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Looters Ransack Stores in New York City Ahead of Curfew; Four St. Louis Police Officers Shot in Night of Violence; Peaceful Protestors Tear-Gassed for Trump Church Photo Op; George Floyd's Brother Calls for Peaceful Protests; Independent Autopsy of Floyd Shows Death by Asphyxiation. Aired 6-6:30a ET

Aired June 2, 2020 - 06:00   ET



ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.


JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome to our viewers in the United States and all around the world. This is NEW DAY. It's Tuesday, June 2. It's 6 a.m. here in New York. And breaking overnight, America in crisis. Americans attacked. Americans suffering. And President Trump keeps fanning the flames.

We have major new developments over just the last few hours.

In St. Louis, four police officers have been shot. None of their injuries are thought to be life-threatening. In New York City, a police officer is in serious condition after apparently being intentionally run over in the Bronx.

We're also following reports of two police-involved shootings in Las Vegas, with one officer shot. This violent night follows a day of mostly peaceful protests.

In Minneapolis, George Floyd's brother begged for peace at the intersection where his brother was killed.

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: And John, there was also an unbelievable scene that unfolded outside of the White House.

First, in a Rose Garden address President Trump claimed to be, quote, "an ally" of peaceful protesters. Minutes later, he had police use tear gas, flash grenades and rubber bullets against those peaceful protestors, clearing a space so he could have a photo-op in front of a church.

That drew the outrage of the bishop of the diocese. She calls the president's message antithetical to the teachings of Jesus. We'll get to that.

But our coverage begins with Brynn Gingras. She is live in New York with what's happened while you have been sleeping. Brynn, what's the situation?

BRYNN GINGRAS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Alisyn, good morning.

Listen, the curfew here in New York City was 11 p.m. last night, but the violence was being reported in even before that, even before, really, it got dark.

I want to show you video here from the Bronx, an incident that happened with a police sergeant there. It's pretty disturbing. I want to warn you.

Essentially, at 12:45 in the morning, in the Bronx, police responding to a looting incident, we're told. And one of the sergeants responding was hit by a vehicle. That driver of the car got away. Police have not been able to find the driver.

And we know that that police sergeant has head injuries, is in the hospital right now in serious condition but stable.

And that wasn't even the first incident that happened with police. We know of one where police were struck by a vehicle, also, in the West Village the night before. These are the -- some of the incidents that are happening as the violence breaks out amidst these protests.

You can see here we are in Herald Square right by the (UNINTELLIGIBLE). This is a Sunglass Hut where the glass was shattered.

If we walk further down we can see the doors, you know, fires that were breaking out in garbage cans. And this is a boarded-up Macy's. Even still, police, we're told, arrested five people inside the flagship store.

Two hundred people, at least, were arrested overnight.

And again, these are just some of the looters that had been really coming onto the streets here in New York City. We're being told about one in seven of the arrests from the night before were from people who aren't even from New York. Coming from as far as Nevada, from Texas, really breaking into these protests, hijacking them, breaking out into smaller groups that police have to respond to and causing some of this violence and really, again, just hijacking the message of the protesters.

The curfew now here in New York is 8 p.m. tonight, hoping that's going to deter some of this violence. But of course, we've seen several nights of this, so we'll have to see -- guys.

CAMEROTA: Brynn, thank you very much for that reporting.

Also breaking overnight, two shootings involving police officers. In St. Louis, at least four officers were shot as hundreds of people were looting downtown, reportedly throwing gasoline and fireworks at police. All four officers are expected to recover. Then in Las Vegas, a CNN affiliate KVVU says police are investigating

two officer-involved shootings on Las Vegas Boulevard. This is just before midnight. Police have taped off areas near the Circus Circus Hotel and downtown by the federal courthouse.

Nevada's governor is tweeting that he is in touch with law enforcement and is monitoring this situation. We will bring you more as soon as we know it.

BERMAN: In Washington, D.C., military helicopters patrolled the skies overnight after that extraordinary scene in front of the White House. The violent crackdown on peaceful demonstrators before curfew so that the president could take a picture in front of a church.

CNN's Boris Sanchez live in Washington -- Boris.


The cleanup is underway just outside the White House this morning. There are crews all around the area. There's also a noticeable police presence. They are restricting access to this intersection at Lafayette court just outside the White House, blocking out traffic and making sure that there isn't as large as gathering as there was yesterday.

