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Floyd Killing Jolts U.S. with Peaceful Protest and Overnight Riots; Two Atlanta Cops Fired for Excessive Force Against College Student; Peaceful Demonstrations Turn Violent in Nation's Capital; National Guard Called in to Assist Police in Philadelphia; Police Officers Kneel in Solidarity with Protests; Mayors Try to Calm Shaken Communities; Target Temporarily Closing some Stores Amid Protests; In Brazil, Rare Anti-Government Protest Amid Pandemic. Aired 4-4:30a ET

Aired June 1, 2020 - 04:00   ET



ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome to our viewers in the United States and around the world. This is EARLY START. I'm Christine Romans.

LAURA JARRETT, CNN ANCHOR: And I'm Laura Jarrett. It's Monday, June 1st. It's 4 a.m. here in New York. The sun will rise this morning on a very dark reality after video footage of a police officer pressing a knee into George Floyd's neck touched off nights of demonstration in Minneapolis. Video footage over the weekend showed aggressive police tactics inflaming tensions. Rubber bullets, tear gas and batons used on protesters highlighting the very complaints over police behavior that have ignited protests in almost every major American city. More than 40 cities now under curfew, many of the protests were peaceful but there were pockets of violence, especially in Washington, D.C., and Philadelphia. And a federal officer guarding a courthouse was shot and killed over the weekend in Oakland.

On the Minneapolis freeway a tractor-trailer sped towards a group of protesters. The driver finally stopped. Protestors dragged him out shortly before police arrived. He was taken to the hospital and arrested. The Minneapolis chief of police calling George Floyd's killing, quote, a violation of humanity. Live on CNN last night the Floyd family had its first chance to communicate with the chief through our Sara Sidner.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I want to know if he's going to get justice for my brother and arrest all the officers.

SARA SIDNER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: 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?


SIDNER: This is the Floyd family.

ARRADONDO: To the Floyd family, being silent or not intervening to me, you're complicit.


JARRETT: Strong words from the chief. All of this happening in the middle of a global pandemic with so many Americans out of work, cooped up at home for months. And public health experts have tried to warn about spikes of coronavirus cases, a second wave, if we aren't careful. But that's nearly impossible to follow social distancing in the middle of all of these protests. We have reports this morning in Washington, Philadelphia, California, New York and Chicago. We start now with CNN's Josh Campbell live for us in Minneapolis. Josh, what are you seeing there on the ground this morning?

JOSH CAMPBELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, good morning to you. We're here downtown outside the courthouse. There is a small group of protesters that's just now breaking up. They've been going throughout the night. We've seen this in many parts of Minneapolis. What made this evening difference from past incidents is we didn't get the reports of widespread damage. Now of course police officers will still have to go and patrol and do a review of the neighborhoods once the sun comes up to see what has taken place. It doesn't appear there was as much destruction.

Now the reason why we're down here is because today we expected to have a hearing on the one officer that's been charged with third degree murder in the death of George Floyd. However, we're now told that that is being pushed back to June 8th. Interestingly enough, he was supposed to be down here in the local jail. He was moved to a facility about 25 miles away both due to the COVID-19 concerns but also because police officers are trying to prepare for the possibility that there will be more widespread arrests here due to this whole issue. So he's being moved out, you know, far away from this location.

Another update in this investigation is we are now told that the prosecution in this case is being moved under the auspices of the Attorney General, Keith Ellison, saying he is going to be pursuing justice and he is going to be pursuing it relentlessly. Now of course, the reason why we've seen so many of these protests continue is because folks here want justice for the other three officers that were involved in this incident. Prosecutors thus far not announcing any charges. That investigation continues --Christine and Laura.

JARRETT: Josh, before we let you go, you know, there's been a lot of questions over the weekend about exactly who is on the ground and the makeup of all of these different protesters. And law enforcement and federal officials I know have been telling CNN that there are outside elements from both the far right and the far left although this administration has only focused on one group about fueling the violent confrontations. Tell us more about that.

[04:05:00] CAMPBELL: Yes, that's exactly right. And if you look at the way federal officials and state officials have approached this. They don't appear to be on the same page. The U.S. Attorney General William Barr came out over the weekend and said that they are seeing that leftist groups, as he calls it, far left groups like Antifa are behind some of the destruction. State officials here including the governor said that are seeing elements of white supremacists that are also helping fuel this. We just heard last night from the local corrections official here in Minneapolis who said they are seeing both in the jail as these arrests are taking place and folks that they believe are responsible. They're seeing these different elements. So I think there is a grain of truth to both.

