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President Trump Slams Governors, Tells Them to 'Dominate' Protesters; American Unrest. Aired 3-3:30p ET
Aired June 1, 2020 - 15:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN HOST: Hi there. I'm Brooke Baldwin. You are watching CNN on this Monday. Thank you so much for being with me.
One week ago today, the city of Minneapolis and the nation were rocked after George Floyd's name was tragically added to the list of unarmed African-American men who have died while in police custody.
Right now, we are waiting for the results of an independent autopsy. This is an autopsy that's been commissioned by the Floyd family after a medical examiner found that underlying conditions and police restraint, not asphyxia, likely contributed to Floyd's death.
George Floyd's final moments were captured in that horrific eight- minute-long video, during which several officers kneeled on his body, one of them directly on his neck.
That officer, Derek Chauvin, now charged with third-degree murder and manslaughter. Charges against the other three officers have yet to be announced.
And for several days now, Americans have taken to the streets, both in protest and in search for lasting change. While many demonstrations have been peaceful, some have turned violent, with buildings either burned or looted, and officers clashing with protesters.
Around 4,000 people have been arrested nationwide, as many cities implement curfews to quell the unrest.
And I have to show you this scene. This is a scene just moments ago, from Minneapolis. You're looking there in the middle of your screen. That is one of George Floyd's brothers. He made his first trip to the spot where his brother died.
And here he is kneeling in prayer, with those in the crowd doing the same all around him. And he addressed those gathered, urging them to -- quote -- "keep his brother's name ringing, while telling anyone engaging in violence to stop.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TERRENCE FLOYD, BROTHER OF GEORGE FLOYD: You all doing nothing, because that's not going to bring my brother back at all. My family is a peaceful family. My family is God-fearing. Let's do
this another way. Let's stop thinking that our voice first don't matter and vote! Do this peacefully, please.
My brother moved here from Houston. And I used to talk to him on the phone. He loved it here. I know he would not want you all to be doing this.
I just want to hear this again.
What's his name?
UNIDENTIFIED PROTESTERS: George Floyd!
FLOYD: What's his name?
UNIDENTIFIED PROTESTERS: George Floyd!
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BALDWIN: I want to go straight to Minneapolis to the correspondent Sara Sidner.
Sara, I was watching you. You were right there for all of that.
So, clearly, George Floyd's brother addressing the crowd with this powerful plea for peace.
Tell me more.
SARA SIDNER, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes.
I mean, he said, the violence that has been happening, do not do that in our name. Do not do that in our family's name. We are a peaceful family, he said. We are a God-fearing family. You are not doing this for us. We don't want this. Don't break up your neighborhood. Don't mess up the world that you live in that you have to live in after this.
Instead, try something different, because that's not working. We have seen that happen before. He said, try something different.
What is that? V-O-T-E. Vote, not just for the higher office, like the president and the senators and the governors, lower office, local stuff, county stuff, city stuff, school board, all of that. He said, that's what -- we want to do.
And he said, George Floyd would have hated what he saw transpire after people came out and peacefully protest, the breaking up of things. That's not what he would have wanted either. That was powerful, because you can't do it and say you're doing for the family, right? You can't use them like that. And he wanted to make that really clear.
So, that's what he told the crowd. But I tell you, when he sits, and he kneels, and he decides to pray, hundreds of people here did the same. They kneeled. They prayed with him. And it was silent here for about five minutes, silent, not a sound.
It was really powerful. It was really, really powerful to be in this right now.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
FLOYD: You're aren't half as upset as I am.
So, if I'm not over here wilding out, if I'm not over here blowing up stuff, if I'm not over here messing up my community, then what are you all doing? What are you all doing?
You're all doing nothing, because that is not going to bring my brother back at all.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SIDNER: You hear him say that, and you hear the conviction that he said that with, what are you doing, you all are doing nothing, this is not in the name of his brother at all.
So people have taken that to heart, here especially. I have been here for a couple of days. And this is really considered a sacred place. If you look there, you will see the mural that someone made for George Floyd.
Come with me (INAUDIBLE). I want to show them the flowers here that people have brought from all over the country, not just here, but most of these are local folks. Look at this, Brooke. You have seen this before. We just saw this with Kobe, right?
