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Outrage Spills across America; U.S. Leads the World in Coronavirus Deaths; Trump Pulls Funding from WHO; Minnesota Governor Holds Press Conference. Aired 2-3a ET
Aired May 30, 2020 - 02:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (voice-over): This is CNN breaking news.
MICHAEL HOLMES, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): Hello and welcome to our viewers here in the United States and all around the world. I'm Michael Holmes.
Well, from a pandemic to pandemonium, right now in cities across the U.S., the health crisis that has consumed almost every aspect of life for months now is being upstaged by a social crisis, one that has been simmering for generations.
Protesters, nationwide, have been expressing pain and anger over the death of an unarmed African American man. His name was George Floyd, who died in police custody earlier this week in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
Now the violent protests there last night exploded across the country today. From Washington to New York, Atlanta and Detroit and to Dallas, Denver, Los Angeles, San Jose and more.
A few of those demonstrations turning very ugly, with people setting fires, damaging property and hurling objects at police.
Some of that destruction happened right here at CNN's World Headquarters. This day of rage coming as prosecutors in Minnesota announce the first charges related to Floyd's death.
Fired Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin is now charged with third-degree murder and manslaughter. You might find the following videos disturbing.
The charging document says Chauvin had his knee on Floyd's neck for more than eight minutes, nearly nine minutes, even though Floyd repeatedly said he couldn't breathe. The document said Floyd was nonresponsive for almost three minutes before Chauvin removed his knee from his neck.
The prosecutor anticipates charges for the other three officers as well. And new video you see now shows the incident from a different angle. And might shed more light on the extent of their involvement. You see three officers leaning on his body there.
Now Friday night, there were some very tense moments in Minneapolis between police and protesters. Earlier, our Chris Cuomo asked CNN's Sara Sidner if perhaps police were lining up on one Minneapolis street to distract growing groups of people. Have a listen.
SARA SIDNER, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It is not a distraction. There are a couple hundred, I think, officers that have come this way. They have already told the crowd that this is an unlawful assembly, just like you heard Kyung talking about.
Except for here, there is a curfew that was supposed to start at 8:00 that they haven't been enforcing. Now they're enforcing it. I'm going to let (INAUDIBLE) show you a setup (ph). Here's what's been happening.
As they advance, street by street, the protesters then back up and they set up a barricade. They are using whatever they can. Right now, it's trash cans. They set things on fire to try and put something between themselves and the officers.
They pick up rocks. They throw them at the officers. The officers then return, usually, with some sort of teargas or shooting rubber bullets. We have seen people get injured from the rubber bullets.
And then, officers will start to advance again. The crowd backs up. And then, you see this scenario. Literally, street by street, we are watching this. Now we are about three blocks from the 5th Precinct.
You see there?
You see there?
Someone throwing a rock. Now if you wait a bit, you will start seeing -- you will start seeing the teargas and the rubber bullets and, you know, the rubber bullets have been flying by us. And the teargas has been coming in between us.
But people will start coming up. And we have heard people here say, look, we are not going to stop fighting about this right now because they don't feel like they've ever been heard enough.
And now, they've unleashed -- they've just unleashed all emotions to try and deal with this. So the police, though, from their perspective, they don't want to see any more destruction.
We are now in a regular neighborhood, Chris. Let me let you look around just a tiny bit and go off the fires. We are in a neighborhood with people's homes. Like, this isn't in the same area where you were seeing things go down in the 3rd Precinct.
SIDNER: We are now backed up into a neighborhood, where folks live. We see -- we see some elderly folks looking out the window with their phones recording. But these are homes here.
And what -- these guys have not done anything to the homes, they have stayed in the street. And their focus is directly on the police who have made a move. They are now just stopped about three blocks from the 5th Precinct.
And every now and then, you see that bright light. They will shine a bright light. And then, you may see some teargas coming from there as well. Every time someone comes up to throw a rock, that's where you are seeing this cat-and-mouse game here, where people are throwing rocks, running back behind cars.
And then police are returning fire with teargas and rubber bullets.
HOLMES: Sara Sidner reporting there.
As we said, this violence has been going on in many different places around the country, including Los Angeles. Our Kyung Lah is there and we join her now.
The latest from where you are, Kyung, it is, what, 11:00 pm there?
And things were heating up earlier. Bring us up to date.
