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Protests Erupt Across U.S. Following Death Of George Floyd; Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) Is Interviewed About The Protests Following The Death Of George Floyd; Tensions Rise In Chicago; Trump Tweets Provocative Comments After Protesters Clashed With Secret Service Outside White House; Trump Suggests D.C. Mayor Refused To Allow Metro Police To Assist Secret Service During Protests At White House. Aired 4-5p ET
Aired May 30, 2020 - 16:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.
JOHN BERMAN, CNN HOST: I'm John Berman. You're live in the CNN NEWSROOM.
We all just witnessed one kind of history, but now down here on the ground, another kind of moment -- a national moment of pain, anger, and frustration. Protests happening around the country right now.
This is a live look at the scene in Minneapolis. It comes less than 24 hours after a series of demonstrations in at least 30 cities. Some were peaceful. Other protests did start that way but then turned violent, buildings were vandalized, fires set, police cars smashed, officers attacked, hundreds arrested.
At one point, the CNN world headquarters building in Atlanta was damaged by protesters as our crews in the building continued to broadcast what was happening there and around the country.
There are more demonstrations scheduled for today, a response to the story that has dominated the news for days now.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GEORGE FLOYD: I can't breathe. Please. I can't breathe.
OFFICER: Get up and get in the car, man. Get up and get in the car.
FLOYD: I will. I can't move.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BERMAN: The death of George Floyd, the unarmed black man who lost his life after a Minneapolis police officer held his knee on his neck for 8 minutes and 46 seconds. The criminal complaint says Floyd was unresponsive for 2 minutes and 53 seconds of that time. The officer has now been charged with third-degree murder and manslaughter but activists and protesters are saying that arrest isn't enough. They're demanding all the officers involved be charged.
Right now, there are protests again under way in Minneapolis. These are those live pictures.
I want to go to CNN's Omar Jimenez who was on the ground.
Omar, give us a sense of what you are seeing.
OMAR JIMENEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, right now, John, as you mentioned, protests are continuing, even days after George Floyd's death.
And as you take a look at the crowd behind me, you can hear some music, some drums, some signs, justice for George Floyd, and in many ways, these are the protests that officials, both locally and statewide, want to see. The ones where people are making their voices heard over the injustice that they have seen over this week.
Now, it's the other scenes that we have seen unfold over the course of the evening hours, the ones that have devolved into rioting and looting. Those are the ones that concern officials the most and it is part of why Governor Tim Walz here is now deploying more national guardsmen in the state of Minnesota than has ever been deployed by the national guard here.
It is why they are trying to beef up the ratio, to use of law enforcement officers to protesters in the evening time because in his words, they have just essentially been overrun by the tens of thousands of people that have taken to the streets every evening that we have seen over the course of now three days.
Now, Governor Tim Walz, and as we look, everybody is now taking a knee, in honor, I can imagine, of George Floyd, and one of the things we have seen circulate across social media especially in the immediate aftermath of this was the juxtaposition of Colin Kaepernick on a knee with Derek Chauvin, the officer seen in the cell phone video, with his knee on George Floyd's neck in this.
Now, we do know he has been charged with third-degree murder and manslaughter but people say that's not enough. There were four officers involved in this and they want to see charges against the other officers as well. You hear people chanting out George Floyd's name.
And in many ways, this highlights the passion that is still here in this community and the pain as you can look over at the hundreds that are gathered here just outside the fifth precinct here in Minneapolis. Days later, his memory still seems as strong as ever. The people here are not satisfied, and it does not seem they will be until they feel justice is served in this.
And when you look at Governor Tim Walz here, who has been instrumental in trying to gather as many resources as possible to stop, again, the violence we have seen, he laid it out in three steps that it's going to take to get things to a place where he wants to be.
One, he wants to see order restored. That will be trying to stop some of that looting we've seen in the evening time.
Number two will be getting swift justice. So, whatever charges end up coming or not coming for these officers, to the country or from the federal level.
And then the third one, maybe the most important, he says restoring trust between the law enforcement and the community here which he says was not just frayed this week but has come damaged from years and generations prior, John.
