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Sixth Night Of Mass Protests Across U.S. Over Death Of George Floyd; Violent Clashes Overshadow Peaceful Protests Across U.S. Aired 10-10:30a ET
Aired June 1, 2020 - 10:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JIM SCIUTTO, CNN NEWSROOM: A good Monday morning to you. There was a lot of news this morning, so much to go through. We're going to do our best. I'm Jim Sciutto.
POPPY HARLOW, CNN NEWSROOM: And I'm Poppy Harlow.
We are glad you're with us on this critical morning in America, pain and anger in this country.
Right now, cities across the nation preparing for another day and night of mass protests. These protests largely remain peaceful during the day, marred, many of them are by violence at night.
SCIUTTO: Listen, it is a varied picture. It's a complicated picture. Acts of violence, also acts peaceful protests, including at times with police support. Let's talk about some of the details here. There has been looting, there have been fires, there have been stunning images just seven days after a white police officer pressed his knee into the neck of a black man, George Floyd, for nearly nine minutes, killing him.
The Minneapolis police chief kneeling at a memorial for Floyd. There's that powerful picture there, his hat off. He says he thinks the officers involved, those who stood by, not just the one that had a knee on the neck, they were complicit.
We have reporters across the nation.
First, let's go though to our Omar Jimenez. He's in Minneapolis. Omar, do your best, if you can, to give a picture of the broad range of things you've seen happening in Minneapolis over the last couple of days.
OMAR JIMENEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Jim and Poppy, Minneapolis has been through a lot over even just the course of the past week. And typically, what the cycle has been is you see peaceful protests during the day, then at the nighttime, it devolves into at times rioting and looting, and in the morning, you have the cleanup. So I've shown you over course of the week the aftermath of some of the destructive time of things. This is really the aftermath of a peaceful protest. What you're seeing here is, over the course of the night, people actually sat in a circle here, again, in peaceful protest. They defied the curfew that was put in place by the state and the city here.
So even though police came, police chose to allow them to stay here, and they stayed here until the curfew was over at 6:00 A.M. this morning.
Now, people come and reflect again right next to the site where George Floyd was seen on that cell phone video under the knee of former Officer Derek Chauvin who is now facing criminal charges himself of third-degree murder and manslaughter as well. So we wait to see when that initial court appearance. It's going to be about a week from now as we also wait to hear what the results of the independent autopsy, are going to be later today, Jim and Poppy.
SCIUTTO: Omar Jimenez, good to have you there on the ground. We know you'll stay on top of it.
In just a few minutes, President Trump and Attorney General Bill Barr, they're going to meet to discuss the protests across the country.
HARLOW: And as we said, some of those protests did turn violent, including those in Washington this weekend. Boris Sanchez is near the White House with more.
Exactly what happened and how close to the White House, because there was that moment when the president and the first lady and their son were taken away to a different area?
BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yes, that happened Friday night, Poppy and Jim. We heard from sources that the president and the first family were escorted to this underground bunker under the east wing of the White House. The Secret Service clearly feeling that tensions were rising on Friday night.
Notably, the president tweeted after that saying that he felt safe and sound. He tweeted about vicious dogs and ominous weapons ready for some of the more violent protestors.
I do want to point out very quickly, the fire department is back out here this morning. This park service building having to be visited twice this morning now. The smoke was seen earlier. I'm not really clear on what they're doing right now, but the cleanup continues this morning. This intersection right outside the White House, the site of some of the most tense exchanges between protestors and police.
You mentioned that meeting between with Attorney General William Barr this morning. It's happening about a half hour from now. Soon after that, the president set to have a teleconference with governors and law enforcement from around the country about getting things back under control.
Both of those events are actually closed press, so it's possible that we may not hear directly from President Trump on camera today, despite everything that's gone on over the weekend, over the last 48 hours.
Kayleigh McEnany though, the press secretary, is scheduled to speak with reporters at a briefing at 2:00 P.M. though, Jim and Poppy.
HARLOW: Okay. Boris, thank you very much for that reporting out of the nation's capital.
This morning, we're learning the Kentucky State Police are now investigating the death of a man during protest there overnight. He was shot and killed after police officers and National Guard members returned fire. They were clearing a large crowd.
SCIUTTO: As you've seen, our reporters are across the country. They're on the ground to witness this firsthand. Our Evan McMorris- Santoro, he is in Louisville with the latest.
Evan, tell us what you know about the circumstances of the shooting overnight of this -- of course, this being the concern here. When you have those clashes, it often doesn't end well.