Of course, the politicians are, you know, they may have a different lens through which they look at this whole issue, but that's one thing we're hearing. We also heard from the President yesterday saying that he's going to label Antifa a terrorist organization. We don't know what that means right now. There is no federal domestic terrorism statute. And it does not appear that Antifa is a foreign terrorist group. So that may just be more bluster. But we're waiting to hear more from officials about what evidence they have that can really lay out the details on who they believe is responsible.

All right, Josh, thanks so much for being there for us.

ROMANS: Two Atlanta police officers have been fired after video showed them using excessive force against two college students during protests in the city Saturday night. The officers are seen, watch this video, tasing the students as they sat in their car and then forcefully dragging them out of the vehicle. The two officers said they tased the couple over concerns they were armed.

JARRETT: Tensions also running high in Charlotte as protesters marched through the streets in response to the death of George Floyd. One Charlotte police officer, Jasmine Nivens, meeting the protesters there though with dialogue instead of violence.


JASMINE NIVENS, CHARLOTTE POLICE OFFICER: As I was mentioning, I can't speak for those officers and that officer in Minneapolis. I can only do what I can do and what I say and I feel. I'm hurt the same way you hurt, like you hurt, like everybody out here is hurting . We all feel the same thing. Obviously, some of our pain is deeper. Deeper rooted just because of the color of our skin. I understand that. I understand your pain. I do my best to hold my brothers and sisters in blue accountable and I can speak for myself and the situations that I've been in where I've had to say, hey, ease up, where somebody's had to tell me, hey, ease up. I'm confused as to why that didn't happen.


JARRETT: Also speaking now from Charlotte, Michael Jordan. In the past now the NBA legend and the owner of the Charlotte Hornets has shied away from weighing in on all the politics of race but now he says in part, quote, I am deeply saddened, truly pained and plain angry. I see and feel everyone's pain, outrage and frustration. I stand with those who are calling out the engrained racism and violence towards people of color in our country. We have had enough.

ROMANS: Rare for him to make a statement like that. All right, the entire Washington D.C. National Guard has been called in to assist police with protests in the district. Peaceful demonstrations in the nation's capital taking a violent turn overnight. CNN's Alex Marquardt is on the ground there.


ALEX MARQUARDT, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Good morning Laura and Christine. This is the aftermath of an extraordinary night of protests here in the nation's capital. Right there where you see those cars driving past and those police officers behind them, that is Lafayette Square. That has been ground zero for the protests on this third day of demonstrations following the death of George Floyd.

Right behind that is the White House. It is no mystery why the protesters decided to all congregate here. For much of the day it was peaceful. The protesters, the demonstrators making sure that they did not antagonize the police, but then as the evening wore on it grew more violent. There was more unrest. More protesters started throwing projectiles and firing fireworks at the police who then responded with tear gas and pepper spray.

There seemed to be a breaking point around 10 p.m. for the police when a number of fires were set just behind the church there, that is St. John's church, which a number of presidents have visited for worship. There was a fire set in the basement there. There were a number of fires set on the other side. And that more or less is when the police decided to push everyone out of this area away from the park in order to re-establish calm.

I just want to show you a bit of the instruction that was right near the park. This is the AFL-CIO building. That is the famous federation of labor unions. There was a large fire that was set inside the lobby there. Then you have some other large, significant buildings that have been boarded up. That is the Ronald Regan Presidential Foundation building boarded up. The Hay-Adams Hotel just to the left of it -- a very famous, a very well-known hotel here in Washington.

The mayor, Muriel Bowser, for the first time tonight imposed a curfew that started at 11:00. Protesters were still very much out at 11:00.


They have now at least in this area all gone home. Whether because of that curfew or because they have been forced to by the police. That curfew ends at 6 a.m. Eastern time. It remains very much to be seen how the protesters will react on the fourth day of what we expect to be more protests on Monday -- Christine, Laura.


JARRETT: All right, Alex, thanks so much for that report from Washington D.C.

Meanwhile, officials in Philadelphia are asking the National Guard to step in and help local law enforcement protect locations deemed sensitive. Today all government operations in Philadelphia will be closed except public safety. We get more now from CNN's Brian Todd.


BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Christine and Laura, the police here in Philadelphia have tried to stay ahead of the violence. They've tried to stay ahead of the looting and the chaos. It's been a real struggle since Saturday and through the rest of the weekend. We're here on Broad Street where police just came on the scene of looting at the DTLR sportswear store in North Philadelphia.

