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Three Officers Complicit in Floyd's Death; Trump Adviser on Police Racism; Chauvin; Faith Leaders Grapple with Unrest. Aired 6:30- 7a ET
Aired June 1, 2020 - 06:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
LAURA COATES, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: That they had been heard, understood and that there will be justice realized. And that's going to be the task ahead. But here people are continuing to reel. They can't believe this is our hometown. They can't believe that this is the hometown of so many other places.
But more than their own sort of selfish desire not to have this place synonymous with tragedy, there is an overwhelming push to insure that this doesn't happen again, not just here but anywhere, and this is not what America is supposed to be or an idea realized. And there is the stark reality that this is what's happening right now without significant changes in the legislative, executive and, of course, judicial branch to ensure there's police accountability and that people actually believe in it.
JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Just so people know, the picture that we were showing while Laura was talking, and I think we still may be able to put that up there, this is live at the scene. This is the memorial that has been basically set up at the site where George Floyd was killed.
You can see people there sitting peacefully. You can see the flowers, Bakari. And I think it's important to show people this because of all the other images people have seen over the last many days now, including overnight where there absolutely was violence. There were stores looted, things stolen there. But there's a lot of different things happening in these different cities, Bakari.
BAKARI SELLERS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yes, but -- but, John, I also want to echo the fact that in the United States of America, it's so much a lowerest (ph) point, and I believe that Angela would agree with me, that these cycles are just on repeat. I mean all you have to do is dust off the tape of Eric Garner, you know, or you can go to Charleston, South Carolina, where we had -- you know, you had these incidents of racist and race -- race-based violence. And then you had outrage. And then you had memorials.
And so in the black community, I always say that for us it's a perpetual state of grieving. I mean we go through cycles. You see the video on Monday, you're outraged, you're -- you're in tears on Tuesday, you're angry on Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, and now you're in the state of grieving when you're looking at this memorial. And you're not just grieving for George, but you're grieving for every other loved one lost that you now have to live for.
You know, there's certain things in George's life he won't be able to accomplish. There's certain things in Breonna's life she won't be able to accomplish. There's certain things in Ahmaud's life he will not be able to accomplish. Similar to Jimmie Lee Jackson, similar to Goodman, Schwerner and Chaney, similar to Emmett Till. And so in our community, this is cyclical. And we want that cycle to stop.
And to Laura's point, and I have to admit that the Sara Snyder (ph) piece, I mean, my hat's off to Sara Snyder (ph). We need to put her picture up in the CNN headquarters right next to John Berman, Alisyn and Anderson Cooper. I mean she's just that dote.
But -- but even more importantly, that family is asking for justice. And I don't want people to -- I want people to stop looting. I want people to stop rioting, et cetera. But I don't want people to leave the streets. And I don't want them to stop letting their voices be heard until we get those other three officers arrested and also there's some accountability in Kentucky in the Taylor case. That's what justice looks like. Justice is a verb, not a noun.
ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: Yes, Angela, I had the chance to interview that same family member, Felonious Floyd (ph), last week, and he just speaks very plainly. I mean he's just -- he's actually completely sane when he says, if there was enough evidence to fire them, why aren't they being charged? I mean he just wants an answer to that question. And, of course, the police chief doesn't have an answer right now for this.
ANGELA RYE, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yes, and he can't, Alisyn, right? I think the reality of this situation is, the buck stops with -- at firing with the police chief. But the reality of this is that there are police unions all over the country that are complicit in this. There are prosecutors all over the country that are complicit in this. Some of them get elevated to the U.S. Senate.
And when I'm talking about right now, I'm talking about Amy Klobuchar, who would -- never prosecuted an officer for killing someone and -- while she was a prosecutor in Minneapolis. That is a problem. And I'm saying it today, for black people everywhere, for people everywhere who consciences have finally been pricked about this particular situation, it is time. It is past time. Justice must be served for this family, who, yes, he is sane.
What is insane is the fact that for 400 years in this country, black people have been treated as invisible, as voiceless, and as if our lives don't matter. We are saying now, with a collective, that hopefully can be heard because our voices have been muted for so long, that black lives matter. And that means that there are consequences when you kill us. There are consequences when you touch us. And it should not have to be on videotape.
