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ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT
Protests Underway as Curfews Go into Effect Across U.S.; New Protests Near WH, a Day After Police Deployed Smoke Canisters Against Protesters Ahead of Trump Photo-Op; Protests Grow in Los Angeles Ahead of Mandatory Curfew; Denver Police Chief Marches Arm-in-Arm With Protesters. Aired 7-8p ET
Aired June 2, 2020 - 19:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: We'll watch it together with all of our viewers. This is by no means ending in our special live coverage here on CNN. All of these developments continues right now with Erin Burnett OUTFRONT.
ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: OUTFRONT next, the breaking news, curfew in the nation's capital right now. Curfews in other major cities about to take effect. Protests heating up now from coast to coast. You see New York there.
And a powerful moment, Denver's Police Chief marching arm in arm with protesters. He's my guest.
And it was Attorney General Bill Barr who ordered authorities to clear protesters near the White House using batons and smoke canisters all for the President's photo op.
Let's go OUTFRONT.
And good evening. I'm Erin Burnett.
OUTFRONT tonight, the breaking news, there is a curfew now in effect at this literal moment in the nation's capital, Washington, D.C. not stopping protests as of yet. The scene as we can see it at various points where protesters have been gathering in Washington, this is right outside as you can see Lafayette Park. Protesters chanting as they face off against military police who are surrounding the White House.
So you can see this face off right there, right outside the White House. It is the fifth night of demonstrations. And, of course, there in that scene as you can see that very large crowd, very peaceful crowd right now. This is 24 hours after police used to batons, smoke canisters and pepper balls on peaceful protesters at that very same place so President Trump could have that photo op with the Bible outside St. John's Episcopal Church.
We'll show you live pictures throughout the hour here. Large crowds gathering across the country, including in Boston and Los Angeles. At this time, crowds have been praying, chanting. Organizers in Boston, for example, say that they plan to remain peaceful. In Los Angeles, you can see a large crowd there outside city hall, very densely packed in there.
Although from what I could see from our reporters' live shot pretty much everyone wearing masks. And, again, protest there so far tonight peaceful. In New York, The clock is ticking. The curfew there now less than an hour ago. Now, it was moved much earlier to eight o'clock from 11 o'clock. The 11 o'clock curfew did little to stop chaos and looting across Manhattan.
That is where I am tonight. Stores are boarded up across the city. Stores were broken into, glass shattered in many different neighborhoods, including at Macy's flagships store. Protesters kicked their way in.
The city struggled to contain the violence. It's intensifying the bitter battle between New York's Mayor and the Governor of the state.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. ANDREW CUOMO (D) NEW YORK: The NYPD and the Mayor did not do their job last night. I believe that. What happened in New York City was inexcusable.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: And in Houston, George Floyd's hometown, Floyd's family and friends leading a march in honor of his memory. We also heard from the mother I have a six year old daughter who is now, of course, without a father.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He was a good man as a father. He was so happy to have her. He was there. He slept the whole time that I went through labor but when he heard her cry, he got up, he woke up and I still have a picture of him waking up and getting his baby. He loved her. He loved her so much.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: And as the tension rises tonight, so too is President Trump's rhetoric, threatening to deploy the military to 'dominate the protesters'. Alex Marquardt, begins our coverage OUTFRONT live in Washington. Alex, obviously, we are now three and a half minutes past curfew, what are you seeing where you are?
ALEX MARQUARDT, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes. And Erin, well, applause going up among all of these protesters who have taken a knee, symbolically at seven o'clock because they are well aware that this curfew is going into effect. And what they are showing now is that they have no intention of going anywhere.
And moments before we came on the air, they said just that in chant saying we are not going anywhere and, excuse me, f--- your curfew. So you have a huge crowd gathered here outside the White House, far bigger than what we saw last night when there was that violent crackdown against peaceful protesters to clear them out of this area for the President's photo op.
My cameraman Jay McMichael (ph) is scanning the crowd. What he's looking, what you're pointing out right now that he's looking at is that St. John's Church. That is where the President ended up for that photo op in which he held up the Bible after this area and many of these very same people were cleared out before that 7 pm curfew.
The U.S. Park Police has just put out a statement saying that they were responding to projectiles that were being thrown at them including frozen water bottles and bricks and liquids.
This is not something that we saw. And shortly before that curfew at 7 pm, U.S. Park Police swept through here, firing all manner of projectiles at those peaceful protesters. Now, if they had any wish, if that was intended for these protesters not to come back, they failed miserably.
