PAUL, MINNESOTA: Thank you, Wolf. Thank you for having me on.
I think it's a good -- I think it's an important start. It's a good start. It's not enough. We need to see those other three officers held accountable as well. As you well know, there is an enormous amount of anger and rage in St. Paul, in Minneapolis, across the nation right now around this.
That's anger that we can see somebody like George Floyd, who's just described by all who knew him as a gentle giant, see on our -- just wake up to a video of him being killed, no less by someone who we pay, who we hire as a community to protect us.
We are angry, because his name is not the first one. As you were just talking about, Eric Garner is the one who already said, "I can't breathe," while being choked to death by a police officer.
The fact that we have to clarify which unarmed, unaggressive African American man we're talking about who got choked to death while he was saying, "I can't breathe," is the reason why people are so angry.
And on top of that, it's the fact that we can't find any historic basis to be able to tell the young people who are enraged about this, without a shadow of a doubt, that someone will be held accountable when a life is lost in such drastic and dramatic fashion.
We're seeing anger. That anger is understandable. That anger is inevitable at some point when people keep getting off the hook and no one is held accountable. And, unfortunately, it's being expressed in some really unfortunate, some unacceptable and destructive ways.
BLITZER: The Hennepin County attorney, Michael Freeman, says he anticipates charges that will be filed against the three other police officers seen in that video either standing aside doing nothing in the midst of all that screaming, "I can't breathe. I can't breathe. I can't breathe," coming in from George Floyd. Do all four police officers, now former, ex-police officers, from your perspective, Mayor, need to be charged for members of your community to feel justice has been served?
CARTER: Absolutely, Wolf.
My father is a retired member of the St. Paul Police Department for nearly 30 years. I remember there were days where we'd pass something that was going on, and he'd go and intervene. And I'd say, hey, why don't you tell them it's your day off? And he would laugh and say, I never have a day off. I'm always accountable for my actions.
Our police officers have a duty to intervene. They weren't standing there doing nothing. Two of them were kneeling on George Floyd as well. The other was standing guard over the scene. And I will tell you, doing nothing is a -- even if that is all that they did, it's a major failure of their duty to intervene.
And if it was just one officer, we might be able to say, bad apple or rogue officer or something along those lines, but when we see three officers who can see a scene that every other member of humanity who I know can look at and say, that's just wrong, and not feel like it's their job to intervene, then that speaks to a broader culture, a generalized, normalized, accepted culture that must be broken.
BLITZER: Mayor Carter, I want you to stand by, because I want to get the reaction also from Andrea Jenkins, the Minneapolis City Council vice president, who is also joining us right now.
Andrea, thank you so much for joining us.
We got Mayor Carter's reaction.
What's your reaction to the charging of this former police officer, Derek Chauvin, third-degree murder and manslaughter?
ANDREA JENKINS, VICE PRESIDENT, MINNEAPOLIS CITY COUNCIL: How you doing, Wolf?
I'm happy that that charge has been made. It's not the charge that I think it will ultimately be, but it does get the perpetrator, Officer Chauvin, in off the streets and in custody. And now the other three officers, I believe, need to be charged, so that we can really begin to turn the corner in this community and begin to heal our community and clean up our streets and rebuild our community.
And that is the direction we need to be headed in.
BLITZER: Do you think the other three police officers, ex-police officers, will be charged?
JENKINS: You know, again, I'm certainly not an attorney. I think they should be charged. I mean, they were not only complicit. I mean, they were involved.
There's no video that I just saw today that actually shows that three officers were kneeling on Mr. Floyd during that incident. And one officer, who we initially saw standing guard, but now I saw this new video, and they -- all three are kneeling on him with their knees and putting their full body weight on him.
So, absolutely, they should be charged.
BLITZER: As you know, there's an 8:00 p.m. curfew tonight in Minneapolis, because, obviously, authorities are afraid there's going to be a repetition of what happened last night, the night before.
What are you bracing for?
JENKINS: Well, I support that.
And I know you Mayor Carter on the line too. And I hope that that 8:00 p.m. curfew is actually in St. Paul as well. I mean, we are the Twin Cities, and so, we are very, very closely situated.
