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CUOMO PRIME TIME
Protests Erupt for Sixth Day Following Death of George Floyd. Aired 11p-12a ET
Aired May 31, 2020 - 23:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: We have to scramble out of the scene when the police swept down the street where police cars have been burnt out. We witnessed many instances of looting here in North Philadelphia, in West Philadelphia and in Northeast Philadelphia, all day long. We've been chasing this along with the police. So the chaos and the violence that ensued last night in the Center City area of Philadelphia has now kind of spilled over into north -- northeast and west Philadelphia as the Center City area is pretty much closed off.
You can't really get down there unless you live there and there is a curfew in effect, but the police are still chasing a lot of the people committing looting and violence tonight, Chris, and I said earlier it was a little bit like whack-a-mole and it certainly is like that.
We've been following the police around as they've been trying to catch up to people who are looting, but it's been tough on them and, you know, well, they have to secure the whole Center City area, which is a very large area of downtown Philadelphia. They need a lot of officers for that. But then they got to come up here and chase and try to snuff out the looters and the people setting fires in other areas of the city.
And as I mentioned, you know, we got caught up in some of that ourselves. We got fired upon with tear gas and rubber bullets. There was a tear gas canister that landed basically ride beside us as we were scrambling away from an area that police were trying to sweep in West Philly earlier today. So, again, the chaos and the violence and the opportunism for looting has not subsided here in Philadelphia tonight.
It's still a very, very tense situation, especially kind of in this northern corridor of Broad Street leading out of downtown -- Chris.
CHRIS CUOMO, CNN HOST: All right. Brian, thank you very much. I'm going to check back with you in a moment. Please keep yourself and the team safe. Find a good opportunity for coverage to give us the reality. We'll come back.
It's the top of the hour now. If you're just joining us, CNN's continuing coverage of what is happening all over the country. This is in direct response to the killing of George Floyd. We all know the video now. We've seen it from different angles. We've heard from different witnesses.
The same questions remain. Yes, one officer has been charged and arrested. Why haven't the others who stood by and watched as an officer kept his knee on the throat of George Floyd for minutes?
The situation has never made sense. It is not about training. None of them was taught to do what they did that day. Part of what you're seeing around the country is about action but also inaction. The other officers not at least being arrested to many is unacceptable because if that videotape wasn't probable cause that a crime was committed, you could argue I don't know what is.
So some find that inaction unacceptable. Take to the streets. The action that was taken by the officer who's been charged with third- degree murder, which, by the way, we haven't even had time to discuss. Our streets are on fire. People are angry. That third-degree murder charge -- I'm a lawyer, you will hear legal analysis, it's an unusual charge for these situations. Depraved mind.
If you have time and you're not obsessed with watching the coverage, Google "depraved mind murder." See what it was intended for under the law and how it's being applied here. It's an unusual charge. And that will have to come in the analysis. There is also a manslaughter charge. But what about the other officers? That's a big deal.
Now, all of this. There is Atlanta. You saw what happened there in front of the CNN building. CNN's not the story here. CNN wasn't the target to be victimized. This is about covering the story, not being the story. The mayor down there has been very forceful in terms of the understanding of what gives leverage for change.
If you light your own community on fire, you pay the price because you now don't have access to the things you burned down anymore. But that does assume that the community is the one doing the damage to its own community. That's not always the case. That is often a false assumption. I'm telling you, I've seen it with my own eyes many times. These groups are not one thing. It's not a monolith, OK?
You have outside agitators. I told you, I showed you that one person. I guarantee you there are more of them in every city with a very identifiable mask of a rallying figure for a dark cause, OK? And you're going to see that in every one of these cities. Now we're showing you Long Beach, California. All reaction to the same type of societal dynamic that many want to see change.
I'm not going to say just black people. That should have never been true. It should never just be blacks who want to see fair policing, fair criminal justice, fair economic justice. It should never just be blacks. Whites should not be allies to black Americans. They should be brothers and sisters to black Americans. We don't have some loose alliance out of convenience. We're not do-gooders for black Americans. We are supposed to be equal.
The expression that my brother-in-law told me today. I am not better than you. You are not better than me. We are both better than this. That is the reality in America now. We have to get to a better place.
This is San Francisco. I'm going to show you this. All of this is emanating out of Minnesota. We haven't even gotten there yet tonight. I'll take you there. Things are changing as it gets darker. But let's come in more acutely on San Francisco. Who do we have on scene? All right. So this is just our camera there. Give me some context of the building that they're trying to secure right now. You see the police with barricades zip tied together. They're there in front of it.
