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U.S. States Protest Over George Floyd's Death; Peaceful March Becomes Violent in Washington; Chief of Police of Minneapolis Talks to the Floyd Family; Man Drove Truck into Protesters Arrested; Two Atlanta Police Officers Fired; Los Angeles County in State of Emergency; Conflict Between Law Enforcement and President Trump on Who is Inciting Violence. Aired 2-3a ET
Aired June 1, 2020 - 02:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
NATALIE ALLEN, CNN HOST: And welcome to our viewers here in the United States and all around the world. I'm Natalie Allen.
MICHAEL HOLMES, CNN HOST: And I'm Michael Holmes. All weekend, we have seen Americans standing shoulder to shoulder, and sometimes going to head to toe with authorities to protest police brutality.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE/FEMALE: Shut it down! Shut it down! Shut it down!
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HOLMES: There have been acts of violence. It s now 2:00 a.m. eastern time and things have settled down in much of the country. Many people who had violated curfews earlier seem to have gone home or been arrested. But we did see fiery hot blood scenes play out as you can see in New York on Sunday.
ALLEN: Also, in the nation's capital, this demonstration happened very close to the White House in Lafayette Park. Washington protests started out peaceful during the day.
ALLEN: But, it did not last. There were fires burning in the background at one point. The flash point for all of this, of course, the death of George Floyd. He died last Monday while being arrested in Minneapolis after a white police officer pinned him down with a knee to his neck.
That officer, Derek Chauvin, is scheduled to appear in court later today. Washington's curfew lets up in a few hours at sunrise.
HOLMES: The light of day will shed light on what damage has been done. CNN's Alex Marquardt was there in Washington during Sunday's peaceful march and into Sunday night when the violence broke out.
ALEX MARQUARDT, CNN SENIOR U.S. CORRESPONDENT: This is the scene in Washington D.C. after an extraordinary night of protests. That is the northern edge of Lafayette Park, which is right next to the White House. That has been ground zero all day for a third day of protests in Washington D.C., following the killing of George Floyd.
For most of the day, it was a peaceful march to the White House. As the protest grew and we entered the evening hours, it got more tense. We saw more of a back and forth between the protesters and the police forces with various projectiles being thrown including fireworks, bottles of water and then the police responding with tear gas, and pepper spray.
There is a bit of a breaking point around 10:00 p.m. when a number of fires were lit just over there by the park. That is St. John's Church, which president, after president has gone to, to worship on Sundays.
A number of fires were set including in the basement of that church and next to it, which appear to be a breaking point for the police. They then decided to push the protesters, who had been in the park for hours, out and well away from this area.
You can see there was more destruction here at this building. This is the AFL-CIO, which is a federation of labor unions. There was a fire in the lobby.
Back here behind me, a number of buildings had been boarded up for security, and also saw some destruction from a number of nights of protests.
The mayor of D.C., on this third night, has put into place a curfew, which, this is the effects of it. Protesters have either gone home because of it or they have now been forced to go home. That curfew ends at 6:00 a.m. and it remains to be seen what will happen in the hours and the days ahead here in the nation's capital. Alex Marquardt, CNN, Washington.
ALLEN: The activity around the White House was alarming enough Friday night to send Donald Trump to the underground presidential bunker.
HOLMES: Yes, he was there apparently for little under an hour before coming back upstairs. No word if he went there on Sunday night though as violent demonstrations took place and fires were set pretty close to the White House. All of this, begging the question, what is the presidents plan for handling this crisis?
ALLEN: We've not heard much from him other than tweets. In tweets, the president is playing the blame game, threatening to label the anti-fascist group Antifa as a terrorist organization, something experts say he is not legally authorized to do. While many protesters and leaders say the core issue is systemic racism, one of the presidents top advisers say that is not the case.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) ROBERT O'BRIEN, U.S. NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER: No, I don't think
there is systemic racism. I think, I'm 99.9 percent of our law enforcement officers are great Americans and many are African- American, Hispanic, Asian -- they're working in the toughest neighborhoods. They've got the hardest jobs to do in this country, and I think they're amazing great Americans and they're my heroes.