It is, I think, the right move to do for the time being, for the next couple of days, until we can regain control of the streets and stem the destruction of the very communities -- I mean, these communities that are being set on set on fire and looted, these communities house people of color and community -- low-income communities, people who are really struggling.
And in the midst of this pandemic -- there's limited transportation options for people. There are limited grocery store and medical supply options for people.
And so we have to begin to turn the tables, so we can make sure that we are directing our -- today marks the largest day of death from the COVID crisis in Minnesota. And so it's very discerning. And we got to get a handle on it here.
BLITZER: Yes, we certainly do.
Andrea Jenkins, I want you to stand by.
Mayor Carter, I'm going to bring Don Lemon into this conversation as well.
But is there a curfew in St. Paul as well, Mayor Carter?
CARTER: Yes, we have a curfew in St. Paul as well, 8:00 p.m. to 6:00 a.m.
BLITZER: So just like in Minneapolis.
Don, I know you have questions for the Mayor and for the city council vice president.
DON LEMON, CNN HOST: Mayor, we have spoken before. And I just want to ask you. This is all happening in the middle of a pandemic. And I'm just wondering what your concern level is, because we don't see much social distancing going on. And this has a potential of making the Twin Cities a hot spot very soon, if not now.
So, how are you protecting yourself? How are you preparing for that possibility?
CARTER: That's exactly right.
It's an incredible concern. Over the last couple of months, I have been saying, we're facing two crises at once -- well, in terms of our pandemic crisis and our economic crisis.
We know the reporting on the disparities around those crises has been broad, that those crises are hitting our communities of color, and, in particular, our African American community, the hardest.
Well, we have another trauma in our community that we woke up to that video that was so heartbreaking to so many of us. The heartbreaking thing about these demonstrations and the destruction that their causing is, they're re-traumatizing those exact same communities as the pharmacies that our senior citizens are relying on to get their medicine, the grocery stores that our families are relying and the food shortage, the jobs that our neighbors are relying on in an economic crisis that are threatened by this.
And should we come to a space where, you know, this become a super spreader event, those same communities will be traumatized one more time. This is exactly why we're calling for people to calm down, to simmer down.
One of our challenge this, my instinct, normally, would be to bring people together and say we have to heal together, we have to join together, but we haven't been able to figure out how to do even that with masks and with social distancing, and in the context of the public recommendation we're getting.
LEMON: And, Councilwoman Jenkins, I think everyone should know, we met a couple years ago for a Martin Luther King celebration in Minneapolis and we spent time together. And I think it's -- I don't think it is out of bounds to say that you are a proud transwoman and that you are considering about the trans community there --
ANDREA JENKINS, VICE PRESIDENT, MINNEAPOLIS CITY COUNCIL: Absolutely. We actually met at the LGBT forum that CNN hosted a couple of months ago as well.
LEMON: Yes. So what I want to say to you is that I called you last night after the show to thank you for coming on. And also because you said something that I found interesting. Is that a George Floyd and Derek Chauvin knew each other. Probably I think they knew each other because they work at the same restaurant apparently as security. Was there some sort of a relationship between them or did they have some sort of issue with each other? Or was this just an odd --
JENKINS: Yes, you know, that's a very strange occurrence. I am not, in any way, have any information around if they had a relationship. You know, I know that the restaurant is not a particularly not a large restaurant.
BLITZER: I just want to interrupt Andrea, if you can hear me. I just want to interrupt that because we on CNN earlier of the day, did speak with the owner of that club who said, yes, they both worked there as bouncers, but she didn't think they actually worked together, and they really didn't know each other, just a coincidence. That's what the owner told us on CNN. But they really didn't know each other, but it's pretty amazing coincidence. But go ahead and finish your thought.
JENKINS: Well you know, my thought is that, you know, I mean I have been working for quite some time. And, you know, even if you don't necessarily personally have a relationship with people in your workplace, you know who is there, particularly if you are a police officer and a security guard and your main job is to secure the place, you need to know who all is responsible for that security.
And so I would suspect that there had to have been some level of awareness of who each other were. I am not saying they were friends or compadres or having dinner on the weekends together. Clearly, from the owner's description, that the officer, the former officer felt pretty uncomfortable around African American people.
