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Major Protests Continue Nationwide. Aired 3-3:30p ET

Aired June 2, 2020 - 15:00   ET

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


[15:00:00]

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

BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN HOST: Hi there. You are watching CNN. I'm Brooke Baldwin. Thank you so much for being with me.

We have a lot to get to this next hour, as you have been watching breaking news really across the country, as protests once again this afternoon are heating up, many of them peaceful.

Let me first say that. In New York City, protesters are on the move after demonstrating outside of New York police headquarters in downtown Manhattan. This comes just hours after New York Governor Andrew Cuomo blasted the mayor, Bill de Blasio, and the NYPD for not doing enough to stop the looters the last couple of nights.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GOV. ANDREW CUOMO (D-NY): What happened in New York City was inexcusable.

Well, the governor should use the National Guard in New York City. I have offered the National Guard. The mayor has said he can handle it with the NYPD.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BALDWIN: So that's the story in New York.

Let me show you some live pictures here above the streets of Los Angeles. Protesters are demonstrating peacefully outside of LAPD there. And in our nation's capital, we are seeing a large demonstration just outside the White House less than 24 hours after those peaceful protesters were tear-gassed, remember, so that president could walk over to the church by the White House for quite literally a photo-op.

You can see law enforcement lined up ready to roll.

Boris Sanchez, let me start with you there in Washington. You tell me what you're seeing. Is it peaceful?

BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Brooke, so far, it has been peaceful.

I'm just off to the right of the camera to give you an idea of what we're seeing behind this massive eight-foot fence that has been installed around Lafayette Park, the park that's just at the front step of the White House.

Protesters now have lined up pressed up against the fence, trying to send a message to these law enforcement officers. They lined up in this sort of ominous formation. At different points, they were much closer to the fence. It appeared that they were getting ready for some kind of movement.

Then they started moving further back. The crowd here started clapping. It's still unclear exactly what this formation is for. Again, this massive eight-foot fence has done a pretty good job of keeping people out. And it does not appear that anybody's really eager to get into Lafayette Park.

For the most part, this has been extremely peaceful. I haven't seen anybody throwing any projectiles, any threats being made to law enforcement. They have just been continuously chanting names like Breonna Taylor, like George Floyd.

They have been trying to get these law enforcement officers to kneel in solidarity with their cause. They have laid down on the ground yelling, "I can't breathe." Again, unclear exactly what movement these officers, these military police are preparing for, but it was increasingly tense just a few moments ago, as they were lining up very close to this fence and then started backing away.

The protesters here again chanting, but no clear aggressive movements toward police -- Brooke.

BALDWIN: OK. And I see now that your P.J. has pulled out a bit, so we can see the military officers.

Just so I'm clear, if you guys could pull out even further, so those military officers, that line of force, that is on the other side of this huge fence there at the White House that is separating them?

SANCHEZ: Precisely.

So, this is a fence blocking -- right. There's an enormous fence here. Then there are smaller barricades behind that and a police line that was put out. So they are relatively far from where we are right now. But, as you can see, this line continues to get further.

The protesters were chanting, "Why do you need shields?" Obviously, they're behind this enormous fence. It does not appear, from what I can see, that the fence is going to give. And it doesn't look like these people are trying to get into Lafayette Park either.

So, interestingly, this is only on one side of Lafayette Park. I would say it's to the west -- to the eastern side of Lafayette Park. And it's not -- those military police isn't lined up completely through the park. It's just in one section of it. I'm not sure exactly what precipitated this, but it escalated in this

last 10 minutes. And as you can see, some folks are pushing on the fence over there. But it doesn't look like the fence is going to give, again.

And the chanting continues, Brooke. No real movements in the last few seconds from police. We will keep an eye on it and let you know what happens next.

BALDWIN: I'm going to stay with you, Boris, just because of these pictures and because--

SANCHEZ: Sure.

BALDWIN: -- because of the protesters and the chanting.

And I'm sure, just obviously given what happened yesterday at the White House, right, having the president walk out among several other advisers, and essentially having law enforcement, having military police, having the National Guard firing those rubber bullets, emitting all the tear gas against the peaceful protesters, as he walks on over to that church nearby for that, literally what was a photo-op, that is the backdrop.

[15:05:03]

Just for folks, that is the backdrop of what we're looking at. And so, to me, I imagine, having been in the middle of protests myself, these crowds, they're there. They want peace. They want their voices heard. They want peace.