BERMAN: Omar Jimenez for us on the streets of Minneapolis, that was a very powerful image moments ago, hundreds if not thousands of people kneeling, chanting the name, George Floyd.
Omar, thank you very much.
With me now is Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar.
Senator, thank you very much for being with us.
You have a very specific message to the protesters on the streets this afternoon and the ones thinking about what they might want to do this evening.
SEN. AMY KLOBUCHAR (D-MN): Yes, I was with faith leaders today and community leaders from the African-American community, and our Hispanic community, our American-Indian community, and basically everyone gathered to say, this protest right now, that's righteous. People are angry. They're feeling pain.
But tonight, when it comes to be 8:00, everyone has to go home. People have had this moment. They are -- we see them. We feel it. We know how horrible it was.
Anyone that watched that video that has an ounce of humanity and saw that murder and saw George Floyd's life literally evaporate before them on a video, feels that anger. But right now, what's happening and what happened last night in our town, and maybe you've heard this, over 80 percent of the arrests were from people from other places.
So, as the faith leaders said today, there are literally people hiding behind the righteous protesters trying to do harm to our African- American businesses, our Hispanic owned businesses, people's dreams that they've built up over a lifetime.
So, we are just simply asking, as a community, with our faith leaders, with our community leaders, saying, this is the right time to protest. This is the right way to do it. And we must see systemic change, including changes to policing and including a justice for George Floyd's family in terms of these charges. But then, we must heal. And tonight, we're asking people to go home before that curfew so that
it gives the police and the guard some time to make sure that they're focused on the people that are actually doing harm to our communities of color.
BERMAN: What if they don't go home, Senator? What then?
KLOBUCHAR: Well, we are just asking people to do that, and obviously, there's differences between people who are peaceful and people who are not, and everyone knows that, but last night, they saw a new techniques and tactics that we had not seen before.
And as I said, we know there are people from the outside coming into our state, and we're -- what did people in our state do today, John? They cleaned up. Their neighbors helped each other. They picked up the glass. They came together, and they are trying so hard.
They support the protest, the peaceful protest, but they do not support the looting. They do not support the arson.
BERMAN: I have heard the claims that 80 percent of the people were from out of state. Who are these people coming in? Where are they coming from?
KLOBUCHAR: You know, we don't know that. We really don't. And we're starting -- I think that information will come out, what groups they're associated with, what causes they're associated with, but as the faith leaders said today, as the African-American leaders said today, and including one of Philando Castile's relatives who spoke up and said, I will do anything to reduce violence and I will do anything to change police and reform, having lost Philando Castile who was a lovely person and worked in a school and was killed in another incident.
He stood up and he said, this is not what Philando stood for and certainly the legacy of George Floyd that we want to see is not destruction to our community of color. What we want to see is complete change in the criminal justice system, sentencing reform. We want to see much better policing techniques and training and hiring.
I've asked for a pattern and practice investigation from the Justice Department, and with my colleague, Senator Tina Smith, 25 senators joined us to say, let's make changes to this police department in such a big way, in a major scale way. But we should not be taking it out on those people that have built their hopes and dreams of our immigrant community, our African-American community.
And we don't want to let them be used by people who want to do violence in their communities, which is exactly what we saw last night.
BERMAN: The attorney general a couple hours ago held a news conference and said that these protesters are people coming from out of state. He said they were Antifa-inspired leftists. Have you seen any evidence of that or what evidence is there of that?
KLOBUCHAR: I don't know what he is referring to. I know from our local law enforcement that there's people from many different groups and coming from many different reasons, and I think that there will be time to identify what exactly is going on here with outsiders coming in, but the only way we're going to do it is if the righteous and the peaceful and the people that want justice for George Floyd and want his legacy to be major changes to our criminal justice system, if they stay home tonight after peacefully protesting today.
BERMAN: What more do you think needs to be done tonight on the streets, not from the protesters or the people who might be going out there, but from law enforcement? And that will now include a full mobilization of the National Guard. How do they make their presence more successful in stopping the violence?