KYUNG LAH, CNN SENIOR U.S. CORRESPONDENT: I just want to give you a sense of where I am right now. You can hear all the sirens. You can see all the police. And I want you to take a look at what's happening over here.
These are officers who are staging. What we have seen through the evening are police officers staging and then moving into intersections, trying to break up crowds of protesters.
The protests, initially, when they started, they were trying to block freeways. They were verbally confronting police officers. And then, as the hours went on, we saw more violence.
You've seen stores looted, a Starbucks, a dining -- a restaurant, a liquor store, a clothing store. And these are just what we saw. A Subway.
And so what police are trying to do, at this point, is that the LAPD has to clear -- back up a little bit.
OK. So what -- we're going to -- to follow police officer orders and back away. What they are trying to do is to clear this area and to clear different parts of Los Angeles because the protesters have decided to not leave.
And after -- sorry -- and after the violence and the vandalism, the -- this was declared an unlawful assembly. There have been at least two Los Angeles police officers, who have been injured. They went to the hospital. There were rocks being thrown at police cars.
We've seen a number of police officer vehicles that have been spray painted and the windows smashed. So at this point, they're simply trying to clear the streets. And you can see how they've made a formation here.
When they come across a crowd, Michael, they use flash bangs to try to disperse that crowd. We have not seen any protesters injured.
And I, personally, have not seen any police officers injured. But the report that we are getting from the Los Angeles Police Department is that at least two police officers have, indeed, been injured this evening. Michael.
HOLMES: Have you been able to get a sense of the size of the protests there in L.A.?
And what have the protesters been telling you?
LAH: It's -- it's very difficult. I -- I don't think I could give you an accurate number because what I've seen is that there are larger gatherings of protesters from our affiliate aerial pictures. But I've only been in crowds that appear to be smaller.
And there have been a number of groups. It appears that part of the police tactic is to not allow a large congregation of them to merge into one. And so, they have broken up into these smaller groups.
And I've been among the smaller groups. So it's very, very difficult to tell how big they are.
As far as what they're telling us, you can hear it in their chants. They are talking about justice, that -- they are saying that there will not be peace without justice. But also, if you start to look at who's in the crowd, it's a diverse crowd.
It appears that not everyone is motivated by, you know, civil rights or by expressing anger just at the news events. So it's very, very difficult to tell exactly what everyone is motivated by when they gather this evening.
HOLMES: Yes. These protests not always monolithic, different groups, with different aims and carrying out different actions. Kyung Lah, stay safe there. It is just after 11:00 pm on the West Coast. We'll check in with you later.
Meanwhile, peaceful protests turning violent literally just meters in here in Atlanta outside the CNN Center.
HOLMES: And just a little while ago, the governor, declaring a state of emergency and deploying 500 members of the National Guard. As I said, most -- much of the action happened just outside where I sit now, at the CNN Center. A police car in front of this building was set on fire. Windows were smashed. A lot of windows were smashed. And some buildings were looted as well. The chaos continued well into
the night. It continues as I speak now, just after 2:00 am here on the East Coast. Police responded with teargas in some areas. Our Nick Valencia was in the middle of the demonstrations. Here is his report.
NICK VALENCIA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: What started as a peaceful demonstration didn't take long to turn violent. CNN Center was one of the targets of the frustration of the demonstrators.
They showed up here in solidarity with the demonstrations that have been happening in Minneapolis. Hours after arriving here, though, at CNN Center, they began breaking windows, throwing rocks. Just look at some of the items that were being tossed towards the police line.
In fact, our crew here, along with my photographer, William Walker, and producer Kevin Conlon, were here as police had a standoff with demonstrators. That video you're witnessing, looking at now, it was intense, to say the least.
This scene was chaotic. It was -- we saw officers -- at least two officers injured in clashes with demonstrators. Look at these windows busted open by an individual who is using a skateboard to smash open the windows.
And there was a point and a moment where it appeared as though the demonstrators might actually gain entrance into the CNN Center. Eventually, that crowd was dispersed by the police using teargas canisters. They were eventually able to pull the demonstration -- demonstrators back.
But it did take hours before the unrest that we saw unfold in downtown Atlanta was finally clear from the streets -- reporting at CNN Center, I'm Nick Valencia.