Is this a courthouse? Is this a municipal building that they're securing? I'll get the information when I get it. You see people lined up in direct confrontation. Who they are? If we can get the camera to pan to the right, we'll take a look and see who they are. Here, this is San Francisco. I don't see any signs to identify message. Now I'm starting to see some. It looks like a black power symbol. Black Lives Matter.
You know, those are very typical messages we're seeing all over the country. They're obviously protecting this. This is obviously a sensitive municipal building. They want to keep it safe. They're standing there. They're ready. They have their typical riot gear. You see the baton. The plastic on their hip. Those are zip ties, those are handcuffs. They have their riot shield, the helmets on. They're allowing media to have a side presence to them. You see media on the other side as well.
Heather, do -- we have no voices from here. So let's go to what this is all emanating from this time. OK, again, this is not a one-off event. It's not one thing that changed the course of any type of perspective in America. But George Floyd was more of an exclamation point. Now, here's somebody directly confronting the police. And, look, dialogue is OK. Protest is OK. The police officers are trained to de-escalate.
All right? They are not in the same situation as the rest of us. Their job is to take it to a certain extent. Now, somebody's -- OK. So, while we watch this unfold, they're going to start to move up. Let's see if they create a new line. Nope, they're moving them back. OK, good. Let's hope this stays like this. We'll check back as things change, if they change.
Now, for the first time George Floyd's family was able to have direct communication with the Minneapolis Police Department. Think about that. Only now have they had direct communication. Specifically they had communication with the police chief himself. It was raw. It was emotional. And it was real. And it happened right here on CNN. Watch.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SARA SIDNER, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: The Floyd family has asked if you are going to get justice for George Floyd by making sure that the other officers are arrested and that eventually convicted. They want -- and I know that there are things that you cannot control, but they want to know if the other officers should be arrested in your mind and if you see that they should all four be convicted in this case.
CHIEF MEDARIA ARRADONDO, MINNEAPOLIS POLICE DEPARTMENT: And this is the Floyd family right now?
SIDNER: This is the Floyd family.
ARRADONDO: To the Floyd family, being silent or not intervening, to me, you're complicit. So I don't see a level of distinction any different. So obviously the charging and those decisions will have to come through our county attorney's office, certainly the FBI is investigating that. But to the Floyd family, I want you to know that my decision to fire all four officers was not based on some sort of hierarchy.
Mr. Floyd died in our hands, and so I -- I see that as being complicit. So that -- that is about as much -- and I apologize to the Floyd family if I am not more clear, but I don't see a difference in terms of the ultimate outcome is he is not here with us.
SIDNER: You don't see a difference between what Officer Chauvin did and the three other officers who -- some of whom kneeled down as well, but some of whom just watched? You see that all as the same act?
ARRADONDO: Silence and inaction, you're complicit. You're complicit. If there were one solitary voice that would have intervened and act, that's what I would have hoped for. Unfortunately --
SIDNER: That's what you would have expected from your officers, yes?
ARRADONDO: Absolutely and that did not occur. So to the Floyd family, I hope that -- that's my response. Yes.
SIDNER: Thank you so much.
DON LEMON, CNN HOST: Philonise, do you have another question? What's your response? What's your response to -- Philonise?
PHILONISE FLOYD, BROTHER OF GEORGE FLOYD: They arrest guys every day. They had enough evidence to fire them, so they have enough evidence to arrest them.
I don't know who he's talking to, but I need him to do it because we all are listening. Black lives matter.
LEMON: Sara, that was an incredible interview that you did. And it was the first time, you know, I don't -- hang on, Sara. You haven't spoken to anyone at the police department, I'm not sure, Philonise, correct me if I'm wrong. Have you spoken to them directly? So that was really the first interaction that you've had with the police department since your brother's death?
So, Sara, in the course of this -- this broadcast, we have been able to connect the family with the police department through your interview.
SIDNER: That's right. For the first time.
SIDNER: I can't tell you, Don, what that's doing to me to hear them have this conversation through me to the -- to the chief. Sorry. To hear the pain in the Floyd family's voice and to have to convey that, I hope that I did the right thing for them because I know that they are hurting so, so badly. But I do want to recognize that when the police chief -- every time I said that the Floyd family has a question for you --
LEMON: Took off his hat.
