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Outrage Spills across America; Andrew Young, Former Atlanta Mayor and Former Ambassador to the United Nations, on Civil Rights in the U.S.; U.S. Leads the World in Coronavirus Deaths. Aired 3-4a ET

Aired May 30, 2020 - 03:00   ET




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.

And we do begin with the breaking news all across America, where parts of major cities are choking on thick smoke and teargas. The death on Monday of an African American man in police custody in Minneapolis has now erupted into wave after wave of angry protests and sporadic violence across the country.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: More people are mounting the sign, the CNN Center sign in front of the actual building. And they are now still chanting, banging objects against the sign.


HOLMES: Georgia's governor declaring a state of emergency, also calling up the National Guard after protesters torched a police vehicle and vandalized the CNN Headquarters in downtown Atlanta. Similar scenes playing out across the country.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Right now, we're behind the line.

HOLMES: Journalists (INAUDIBLE) sometimes been caught in the thick of it. Now all of this coming -- and you will see here, an officer comes up and fires a projectile at that news crew.


HOLMES: Now after the death of George Floyd on Monday, he's now -- the officer involved has third degree murder and manslaughter charges against him. He's now a former police officer, of course.

Floyd, pinned to the ground with the officer's knee on his neck for nearly nine minutes, desperate for air. And then he lay motionless. Charges also possible against three other fired officers who were involved in that situation.

Now we start our coverage in Minneapolis, where another day of protests was follow by another night of rage, the mayor speaking just moments ago and appealing for calm.


MAYOR JACOB FREY (D-MN), MINNEAPOLIS: 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.


HOLMES: And now we get the latest from CNN's Sara Sidner in Minneapolis.


SARA SIDNER, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: We're now 4.5 hours after the 8:00 pm curfew that was set here in Minneapolis. And what we're seeing play out in the streets, in this neighborhood filled with homes, just down the street about three or four blocks from the 5th Precinct, is a large contingent.


SIDNER: Hundreds of officers coming forward, for the first time tonight. We are seeing a large contingent of police pushing people back from that 5th Precinct and into the neighborhood.

What is happening, where you are seeing that fire there, is the protesters have made their own kind of barricade, trying to put something between them and the officers who are trying to advance, street by street.

And from those vantage points, where you see that fire, they will throw rocks. They will fight back. And they have kept saying, we are going to fight back this time. Nothing is going to stop us from fighting back.

The police are responding with teargas, with rubber bullets and we're seeing that play out. And when they start, you will see people start running because those rubber bullets leave some serious, serious bruises.

And you will also notice that we are in this neighborhood that's got tree-lined streets, there are folks that live here, looking down from their property, worrying about their property. But so far, the protesters here have not gone and dealt with any of these homes, not done anything to the homes.

But they have -- they have broken into things, like the bank that is up the street. That is on fire. We have seen a convenience store looted.

But here, they said they are sick and tired of what is happening between black folks and the police. And they are going to continue to fight for as long as they can so that they can get justice. Those -- those are their words and they are staying out here in these streets -- Sara Sidner, CNN, Minneapolis.


HOLMES: And the Georgia governor, Brian Kemp, issuing a state of emergency for Fulton County, that's just north and south of Atlanta. Also, activating the National Guard after angry protests erupted in Atlanta on Friday afternoon.

The demonstration started peacefully but descended into chaos as the hours passed. Nick Valencia was there and has this 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: Well, as the situation in Atlanta deteriorated, the mayor, Keisha Lance Bottoms, called for calm and told the protesters there is a better way to fight.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) MAYOR KEISHA LANCE BOTTOMS (D-GA), ATLANTA: If you want change in America, go and register to vote. Show up at the polls on June 9th. Do it in November. That is the change we need in this country.

You are disgracing our city. You are disgracing the life of George Floyd and every other person who has been killed in this country. We are better than this. We're better than this as a city. We are better than this as a country. Go home. Go home.


HOLMES: And joining me now from New York is former prosecutor Charles Coleman. He is also a civil rights attorney.

Thank you for being with us. The officer, Derek Chauvin, charged with murder and manslaughter. I'm curious, your read of what happened.

Does that sound like the right charge?