HOLMES: Let's get some perspective now from Cedric Alexander. He is a former police executive and the past president of the National Organization of Black Law Executives. Joins us from Pensacola, Florida.
And appreciate you doing so. Sir, you were in law enforcement for 40 years. When -- when you talk to your former colleagues about what happened in Minneapolis and what's happening around the country, what -- what do they tell you?
CEDRIC ALEXANDER, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Well, we all are dismayed.
We all are very hurt, if you will, very angry because, certainly, what we all observed happened on Monday, May 24th, was -- we all consider a black eye to the profession because those four men are not indicative of the men and women who are out there tonight that you see helping to control those streets and keep everyone safe and allow them to exercise their First Amendment rights.
But we're going to get past this, too. And we just hope that, as we continue in trying to deliver the type of service to the community that they so deserve, that what happened Monday is certainly not in any kind of way indicative of the work that men and women of public safety do across this country.
ALEXANDER: People are ashamed. And we certainly hope justice is explored, in a fair process for them. And it's no doubt in our mind that they're going -- the three are going to be arrested. And due process will take place.
But that type of behavior, the loss of life, the way that we observed it, it was cruel. It was mean. And it's not indicative of the profession.
HOLMES: Well, certainly. Certainly, here in Atlanta, there was remarkable restraint by police that, you know, I witnessed myself here at the CNN Center. I mean, in -- in the broader sense, you know, it's a problem, bad actions by cops, not all, of course, just a very few.
Or is it a culture that's devolved in police forces?
Is there something ingrained or systemic that needs to change?
ALEXANDER: Well, certainly, it can be systemic. Look. You will always hear that there are a few bad apples in the bunch. And there is a lot of truth to that.
The problem becomes, it's important having chiefed two cities myself in my career, it becomes important that we look inside our organizations and from top to bottom.
Because if you can have four people, one that actually kill a man right in front of us and the other three that stand there, that is suggestive for me of a larger systemic problem that may exist inside of Minneapolis Police Department.
So it becomes incumbent upon the leadership, that elected mayor, that chief, to look inside that organization because those types of behaviors, if they could do what they did, on camera, in broad daylight, the question becomes, is this indicative of past behavior?
ALEXANDER: Where there has been no cameras in dark?
So we have to take a look inside of our organizations and make sure that we don't allow those types of behaviors to exist and to sustain themselves because it certainly does spoil the whole bunch. And -- and -- and people expect far more from their public safety officials and they should.
HOLMES: Yes. I think one other thing that is incredibly disturbing is the new detail that came out on Friday about what this officer did and for how long he did it. It was nearly nine minutes with his knee on the neck of a handcuffed man on the ground, more than two minutes with his knee on George Floyd's neck after he was apparently unconscious.
All while bystanders are taping with it and pleading with it and the officer just didn't seem to care about that.
I mean, what did you -- what did you make of that?
ALEXANDER: Well, it's -- I mean, it's a clear display, to anybody that's sitting out here and watching it, looking. That was an individual -- that was an individual, who we are, glad to say, got arrested earlier today, who was very callous, has no empathy, no concern, no moral compass, whatsoever, about himself.
A man is begging you to let him breathe and you continued to choke him and rock him with your knee with an appearance that your hand is in your pocket. That is unspeakable.
And the American people and people around the globe watched it. And if you look at those folks that are out across our cities, across this country tonight, that's anger. They're mad. They feel that they have no other recourse.
Them doing what they're doing, tearing up property, is wrong. There is no excuse for that.
But we got to do better than this. We're a much far greater country than this. We're much far better than this.
But for those types of attitudes and that type of behavior to exist in any police department in this country, anywhere, cannot be acceptable to anyone. And police men and women who work with people like that and suspect and been around them, they carry on that type of behavior, you've got to do it --
ALEXANDER: -- yourself and your lifestyle and could possibly be criminally (INAUDIBLE) yourself.
HOLMES: Cedric Alexander, really appreciate it. We're right out of time. Appreciate you coming on, spending time with us at this late hour. Thank you so much.
ALEXANDER: Thank you for having me.
HOLMES: All right. Quick break now. When we come back, we'll get you up to speed on the coronavirus pandemic. Yes. That's still going on.
New York, which had more cases and deaths than many countries, is moving to reopen. We'll also have some big developments out of the White House when we come back.