SIDNER: He took his hat off.
SIDNER: So he wanted to make sure to be respectful. And I know that they are angry. I know you are angry. And I know you are hurting. And I know it's not enough. You cannot bring George Floyd back. But you heard what he said. That each and every officer who did not speak up against what was happening is complicit. This is the police chief saying that. This is the police chief.
Don, have you ever heard that before in your life? I have not. In all of the 12 years I have covered so many protests across the world, and I have never seen a police chief say this. But I know it doesn't cure the ills that the Floyd family is dealing with. And that all the people in this neighborhood are dealing with right now.
So I hope, I hope and pray that I was able to convey what they wanted to the chief in this first time being able to hear from the chief directly their questions, their concerns.
LEMON: Sara, I think you're right. I think that Chief Arradondo deserves a lot of credit for doing that. And as we know, it's not the chief's role to convict them, but he did speak out about what he thinks. If you -- he said that silence is complicit.
Philonise, I know it's -- you're very emotional right now. What did you think of the -- of the chief's candor and, again, as Sara pointed out, every time he -- he was very, respectful. Every time he talked, addressed you and your family, he took off his hat and he spoke very candidly about at least what he could share about how he felt this case was going.
FLOYD: Hello, Don. I'm just upset.
LEMON: Ben, I'm going to talk to you, Ben. What did you think of what the chief said?
BEN CRUMP, ATTORNEY FOR GEORGE FLOYD'S FAMILY: Well, he was very respectful to the family, and we thank him for that. This family is in great pain, Don. And yesterday was the anniversary of George's mother's death two years ago. They're now having to grieve publicly as they're getting ready for a funeral.
They need these officers to be arrested. And we, you know, go through all of this just to get equal justice. Simple justice. That's all they want is what happened if the roles were reversed to happen here. That's what he continues to express about black Americans keep getting killed by police and nobody is held accountable. It's an expression of righteous anger that people are expressing all across America.
But even as much pain as Philonise is going through, he's still asking people to be peaceful because we don't want innocent people to be affected and we don't want people to misconstrue (INAUDIBLE) equal justice for Philonise, justice for Ahmaud Arbery, justice for Brianna Taylor and so many others.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CUOMO: All right. Let's go to CNN's Sara Sidner now.
Sara, that was an amazing opportunity that you created, not just for the family but for the family of this country to finally see the police chief deal with the family of the victim. You know, ordinarily any prosecution is done on behalf of the state for what was done to the victim.
And yet this is the first time the family heard from the police. That was an amazing opportunity for them. And for you.
SIDNER: Yes. I have to tell you, I was here in the neighborhood interviewing someone from the neighborhood that was talking about their pain, and it was because of the people in this neighborhood who said, you know, behind you is the police chief. We turned around, and I was like, I'm going to see if he'll talk to me and he did.
And it just so happened that we had George Floyd's family on the air and my producer Jason Kravarik said let's do this live. That's how this happened. It was -- it was circumstances beyond which we could have controlled. But when I heard George Floyd's family talking, weeping, trying to get the words out to the police chief, they had not heard from the police since they lost their brother.
When I heard their pain, it literally felt like it went through me. And the police chief, every time I said their name and said it was the family of George Floyd that has the question, the police chief took his hat off. Each time. Took his cap off. The respect that he gave them was so important, but it does not bring back George Floyd.
CUOMO: No. Understood. Hey, Sara, have you gotten any explanation --
SIDNER: And he said something that --
CUOMO: -- from the police there about -- listen, I respect what the chief did. I respect him talking to the family. I respect him showing deference. He's not in charge of the prosecution. He could have had those officers arrested, though.
SIDNER: That's right.
CUOMO: He is in charge of arresting.
SIDNER: So --
CUOMO: I don't have to tell Sara this, but just for everybody else. She's standing in front of a crowd right now. I guarantee you she can find a dozen people who have been arrested on probable cause by police officers, not waiting for any charges to be filed.
SIDNER: Yes. That's right.
CUOMO: So what about that piece?
SIDNER: That's right. So, we did talk to him about that. And he hedged a bit, but the truth of the matter is you heard from the county attorney about this. That they wanted to make sure that they had a solid case because many, many, many times officers not just are fired and get their job back, but the prosecution, they are not prosecuted or they are not convicted. And so there's always a fear that if you go forward and do this that in the end the city pays them money or they get their job back.