These protesters came back and they came back in bigger numbers and they have come back more fired up. I'm going to ask Jay (ph) to point towards the White House where after yesterday's protests overnight, Erin, they put up these large steel fences around eight feet high to keep the protesters out of Lafayette Park which of course is just north of the White House.
And what you're seeing there are those law enforcement officers from a number of different agencies in the park including us Park Police, the Department of Homeland Security and the D.C. National Guard. They are just but a small fraction of a huge number of forces from over a dozen different agencies and departments who have been called up to keep the peace in this city.
We are now after the curfew that has been set by the Mayor of Washington, D.C. Muriel Bowser, who said that she was shocked and outraged by what happened here to these protesters last night. So I imagine over the course of the next few hours, people will be leaving, Erin, but the question is, will they be forcibly removed, will it look anything like last night and who will do it, so a lot remains to be seen, Erin, now in these minutes and hours after that curfew.
BURNETT: All right. We're going to keep watching what you're seeing there, Alex. Because as Alex is pointing out, there are a lot more people there right now than there were last night before that was broken up. And again, we are past the curfew at this point, so we're going to keep watching that. We're going to go back there.
And it's, of course, Washington where the curfew is just taken effect. We are now less than an hour away from the curfew taking effect here in New York and other cities around this country as the protests continue across this country. Jason Carroll is OUTFRONT.
JASON CARROLL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT(voice over): Streets across the nation uneasy as protests continue for an eighth straight. In Minnesota where George Floyd was killed by Minneapolis police one
week and one day ago, still no charges brought against the three police officers who helped restrained Floyd and stood by as Derek Chauvin's knee slowly asphyxiated him.
The State's Governor announced today the Minneapolis Police Department will undergo a civil rights investigation.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. TIM WALZ (D) MINNESOTA: The investigation will review MPD's policies, procedures and practices over the last 10 years to determine if the department has utilized systemic discriminatory practices towards people of color.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CARROLL(voice over): Thousands peacefully demonstrated Monday with some law enforcement even showing unity. Police officers taking a knee in Atlanta and Philadelphia.
But other protests turned chaotic. In New York City, the looting and violence were rampant. The Governor publicly slammed the City's Mayor for not deploying more police.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CUOMO: What happened in New York City was inexcusable. First, the NYPD and the Mayor did not do their job last night.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CARROLL(voice over): Gov. Andrew Cuomo even suggested he could override the mayor to secure the streets.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CUOMO: My option is to displace the Mayor of New York City and bring in the National Guard.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CARROLL(voice over): The Mayor's office called the Governor's remarks offensive and the city is changing its curfew from 11 pm to 8 pm for the rest of the week.
As darkness and lawlessness take over the city streets, police officers increasingly in the line of fire. And captured on this graphic video, a New York City police officer brazenly struck by a car last night in the Bronx.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That's a f---ing cop.
(END VIDEO CLIP) CARROLL(voice over): The officer is in stable condition.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MAYOR BILL DE BLASIO (D) NEW YORK: Anyone who attacks a police officer attacks all of us.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CARROLL(voice over): And three officers hit by an SUV that barrel through a police barricade in Buffalo.
In Las Vegas, one officer shot while four others struck by gunfire in St. Louis.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm stunned and we need to pray for our city and pray for these officers.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CARROLL(voice over): In other areas, the police coming under scrutiny for their heavy actions. In Atlanta, six officers face charges for excessive force while removing two college students from a car over the weekend, two have been fired.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I feel a little safer now that these monsters are off of the street and no longer able to terrorize anyone else.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CARROLL(voice over): And Austin's Police Chief sounding emotional when asked about a young man who was injured by police munitions during a protest.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What I say to you now is my heart is with you. I am praying for your child and I hope that they have a complete and quick recovery.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CARROLL: And back here live in Downtown Brooklyn, Erin, where we're with about a thousand demonstrators who have been peacefully protesting throughout the day. We saw much of this last night when we were out here in Brooklyn, thousands of demonstrators out on the streets, defying the curfew last night, saying that it was an act of civil disobedience. Many of those out here today saying the same thing. They intend to do
the same thing when that 8 pm curfew kicks into place. Many of them saying, look, this isn't about a curfew. This is about speaking out for people like George Floyd, Erin.
BURNETT: All right. Jason, thank you very much and like everyone in the New York area, we all saw protests today with many people, of course, you've got unemployment, you got people working from home and more people out during the day throughout the day coming out to make their views known.