So if you can't own that as your own truth, your voice needs to be silenced. You need to sit down somewhere, because that's what time it is.
BERMAN: It's interesting because Jake Tapper was talking to the administration -- and we haven't heard a lot, frankly, from the administration on this -- from the national security adviser about the situation now. And I want you to listen to how he approached it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ROBERT O'BRIEN, NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER: I don't think there's systemic racism. I think 99.9 percent of our law enforcement officers are great Americans. And -- and many of them are African-American, Hispanic, Asian. They're working in the toughest neighborhoods.
There are some -- some bad cops that are racist and -- and there -- there are cops that are -- you know, maybe don't have the right training and there are some that are just -- just bad cops. And -- and they need to be rooted out because there's a -- a few bad apples that are giving law enforcement a terrible name.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BERMAN: It's such an important distinction he's making there, Laura. And I don't want people to let that slip by because what he's saying is, no, there's not a system wide problem here, it's just a few bad people, but it isn't the system.
COATES: Well, I think it's tone deaf. And I think it belies the more than a century at least of data to suggest that it, in fact, is systemic.
But, more importantly, it's odd to ever hear somebody, as a former prosecutor myself, you know, I think about the idea that we are a nation of laws and we make them not planning for 100 percent of people to actually be law-abiding citizens. If we were just enabling or envisioning a utopia, we would not have a criminal code. We plan routinely as a matter of the executive branch, as a matter of the legislature, as a matter of the judicial branch that we -- we understand full well human nature. And so I don't think people are concerned (ph) what the percentage is and the bad apples, they want to insure that there is accountability. And I think they feel dismissed when people relegate this to the land of anecdotal evidence, that's anomalies and one-offs. We're seeing that as the frustration that's happening all across the country.
And I was talking to legislators here in Minnesota as well about this idea of what more can be done to show this is systemic and actually codify the frustration. And a couple of things have come out from my conversations.
Number one, about having a codified duty to intervene and act if you are seeing, as a member of law enforcement, your colleague, that's written in the manual here in the Minneapolis Police Department, but it's not yet codified. The house, which is Democratically run in Minnesota, has, in fact, passed it, the Senate has not passed it. Then there's also the issue of trying to make sure that these bad apples, so to speak, as it's being described, cannot just be transferred from jurisdiction to jurisdiction without accountability and appropriate tracking measures for the community to know.
BERMAN: All right, friends, thank you very much for being with us. Please stand by. A lot of things developing before our eyes.
The former officer charged in George Floyd's death had a history of complaints against him. We're going to speak with a man who filed a complaint a few years ago. That's next.
CAMEROTA: Derek Chauvin, the fired Minneapolis police officer facing murder charges over George Floyd's death, had 18 prior complaints filed against him. This is according to the police department. One of those complaints was from our next guest, Kristofer Bergh. Bergh says that back in 2013, when he was 17 years old, Officer Chauvin held him and three friends at gunpoint after they shot a nerf gun.
Kristofer Bergh joins us now.
Kristofer, thanks so much for being here.
And so let's just go back to that day.
You were having a nerf gun battle with your friends, which, as I understand it was sort of a tradition on the last day of school in Minneapolis, or in your neighborhood. And then the -- what happened?
KRISTOFER BERGH, FILED COMPLAINT AGAINST OFFICER DEREK CHAUVIN IN 2013: Yes. It was -- yes. So it -- it started as -- about -- a few weeks before school was out, actually, we were all split into teams and the goal was to try to hit people on the other teams.
So I was coming home, being dropped off by a few friends. And when we were about two blocks away from my house, one of the other passengers shot a nerf dart out the window. You know, it was a brightly colored orange foam dart. And we didn't really think anything of it.
A few moments later, the friend pulled up in front of my house. I got out. We had no idea at this -- at this point in time that police were following us or any of that.