They have rounded up several people. We counted at least seven or eight who are over here now in custody and in zip ties. They're putting them in these vans. The police are chasing looters basically all over this city. A lot of businesses here in Philadelphia, in almost every quadrant of the city are really suffering. The Center City area on Saturday afternoon and Saturday night got just ravaged by looting, by fires and a lot of people lost their businesses and maybe part of their livelihoods just in that one span of about seven or eight hours on Saturday.

Sporadically here on Sunday and into Sunday night and overnight there have been fires, there have been looting instances all over the city. And again, police chasing it down as they can. Our team earlier on Sunday was caught up in a very violent situation in west Philadelphia and in this 52nd and Arch Street area. Where several police cars had been set on fire. Police had been attacked with rocks, bricks and Molotov cocktails. And it was just chaos on that street. There was looting that we witnessed and we saw and transmitted live. But then we got fired on with tear gas and rubber bullets as the police swept through that area trying to clear people out. So still a lot of pockets of violence, chaos here in Philadelphia and the police are trying to stay ahead of it -- Christine and Laura.


ROMANS: All right, Brian, thank you for that, Brian.

Violence moments ago on the West Coast. Demonstrators broke windows at a federal courthouse in Portland, Oregon. Officers responded with riot control measures. There were also hundreds of arrests and pockets of violence alongside mostly peaceful protests overnight in parts of California. CNN's Kyung Lah has more from Long Beach.


KYUNG LAH, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Christine and Laura, what we are still seeing in especially the beach communities in California and Southern California are the police departments still trying to clear the protestors off the street. What you're seeing here is the Long Beach Police Department. They have their batons out. We have seen them firing rubber bullets into protesters who are marching in the streets after the curfew.

I should point out, these protesters have been largely peaceful from what we have seen here in Long Beach, but there have been reports of looting and we saw it in Santa Monica. We saw confrontations with the police where some people were throwing bottles at the police. It was tense standoffs and then when it came to the looting, people were breaking into windows, walking out of stores with their arms full of stolen merchandise and it was just a surreal scene. Here in Long Beach though as the night fell and curfew passed, protesters peacefully still marched the streets. Listen to this woman about why she wanted to keep marching.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Because I'm matter. My family matter. My friends matter. I got nephews. I got nieces. I got sisters. I got a mama. I got a daddy. I got friends. I got peers. I got all these people standing right here that (BLEEP) matter. Their lives matter. Nobody gives a (BLEEP) about us, OK. Unless we get violent.

LAH: Shortly after we did that interview police did stop those marchers. They took some into custody. A lot of others went home -- Christine, Laura.


JARRETT: All right, Kyung, thanks for much for that.

In the midst of all the hostilities we've seen, some members of law enforcement are trying to reach out.

In New York NYPD officers took a knee along with protesters in a march calling for justice in the killing of George Floyd. And at a rally in Coral Gables, Florida, police chiefs from across Miami-Dade County drew cheers as they kneeled in solidarity and prayer with demonstrators. The chiefs promise to continue a dialogue with protest organizers in the coming weeks.


ROMANS: Yes, those images are so nice to see. Also neighborhoods all banning together to clean up the glass and clean up some of the mess on the mornings after. It's just been heartening to see communities come together. Just a disheartening moment in the United States.

Fear over another Charlottesville moment has the White House struggling for a way to respond to the national crisis.


JARRETT: As we watch cities burning across America, President Trump's national security advisor is denying systemic racism exists in local police departments. It's clear the mass protests are not just a response to the death of George Floyd. They're way larger than that. There have been countless cases, both high profile and not, of unarmed black men killed at the hands of police for generations. But national security advisor Robert O'Brien has a different perspective.


ROBERT O'BRIEN, NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISOR: I don't think there's systemic racism. I think 99.9 percent of our law enforcement officers are great Americans. And many of them are African-American, Hispanic, Asian. They're working in the toughest neighborhoods. They've the hardest jobs to do in this country. And I think they're amazing great Americans.


There are some bad cops that are racist, and there are cops that are, you know, maybe don't have right training and there are some that are just bad cops. And they need to be rooted out. Because there's a few bad apples that are giving law enforcement a terrible name.


JARRETT: A few bad apples. Well, that comment was not well received. Democratic Senator Cory Booker telling CNN black people in communities all across this country live in fear of the police. What we see manifesting right now is a deep wound within our society.

ROMANS: All right, protests outside the White House this weekend have the Secret Service a lot more concerned than first believed. CNN's Kristin Holmes has details.


KRISTEN HOLMES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Christine and Laura. Well, that's right. We have learned from a White House and a law enforcement official that Friday night when protests grew outside of the White House, President Trump was moved by Secret Service agents into a White House bunker. This is a safe space on the complex. Now he was held there for just under an hour before being brought upstairs.