OUTFRONT now, the Attorney General of New York, Democrat Letitia James. She joins me on the phone. And I appreciate your time, Attorney General.
Let me just ask you, you just heard there in Jason Carroll's report, Gov. Cuomo of New York say and I quote him, "The NYPD and the Mayor did not do their job last night." Do you have confidence in the mayor and the NYPD right now?
LETITIA JAMES, NEW YORK ATTORNEY GENERAL: First, Erin, let me just thank you for allowing me to say a few words. Let me just say that our nation, the City of New York, the state and state across this nation have reached a tipping point of anger and frustration. Our streets are reeling and the pain and the frustration and the loss of life of black individuals, black people is devastating and palpable.
And what you are seeing in the streets all throughout this nation is really, again, a response to years of racially charged police violence. And you really cannot silence the movement. What I want to say that violence never solves anything and diagnosing and understanding the problem of structural and systematic racism is the first step forward in finding effective and enduring solutions.
We are in a defining moment in this country. And what we need now more than ever before is leadership, moral leadership and recognizing that we've got a problem in this country. The Governor of the State of New York has appointed me to review the events of the last few days and so I cannot and will not speculate on what and how he will attempt to do and what his response shall be.
I do know ...
BURNETT: So I ...
JAMES: ... (inaudible) ...
BURNETT: ... no, I said I understand that. Obviously, you've got to do that investigation.
What you talk about though, these big and crucial issues that must be addressed, obviously, what we saw in some of this looting takes away from that and that is part of the problem. I'm sure why the Governor expressed the frustration he did, he came out and appeared to put Mayor de Blasio on notice today and I want to just play for you a bit more of what he said, Ms. James. Here he is. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CUOMO: I've offered the National Guard, the Mayor has said he can handle it with the NYPD. My option is to displace the Mayor of New York City and bring in the National Guard as the governor in state of emergency and basically take over. You would have to take over the mayor's job.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: So do you believe that that is really on the table that something like that could happen that the Mayor of New York could be displaced as Governor Cuomo said?
JAMES: I am at this point in time focusing on investigating the events of the last few days. And I'm going to leave that decision up to the Governor and to the Mayor of the City of New York. The reality is, is that the vast majority of the protests have been done without any violence, peaceful protests, and I will protect and guard that right.
But there have been some individuals who've attempted to basically you serve the movement and the message. But what we need now more than ever is a clarion call to change, both systematic change, legislative change going forward. That is what is most critically important.
We do not need individuals, particularly coming from the White House that will engage in race-baiting, and continue to divide us. We find ourselves more divided now than we've ever been since the Civil War. And we are a nation of values and a nation of laws and at this point in time, it is our values that will drive our law and our government and it's important that we all remain together.
I am hopeful and knowing that there are so many young people engaging in peaceful protests of all races and we need to be joined together and united and not divided. And now is the time and so I urge peaceful protests and I urge that individuals come together with a plan of action for change in this country and in New York State.
BURNETT: All right. Atty. Gen. James, I appreciate your time. Thank you very much. I appreciate it.
JAMES: Thank you.
BURNETT: And next the Denver Police Chief who marched arm in arm with protesters, his message tonight. He's OUTFRONT next.
And CNN is now learning it was the Attorney General of the United States, Bill Barr, who gave the order that led to the forceful removal of peaceful protesters at the White House last night for that Trump photo op. You're going to hear exactly how it all went down.
And Joe Biden's message to the nation.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOE BIDEN (D) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I can't breathe. I can't breathe.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: Breaking news, these are pictures out of Los Angeles. As you can see, many there are taking a knee. They are responding to someone there in the center that certainly before curfew goes into effect to reduce violence and looting.
I want to go to Kyung Lah, who is there to tell us exactly what we're seeing. Kyung, what are you seeing?
KYUNG LAH, CNN SENIOR U.S. CORRESPONDENT: Well, I'm on Sunset Blvd right in the heart of Hollywood walking over the 101 freeway and I just want you to take a look down Sunset Blvd. This is just a portion of the march. A march that has been going on for more than five hours on a very, very hot day here in Los Angeles.
And you can see that cars are driving along with them. This actually appears to have grown that people are coming out of their apartments and if you're wondering how they can keep going for so many ours, you see the driver with bottled water that she's holding out the window, we've seen people run out of their apartments with sunscreen, with bottled water, hand sanitizer, Clorox bleach and the crowd keeps going.