But you know what, there are some bad apples in there and, you know, there are some bad cops that are racist, and there are cops who maybe don't have the right training, and there are some who are just bad cops and they need to be rooted out because there are a few bad apples that are giving law enforcement a terrible name.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HOLMES: Well, the inequalities faced by black people in the U.S. are of course not new, but this current crisis began in Minneapolis, Minnesota just one week ago.
ALLEN: It's hard to believe it's been just one week. It seems longer than that. George Floyd died being taken into custody last Monday. CNN's Sarah Sidner has been on the scene from the beginning and has this report on a remarkable day.
SARAH SIDNER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: We are in the neighborhood where George Floyd lost his life. While here, we saw the police chief arrive. He came up to the makeshift memorial and he kneeled and prayed. Then we were able to talk to him.
And as we did, it just so happened, that the family of George Floyd was on CNN and they were able to talk, through me, to the chief for the very first time since his officer was accused of murdering George Floyd.
SIDNER: The Floyd family has asked, if you are going to get justice for George Floyd by making sure that the other officers 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.
MEDARIA ARRADONDO, CHIEF, 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 in 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 see that as being complicit.
So, that is about as much and I apologize to the Floyd family if I am not more clear, but I do not 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've hoped for. Unfortunately --
SIDNER: That's what you 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.
SIDNER: All right, Chief Medaria Arradondo tried to answer their questions, and each time he did, he made sure to take off his cap to show respect to the Floyd family.
When I asked him, what he thought of the video, his reaction was outrage himself. And he fired those four officers faster than any other police chief that I've ever seen has fired officers in a case like this.
And then I asked him if he thought that the other three officers should be charged in this case. His response, they said nothing, they did nothing to stop it, and they, he said, are complicit. Sara Sidner, CNN, Minneapolis.
ALLEN: Yes, Michael, that was a remarkable moment on live T.V.
HOLMES: It was, wasn't it? Yes. Extraordinary, powerful, too.
ALLEN: We also have this. A 35-year-old man has been charged with assault after get this, driving this truck you see here, into a crowd of protesters in Minneapolis Sunday.
The event occurred on an interstate bridge and the crowd managed to get out of the way. Aerial footage appears to show the driver in a scrum of protesters as officers took him away.
HOLMES: Yes. According to records from Hennepin County jail, he is being held without bail. The Department of Public Safety says it appears no protesters, fortunately, were hurt in that incident.
Now, the mayor of Atlanta announcing the firing of two Atlanta police officers for using excessive force during protests on Saturday night. Three other officers are now on desk duty pending an investigation. ALLEN: This incident stems from something involving two college
students in a car during a protest in downtown Atlanta. We're going to show you police body cam video of what happened. It is disturbing.
HOLMES: That's tough to watch. The police say they tazed the man, you could hear it multiple times being fired by the way, because they believed he was armed. He wasn't, his hands were visible at all times, by the way, even though you hear the officer yell get your hands out of your pockets.
They weren't in his pocket. One officer reported hearing the word gun two or three times. It is said no gun was found. Martin Savidge with more from Atlanta.
MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: For a third night in a row there was violence in the city of Atlanta and it's the second night that they have been under a curfew.
Right now, behind us they are just finishing up processing the people who were picked up and arrested. Most of them they have been picked up for curfew violations.
Usually, when you see the violence that occurs, at least over these past few nights, it's at the time when the curfew goes into effect. People are allowed to protest up until that point, but after that, then any presence becomes unlawful.
It happened again tonight. There were projectiles that were thrown by the protesters towards police. They won't tolerate that and so they began firing back with canisters of tear gas.
It was the events though of Saturday night and police actions that became the focus of both the mayor and the police chief and they decided that there was at least one instance were police acted too strongly. And they have fired two police officers and that assigned to desk duty three others.
They did not waste any time on this. The body cam video has been released and it shows a very intense scene as authorities move in on some people who were in an automobile, but at the same time, they have been chasing protesters through the streets that Saturday night.
Traffic was still flowing despite the curfew. But clearly, the mayor and the police chief know that their department, like all departments across the country is under intense scrutiny. And protests or not, they expect their officers to act the proper way. Martin Savidge, CNN, Atlanta.
HOLMES: Now, earlier, my colleague Don Lemon spoke with Bernice King, the daughter of the civil rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr. Now, he asked King for her reaction to the protest and unrest taking place around the U.S. right now. Have a listen. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BERNICE KING, DAUGHTER OF MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR.: I really hear his words tonight in his book, " Where Do We Go From Here: America, Chaos or Community." We have some hard choices to make and some quick choices. Time is not our ally right now.