And to see this symbolic physical gesture with all these shields -- well, you tell me. What are they saying about it?

SANCHEZ: Well, they're quite literally asking these officers why they have shields when they're behind this enormous fence that was put up overnight after yesterday's events.

And you're absolutely right about what the president and law enforcement officers had happen here last night. Protesters were peaceful. It was well before that 7:00 curfew, when tear gas canisters started raining on them, when they were violently pushed out of the way, really so that President Trump could walk across the street, stand in front of a church, and hold a Bible.

Of course, we know from speaking to sources at the White House, that he was angry all day at reports that, over the weekend, on Friday night, he was tucked away underground in a bunker at the White House, as protesters were clashing with police right at his doorstep at the White House.

The president wanting to flex his muscle, wanting to show that he's in control, despite clear evidence that the country is in agony and that there is unrest in just about every corner of the United States. The president today on Twitter further aggravating the situation, talking about dominance, talking about overpowering the people who, again, were peaceful yesterday at the White House.

BALDWIN: Yes.

SANCHEZ: I spoke to one young man who goes to Howard University in this area. He says that that was like a slap in the face to him.

Further, I should point out there have been several religious leaders who have spoken outside of that church, St. John's Episcopal Church, right outside the White House. They were effectively saying that religion is not a prop, Brooke.

UNIDENTIFIED PROTESTERS: What do we want?

UNIDENTIFIED PROTESTERS: Justice?

(CROSSTALK)

BALDWIN: "What do we want? Justice. When do we want it? Now."

I'm just -- I'm just listening to these protesters.

And as you have been speaking, Boris, my phone has been buzzing. I'm here in New York City. And I just got one of those emergency alerts here in New York, the citywide curfew. They're just reminding everyone in effect tonight. It's at 8:00 p.m. Eastern.

What as -- we stay on you, Boris, and these pictures, what's the story with the curfew in Washington?

SANCHEZ: Well, it was put into place -- a curfew of 7:00 yesterday was put into place. It was renewed for at least the next two days.

But, as we saw, law enforcement officers outside the White House didn't wait until 7:00 to go after the protesters that were out here. Earlier today, when we got here, this fence was put up. They were treating the protesters that were here differently. They weren't allowing them to even get on the street.

They were forced to be on the sidewalk, even as traffic was closed in this area. Eventually, when the crowd grew big enough, they were allowed onto the street. And we did see a bigger law enforcement presence here earlier than usual.

We saw FBI agents. There were Secret Service. There was Park Police and obviously the military police that's out here right now, holding up shields in some kind of information, though there is no apparent threat from these hundreds of people that are lined up behind an eight-foot fence, yelling and screaming for justice, Brooke.

BALDWIN: Final question for you, and then we will pivot to our crew in New York City with the peaceful protesters there.

But can you do me a favor? I appreciate seeing the military police, but can you get your photojournalist to just pan left, so we can also just appreciate the crowd, the protesters, the scene?

And if you can help give us -- I know it's tough, because you're tucked in this corner.

You can just feel -- you can feel the pain.

(CROSSTALK)

SANCHEZ: -- listen to this person, Brooke.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Don't do this!

BALDWIN: "Don't do this."

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Don't do this! You all didn't sign up for this! Don't do this!

BALDWIN: "You all didn't sign up for this."

SANCHEZ: Yes, they have repeatedly yelled at these officers, asking them, who do you protect?

And they have also -- just before we got on with you, they were asking them why they were here, why they felt that they made a necessary choice to be here and line up this way as aggressively as they are in this defensive position.

So, as you look at the crowd, it spans the rest of this block, several hundred people out here, way more people here right now than there were at this point yesterday.

Again, that 7:00 curfew still about four hours away. I suspect this crowd is going to continue to grow, Brooke.

BALDWIN: Boris Sanchez, we appreciate you. Stand by for me.

We're going to pivot around to a couple other cities and check in. Thank you so much.

Let's go west to CNN's Stephanie Elam. She is there in Los Angeles, where these protesters have been demonstrating at police headquarters.

And so we were talking curfew. The curfew for everyone in L.A. County starts at 6:00 p.m. pacific.

Stephanie Elam, what's the story there?

STEPHANIE ELAM, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You're right, Brooke. My phone just buzzed too. All of our phones just went off.

The curfew here in Los Angeles is at 6:00 again here tonight, Beverly Hills at 1:00 Pacific time. So, you're seeing different cities within the county react differently.

