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Sixth Night of Mass Protests Across U.S. Over Death of George Floyd; National Security Adviser Tells CNN He Doesn't Think There's Systemic Racism in the U.S.; Around 4,000 Arrested Nationally Since the Death of George Floyd. Aired 9-9:30a ET
Aired June 1, 2020 - 09:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ANNOUNCER: This is CNN Breaking News.
POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning.
JIM SCIUTTO, CNN ANCHOR: A good Monday morning to you. I'm Jim Sciutto.
HARLOW: And I'm Poppy Harlow. A nation outraged and in pain. A sixth night of mass protests across the country, some peaceful, many marred by violence, looting and fires.
SCIUTTO: You have to take all of this together because there were conflicting images out there. There were peaceful moments, there were upsetting moments, there were violent ones. It's a very broad picture, a very complicated one. We're going to bring you the best we know of it today.
Here are some of the numbers, 4,000 people have been arrested nationwide since the killing of George Floyd, the black man who died after a Minneapolis police officer kneeled on his neck for nearly nine minutes. More than 40 cities now have imposed curfews to attempt to stem the violence. The National Guard has been activated in 26 states as well as here Washington, D.C.
HARLOW: That's right, Jim. And this is a nation in trauma, a nation reckoning with what it is and what it stands for. This morning, a nation confronting the ugly reality of racism and couple all of this with an economy reaching great depression joblessness, disproportionately hurting black Americans.
This is America today.
We have reporters across the nation. First, let's get to Omar Jimenez. He joins us this morning in Minneapolis.
Omar, what can you tell us about the weekend?
OMAR JIMENEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Poppy and Jim, for days now, every morning we have been out on the site of the destruction of violence and looting and at times rioting from the night before. This is what the aftermath of peaceful protests looks like. We are at the site of where George Floyd was pinned to the ground here. You see this is his makeshift memorial that has only grown by the day, even down to the spot where he was pinned again in that video that we have seen for now a week in the outline painted with those words "I can't breathe. I can't breathe."
And of course since the week ago, when we learned and saw at least the beginning moments of what had led to his death, we had seen every night protests during the day, that then devolved into violence at times, and looting and rioting in the evening times, and then in the mornings, we saw a cleanup as well.
We knew over the weekend the turning point essentially came when we saw the largest law enforcement presence we have seen yet come on Saturday, and that maybe was the most violent clashes we had seen between police and between protesters and then yesterday over the course of the day, they were largely peaceful protests.
This is the kind that again the state and city officials wanted to see and at this particular site, the police chief here in Minneapolis, Medaria Arradondo came out to stand in solidarity with those who are protesting not just Floyd's death but also how it was handled in the immediate aftermath. And he spoke with our Sara Sidner live on the air as she was relaying some of the questions that the Floyd family was directly asking. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PHILONISE FLOYD, BROTHER OF GEORGE FLOYD: I want to know if he's going to get me justice for my brother and arrest all the officers.
SARA SIDNER, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: 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.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
JIMENEZ: As for what we can expect moving forward today, we do know Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison is taking over the investigation from Hennepin County and we understand from Benjamin Crump, the Floyd family lawyer, that we are expecting the results of an independent autopsy as well -- Poppy, Jim.
SCIUTTO: Omar Jimenez, thanks very much.
And remember this as you're listening this morning because it is a complicated picture. It's not monolithic. There are many peaceful protesters, there are many acts of violence. So we're trying to show that to you as best we can across the country.
Let's go now to CNN's Boris Sanchez, he's here in the nation's capital.
Boris, watching some of this last night similar started peaceful in many places, as night fell, it got violent in many parts of the city.
BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely, Jim. There were fires raging all over the nation's capital last night, but some of the most intense scenes, the most tense moments unfolded right here, just steps from President Trump's front door, in Lafayette Park, at this intersection.
Protesters clashing with police. There's a radius here for blocks of ash and glass on the ground. You see this National Park Service building right behind me, you may not see because of traffic and folks that may be in the way, but there were actually fire trucks out here this morning because flames were reignited. You see the vandalism outside of it as well and landmarks are being targeted, too.
I want to show you St. John's church here. This is a historic landmark from the early 1800s. This house of worship has been visited by every American president since James Madison. Last night protesters broke into the basement and set afire. Fortunately Metro firefighters were able to put it out. Further down the street, the AFL-CIO also set aflame.
And even though we saw tweets from President Trump this weekend saying that he was safe and sound inside the White House, we learned actually that on Friday night, the Secret Service took him, the first lady and their son, Barron, into an underground bunker under the East Wing of the White House, so it just goes to show outside of one of the most significant symbols of power in the world, this chaos is unfolding -- Jim, Poppy.