So this has been a peaceful march with children coming with their parents, wearing in BLM shirts. The looting that we had seen over the weekend, any of that violence, none of that is apparent here. This feels very much like a movement march and something that is involving a lot of people, a lot of different types of communities here in Los Angeles. So Erin, extremely peaceful and a lot of people, Erin.
BURNETT: Yes, certainly. I mean, a lot of people there as you can see, just about 4:20 in the afternoon there in Los Angeles, where Kyung is.
Protests across this country also taking place tonight in the capital of Colorado there as you see and you've got in Denver. The curfew there goes into effect at nine o'clock pm. But as that city braces for unrest, as so many others do just with this uncertainty, it is the image that you see on your screen there, sending an incredibly powerful image. That is the Police Chief for Denver walking arm in arm with demonstrators during a peaceful protest and he is OUTFRONT with me now. Denver Police Chief Paul Pazen.
Chief, look, that image is very poignant, very powerful. So the look on your face, tell us what you were thinking at that moment as you're there arm in arm with a protester on each side? CHIEF PAUL PAZEN, DENVER POLICE: MARCHED WITH PROTESTERS ON MONDAY:
Well, first I want to acknowledge these young leaders that invited me into their space. They truly want to maintain peaceful protests. They want their voices heard and it certainly was a very powerful message that I heard from them. Dakota (ph) shared some words that I will remember and use as inspiration as we work together to try to affect positive change. Asheera (ph), we've really shared some powerful moments that, again, will help us or will help guide us as we recognize that we have room to improve and we want to work with our community to do that.
BURNETT: So are you able to share some of those powerful words as you mentioned?
PAZEN: Well, the fact that they indicated they were tired, they were tired and fearful and didn't want to feel like this anymore. So that's about the nuts and bolts that I'd like to share at this moment.
BURNETT: So let me ask you, Chief Pazen, yesterday you obviously had those incredibly powerful moments and they matter so much to show that police are among not in opposition to a community at its best. That's what your job of calling should be about. There were though, of course, 54 arrests yesterday. Most of them, I understand, for curfew violations. What are you expecting? What are you hearing about what you think you'll see in your city tonight and do you plan on arresting people merely for curfew violations?
PAZEN: Again, we fully support peaceful protests. We want to hear voices. We want to hear those messages. It's about that voice and not violence. We want dialogue over destruction and we will support peaceful protests. We have been very patient with exercising good judgment and discretion on those curfew arrests and that's what will take place tonight as well.
BURNETT: So the image of you that I shared is obviously a powerful one and what you did is others have also have done similarly. In Michigan, there was the Sheriff you know from Flint Township who put down his baton to listen to protesters, joined their march when he was asked.
Here in New York, the NYPD's Chief of Department kneeled with protesters. So we have seen some incredible moments. And yet, you had to terminate a police officer who posted on Instagram a photo of himself and two other officers in riot gear with the caption, let's start a riot. What do you think you can tangibly do, Chief Pazen, to make a difference?
Obviously, joining arms with the protesters when they are peaceful, that is powerful. But what can you do to change something like that Instagram image so that that's such a thing would never happen again?
PAZEN: It's about accountability. If we back up and we look at this, it's about accountability. We must hold ourselves accountable for our actions and that's what we will do. This is not an issue of us versus them. This is all of us versus the issue of injustice and we plan to work with our community to do better. We acknowledge we can do better as a department, we can do better as a city and we can do better as community and we will work to do that.
BURNETT: Before we go quickly, the President, of course, has threatened to deploy the U.S. Military to cities and states where there's unrest or looting. Do you need that help?
PAZEN: Clearly, we have young leaders that are stepping up to maintain peaceful protests. That's what we need. We need folks like Neil (ph), like Dakota (ph), like Asheera (ph), like Aubrey (ph) who have stepped up and said there will not be violence, but we will be heard and that's how we work together to continue to maintain peaceful protests.
BURNETT: All right. Chief Pazen, I appreciate your time. Thank you, sir.
PAZEN: Thank you, Erin.
BURNETT: And next, the breaking news, CNN learning that the President, Hope Hicks, Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump were all involved together and planning that photo op outside the church yesterday where the President held up the Bible and we're also learning how he got that Bible.
And who's taking part in a growing number of demonstrations across the United States, CNN, Drew Griffin investigative this crucial question, who are the protesters?
BURNETT: All right. These are lives pictures of the protests. This is Washington, D.C. as you can see, Lafayette Park just steps from the White House, all of the protesters that you see there and it is a very large crowd, larger than last night, are defying a 7:00 p.m. curfew in effect.