And I am with the family that there needs to be arrests made and the charges really need to be first degree. Until we have justice, in that sense, we're going to have this unrest unfortunately. And so Americas choice is that we can keep focusing on these reactions or we can change the conditions that have led to these kinds of actions.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ALLEN: We go now to California, the National Guard has been sent to the city of Long Beach in Los Angeles County were a curfew is underway. Kyung Lah has our report.
KYUNG LAH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Long Beach police still trying to clear the streets. They are working their way street by street to try to get protesters to go home. It is past curfew.
You can see law enforcement here. They have batons. We have seen them fire rubber bullets, into protesters who were refusing to go home, even though the curfew had passed. Protesters, I should mention, who were largely peaceful from what we observed. But that was not the case, especially in Santa Monica.
Earlier in the day in Santa Monica, we saw tense standoffs with the police where protesters were throwing water bottles, glass, hunks of concrete at law enforcement. And then police had to use tear gas to break up the crowd, also firing rubber bullets.
Also, in the commercial districts of Santa Monica, people were breaking the glass front -- the store fronts of blocks upon blocks of businesses, walking out with stolen merchandise.
But here in Long Beach, while there were some instances of looting, the protests were largely peaceful for hours. And as curfew fell, the marchers kept going. And listen to one woman about why she says she wanted to keep going.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: My family matter. My friend's affairs matter. I got nephews. I got nieces. I got sisters. I got a momma. I got a daddy. I got friends. I got peers. I got all of these people standing right here. They (BLEEP) matter.
Their lives matter. Nobody gives a (BLEEP) about us, okay, unless we get violent. You care about (BLEEP) burn down, but what about when the KKK burned our (BLEEP) down? Where were you all then?
LAH: There's a lot of passion.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Were weren't you all complaining back then? Because they (BLEEP) our whole nation up. They (BLEEP) generations of generations of kids.
LAH: So you could hear the passion --
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They (inaudible) for our kids.
LAH: You can hear the passion in her voice.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We stand up for the people who can't speak for themselves. We stand for the ones who've 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 a love. No justice! No justice!
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LAH: Shortly after we spoke to that woman, police did move in, stopped those marchers, and took some into custody. Kyung Lah, CNN, Long Beach, California.
HOLMES: Emotional stuff, but we're going to take a break. When we come back law enforcement officials say extremist groups on sides are sparking protests to violence. Not everyone agrees. When we come back, we'll find out who President Trump is blaming for all the unrest. We'll be right back.
HOLMES: Welcome back. The Trump administration placing the blame for the violent confrontations squarely on what he calls the radical left. On Sunday, Mr. Trump tweeting, the U.S. would designate the left wing group Antifa as a terrorist organization.
ALLEN: Not everyone agrees. Law enforcement officials say that extremists on both the left and the right are responsible.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIPS)
O'BRIEN: This is being driven by Antifa. I don't even know if we want to call them leftist. Whatever they are, they are militants who are coming in and burning our cities and we're getting into the bottom of it.
WILLIAM BARR, U.S. ATTORNEY GENERAL: It appears the violence is planned, organized, and driven by anarchic and left extremist groups, far left extremist groups.
PEGGY FLANAGAN, MINNESOTA LIEUTENANT GOVERNOR: There are detractors. There are white supremacists. There are anarchists. KEITH ELLISON, MINNESOTA ATTORNEY GENERAL: But we also know that some
evil elements are literally into fusing themselves with the protests to destroy and cause arson.
(END VIDEO CLIPS)
ALLEN: We should note the U.S. government does not have the legal authority to label a domestic group a terrorist organization the same way it does a foreign group.
But let's talk about this. From New York joining me now is retired NYPD lieutenant and criminal justice expert, Darrin Porcher. Lieutenant, thanks for coming on.
DARRIN PORCHER, RETIRED NYPD LIEUTENANT: Thanks for having me.
ALLEN: Let's begin with the reports on his outside agitators. Tonight in New York City, there was according to CNN's reporter on the ground there, a peaceful protest, when suddenly a group arrived from Brooklyn and trouble broke out. We don't have any identification on this group, but what do you think is going on behind this?