HARLOW: Boris, thank you for bringing us that.
Evan McMorris-Santoro is with us. Dianne Gallagher also is with us. So let's go to Dianna Gallagher first in Atlanta.
Dianne, incredibly disturbing video of two officers there with the Atlanta Police Department using excessive force against two college students. What can you tell us?
DIANNE GALLAGHER, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: That's right. And I want to warn you, the video you're going to be seeing as I'm talking here is incredibly disturbing. It is painful to watch. These two officers who take these two students, college students, at Historically Black Colleges here in Atlanta out of their cars on Saturday night and tase them.
Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms said that it clearly excessive force is used. The chief of police said that it was shocking to see the way that the students were manhandled inside their cars there. The two officers who used the tasers, they have both been fired. The three officers you also see in the video, they even put on desk duty pending the investigation. The charges against those students were dropped.
Now that was on Saturday night when more than 150 people in Atlanta were arrested. On Sunday night things were a little different and it may have dealt with the fact that law enforcement's presence was so much greater. Governor Brian Kemp activated about 3,000 members of the National Guard statewide. They were here in downtown where I am now as well as protecting the governor's mansion. 64 people arrested in Atlanta last night -- Jim, Poppy.
SCIUTTO: Dianne, thanks so much in Atlanta.
Let's go to New York now where the NYPD says their officers arrested more than 250 people during protests overnight. At least seven police officers were injured in the clashes. Brynn Gingras there.
Brynn, give us a sense of how widespread this is and how well if that's true it's been calmed down now?
BRYNN GINGRAS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, it's somewhat calmed down now, Jim. But you have been saying it all morning, these protests started peacefully. But even as the commissioner said in an interview this morning, when it got dark, it got ugly and it got ugly quick.
We're in Soho, which is a very high-end shopping area of New York City. You could you see the stores behind me, Balmain, they're now boarding up again. These were boarded up last night and yet looters in the darkness broke through the wood, threw it on the ground and then went into the stores and basically took all of the merchandise that was inside.
The same thing for Chanel. All morning we've been showing you the pictures of Chanel and all the merchandise and lipsticks and jewelry that's just been thrown all over the cobblestones here in Soho. Well, now they're re-boarding up their stores as well.
I want to show you video from a privately owned jewelry store that's just a block away from there. The owner or manager rather allowed us to go inside. I mean, the place was ransacked. It wasn't a smash-and- grab situation that we're talking about, guys.
The way that these looters, it was almost organized. They broke into these businesses and even went into the back inventory areas of the businesses and took everything out as much as they could as fast as they could.
And that is repeated literally at almost every store in this area of this shopping district. And as you guys said, this wasn't just this area. It happened in Manhattan, it happened in Brooklyn, more than 250 arrests. There were officers injured again with Molotov cocktails, which is something we saw over the weekend, and also there were a number of department vehicles torched during these looting sessions that happened overnight after the protest -- guys.
HARLOW: Wow. Brynn, that is stunning to see and I'm sure you are kept up as a lot of us were overnight the constant refrain of those helicopters overhead. Thanks very much.
Let's go to the West Coast, Stephanie Elam is in Los Angeles which is under a state of emergency, the county there. What can you tell us in terms of people respecting or not respecting the curfew overnight?
STEPHANIE ELAM, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, last night it seemed people here in this part of the town were paying attention mainly because they had to.
And that's because the National Guard is out here. We also can tell you that the police have been out here in strong force. There were a couple of buildings there that were burned down in the protests Saturday night. This is after Friday night when we saw some 500 people arrested in protests from downtown, arrests made here. Lots of graffiti and so forth here along Melrose, where we are.
Fairfax, there's a burned out car down there in front of a gas station, all of that percolating here. Then in Santa Monica we also saw that there were more of those tensions, those clashes between some protesters and the police there, and so we saw hundreds arrested last night there.
But that's just looking at what's happening here where we see people start off really focused on the protesting and then as it gets later in the day, sort of begins to change and that tone begins to change and that's when we saw looting happening over the weekend here. But you move up the coast to Portland, Oregon, where they have seen days of protests as well. It definitely got thick up there yesterday.
The police telling me there that they had to start going to using rubber bullets and tear gas to break up what was happening there. They said that protesters were breaking windows of the federal courthouse and trying to take over the justice center there and so they had to work to do that.