BLITZER: By the way, in St. Paul, look, if you could -- Andrea, if you can see what's going on in San Jose, California, you can see this individual, his car, the window, the rear window, has just been smashed in. I'm not sure, I obviously don't know who's in there, who's driving away right now, but you can see the rear window was just smashed in by some of the demonstrators, some of the protesters in San Jose.
It's going on, Andrea and Mayor Carter in Saint Paul, in Minneapolis obviously. Right here in Washington that we see huge crowds walking down 14th Street Northwest. They're heading, we're told towards the White House. Our Brian Todd is on the scene for us there as well in Atlanta. All around New York, and Brooklyn we saw Shimon Prokupecz reporting from there.
You got to worry, Andrea, and let me get Andrea to weigh in first. You got have to worry that this situation could continue, we hope it doesn't, but could continue or explode in violent ways.
JENKINS: It really can, Wolf. And I really hope that we can get cooler heads prevailing, calmer heads. It's time for our leadership at the very top of our government to really be able to talk to people and calm these tremendous expressions of anguish and pain.
And I more than anybody recognize that that is not likely to happen. So that means that people like myself and Mayor Carter and others, and your platform that you all have, we have to be calling for calm and peace.
I understand the frustration, but we are compounding some really serious issues with the health crisis, the economic crisis that's going on and dare I say, you know, I mean we know that white supremacist groups have been growing exponentially, particularly in the past three or four years. And we could potentially be sitting on a powder keg.
LEMON: Hey, Wolf, can I ask something real quick?
BLITZER: Sure go ahead, Don.
LEMON: So I want to ask, you know, as the mayor and Andrea, whoever wants to answer it, but, Mayor, it's you first. Last time we spoke to Chief Ramsey, former of Washington, D.C. Police Chief, and also the Philadelphia Police Commissioner at one point, and when they were bringing in the National Guard, and the National Guard were bringing in 500 people that was as of last night. And then, Wolf, you correct me if it's been updated, I don't know if they've added more people.
But what Chief Ramsey said to me considering what he, with the picture he was looking at, considering its twin cities, two cities at least happening there, he didn't think 500 members of the National Guard would be enough. Do you think that if, if -- and let's hope it doesn't happen -- but if there are -- if the protesters get out of control tonight in some way, do you think you have enough manpower to be able to keep the citizens safe and the city?
CARTER: Well, I sure hope so. You know, we've had a great relationship with not just our National Guard but with the University of Minnesota police, our metro transit police, with other suburban jurisdictions as well to be able to bring support. I'll tell you, our St. Paul police officers and firefighters sure provided here work for us in our community yesterday.
We have ultimately three groups really in our city yesterday. We have those who are just distraught and heartbroken by the loss of George Floyd who felt just wholeheartedly, like I do, that he should still be alive, who feel wholeheartedly like I do that all four of those officers should be held accountable for his death, and feel wholeheartedly like I do that we have to do everything that we can to prevent this to never be happening again.
We had a group of folks who were down here trying to just use his death as an excuse to break a window and set something on fire.
The bigger group, I think, is the number of people, and particularly maybe young people, who are enraged by this, who know that this cannot continue. who also know, frankly, that rioting and looting doesn't honor his name and doesn't make a different future for us, but they're looking at us all to say, what is the path. We've seen courts fail, we've seen legislation fail, we've tried and tried and tried and just seen this pattern continue over the last decade as far as the camera phones are concerned, but our grandparents have seen this over generations. And so we owe to our ourselves, we owe it to them to provide ourselves with the path out this. And until we don't just address the how people are protesting, we've got to make sure that we do it in a way that's constructive, but we also have to address the why people are protesting, not just at the local level, but at the national level as well.
BLITZER: All right. I want Mayor Carter to stay with us, Mayor Melvin Carter of St. Paul, also Andrea Jenkins, the Minneapolis City Council Vice President.
You can see these demonstrators around the country. They're obviously very angry over the death of George Floyd. The charge today, the third degree murder and man slaughter against Derek Chauvin, the ex-police office.
Brian Todd, you're watching the demonstrators moving here in Washington, D.C. Tell us what you're hearing, tell us what you're seeing. Are they heading towards the White House?
BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: They do appear to be heading towards the White House, Wolf. They've got a few blocks to go, up 14th Street and then West to 16th Street. They say that that's where they going to go. We're going to see if that happens.
But I got to tell you, we've been pretty impressed with how this crowd has grown just in the last 30 minutes. Our photo journalist, Jay McMichael's, is going up on his perch here. You can see all these people -- there are thousands of people on the streets of Washington now. We started out with maybe a couple of dozen, grew to a couple hundred, it is now in the thousands, the very voice to this crowd.
They're doing chants like, you know, no justice, no peace, as we hear all across the country. Many of them a few moments ago start raising their hands and saying, don't shoot. You know, they have done -- excuse me sir -- they have called out the names of many young African Americans man who have died at the hands of the police, and then repeating, say their names.
So they are very, very frustrated.
One of the organizers -- sorry, guys, I'm just going to move around a bicycle. One of the organizers told me a short time ago that they want to send a message to the protesters in Minneapolis, to keep fighting the good fight, but in the same breath he said, here in Washington, they do not want damage to property, they don't want to confront the police. They don't want any of the looting that's going on.
So far, Wolf, this has been very, very peaceful, very passionate, very boisterous. We're going to see where it ends, you know, a lot of very impassioned speeches too. One gentleman told the crowd that he's been crying ever since he saw George Floyd die in that video.
So, again, frustration that this keeps happening to young African American men, unarmed men, they want it to stop. One young lady though told us, one of the organizers told us she just does not think it is going to stop anytime soon. So, they're very resolute, they're angry, they don't see a lot of hope that this is going to end anytime soon, Wolf.
BLITZER: Yes, it's a serious situation. The demonstrators underscoring that in Washington, D.C. and New York, in California, obviously, Minneapolis and St. Paul as well, and Atlanta. We've been seeing some demonstrators. Also it's a very, very serious situation.
Laura Coates, our Legal Analyst is with us. And I'm anxious, Laura, to get your legal analysis of what has happened today, third degree murder charges, manslaughter charge against Derek Chauvin, the ex- police officer who had his knee on the George Floyd's neck for almost nine minutes, nine minutes, that was going on. And the last two minutes, I'm looking at the charging document, Laura, the last two minutes, two minutes and 53 seconds, George Floyd, according to the charging document, was non-responsive. So give us your legal analysis.
LAURA COATES, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Every time you give us that length of time that Mr. Floyd was on the ground, let alone unresponsive and had a neck in his -- a knee on his neck, all of our collective stomachs drop and there is a visceral reaction.
Let me focus on the legality issues and the charges that we are all waiting on baited breath ever since that press conference yesterday, Wolf. And the idea here that it's a third degree murder charge, which is essentially saying that they don't believe that this officer had at this time the intent to actually kill George Floyd, but even without that intent, acted with such a disregard for the sanctity of human life, acted so carelessly and recklessly to cause death that it was actually foreseeable that that bad action could result.
And so you have this initial onset charge, which is really kind of a holding charge. You could actually go up from here, you could go down from here depending upon what more evidence may came in. And we heard yesterday an appeal to the public if anyone had more information to please bring it.
The difference between third degree and a second degree, a higher degree is whether there was actual evidence of intent. And we've already seen in the very case that was cited by the Hennepin County District Attorney, Mike Freeman, the case involved with Mohamed Noor, who was a Somali-American officer, who shot a white Australian woman in an alley way some years ago, who got 12.5 years time, that they actually elevated the charges from third to second degree with the new finding of that final element of intent. So there's always a possibility of increasing those charges.
But what you're seeing here for the public might seem very counterintuitive, Wolf. The idea that I'm saying if the prosecutors at this time don't see intent when you have the intentional way of touching Mr. Floyd, the intentional kneeling on his neck, when you intentionally disregard his request, his pleas to breathe, when you intentionally disregard the bystanders' request at all and frankly disregard the training that says that when somebody -- if they at all, wherever resisting arrest, when somebody is no longer resisting, when somebody is no longer exerting any sort of force that would require you to exert force to repel it, you must stop. And you saying that over two minutes goes by, Wolf, where he is nonresponsive, how could there possibly be any indication that there was a need to extend this particular tactic if it were ever necessary.