So I get out of the car. I grabbed my things. Turn around. All of a sudden, there are officers on me with guns aimed at me, screaming at me. I -- I can't repeat some of the things they said to me on live TV, but they --
CAMEROTA: Well, what types of things? I mean just -- I know you can't say like profanity, but what -- what were they yelling at you? BERGH: They were telling me to get back in the car, put my hands up. And so I -- I complied with those orders. I dropped my bags on the ground, put my hands up, slowly got back in the car, trying to not make any sudden movements. They then approached the car, still with guns drawn and asked which one of us had shot the nerf dart.
So, at that point, they admitted essentially that they knew it was only a nerf dart and not something more serious. Yet, still, they made the choice to pull real guns on us.
CAMEROTA: That's incredible.
CAMEROTA: So they knew that it was a nerf gun. They were -- I mean I've read your report, they were hollering all sorts of profanity at you. And they had their guns drawn on you. And then what happened? Were one of you detained in the police car?
BERGH: Yes. The person who shot the dart admitted to having done that. And so he was detained in the squad car for what felt like an eternity while the rest of us were still in the car, still with our hands up.
And, eventually, we were all -- eventually they -- they let him go. They let all of us go. None of us were charged with any crimes.
And when I was exiting the vehicle, after being told that I could, one of the officers, I don't recall if it was Chauvin or the other one, they said to me that most of us will be 18 by the end of the year, which means we would go to big boy jail.
And it -- considering which one of us is in big boy jail now, that hasn't aged well for them.
CAMEROTA: That is an ironic twist.
And so your feeling, when you saw George Floyd's death, I know that this incident came flooding back to you.
And what is your feeling about that now?
BERGH: Well, I was horrified when I saw it. I -- we all were. The only thing I could think was what would have happened differently if my friends and I weren't all white, how would Chauvin and his partner have escalated that situation even further, potentially lethally.
CAMEROTA: Yes, how could you not think that? I mean I know that -- that you posted on FaceBook saying that you believe that your whiteness saved you from a worse fate that day.
BERGH: I really -- yes, I really think it did. I think, if we weren't white, you know, they -- they actually told my mom after the incident was over that we had been trying to elude them, which was preposterous since we didn't know that they were even behind us. They didn't use their sirens or anything. So I think if we were not white, they would have spun that into the narrative.
When I got out of the car after supposedly eluding them, you know, they -- they would have seen that as a threat. And the whole narrative could have really been crafted in a different way that many people would probably be saying it was justified.
I know that you filed a report because that was such, you felt, excessive -- an excessive response for the firing of a nerf gun. And the police called you, I guess, a month later and said that they couldn't divulge -- that what had happened, what the end result of the report was, but they acknowledged that you had filed one, which was sort of, I know, an unsatisfying response for you.
We want to let our viewers know that we, CNN, did reach out to the Minneapolis Police Department and we were directed to the attorney's office. They have not responded to our request for comment. We also reached out to former Officer Derek Chauvin, his attorney, and we have not heard back.
But Kristofer Bergh, thank you very much. We really appreciate hearing your first-hand account of what you and your friends went through.
BERGH: Thank you for having me.
CAMEROTA: The nation's faith leaders call for calm and change amid the protests sparked by George Floyd's death. And we speak with one of them, next.
JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: This morning we've seen images of cities picking up pieces after a night of violence and looting. But more importantly, we are waking up to questions about the system and its role in the death of George Floyd.
Dr. -- joining me now is Reverend William Barber, a co-chair of the Poor Peoples Campaign and author of the new book "We Are Called to Be a Movement."
And Reverend Barber, you wrote an op-ed over the weekend where you quoted from Dr. Martin Luther King and his eulogy to the minister, James Reeb, of a white minister who was killed during the marches on Selma. And Dr. King said, it's not enough to ask who killed Reverend Reeb, James Reeb, you have to ask what killed him. And Dr. King went on to say those things that killed him include indifference, include timidity among African-Americans, by the way, include irresponsible politicians.
Why do you think it was so important to bring that up now?