But one thing I want to point out, too, is something we've seen happen across the country, different places, where we've seen police officers actually coming and kneeling with protesters, and that happened in Portland. I checked in with the Portland Police this morning. They said two sergeants were out there talking to protesters, and they had a good conversation and it just became an organic moment where these two sergeants kneeled.
So we've seen that in other cities across the country as well, and this I would say is very different than any of these other cases that we have covered, Jim and Poppy, of this issue of black men and their relationship with police. This one feels different in the sense that we're seeing some police officers actually respond and interact with these protesters about it and agree with them.
SCIUTTO: Yes. Yes. We've seen that in a handful of other cities as well.
Stephanie Elam there in Los Angeles, thanks very much. Let's go to Louisville, Kentucky, because there was another
interaction there that helped lead to some of these protests, the killing of Breonna Taylor. As the violence got worse over the weekend, someone was shot and killed after officers and the National Guard returned fire clearing a large crowd.
Evan McMorris-Santoro, we learned how state police investigating the shooting. What do we know about the circumstances?
EVAN MCMORRIS-SANTORO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well that's right. The governor saying this morning that he is authorizing state police to investigate this shooting. Now, here in Louisiana -- in Louisiana. Here in Louisville, excuse me.
Here in Louisville, this city is dealing with anguish over two police- involved deaths, obviously George Floyd across the entire country and Breonna Taylor, an EMT who was killed in March after a warrant was served on her house and her boyfriend shot the police, the police shot back. That's under investigation, too.
Now, we got here last night after the loudest parts of the protests were over but you see a massive police presence, just law enforcement everywhere, National Guard everywhere and around midnight, according to law enforcement, the police were trying to clear a parking lot here in downtown, according to what they said, they were fired upon, and fired back apparently, killing a black male, according to the reports.
Now, the interesting thing is, this is supposed to be a day of reflection that was declared yesterday by the mayor here, who is trying to negotiate this very difficult political position, trying to make some changes to the police force, changes to policing and also deal with this George Floyd protest that's just been so loud. And today was supposed to be a day of reflection. The Urban League president saying this morning in a tweet it's actually become a day of mourning.
Back to you.
HARLOW: Yes. You know, Evan, a number of the signs I saw in the protest yesterday in New York also had her name on them, Breonna Taylor, as well. Some people should read on that if you're not familiar with her killing.
Evan, thank you for being there.
We have a lot ahead. Police, local leaders putting to the test or put to the test as these protests for justice and equality across the country continue. We'll talk to some of those leaders.
SCIUTTO: And two Minnesota business owners watched helplessly as looters ransacked their business. We're going to speak to them and about their hopes for putting it all back together.
HARLOW: Overnight across the country, initially peaceful protests over the killing of George Floyd, a number of them did cross once again into violence, more arrests were made in both Miami and Denver.
SCIUTTO: With us now, Chief Jorge Colina; he is the police chief of the Miami Police Department and Denver Mayor Michael Hancock. Thanks to both of you. We know you have so much on your plate now, so we appreciate you taking the time here. If I could begin with you, Police Chief Colina, a sad fact of this, right, is that instead of having a national conversation that looks to bridge the divide, you've had an attempt, and some of this is frankly coming from the president to focus on one group or one end of the political spectrum as being responsible for these protests here.
I just wonder, based on what you're seeing on the ground in Miami, what is driving this? Is it -- I mean, you have this contention, now these are nationally organized by Antifa, that that's really what's happening here. What are you seeing on the ground there in Miami.
JORGE COLINA, POLICE CHIEF, MIAMI POLICE DEPARTMENT: Well, we're seeing a lot of protesters, and there are elements as we know, we've seen across the country. A small amount of those protesters are agitators wanting to create conflict, wanting to divide us further. By and large, the protesters have been peaceful. What happens is, you have a bad actor who takes an overt act and then you'll have other people that will join in.
And -- but we've also had circumstances like we had yesterday where the protesters didn't allow these aggressive agitators to take action, and we literally saw other protesters stopping them, and so that's been a very positive sign.
HARLOW: Mayor, to you. The National Security adviser Robert O'Brien was asked by our Jake Tapper yesterday, essentially if he thinks that there is systemic racism within police departments across the country, if that is a problem. Here is his response.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ROBERT O'BRIEN, NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER, UNITED STATES: I don't think there's systemic racism. I think 99.9 percent of our law enforcement officers are great Americans. But you know what? There are some bad apples in there, and that you know, there are some bad cops that are racist.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARLOW: Is he right, mayor, or is there systemic racism that needs to be addressed, and of course it's not talking about every officer or the majority of officers. But it's talking about whether there is at the core a systemic issue that has to be addressed?