But as you can see, they are peaceful. They were forcibly removed yesterday from that same area, so the president could, of course, cross the street for his photo op at St. John's Episcopal Church across the street from the White House.
And we now have new details about how all of that photo-op went down.
Kaitlan Collins is OUTFRONT near the White House.
And, Kaitlan, tell us about it.
KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yes. We're hearing about the top aides that actually who came up with that idea for the president to go over there to St. John's after it partially caught on fire in the basement of that historical church on Sunday night during those protests that turned violent. Jared Kushner was involved in that, also Hope Hicks and several other of the president's top aides.
And you saw such a big staff contingent going with him to visit that, Erin, including his attorney general, who we should note was the one who made that final order to clear the park of those protesters yesterday. You saw them standing on the edges right before curfew, about half an hour before, when it went into effect. And, of course, they aggressively moved them out of the park, which is really raising questions about the timing of it.
Why didn't they move them earlier, if they really did want to secure that wider perimeter, put up that fence that's 8 feet tall, like you're seeing right now in front of those protesters, because we're told that the attorney general wanted that put in place earlier than it was, when he came out to survey it yesterday and saw that it had not been extended, that's when they had those protesters cleared out of the way.
And, of course, now you're seeing protesters in the very same spot that they were yesterday, half an hour after the curfew here in Washington has passed, and yet they have not been asked to leave yet. What we can see from up here and what our reporters on the ground can see.
Yet we should note, Erin, what the president is viewing all of this through the lens of is really how he's seeing the nation as a whole. You heard him berate those governors on the call yesterday saying that he believed they were being weak and letting their cities get run over with these protests and that's why you saw such a crackdown here in Washington last night, where you saw helicopters running very low overhead, that curfew went into effect, they aggressively moved these protesters off of the streets in front of the White House and you saw the president's tweet congratulating himself on that, and he just tweeted again a few minutes ago, saying he believed that D.C. was the safest place in America last night.
So he's been watching this really closely, viewing it as a referendum on how he can handle this, in his eyes, as he's criticizing governors over how they are handling their own cities during these protests.
BURNETT: All right. Kaitlan, thank you very much.
And you know, this comes as CNN's Barbara Starr is reporting, there is deep and growing unease among some Pentagon officials over President Trump's threat to use the military against protesters. One official saying, quote, there is an intense desire for local law enforcement to be in charge.
OUTFRONT now, Leon Panetta, former defense secretary and CIA director under president Obama.
Secretary, I appreciate your time.
Does the situation in this country right now call for that -- what would be an incredible moment to use U.S. troops?
LEON PANETTA, FORMER CIA DIRECTOR UNDER PRESIDENT OBAMA: Not at all. The U.S. military is trained to fight foreign adversaries of this country in combat. They're not trained for riot control. They're not trained for law enforcement purposes.
And the laws in this country, the Posse Comitatus Act, that was passed in order to make sure that the United States military would not take the place of law enforcement. So, there are lot of legal and moral reasons why the United States military ought not to be used in the situation, but rather allow law enforcement and National Guard to do their job.
BURNETT: How big of a problem is it for the president that there are officials at the Pentagon who are making it known to reporters that they are deeply concerned about this, that they don't want to do it, that they think it's the wrong thing to do.
How significant is that given that he is, of course, the commander in chief?
PANETTA: Well, with most past commander in chiefs, that would make a difference. With this one, I'm not sure. You would hope that he would recognize that our military leaders understand what the primary role of the United States military is and it's not to do law enforcement. It's not to be used by the president for political purposes.
And so, for that reason, if he is in any way thinking responsibly, he ought to listen to our military leaders and their concerns about not using the military in this situation.
BURNETT: And we are seeing, you know, sort of an unprecedented level of speaking up, but also this split on the joint chiefs of people who were the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and it's pretty stunning. I just want to point it out.
So, retired General Martin Dempsey, the former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff under President Obama, tweeted last night: America's military, our sons and daughters will place themselves at risk to protect their fellow citizens. Their job is unimaginably hard overseas, harder at home. Respect them, for they respect you. America is not a battleground. Our fellow citizens are not the enemy. Be better.
That was his response to the president saying that he was mobilizing U.S. troops. And in an op-ed for "The Atlantic", Dempsey's predecessor, retired Admiral Mike Mullen, who, of course, also served under Democrats and Republicans says: Our fellow citizens are not the enemy and must never become so. Making, again, that same point.