KLOBUCHAR: I think the governor has been forthright about this, and that is that no one had expected, in these numbers, to see outsiders come in of all different political stripes in his mind and from what he's seen. And so, I think that you're going to just need more people to protect our communities and especially our communities of color, and that's what we're going to see, and there have just been, of course, lootings and arsons and things that were unimaginable.
And as we were saying today, when all of us stood together, they literally looted and destroyed, in some neighborhoods, their only source of groceries or their only source of a pharmacy, and that's what we're so concerned about and want to clean up.
So, to me, the answer going forward is, one, justice in this case, and I call for charges, and as we know, there has been initial charging, but both the U.S. attorney's office and the state county attorney's office has said that this is the beginning and that there is an investigation going on for subsequent charges. Secondly, that we make reforms to this Minneapolis Police Department in a major way. And then third, criminal justice reforms on the federal level -- I pledged to do that as a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, and we can do this both on the state and federal levels.
And then, finally, renewing and replacing our hope for our community, and that's going to mean economic justice. And, by the way, there's been injustices and disparities around for a really long time, and one answer is changes to the criminal justice system, but the other is investment in communities of color who have long suffered from the beginning from slavery and we have not made adequate adjustments.
I love a bill that Representative Clyburn has that would invest money in historically impoverished communities that have been impoverished for years. We've done it some in rural areas but I think we need to do it even broader and that would be a good way to measure where we need help with investment.
BERMAN: Senator Amy Klobuchar, we appreciate you being with us. Thank you. We wish you the best of luck tonight.
KLOBUCHAR: Thank you, John. OK, thank you. BERMAN: The protests continuing across the country, including on the west coast in Los Angeles right now.
That's where CNN's Paul Vercammen is.
Paul, give us a sense of what's happening there.
PAUL VERCAMMEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, John, what we have here is a very peaceful protest in the Fairfax district of Los Angeles, this is Pan Pacific Park and if you look around me, people are starting to move around. They've been listening and expressing their views.
You can see the signs, "Stop racist police terror." Some of the people so enthusiastic that they climbed on top of the backstop, also holding "Black Lives Matter" signs. Now, all of this has been extremely well organized and calm. We haven't seen anything like we saw last night in Los Angeles when there were 533 arrests, all but 18 of those people, by the way, have been released on their own recognizance.
We should also note that the L.A. Fire Department reported that they had to put out so many rubbish fires and there was damage to LAFD fire hose. But right now, here, it is calm, people expressing their views.
I'm going to bring in Kameron. He's one of the people who were in support of the Black Lives Matter campaign, and for you, what is the message that you really want to drive home today?
KAMERON HURT, PROTESTER: The message here is that the people of Los Angeles, the people of Minneapolis, the people of Atlanta, New York, Louisville, we will not have any more of this police terror as it's described on the sign, because black lives matter here. They always have. And people are finally standing up, yet again, as we have decade after decade, century after century.
We're saying, no more of this white supremacist violence. No more police violence.
VERCAMMEN: And as you look at the signs and there's obvious pain and angst and hurt in this crowd, what would you say to people who are suffering right now? Just mentally overcome.
HURT: Mentally overcome. That's what we've been for literally centuries at this point and what I would say to those people is that stay strong and if we stand together, we can overcome any oppression that comes our way because the numbers, the power is with the numbers. The power is with the people and today, we're showing all power to the people as a true slogan, proved by the reality of today's march.
VERCAMMEN: And as you look at this crowd and everybody has been extremely peaceful, expressing their views, there has not been any violence here. How does that make you feel, and what caution might you have for others later?
HURT: The truth is, no matter what city it is, whether it's Los Angeles or Minneapolis, the people, the masses who rise up in anger and righteous anger, it is not them who chose the path of any kind of violence. It is the state that has, for centuries, gone on and done whatever they wanted and let us, you know, just protest and what we're trying to do here is we're trying to show that no matter how we rise up, people are going to be critical of it.
So, the question to those people is, what would you prefer that we do? Because right now, the energy is showing what the people want, which is a completely changed system, one in which police terror is a thing of the past, something you have to remind your children and your grandchildren of what it was like back in the day.
Our goal here is to make police terror a thing of the past, make white supremacy a thing of the past and truthfully, it took so much violence to even bring the system of white supremacy and capitalism across this country.