This is an incredible show of love and support and respect. And this area has not seen damage. People in this neighborhood, where George Floyd died, they are about trying to figure out what to do next, but not destroying things.
But other people are angry. They have used violence as a vehicle. Is it the right vehicle? No, but it is the vehicle that they know. And the family is saying, stop it. Do something else.
Voting doesn't feel powerful, but it is the most powerful thing that we have in this country. It is the basis of democracy. And that's what the Floyd family was trying to get to the crowds. Terrence Floyd made clear that that's how he wants people to react to this, not with violence, but he also said, don't forget my brother's name.
And they chanted "George Floyd" until he walked out of here -- Brooke.
BALDWIN: It's a beautiful scene, but enough. We have seen and covered enough of these.
Sara Sidner, you have been doing a beautiful job channeling that community. Thank you so much. So, from Minneapolis, we go now to Washington, because, instead of
trying to heal the divisions gripping the country, President Trump is ramping up this fiery rhetoric against these protesters, telling the nation's governors in a phone call this morning that they need to -- this is the president's word -- dominate the protesters.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: What happened in the state of Minnesota, they were a laughingstock all over the world.
They took over the police department. The police were running down the streets, sirens blazing, the rest of them running. It was on camera.
And then they wiped out -- you would probably have to build a new one. But I have never seen anything like it. And the whole world was laughing. Two days -- two days later, I spoke to the governor.
The governor is, I think, on the call. And he's an excellent guy.
And all of a sudden -- and I said, you got to use the National Guard in big numbers. They didn't at first. Then they did.
And I will tell you this. I don't know what it was. It was governor -- it was the third night, fourth night. Those guys walked through that stuff like it was butter. They walked right through. And you haven't had any problems since.
I mean, they know. They're not going to go there now. Now they'll go to some other place.
But once you called out and you dominated, you took the worst place, and you made it -- they didn't even cover it last night because there was so little action, because you dominated. You dominated.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
BALDWIN: Again, that was the president on the phone with the nation's governors.
Meantime, all of this comes after the president has lashed out on Twitter about the violent demonstrations, and revealing plans to label Antifa as a -- quote, unquote -- "terrorist organization," something many legal scholars say he simply cannot do.
So, let's go straight to our CNN White House correspondent, Kaitlan Collins.
And, Kaitlan, in this whole call, I know that the president told the governors that most of them are weak. Tell me what else he said and how they responded.
KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: I mean, he opened up this call, Brooke, by berating these governors.
He said, most of them are weak. He said that they need to do more. He implored them to use the National Guard. He said enough of them are not using military force to confront the protests that are breaking out.
And he went after them in several different ways, talking about what's going on. He said that he believes a lot of these protesters need to be jailed, they need to be in prison. He said, five years, 10 years for some of these protesters who are turning violent, as you're seeing this happen throughout the nation.
And, really he was -- just spent most of the call lashing out at them, Brooke. And you saw some of the governors push back, including the governor of Illinois, J.B. Pritzker, who told the president he didn't like the language he was using.
Listen to how the president responded to that.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
GOV. J.B. PRITZKER (D-IL): I wanted to take this moment -- and I can't let it pass -- to speak up and say that I have been extraordinarily concerned about the rhetoric that's been used by you.
It's been inflammatory. And it's not OK for that officer to choke George Floyd to death. But we have to call for calm. We have to have police reform called for.
We've called out our National Guard and our state police, but the rhetoric that's coming out of the White House is making it worse.
And I need to say that people are feeling real pain out there. And we've got to have national leadership in calling for calm and making sure that we're addressing the concerns of the legitimate peaceful protesters. That will help us to bring order.
TRUMP: OK, well, thank you very much, J.B.
I don't like your rhetoric much either, because I (INAUDIBLE) coronavirus, and I don't like your rhetoric much either.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
COLLINS: So, you see there, Pritzker said that the rhetoric coming out of the White House is not helpful to what's going on.
And we should note he was saying that he doesn't feel the president has done enough to address George Floyd's death. That's actually a conversation that's happening inside the White House right now, Brooke, where there is an internal divide over whether or not he should sit down, speak from the Oval Office or some venue and address the nation about what's going on.