So, you have two former joint chiefs, Secretary Panetta, and yet the defense secretary yesterday, Trump's defense secretary, Mr. Esper, the Joint Chiefs Chairman Mark Milley, they both went to that photo op, they both stood there at St. John's Episcopal Church by the commander in chief in support of him.
What do you make of that? PANETTA: Well, I have tremendous respect for our military leaders and
the experience they have and the respect they have for what this country is all about and for what our Constitution tells us about the role of the military in terms of defending our country and protecting our national interests.
So, I would -- I would urge the secretary of defense and present military leadership to stand by the principles that have guided this country for over 200 years, when it comes to the use of our military.
Let's use them in battle against our enemies. Let's not use them against our own people.
BURNETT: All right. Secretary Panetta, I appreciate your time. Thank you very much.
And against all of this backdrop, we all know there has been a lot of speculation and finger-pointing over who the protesters are. Far right, far-left, who?
Drew Griffin investigates OUTFRONT.
DREW GRIFFIN, CNN SENIOR INVESTIGATIVE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Search selective videos on social media, it's easy to find young white men throwing rocks, breaking glass, looting. And it can appear the protests over George Floyd's death have turned into an Antifa riot. It's not, according to elected officials.
KEITH ELLISON (D), MINNESOTA ATTORNEY GENERAL: I don't have any evidence as to where they're from or what their ideology may be.
GRIFFIN: While Minnesota's governor said outsiders shared the blame for the destruction, CNN's review shows that 80 percent of those booked into the jail in Minneapolis are local. CNN found no overt evidence any of them were linked to extremist groups.
Historian Mark Bray wrote the Antifa handbook and sees a protest that is neither Antifa nor anarchist.
MARK BRAY, AUTHOR, "ANTIFA: THE ANTI-FACIST HANDBOOK": If you look at the images, some groups may be organized, but there's plenty of individuals or groups of friends who are simply frustrated about the continued police murder of black people and have given up hope, it seems on the ability of the system to reform itself.
GRIFFIN: Federal officials say they have seen indications that extremists on both the left and the right may be taking part in the mayhem but so far have not produced evidence.
Police departments in New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, even Bellevue, Washington, point to criminal elements and organized gangs behind widespread looting.
MAYOR LORI LIGHTFOOT (D), CHICAGO: We saw literally people coming by the carloads and with U-Haul vans to loot and destroy and damage our businesses.
GRIFFIN: It's an unorganized combination of looters, troublemakers, and real protesters. Also, those that just don't seem to fit any category.
RYAN TEETER, "BOOGALOO" GROUP MEMBER: I'm with the Boojahideen
GRIFFIN: Ryan Teeter goes to protest as part of the Boogaloo movement, fully armed with an assault style weapon. He drove from North Carolina to Minnesota after learning about police using pepper spray on marchers.
TEETER: We're just a group that believes in ultimate personal freedom, as long as you're not hurting anybody else.
GRIFFIN: The Boogaloo Movement has been categorized as right wing. But a leading expert on extremism says it's hard to hard to categorize. Boogaloo is a slang for civil revolutionary war, says GWU extremist expert JJ MacNab, but says there are subgroups and they lack cohesion. Some support Trump, support police, some even white supremacists. Others hate the president, hate police, and love the black protesters.
Ryan Teeter calls himself a left anarchist.
TEETER: There's no version of this where the police are not the ones at fault. The protesters have done nothing wrong. They have been attacked and they are responding with violence to violence, which is completely reasonable.
GRIFFIN: Levi Hicks from rural Indiana says he is also in a Boogaloo group which he says rejects violence and racism.
LEVI HICKS, "BOOGALOO" GROUP MEMBER: What we stand for is the peaceful disassembly of tyranny on every level, between federal, law enforcement, and anything in between.
GRIFFIN: He has carried weapons to protests in Indianapolis and Louisville and recently posted on Facebook a cartoon showing a police officer getting shot in the face.
HICKS: That was never meant to be taken literally or seriously in any way.
GRIFFIN (on camera): So just to be clear, the post of a cop getting his head blown off was not to be taken literally?
HICKS: Absolutely not. I never endorse violence against another person. I would never in any concept recommend that anybody murder a police officer.
GRIFFIN: Radical political theorist and author George Ciccariello- Maher says the protests go beyond any levels. GEORGE CICCARIELLO-MAHER, AUTHOR AND POLITICAL SCIENTIST: What we're
seeing as I said is the end of the trajectory that's gone more than ten years of growing consciousness, growing resistance, and a growing willingness to honestly confront the powers that continue to oppress certain communities.