PORCHER: Well, I think this is hyperbolic speech from the president and when we look at a lot of the groups that are participating in what initially started off as peaceful demonstrations, and now evolving to riotous behavior it doesn't set a precedent for the labeling of a specific group as a domestic terrorist organization.
There are specific benchmarks that need to be met in connection with national security. To make the assessment if in fact this group would be labeled as a domestic tour terrorist organization.
This is a prolonged period and in no way shape or form is just going to be something as got to be introduced as a result of merely the president making a statement, that a group such as Antifa should be labeled as a domestic terrorist organization.
ALLEN: Well, organized resistance groups are finding areas of opportunity to bring in agitators and causing violence. Do you recall this happening during protests in the past, with past issues, or is this something new?
PORCHER: Well, my experience as a practitioner with the NYPD in connection with demonstrations and riots, we've often times had people that we refer to as agitators. They came from territories outside of where the actual demonstration is occurring.
And these people, in many instances, were hired. But they simply afford a small component of that peaceful demonstration because the masses are coming to protest something in resentment of a particular action I government.
And so the agitators, in many instances, are detracting from the peaceful, what this demonstration represents. And I just I think that it is imperative the police effectively extract the agitators that are part of these disturbances and, or I should say protests, and remove them.
Therefore, we can move forward with the constitutionally protected demonstrations to ensure that the message is getting out and not be distracted by a small number of agitators that are creating anarchy as a result.
ALLEN: Right. So, people are out protesting, which is their right, holding signs and chanting, then suddenly, these agitators show up.
It's already a complex situation on the streets. And now, police have to handle this separate avenue. How challenging is that for them?
PORCHER: I mean, it's very challenging and I'll give you an example of what happened recently in New York. We had a team of two sisters who traveled 50 miles away the Catskill's to New York City, and threw Molotov cocktails into police vehicles.
Fortunately, those two sisters were arrested, but they were clearly not a part of the population that represented the protesting community, and relate to what happened to George Floyd.
And so, these external entities that come into play such as these agitators need to be fully addressed, separated, and oftentimes, police departments have a strategy to extract individuals of that caliber from the group and arrest them accordingly.
It is somewhat of an arduous task, but it is really something that involves a force that readily fits to handle such instances as it relates to the agitators that come to specifically induce a level of mass pandemonium at a peaceful demonstration.
ALLEN: And unfortunately, they have been successful at that. We really appreciate your insights and expertise, Darrin Porcher, thank you, lieutenant.
PORCHER: Thanks for having me.
HOLMES: Fascinating stuff. Thanks Natalie. It has been less than a week since the event that sparked these protests. After the break, we go back to last Monday and the events that led up to George Floyd's death. We will be right back.
MICHAEL HOLMES, CNN INTERNATIONAL HOST: We'll take you to Portland, Oregon now, live. Pictures coming to us from there where large crowds are roaming the streets. There was a tweet earlier from Portland police saying, the demonstrators broke windows at the U.S. Courthouse there in Portland, and officers responded with what was called riot control agents. What we've been seeing there were clouds of teargas just a little bit earlier. And large crowds running away from police across a park and through the streets there. Apparently, at the Courthouse, police initially feared demonstrators
had set fires in that Courthouse. They did not gain entry, there were no fires, Natalie.
NATALIE ALLEN, CNN INTERNATIONAL HOST: Yet, another city seeing protests, anger over the killing of George Floyd is filling protests around the United States with demonstrations ranging from peaceful to violent, and, of course, all kinds of ways in between, Michael.
HOLMES: Yes, during the day, it was pretty much a peaceful all over the country, after dark, it got a little rough in some areas. Now let's go back, and it's worth remembering, it's been about a week now since Floyd's death in police custody. Following that officer kneeling on his neck for nearly nine minutes.
CNN Sara Sidner recount how this all began and what happened since, and there are warning of course. The video is disturbing and might be difficult to watch.
GEORGE FLOYD: (INAUDIBLE) Please. Please. Please. I can't breathe. Please man. Please. Somebody, help me.
SARA SIDNER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: 46-year-old George Floyd spent the last minutes of his life begging for one simple thing, a breath.
FLOYD: Man, I can't breathe. My face.