EVAN MCMORRIS-SANTORO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes. Hey, guys. This city, Louisville, has been talking about this police killing conversation since March when Briana Taylor died at the hands of police, and an investigation is still going into that death. And then today, actually, they were hoping that as the George Floyd stuff happened, it fueled more protests here. We've had clashes with police, we've had damage. You can see downtown there's damage.
But they were hoping that today, June 1st, would be a day of reflection. The mayor declared it yesterday trying to have a conversation about some of the changes he's already made to policing here, about some conversations about policing going forward.
But then last night, after most of the protests had cleared, there was an interaction, according to authorities, between state police and National Guard and a group of people in a downtown parking lot. According to authorities, people from that parking lot fired. People from the authorities fired back, and a black male died.
So today, on a day that they're supposed to be thinking about what comes next, we may have a new incident that just reopens all this old conversation. The state police are now investigating that death, and we'll see what happens next.
HARLOW: I appreciate that reporting from Louisville, Evan. Thank you.
Dianne Gallagher is with us in Atlanta, and there is just incredibly troubling video showing an episode that happened over the weekend in these protests, Dianna, on Saturday, that led to two officers being fired.
DIANNE GALLAGHER, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Poppy. And, look, I want to warn everyone who is about to watch this video as I'm speaking here. It is difficult to watch. It is something that the police chief said were shocking, to watch the way that these officers manhandled the two college students who were in their car.
This was Saturday night as the protests were ending here in Atlanta. They deployed tasers on the man and woman who were in that car. The two officers who used those tasers have been fired. The mayor here, Keisha Lance Bottoms, said that it was disturbing and it was clearly excessive use of force.
The charges against the two students there who go to historically black colleges here in Atlanta were dropped, and the three other officers that you see in the video have been put on desk duty pending an investigation here in Atlanta this morning.
Jim, Poppy, I can tell you that most of the damage that happened to property over the weekend, it's been fixed. There are some broken windows, a little bit of graffiti and boarded-up windows, but they've cleaned it up, showing that property can be repaired.
SCIUTTO: Yes, I've seen that here in D.C. too this morning, the broken windows, many of them cleaned up very quickly.
Stephanie Elam, you're in Los Angeles. Are police worried about more violent protests coming today?
STEPHANIE ELAM, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, you can take a look at it based on curfews that we are seeing. We are seeing that for the business district of Santa Monica and Beverly Hills, they're putting a curfew info, 1:00 P.M. Pacific Time, and then for the rest of the cities at 4:00 P.M. So that gives you an idea that they are just trying to take control and be prepared.
Keep in mind too, in Beverly Hills in particular, a lot of those storefronts were already boarded up looking like they were prepared for a hurricane because the stores were emptied because of coronavirus. So they've already had them boarded up, but we're seeing more boarding up here.
I am on Melrose in the Fairfax District, and this is where we saw some major looting and graffiti happening on Saturday. This was after peaceful protests in a nearby park bled out and lost control of its message. We did see some people out there who were trying to keep that message calm. It did not stay that way.
So you see windows here. You see some graffiti down here. And down here behind us, there are a couple of burned-out buildings on there. And every now and then, we're still getting get a whiff. It smells like they're still burning in this urban outfitter.
I actually did a walkthrough here yesterday morning. So many people were out cleaning up, they were boarding up, but this has graffiti inside completely ransacked on the inside of it as well, burned-out cars around here as well. But, really, the response to clean it up was very quick, same thing going on in Santa Monica today after the unrest there last night. [10:10:01]
But I also want to take you to Portland, because Portland saw a lot of unrest in Oregon last night as well. It started off peaceful there, again, that same thing where people among the protestors working to make sure that that protest remained calm, but then it changed as it got later and later.
And so police saying that there were actually people out there trying to start fires or were starting fires in front of the Justice Center, and also breaking windows into the federal courthouse. The police did maintain control of that building. But, overall, 12 adults arrested, two juveniles detained.
But one thing worth noting too here is just something that we have seen now in Portland where two sergeants were out among the crowd, talking to protestors, and then they kneeled with those protestors, and then the protestors cheering and applauding them and supporting them for that. That was something that we saw on Portland. But we've seen it in towns like Santa Cruz, California. And it's just very different.
And it's worth noting that this is the first time that I can remember, Poppy and Jim, where you're seeing the police actually interacting and agreeing that what we saw happen with George Floyd in Minnesota is something that they do not believe is the way correct policing should be done.
