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Mayhem Overshadows Peaceful Protests Across the U.S.; Truck Driver Arrested After Driving Through Minneapolis Protest; Stores Looted in New York and Fires Set Near White House. Aired 5-5:30a ET

Aired June 1, 2020 - 05:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


[05:00:00]

JOHN BERMAN, CO-ANCHOR, NEW DAY: At least, 40 cities have imposed curfews. The National Guard has now been activated in 15 states and Washington D.C. Overnight, we did see peaceful demonstrations, but as you can see, we also saw new outbreaks of violence and looting.

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CO-ANCHOR, NEW DAY: And in a country craving leadership and unity, President Trump's statement offer neither, instead he is tweeting threats to crack down on protesters with quote, "vicious dogs and ominous weapons", end quote. This morning, there's debate inside the White House about whether the President should even speak out.

And the police officer who pinned George Floyd to the pavement with his knee for more than 8 minutes has been criminally charged. The protesters are demanding the arrest of the other three officers who did nothing to stop it. The Minneapolis police chief tells CNN that in his view, they are complacent. But let's begin our coverage with CNN's Omar Jimenez, he is live in Minneapolis again for us. What's the latest there, Omar?

OMAR JIMENEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Alisyn, it's now been a week since George Floyd's death. And the passion and pain that has come with it has ignited the country in a way we haven't seen in a long time. What we have seen are largely peaceful protests, again, in cities across the United States, but that's not all we've seen.

In some cases, it has come with rioting, fires and even looting again in cities across the United States.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JIMENEZ (voice-over): A sixth straight night of protests in Minnesota as anger and frustration continue to boil over all over the country. In Minneapolis, the community demanding justice for George Floyd who died in police custody there one week ago. Only one of the four police officers involved was charged with third degree murder and manslaughter. The Floyd family communicating for the first time with the Minneapolis Police Department as CNN was able to relay a question to the police chief.

PHILONISE FLOYD, GEORGE FLOYD'S BROTHER: I want to know if he's going to give the justice for my brother and arrest all the officers?

MEDARIA ARRADONADO, POLICE CHIEF, MINNEAPOLIS: And is this the Floyd family right now?

SARA SIDNER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: This is the Floyd family.

ARRADONADO: 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. Mr. Floyd died in our hands, and so I see that as being complicit.

JIMENEZ: On a closed Minnesota highway, a terrifying scene as a semi- truck was seen driving into a crowd of people. Local officials say the truck was already on the highway before the closure and the driver has been arrested, accused of assault. And coast-to-coast, people taking the streets in solidarity for George Floyd, and what were mostly non- violent protests, but still in many cities, the demonstrations turning tense with 22 states and at least 40 cities enacting curfews, and many activating the National Guard.

MAYOR ERIC GARCETTI, LOS ANGELES, CARLIFORNIA: Well, obviously, we have to take protective measures even in the midst of our pain, crying out for justice for George Floyd. Help us make sure that those who want to change this conversation from being about racial justice to be about burning things and looting things don't win the day.

JIMENEZ: Chaos erupting in New York City with stores looted overnight. In Washington D.C, protesters breaking curfew, setting fires at Lafayette Park near the White House. The police attempted to clear out the crowd, fire crackers can be seen thrown at police, responding with tear gas and pepper spray. But at the White House, protesters gathered and sang.

(SINGING)

We all need somebody to lean on.

JIMENEZ: In Philadelphia, some demonstrators setting fire to vehicles and looting stores. In total, nearly 50 people were arrested.

MAYOR JIM KENNEY, PHILADELPHIA, PENNSYLVANIA: As the people throughout this country who want to see a continuation of systemic racism including in the White House, will use the damage, violence and looting to perpetuate their sick hatred.

JIMENEZ: But is anger to cold nationwide, there were some signs of peace and solidarity between the police and protesters. Like officers in New York taking a knee along with marchers. And one sheriff in Michigan making clear he was there to serve and protect his community.

CHRIS SWANSON, GENESEE, COUNTY SHERIFF, MICHIGAN: We want to be with you all for all, so I took my helmet off, they laid their batons down --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes --

SWANSON: I want to make this a parade, not a protest!

(CHEERS)

(END VIDEOTAPE)

JIMENEZ: And this image is an important one. This is Minneapolis police chief Medaria Arradonado kneeling in respect of George Floyd as part of a peaceful protest, Sunday, at the site where Floyd was pinned to the curb. The chief has said the killing of Floyd was an absolute truth in life that it was wrong. And he said he didn't need to think hard about firing the officers involved.