And so, I'm looking to see once the investigation is fully concluded, and goes into full formation, whether that will be an elevated charge or whether that will be something that will be downgraded. I suspect based on what we see, a downgrade option is not there.
But the second thing I'm looking for is what's going to happen to the other officers who not only had a duty to intervene if they saw excessive force being used according to their own police manual, but was their duty. Were they accomplices in some way? Were they acting in concert? We see that new footage of the three officers at one point helping to pin him down to the ground.
It's curious to know what role the prosecutors will see them taking active or more passive, it will make all the difference.
And finally, Wolf, this medical examiner report, you know, when we talk about how much this case reminds people of the Eric Garner case, the "I can't breathe" case involving a man who was allegedly selling cigarettes and was in a chokehold, the medical examiner in that case also found that there was something else that may have contributed to the death of Eric Garner. But it did not excuse the conduct of the officer any underlying medical health condition, the fact that the he may have had a hard attack, it was accelerated it anyway by an officer's own doing, if it was foreseeable by the use of force.
The fact that somebody may have had an underlying condition does not alleviate the responsibility of a police officer to actually act in accordance with the law, nor does it transfer the blame from the police officer to any underlying condition it's almost like saying well, the person may have been strangled but really it wasn't my hand it was the rope. He is intervening factors are simply not going to be enough to not sway the actual prosecutorial investigation. But we are all waiting to see what will happen next in terms of whether these charges will change or be downgraded or extended and beyond this.
BLITZER: Yes, he didn't get off, and I want Don Lemon to weigh in on this as well.
Let me bring Mayor Carter of St. Paul first.
And it's an important point, Mayor Carter, that the charging documents as George Floyd was nonresponsive for two minutes and 53 seconds. Think about it, almost 3 minutes he was just lying there he was nonresponsive, but that ex-police officer, then the police officer, he still was on top of him with his knee on his neck, during those nearly three minutes.
So what does that say to you? MAYOR MELVIN CARTER, ST. PAUL, MINNESOTA: It's an affront, it's an
insult, it seems to me, you know -- and I'm a lawyer either, but it seems to me like if you do something that knowingly will result, my youngest children know that if you put your neck on -- if you put your full weight on someone's neck, with your knee, but that is going to be catastrophic.
So it's hard for me to accept that he didn't have the intention of killing him. I am not a legal expert, I'm sure they have access to information and evidence that I do not. But I am telling you that I think is absolutely critical that our legal system, our judicial system, has got to show its credibility, its capacity, its capability to pursue justice for someone's death, like in such dramatic fashion.
We have asked ourselves over and over again, we are tired of asking how blatant does it have to be? How egregious does it have to be? How well-documented does it have to be for someone to be held accountable? We need that question to stop so our healing can start.
LEMON: And, Don, you know, you can't deny, you can't walk away from the fact that George Floyd was black. It was an African American, and so many people are wondering right now if he had been white, what would've happened?
LEMON: Well, I think that we shouldn't be wondering now. We know what would've happened, I don't think he would've been treated that way.
Think about how many videos, how many videos like this to see of actually a white person? You don't really see them. It's not to say that it doesn't happen, but I think that this is proof especially, all you have to do is watch what happened to Omar this morning. And that's it.
Stop questioning whether the guy was fighting back or whatever, the videos not showing that, stop questioning whether people are making this upper exaggerating or play the race card, or whatever. Stop making those excuses.
We see what happens. We know what happens, but here is -- I think here is the possible -- the possibility of what good is going to come of this. Take a look, scroll through all of these cities that we are looking at. This one is Minneapolis, you can look at Washington D.C., Minneapolis, St. Paul, look at the diversity of the crowd.
These are not just black folks. These are and in some cities most of them are white. And there are young people. And they are fed up.
And so people have awakened, their eyes are opened now. They know that this is B.S., that this should not be happening, Brooklyn, these are not just, these are white people, these are white kids many of them. And they know the injustice that happened to people of color especially men of color.