And -- and do you think it came quickly enough?

CHARLES COLEMAN, CIVIL RIGHTS ATTORNEY: Well, first of all, thanks for having me on, Michael. I think that, with respect to the charges that have been brought, what the Minnesota prosecutor did, in this case, was he essentially played it safe.

He went for the lowest possible charge, which is manslaughter. It's the lowest version of homicide that Minnesota law allows.

And, in doing so, what he did was he took away the idea of having an intent being attached, in terms of being -- needed to prove that charge. The problem with that charge is, ultimately, he can be -- he can be sentenced, if convicted, to anywhere between probation and 25 years.


COLEMAN: So we're talking about someone who could, potentially, walk away from this, after taking this man's life, with just probation, which is essentially a slap on the wrist.

But this was a -- this was a method of playing it safe, in order to get a quicker arrest in this case and have this officer charged.

With respect to the timetable, I don't think it was swift. And the reason why I say I don't think it was swift is because, if that officer was a civilian, if he were a regular person, it would not have taken everything that it has taken so far in order to bring him into police custody.

It only became an issue when people began to burn the city of Minneapolis and burn the city of St. Paul and riot and -- and -- and -- and express their anger and frustration. And so, while it happened, I don't think it was swift enough.

HOLMES: Yes. I -- and if it was you or I who did that, we would've been picked up pretty quickly and arrested.

When you look at his actual actions and -- and the stunning information that came out on Friday about the length of time he kneeled on Mr. Floyd's neck, I mean, it was nearly nine minutes. His refusal to move after Mr. Lloyd was saying he couldn't breathe, his refusal to change his behavior, even after bystanders tried to intervene.

How does that behavior, pretty much ignoring all the people pleading with him, how does that play into the legalities and the defense?

COLEMAN: I think, with respect to the people who were yelling at him, I think what you do begin to see, after such a long time, is the notion of depraved indifference. I think that that's what starts to occur.

Because you're having a nine-minute period and it's been documented that nearly three minutes of that period Mr. Floyd was not moving. He was not responsive at all. And so there's no question that there was not a threat that would require that level of force to subdue him in that circumstance.

And so, when you start talking about the legality, this was willful. This was intentional. And there's no question about that.

And so, when -- when -- when this is examined at trial and when that tape is looked at, it is going to be -- be very obvious, from anyone who looks at it with their plain eyes, that this was an excessive use of force by that officer, period.

HOLMES: If there hadn't been a video, what do you think would have happened?

COLEMAN: If there had not been a video, Michael, this would be no different than the hundreds and thousands of people who are killed by police in America every year. It's not -- when I say hundreds of thousands, I mean, literally, hundreds to the hundreds to thousands of people who lose their life at the hands of police in America.

I think it's very important that the viewers globally understand America has one of the most lethal police forces in the entire world. And disproportionately speaking, black victims end up losing their lives, through encounters with the police, at higher and greater numbers than any other ethnic group in the country, despite only being 13 percent of the population.

That is a problem. That is why people are out in the streets. That is where it's -- their frustration is coming from. And that is driving the civil unrest that you are seeing across this country.

HOLMES: We can always talk about, you know, bad apples and, you know, that this officer did not represent police in general.

But do you think this issue of how African Americans are treated by law enforcement is engrained, is systemic? COLEMAN: I think it's important that we understand the history behind policing in America. Policing in America began with the slave patrols when slavery was still legal. And it has evolved in that same way.

So for the lives of black people in America, whether it's the slave patrols, whether it's community policing, that has not changed. The way that police over police communities of color, the way that police interact with communities of color, specifically with black Americans, has not changed throughout the years.

Despite the -- the status of us changing and ultimately becoming citizens, we are, still, in a position where our humanity continues to be subjugated and oppressed through the structure of policing in America.

HOLMES: Yes. Charles Coleman, pleasure to have you on. Thank you so much. Appreciate you joining us.

COLEMAN: Thank you.

HOLMES: We'll take a quick break. When we come back, two of the biggest names in Atlanta rap speak out about the violent protests in the city they love.

Amidst all of this, the coronavirus pandemic still claiming thousands of lives. That did not go away. We'll show you where it is now hitting the worst. And the controversial action the U.S. president has just announced.