MAYOR MICHAEL HANCOCK, DENVER, COLORADO: Yes, Poppy, you're absolutely right. There's systemic racism in America, and it certainly pervades our police departments. This is a systemic challenge that America's faced, not in the last, you know, three or four weeks, but quite frankly, over the last 300 or 400 years, and while we've made tremendous progress, we are nowhere near where we should be or want to be.
There's a lot of work that needs to be done to address the disease of racism in America including in our police department. There's an inherent trust between African-Americans, particularly African- American men and other people of color and the police department, and it goes both ways. That is systemic. It's innate and it's passed from generation to generation.
SCIUTTO: To Chief Colina, do you agree, and how do you -- and I don't mean to color the entire Miami Police Department this way, but do you agree that there are bad elements, right, that you have to police and weed out in effect. And if so, how do you -- how do you respond to that? How do you -- how do you do that well? How do you solve the problem?
COLINA: Well, I think you need to be vocal, and I think that you need to take the proper steps and not be afraid. But I think the mayor said something very interesting, which I think is spot-on. Which is he said that this is a problem that's across the country. You know, police department is a microcosm of the rest of the country. And so we have people that are bigoted and that are racist in the country. That's a fact. We have to accept that.
Well, the same thing in the police department. There's something that's happened here that's been different than other tragedies that have occurred across the country. This is the first time in my 30 years, though, that I have seen so many law enforcement executives, and even some unions come out and call this for what it was, a murder. I've not seen that, and that --
HARLOW: Yes --
COLINA: Important step.
HARLOW: Well --
SCIUTTO: It is. It is for sure.
HARLOW: Yes, it is, and we heard the Republican Governor of Maryland, Larry Hogan, say just yesterday, this was a murder in a police uniform, right? And to hear that as well, is notable. I do wonder, chief, though, there has been a lot written over the weekend about defunding, being a reaction not just talking about changes that need to be made, but defunding some of these organizations in terms of police departments and places where there is this consistent problem, and also there's the issue of the broad immunity given to police officers by the Supreme Court.
COLINA: Well, the problem goes a bit further, right? One thing is to charge an officer. And a lot of times when you hear many of the protesters here, you know, charge the officers, charge the officers. It's really about convicting the officers.
HARLOW: Yes --
COLINA: Yet, there is no justice if you charge someone and then ultimately you're not able to --
SCIUTTO: Yes --
COLINA: Gain a conviction. Those juries, you know, we have the same issue there. That's also a microcosm. And you have to kind of pull the veil back of everyone is doing the right thing. No, if someone didn't do what they're supposed to do, they need to be held accountable. That needs to happen more and more and more --
SCIUTTO: Yes --
COLINA: And then, I think slowly we can start dealing all together once we see progress being made. But I think defunding what ultimately will happen is now you are hiring people that have no business being in the police department. That are perhaps even more problematic because you don't have the right equipment, you don't have the right technology and you're not going to --
SCIUTTO: Yes --
COLINA: Attract the right candidates that we need that have public service in their hearts.
SCIUTTO: Mayor Hancock, there is according to CNN's reporting, a debate now within the White House as to whether the president should deliver a national address, some sort of message of unity and calm. I wonder, in your view, would the president's voice in the midst of this help to heal some of these wounds?
HANCOCK: You know, Jim, we always hope that our president will stand up, speak and signal a voice of unity, a voice of courage, really work to calm the fears of the pains in our communities across the nation, when these sort of things have happened. You know, you must also have a president who has the credibility and the integrity to engage the community.
A voice that people will follow, and you know, while we hope President Trump will do that, I've got to tell you that, I think the governors and mayors right now are the ones who have to step up, and we are. And to respond collectively and individually in our cities to remind people that we recognize the pain and the challenge and certainly the frustration that has resulted from George Floyd's murder.
But also all the other questionable homicides at the hands of police officers. To the chief's point, police officers have also stood up and said, this was not right, I've seen them all over social media --
SCIUTTO: Yes --
HANCOCK: This is the type of thing that I think will ultimately bring this, our communities together, but also, we must back it up with action. It can't just be words that are emanating --
SCIUTTO: Yes --
HANCOCK: From the White House or from our city halls. We must also be backed up with action, change in policy, change in training, and an acknowledgment to the chief's point being very vulnerable and raw and simply saying we recognize it exists. We must deal with it.
HARLOW: Mayor Hancock, thank you, well said, thank you and Chief Colina to you, thank you very much. With all of this playing out, I think we are all grappling with how on earth do we talk to our children about what is going on, and will anything be different this time? We'll talk about that next.