And I asked him about that. And he said, look, there are a lot of processes I can't do anything about. He talked about the strength of the unions, the police union, and not being able to get rid of officers who he believes should not be working there. This chief, by the way, just came into office in 2017 because --
SIDNER: -- there were problems and the prior police chief resigned. So his job was to be transparent. But what you saw here, I've never seen in my career. Have you?
SIDNER: Have you seen a police chief come out to a neighborhood where one of his officers accused of killing someone, sitting on that man's neck? Have you ever seen them come out and kneel after there has been violence, after -- he didn't have to come out here, but he came out here and he kneeled and he prayed near where this man died and he said that the other officers who did not do a thing to stop this are complicit. They're complicit.
That was from the police chief's lips, not mine. And you know what? George Floyd's family's attorney, one of his attorneys seized on that and said that he cannot go back and reverse that. That is now out there. That will now become part of the record and part of the case. And he cannot reverse that when he gets -- if he gets on the stand. So, not only did he make news, but he actually helped the potential prosecution of any of these officers, including Derek Chauvin, who is charged with third-degree murder and manslaughter.
In my career as a reporter, I have never seen a police chief do that. Never. Never.
CUOMO: Well, I think that, you know, one, it speaks to this being a little bit of an extraordinary situation. You know, you could argue that they should do it every time because he works for that community. And he should go and be held to accountable. Of course there are always safety concerns. And it is unusual. Let's just give them --
SIDNER: Those are fireworks, just so you know.
CUOMO: Just fireworks. All right. Good. But you know, look --
SIDNER: Those are just fireworks.
CUOMO: Hearing that they're complicit yet they haven't been arrested is the kind of mixed message that creates so much hurt in the community and, you know, something that we ignore probably a little bit too much.
SIDNER: It does.
CUOMO: You know, we're all so sensitive to diversity in journalism. We want so much diversity. Not just because we want everybody to look different. We want different experiences. You know, Sara, you and I, we've worked together for a while here now, we've covered a lot of the same things. We don't see anything, though, through the same eyes. And you are tough. You're tough in war. You're tough in war on the streets.
You're smart as hell and I love watching you with your family on Instagram because I love you as a person also. But there is hurt that you understand in this situation and that is felt by that community. And I think that's probably the biggest motivation that we are ignoring in this right now. Anger comes from somewhere. It comes from hurt. It's not just angry people. We're not savages. We're not animals.
SIDNER: That's right.
CUOMO: When they're hurt, people get angry when they see no other recourse. How big a piece is that in what you're seeing there?
SIDNER: Oh, it's everything. Pain is everything. Pain is everything. It has informed everything that you have seen. I know people see violence and think that people are just taking advantage of the situation. And there may be some people who are. I don't know that every single person is doing this borne out of pain, but I can tell you many people are. We've seen it. They don't know what to do with that emotion so their response, especially young folks, is to lash out.
And one of the young folks -- we talked to them on your show. You had him on your show. A young man who was from Minneapolis who said, do you see all this damage here? You don't listen to us when we speak, so you listen to us now, don't you? So acting out gets attention. And they know that. Because the other way hasn't gotten them the attention. It hasn't done anything. It hasn't changed anything. So they're hoping this will. Will it? I don't know. I was in Ferguson
in 2014 for three months. We're back here again. Same scenario, just about. There wasn't a gun involved. There was a knee involved.
CUOMO: There was no videotape either. Which became a deciding principle --
SIDNER: That's right.
CUOMO: -- in that case. I remember the day that we got --
SIDNER: That's right.
CUOMO: -- the main witness or whom we thought was going to be the main witness and it turned out, through no fault of his own, that when he had to move from one window in his home to the other, that became the pivotal piece of what, you know, was supposedly going to be a prosecution of an officer of when brown turned around, in his story, the officer's, and then he had to shoot out of self-defense. And he didn't see that piece.
SIDNER: Can I say one thing, Chris?
CUOMO: So I remember being there with you.
SIDNER: Can I say one thing?
CUOMO: Go ahead, please, Sara.
SIDNER: You were there. You were there and you saw that. Can you just imagine -- do you know what this was over? Do you realize --
CUOMO: Yes, but tell people --
SIDNER: -- what this man died over?
CUOMO: Tell them what they were responding to at the scene.
SIDNER: The store had called because they said that Floyd and whoever he was with had tried to pay for something with a fake -- with a counterfeit $20.