HOLMES: Welcome back. The death of George Floyd has triggered protests demanding justice all across the United States. On Friday, prosecutors announcing that the fired Minneapolis police officer, Derek Chauvin, has been charged with third degree murder and manslaughter.

Video, of course, showed him kneeling on Floyd's neck while three other officers stood nearby. Protesters want them charged, too. And the prosecutor says he anticipates they will be.

Meanwhile, protests were happening in Atlanta. While they were going on, recording artist Killer Mike addressed the situation at the Atlanta mayor's press conference on Friday. He broke down in tears when he described George Floyd's death.


MICHAEL RENDER, "KILLER MIKE," RECORDING ARTIST: I watched a white officer assassinate a black man. And I know that tore your heart out. And I know it's crippling. And I have nothing positive to say in this moment because I don't want to be here.

But I'm responsible to be here because it wasn't just Dr. King and people dressed nicely who marched and protested to progress this city and so many other cities.



HOLMES: Let's get some perspective from Jarrett Hill in Los Angeles, he is a journalist who focuses on politics and pop culture.

It's -- it's good to see you. Thanks for being with us. I mean, Killer Mike and T.I. both spoke at that news conference, two of the biggest names in Atlanta's rap scene. And they love their city.

But how much do their words matter, in the community?

JARRETT HILL, JOURNALIST: Well, I think the people out in the streets are certainly not hearing the message, right?

People are not hearing that message because they are out doing direct action and being active. I would say that the messages coming from T.I. and Killer Mike and many others, including the mayor, Keisha Lance Bottoms. I think the messages they are supposed to be getting from those folks.

But it's also something I think we have to consider is, like how are people feeling?

We talk a lot about anger but I don't think we talk about fatigue and exhaustion. And I think a lot of people out in these demonstrations and people that aren't in the demonstrations as well, that are at home, talking about them or whatever, are tired.

I can say, personally, it is exhausting to be black in this country, especially in a time like this. And I think that a lot of the people we are seeing in the streets that are being active, that are upset, that you see in these demonstrations are tired more than they are angry. I think they are hurt more than they are angry. And they are frustrated more than they're angry.

HOLMES: We did hear at the news conference, you know, the women who spoke there, talking about their roles as a mother and as a daughter. They spoke from a place of fear for their children and spoke of the need to heal.

And then, you know, we did hear from the men. They reflected, more, on the anger of what we're seeing, you know, ultimately, similar messages but very different directions.

What do you think resonates more?

HILL: Well, I think they -- I think when we talk about anger like anger is rooted in pain, right? So you're angry because something has hurt you, even if you don't have the language to be able to identify that. And I think being black in this country right now, especially in moments like these, where we continually see black men or women that are being killed for no reason by the police.

And then, we have to wait so long just to get a person arrested. I think it's important to remember that, today, the reporter at CNN here, I believe it was Omar Jimenez, was arrested more quickly than the police officer who incited the incident that people were so upset about.

He was arrested in a moment. It took days for this police officer to be arrested. And that is why people are so upset.

And it's not just in Minnesota. It's all across the country. And looking at Minnesota, for instance, we just saw the mayor and the governor of the state and city there in St. Paul and, like, there is a lot of conversation about property and assets and, you know, protecting the city and treating the community well.

But like, the people that are there in the streets, I think, are more concerned about the ways that they have been treated by the community. Right?

Has the community treated them well?

Because I would bet that they probably would say no. And I think if we look at the cities that are around the country, whether we're talking about Oakland or Los Angeles or Atlanta or D.C. or New York or wherever, we're talking -- we're hearing from our leaders that we need to be protecting our city and taking care of our city.

But we're not hearing language about how the city needs to be taking care of the people that it's hurting.

HOLMES: You know, it is interesting. It is only a small percentage of protesters who do damage. But they do tend to get the headlines because it's a lot more visible.

Do they -- do they harm the message of those who are out there protesting, who are grieving but are not doing damage?

HILL: I think it depends on who you ask because, you know, I was told the story of having a friend asking me like, why are they burning down the CVS and being frustrated, like it's not about the CVS, right?