GRIFFIN: And, Erin, I think we're seeing that especially in your coverage tonight, that there is no one group here. It is all groups, it is all of us, joining in this protest. And that makes it difficult for politicians, especially those who try to label and divide groups from taking this seriously -- Erin.
BURNETT: All right. Drew Griffin, thank you very much.
As you see protests in New York here, about 20 minutes before the curfew takes effect. Next, Joe Biden blasting the president and our other developing story this hour. A warning from the surgeon general that the protests could make the coronavirus pandemic much worse.
BURNETT: Tonight, you're looking at live pictures of Los Angeles. Big crowds there as you heard Kyung Lah saying for hours and hours, continuing. And they are still gathering.
And Vice President Joe Biden earlier addressing these raw emotions gripping the nation.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Today in America, it's hard to keep faith that justice is at hand. The president of the United States must be part of the solution, not the problem. But this president today is part of the problem and accelerates it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: It comes amid the biggest election night since Super Tuesday. Seven states tonight plus Washington, D.C. holding primaries in the middle of a pandemic and the nationwide unrest.
OUTFRONT now, John King, anchor and our chief national correspondent, along with Van Jones, political commentator and former special adviser to President Obama.
Van, obviously, Biden now trying to address hurt and angry African- American community. Do you think he struck the right tone?
VAN JONES, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: You know, he is sort of empathy incarnate. We have two very emotional men running for the presidency one more on the angry, outraged, you know, tough side of it. The other, a kind of strength there, but it's softer. It's more in line with "I feel your pain and I'm here to heal you."
So it was Joe Biden at his best. If people haven't seen the speech, it's definitely worth seeing.
BURNETT: So to the point here about you say empathy, John. Polar opposite messages from President Trump and Biden on the protests. It's worth playing them side by side, so people get a feel for what I'm saying.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: If you don't dominate, you're wasting your time. They're going to run all over you and you'll look like a bunch of jerks. The tougher you are, the less likely it is that you're going to ignore the movement.
BIDEN: We can't ignore the truth that we be our best and open our hearts rather than clench our fists.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: Truly, John, polar opposites in terms of the tone and the message and the approach.
JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Trump is to combat as Biden is to empathy. The question is, who can sell that to the country, who can get the most votes in the country. We're five months from today where America will decide whether Donald Trump gets four more years or whether Joe Biden becomes the next president of the United States, Erin. We learned from 2016, be careful about predictions.
But if you look at the fundamentals right now, if the election were today, Joe Biden would likely win it. Seventy-four percent of Americans in the new Monmouth poll out today say the country is on the wrong track. If three quarters of the country think that the country is on the wrong track, that's not a mood that's going to have you vote for the guy in office, whether he's a Democrat or a Republican. The president's approval is back down in the low 40s.
We've never had anything like this. The last time we had anything something like this, 1992, George H.W. Bush, what happened that year? He had a recession. Donald Trump has a recession right now. We had the Rodney King riots, after the verdict in that beating case, racial unrest, social unrest in America. That was the last time we had a one- term president, 1992. We've had three two-term presidents since.
When people are anxious, when people are afraid, when people are worried, they want change.
BURNETT: Well, people are anxious, they are worried, and they are afraid. All people in this country are right now.
I mean, Van, you know, John just mentioned the Monmouth poll with three quarters of people in this country believing it's on the wrong track. That is the largest share, Van, to say that during Trump's presidency. I know you spent a lot of time talking to people in crucial swing states like Pennsylvania, a state that Trump needs to win.
What do you think is happening there, because obviously, it is on that specific state level where this really matters?
JONES: You know, I'm always surprised. I'm one of the few progressives -- I work closely with Trump supporters, I just refuse to be part of the civil war when it comes to issues I care about, like criminal justice reform, addiction, et cetera.
JONES: I am always shocked by the tale of two countries when I talk to my friends on the right. For instance, everyone that I know on the left is outraged by the president's use of military force inside the U.S. borders. They see it as something that is violating our laws, our norms. It's terrible.
Don't assume that everyone feels the same way about it. On the right, people have been -- they have swung very hard. At first, they just were so shocked by this murder, this killing, seeing a police officer just take someone's life in that way. And they had great sympathy for the protests when they were peaceful.