SIDNER: And if you look at this from 35,000 feet, this man died over $20. Really? That's what happened. Why do you think people are so angry? $20. Why do you think people are so damn angry? Right? So that -- people can't understand that. They can't understand that. Think about what that -- if that was your son or your uncle or your father or your cousin. That's why people are so mad. They could have just let -- they had him in handcuffs. So? Step back.
See if he will get up. But that's not what happened. People were begging the officers to get off him, to let him breathe, let him try to get up. He was already in handcuffs. That's why people are so mad. That's why you see this outrage. So this is what the police chief is reacting to because he said himself he was outraged when he saw the video.
SIDNER: He's the boss. He is the man that is running the department. These are his officers and he was outraged. So what do you think people who know George Floyd feel? Right?
CUOMO: Or they know that situation --
SIDNER: What do you think his family thinks?
CUOMO: They know that scenario of how police interact with them.
SIDNER: That's right. They've seen it before.
CUOMO: And what they see as a minimum as an insensitivity from the system.
You know, I'll tell you what, again, I think you could find countless people tonight, would you have time to do nothing else, if you went around and found people who had been arrested before prosecutors had all their ducks in a row and made sure they had a really solid case before they moved on them with any kind of arrest.
SIDNER: That's true.
CUOMO: There are too many who do not get that kind of deference. Now, fair point, police officers deserve space and respect in the system. Unlike you and me, they are given an assumption that they will use force in the furtherance of their duties. But even still, them not being arrested after that videotape is a gut punch for anybody in this country that values justice.
Sara, let me do this. Let me take a quick break.
SIDNER: It is, Chris. It is.
CUOMO: Because they're in my ear about it.
SIDNER: Let me just say one last thing.
CUOMO: Go ahead. You take us to break.
SIDNER: One last thing is -- one last thing. When people from the neighborhood saw the chief out here, they talked to him and I heard a woman say, thank you. No other police chief has gotten and fired officers that quickly in any other city ever that she has ever heard of in a case like this. So there is an appreciation for what he has done, even though those other officers have not been fired. There is an appreciation. She thanked him profusely for doing that -- Chris. CUOMO: The officers have been fired. They have not been arrested yet,
the other ones, other than Chauvin. We'll see what happens. You know, again, it does raise a legitimate issue. What is taking as much time as it's taken so far?
Sara Sidner, you are a gift. I'll check back with you in a little bit. You let me know the situation there.
SIDNER: Thank you, Chris.
CUOMO: I'll grab a quick break here. We're going to take you around the country. What Sara is expressing I think as well as anybody I've ever heard do it is real in many parts of the country.
This is San Francisco. Things are starting to escalate there. We are outside city hall before. That's what we're seeing. That's what the police have lined up to protect. We will take you here right after a quick break. Please stay with CNN.
CUOMO: All right. I want to take you to San Francisco right now. We watched a standoff between police officers there to protect city hall. Protesters across the street from them. Now seems to be some kind of dumpster fire. We have CNN's Dan Simon in front of it.
Dan, what's the state of play?
DAN SIMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Chris, we are about a block away from city hall and police were trying to get this crowd to disperse. We're now about 30 minutes into a curfew and they're now trying to get everybody to go home, and we had most of the crowd essentially flock towards downtown, and now they're sort of headed in this direction. But you can see this dumpster fire.
They've been marching all throughout the streets of San Francisco for about five or six hours, and they stopped at city hall, had this rally, then the police came out and tried to get them to disperse. They seem to have done so. In the meantime, it has been quite a weekend throughout the entire bay area. We're talking about San Jose, Oakland and San Francisco. For the most part things have been peaceful.
You talked about it during the day things are peaceful then at night you have total mayhem where we've seen all kinds of looting throughout the bay area. Last night in San Francisco and Union Square we had several businesses that were looted. And then on Friday night in Oakland, you actually had two federal protective officers who were shot. One of whom died.
So right now we're here in San Francisco. We're monitoring the situation. You can see this dumpster fire. And right now police just trying to get this crowd -- I don't know what we just heard. Maybe some fireworks. But the bottom line is, Chris, police are trying to enforce this curfew. Mayor London Breed has said she's not going to tolerate any more looting or any more violence.
There are hundreds of more police officers on the streets. She brought in 200 more officers to bolster the San Francisco Police Department. You can see them walking down the street --
SIMON: -- towards us monitoring the situation. And we'll come back to you, Chris, as things develop.