And if they been cemented by the video of George Floyd, it is been cemented by Omar Jimenez, it is been cemented by Ahmaud Arbery in Georgia. It has been cemented by Mr. Cooper who was in Central Park and got the police falsely called on him.
People are not stupid. They know what's happening. And so, for anyone to say, oh well this happened, oh, well this -- that happened, this would've happened, it doesn't happen to black people anymore than it happens to white people -- that's all B.S. Stop it.
Take your blinders off. Take the mask off of this racism. Look at -- just look at these crowds, look at these people.
BLITZER: Don, this is Washington, D.C., not very far away.
LEMON: There you go.
BLITZER: Not very far away from the White House. They're marching down 14th Street.
LEMON: They need to march right to the White House and have a talk with the man at the White House. That's what I want to say.
BLITZER: I want to bring Abby Phillip into this conversation.
Abby, it looks like they're heading down 14th. This is an area you and I know well, make a right turn that head down 16th Street towards the White House. These folks -- they are angry right now. And as Don correctly points out, these are a lot of young Washingtonians or at least people who live in Washington who are marching.
ABBY PHILLIP, CNN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: You know what? I think it's really actually important that they are headed in that direction because it's really about what I think people have not seen from the president who at times like this is looked to be the unifier of the country, to be someone that people can look to for guidance to a really difficult time, on top of this pandemic, what is happening in Minneapolis is traumatizing to a lot of people. Not just black people but white people to, and a lot of Americans who are just sick of this.
But one thing we have not heard from the president is any sort of discussion about these underlying issues that you and Don and others of spent the last couple of hours discussing. There has been almost no conversation about the fundamental question about the treatment of black people in this country, about the use of police force what is appropriate and what is not, what is just and what is not, and I think that is one of the reasons you see so much frustration, all of this is happening as the president is running for reelection, he's trying to convince Americans, that he can lead this country for everyone.
But this remains a blind spot, Wolf. I've been covering him for three years now. This has always been a blind spot. Most notably as Charlottesville, and I think it's going to be very hard for the president to undo all of that by simply calling George Floyd's family, or even sending out a tweet saying that he's calling for an investigation.
People in this country as you can see from all these protests are tired, they are fed up, they are looking for actual action from the government, and leadership from the president, specifically.
BLITZER: It's really an important point that you're making.
Andrea Jenkins, I think you are still with us. Andrea Jenkins is the Minneapolis city council, vice president, unfortunately, she had to go.
But Mayor Melvin Carter of St. Paul is still with us. What would you like mayor to hear from the president of the United States, to see from the president of the United States at a very delicate moment like this where we are facing a coronavirus pandemic, and now we are facing a very, very angry reaction, not only in St. Paul Minneapolis where you, are but also all across the country. You can see what's happening in the nation's capital, a lot of young people are marching toward the White House.
CARTER: I think it's time for the president to tell us or maybe the former president to tell us that we are all in this together, that we are looking for the same type of treatment that those officers who say hey, wait a minute don't rush to judge, don't judge during the executioner over these accused officers, that to the people who were in the streets right now they are saying, we sure wish George Floyd would've had that exact same treatment, that there is an opportunity for us to be in this movement together, as we fight for our broader humanity.
BLITZER: That is very important point.
Don, I want you to tell our viewers what you are working on, because you are working on a very, very special program, that will air here on CNN Sunday night, tell us about that.
LEMON: We are working in a program that Wolf is just playing out before everyone's eyes about the treatment of African Americans especially African American men, "I Can't Breathe: Black Men Living and Dying in America" is the special that airs on Sunday night.
The only thing I can say about it is this is what's happening. These are the pictures, of what happens to many black men in this country, and so, I hope everyone tunes in on Sunday night I hope they, I think they will learn something, Wolf, and we will probably want to talk about this video that you see right there. You can see it's getting violent in Washington.
BLITZER: Yes, this is Washington, D.C. we're looking at live pictures coming in from Washington, D.C. You can see the folks -- it looks like this young man over here is about to be arrested by our local police. It's getting obviously ugly here, Don, as we are watching these images here, we have seen a lot of people walking down 14th Street very peaceful but, all of a sudden, we are seeing this image, and it's very disturbing.