And as we know, three of those officers have not been charged so far. The one that has been, officer Derek Chauvin, seen with his knee on Floyd's neck, his initial court appearance was scheduled for today, that has now being pushed back to a week from today. Alisyn?

[05:05:00]

CAMEROTA: That is a powerful image that you just shared with us and symbolic. Omar, thank you, we'll check back with you. The former police officer facing murder charges of the death of George Floyd was supposed to appear in court today. But Derek Chauvin's hearing was postponed, it is not clear why? It comes as CNN obtains new surveillance video of the moments before Floyd was pinned to the ground.

CNN's Josh Campbell joins us live from Minneapolis outside the court house with the latest on the investigations. So, Josh, what have you learned?

JOSH CAMPBELL, CNN SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Yes, good morning, Alisyn. We're here outside of government plaza. You can see behind me, it's city hall, the windows are boarded up, this is something we've seen throughout downtown. This is in response to these protesters, the ones that have turned violent. Now, next to me where the city jail is, this is where Derek Chauvin, the one officer that was arrested and charged with third-degree murder in the death of George Floyd, he was briefly taken here and then moved to another jail some 25 miles away.

And this is really fascinating, they're saying it's both due to the COVID-19 concerns, but also because the city is preparing for the possibility of more arrests due to some of these violent protests in response to this issue that began with the death of George Floyd. Now, we're also learning as you mentioned that there is this new piece of video, this is a CCTV footage that shows officers apparently struggling with someone in the back of a police car.

Now, you can't see George Floyd. We're told that indeed he was in the back. And as we look at this video, one thing that is interesting, there was this question about whether or not he was resisting the officers or not. The struggle appears to show some, you know, possible resistance, we don't know what was going on. But of course, law enforcement experts tell us that regardless of what happened in the back of that car, the key moment is actually when he was outside the vehicle later and on the ground, and the officer had his knee on Mr. Floyd's neck.

That obviously part of that investigation determining whether that actually led to his death. Now as far as the other three officers, we haven't received new information regarding whether they will be charged, that remains under investigation. Finally, I'll tell you a major development yesterday here in the investigation. The governor announcing that the state's Attorney General will now be assuming leadership of the prosecution.

It was handled by the county before, it will now be handled by state investigators. Keith Ellison here telling us that he will be pursuing justice, he will be pursuing it relentlessly. John, Alisyn?

CAMEROTA: Josh, what do we know about this 2007 lawsuit that was filed by the Minneapolis police chief who at that time was an officer before he was a police chief? And it was -- I mean, if you look at the complaint, it's just rife with all sorts of accusations of discrimination and racism. And so tell us more about that.

CAMPBELL: Yes, this is fascinating. So back in 2007 when the current police chief was a lieutenant, he was one of a handful of officers who filed a lawsuit, alleging that city officials were tolerating discrimination within the ranks of the Minneapolis Police Department. Now this lawsuit alleged that black officers were punished more severely than white officers.

Now that lawsuit was dismissed. We're told that it was settled out of court for nearly a million dollars. But that raises questions about -- as we -- you know, talk about this whole issue with the police officers and an incursion involving a person of color. Is this an incident involving one officer, four officers or is this systemic here to this department? Obviously a lot of questions being raised here in the community.

CAMEROTA: OK, Josh Campbell, thank you very much for everything that you've learned on the ground there. John?

BERMAN: Right, breaking overnight here in New York City. We saw pictures of looters smashing windows. You can see the images right there, people going in and just stealing stuff frankly from stores. At this moment, dozens at least are in police custody. CNN's Brynn Gingras, she is live. The neighborhood here is SoHo where it's all taking place. Brynn, give us a sense of what you're seeing.

BRYNN GINGRAS, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Oh, John, we still have helicopters above us, and there are still actually people out on their bicycles, walking around. The crowds have dispersed, but there are still people out, and now we're seeing a lot of police especially in this area of SoHo. For the viewers that don't know what SoHo Oak is, this is a high-end shopping district in New York.

Normally, the streets would be crowded with people during the day, however, of course, we've been in a pandemic and all of these stores have been closed. But take a look at this store right behind me, guys, this is Chanel. Now, this store was preparing for these protests to happen because they even put up wood, but the protesters actually tore down the wood, broke the glass, went into the store and it's completely ransacked.

There is merchandise like this, shoes, high-end shoes, lipstick. There's around the corner bags and bags of empty bags of -- really had jewelry inside of them. I mean it's just incredible to see this. Again, the wood that's just on the ground that was torn down -- we're going to another -- this is still Chanel rather. But you can see now police here are stationed to keep post while we're being told by the NYPD, they're still taking an inventory of this area that has just, again, been trashed to get a sense of how many places were actually looted.