[15:10:03]

But this protest here, where I am right now, Brooke, they just marched from the Los Angeles Police Department, which is down and around the corner, here to City Hall. There are -- it's a very mixed group of people who are out here, I just spoke to one woman who's out here with a sign. And I asked her if this was the first time that she's come out to a protest like this.

And she said it was. And she said that she just had a reaction to that video that we saw of George Floyd, and just felt she had to do something, she said, other than donating. She just felt that she needed to come out here. And if she didn't say anything, she was being silent, and therefore complicit.

And we see a lot of signs here that speak to that exact sentiment. I mean, you're seeing a lot of people of all races with signs up here that say "Black Lives Matter." This woman in front of us has painted the back of her jacket as well.

You're seeing this idea here, really, throughout the crowd. And we have seen this in history before, where people see one visual, one visual that's just enough for them, that is the breaking point, that causes them to come out here and to be a part of this protest in the middle of the day, right, in the middle of a pandemic.

So, most people out here with their masks on, as you can see, but still standing here chanting. Someone starts a chant, everyone else gets involved in it, but coming out and taking the time to make their signs, and basically convey this message that they're not OK with this.

Now, at the same time, because I did spend a lot of time in Ferguson, Missouri, I can tell you that I felt the difference when it was a very tense standoff, and when you felt that energy change between the police and also the protesters.

That's not the way it feels out here now. It's a much more calm, relaxed energy that is coming from the police department right now, from the officers that are out here on the street. They're definitely out here. It's clear that they're there, but they're calm.

And this protest has been calm here that during this afternoon here, just a lot of people out here, different age groups, different sizes, different shapes, men, women, everybody out here today taking part in this outside of it.

I mean, right now, they're chanting, "Prosecute killer cops," again, pointing to what we have seen with George Floyd and what is happening there, but, yes, a lot of that.

And you know else what I'm seeing a lot of, too, are a lot of white people here holding up signs that say, "End white silence," stop being silent, and if you're being silent, you're being complicit, so speak up, or you're part of the problem.

I'm seeing a lot of that here today, too, Brooke.

BALDWIN: No, I appreciate all of those details. And I saw one of those signs, and "White silence equals violence." And so I got you.

Forgive me. So they started at LAPD,and then you are there at City Hall.

And, Stephanie, just if I can get you to -- we have covered, sadly, through the years so many deaths of black and brown Americans. And I have been asking a number of people,does this feel different, the groundswell of all of these mostly peaceful protesters?

What's your sense, being in the middle of it?

ELAM: I have never seen anything like this, to be honest.

In all the protests that we have covered, Brooke, I have never seen it where you're seeing police officers kneeling with the protesters. Now, there are a lot of people are saying, we don't want you to just kneel, we want you to change. Kneeling is great, but do more, right?

But we never even saw that, like that blue silence that people would talk about, the fact that people would not break ranks. This is different, because the response to what we saw with those officers, and one in particular, who had his knee on Mr. Floyd's neck, has been a visceral response, again, among many police officers.

And they were quick to condemn it. I don't remember seeing that in any other time, in any of these other protests that I have covered. I haven't seen that. So, this feels different in that way.

Now, while I say that, I can also tell you that there are a lot of people who are concerned it's lip service, and they want there to actual -- be a change--

BALDWIN: Yes.

ELAM: -- in how the policing is done, how black men are perceived and viewed, and how they are approached, and how those conversations and those interactions go.

I mean, I think you could ask almost any black man in this country, and they will tell you that they have had an interaction with the police that has felt less than comfortable, no matter where they come from, no matter their zip code, no matter how wealthy they are, all of that.

And that is exactly what they're speaking to here. That is what they're concerned about, is that there needs to be a change in those interactions.

But this does feel different. There's no doubt about it. What I'm seeing with my own eyes is different than anything I have seen before, Brooke.

BALDWIN: It gives me just an ounce of hope to hear that, to hope, maybe not our lifetimes, but that of our children, that real change comes from all of this.

Stephanie Elam, thank you so much for your beautiful reporting there in Los Angeles. Again, you are watching CNN, live pictures here. Here you go, New York

City. We promised. We are -- got you covered, L.A., Washington, New York City, where protesters started downtown, New York police headquarters, have headed northward, from my understanding, majority peaceful.

[15:15:07]

But we have to talk about the last couple of nights and the looting. Governor Cuomo this morning saying he's disappointed and outraged about what happened in New York City last night.

