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Protests Underway in Los Angeles, New York City and Washington. Aired 2:30-3p ET

Aired June 2, 2020 - 14:30   ET



SHIMON PROKUPECZ, CNN CRIME AND JUSTICE REPORTER: Yes, and to be clear, Brianna, the people who are out on the streets last night were not demonstrators, were not people who were trying to get a message across. These are people who took advantage of the situation. They came to Manhattan and broke into many stores.

I'm walking now here, this is -- we're in the Soho area. The Soho area was hit hard by looters. There are many stores that are boarded up, and that's what went on last night. Very different than what we're seeing here.

You know, there are all sorts of ways, obviously, as she said, to protest. You know, I've covered other protests. You've covered protests. And what went on last night is much different than people expressing their anger or sitting in the street and getting arrested, because they've refused to leave by sitting in the street. You know, that is much different than what anything that I saw last night where it was just -- criminal entities.

I mean, organized fashion of people looting and breaking in to stores and just running -- I mean, I have no -- really, the best way I could put it is just running wild. And as I said to you earlier, the only people on the streets last night at one point were reporters. I was out there. There are police and the looters. And all over Manhattan. Some were carrying bats and sticks. So much different.

And, you know, those moments shouldn't overshadow what's happening here because this really is -- it's a beautiful moment where people can get together and express themselves and -- and describe what they're feeling, because there is a lot of anger across the country, there's a lot of frustration. We're in the middle of a pandemic. There are other issues and so this also gives an opportunity for so many people who have been in their homes for so long now, frustrated people who don't have jobs.

People don't really know what the future is going to bring, and this gives them the opportunity to come together, and express themselves, and I think this is -- just -- this is the import stuff, of course, and what happened last night is sad, and it's painful, and it's difficult for people who live in this city and across this state to see what happened here. But, you know, these moments -- this moment here is something that is great to see. Right? And it gives all of these people an opportunity -- everyone here -- to come out and come together, Brianna.

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN HOST: And Shimon, thank you for just walking us through this protest that is making its way north in Manhattan. We're there with you. It's amazing to be in the middle of this. Thank you so much.

Stand by for Shimon. Obviously this protest is going to be continuing on for some time. There are big crowds that are gathered there in New York, which you are watching. Also in Los Angeles, there's a big crowd is gathered in Washington. CNN is live from the middle of all of these protests. Stay with us for live special coverage.



KEILAR: I want to take you now to Washington, D.C. We are seeing some protests unfold there and the district right now is under a new city- wide curfew.

CNN White House correspondent Boris Sanchez is live for us.

Boris, you are in Lafayette Park. This is adjacent to the White House. There are peaceful protesters there, and this is actually where peaceful protesters yesterday were pushed back before the curfew and they were tear gassed. Tell us what you're seeing right now.

BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, right now, Brianna, the protest remains peaceful. In the last few moments a big chunk of the crowd actually splintered off and followed some law enforcement officers. It looks like they're now starting to come back. The crowd still pretty large. Sizable, bigger than it was yesterday at this same time. And the crowd is mostly just chanting.

I haven't seen any projectiles thrown. I haven't seen any of the folks that may be inclined to break anything. There really isn't any overt signs of aggression that would lead to the response that we saw last night. Even though last night was also peaceful, as you said, about a half hour before the curfew, law enforcement pushed people forcibly out of this area, spreading them across several different directions.

We saw tear gas deployed, we saw people, journalists even, pushed around by the police, all effectively so that President Trump could walk across the street here and go to St. John's Episcopal Church to stand outside with a bible posing for cameras. A senior administration official has told us that the White House didn't orchestrate that to be a photo op. But just today, the official White House Twitter account and the deputy staff for communications Dan Scavino have posted a video of President Trump walking across the street, effectively as promotion.


Both of those clips set to music. They may not be calling it a photo op but certainly treating it as one. Again, right now things remain calm. All we've heard is chanting. These protesters getting down on their knees at different times, asking some of the law enforcement officers that are in riot gear, on the other side of the fence, to also take a knee in solidarity. At one point all the protesters got on the ground chanting, "I can't breathe, I can't breathe." Of course, the fateful last words of George Floyd.

Again, as of right now, things remain peaceful. I suspect this crowd is going to continue to grow as we get closer to that 7:00 p.m. curfew. We'll see how law enforcement responds then -- Brianna.

KEILAR: What do you know about the fences? Because this is a new development there. These very tall fences in lieu of shorter barriers. And just to keep it in perspective for our viewers, Boris, you're still -- I mean, you're quite a ways from the White House, from the White House fence, right? So this is like, I'd say, I don't know, 200 yards away, maybe.

SANCHEZ: At the very least. Yes. So I'm not sure how well you can see it. Obviously there are many protesters and the fences in the way. But Lafayette Park essentially serves as a place where people can come and demonstrate. It's typically open to the public unless there's a presidential movement. And there are all these shorter barricades. They're four feet tall. Yesterday the protesters got right up to them, effectively getting face-to-face with law enforcement at one point.