One White House official is telling CNN that the president was angered over reports that he hid out in a bunker over the weekend as protesters were clashing with police. We're told that the president wanted to flex his muscle, even at a moment where the nation is in agony, the president using force to clear protesters from the White House so he could walk over to this church and pose for cameras.


DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: These are not acts of peaceful protests. These are acts of domestic terror.

SANCHEZ (voice-over): Right before President Trump addressed the nation from the Rose Garden, police dispersed peaceful protesters with tear gas, flash grenades, and rubber bullets just outside the White House gates. President Trump threatening military force in any city or state that he feels isn't under control.

TRUMP: If a city or state refuses to take the actions that are necessary to defend the life and property of their residents, then I will deploy the United States military and quickly solve the problem for them.

SANCHEZ: By most accounts, the protests were peaceful, but moments before Trump's speech, military vehicles were seen near the White House. And as the president spoke, bangs and helicopters could be heard in the distance as police officers in riot gear broke up the demonstrations before the D.C. curfew was to take effect.

The reason: a photo opportunity so the president could walk across the street to St. John's Episcopal Church, which had been damaged by a basement fire the night before. He stood outside the church and held up a Bible before posing with administration officials. The bishop who oversees the dioceses, outraged by the president's actions.

BISHOP MARIANN EDGAR BUDDE, EPISCOPAL DIOCESE OF WASHINGTON (via phone): The president just used a Bible, the most sacred text of the Judeo-Christian tradition, at one of the churches of my diocese without permission as a backdrop for a message antithetical to the teachings of Jesus, and everything that our churches stand for. I just can't believe what my eyes have seen tonight.


SANCHEZ: Trump threatening to deploy military troops, using the Insurrection Act of 1807. But some governors feel that law does not apply.

GOV. GRETCHEN WHITMER (D-MI): My understanding is that they can't do it without the approval of the governors, and I can also tell you that that's probably not going to happen in a lot of our states.

SANCHEZ: Many governors upset by the president's calls to send military to states and feel his language is just further stoking fears and tensions among Americans. In a heated teleconference Monday, Trump blasting governors, calling them weak.

TRUMP (via phone): You're going to arrest all those people, and you're going to try them. And the word is dominate. If you don't dominate your city and your state, they're going to walk away with you.

GOV. J.B. PRITZKER (D-IL): He's been a miserable failure. What I talked about on the call today was the fact that his rhetoric is inflaming passions around the nation. He should be calling for calm. He should be calling for bringing the temperature down. He's doing the exact opposite.


SANCHEZ: And, Alisyn, I can tell you that we can physically feel some of the effects from what happened here last night. As these street sweepers are going by, they're picking up dust, soot, and ash. And I'm not sure if there are any remnants of pepper spray or other materials that would make people cough, but in the last few minutes, everybody around me has been coughing, including myself.

Also, I want you to note this newly-installed fence that was put up overnight outside the White House. It's blocking access to Lafayette Park for protestors. A senior administration official has told CNN that President Trump did not orchestrate what we saw last night as a photo op. He said that officials simply wanted to clear this area early to avoid some of the violence that we've seen in previous days.

But it's so important to make this clear for our viewers. These protesters were standing out here and were effectively hit with teargas, even though they were peaceful and it was still well before that 7 p.m. curfew -- Alisyn. CAMEROTA: Right. Using violence and things like flash-bang grenades to

avoid possible, potential violence? I'm not sure that that logic works.

Boris, thank you very much for reporting on the ground for us.

It was a largely peaceful night in Minneapolis following a plea from George Floyd's brother for violent protests to stop. An independent autopsy and a county medical examiner both say Floyd's death was a homicide, but they differ on what caused it.

CNN's Omar Jimenez is live in Minneapolis with the latest.

Explain this discrepancy, if you would, Omar.

OMAR JIMENEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, that's right, Alisyn. We saw these two dual autopsy reports come out. Essentially, the Hennepin County report saying that there was no signs of asphyxia, but they said that it was due to heart failure, George Floyd's death.

And then the independent autopsy report commissioned by the family said essentially the opposite on the cause of death, saying it was due to asphyxia.