So the question is will it ever compare to the violence of the indigenous genocide and the colonial chattel slave trade and the colonization of the world? No. And anyone trying to compare this to the types of terror that we have gone through for so long is sadly mistaken, and truthfully, the people are speaking for themselves.
VERCAMMEN: We appreciate your comments.
We have seen sign after sign here at this park that says, silence is no longer acceptable.
Reporting from Los Angeles, I'm Paul Vercammen. Now, back to you, John
BERMAN: Paul, one last thing. Protest in Oakland overnight did turn deadly. What happened there?
VERCAMMEN: From what we understand, it was just one of those moments where we've seen this, unfortunately, throughout the country where the police presence was not enough to stop a mass of people, and what's also been very difficult -- we need to note, you cannot pin down that this group is responsible for the violence, that that group is responsible for the violence. At times, we have heard lots of reports of infiltrators or instigators whipping up people.
So I'm sure Oakland PD will come out with some sort of investigation and try to determine what touched this off, but there is a randomness to some of these acts of violence. They don't seem to be orchestrated, and as you know, one little flash point can just touch off a crowd, and it's been a long struggle for anybody trying to enforce and stop it.
And we should note, in many instances, we have seen the protest organizers stepping in front of people who they feel are going to hurl something or, let's say, grab some sort of barrier and try to quell them and stop them, and sometimes, like what might have happened in Oakland, I wasn't there, but that might have been the instance where they were trying to stop people from getting violent, and it turned very, very ugly, John.
BERMAN: All right, Paul Vercammen in Los Angeles, thank you very much.
I have to say, from those aerials there, a very large crowd, and it is worth noting there is still a pandemic in this country.
We've got much more on the protests across the country today. We'll bring you the latest on these demonstrations next.
BERMAN: We're back with the breaking news, frustration, anger, pain, playing out across cities in this nation at this moment. Protests under way sparked by the death of George Floyd, the unarmed black man who lost his life after a Minneapolis police officer held his knee on his neck.
There's a protest under way in New York city at this moment.
Our Evan McMorris-Santoro is there walking along with the protesters.
Give us a sense of the scene there, evan.
EVAN MCMORRIS-SANTORO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, hello from West 16th street in Manhattan where I'm walking with a group of several hundred protesters, very peaceful protest, but very impassioned, people here really trying to speak about that injustice that they see in the world. One of the more remarkable events from today was as they're walking against traffic, drivers in the street honking their horn in solidarity leading to really big cheers from the crowd.
Now, this all began in Union Square earlier this afternoon with a small group of protesters. It just grew steadily throughout the afternoon and then eventually set off on this March. There is a police presence here, but they're letting the crowd sort of walk down these streets, march along, and as I said, utterly peaceful but very, very passionate about what they're trying to talk about.
Honestly, it's a scene that goes from very emotional talking about some of these incidences of police violence that is really driving this movement and then also really joyous when they think about the size of the crowd they've gotten and the support they're getting from some people in the street.
BERMAN: Evan, you were talking about hearing from police or what police are doing. This is the now. This is 4:25 p.m. it's the afternoon. The problems with these protests don't come in the afternoon or broad daylight. It comes after dark.
So, what are the police plans for tonight?
MCMORRIS-SANTORO: Well, that's right. I mean, where we are right now is what we've seen in New York and across the country and a lot of places, which is a peaceful protest during the day. There are no indications that this particular group could go in a different direction at any time during the day or into the night.
They've made no indication of that at all. That's not been happening. But obviously, the mayor of New York saying last night after some footage and incidents of violence in some of the crowds that he won't tolerate another night like last night here in New York.
But again, this group that I am with right now, no indication that that's happening or on the agenda at all.
BERMAN: All right, Evan McMorris-Santoro, please stay safe. Stay on the ground there. Keep us posted as news develops.
Coming up, protesters gathering again today near the White House, though not as close as last night. We're going to bring you the very latest next.
BERMAN: All right, the breaking news, protests in cities across the country.
We want to go straight to Chicago where I do understand that is some tension now. CNN's Ryan Young on the ground.