It's about the message. Like, the CVS has an insurance policy. They will be able to get it paid off and they'll be fine. There are business owners in Minneapolis, saying let the building burn. I understand these people need justice.

And it's not even just about justice. If we are talking about George Floyd, Brittany Cunningham tweeted this and it was perfect. She said that getting this officer arrested and having him go through the court process and even if he goes to jail for the rest of his life, that will not be justice. That will be accountability.

Justice would be George being alive with his family, today.

HOLMES: I wanted to ask you, you're there in Los Angeles. We are seeing protests there, which we reported on in the last few hours. Give us a sense of the mood there.

What are you seeing and feeling?

HILL: I have been insulated in the house for most of the day -- most of the afternoon, I should say, and talking with friends that are around town, some that are downtown, that are concerned about -- I saw one of them just tweeted, like, do I need to pack a bag?

Do I need to get ready to get out?

It is -- it is something that we probably would expect that will continue to grow over the weekend.

Something that's been heavy on my heart the last couple of hours has been thinking about, there is this interesting intersection of a moment, where we've had people who have been longing to be connected with other people, who have not maybe even hugged someone in a number of months now, who are now, all of a sudden, out on the streets, in solidarity, with a group of people that all are here for this moment.

And I think that's got to be incredibly energizing to people who are upset, who are frustrated, who are tired, who are hurt. And I think that's an effect we are going to continue to see grow over the weekend.


HOLMES: It has been notable, the diversity of the protest crowd, which is a great thing obviously.

I did want to ask you just briefly because, you know, we see this ebb and flow. I am reminded of, like, school shootings and having the same conversation, you know, a few months apart.

It's like this when it comes to these sorts of things happening to African American men, mainly, at the hands of police. We have this conversation. There is outrage. There's protest. Places get burnt. And then, it happens again.

What -- what -- what fundamentally has to shift?

HILL: Well, I think this speaks to the fatigue, right?

So like, when we have the president of the United States, as Donald Trump, if you will, and when you have systems in place that have continued to let this happen, year after year after year after year after year, name after name after name, right?

It is incredibly frustrating to continue to see these stories. But -- and we talk about post-traumatic stress syndrome, right, and the way that these things affect us long-term. It's not like you just see the video and then goes away. That sticks with you.

And then it happens again. Then it happens again. And then it's not post-traumatic stress syndrome, it's present traumatic stress and then even pre-traumatic stress because one of the things we've heard people chanting in the streets is, am I next?

Will I be next?

And the feeling of one of us is going to be the next one.

Who is it going to be?

And there's a fear that comes with walking down the street, as a black man, that I can relate to when I -- if I have a hoodie on or if I'm wearing too much black. Or if I see a police officer go by.

That is the pre-traumatic stress, right?

Like nothing's even happened but I'm concerned. I have anxiety. I'm afraid. I am nervous about walking down the street and having interaction with a police officer. That is something that people have got to be tired of.

And then you add on the layer of COVID-19 and the fact that we've had quarantine. Everyone has been in survival mode for months now, trying to just be safe from the -- the disease that is outside, the virus that is outside, not even considering the police officers, right?

It's -- it's a lot to layer on top of each other. And then, you have to ask yourself, like, oh, maybe this is why people are so upset.

HOLMES: And -- and, indeed, African Americans also disproportionately affected by COVID-19 as well.

HILL: Absolutely.


HILL: I think that's an important -- I think that's an important point, right?

We see all of these people in large crowds and you have to hope they are not going to be getting sick two or three weeks down the road.

HOLMES: I will say my son was out and about in it. And one of my main concerns was that could be a superspreader event. So I hope that doesn't happen. Jarrett Hill, thank you so much.

HILL: Absolutely.

HOLMES: Well, the death of George Floyd is, once again, exposing these open wounds we've been talking about, about race relations in the United States, namely, the mistrust between African Americans and law enforcement.

Could the Floyd case be the breaking point that does bring about that real change we were just talking about?

We'll discuss more in a moment.





HOLMES: Our viewers here in the United States and all around the world, I'm Michael Holmes. You are watching CNN NEWSROOM. Time to check the headlines for you this hour.