But where they both agree is that this death was a homicide, and it has been the central point of the protests we are continuing to see here in the area, largely peaceful, while we did see some arrests here. But the peace that we may have seen in the Minneapolis, St. Paul area wasn't the peace that we saw in many places across the country last night.



JIMENEZ (voice-over): Protesters continuing to take to the streets --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I can't breathe! I can't breathe!

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I can't breathe! I can't breathe!

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I can't breathe! I can't breathe!

JIMENEZ: -- amplifying their anger and frustration over the death of George Floyd.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If we don't get it --




JIMENEZ: The nationwide calls for justice as Floyd's death was ruled a homicide by both the Hennepin County medical examiner and in an independent autopsy authorized by the family.

DR. MICHAEL BADEN, FORENSIC PATHOLOGIST FOR GEORGE FLOYD'S FAMILY: The autopsy shows that Mr. Floyd had no underlying medical problem that caused or contributed to his death. Cause of death, in my opinion, is asphyxia due to compression of the neck.

JIMENEZ: But the Hennepin County medical examiner released its summary, saying Floyd died of cardiopulmonary arrest without explaining what caused his heart to stop.

Overnight, curfews enforced in cities in at least 20 states and Washington, D.C. And many stayed out late into the night instead of going home.





JIMENEZ: Protests were largely peaceful across the nation, and at some marches, police even joining the people in solidarity. Like in Atlanta, where some officers were seen taking a knee before renewed violence.

But unrest and clashes between authorities and demonstrators were on display in many cities. Police firing teargas into this crowd of protesters in Philadelphia, sending them scrambling off the highway.

In Washington, a chaotic scene, as police cleared this peaceful protest outside the White House.


As thousands of demonstrators marched together in New York City, others looted some of midtown Manhattan's most iconic stores. Similar scenes playing out in Los Angeles, with businesses broken into.

Earlier in Minneapolis, Terrence Floyd, for the first time, visiting the very location where his brother took his last breaths, overwhelmed with emotion.





JIMENEZ: Before saying this to demonstrators.

FLOYD: If I'm not over here wilding out, if I'm not over here blowing up stuff, if I'm not over here messing up my community, then what are you all doing?


FLOYD: What are you all doing? You all doing nothing! Because that's not going to bring my brother back at all!


JIMENEZ: And in regards to some of the violence and fires we saw across the country, Terrence Floyd went on to say, Let's do this another way.

A memorial service is set for the family on Thursday here in Minneapolis and a funeral set for Tuesday.

Now, back to those dual autopsy reports that we saw, as well. In the Hennepin County report, they also detailed that meth and fentanyl use was among the significant conditions in this but would not go into details over how much was in use or how that may have contributed to this death.

But again, both of these autopsy reports -- the one commissioned by the family and the county -- say this was a homicide, something that will no doubt be looked at as things move forward here -- Alisyn.

CAMEROTA: Yes. But those details will obviously play a role in any upcoming trials. Omar, thank you very much for all of that.

There are new reports of violence against police overnight and violence against peaceful protesters. So how does all of this end?



BERMAN: Breaking overnight, America in crisis. We are following new reports of attacks on police officers overnight. This comes after we all saw attacks on peaceful protesters outside the White House. They were teargassed so that President Trump could take a picture in front of a church.

Joining us now, CNN political commentator Bakari Sellers; CNN political analyst David Gregory; and CNN legal analyst and former federal prosecutor Laura Coates.

And Bakari, I want to start with you. And let's just establish a baseline here. I think we need to acknowledge that the baseline here is that America is in crisis, and there's a patchwork of things all going on at once here.

A hundred and five thousand Americans have died in a pandemic. Forty million Americans have lost their jobs. We're seeing videos of black men being killed by police officers. Police officers were shot overnight. It's all happening.

So a goal should be to make it better. So my basic first question to you is how does a violent shutdown, of peaceful protesters in front of the White House, so the president can take a picture, how does that make it better?

BAKARI SELLERS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yes, and in your analysis, John, one of the other things that we have to mention is years of systemic racism and injustice that have plagued black communities for a long time that are now overflowing in the streets.

Look, yesterday, the president of the United States used teargas. He used the military against peaceful protesters. The only thing I could think of was George Wallace is probably looking up at him with a smile.

And then he went over, and he held up a Bible, and I'm reminded of the (UNINTELLIGIBLE) brown refugee, any -- neither of which does President Trump truly care for.