This morning when we first arrived, we saw this much larger fence, much further out, essentially blocking all access to Lafayette Park. This fence is about eight feet tall. And the way that law enforcement today has handled the protesters has been differently than in previous days. Earlier in the day they weren't allowing protesters to get into the street. They were keeping them on the sidewalk. That obviously changed as more and more protesters showed up.

Again, right now things are peaceful. We're going to keep an eye on it and see how things develop -- Brianna.

KEILAR: All right, Boris, thank you for that report from Washington.

From D.C. to Dallas, Los Angeles, we're seeing these large crowds that are protesting in the streets. CNN is live in the middle of it. Stay with us for our live special coverage.



KEILAR: We're keeping an eye here on New York. These are live pictures coming to us from Washington Square Park, it appears. Not too far from New York University. Folks gathering all over the city this afternoon, and this is coming after seven straight days of protests, violence, looting and unrest that at times have left parts of American cities, including New York, wide swaths of Manhattan, in ruins.

According to my next guests, affecting change can happen, but not like this. This is what they write in a new op-ed. Former Ohio John Kasich, a Republican, and former Ohio state senator Nina Turner, a Democrat, write this in part, quote, "No one should take a violence to advance a cause nor should anyone need to. We should all be able to turn to our system of justice to receive the protections we deserve. Yes, we've got problems. But our system can work if leaders have the will and courage to simply acknowledge the pain of injustice."

And the governor and senator joining us now for this very important discussion here.

Senator Turner, you and Governor Kasich make a case that communities can listen, they can learn, they can create peace, because you've done it in your state of Ohio. Tell us about this.

NINA TURNER (D), FORMER OHIO STATE SENATOR: We did, Brianna, and thank you for having both of us. On the heels of the shooting of Tamir Rice, a young boy that was shot within less than two seconds from police arriving on the scene in 2004 right before Thanksgiving. And the governor and I had a conversation. And I called the governor, I said, Governor, we have to do something. And he said, come in, and I did.

And the governor did not hesitate to create an executive order that created the community and police relations task force and put folks on that task force from all walks of life. From community members, millennials, elected officials, non-elected officials, business leaders. And the first thing we did was travel all over the great state of Ohio so that people's voices could be heard.

Because of that action, people did not bubble over into violence. Yes, there were protests, but there were no acts of violence because the governor acted, he acted swiftly, and he listened to the pain of the people, and then we took what was said, what we learned, that pain, and the governor signed another executive order that created a collaboration and a collaborative and our job was to make actionable what we heard from the community members across the state of Ohio. We heard their pain. We took that in and we made it actionable.

KEILAR: And that's what you're saying. You're saying, Governor, that the system can work if leaders, quote, "acknowledge that pain of injustice." That's a quote. Listen and then act. So I want to --


KEILAR: I want to ask you about how does that work, when you have a lot of protesters who look at a lot of police officers who, you know, you see what has happened on camera and so clearly to any reasonable person, it's an abuse of their authority and their power and yet they manage to get away with it. They don't suffer repercussions. They're so protected. There's a whole sort of system and protocols that protect them as police officers. How do you address this problem if you don't address those issues?

KASICH: Well, first of all, I have to tell you we have specific things we did.


Number one is that we had to define in each police agency what constituted the proper use of deadly force or the use of force, and all the police officers have to be trained to that standard. Most places didn't do that. They didn't have those kinds of standards and I'll bet that's the case throughout the country.

Secondly, we also forced the collection of data so that we knew when police officers were not operating in an appropriate way and they were discriminating. We also created a situation where the police officers and the community had to become integrated.

And I must tell you, Brianna, we had the Republican convention coming for four days and everybody was really on edge. But what happened is because we gathered everybody together and we actually had programs that have been adopted by police departments all across Ohio, not one single window was broken in Cleveland for four days of a Republican convention, believe it or not.

And so if I were the president today, and Nina was sitting right next to me, or she was president and I was sitting next to her, we would call the community leaders, the activists, we would call law enforcement, we would call the people that really understand exactly the issue that relates to civil rights. People who've studied it an entire lifetime and then we would come up with these standards.

You need to tell police officers how they need to be trained, the use of force, what's appropriate, what's not appropriate. You need to measure it. You have to have data. You have to integrate the police officers. All of these things send a message to people that we hear you. And what's missing now is the notion that the people in power, the people in charge, are not hearing the protesters.

And so what we say is this is a solution not just for Ohio, but this is a solution for America. And if everybody began to put into place a system that held people accountable, we would begin to see more peaceful communities, more together communities, and that was the facts of what we found out here in Ohio. But we did not wait. We pushed and we got it done.

KEILAR: And Senator Turner, listening to the both of you describe this, you know, this idea of how you could approach this in theory, it's beautiful. It's very nuanced. And it seems to really address how you listen to people, how you try to change the culture. That is something -- I mean, we're just not seeing that, so in the absence of leadership, Senator, on that, what do folks do, not only these peaceful protesters but I think even other folks who are not protesting peacefully, who are taking advantage of the situation, and maybe rationalize it by saying that the system has taken advantage of them for so long that they don't really care?