REV. WILLIAM BARBER, CO-CHAIR, POOR PEOPLE'S CAMPAIGN: Because when we hear the "I can't breathe" of George Floyd's cry, it's a collective gasp of millions who are being crushed by injustice. You know, racism is not just against black people, it is against
democracy itself. And what we are seeing in this moment is public mourning, public mourning. The majority of the people that are in the streets screaming and crying, this is public mourning. And we have to look at, before -- before this, we had 140 million poor people in the country, 700 people dying a day from poverty. We have millions of people without insurance, people dying without insurance. We have 100,000 people die from Covid. And then we find out thousands didn't have to die.
And then after all of that, we have people that need healthcare, can't get it. People being sent to lethal jobs without the things they need. And then we see a lynching on TV because of the (INAUDIBLE) of 17- year-old. And -- and what happens is, that's our guttural cry. This is enough. It's too much. This is not just a spectacle, a one-time event, or just certain individuals. Something is wrong. Something is broken in our society. And there's an outcry.
And all of us have to ask, how did it get here? You know, this is not just that cop. It is the system. It is those who have been quiet. It's the fact that we've not addressed these issues. That's one of the things -- the Poor People's Campaign is saying that systemic racism, systemic poverty, ecological devastation, the war (ph) economy and the false moral narrative of religious nationalism are fiver interlocking injustices that we've not addressed. And we have to address it. we're going to be serious about being the democracy we claim to be.
BERMAN: I hear you this morning saying we need to listen to the people on the streets, why they are demonstrating. Perhaps why there is violence.
But what is your message to those who are perpetrating the acts of violence around the country?
BARBER: Well, see, I don't want to allow, for instance, Donald Trump and what he's trying to say about law and order, which he's really picking up from George Wallace and others, to try to take -- we don't -- the violence of a few. We don't even know who's perpetrating. We're hearing all kinds of statements about that. To all -- but to miss the overwhelming majority of the people are screaming, they're screaming nonviolently, but they're screaming out because they see what is happening, the pain of all of it.
Remember Dr. King, when he saw the violence, he interpreted the violence. He said, look, oftentimes violence (INAUDIBLE) are the voice of the unheard. What I'm saying is, and what so many of the people are saying is, America needs to hear this deep pain. This is not just about George Floyd. It is about hurt. It is about pain. We need to hear these screams and seek (INAUDIBLE). We need to turn it into public policy and transformation.
We need to hear -- we need to look at these crowds. Let's look at how diverse these crowds are. This is black people, and white people and Asian people, and first nation people, and brown people who are in the streets. This is something different. This is a tipping point. This is something going on. That's why, in our campaign, before this ever happened, on June 20th, we're having a poor people's assembly mass march on Washington digitally. It was already planned. We didn't see this coming. Where black people and white people, coal miners from Kentucky are coming together with black folks from the delta to talk about these deep injustices, tell the stories of pain that are all throughout America and then offer a way forward because violence is also the violence of people dying without the money they need, dying without the healthcare they need. The looting is the trillions of dollars that have been taken from -- given to corporations and not given to poor people and to the essential workers that don't have the essential things they need and feel like they are literally facing murder when they go to work in lethal (ph) situations that should not be in this country.
This is a time for serious examination of the screams and the cries to see what is wrong in this nation.
BERMAN: Reverend Barber, I appreciate you being with us this morning. I hope people are listening to what you are saying. Thank for your time, sir.
BARBER: God bless you, my friend.
BERMAN: There are protesters on the streets and cities around the country this morning. We will tell you what they're saying. That's next.
ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.
BERMAN: Welcome to our viewers in the United States and all around the world. This is NEW DAY. And we do begin with breaking news.
The pain, the frustration, the anger over the death of George Floyd over not just who killed him, but what killed him. Thousands of people have been arrested in the United States in the one week since the killing of George Floyd. National Guard troops are now being deployed in more than half the country. As of this morning, 26 states and the District of Columbia have activated well over 5,000 National Guard soldiers and airmen. At least 40 cities have imposed curfews.
Now, overnight, we did see peaceful demonstrations, but we did absolutely also see outbreaks of violence and looting.
CAMEROTA: And if you're looking for a leader who calls for unity and an end to the violence, you'll have to look somewhere other than the White House. President Trump tweeting threats to crackdown on protesters --