[05:10:00]

As you said, John, dozens of arrests have happened, but I've been told that there have been within the last two hours or so, there have been a number of people being brought in, still being processed, so that number is really going to spike within the next hour or so. So this is what it looks like this morning. And I have never seen anything like this in this part of New York City, again, a high-end district of New York City.

We know though that among those arrests, the mayor's daughter was arrested overnight. We don't have any comment from the mayor's office, of course, we'll wait to hear that later today. But I do want to mention, John, it's important to note that not all the protests were like this. This is how it ended at certain areas of the city. We also know that some of the protests were peaceful.

At one point, there's really amazing video, really, quite frankly, of police kneeling with the protesters. The protesters yelled at them to take a knee, take a knee, and there are police who are taking a knee listening to that. And a moment of silence in these protests, but then you look at this, you can see -- you'll see there are people still walking out right now at this hour among the police officers. You know, it's sad to see the end of it when there are moments that are so good too. John?

BERMAN: All right, Brynn, Brynn Gingras for us in the SoHo neighborhood of New York City where there was a great deal of damage last night. But Brynn also points out there were peaceful demonstrations throughout the city as well. At this moment, we're monitoring a situation in Portland, Oregon. There are some tense moments there, that situation has been escalating. We're also going to discuss how to get past this next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[05:15:00]

BERMAN: Overnight, police in Portland, Oregon, clashing with protesters. You can see them deploying teargas amid concerns that the federal court house would be overrun. At least, 40 cities have now imposed curfews amid widespread demonstrations. Joining us now, CNN political correspondent Abby Phillip and CNN political commentator Errol Louis and Bakari Sellers. Bakari, I just want to start with you. I was just e-mailing with Omar Jimenez, and I want to bring up this point because it's hard for us to tell where things are going as they develop overnight.

And Omar wanted to make sure to point out that in Minneapolis, the situation over the last few hours has actually been better than it was the previous night in terms of violence. Less violence, less tension on the streets the last couple of nights there. So, as we're looking around the country, there are many cities, that's what's really striking here, is how many cities we're seeing these protests, whether or not they're getting hotter or cooler, that remains to be seen.

What's the take-away this morning, Bakari? What should we be hearing this morning?

BAKARI SELLERS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: So first, good morning to everyone and thank you for having me. Again, I think that one of the things that we have to look at is that we are in a white hot environment right now. And this is not just about George Floyd, I keep echoing that sentiment. This is about systemic injustice and racism. And this is just the tipping point. This is boiling over. You still have Breonna Taylor, you still have Ahmaud Arbery, you still have a pandemic going on.

And so we have to stay focused on the fact that this is about systemic injustice and racism. I do believe though, just like all of these protests ebb and flow, we've seen this before in our history, you know, whether or not we're in Ferguson, whether or not we're in Baton Rouge, I do believe that you will see the ebb and flow of this, and you will see some of it -- but one of the things I want to remind you, John, is that there are many people who are lashing out in righteous anger, but there also are some who are co-opting this moment from the outside, attempting to stir and cause confusion and outrage, violence, and that is not what the protesters who I know are out there raising their voices for.

The easiest way to fix this, though, the easiest way to move forward is two things. One, arrest the other three officers and arrest the officers in the Breonna Taylor case and, two, actually put forth some solutions. I mean, know -- everyone's telling the protesters to go home and wait until November to vote. Well, at this rate, if we wait until November, that's at least five or six other black people that are going to be dead.

So put forth some solutions that actually are tangible that these protesters can say that they actually received some justice.

CAMEROTA: Errol, Bakari just used the word systemic, and that's what the national security adviser talked about over the weekend as well. Let me play this and get your take on that.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROBERT O'BRIEN, NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER, UNITED STATES: I don't think there's systemic racism. I think 99.9 percent of our law enforcement officers are great Americans and many of them are African- American, Hispanic, Asian. They're working in the toughest neighborhoods. There are some bad cops that are racist, and there are cops that are -- maybe don't have the 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.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CAMEROTA: Errol, we often have this debate after one of these tragic events. Is it a bad apple that caused it or is it systemic racism? Your thoughts on this -- I'm not sure we can hear, Errol, hold on, Errol, hold that thought, we need to work on your audio for a second, hold that, we'll be right back with you as soon as we figure that. Abby? Your thoughts on that.

ABBY PHILLIP, CNN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes. I mean, I do think that this is a really important moment that illustrates the difference between just acknowledging that what happened to George Floyd was wrong and terrible, and also understanding that it's part of a pattern.