Ryan, give us a sense of what you're seeing.
RYAN YOUNG, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, John, how you doing? There are several protesters now that are in the downtown area. And in fact, they've all split up to different directions trying to make it harder for police to corral them.
One of the intersections that is a flashpoint right now is this one right here. That is State Street that's just across from us and what's happened is they've set up an intersection here so the protesters can't block off State Street.
The officers are here and that's why the protesters, some of them have stopped marching, and they are going toe to toe with them. In fact, there have been calls from inside the crowd to push forward. We've seen officers keeping these links together so they cannot allow the protesters to breakthrough.
There's been conversations, of course, with yelling and screaming back and forth. But the real goal has been to get directly in the faces of the officers. And at this point, they have not been able to get through.
I want to show you the back-up that they have here, standing off to the side to make sure that happens.
Last night, there was a protest here. Everything went smoothly for the first hour. And then, all of a sudden, late at night, things got a little rowdy and windows got broken in downtown. And John, as we go live, it looks like the officers have decided to
move out of the way, opening it up for protesters to walk on State Street.
We did see them positioning buses to block off certain portions of the street to make sure it was safe for some of these marchers to march. And maybe that was what they were trying to do.
And now you see some of those officers pulling back as these protesters are moving forward. And some of the officers are even being screamed at, even though they are just slowly pulling back out of the way here.
Once again, I did want to go through this. Last night, there was a protest, maybe about a few hundred people. It was later, early this morning, where several protesters gathered at the Trump Tower and then started spreading through downtown, breaking some of the windows throughout here.
In fact, we have video from one business owner who said he was heartbroken to see this because he didn't believe the people who were breaking the windows downtown were actual protesters.
And, hopefully, you'll be able to see this. People just running into some of the jewelry stores. Of course, there was nothing for them to take. A lot of those business owners who had been shut down for weeks were trying to clean up.
And on top of that, the fact that coronavirus has been hitting this area very hard. You heard the mayor talk about the fact that, yes, there's some tension out there, but she wanted to make sure everyone was wearing masks and thinking about social distancing.
When you look at a crowd like this, you can see, yes, there are people wearing masks, but there's really no social distancing at this point.
And you combine the fact that the groups are splintered, so you have several different groups sort of coming together. You do have people who are saying black lives matter. But you also have people who are here saying other names that have nothing to do with this protest. And you can see the multicultural nature of this crowd that is now taking over the middle of State Street.
The one thing the cops were able to do was block downtown, and so we didn't have the congestion that we had before.
Once again, there's a big conversation, just back and forth about, how we're going to be able to exercise their anger. Think about the fact that the mayor, what's happened about the fact, that it's one of those things --
YOUNG: I hear you.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You hear me? YOUNG: What brought you here?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Trayvon Martin brught me here. (EXPLETIVE DELETED) --
YOUNG: What brought you here?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: My great grandmother is a Blackfoot Indian. They built this (EXPLETIVE DELETED) land on her blood. So I'm marching every time we come out.
YOUNG: We hear the passion from people.
YOUNG: Sorry for the curse words at home. You can obviously hear people screaming. As we walk in this direction, you can see.
BERMAN: All right, Ryan Young we'll take it from there. Ryan on the streets of Chicago.
There are a couple things to note. You did just see the police try to reroute the people on to the street. A big part of this is crowd control, getting them marching in areas that they want.
Another notable fact, Ryan with his mask. Man, there were a lot of people on that street there. There's still a pandemic. Chicago is a city that is still suffering right now.
Here's an aerial of the scene there. Some of the people have moved on to other streets.
We're watching protests today in a number of cities around the country. A live update, next.
You're live in the CNN NEWSROOM.
BERMAN: At this moment, protesters gathered near the White House, though not as close as last night. We have a live look there at the scene. The Secret Service has set up a barricade at the corner of 17th and Pennsylvania Avenue. This is in front of the Executive Office Building just west of the White House.
A crowd clashed with the Secret Service outside the White House last night. Those protesters did not try to enter the White House grounds.
But today, the president tweeted this, quote, "Nobody came close to breaching the fence. If they had, they would have been greeted with the most vicious dogs and most ominous weapons I have ever seen. That's when people would have been really badly hurt." Jeremy Diamond joins us now from the White House.