SIDNER: The begging for breath goes on for three minutes and nine seconds.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Get up and get in the car right.
FLOYD: I can't.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You can't win, man.
FLOYD: I'm through.
OFFICER: What do you want?
FLOYD: I can't breathe. Please, your knee in my neck. I can't breathe.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Bro, get up and get in the car, man.
FLOYD: I will. They're going to kill me. They're going to kill me, man.
SIDNER: Even after Floyd becomes unresponsive; the Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin keeps pressing his knee down on him. The video shows, after a total of seven minutes and 54 seconds of this, Floyd stops moving altogether.
PHILONISE FLOYD, GEORGE FLOYD'S BROTHER: I just don't understand. (INAUDIBLE) got to go through in life, man. They didn't have to do that to him.
SIDNER: The beginning of Floyd's end was the 911 call that brought him face to face with these officers. Floyd and a friend are accused of trying to pay for items with a counterfeit $20.00 at the Cup Foods store on the corner of 38 in Chicago.
At 8:08 officers arrive at the store, charging documents say the initial responding officers are Thomas Lane and J. A. Kueng. They walk to the car Floyd and his two friends are in. There's a brief struggle with Floyd, but within a minute, you see an officer seeding Floyd on the ground against the wall, he is handcuffed.
A minute later, Floyd is brought to his feet, and both officers walk across the road to the police cruiser. Floyd falls, on the edge of the sidewalk next to the police vehicle. He's lifted up.
8:15 p.m., Floyd is up against the cruiser, but you can't make out what's happening because apart police cruiser has just arrived, shielding the view. But you can see Floyd's head suddenly dropped behind the police car.
Two more officers arrived, Tou Thao and Derek Chauvin. They walked to the cruiser. Another surveillance video shows Floyd is already in the vehicle, there is a struggle, and Floyd ends up on the ground on the other side of the car.
At 8:20 p.m., bystander Darnella Frazier begins capturing this video. Another bystander at a different point in time, also captures video from a different angle, showing it's not just one officer restraining Floyd.
Two minutes into the recording, officers call for an ambulance, but Chauvin continues pressing down on Floyd's neck. The ambulance arrives, but Floyd's body is already limp.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The fact that you guys aren't checking his pulse or doing compressions if he needs them, you guys are on --
SIDNER: The paramedics eventually do but Floyd is pronounced dead a short time later.
TERA BROWN, GEORGE FLOYD'S COUSIN: What I did see was murder, and that's what I want them to be arrested and charged and convicted for.
SIDNER: That is exactly what some and the neighborhood, and others who saw the video thought too. The next day, they showed up in force to honor George Floyd, a 46-year-old bouncer, truck driver, and father.
ALICIA SMITH, COMMUNITY ORGANIZER: It broke my heart. It was devastating. There are no words in the English language that will convey the despair that I felt watching that man life leave his body and him scream up for his mother. I heard my son saying mama, save me. [02:35:17]
SIDNER: The day after Floyd dies, the four officers involved are fired but the emotional wounds have already been broken wide open.
By nightfall, sorrow turns to anger, protesters rage against the neighborhood police.
By Wednesday, it explodes. It's not just water bottles and rocks versus teargas, flash banks and rubber bullets.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They've been shooting me all -- look I'm talking about all day.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And it just collapsed, there you go.
SIDNER: Buildings are set on fire and stores are looted. The devastation to a neighborhood further hinders its ability to heal.
CARMEN MEANS, COMMUNITY ACTIVIST: We know that in this neighborhood, the disparities are high, we have a high senior rate in this neighborhood, all of these couples. Everything that's been demolished, and everything is ashes now. What we wanted to be is part of the solution.
SIDNER: But the protester's anger cannot be contained.
Thursday, protesters breached the police precinct perimeter. Eventually, there is no police presence at all. Then, this.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: But we are definitely now seeing a fully on fire third precinct here.
SIDNER: Protesters, celebrated. The next morning, as the National Guard rolls in. State police make a move that is roundly condemned.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm sorry?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You're under arrest.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK. Do you mind telling me why I'm under arrest, sir?
SIDNER: They detained CNN reporter Omar Jimenez and his crew live on television with no explanation from police at all.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I believe they are about to -- we are all about to be arrested, that's our producer.
SIDNER: And the governor apologizes.