It has been a day and night of pain and anger in the U.S., as people in cities across the country protest the death of George Floyd. He was the unarmed African American man accused of trying to pass a single counterfeit bill at a Minneapolis convenience store, earlier this week.

The officer, seen with his knee on Floyd's neck for nearly nine minutes, is now charged with his murder. Three other officers could also be charged over the incident. The case inflaming tensions in the U.S., as Floyd is the latest unarmed African American man to die in police custody. There have been many others, of course.

Some of the many demonstrations taking place Friday did turn violent. Last hour, Minnesota's governor said the aftermath of protests in the Minneapolis and St. Paul area is still, in his words, "incredibly dangerous."

And here, in Atlanta, the city's mayor denouncing the vandalism and disorder. And she wasn't alone.


HOLMES: I'm joined now by former Atlanta mayor and former ambassador to the United Nations, Andrew Young.

It's an honor to have you on, Ambassador. You tweeted earlier, quoting you here, "I did my demonstrating for many years. If I wasn't so old and weak, I'd be down there with them now," speaking about what -- what unfolded in Atlanta. Tell us why.

ANDREW YOUNG, FORMER U.S. AMBASSADOR TO THE U.N.: Well, I tell you. This was really a tragic incident. And yet, I wanted to be down there to tell them that a demonstration has to stop as orderly as it begins.

And that's a tragedy, that we had a beautiful demonstration going on about 6 o'clock. And it was multiracial. It was mothers and their children. And they were orderly and quiet and peaceful and -- and then, they went on about their business.

But then another group tagged along. And I don't know what -- they were not a part of the original demonstration, it seems. And yet, they -- they disrupted the whole purpose of the demonstration.

HOLMES: And what damage does that do to the justifiable grievance of the main group?

YOUNG: Well, it doesn't do any good but does a lot of harm. Minneapolis had begun to move. They fired four policemen. And they've indicted one. And we have had a pretty good relationship between our young people and the police force here in Atlanta and for many, many years.

But school is out. And normally, demonstrations would be organized on college campuses, where students would be responsible. This one was just a sort of social media meet-up.

And everybody showed up, with no training, with no understanding of the plan and with no understanding that a demonstration has to start and stop, getting the same message across.


YOUNG: I'm afraid people lost the real message. And now, the story is only the disruptions and the violence and the frustration.

So in a way, the people who tagged along after, who, for the most part, were not a part of the demonstration, actually had a counterproductive demonstration that put our city in turmoil and did significant damage.

HOLMES: You know, when you -- when you look at the scenes, not just in Atlanta. I mean, across the country in many, many places, you see this anger. The George Floyd death, you know, is horrendous.

But do you see a bigger picture here of systemic issues that haven't been addressed?

You know, I heard Cornel West put it earlier that chickens are coming home to roost in some ways.

Your thoughts on that?

YOUNG: My thoughts are that this has always been true. But after Martin Luther King's death, there was the same kind of outcry and violence, unplanned and disorganized. But it confused the issue so much that it ended up being counterproductive. We ended up burning down 20 cities almost and mostly our own neighborhoods.

So a demonstration -- and, you know, the sit-ins -- and I can remember John Lewis and the college students. But before they started demonstrating, they studied nonviolence for almost three months.

And I've heard a young man making a comparison between Martin Luther King and Malcolm X. But Malcolm X never did anything violent in his life. He basically had a militant message but he never hurt a soul. In fact, he was one of the most gentle spirits I know.

HOLMES: I wanted to ask you, how important is, you know, political leadership at -- at this moment?

I mean, when you look at the response from the White House, the president's tweets and comments calling protesters "thugs" and so on, how important is leadership at a time like this?

YOUNG: Well, the leadership, this is one time I agree, the leadership needs to come from the cities. And I think our mayor stepped up. And a number of the other efforts that I was very proud of, their statements.

The city of Atlanta is -- is -- is pretty well organized around nonviolent approaches and political approaches to social change. And -- and so that's what's important. I think, though, that the climate, nationally, is such that the overall protests could have a very negative effect.

HOLMES: Ambassador, really appreciate you coming on. I -- I really am. I know it's been a long day for you. Ambassador Young, thank you so much.