I mean, I think there is pretty widespread acknowledgment that what happened in Minneapolis was bad, but where we see things diverging is when you start to ask people in the White House, people in this administration, do you think there's a systemic problem here?

[05:20:00]

And many of them agree with the National Security adviser, and they will say no. And that is why people are in the streets, frankly. People are in the streets because they don't believe that the folks who are running the government, who are in positions of power at this moment believe that there's a problem that has existed, not just last week in Minneapolis, but over decades and decades in this country.

I do think though that we've been having this conversation as a country for a long time, but especially in the last five years, there's been a growing acknowledgment that it's not just a few bad apples, that there are practices that are widespread throughout the country in, you know, each of the thousands of police departments all across the country that need to be reformed.

I think that there's been an acknowledgment that, that kind of reform is necessary. And to see the National Security adviser completely dismiss that entire conversation, I think is pretty tone-deaf. And it really explains in part why they have not been able to quiet the streets all across this country over the past week.

CAMEROTA: Errol?

BERMAN: Errol, I think we have your audio back, yes.

ERROL LOUIS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yes, I was just going to say, look, there's 18,000 or so law enforcement agencies from coast-to- coast. There are about 800,000 people who work in those departments. So, even if the National Security adviser were right, are we saying, you know, nobody should make an effort to go after the -- by his count, something like 8,000 seriously and perhaps violently racist police officers? And nobody would say that that's OK. But the reality is the number is

probably considerably higher than 1 percent, and there are systemic problems. These issues, you know, you can go back and read the coroner report after the massive unrests following the assassination of Dr. King in 1968, and they'd be saying many of the same things. All you have to do is change a couple of names and change the dates, these are systemic problems.

You can't say a problem has been hanging around for 50 years without concluding that, yes, there may be a systemic problem here. Over at the Justice Department, which is really the proper place to sort of deal with these kinds of issues, they made a very specific decision in 2018 as Jeff Sessions, then Attorney General was leaving office, to not use the most important tool the federal government has to get at these problems, which is consent decrees with local departments. Some oversight.

I mean, these are the kind of issues that Bakari, I think was mentioning. You've got to try and work on these issues or else it's just talk. And watching television and saying, gee, why did this happen one more time? As if we haven't seen this happen over and over and over again for decades.

BERMAN: It was a stark dismissal from the National Security adviser in one sense of an issue that is clearly more complicated than that. Bakari, I was reminded of the eulogy from Martin Luther King to the Minister James Reeb in 1965 after Selma where he said, it's not enough to ask who killed him, you have to ask what killed him? I think --

SELLERS: Yes --

BERMAN: That's what's happening this morning.

SELLERS: Well, I fundamentally believe he doesn't understand what systemic racism actually is. This isn't -- we're not talking about a particular officer being racist. I agree with Errol's point, I mean, that those numbers that rioters above 8,000 pretty quickly, but that's not what systemic racism is. It's about -- it's about patterns and the practices which devalue and dehumanize black bodies.

It's about the usage of choke holds. It's about not having transparency in departments so we understand what your guidelines -- it's about not having oversight. It's about continuous broken glass policies and procedures. And to Errol's point, and I believe Abby would say the same thing, I would want to go to this Department of Justice, and right now in these streets, I would ask for three things.

I would ask for us to limit qualified immunity so that we can actually press -- so that we can actually file lawsuits against these bad apples. I would ask for us to lower the standards so we can actually press federal charges against these officers, and no longer just running and hiding behind the fact that you cannot bring federal charges because the bar is too high.

And then lastly, John, one of the things most important about this, George Floyd and Breonna Taylor, they literally paid these police departments to kill them. Listen to what I'm telling you. The Department of Justice issued grants, they fund these departments, they do so without any accountability and any oversight. And so we need to make sure that we put in place a claw back so we can take back funds from these agencies that are not having any accountability and any oversight. Those are three things that we can do right now which will help quell protesters.

BERMAN: Bakari, Abby, Errol, stand by for a minute. We're going to take a quick break, but there's a lot else to discuss, two police officers in Atlanta, they've been fired for allegedly using excessive force on protesters. The video of that incident next.

[05:25:00]

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CAMEROTA: We know President Trump's thinking on everything that unfolded over the weekend because he was active on Twitter, but he has not made any national statement calling for unity or the like. Let's bring back Abby Phillip, Errol Louis and Bakari Sellers. Abby, just give us some context on that. In this moment, where, you know, over the weekend it felt like much of the country was inflamed, literally and figuratively.

PHILLIP: Yes.

CAMEROTA: We haven't heard any national, you know, moment from the president.

PHILLIP: It has seemed over the last couple of days that this president, his administration are kind of at war with themselves about how to address this situation.

END