GOV. TIM WALZ (DFL-MN): I take full responsibility, there is absolutely no or reason something like this should happen.
SIDNER: The crew was released. Friday afternoon, an announcement. Officer Derek Chauvin arrested, in charge with third degree murder and manslaughter.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is a scene that has developed so quickly.
SIDNER: The protesters say, justice means more than charges for one officer. It's about the systematic nature of policing black people in America.
AHMED, MINNESOTA RESIDENT: I am on here to get justice for my city. My city has been going through a lot of pain. This is not the first, 2nd, or 3rd time. And this needs to be stopped right now and this is the only way. You see this all of this? All of this damage? It's what we have to do to get our voice heard.
SIDNER: For those sworn to protect and serve, to some, they've become a sworn enemy. This time, the fight was sparked by the suffering of one man, whose death they now hope will finally break them free of a suffocating cycle.
ALLEN: Yes and Michael, you know, it's such a horrendous horrendous murder, and to think that it was all over one transaction, that was a $20.00 transaction and this man died.
HOLMES: Yes, exactly. And we've seen what happened to the officer with the knee, a lot of people would like it to be more than that. We have yet to see the other three officers who stood, watched, did nothing, took part. We have to see what happens with them. They are expecting charges. We'll keep an eye on it.
You are watching CNN, still to come on the program.
Taking a knee, how several New York police officers showed solidarity with protesters coming up.
ALLEN: Also, the outrage over George Floyd's death is spreading beyond the United States. What protesters and other countries are doing to show their support, that's next.
ALLEN: That was a moment right there that brought people together at this scene in New York. Over the weekend, several New York police officers were shown on video kneeling in solidarity with protesters in the Borough of Queens. The activist who shot this video said, it was a first for her, she had never seen that symbolic gesture from a police officer. She added that while it is a nice start, it's nowhere near the change, America needs to heal.
HOLMES: Clapping and chanting black lives matter, thousands gathering in London's Trafalgar Square despite lockdown rules to show solidarity with protesters in the U.S. over the death of George Floyd. London's Mayor Sadiq Khan tweeting that the killing has, quote, rightly ignited fury and anguish not just in the U.S., but around the world. And no country, city, police force or institution can be complacent about racism and the impact this has, unquote.
ALLEN: There were also demonstrations in Berlin where people held sign similar to ones we see in the United States, saying I can't breathe, and no justice, no peace.
HOLMES: And a memorial to Floyd appeared in a park in Germany, a mural painted at a site that was once divided by the Berlin Wall.
All right, Nic Robertson joins us now from London as our international diplomatic editor. I mean, what's your take on how the world is viewing what is happening in the U.S. right now, Nic?
NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: Yes, I think there's caution, there's concern, and there's a more desire to hope that the United States can -- you know, can may get back to some sense of normality through. The Scott Morrison, the Australian Prime Minister, in the last few hours who's called this saddening as well. We have the British Foreign Secretary saying having very similar sentiments yesterday as well.
You know, when you have -- you know, in this coronavirus situation, where very few sporting events are going on, and that -- those happening behind closed doors, you had yesterday a French soccer player Jadon Sancho playing for a German club, when he scored a goal. Remembering, there's no audience there apart from the T.V. audience, pulls off his shirt so you can see justice for George Floyd written on his undershirt.
So there's a depth -- there is certainly a depth of feeling, and we know from the papers released by the scientific advisers to the government here in the U.K. recently, that there is concern about the sort of the potential for trouble during tensions caused by people's frustrations around the current pandemic.
So, there is -- there will be caution watching what's happening, and how it impacts cities like London and Berlin.
HOLMES: Yes, fascinating. Just stand by Nic, I want to catch people up on some of the coronavirus news, and come back to you. I know you got more reporting.
And some of the protesters we saw in London were arrested for breaching coronavirus restrictions. Experts say, these large demonstrations, and we discussed it a little earlier, could be spreading the virus even further. And it comes as infections are still increasing in some parts of the world.
Many of them now coming from Latin-America, which experts have called the new epicenter of the outbreak. Brazil, the region's worst hit country, it has now confirmed more than half a million cases. Second only to the U.S.
And third, that brings us back to you Nic, because I know you've been looking at -- you know, certain perceived strong men, and how they've been handling it.