Other aides have pushed back on that and said he has. He spoke about it after the rocket lunch on Saturday, but some of them are saying there needs to be addressed and dedicated solely to this. Of course, Brooke, we should note they're hesitant to do so because
the last time the president spoke from the Oval Office, it was on coronavirus. It was a pretty short speech, but it still had several inaccuracies in it that the White House later had to clarify or walk back.
And so the president himself has been hesitant to address the nation from the Oval Office. So we're still waiting to see where exactly he's going to go from there.
We are being told by sources they are planning listening sessions with community -- black community leaders in this week, but it's still unclear really what that's going to look like.
BALDWIN: All right, as that is TBD, Kaitlan, thank you very much.
I just want to hear from two other just great voices all of this.
Mike Griffin is a senior organizer for the group Community Change Mike Griffin is a senior organizer for the group Community Change Action. And Keith Boykin is our CNN political commentator and former White House aide during the Clinton administration who was out documenting the protests over the weekend and actually ended up arrested.
So, thank you both so much for being with me.
And, Keith, we will get to all of that in just a second. You can explain what happened.
But, Mike, we were just -- Kaitlan at the White House was just talking about this back and forth, the president lashing out at the nation's governors. And you heard Governor Pritzker of Illinois saying, well, we need to call for calm and unity.
I mean, my question to you is, where, where is leadership in this country right now?
MIKE GRIFFIN, COMMUNITY CHANGE ACTION: I mean, just -- so, the president has lost all credibility to talk about racial justice in this country.
His tweet a couple nights ago calling Black Lives Matter thugs, looters will start the shooting, just disgusting remarks from the president that actually makes my job and my life more unsafe.
BALDWIN: How do you mean? How do you mean?
GRIFFIN: Because, in the last couple of days, the amount of people who have showed up have not been traditional Black Lives Matter protesters.
We usually show up to these protesters carrying clipboards and bullhorns and signs. There are a fraction of these folks who are not a part of Black Lives Matter who is showing up with cement bricks and sawed-off hammers to destroy Minneapolis.
I caught some of them a couple nights ago who are not a part of Black Lives Matter. These guys were racist white supremacists, who got in a little scuffle with us. We chased them off. I put it on video and put it on Twitter.
But there aren't -- but they -- but the president needs to be careful with his rhetoric. I'm not a thug. There's nothing thug about me. I'm an organizer. I'm a black man. I care about my community. And I think that black lives matter in this country, and he needs to be careful with his rhetoric.
BALDWIN: Keith, you tell me about what happened to you this weekend.
KEITH BOYKIN, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, Brooke, I was walking down 125 Street in Harlem in New York City covering the protests of Black Lives Matters organizers.
They approached the West Side Highway in Manhattan and converged on the highway. I was ahead of them taking photos and video to post online. And the police started approaching from the other direction, 94th Street.
I was in the middle trying to document the whole thing. The police walked past me. I told them I was with the press. They told me to clear the street. And then -- when I told them with the press, they didn't say anything.
They turned around, and then they arrested me. I repeated, I said, I'm with the press, and they didn't care. They said, you're going to jail anyway. So they put me in jail. They put me in a police car first, a police van. Then they put me in a police bus. They put me in jail for four hours.
They had these zip ties on my wrist, which bruised my wrist. I was incarcerated for the whole time. It was six hours. But they never allowed me to make a phone call, even -- never allow me to even explain myself, what I was doing. And they left me and a lot of other people with a bad feeling.
Like, why are you doing this? There are serious issues and serious abuses of police that people are concerned about, and you're arresting somebody for just documenting a protest. The police have way too much power. They can just take somebody off the street for no reason and lock them up for six hours and not even give them a phone call.
So I was outraged about that. And I was outraged by the response from the city as well. I got a -- afterwards, I got an e-mail from the mayor's office. They apologized to me for the arrest.
And I said, well, thank you, but what about the other people who were actually with me. The only reason they apologized to me is because I made a big issue about it online and went on TV to talk about it. But there are other people who were arrested with me, alongside me,
who weren't really doing anything but exercising their constitutional rights as well.
BALDWIN: Right, which makes me think of -- forgive me for jumping in.
But it makes me think of Omar and our crew arrested Friday morning.
BALDWIN: And only because it was caught on camera. Think of all the folks who there wasn't a live camera rolling or even having the resources to get someone be released from custody as soon as we were able to.