HOLMES: Welcome back. A quick update on our top story right now. The fired Minneapolis police officer seen on video with his knee on an unarmed black man's neck has been charged with third degree murder and manslaughter for the killing of George Floyd.
The other three officers who were there as well and were involved could also be charged. That hasn't happened just yet.
The case, of course, inciting pain and a lot of anger across the U.S. Georgia's governor activating the National Guard after protests in Atlanta turned violent. The Twin Cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul, where the protests exploded last night, are under curfew now. Several people there were arrested near a police precinct for ignoring dispersal orders.
Meanwhile, the number of coronavirus cases and deaths continue to climb. According to Johns Hopkins University, there are more than 360,000 deaths worldwide. The United States leading the world, by far, with more than 102,000 deaths. Most of those deaths along the U.S. East Coast.
New York, of course, was the epicenter of the coronavirus pandemic in the U.S. and the death toll there, more than 29,000 people alone. But now, the city poised to reopen in a couple of weeks. Brynn Gingras with that.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well done, New York City.
BRYNN GINGRAS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Once the epicenter for the global pandemic, New York City about to reach a major milestone. It's set to reopen in less than two weeks.
GOV. ANDREW CUOMO (D-NY): June 8th, we have to be smart. Again, this is not happy days here again, it's over. We have to be smart.
GINGRAS (voice-over): The city says it will monitor key data daily in phase one. And if the numbers reach a certain threshold, it could trigger restrictions again.
On Monday, five regions of the state are set to move into the next phase, where hairdressers, business offices and retail can open with some limits.
Like New York, 24 other states in the country are seeing a downward trend in the seven-day average of new coronavirus cases. In Washington, D.C., hair salons reopened today by appointment. And residents could enjoy dining out, again but outdoor only. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Today is the first day of phase one or what I
like to call stay at home lite.
GINGRAS (voice-over): Georgia, which continues to hold steady, will take the major step of reopening bars and nightclubs with social distancing. Still, there is growing concern about the rising cases in 15 states, primarily, in the Southeast.
Like Arkansas, which saw its highest single-day increase of community spread coronavirus cases Thursday. The situation is critical in Alabama, where cases are doubling two weeks after the state started to reopen. ICU beds are filling fast, causing shortages in some cities.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (INAUDIBLE) the least prepared to deal with this kind of surge have the least capacity really to do this. And this is what we have been warning about for months now.
GINGRAS (voice-over): In Washington and California, where the first cases in the country were reported, both states are seeing cases spike.
GINGRAS (voice-over): California recently just feeling its biggest jump since the pandemic started.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When you are testing 20 to 34 -- 30-fold more individuals, you are going to have more positive tests. That's an inevitability.
GINGRAS (voice-over): And a grim prediction from the CDC as we move into another month of this pandemic. The agency forecasting the death toll could surpass 123,000 deaths in the U.S. in the next three weeks.
Back here, in New York, if those numbers continue to drop. If that June 8th reopening date actually sticks, then we could see construction coming back, manufacturing, curbside retail pickup in New York City. The city says it's actually working with business owners to ease this transition -- Brynn Gingras, CNN, New York.
HOLMES: Now throughout this pandemic, president Donald Trump has threatened to end the relationship between the World Health Organization and the U.S. Well, now, he says, it's happening.
Here are the reasons he's giving for the move, reasons that have drawn criticism from both sides of the aisle.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: China has total control over the World Health Organization, despite only paying $40 million per year, compared to what the United States has been paying, which is approximately $450 million a year. We have detailed the reforms that it must make and engage with them directly. But they have refused to act. (END VIDEO CLIP)
HOLMES: Joining me now is CNN's international diplomatic editor, Nic Robertson, live from London.
I mean, this decision to withdrawal from the WHO in the middle of a pandemic, I mean, from a health perspective, many saying very ill- advised, particularly because the U.S. is doing so poorly with the virus.
But also, if the criticism was China's influence on the WHO, didn't that influence just increase?
NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: Yes. I think when the United States allies look at the United States' actions and President Trump's actions here, this is a conclusion that they are going to come to, that this is enabling China rather than disabling it because their voices at the WHO will be lessened by the fact that the United States' voice isn't being heard.
The American Medical Association calls the action "senseless," says there will be significant, harmful repercussions. The Infectious Diseases Society says that, you know, the virus doesn't respect international borders, doesn't respect political positions, that everyone needs to work together.