LEMON: And people want to focus again, there are hundreds of not thousands of young people out there, most of them young people.
[18:55:02] This is one maybe two people, so again, you have to keep a perspective on that there is always going to be one in the crowd.
BLITZER: Hold on a second.
Brian Todd is on the scene for us. Tell us what's going on, Brian.
TODD: Wolf, what I can tell you is what I can tell you is there's a disturbance surrounding the police escorting one man out, the crowd got angry at this one man they started throwing things at him. We were told by the police that it was a medical situation when they rushed past us, and then we saw that they are escorting one man out and the crowd started really harassing that man, throwing things at him throwing things at the police, and they seem to have gotten the man into the middle of the edges to that building.
And the crowd is very, very wild right now, I (INAUDIBLE) and I cannot tell from my vantage point whether they've gotten the man into the building or not, into some safety, (INAUDIBLE) out Lafayette Park.
LEMON: Hey, Wolf.
TODD: They were just -- the crowd really turned on him in particular.
LEMON: Wolf, are you there?
BLITZER: Yes, go ahead, Don.
LEMON: I am being told by Tara Setmayer who works for us whose husband is also Secret Service, maybe former Secret Service, that his uniform division Secret Service, not local police. Just wanted to tell you guys that. I don't know if that makes any kind of a difference.
BLITZER: They are getting closer and closer to the White House, uniform Secret Service personnel would be there, as well as irregular Washington D.C. police as well, it is looking like a lot of anger going on right now, you see the police going into that building, closing the door's, you see the folks outside look at that crowd, Brian Todd. It is a really significant, they were so peaceful just moments ago but now they are angry.
TODD: They are, Wolf, and now they're cheering. We don't know exactly what set them off.
There was -- as you mentioned, it was very peaceful very passionate, and then they started to scream, the police and Secret Service rush past us I think it was a medical situation. And then we saw them escorting a young white male out of the park.
I have no idea what happened with that young man. But the crowd really turned on him. They started throwing objects at him, water bottles, things like that at him and his police escorts. The police rushed him to this building, which is a bank building incidentally, and got him into the building somehow. The crowd has now settled a little bit, and now they are chanting no justice, no peace. We don't know exactly what set off the crowd, but I've covered a lot
of these things in my career, there can be literally anything, at any moment that can set someone off. Again we don't know exactly what they are mandate.
Here's the police detail. It's actually Secret Service police, Trying to get inside the building.
BLITZER: So where are you now, Brian? Are you near Lafayette Park which is right across the street from the White House?
TODD: Yes. Yes, Wolf. We are right across the street at about 15th and Pennsylvania Avenue, Lafayette Park is right behind us. Our photojournalist panning you can see the park behind us.
The crowd is very intent on finding out what exactly happened with this young man, who they got into this building. With some real urgency, the police streamed past us, we got pushed out of the way a little bit.
And the police got here, they were very concerned about his safety. He seemed like he was a little disoriented. But again we don't know the incidents that got, we know that the crowd is very, very riled up right now. And we're going to see what happens.
We are going to see what happens if anyone actually comes out of this building where you can see the crowd chanting.
BLITZER: All right, Don, you can hear them you can hear black lives matter, you can hear a lot of chanting going on. There's enormous amount of anger, Don.
LEMON: Yes, there is an enormous amount of anger, that is why it is important as we started this evening off and this program, Wolf, talking about my interview with Joe Biden, that is why it's important for our leaders to call for calm, and to speak to what is happening in this country, instead of being dividers -- instead of dividing people, and so, I think that's why this is important.
It's also important that we continue to cover this, and we continue to show all of this is happening, live in America. I think these young people are awake now. And we have to pay close attention to them. And to this, and see where this takes us as a country.
BLITZER: Yes, it's awful situation that's unfolding. What this latest crisis resulting the death of George Floyd when that ex-police officer Derek Chauvin simply kept his leg, his knee on his neck. For nine minutes, and in the end, unfortunately, George Floyd is dead.
I will be back tomorrow with the special edition of THE SITUATION ROOM, 11:00 a.m. Eastern, tomorrow, 11:00 a.m. Eastern.
Our special live coverage of all of this continues right now with "Erin Burnett Outfront."