So, I'm keeping all of that in mind.
And I'm also sitting here listening so closely to the two of you.
And, Mike, I want to talk about why -- like, at the end of the day, why you're out there, why your voice matters, what real change looks like. And so I want to just actually read what former President Barack Obama -- he posted this post on Medium this morning.
And he wrote: "Let's not excuse violence or rationalize it or participate in it. If we want our criminal justice system and American society at large to operate on a higher ethical code, then we have to model that code ourselves. The bottom line is this. If we want to bring about real change, then the choice isn't between protest and politics. We have to do both."
He goes on: "We have to mobilize, to raise awareness, and we have to organize and cast our ballots to make sure that we elect candidates who will act on reform."
And, Mike, I read your piece. And I know you -- you can give me tangible examples of what real change looks like to you in these communities. But, at the same time, when I hear folks say, go vote, I think a lot of people are sick and tired of being sick and tired. And there's a lot of apathy in these communities as well.
GRIFFIN: Absolutely, just a huge amount of apathy.
Just like the former president, I'm an organizer as well. So I like to try to use these movements to actually change policies for black folks.
Here in Minneapolis, one-third of black folks live in poverty. We actually need to fix the systemic problems that have made black lives so bad in this country. We have Band-Aid solutions. You could put a police officer on every corner in Minneapolis. We could have a curfew at 6:00, 7:00, or 8:00. That is going to stop the protest for today, right? But in order to stop the next black man from being killed three
months, six months, a year from now, or being choked out, like he was on Monday, we need to change the systemic problems in this country, right?
We need to make sure that we have affordable housing. We need to make sure there's good jobs. We need to make sure that every single worker has a living wage, and we police accountability.
These structural changes will actually make the protests stop. So these Band-Aid solutions might quell it for a night or two. But there's a hunger in my belly, just like it was in 2008, when I worked for Barack Obama, to make sure that we continue to protest, we continue to organize.
And just like George's brother's said, where he was killed, we're going to be voting in November in numbers that this country has never seen. We're going to vote Donald Trump out of the office. And we're going to make sure that we change the racist structure we have in this country.
BALDWIN: And to that point, and final question back over to you, Keith, just listening to Mike. I did a lot of listening this weekend. And what I heard was that black and brown Americans have faced generations of violence in this country. You add to that the past three months, where black and brown communities have been disproportionately killed as a result of COVID.
And now you have this death one week ago today of George Floyd. And I'm wondering, Keith, do you feel like this time it all may be different as far as a real outcome?
BOYKIN: I definitely feel this is different.
I mean, think about the conditions that we're in right now. We have 41 million people who don't have jobs. You have 100,000 people who have died from the coronavirus pandemic, disproportionately black and brown people.
And you also have at this time people who are outraged about the shooting and killing and murders of black men and women, and the George Floyd incident, and the Breonna Taylor incident, and Ahmaud Arbery incident, all this happening at one time.
When people have no place to go and nothing to do, no schools to go to, no jobs to go to--
BALDWIN: No distractions.
BOYKIN: -- you can get people will be -- no distractions.
This is not like the typical protest in the past, where people have to go back to work or go back to class. They can spend the whole summer just being upset, unless there is some sort of substantive change.
And the other major difference about this, Brooke -- and this is a huge one. This is the first time I have covered protests, going back to Occupy Wall Street and Black Lives Matter, even going back to the anti-war protests in the 1990 -- this is -- 1990s.
This is the first time I can remember where any president of either party has essentially ceded leadership at this moment of crisis. Every president, Republican and Democrat, whether you agreed with them or not, has at least tried to give lip service to the idea of unifying the country in time of turmoil.
This president has basically gone asleep at the switch, hiding in the bunker, afraid to address the American people, while cities are burning, including the capital, all across the country every night.
And that's a tragedy that must be addressed, can only be addressed with real leadership and substantive structural change.
BALDWIN: Keith Boykin, Mike Griffin, gentlemen, thank you for using your voices. Thank you for coming on with me.
GRIFFIN: Thank you, Brooke.
BALDWIN: I appreciate the conversation. Thank you, sir.
We do have some breaking news. Now George Floyd's family is unveiling the result of an independent autopsy -- those new details coming up.