Jeremy, just part of the provocative comments that the president has made with references to violence.
JEREMY DIAMOND, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: That's exactly right, John. If you were looking right now at this moment for a president who's going to bring the country together, who is going to talk about the problems that these protesters are talking about, whether they be, you know, the peaceful protests that we've seen across the country or those subsets who have, you know, where we have seen property destruction and violence, but the underlying causes of that, the president has not really addressed yet.
Yesterday, we did hear him talk about George Floyd and express his sadness at the situation and say that he felt that it was a horrific thing, the way that George Floyd died.
But then, on Twitter, John, what we have largely seen from the president is an attempt to pick fights with Democrats, threaten protesters with additional violence.
And just this morning, John, the president also suggested that perhaps even his supporters should show up to the White House tonight to counter-protest.
The president was asked this morning whether he felt that that was inciting additional violence. Listen to what he said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Are you concerned that you might be stoking more racial violence or more racial violence or --
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: No, not at all. MAGA is Make America Great Again. These are people that love our country.
I have no idea if they're going to be here. I was just asking. But I have no idea if they're going to be here.
But MAGA is Make America Great Again. By the way, they love African- American people. They love black people. MAGA loves black people.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
DIAMOND: So there are the comments from the president. You can make of them what you will.
But certainly, a few days ago, John, we know the president made this comment about looting and shooting. That was a comment, a phrase that had been coined by a Miami police chief in 1967, who was accused of using racist tactics of policing in the city of Miami. The president said yesterday that he did not know the origin of that
But, nonetheless, John, what we do know is that this is a president who has, in the past, repeatedly exploited division in this country, exploited fear in country.
And certainly, at this moment in time, John, even though we have heard the president again condemn the actions that led to the death of George Floyd, we have heard him urge protesters to remain peaceful in order to honor the memory of George Floyd. And we know that he spoke with George Floyd's family yesterday.
We have not yet heard the president kind of comprehensively address this country at this great moment of national fear and anxiety, John. And I think that that certainly is something that a lot of Americans are still waiting to hear from the president.
BERMAN: MAGA loves the black people is a very strange phraseology for a number of reasons. One reason, in and of itself, it seems to acknowledge that MAGA and African-Americans are separate completely.
Be that as it may, Jeremy, the president also said something that just flat-out wasn't true, at least according to the Secret Service, in terms of the Washington, D.C., police.
DIAMOND: That's right. The president suggested in one of those tweets this morning, John, that the D.C. police -- that Mayor Bowser, Mayor Muriel Bowser, the Democratic mayor of the city of Washington, D.C., that she refused to send D.C. police in to assist Secret Service officers in pushing back on those protests last night.
That's actually not true. According to a Secret Service statement this morning, metropolitan police from Washington, D.C., as well as park police were assisting Secret Service officers in what was happening last night.
And, John, again, we are monitoring these protests happening outside the White House. The Secret Service has established a broader perimeter around the White House than they had last night to avoid the possibility of protesters coming anywhere near the fence on the North Lawn of the White House.
But certainly, we'll be monitoring for that. And also monitoring for any signs of Trump supporters who will be coming to counter-protest in the way that the president suggested this morning.
BERMAN: Jeremy Diamond, live at the White House.
Jeremy, stay safe, stay healthy. Thank you for being with us.
The country's attention today focused on two things, protests, but also a history-making space launch. The same kind of stories that captivated the nation more than 50 years ago. We're talking about the 1960s. Are there lessons from that era that we can apply today?
Ahead, we'll speak live to a man who advised four presidents over three decades, here, live, in the CNN NEWSROOM.
BERMAN: All right, the breaking news right now, protests erupting across the country, sparked by the death of George Floyd, the unarmed black man who lost his life after a Minneapolis police officer held his knee on Floyd's neck.
This is a live picture at the protest situation in Minneapolis at this moment, the city where Floyd lost his life.
With me now, former presidential advisor to four presidents and now a CNN Senior Political Analyst, David Gergen.