YOUNG: OK. Thank you.

HOLMES: After a quick break, the coronavirus pandemic: New York, which has had more cases and deaths than many countries, is now moving to reopen. That, plus President Trump's move against the World Health Organization. That's when we come back.





HOLMES: Welcome back.

Amid all the unrest across the United States, the coronavirus does continue to take a terrible toll. According to Johns Hopkins University, there have been more than 360,000 deaths worldwide. And the U.S. leads the world by far, with more than 102,000 deaths.

A new study, meanwhile, finds that one in 10 coronavirus patients with diabetes died within the first seven days of entering the hospital. Diabetes is one of the underlying health conditions that experts say put people at greater risk.

Still, the U.S. president Donald Trump doubling down on his assertion that the virus is, quote, "going away," despite the number of cases on the rise in 15 states. Mr. Trump also announcing he is cutting America's funding for the World Health Organization.


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.


HOLMES: Well, New York was the epicenter of the coronavirus pandemic in the United States. And the death toll there, more than 29,000. But now, the city is poised to reopen in a couple of weeks. Nick Watt with more.


NICK WATT, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Ravaged by this virus more than most, New York City will soon start on the long road back.

GOV. ANDREW CUOMO (D-NY): We are on track to open on June 8th, which is one week from Monday.

WATSON (voice-over): If people are smart, he says, we won't see the numbers go up.

CUOMO: As we haven't, in the upstate regions that have reopened and Long Island that has reopened, the numbers have not gone up. Why?

Because people have been smart.

WATT (voice-over): Washington, D.C., started reopening today.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's not a day of celebration. It's a day of being able to do something slowly, on a limited basis, that we haven't been able to do for 10 weeks. But it's not a party.

WATT (voice-over): Because CDC modeling suggests COVID-19 will kill around 20,000 more Americans in just the next three weeks.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think we're starting to see increasing cavalier behavior, frankly, in terms of preventing transmission of the virus. And that's getting worse and worse, over time.

WATT (voice-over): New case counts are now going up in 15 states, including some in the South that reopened earliest, Arkansas seeing a spike.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There is a second wave. It's a combination of expanded information through testing, with a spread of the virus in that northwest Arkansas area.

WATT (voice-over): Meanwhile, this virus continues to expose deep societal issues everywhere.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This virus has laid bare inequalities across our state and across our country, unequal access to healthcare. And right now, in Kentucky, almost 19 percent of our deaths are in the black and African American community that only makes up 8 percent of our population. [03:45:00]

WATT: Here, in Los Angeles, as of Friday, you can get your hair cut again and eat inside a restaurant.

The way it works in California is each county has to submit a plan to the state to prove that they're ready to move ahead with reopening. And we read the one that L.A. gave to the state.

And, in it, we found officials from L.A. County, saying they anticipate additional waves will occur over the next 18 to 24 months, throughout the U.S., including California and Los Angeles. So maybe another two years playing whack-a-mole with this virus -- Nick Watt, CNN, Los Angeles.


HOLMES: And joining me now is Anthony Costello. He is a professor of international child health and director of the Institute for Global Health at University College London.

Thanks for being with us, Professor. I wanted you to speak, initially, to the impact of the U.S. pulling out of the World Health Organization in the middle of a pandemic.


Well, I think this is a decision of the White House and not the American people or even the Republican Party. (INAUDIBLE) extremely generous people and it was, indeed, a Republican president, George W. Bush, who gave an astonishing $15 billion to help with -- through the (INAUDIBLE) fund with HIV and AIDS control.

But it was the Americans who help set up WHO. They called it the Magna Carta of global health. And the achievements have been stellar. I mean, we've eradicated smallpox through WHO or with their help; controlled malaria, to a large extent; invested in maternal and child health.

And, of course, WHO sets the norms and standards for much medical practice across the world. So I think this is damaging, actually, more damaging, to U.S. status and soft power in the world than it is, actually, to the World Health Organization.


HOLMES: One imagines you're better off advocating from within the organization, if you want change.

And if you are worried about Chinese influence, doesn't leaving just give them that influence, by walking away?