We will go to Shimon Prokupecz right after this quick commercial break.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BALDWIN: Welcome back to the breaking news. You're watching CNN. I'm Brooke Baldwin.

We have been covering these various peaceful protests all across the country. We have taken you to Washington. We have taken into Los Angeles.

Now let's go to New York City, where this group has been -- there, I see that beautiful Arch, Washington Square Park, so you're Greenwich Village.

SHIMON PROKUPECZ, CNN CRIME AND JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Oh, yes.

BALDWIN: Shimon Prokupecz right there.

So, you have started at New York police headquarters downtown, heading north. Talk to me first about the protests. Then we will talk about what's been going on the last couple of nights.

[15:20:08]

PROKUPECZ: You know, Brooke, I think this is a march, really.

People are just together walking through the streets together chanting. You're hearing "Black Lives Matter" now. We have heard George Floyd's name. We have heard other names of people who've been -- who have died at the hands of police.

We were just leaving Washington Square Park. There was a moment of silence there. And everyone is just together. It is a peaceful demonstration. It really is a march, people holding signs.

What's really, really interesting also to watch is the neighborhood and how they have come out to support what's happening here. A lot of people have been cooped up inside their homes. There you see a woman there waving.

But a lot of people cooped up in there homes, and they have come to their windows in some cases to bang like pots and pans to show their support of these marchers as they go through the street marching. And you're hearing, "no justice, no peace" now.

And everyone is just together. There are people giving out water. Most of the people have been wearing masks. I saw people giving out masks, giving out water, giving out food. And they're just continuing to march.

We're now heading north through here. You see water and snacks being given out. And that's what we're seeing here. It's very peaceful. It's beautiful to see.

I have to tell you, after what I witnessed last night, seeing this, really, it's a good feeling, because what went on last night was so awful. And you can tell that everyone here--

(CROSSTALK)

BALDWIN: Let me jump in, Shimon. Let me ask you about that.

PROKUPECZ: Yes.

BALDWIN: Let me ask you about that.

But I do -- again, just to underscore -- underlining, underscoring your point, this is a beautiful scene.

PROKUPECZ: Yes.

BALDWIN: And this is necessary, right? This is necessary to bring about real change.

Now, the issue has been -- and we listened to the governor of New York, Andrew Cuomo, this morning just talking about, as you were alluding to, the last couple of nights in New York City have been awful, awful.

So, totally separate from these peaceful folks we're seeing here have been criminals, have been looters. I live in SoHo. I have witnessed looting with my own eyes. And to see it continue night after night, it enrages people in this city. And I'm trying to understand, New York City Police Department is 35,000-strong.

They need help.

PROKUPECZ: Yes.

I think -- I have talked to officers who were out on the street last night who were in the thick of it who say today they're exhausted. Another night like last night, I don't think they'd be able to really handle it.

It was really chaos, nothing like we're seeing today. And they were not demonstrators. We need to be clear about that. These were criminal elements, people who got together in some fashion, whether it's through social media, whether it's through some other channels of communications. We have heard a lot that these groups have been communicating in

encrypted apps. It's possible, but they were organized. I saw them getting out of cars, on scooters, on bikes, walking together.

I saw people with duffel bags. They came prepared--.

BALDWIN: Oh, yes, they did.

PROKUPECZ: -- to loot merchandise.

So, it was also a scary scene at moments, because people were walking around with bats and sticks. And the police -- there was a curfew. The curfew was at 11:00, and the police were just letting them walk the streets.

And that a scene playing out all across Manhattan, where, at one point, the only people on the street were looters and the police, and then, of course, reporters.

(CROSSTALK)

PROKUPECZ: And I think--

BALDWIN: But, Shimon, I hear you -- I hear you on -- I hear you on the fact that these police officers are exhausted, but they need help.

Are they going to get help? Are they going to get backup tonight?

PROKUPECZ: I mean, it's going to be officers -- outside help, unlikely, right?

We have heard the mayor said -- say, absolutely no National Guard. They could bring in State Police. That's not going to happen. The NYPD is very good at this. So we will see. Do they change their tactics tonight?

A lot of questions. And people have asked me, well, why didn't they just shut certain areas down? And that's a good question. Why didn't they? Why didn't they prevent access in certain areas? I don't know. Maybe that is something they will do tonight.

[15:25:01]

I will say to you, when I was on Fifth Avenue last night around Trump Tower, there were a lot of police there.