CUOMO: Yes, and, you know, you get yourself to a safe opportunity zone to tell us what's going pawn. I just want to point out to people. You just saw a couple of young men go over to that dumpster. They put it out. All right? They know that turning over the dumpster, you cut off the air, you stop that fire. See that, too. Not just the people lighting fires, the people doing what they can to put it out.
All of this is about perspective. You know, and I want to just -- I don't know if you're just joining us now here at CNN, but I was just talking to my colleague Sara Sidner who's been in Minneapolis, in Minnesota for us. You know, I just had a conversation with her that many of you were complimenting Sara for, and you should, but I want to ask you a question.
On a national level, this is a national story. I'm showing you cities all over the country. Where is the national leadership? Where are our leaders? Who is speaking to this country and telling them, telling these people that you're seeing on your screen that there is an answer to this? That there is something other than outrage and the language of pain to process in this situation? Our best answer can't be police marching down a street in a major city chasing back citizens of this country.
We have to be able to do better. You shouldn't have to rely on a CNN correspondent to speak to the truth and pain of what is hitting an entire part of this country. It's not her job. It's not my job. It's not the job of these police, to make this stop. Where are our leaders? If you want to say, well, these people need to go home, that's what stops it, personal responsibility, we would have never been having this conversation if you didn't have people take to the streets.
If there were another way for this to have been done, we wouldn't be here. We wouldn't keep coming back to this place. I don't know about you, but I have a hard time keeping the names of all the black men I've covered who have been killed by police, many of which are those cases you've had families receive money, settlements from cities, ironically paid for with tax dollars by those same communities that wind up being victimized, but very rarely do we see prosecutions of those officers.
So there's a civil settlement but no prosecution. I know it's a lower legal standard. I'm a lawyer. But you know what I'm talking about. We need to do better in this country. You know it. I know it. Black America shouldn't have to tell you that. White America shouldn't be their allies. They're our brothers and sisters. All we're joined by in this country is our diversity and our belief in our national religion which is our rules of law. Of justice and freedom.
You don't need me to tell you that.
Here we are in San Francisco. This is the best we can do?
I want to bring in former Philadelphia police chief commissioner Charles Ramsey. No stranger to the problems of policing, high crime and minority areas. No stranger to the problems of politics and perceptions that policing is abusive.
What is your take on the state of play in this country right now, Commissioner?
CHARLES RAMSEY, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Well, we're in trouble. I mean, it's a shame that it takes a tragedy like this to really bring to the surface a lot of issues that have been there for a very, very long period of time and are never fully addressed. It seems like you give a lot of lip service, we all do, whenever we have something like this. Whether it's Ferguson or now in Minneapolis, but how long is that going to last?
In order to really have solutions, lasting solutions, the dialogue has to continue and there has to be real concrete change. In 2014 President Obama formed the Task Force on 21st Century Policing, which I had the honor of co-chairing. We spent I guess about four months putting together a report with recommendations, with action steps on police reform. We had a variety of people who were a part of the task force. Activists. We had civil rights attorneys.
We had law enforcement professionals. And we all came together with one thing in mind, and that is how do we -- how do we make change, lasting change? The administration changed. The report wound up -- I won't even say it's on the shelf. I think it's pretty much in a trash heap. So there are things that can be done. We just have to have the desire and the commitment to do it because this is not going to get better.
We'll be back here again with some other person who lost their life or some other tragedy that occurred and we'll be talking about the same thing over and over again.
CUOMO: So, Commissioner, people can look you up very quickly. Obviously you're from Chicago. That's, frankly, where I met you a very long time ago. We've been doing this together. But you were an officer in Chicago. You worked narcotics. You were the chiefs of police in D.C. then you were the police chief in Philly. So you've been in a lot of metropolitan areas. And you've told me in the past the issues are staggeringly the same.
When you say changes, what could be said, what could be done that mean something to the communities that feel the pain of the persistence of these problems?
RAMSEY: I don't know if there is any one thing because this has eroded to a point where it's going to take a great deal of time before trust is built up. Trust is very, very fragile, and some communities have felt left out, they've felt abused for a very long period of time. It's not going to happen overnight, but it's got to start somewhere. And it's not just about policing. The entire criminal justice system needs to be reformed, in my opinion.
We need to take a look at other parts of society. I mean, look at what we're going through now with coronavirus and, I mean, there is not a single thing that happens that's bad where people of color and poor people are on the low end of the totem pole when it comes to, you know, outcomes.