Now this comes as knowledge of this after we have heard President Trump repeatedly praise the Secret Service for their handling of those protests over the weekend, particularly on Friday night. Those officers clashed with protesters for about five hours and at times the protesters had pulled down some of the barricades in front of the White House and were pushing up against the officers. This didn't end until the early hours of the morning.

Now all of this is happening at a time where there is a heated debate inside the White House as to how exactly President Trump should respond to all of this. And there's two schools of thought. One is that he should address the nation and call for peace and for calm. The other side of this is that he should be harsher and more forceful on those looters and rioters. And advisers just can't come to an agreement. So something we'll be watching very closely will be whether or not they decide to double down on one of these approaches -- Christine and Laura.


ROMANS: All right, thank you so much for that. A remarkable moment for leaders across the country. I mean think of it, you have a pandemic. You have an economy that has been shut down and slowly reopening. 40 million people have lost their jobs over the past three months and now this. Across the country mayors are stepping in to fill the national leadership vacuum. They're trying to calm tense communities.

In New York, this video shows an NYPD vehicle driving into a barrier with protesters on the other side knocking some of them down. An official says protestors had hurled a brick, water bottles and thrown a flaming bag on top of the SUV. New York Mayor Bill de Blasio blame the protesters for what happened.


MAYOR BILL DE BLASIO, NEW YORK: It's clear that a different element has come into play here who are trying to hurt police officers and trying to damage their vehicles. And if a police officer is in that situation, they have to get out of that situation. The video was upsetting. And I wish the officers hadn't done that but I also understood they didn't start the situation. The situation was started by a group of protesters.


JARRETT: De Blasio's remark drawing a fair amount of criticism. But he later echoed other mayors who distinguished protesters pleading for change from violent extremists.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Destruction and looting, they came from a small group of individuals but they have not just caused chaos and damage, they are hijacking a moment and a movement and changing the conversation.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: In looting downtown, these individuals not only desecrated private businesses they also desecrated the important message that was heard in the earlier peaceful protests.

LORI LIGHTFOOT, CHICAGO MAYOR: I'm also hurt and angry at those who decided to try to hijack this moment and use it as an opportunity to wreak havoc, to loot and to destroy.

KEISHA LANCE BOTTOMS, ATLANTA MAYOR: There is a history lesson that we find right here in Atlanta from the civil rights movement on how you effectuate change and what I saw happening and what we've seen happening over the past few days in America is not the way that things will change in this country.


JARRETT: And then there was this frank tweet from former Attorney General Eric Holder saying, protest makes change possible, but these idiots on the street destroying things have no intention of protesting inequality. They are co-opting the righteous anger of those who truly suffer. While there is silence from the current occupant of the White House,

we are waiting to see what Joe Biden has to say about the protest today. The presumptive Democratic nominee will meet with community leaders in Wilmington, Delaware. It's his first nonvirtual campaign event since the coronavirus outbreak began. Since March Biden has only left his house publicly twice, once on Memorial Day and on this past Sunday afternoon to visit protest sites in Wilmington.


ROMANS: The retailer Target is temporarily closing six of its stores and adjusting hours at others as protests continue across the country. Target is based in Minneapolis. Its Lake Street store was one of the first to be looted and badly damaged during protest. Two stores in Atlanta have also been vandalized.

Now Target said workers affected by the store closures will be paid for up to 14 days of scheduled hours during those closures, including the premium pay they would have received as part of target's COVID-19 policies. Workers will also be able to work at other nearby target locations. So many of these people wanted to get back to work now you have a pandemic that has killed more than 103,000 people, a shut economy with 40 million people out of work and now this. It's really, really quite a moment in American history, Laura, isn't it.

JARRETT: There are so many issues all happening at once. I think that's what we haven't seen before. We've seen obviously tensions like this flare-up but not in the middle of a global pandemic. And speaking of which, all of these protests could inflame all of the coronavirus spikes that we've been talking about the past few weeks. It could slow all the progress that's been made. Stay with us.


ROMANS: All right, antigovernment protests are breaking out in Brazil at the height of a coronavirus outbreak. The protests represent a rare gathering of the Brazilian political left on the streets during the pandemic. Supporters of the Bolsonaro regime routinely gather in crowds in support of his position against social distancing and economic shutdowns. Brazil is now second only to the United States in reported coronavirus cases. The United States will be sending 1,000 ventilators to Brazil despite the concern that the U.S. might need them in the event of a second wave.