BALDWIN: Yes.

PROKUPECZ: Around St. Patrick's Cathedral, a lot of people, a lot of police officers. So they're going to have to change their tactics.

And one final point. I think it just seemed to me that the police were caught off-guard by how organized they were. They were expecting that. They were expecting looters. But they thought they were going to be downtown.

They had some indications they were going to be uptown. But I don't think they really -- they expected them to be so organized.

But, again, like you said, that is one part of the story.

But this, here, what's going on here, in many ways is so much more important.

BALDWIN: That's a beautiful thing, where you are.

PROKUPECZ: Yes. It is.

BALDWIN: It's a beautiful thing.

PROKUPECZ: And I don't want to lose sight of this, of course, but I think the other parts of this are important.

And it's important to distinguish between this group and what went on last night, because, last night, they were not demonstrators. They were criminals who came here to do exactly what they did, as you saw yourself, Brooke.

BALDWIN: No, I appreciate you making that distinction.

I made that distinction. I think folks at home, they're making that distinction. It's just all part of the story that is New York City.

Shimon Prokupecz, to you and crew, thank you.

Let's talk about all of this with our law enforcement analyst and former Philadelphia police commissioner and former chief of the metropolitan police in D.C., Charles Ramsey.

Commissioner Ramsey, I just -- let's just begin -- nice to see you, by the way.

CHARLES RAMSEY, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Thank you.

BALDWIN: But let's just begin with what I was talking to Shimon about in terms of this extraordinary police force that is NYPD, right?

This is a city where there are cameras everywhere. How is it that looters have managed to destroy so much of this city, including the iconic Herald Square Macy's?

RAMSEY: Well, they need help. And I heard that the mayor does not want to call up the National Guard. I think that could be a mistake.

What the National Guard would do--

BALDWIN: Is that irresponsible?

RAMSEY: Well, what the National Guard would do is backfill positions to free up more NYPD officers. They have to be more mobile.

I don't know if CNN covered this, but, in Philadelphia a few years ago, we had a problem with what we call flash mobs, groups of teenagers that would use social media. They would gather suddenly at a location, go on a rampage through Macy's, Apple Store, what have you.

And we had a hard time keeping up with it. This is more sophisticated than that. And it's happening on a much larger scale. The only way you can really effectively respond is if you have -- highly mobile, both in passenger vans, 15 passenger vans, bicycles, and the like, to try to keep pace.

New York is a big city. And what they do is, they go where they think the police aren't. In order to be that mobile and have that many people available for mobile deployment, you have got to be able to backfill positions. You mentioned Trump Tower and the cathedral.

I mean, you don't have to have policemen there. You could -- that's what -- you could use National Guard for that and other locations around the city.

BALDWIN: And they have moved up -- the city, New York City has moved up the curfew. Last night, it was 11:00. Tonight, it's 8:00.

RAMSEY: Right.

BALDWIN: But you know what?

I mean, again, I saw some of these looters. The sun, sir, had not even gone down. It's like, do we think they even give a you know what about curfews?

RAMSEY: No, they don't care anything about the time.

But I think the advantage of pushing it up -- 11:00, first of all, was way too late, because it's already dark; 8:00, I think, is pushing it; 7:00 would be even better, because then you still have a little bit of daylight to work with, so you can observe.

This is an example of when helicopters, drones, things like that would be very useful to police,because you could monitor crowd movement a lot easier from they're looking down, and you can anticipate the directions in which they're going and have your resources deployed strategically throughout the city and respond very rapidly, because this is continuing.

And this is, what, the eighth day? That makes it highly unusual to begin with to have something like this last this long with this many people involved, and the crowds getting more and more diverse, but also your agitators are really, really starting to take over.

BALDWIN: Yes.

I want to ask you, Commissioner, about Washington, D.C.

RAMSEY: Yes.

BALDWIN: I was just talking to our correspondent Boris Sanchez, right? So, he's posted up at Lafayette Park, which I know you know well right there at the White House. Here you go. And so we see this video of this whole line of military

police, shields, the whole nine, lined up. On the other side of this fence is this huge crowd block after, block after block of these peaceful protesters.

And the protesters, understandably, they feel that they're -- I don't want to put words, but we were listening to some of the protesters. They just didn't understand why these officers needed to stand there at such a on-guard position.

Do you find this provocative?

RAMSEY: It is provocative. And it's all about the optics of that.