HARLOW: It's such a notable difference, Stephanie, this time, and let's just hope the notable change follows the pictures and the words. Thank you very much to Stephanie, to Evan, to Dianne.
And we have a lot ahead, including NBA hall of famer Kareem Abdul- Jabar with a message on these protests. He says racism in America is like dusts in the air. It seems invisible even if you're choking on it until you let the sun in. He will be here.
SCIUTTO: It's going to be a powerful conversation.
Plus, scientists studying whether coronavirus survivors can help treat those who are infected. The first human trial is now underway.
SCIUTTO: It's a consequential moment in the history of this country right now as peaceful protests once again in many places turned violent overnight. American cities, many of them in turmoil over not only George Floyd's death but years of injustices against black Americans.
HARLOW: That's right.
With us now are Legal Analyst Joey Jackson, Executive Director of the Rodney King Foundation, Rodney King's daughter, Lora King, and Cincinnati Mayor John Cranley. We are grateful to you all for being here.
And, Ms. King, let me just start begin with you as you reflect, because, of course, the officers in your father's case acquitted later, two of them found guilty of violating civil rights and served a couple years in prison. But we have charges against one officer now but that's it.
LORA KING, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, RODNEY KING FOUNDATION: Very disturbing. Because it happened over and over and over again, and everybody that was actively there should be actively charged. I don't think that's fair at all. It's basically like a slap in the face.
SCIUTTO: It's sad to hear.
Joey Jackson, there is a legal issue involved here regarding charges against police officers, which is based on a Supreme Court decision which, in effect, makes it more difficult. even. Even if they're charged, police officers in acts like this, to then win a conviction. Can you explain what that is to folks at home?
JOEY JACKSON, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Yes. Let's just be clear, Jim, because -- good morning to you, of course, good morning to Poppy. There are Supreme Court decisions that speak to the issue of police acting reasonably and giving them benefit of the doubt because it's a split-second decision they make. I don't believe that that's applicable here, and I don't think that authorities can hide behind that at all.
And so I think we need to make clear that the police, like everyone else as it relates to charging, are treated or should be treated similarly. And what does that mean? It means that if there is reasonable cause to believe that a crime was committed, then, of course, they should be arrested just like my clients or anybody else would be arrested.
The standard is not we have to show they're guilty beyond a reasonable doubt, and I think that's what they're applying, and that's somewhat problematic. And so, yes, there are Supreme Court cases that deal with the issue of police and a reasonability or lack of reasonability of their conduct, and that's fine. But when it comes down to something like this, this was not a split-second decision. This was something over nine minutes. Therefore, I think it's just hiding behind that would be a false notion of reality.
HARLOW: What we have learned over the weekend by reading the criminal complaint against Officer Chauvin, Joey, is that it was eight minutes and 46 seconds that the knee of the officer was on his neck, not the seven minutes we've heard. And what I think is critical here in this complaint is that it says that Chauvin's knee was on Floyd's neck for three full minutes after he stopped moving and after a federal official took his pulse.
So the third-degree murder charge here, I wonder what you make of it, and if you think there is enough evidence here for a second-degree charge. JOHNSON: So, Poppy, let's start here just so that everyone in the viewers are understanding, there is first, second and third degree. First-degree murder is I planned it, I premeditated, I did it, I intended to do it, it's punishable by life. Second-degree murder is I intended to kill you but I did not plan for it. It's punishable by 40 years.
And then we get to what we have here, which is depraved heart murder. That's the absence of intent. It means whether you intended to do it or not, you acted with a depraved heart.
You certainly did something that was inherently dangerous that could lead to death, and you shouldn't have done it and you were inhumane in doing it.
I think the prosecutor can do one of two things. Number one, they can upgrade the charges to make it more consistent with perhaps second- degree murder. That is you don't have to show that he plotted and planned it but that he intended to do it, particularly as it relates to having your knee on someone's neck when they say, you're going to kill me, I'm going to die, they're yelling for their mother. They're unconscious and non-responsive and you still have it there.
However, that being said, there is also a theory of the prosecution that, you know what, maybe we can't get that, maybe a jury will not buy that, but they certainly will buy depravity, and that perhaps is what the prosecutor is planning (ph) instead of overcharging and losing, hanging their hat on the depravity, letting a jury buy that and getting a conviction. It's a strategic decision they'll have to make moving forward.
SCIUTTO: All right. You have this issue of qualified immunity in effect that officers can't be held liable if a court has not previously found officers liable, which is kind of a self-fulfilling prophecy there.