And, to that point, the WHO, yesterday, actually opened a new portal for sharing information about coronavirus, about therapeutics, about vaccines, about -- about data. And the -- the notion that the United States' allies can get behind its position overall on China and can get behind President Trump's position medically here, it just doesn't hold water.
So the United States becomes more isolated. China doesn't necessarily get a bigger say at the WHO. It's still being criticized by, you know, the United States allies for not providing enough information in the early days about what was happening with coronavirus in China.
But by default, China's voice gets stronger, absent the United States and -- and a United States that doesn't have its allies at its side. So it does seem counterproductive in diplomatic terms, Michael.
HOLMES: Indeed. Nic, thank you. Nic Robertson in London there for us.
We are going to take a quick break here. When we come back, much more on our top story. A night of rage in cities across the U.S. set off by the death of an unarmed African American man, at the hands of police in Minneapolis. We'll be right back.
(MUSIC PLAYING) HOLMES: We want to take you to Minnesota, where the governor, Tim
Walz, is speaking now live. Let's have a listen.
GOV. TIM WALZ (DFL-MN): -- under DNR are out there and our local partners in Minneapolis, St. Paul and our joint powers agreements are -- are assisting.
The situation is incredibly dangerous. The situation is fluid. It is dynamic. I would, first of all, thank all Minnesotans, who chose to protect our cities, who chose to protect our neighbors and stay home, thank you for that.
To all of the first responders who are out there, from firefighters to National Guard, to -- to line crews to utilities workers who are out there to keep us safe, I want to thank you for that.
Law enforcement is responding the best they can in this situation. We'll get you all of the numbers that are out there.
I want to say, first of all, I, myself, can fully understand the rage. I spoke this evening to George Floyd's siblings quite extensively. I understand that rage. We've talked about it. We -- we understand what has to happen.
What's going on out there right now is not that, the wanton destruction and, specifically, of ethnic businesses that took generations to build, are being torn down.
All of those infrastructures of civil society and the things that make our city great, which -- which lends me to believe, as we look at this, the disenfranchisement that went with what we witnessed with -- with George's death is one thing.
But the absolute chaos, this is not grieving and this is not -- this is not making a statement that -- that we fully acknowledge needs to be fixed.
WALZ: This is life-threatening, dangerous to the most well-qualified forces that are out there facing this. So I want to acknowledge that.
I'm deeply concerned with the people who -- you -- you need to go home. You need to go home. The purpose of this, and we're seeing it spread up across the country, is making it more difficult to get to the point where we can deal with these issues.
Our neighbors are afraid. People are watching this across here and they want to know what's happening. We promised you today -- and I want to thank Mayor Frey for the leadership today. And I think the issue of coordination and -- and communicating together.
This is the largest civilian deployment in Minnesota history that we have out there today. And, quite candidly, right now, we do not have the numbers. We cannot arrest people when we're trying to hold ground because of the sheer size, the dynamics and the wanton violence that's coming out there.
Colonel Langer spoke about this often. Seasoned folks, who have also deployed overseas and seen this and now seeing this here in our neighborhoods. We will talk about ways and resources we have left.
But to put this into perspective, the force that we have out there now is about three times larger than the one in the '60s, which was the largest during the race riots and they are out there right now.
And the capacity to be able to do offensive actions and they are out there doing that, arresting the folks that we can. But as you've seen, there's already shots being fired back at our people.
This arson that is taking place puts many people at risk. Our firefighters are specifically and very open to target and Minneapolis Fire has been responding heroically. And I tell you, all the citizens, the response time is as fast as we want to get it. And that responsibility, as I said, today for coordination, lies with us.
I will take responsibility for the underestimating the wanton destruction and the size of this crowd. We have deployed a force that I think, as we sat down together and talked about, would have, in any other civilian military -- or civilian police operation, worked.
But the terrifying thing is you hear people who have seen this and myself of looking at this, it resembles more of a military operation at times now, especially ringleaders moving from place to place.
So I would ask all of us to, again, go home to protect our assets. Understanding that the priority of this mission today and the plan to do it was to deploy the assets that we had, to work in coordination and beef up what we had to do, very, very quickly In command and control of those, put a joint force together to, first and foremost, protect life, followed by protecting property, followed by restoring order.