TURNER: Yes. There is a rage and we have to acknowledge that to the governor's point. We acted swiftly. We didn't wait. Right away. We didn't wait for people to protest to realize that what happened to Tamir Rice was wrong, what happened to John Crawford as he was shopping in a Walmart near -- or outside of Dayton was wrong, when he was shot while he was there. Somebody called the police -- a white person called the police on him.

So we acted swiftly because we understood from a moral perspective that what the police did in that moment was wrong. And you have to acknowledge that. We also had law enforcement on that task force as well, and we all came together. And so we do need the type of leadership that Governor Kasich and myself and other colleagues exhibited right now so local leaders could do that right now.

I am glad to hear some police chiefs across this country basically say, and I think it was Chief Roddy from the great state of Tennessee who said that if you believe that what happened to George Floyd is OK, turn in your badge. That message needs to reverberate all over this country so there does have to be consequences to this.

And Brianna, I speak, and the governor knows this, as somebody's whose husband is a retired police officer and my son is in law enforcement right now. This can be done on the local state and federal level and we must do these things right now. Acknowledge pain and act. Black folks in particular are tired of dying at the hands of white police officers and white people who do not respect their lives.

This is a national crisis and we can come together and do something about it just as Governor Kasich, myself and other leaders of the great state of Ohio have done.

KASICH: And Brianna, we stand totally against the violence. The rioting, that's not acceptable. But the marching, the sit-ins, the things that demand that the system change is really important.


And what I'm suggesting and what Nina and I are both suggesting is the president ought to convene this kind of a task force.

TURNER: Come on.

KASICH: If he won't do it, the mayors ought to do it, the governors ought to do it, and show the people that we hear them and we will improve this system and law enforcement will support it. Thank you.

KEILAR: This conversation has nourished my soul. I will tell you both. I hope it did for people who are listening to it and were thinking about how they could act on a sort of micro level if they feel that they're not getting what they need on the macro level.

So Governor, Senator, thank you so much to both of you. We really appreciate your words and your ideas.

We're watching now some protests unfold in Los Angeles. I want to go to CNN's Stephanie Elam who is there.

OK, so, Stephanie, take us through this. What is happening there as we see this peaceful protest behind you?

STEPHANIE ELAM, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Where we are, Brianna, is right outside of the Los Angeles Police Department. So as you can see there is a barricade here. You can see that the police are lined up on that side there. Basically watching the protesters here who are now just starting to march here from outside of the police station. As you can see, it's a group of people that is of mixed race, mixed ages. We see men, women, everybody is out here right now taking part in this -- with these signs.

Very much controlled, very much peaceful. The energy here is calm. It's not a nervous energy like we have seen at other times when these protests have come out. It's very calm right now. I see different groups of people having discussions with each other, about this, about those thoughts on how things are being handled, about what they think should be done. But as you can see here, they're just now starting to make their way up the street here outside of the L.A. Police Department.

Many people taking time to make signs and standing there and holding them in front of the police officers that are out here to show them their frustration with what they believe is systemic. Now you do see some people out here hugging, having some dialogue, having conversations. But much of that playing out here in front of the LAPD station. But still, I have to point out that it does feel very calm out here, it feels very controlled.

It does not feel like have we seen things change later on where it becomes more tense, more excited. It does feel very much like a protest. Unlike the looting that we have seen in the last couple of days, like last night where we saw that happening, and the night before. So this feeling very controlled right now with this group of people who have come out here, this group of people who've come out here in the middle of the day to protest, and now marching away from downtown and further into downtown off of main street here in downtown Los Angeles.

KEILAR: I wonder over the day, Stephanie, if you've been able to talk to anyone who is engaged in these peaceful protests like the one next to you, the one we're seeing in Washington, the one we're seeing in New York, and get their thoughts on how things do change at night. You see different folks come in, take advantage of the situation. What do they say about what that means for the folks who are, for instance, there today? Do they tell you anything about what that means for them?

ELAM: There's definitely frustration with this. I want to keep walking this way so we don't lose sight of them. But there is frustration, right, that a message that is clear after that video of George Floyd was something that people saw and had a visceral reaction to. This has galvanized people to speak out. And you're seeing a reaction in a different way. And so what we've heard from people, some people, is the frustration that here is a chance to really make a difference.

And really finally to get people to see that there is a difference with how black men are treated. And yet these looters are coming out and hijacking this moment with their behavior. There is frustration over that. But as you can see there are a lot of people out here who are not deterred by that. They're still coming out here. They're still taking the time to walk out here. And again, I realize that this is Los Angeles but you do see everyone out here.

This is not just a monolithic group. And I know we're seeing that in other cities here but there is some frustrations but even the energy that the police officers are bringing out here today is much calmer. I just saw a police officer waving at someone in the crowd. They're definitely out here, they do not -- most of them do not have on helmets so it's a much calmer interaction than we've seen in previous times.

But we saw this in Ferguson when we were there, same thing, when you saw people who were upset that some people, a fraction of people, were taking advantage of a situation and not staying true to the message, Brianna.

KEILAR: Stephanie, thank you so much for taking us through this protest and bringing us along with you. Stephanie Elam in Los Angeles.

And our coverage, our live coverage here on CNN will continue right now with Brooke Baldwin.