There is not a single thing. Name one positive thing that takes place where people of color or poor people come out on top. I mean, the whole system is reversed. And so that adds to the frustration. And it's one thing after the other. And then you have police, most of whom go out and do a very, very good job, but it only takes a few. And then you wind up with riot sticks, helmets and trying to put down civil disturbance.
CUOMO: Let me ask --
RAMSEY: And it's a never-ending cycle.
CUOMO: Commissioner, let me ask you a few questions. I want to get your take on some of the extraordinary aspects we're dealing with here. First of all, the Minnesota police commissioner going into the community, kneeling, which has been seen as a sign of deference to the situation because obviously this cop was kneeling on George Floyd's throat. Him going into the community, him saying the officers who stood by for a long time, by the way, that was an extraordinarily long --
CUOMO: -- confrontation they had with this man, are complicit. Him going to the community, doing what he did, saying what he did. Your response?
RAMSEY: I applaud him. I mean, he did what more police chiefs ought to do, and that is step forward when something's wrong, say it's wrong. What happens behind the scenes -- and I know people want the other three police officers arrested. I think they ought to be as well. But when you get cases like this, oftentimes what you're doing now is you're working with your district attorney.
In this case I guess the attorney general that just took over this case to really talk about what you have and what's the next step because you don't want to blow the case either. And so he fired them right away. I mean, within 24 hours they were gone. But now what? And so now you start working with your prosecutors to find out what do we have?
Now, clearly the one officer that was kneeling on the neck, I mean, that was, to me, I think that was fairly easy. What about the other three? Were they complicit? Yes, I do believe they were. Well, what's the precise charge? What would happen if they were taken to court? I mean, all these kinds of things have to be discussed.
I believe they eventually will be arrested and charged with something. I don't know if it will be murder or not.
CUOMO: But, Commissioner --
RAMSEY: But it will be something.
CUOMO: Help me understand what is going to be a very common pushback. And yes, as you know, I'm a lawyer. I do this all the time. But they -- if they were civilians, OK, the idea that you only get arrested when some prosecutor has worked with the police and gotten all their ducks in a row we both know is absurd. Guys get picked up all the time, especially in these communities, and many of them are never charged.
So the idea that, well, the police, we're going to wait until we make sure we have an absolutely watertight case, even though they stood around and watched a guy get his neck crushed to death, but you would not be treated that way as a civilian. How are they supposed to accept that?
RAMSEY: Well, I can understand why they wouldn't accept that. When you have police officers that are working, you know, in the line of duty, even though what they did was not in the line of duty, but they are working under color of law, I mean, it makes it a little more complicated to determine at what point in time are their actions misconduct, official misconduct or criminal in nature versus, you know, something more administrative, maybe a mistake of some kind or what have you.
I'm not just talking about this case or a death. But it does become a little more complicated. It's very difficult -- and it shouldn't be this complicated -- to be able to take action, especially in extreme cases like this. But it does make it more complicated when you're talking about police officers that were on duty working at the time that the incident occurred.
CUOMO: Commissioner, let me do this. I want to take a quick break. I want to come back. I want to ask you about the composition of the -- who we're seeing in these situations around the country.
CUOMO: And that is not just one group of people. And --
RAMSEY: No, it's not.
CUOMO: -- there are a lot of false narratives. I want to get your take on that and I want to get your take on the Atlanta case that we're dealing with, of Ahmaud Arbery. So, please, Commissioner, stay with me. I promise it will be a quick break.
RAMSEY: All right.
CUOMO: To you as well the invitation is extended. Let me take a quick break, come back and let's get -- look, nobody knows better than Ramsey. I've been covering him for years. We want his perspective on this. Stay with CNN.
CUOMO: All right. This is going on all over the country. Yes, it has the flash point of George Floyd, African-American man killed by a white police officer. A Caucasian police officer. Other officers standing by. Only the one with the knee on Floyd's throat has been arrested and charged. They are waiting for action on the other three. Reverberating all over the country.
CNN's Kyung Lah is in Long Beach, California. What is the status where you are?
KYUNG LAH, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: What you're seeing here is a different tactic from the Long Beach Police Department. What they're doing is they're allowing this remaining group of protesters, who from everything I've seen has been largely peaceful.