And we are seeing police officials across the country actually kneel with these protesters marching with them, expressing their support for the end to police brutality. One of those police chiefs will join me live.
Stand by. You're watching CNN. I'm Brooke Baldwin.
BALDWIN: Welcome back. You're watching CNN. I'm Brooke Baldwin.
Here's the breaking news now. We take you back to Minnesota, where George Floyd's family legal team is talking about what they have now learned from this independent autopsy.
So let's go to Minneapolis to our correspondent there, Miguel Marquez.
And, again, just to underscore for everyone paying attention, this is totally separate from the Hennepin County M.E. autopsy results.
What has the independent autopsy found?
MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, and it differs. And it is worth noting that this is an autopsy report or an autopsy that the family requested.
This is -- it comes to a separate conclusion, a different conclusion from the medical examiner. The two points that are most substantial is that the independent autopsy -- and, by the way, the family has not provided all of the underlying data and information for this autopsy, so it's difficult at this point -- they have just announced this, so I'm sure they will -- but it's difficult at this point to understand, so, what's in this autopsy?
Two things. The independent autopsy says that he died by asphyxia. The official autopsy says he did not die from asphyxia or strangulation. The independent autopsy also says that he died right there at this scene, not at the hospital, as the official autopsy says.
And I want to show you one thing here at the scene, Brooke. This gentleman here, others have been coming around here. That is the very spot where George Floyd, that video that has so shaken people to their core, where that cop held his knee to the neck of George Floyd for eight minutes and 46 seconds.
People have now started coming here, kneeling, praying. It is hallowed ground for this neighborhood, for this area. The chief of police did it yesterday. Others are doing it. It has been hallowed ground for several days now. And this memorial only grows.
The news of this autopsy, this independent autopsy, will be satisfying to some degree for people here in Minneapolis and around the world. But it won't be everything. They want the arrest of the other four officers. And they'd like to see Officer Chauvin, who had his knee on George Floyd's neck right there, they'd like to see him face a higher charge than third-degree murder -- Brooke.
BALDWIN: Miguel, thank you very much.
And amid a weekend seared with images of some peaceful protesting, in some cases, though, turning violent, there were most definitely moments that told a different story.
In some cities, police officers stood with the protesters, marching alongside them, kneeling in solidarity. And in some, like this incredible moment in Flint, Michigan, even stopping to talk with the protesters, offering the chance to tell them exactly what they need.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHRIS SWANSON, GENESEE COUNTY, MICHIGAN, SHERIFF: We want to be with you all for real. So I took the helmet off. They laid the batons down.
I want to make this a parade, not a protest. Come on. Come on.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
SWANSON: You got little ones here. You got dogs. So, what's up?
So, listen, I'm just telling you, these cops love you. That cop over there hugs people. So, you tell us what you need to do. UNIDENTIFIED PROTESTER: Walk with us!
UNIDENTIFIED PROTESTER: Walk with us!
UNIDENTIFIED PROTESTER: Walk with us!
UNIDENTIFIED PROTESTERS: Walk with us! Walk with us! Walk with us!
SWANSON: Let's walk. Let's walk.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BALDWIN: Certainly powerful moments, but what will the impact of all of this be?
In some of these places, despite the peaceful actions, tensions still erupted.
Joining me now, the Norfolk Police chief, Larry Boone. He was one of those police chiefs seen marching right in the middle of those protesters over the weekend.
Chief Boone, thank you sir for joining me. Welcome.
LARRY BOONE, NORFOLK, VIRGINIA, POLICE CHIEF: Well, thank you for having me, Brooke.
BALDWIN: Why did you want to get out there? Why did you want to march?
BOONE: Well, I got to tell you,Saturday was our second demonstration in the city of Norfolk.
And I had received some intel that possibly the protesters would vandalize our police facilities. And I didn't want to deploy our riot team, nor did I want to create a moment for public consumption that our police facility was vandalized.
So, what I did, I stepped on the steps of the police department, and I was met by the protesters. Some of them recognized me right away. And when they did, they rushed me rather quickly, about 300-plus. And they wanted questions.
And I understand. And I made contact with the organizer. And I asked him if I could speak to them, and he provided me a bullhorn.
And one of the things I wanted to express to them, that I was proud in how they have conducted themselves. They have been mostly polite.