But as the protests have gotten more disrupted or disruptive, they have swung back. And you saw the right wing media begin to pile on the president saying, hey, why aren't you doing something? Why aren't you doing something? The left wing media laughing at the president, why are you hiding in the bunker, and when President Trump moved as he did yesterday, there were people who felt comforted by that in the red parts of America.
And so, that's something that makes this thing very, very hard to predict. I think the president has a smaller base than he needs, but a very intense base. I think Biden has a broader base, but lacking in intensity. That match up is still hard to call.
BURNETT: So when it comes down to what you're saying tonight, John, in the midst of a pandemic, seven states plus Washington, D.C., with their primaries, what can you glean from what you get tonight in terms of this crucial five months timeline that you lay out, five months from today?
KING: There are a couple of things. You always have to be careful in a primary. You have to be more careful when the Democratic race for president is decided. So, there is no reason to rush out to vote, right?
But let's watch for participation here. Let's watch. We have been surprised by a turnout late in the Democratic primaries. We did start to see higher turnout. Democrats, we weren't sure where it was coming from, but it was higher turnout. It's as if a switch flipped. So, let's watch who participates, number one. Let's watch if any
incumbents get surprised. Are we seeing that mood for change I was just talking about? Watch that.
And then let's watch the experiment, Erin, because of the pandemic. Several of the primaries being held today were supposed to be held quite sometime ago. They were delayed. We're going to have a lot of absentee voting, a lot of mail-in voting. And we're going to have that in November as well.
Whether the concern is the continued coronavirus, whether the concern is safety in the streets, more and more people are going to take that option if it's available to them. So let's watch the participation and watch, again -- the thing I'm going to watch for is incumbents who thought they had an easy primary rise, do they get beat? Or they get surprised in a really close race? Do we see that atmosphere of change?
BURNETT: All right. On that point, controversial Iowa Congressman Steve King faces a primary challenge from four opponents tonight. Obviously, he has become persona non grata by his own party in Washington, right? Stripped of committee assignments, shunned by racist comments, how the term white supremacist became offensive. He only needs 35 percent to win.
But, you know, in the context of what we're seeing in this country, this is a very important one to watch. Van, how significant would it be if Steve King were to lose that primary?
JONES: Well, I tell you, if he were to win it, it would just be horrific because there is -- I mean, he is a bigot. You very rarely hear me say someone is a racist. I very rarely say that unless they have a racist, you know, attitude, or they made a racist comment. He is a bigot. He is a through and through racist.
And so, for him to be re-elected again from Washington state would be awful. But if he goes down, it could send a signal that within the Republican Party, there's -- people are tiring of that small, loud, sometimes growing, sometimes shrinking voice in that party that is intolerant. And so I'm hoping for the best there.
BURNETT: All right. We're going to be watching that very carefully. I appreciate both of your time very much tonight. Thank you.
And next, Houston. Police pushing protesters back. This happening here, this live standoff in Houston, Texas, tonight. Friends and family of George Floyd leading a peaceful protest. Of course, Floyd -- Houston is his hometown. We're going to take you there live right after this.
BURNETT: Breaking news, those are live pictures of Houston. George Floyd's hometown where one of the public memorials for him will take place next week. Our Ed Lavandera is there with these protests tonight.
And, Ed, what are you seeing?
ED LAVANDERA, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, we are just off of the steps of city hall here where, for much of the afternoon, tens of thousands of demonstrators showed up here and carried out a -- what is a stunning sight, a massive march through the streets of downtown Houston today that stretched for almost a mile here, and then ended at the steps of city hall. What you're seeing here is the remnants of this demonstration and this rally here today where several members of George Floyd's family attended.
They repeatedly called for peaceful demonstrations and peaceful protests across the country. And this is, you know, actually seems relatively harmless here at this point. This is the remnants of the demonstrators and protesters who have shown up here this afternoon. They've been chanting here as police and SWAT member teams stand at the -- I don't believe they're SWAT member teams, but just officers guarding the steps of city hall, preventing anyone from going up any higher on the steps.
So there's just been a lot of chanting back and forth here, and that is the scene that you're seeing here. But this demonstration throughout the day, peaceful up and down as thousands, tens of thousands marched through the streets of Houston. And this is really poignant here because George Floyd is from Houston, and many people here tell you that this is the city that feels that they know him best -- Erin.
BURNETT: All right, thank you very much, Ed Lavandera.
And thanks to all of you for joining us as the New York City curfew begins. Let's hand it off for our continued coverage with Anderson.