David, again, remarkable images from Minneapolis right now. And we've seen pictures from Philadelphia, Newark, New Jersey, Chicago, Los Angeles. What goes through your mind as you see this?
DAVID GERGEN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, of course, a lot of memories do come back from the 1960s and '70s, when we had two protest movements, first the civil rights and then the anti-war to Vietnam protest movement.
And I think there, John, a couple of lessons that should be learned or were learned by people who were in charge in White Houses in those days.
One is, the first thing you do need to do is get -- bring order. You do not want to escalate violence.
But that also means this for the police. It's really important that the state, that the police, that people who represent the armed -- the security forces in our country not use excessive force.
We saw the pictures of Bull Connor unleashing dogs on those kids in the civil rights days. That escalated things hugely and really broadened and deepened the protests, made it very angry, turned it into a moral crusade.
And similarly, when President Nixon was in office, the shooting at Kent State, the National Guardsmen taking down and shooting 11 unarmed students. And the pictures and the anger that came out of that made it impossible to find reconciliation. So it's really, really important not to use excessive force.
But the other thing is, underneath all of this, the president of the United States has to have an empathic understanding of the people who were in pain. He cannot just simply be representing one portion of the country. He has to realize why other people in a very diverse country come to very different perspectives about reality and about justice. And you know what happened after the 1963 march on civil rights in
Washington? A peaceful march because Martin Luther King believed in nonviolent protests and he pursued that all his life.
But to remember that Kennedy watched that on television that day and what did he do? He called Martin Luther King and said, please come over and talk to me that very day. He wanted to sit down with him. He realized that (INAUDIBLE).
BERMAN: David, as we speak, we're watching scenes in Chicago where you see demonstrators, protesters, agitators jumping up and down on law enforcement vehicles there. We did see at least one law enforcement official move in to push someone away.
This is Chicago. It's only, I guess, 3:50 in the afternoon there. The worst stuff usually happens at night so this does not bode well.
We heard from Attorney General William Barr, David. And specifically, I'm glad you're with me, because he used the phrase, "law and order." It was a very specific choice of words there.
And that, of course, harkens back to Richard Nixon himself, whom you worked for. Although, I think the use of that phrase predates your time there.
But why do you think Barr is using that? Why do you think that is something the administration is leaning so heavily into?
GERGEN: It's a code phrase. You know, it's more than a dog whistle. It's a very definite message to the base that I'm going to be tough on this. And that's the position he's taking.
He's not -- in what we need and what the best presidents have done is to heal and to calm things down, not to stir things up.
BERMAN: David, David, hang on one second here. Because this is now erupting here. You see law enforcement coming in en masse to push these people, who were so clearly vandalizing those police vehicles, away. We see the uses of the shields. We see the uses of the batons to move the crowds and to move the people.
Again, this is in Chicago right now, live pictures. We see water bottles being thrown, some kinds of ignited devices looking like firecrackers being thrown in the direction of law enforcement.
The streets of America, David, in May of 2020. I'm sorry to interrupt you.
GERGEN: No, it's all right.
This is such -- in some ways, this is so different from the '60s and '70s, John, because these protests come, of course, right on the heels of two other crises, the pandemic and the unemployment, the near depression that we're in right now. And who are the people being most hurt by both of these crises?
They're people of color. And now to have this in addition just makes this a very difficult time. There's a sense -- I have a sense, my god, things are falling apart.
I don't remember the country trying to balance so many conflicting forces at once. I think this is a very important passage. It's a passage that calls out for wise leadership, understanding leadership. We're not seeing a lot of that yet, but we really need it going forward.
BERMAN: What do you say, David? What would you tell -- you advised four presidents? What would you tell President Trump to say? And I don't want -- and I'm not telling you what to tell me. But I'm sort of sick of the, oh, empathy is not his thing. He's not the healer in chief. What would you tell a generic president to say right now?
GERGEN: I would tell a generic president to, listen, you got to get this under control, but you need to be talking to the community leaders, the mayor, the governor, and others. You need to be talking to the faith community. And you want to bring people to the White House to talk about, how do we keep the peace and address the inequities in our society.