COSTELLO: Well, I think it probably does a little bit. But I think this is grossly overexaggerated. I mean, Dr. Tedros, the director general, has done nothing different from other DGs. They're diplomats. He praised President Xi Jinping in order to try and get access to

China, in the same way that he praised President Trump in February, at a time when many American media outlets were criticizing the president.

So you know, they have to play a very difficult game. And they're very underfunded. The assessed contributions to WHO have gone down over the past 20 years. And it -- on February the 4th, they put out a call for $670 million.

And a month later, when I met with Dr. Tedros, he'd received $1.5 million, a tiny amount for a global pandemic. So this is not just America. It's the world that is not stepping up to the plate.

HOLMES: And yet -- and yet, this is the moment that they need -- the WHO need the national cooperation the most.

I wanted to ask you regarding the virus, U.S. president saying -- he actually said, well, it's going away. And then, he said, well, I think we'll have vaccines. I think we're going to have therapeutics, maybe even a cure. And he said it won't be in the long distance.

I mean, speak to that, a cure in the not-too-distant future. The virus is just going to go away.

COSTELLO: Well, I think that's hype and -- and it's being, I think, a little dangerously overoptimistic. Certainly, there is encouraging news about developments on the vaccine front although, some people say, you know, if we get a vaccine within a year, that will be good.

The evidence from the two trials on remdesivir is encouraging, that it -- it probably does help recovery and it may even reduce death rates and a new trial is expected soon. But all the countries and particularly America and my own country, the U.K., face a big problem right now because they are starting to lift the lockdown from a base of quite high numbers of cases.

And that could mean that we'll get a resurgence, either in small outbreaks in different parts of the country or, possibly, a second (INAUDIBLE) decide their future.

HOLMES: Yes, yes. A lot of people concerned about that in the U.S. with a lot more mingling going on. Professor Anthony Costello, got to leave it there. Really appreciate it. Thanks so much.


HOLMES: Well, president Donald Trump says the U.S. is withdrawing from the World Health Organization, as we've been discussing.


HOLMES: We are going to have a look at what that means for the U.S. and the rest of the world during this coronavirus crisis. We'll be right back.




HOLMES: A quick look now at our top story. Protests spreading across the U.S., after George Floyd, an unarmed black man died in police custody. Crowds massing and marching in many U.S. cities on Friday.

But many protests deteriorated into violence and rioting. It happened even though the police officer, who pressed his knee into Floyd's neck for nearly nine minutes, was arrested on murder and manslaughter charges.

Let's have a look at the scene right here in Atlanta. Protesters are smashing windows, spraying graffiti at the CNN Center. Also, lighting fires in a nearby park before police dispersed them with teargas.

Now the U.S. president Donald Trump says the U.S. is cutting ties with the World Health Organization as we mentioned a little earlier. It is something that he has threatened to do for weeks.

But critics say it'll just make the fight against coronavirus and many other diseases, for that matter, much more difficult. CNN's Nic Robertson is standing by in London.


HOLMES: And it does seem to be an odd thing to do in the middle of a pandemic, when you need global cooperation.

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: The American Medical Association calls it, you know, senseless. That they're saying that this -- there will be harmful repercussions.

And that's certainly the view of many medical organizations, that the pandemic, the virus, doesn't know any borders, doesn't respect borders, doesn't respect, you know, political fights that are going on, at whatever level, domestic or international.

And that, you know, unless countries work together -- and the WHO embodies the sort of working together of -- of -- of different countries to share medical information, to share what the latest data is, what -- what therapies are working, that, unless everyone is joined up in that, then this global pandemic cannot be stopped.

Because it will -- it will -- if it flares up in one country, it's no good if all the other countries are working together to combat it. It can come back and affect everyone.

So this is the concern. And it does seem to isolate President Trump and the United States, as he is trying to sort of build greater diplomatic pressure on China, on -- on a number of fronts, Michael.

HOLMES: Indeed. Nic, good to see you, my friend. Thanks for that. Nic Robertson there in London. On that note, thank you for watching CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Michael Holmes.

Don't go away, though. Another hour. I have news ahead. We'll update you on the protests and the unrest over the death of George Floyd. We'll be right back.