And the issue, as I've said this time and time again, whether it was something that now seems so simple to do stay-at-home orders about COVID, is to try and get the situation under control to protect all those things.
But there is a compact that goes in civilized society that you have to have social buy-in. And so, with the elements that are out there now, they are stopping semis by blocking roads and then raiding what's in them.
This is not about George's death. This is not about inequities that were real. This is about chaos being caused.
And so, my responsibility on this -- and I do want to thank the mayor, executing a plan is very difficult. And I think the frustrations we all feel certainly isn't aimed at the mayor. He is performing admirably and doing everything possible to accept that responsibility.
He's here today, asking and calling hourly, where can we move, how do we coordinate? So Mayor Frey, I want to thank you.
The same thing with Mayor Carter of executing together.
This is an operation that has never been done in Minnesota. The -- the scope of this has now reached globally -- or excuse me, across the nation. We were in contact today and had an extensive conversation. General Jensen, Commissioner Harrington and I and with the Secretary of Defense and General Milley, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, to talk about assets and ways we can help to assess the situation as they are seeing it on the ground and to put those things into a plan to operate today.
That plan has not changed and our folks are out there, as we speak, right now, doing this. Our intention is still do those very same things, protect the lives of Minnesotans, to try and protect as much property as we can and try and restore order on the streets.
I have to do that in a way that protects those who are out there doing that. To ask them to go in a forward motion to try and get some of these people, they are well-coordinated. They will flank these groups. They will do everything possible to cause that destruction.
So with that being said, I'm going to have Mayor Frey come up. We'll have our folks talk about it and we'll talk about what the next steps are because I want to be clear. We're about 72 hours into this.
The mayor's quick action of activating the National Guard, I believe, protected as much as we could. I think, now, as we think about this -- and we're this far into this -- it seems almost impossible, two days ago, from an accusation. We went today, planning tonight, for what tomorrow is going to look like because I think Minnesotans need to recognize, and we clearly recognize this, what you see tonight will replicate tomorrow unless we change something that we are doing. We changed that today in a way that was unprecedented in the amount of numbers.
WALZ: The execution of the plan and the quality of the first responders who are out there. You have -- you have veterans of combat tours overseas. You have State Patrol who are seasoned. You have local police and firefighters, who have been doing this for decades and are the best at what they do.
They're just not used to doing it where you have wanton destruction. And the challenge that we face and the challenge that the mayor face is, we have to do it with ensuring the safety of those people, ensuring there are legitimate people who earlier want to try and express their grief.
The folks who are out there right now want nothing more than to entice into conflict, entice something that sets this off even further, entices our folks to get in a situation where we start to lose life.
And so, that adds the complexity to it. If it were as simple as just push them and move them back, that would be one thing. They cannot do that.
So I want to just reiterate that Minnesotans deserve a plan to try and get this. We need to assess that, with all of the tools that we have, with the experience that we've seen in this.
We are certainly in contact with our neighboring states and cooperation, as well as the federal government, to think about the best way to do this. The situation tomorrow will be increasingly more difficult because this has spread to other cities in a serious way, which makes the challenge of civil order even that much more difficult.
But I do want to -- and just clarify, to my friend and someone who's led in this and a mayor who should never be put in a position that he was put in, to try and respond. There are a limited number of resources that any city has.
And this force that's out there right now bent on this is simply overwhelming what we have on the ground. And so, at this point, it becomes more of a hold what we have and do the best we can.
So I want to thank you, Mayor Frey. I want to thank you for basically being up for 72 hours and, every minute, picking up the phone and continuing to adapt to the situation. So Mayor.
MAYOR JACOB FREY (D-MN), MINNEAPOLIS: Thank you, Governor. And thank you for the command and control today and the partnership.
Minneapolis, I know you are reeling due to lack of sleep and heartbreak for seeing the events over the last couple of days.
I'm reeling, too. We, as a city, are so much more than this. We, as a city, can be so much better than this. There is no honor in burning down your city. There is no pride in looting local businesses that have become institutions of a neighborhood. These are institutions that people are counting on, especially during a time of pandemic.
They are counting on grocery stores to get food. They're counting on pharmacies to get medicine. They are counting on their local bank to get cash.
If you care about your community, you've got to put this to an end. It needs to stop. You're not getting back at the police officer that tragically killed George Floyd by looting a town. You're not getting back at anybody.