I don't care who you are as president. You have to reach out to the African-American community, the people of color across this country, and offer a hand of peace, not a fist.
David, we appreciate you being with us.
Again, you're looking at live pictures right now of what is now extreme tension and clashes on the streets of Chicago. These demonstrators have been out in force. We saw some vandalizing of police vehicles. We now see the police moving in.
These are scenes that are playing out across the country. We're watching a number of instances like this. Again, you can see the police taking down those agitators.
Look, you can tell, just with your own eyes, this is a diverse group of people, of protesters, of demonstrators right now.
You can see, also, while this is clearly tense, and while that action itself was a use of force, there's some control here. There's a large law enforcement presence that have pushed the people away now from the vehicles that were being vandalized.
Our Ryan Young is on the ground there.
Ryan, I hope you're safe from your perspective.
Give us a sense of what's happening. YOUNG: Well, from our vantage point, we're still not sure. You got a
better shot with the helicopter. We're down on the ground. This is a diverse crowd.
We saw them getting a little closer to some of the protests earlier, like they were going to make some arrests. And then, it stopped from that motion and then they started to form the circle again.
What it seems like the protesters are doing is wherever the police officers are going, they are following the police officers. No longer is this a march. This is really a screaming match.
And unfortunately, John, if you can hear the crowd, it's quite vulgar. They're right in the face of the Chicago police officers at this point.
BERMAN: They are right in the face of the officers. There's no question about that.
The officers moved in after one of their vehicles was being jumped on and the windows smashed.
What's the plan, Ryan, for the evening? As I noted before, it's 4:00 central time right now. Things get to get more complicated and worse as the evening progresses. What's the plan from law enforcement?
YOUNG: Well, that's a great point. That we were told by several police officers they were going to have a zero tolerance in terms of people getting out of hand in terms of people trying to do any damage.
We do know last night there were 108 people arrested. There's a big worry about people being bussed in from out of town.
We talk about Chicago all the time. And I can tell you, as we've covered protesting here, I've never seen a crowd quite this diverse. And there are people that we saw as they were coming in, in their cars, with a lot of out-of-town sort of license plates.
Now, all of them were from Illinois. So that's something that really stood out to a few of us as we were in the parking garages near here.
But, obviously, when you see people dressed like this, there's no organization, so to speak. There's just crowds of people swelling around any group of officers they see and yelling in their faces.
Everything I've seen from the police officers so far is to standstill and to be ready. But at the same time, they're not trying to agitate them.
This police department is sort of ready for these kinds of actions. They had to deal with G-7 a few years ago.
But you can tell, as the crowd sort of surges at different spots, that you have this group coming through right now.
But usually, you have people maybe do on a stage, talking about a movement, down to the Daly Center. All of that did not happen, John.
So the mayor was very forthright in her conversation. She said, look, she understands why people are upset, and she wanted them to have their right to protest. But at the same time, she was hoping that people would make sure that they didn't damage the city.
And then you think about the fact that the global pandemic, look at how people are packed in here. Look, this state has been hit hard by COVID-19. The police department has been hit hard by COVID-19.
But even more importantly, on the other side of town, the south and the west side, the black community in the city of Chicago has been hit tremendously hard by COVID-19. And when you talk to people who have lived in this community their entire life, it seems like a lot of people know someone who was lost to COVID-19.
So, this means a lot to folks if they're going to come out here and put their lives in danger to protest. Obviously, most people here are wearing masks. There are a few people who are not wearing masks but for the most part, you see them adheres to the mask.
There was a warning given today. Obviously, the mayor had very strong words. She used a two-letter word for the president. She basically thought that he was inciting things.
There are people here who received those words because, basically, look, this is a city that has dealt with extreme protesting because of police action.
Nobody will forget, in this city, Laquan McDonald who died. And there was a video that was held for a year, and when the video was released, it turned the city upside down.
As you see more offerings coming in, John, this will be a long night. We'll have to keep watching all of this.
BERMAN: It will be a long night, indeed.
Ryan Young, on the streets of Chicago.
Right now, you can see the live police line right now. Arrests being made. Just one of the cities where we've seen demonstrations across the country. This as the day wears on and the night approaches.