Mayor Cranley, if I could speak to you, you lead the City of Cincinnati. As you watch events unfold, what has to happen this time to prevent the next outbreak, right, another outbreak in response to something like George Floyd, right? First, prevent that from happening, right, and also give people confidence that if the officers are charged or that the people will be held accountable.
MAYOR JOHN CRANLEY (D-CINCINNATI, OH): Thanks for having me. Cincinnati went through a very difficult time back in 2001 over a police shooting of an unarmed black man after some other in-custody deaths. And with the help of the Justice Department, we as a city and as a community dramatically changed the culture of our police department.
And there are three major elements to that. First, de-escalation and use of force. We used to have batons and we got rid of rubber bullets and things of that nature, we banned chokeholds, and we taught our officers how to de-escalate situations. Second, you have to have transparency. You have to have a citizen complaint authority to investigate complaints against the police officers that has concurrent jurisdiction with internal investigations so that there is transparency from day one.
And thirdly, you've really got to make a long-term commitment to a community orientation in policing.
These three elements have made up our major agreement and have served us really well over the last 20 years, and I believe it's a role model for other cities across the country.
HARLOW: Lora King, to you, I want to show you some of these images that have been very striking to us and I think the country and wonder if you think they imply that something will be different this time. First, you have the Minneapolis police chief kneeling yesterday at the site of a memorial for George Floyd. And you also have this happening in New York City and other cities with police joining protestors. And then this video out of Flint, Michigan where you have the sheriff there marching with protestors side by side. Are those just images, or has something changed?
KING: I personally -- I don't know how to feel about that. I mean, I appreciate the gesture because, I mean, there is not many officers that are doing that. That shows the human side of them, which helps. But, you know, it's like people are already where they are mentally, and we have to understand that it's not good at all. Like we shouldn't -- at the end of the day, we shouldn't be here where we're at in 2020 in America.
It's disgusting. It really is. And I don't even know how to say it. I don't even know what to say. Like it's sad. It's really sad. It's sad that Michael Vick could get more time killing a dog than a police officer killing an African-American man today in America. That's sick to me.
I appreciate the gesture and that's beautiful, but what about all the other officers? Because as I stated before, there are good officers all over. I personally have friends that are officers. However, what about those that are not? What about -- you know, that number is way greater than the good officers. So it's like their training, whatever they're doing, it's not working. Whatever they're redoing, it's still not working.
So we're still here 30 years later. Why are we still here? And you wonder why people are angry. I don't agree with what's going on, but I understand. I understand the anger because it's like there's people that have to explain to their kids that video.
Can you imagine? And this is black people, white people. It's not just black people have to explain this to their kids, America has to explain this to their kids. That's sick to me.
Eight minutes on someone's neck? And then it's a slap in the face when they're saying, he had underlying conditions. Well, if you stand on a cat's neck, if you stand on a dog, a woman, a man's neck for eight minutes, they're going to die. It doesn't matter if they have a precondition or not. They're going to die.
So, yes, they're going to have -- the body is going to react because that's not normal. I mean, and then his whole body weight. And it was like just the norm, hands in the pocket, everybody is standing around. He's like the talk of the town, he's the guy -- you can tell that this is up in arms because all the other officers' reaction -- nobody was horrified except for the bystanders. Nobody was horrified that worked with him, that was there with him. So why aren't they being charged? Why aren't they in custody? It makes no sense. So I understand that you have to think of the reason, why are people doing this.
And another thing I've noticed, it's not just African-Americans that are now rioting. I see a lot more race, you know, and it's like people are fed up. I'm not agreeing with it, but I'm saying, there comes a time, when is enough? What else is it going to take? And it's like we make up these excuses for these people. They are human, but at the same time they are trained. They are of higher authority and they are trained to do what, kill people? I can't comprehend that.
JOHNSON: Jim, I know we have to go, but I just want to add a point of clarification. You mentioned qualified immunity. That qualified immunity is a term that applies to suing police and holding them responsible in a civil context. It doesn't apply into allowing officers to take a life in a criminal context as here, and I think it's an important distinction to make.
SCIUTTO: Let's hope we see that play out in the legal process. Joey Jackson, thanks to you, Lora King and Mayor Cranley. We lost his signal, but thanks to the mayor of Cincinnati as well.
As cities clean up after several days of violent protests, looting, fires, you've seen the images, are police bracing for more of that tonight? Are they getting a handle on this? We'll have more ahead.