If you have a friend or a family member that is out right now, call them. Tell them to come home. It is not safe. It is not right. If we care about our city, let's do the right thing now.
We are doing absolutely everything we can. Our firefighters are hauling around the city, putting out fires as quickly as they possibly can. Our police officers are doing everything to secure corridors, to make sure that the looting stops and to try and prevent these necessary precincts, which are so essential to safety. Right now, Chief Arradondo and Chief Fruetel are in Minneapolis, doing
everything they possibly can. As I said in the beginning, I am reeling. And I know each and every one of you is, too. Let's do right by our city. Let's do right by our communities.
FREY: And let's put ourselves in a position, five and 10 years from now, where we look back at this day and we recognize that this was the point where we decided to make a change. I know, in my heart, that we can do it because I know, in my heart, that Minneapolis is everything that we believe it to be. Thank you.
WALZ: Thank you, Mayor -- John.
COMMISSIONER JOHN HARRINGTON, DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC SAFETY: Commissioner John Harrington, Minnesota Department of Public Safety.
Yesterday, we put together a unified command structure, a unified command bringing together Minneapolis Police Department, St. Paul Police Department, Hennepin County, Ramsey County Sheriffs' Departments, Minnesota State Patrol, DNR and General Jensen's men and women of the Minnesota National Guard.
We created a plan that brought together one of the largest civil police forces that we have ever seen in the state of Minnesota, larger, frankly, than we had for the Republican National Convention even, with well in excess of 2,500 officers total, committed to the effort of keeping the peace.
We had a very clear mission. The governor was crystal clear and the mayors have been crystal clear that our mission was to keep the peace, to maintain order and to stop lawless behavior.
By 8 o'clock last night, we began to see that we were going to have to operate on multiple different fronts of criminal behavior, with reports from St. Paul that they were actively engaged, reports that we had individuals that were breaching the Minnesota freeways around 35W, that we had crowds of -- in excess of 2,000 in the Lake Street area, east of Hiawatha, crowds of hundreds in the area of Nicollet and Lake Street and crowds of a thousand or more in Downtown.
We reassessed the assets that we had, the personnel that we had and redeployed to try and be as -- at as many of those as we could be at. But we recognize that we simply did not, even with the numbers that I'm talking about, have enough officers and personnel to meet all of those missions safely and successfully.
We picked missions based on our capacity and those missions focused on Downtown off of Nicollet and also focused on the 5th Precinct area of Nicollet and Lake. We continue to hold our critical infrastructures around other places that we believed, through good intel, that were being targeted and -- and would have been destroyed.
And we have continued to hold those places of critical infrastructure even as we speak. At the Nicollet and Lake area, our mobile field (ph) forces were able to rally around that area. They were able to disperse a crowd and make, what I am told, is in the neighborhood of about 50 arrests.
We have a mobile field force of -- in excess of 300, larger than the mobile field force that we utilized last night, to clear the Hiawatha and East Lake Street area. And they have -- they have been actively engaged.
But the level of resistance that we have seen tonight has increased exponentially. We have had officers shot at. We have had what looks to be like improvised munitions that have been targeted toward the officers. We've had officers injured.
And we are in continuing to push that crowd on east of Hiawatha, with the attempt to try and do what we did last night, which was to move them off of the streets and to restore order there.
But we recognize that, as we do that, continuing to hold the area at Nicollet and Lake and try and maintain order in Downtown that we will need far more officers and far more National Guard resources than we currently have.
HARRINGTON: We have created a request for the National Guard to substantially increase the number of National Guard officers that would be available.
And we have reassessed our strategy in terms of our ability to mobilize mobile field forces that have been effective in moving against what is now an armed and more entrenched group of protesters and what I would really operate and say more, that they are an entrenched group of rioters.
We have had officers that have been injured; none seriously, at this point, but we have not given up our efforts to try and clear those streets. We will not give up our efforts to clear those streets. We are committed to restoring order in Minneapolis, helping St. Paul maintain order.
And we're getting ready for what will be one of the largest crowds that we have ever heard and that we recognize that we will be at the center of a -- not just statewide event, not just a national event but what is now looking to be like an international event tomorrow in that same area that we're holding right now, in the area around Nicollet and Lake. At this time, I ask General Jon Jensen from Minnesota National Guard to provide his comments.