ROBERTSON: Yes, the bottom line is, if you don't crack down, clampdown on social -- on social distancing, etcetera, in your communities, then your communities are going to be hit hardest. And the countries that have failed to do that effectively have been those that have been led by strong men and this is what we're seeing, a one, two, three-podium place. Unfortunate podium place for Presidents Trump, Bolsonaro, and Putin.
ROBERTSON: The United States, Brazil, and Russia, have an unenviable lead, gold, silver, bronze, respectively in this global pandemic. There presidents, all populists, their population's suffering the highest number of COVID-19 infections. In action and ineptitude key factors, but each leader owning that podium placing.
Russia coming in third. Early March, state media portrays COVID-19 as not a Russian problem. Late March, Putin pulls on a hazmat suit in a hospital, signals he has the situation under control.
The next day, he announces paid vacation, which effectively begins a lockdown. But soon, delegates day today responsibilities.
VLADIMIR PUTIN, RUSSIAN PRESIDENT (through translator): Regions and the heads of regions on my orders will receive additional powers.
ROBERTSON: In later meetings, he seems distracted. Problem is in Russia, when the boss doesn't take a grip, local officials' slack, just what the virus needs.
JAIR BOLSONARO, BRAZILIAN PRESIDENT (through translator): The economy has to function because we can't have a wave of unemployment.
ROBERTSON: In second place, Jair Bolsonaro recognized the pandemics danger, but began early prioritizing the economy over health concerns.
BOLSONARO: Brazil is falling apart and after failing apart, it's not like some people say 'the economy gets better', it doesn't get better. We'll see a miserable country like countries in sub-Saharan Africa.
ROBERTSON: He sticks to his damaging message. Even joins rallies, protesting sound lockdowns advocated by regional leaders.
BOLSONARO: So? I'm sorry. What do you want me to do?
ROBERTSON: And reacts angrily when confronted by Brazilians about the spiraling infections. His counter message, cost him two health secretaries. Left an open door for the pandemic.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Now, the Democrats are politicizing the coronavirus.
ROBERTSON: President Trump, leads the U.S., the tragic top spot of infections, combines Putin's and Bolsonaro's failings.
TRUMP: This is the new hoax.
ROBERTSON: First, denial of the impending pandemic late February, even after restricting some travel from China a month earlier.
TRUMP: When I see the disinfected, it knocks it up in a minute.
ROBERTSON: He becomes both distraction, and divider in chief.
TRUMP: The president of the United States calls the shots.
ROBERTSON: Fractious with some governors, fine with others. Failing to unite and lead the country.
TRUMP: Two months ago we had the greatest economy in the history of the world, we're going to build the greatest economy in the world again and it's going to happen pretty fast.
ROBERTSON: And, like Bolsonaro, Trump pushing to prioritize the economy despite COVID-19 dangers.
ROBERTSON: So that's if you will how to get a very high level of infection and not to be able to get on top of them. Of course that's what Britain is experiencing at the moment and also had a very high level of infection.
And the concern is now that today when you have schools restarting, you have outdoor markets restarting, that actually the brakes are being taken off too soon. That's a real concern for many scientists, and some of those advising the government today.
HOLMES: Yes, really fascinating report. Nic Robertson, thanks so much there in London. We're going to do -- we're going to take a break, be right back.
ALLEN: This is live from Portland, Oregon. It's a scene that we continue to watch here closely. There have been large protests here this evening, many blacks and whites on the streets. And the Portland police just tweeted this 16 minutes ago, saying this is an unlawful assembly, and civil disturbance. All persons need to leave the area now or you will be subject to uses of force to include riot, control agents, and impact munitions. Leave now. So this is a story that we're going to keep a close eye on to see what develops next.
Well, from coast to coast in the United States, big cities and small, Americans are standing shoulder to shoulder, and going head to head with law enforcement.
HOLMES: They have one universal demand, stop the racial injustice. We will be right back with more news, but we wanted you to hear from protesters in their own voices.
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UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Say his name! Say his name! Say his name!
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We are gathered here to call on our racist president.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It is our duty to fight for our freedom. It is our duty to win.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We will vote. This isn't the first time this year this is happened to us. This is not the first time this year. This is not the first time this month. This is not the first time this week.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There's nothing funny about this. Women are losing their lives. We're getting killed. We can't grieve.
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