LAH: They have been marching the streets. They are in violation of the curfew, but they want to get a message out. They understand this is civil disobedience, and I have not seen them do anything other than march. There have been some skirmishes with police earlier. There are reports of looting, but I have not seen it from this group.
When I asked a couple of people in the crowd what happened with the looting, they said that it did not represent this particular group. And I want you to -- I just want to ask you a quick question. You know, you're still out here in violation of the curfew.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes.
LAH: Why are you still marching?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Because I matter. My family matters. My friends' affairs matter. I've got nephews. I got nieces. I got sisters. I got a mama. I got a daddy. I got friends. I got peers. I call all these people standing right here, they fucking matter. Their lives matter. Nobody gives a fuck about us. OK? Unless we get violent. You care about all the shit being burned down? But what about when the KKK burned our shit down?
LAH: There's a lot --
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Where were you all then?
LAH: There's a lot of passion --
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Where were you all complaining back then? Because they fucked up the whole nation up. They fucked up generations of generations of kids.
LAH: So you can hear the passion --
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (INAUDIBLE) black born kids.
LAH: You can hear the passion in her voice.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We stand for the people who can't speak for themselves. We stand for the ones who's been knocked down. The ones who can't stand up no more because they don't have a voice anymore. We stand for peace. We stand for equality. We stand for unity. We stand for love. No justice. No justice.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No peace.
LAH: And she's the one that's been leading the chant as they march through the streets. And you can hear it in her voice, Chris. That is the passion that a lot of the people have brought on to these streets here in Long Beach and they say they want to keep getting that message out -- Chris.
CUOMO: Understandable pain in her voice and outrage based on what she's seen. And look, you have to understand, and if you can't understand, you have to listen and try to absorb that why would you listen to the message to go home and observe a curfew as someone who respects the law when you don't believe the law is being respected when it comes to you? And you vote and you organize and you say that you want better and it doesn't get better.
At what point do you turn to this? Now, people will judge it. That's fine. You should also judge the Boston Tea Party. You should also judge what happened in the '60s that led to the Civil Rights amendment. Most of the major movements in American history have started at the grassroots level and at some point have turned into direct conflict with American government. So, remember your history before you judge your present.
Kyung, you keep walking with them. Kyung, let me ask you something, where are you in relation to Santa Monica, California? And what have you heard about presence there and looting there and things out of control there?
LAH: We are about -- I would say about a 25-minute drive south of Santa Monica. Long Beach is another beach community but very different, has its own personality, has its own people. What we're hearing out of Santa Monica is that it began just like this protest began, a lot of people gathering on the streets, peaceful, gathering to get a message out, and that a certain contingent went and started looting.
So there are two stories out of Santa Monica. If you heard what the police were saying this morning in a press conference this evening is that the larger story of gathering for 33peaceful protests to start a national dialogue that even though this is California and far away from Minneapolis, there are issues that relate to everybody in this country. So, that's the major story.
But then the looting took over. And they believe that that is bad actors coming in and trying to hijack the larger story. So, that is what we're hearing from Santa Monica.
LAH: The damage we saw, Chris, the damage was intense.
LAH: It was surreal to see so much of that shopping district have everything smashed out and people walking with items, their arms full that they've just pulled out of a Patagonia store. It was just so surreal.
CUOMO: Right. A lot of opportunists in situations like this. Kyung, stay safe. Stay safe with your team. And let us know when you want to come back to us.
All right. Let's take a quick break. When we come back, did you see the video out of Atlanta that has a lot of people talking about the administration of justice in this country especially during this time? I think it came from just last night. We're going to take you through that right after this.
ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.
CUOMO: Hey, I'm Chris Cuomo. Thank you for joining me on this Sunday night. Just about to dip into Monday morning here on the East Coast. We're following the events around the country, an outgrowth obviously still of what happened most recently in Minnesota, OK, with the death of George Floyd, now the alleged murder of George Floyd, as one of the officers has manslaughter and third-degree murder charges against him.
But for many in this country, literally cities big and small all over America, it was an ugly and obvious reminder of something that happens too often and gets redressed by justice to infrequently. So, we are covering that as it plays out in America. And I must say for all the voices I'm playing you -- and you'll hear lots of angry people and lots of people in pain and that's why they are in angry, we have such silence from our leaders right now.
Think about it. Really the biggest response of leadership that we're seeing are police all over the country. Is that really the best we can do? You know, the idea of this country and I'm not better than you, you're not better than me, but both of us are better than this.