MAJ. GEN. JON JENSEN, MINNESOTA NATIONAL GUARD: Good morning. Major Jon Jensen, the acting general of the Minnesota National Guard.
Just very quickly, I would like to cover some quick operations that we are involved in currently, in Minneapolis. We are currently -- have escorted and are supporting three Minnesota -- I'm sorry -- Minneapolis Fire Department teams on fires, Chicago and Lake, Lake and Park and Nicollet and 31st Street. So we continued our support to the Minneapolis Fire Department that we
began yesterday. We also have over 100 soldiers currently at Nicollet Mall between Hyatt Hotel and Grand Street, supporting traffic control points in support of our State Highway Patrol.
This morning, at approximately 12:30, I believe, in cooperation and consultation with Colonel Matt Langer, the commander of the Minnesota State Patrol, the governor authorized the Minnesota National Guard to increase our strength.
The initial request was for 1,000 additional soldiers to support the Department of Public Safety and our State Highway Patrol.
Governor Walz and I have looked at different ways that we're going to mobilize this force. And currently, what we're going to use are units that -- who would normally report to their normal training this weekend. My belief is that we will exceed the 1,000 mark.
As the governor mentioned, this will be the largest deployment inside the state of Minnesota in history. At the conclusion of tomorrow, I believe that we will have over 1,700 soldiers in support of the Department of Public Safety, the city of Minneapolis and the city of St. Paul.
You may have -- you may have seen or heard that, this evening, the president directed the Pentagon to put units of the United States Army on alert to possible operation in Minneapolis.
While we were not consulted with, as it relates to that, I do believe it's a prudent move to provide other options available for the governor, if the governor elects to use those resources. So at this time, Governor, that completes my comments. Thank you.
WALZ: Thank you, Maj. Gen. Jensen.
Thank you, Commissioner.
The situation now is, is the -- the moving those (ph), I think, Minnesotans, who maybe don't understand this, of the force structure we have, we -- some of this, of course, classified.
But where Minnesota soldiers are deployed overseas and in support of missions and -- and that is a limited force because the National Guard is what it is in states.
And when we talk about calling up the National Guard, it's not like pulling something off a shelf and it's there. This is a human being, citizen soldier, who is out there working across the state from Roseau to Winona.
WALZ: And they get called in. They need to gather equipment and make their things, put their things in order, report to their armory, staff up and start understanding where their mission is. So it is -- it is not as easy as it might seem. These deployment
levels are reaching deployment levels when we deploy overseas in support of Operation Enduring Freedom and some of those types of operations.
So the -- the mission remains the same, to restore order, to protect life and property to the best we can. We are in close coordination, other than this -- this move by the White House, to do that. And I agree with General Jensen.
As I spoke with President Trump the other night, I think it is prudent to have them ready for us to exhaust all resources that we need.
And, again, General Milley was -- was quite extensive and we spent quite some time thinking about where those assets are. And they also have to now understand what our federal assets are, into an ever- widening situation, when we're losing police precincts in Brooklyn and in -- and some of this unrest spreading across the country.
So what I would say, Minnesotans, once again, an unprecedented threat to our state, a tragedy that was the catalyst for this, that has morphed into something much different. The challenges of protecting people who, wanton destruction is their goal, no regard to life or property and no sense of civic pride of who we are, that's what these folks are up against in a -- in a quite dangerous environment.
So I would, once again, thank Minnesotans who stayed home. Thanks for looking out for one another. Our goal is to do everything that we can to start to restore order and -- and working with our partners on this. And as I said today, once this became a unified command, starting last evening, that's the state of Minnesota with me.
With that, Don (ph).
QUESTION: Governor, for the second night in a row, hundreds of thousands or maybe millions of --
HOLMES: All right. There we've been listening to the governor, Tim Walz, there, speaking about the situation in Minnesota. He says he can fully understand the rage on the streets but laments the damage, the wanton violence, he said, life-threatening, dangerous behaviors.
He talked of shots being fired at law enforcement and said that firefighters are vulnerable.
And he said that what he is seeing on the streets resembles more of a military operation than a police operation, in terms of scale and the tactics required to deal with what he said were organized groups, with leadership, who want to entice authorities into conflict.
Thanks for being with us this hour. I'm Michael Holmes. Don't go away. I'll be right back with more news, after the break.