This is a moment -- and I think David Gregory would understand -- Democrat or Republican, this is a moment that we is have to have a leader to show elements and characteristics of compassion, empathy, and understanding that people deserve the benefit of their humanity. These are things that Donald Trump do not possess.

And one last thing briefly. I am not mad with Donald Trump, because I have no level of expectation for Donald Trump. But I am thoroughly pissed off that my friends who are evangelicals, that my conservative friends, that no one is speaking up.

The reason we're outraged in the streets is because black people feel as if this country does not care about them. And in response to that, we have the National Guard rolled out. We don't have dialogue and conversation. We don't have positive solutions about police reform.

We tried to kneel. They called us sons of bitches. And now we're in the streets. And this is what happens.

And so I think we have to have -- I'm not worried about Donald Trump, but all of my other conservative friends, where are you?

CAMEROTA: David Gregory, you wrote a book on faith. And the optics, the visuals, the symbolism yesterday of what happened was just so strange on every level. Peaceful protesters being fired on with teargas. I actually see police also using their baton against some of the protesters. So that the president and his attorney general and his family and Ivanka in her heels and big designer bag could cross the street, and the president could -- could try to figure out how to hold a Bible. It was so strange.

And I mean, has anyone ever looked more uncomfortable holding a Bible?

And one of the people of the clergy who was very upset, was the bishop who oversees that church. And so the Episcopal bishop of the dioceses said that she was outraged and basically appalled by what she was seeing, by -- by that -- by the Bible being used as a prop and the church being used as a backdrop. DAVID GREGORY, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: You know, I think any person of

faith would look at that moment and see the opportunity that was missed and how the opportunity was simply cravenly used to no end whatsoever.


I was watching that last night and thinking about the prophet Micah, who talks about the need for us to love justice, to act with mercy, and to walk humbly before God. That's not what you saw out of our president.

There was no humility there. There was no humility in the face of what's roiling the country.

As Bakari says, this is -- there's so much going on at once that people feel that we're becoming untethered from each other, certainly untethered from the government and from any sense of justice. That's what's driving what's going on.

And a lot of this protest, purposeful protest, meaningful protest, anger and trauma is being corrupted in some small way by people who are committing crimes, who are looting stores, who are committing acts of violence. That's a smaller part of the much larger story of protests with a point to raise awareness and to get the political structure of this country paying attention in a way that's constructive and can lead us to a different place. But that's not what we saw yesterday.

What was so awful about, I think, the lack of the presidential leadership, yes, he mentioned being sickened by the killing of George Floyd, but it appeared to be short shrift, when he then turned it to say there's acts of lawlessness, and we're going to bring in the military, and I will solve this situation. And it's domestic terrorism. It's not that.

A president has an obligation to bring the volume down, to get people talking. Not to exacerbate this because he can.

And then, to your point, the notion of using teargas and ratcheting up violence outside the White House for, it appears, the purpose of staging the most ham-handed photo opportunity I've ever seen as somebody who covered the White House, is offensive. I mean, it's comical if it weren't offensive, because the notion he would go there, not say a prayer, not say anything. If he wanted to show support for a house of worship that had been burned, in part, by protesters, he didn't even take an advantage to do that.

BERMAN: Even if your goal is to stop the looting, even if your goal is to dampen some of the tensions we've seen, how is putting lives at risk in front of the White House, how does it help that end, Laura?

There were people whose lives were endangered for that picture. You know, teargas, rubber bullets, flashbang grenades. We saw people getting hit. People got hurt. People got hurt for this picture. And, yes, even if your goal is to stop the looting, I just don't get how this helps that.

LAURA COATES, CNN SENOR LEGAL ANALYST: Because it doesn't, John. Because all it does, essentially, is take what has been the most iconic public forum, the place where people are able to express themselves, are able to engage in the purposeful protest across this country. There is no more fundamental right here that we talk about in the United States of America than the freedom of speech. That's all part of the First Amendment. We actually have five powers. Freedom of press, freedom to assemble, freedom to petition one's government.

The idea of being able to express one's self in front of the White House has been so iconic. And it was converted, instead, into a version of Tiananmen Square. And why? Because the president wanted to have a photo opportunity. The idea that we would gas people, gas peaceful protests simply to move them out of the way and then give a speech, at some point, to talk about why you want to hand -- sent in the military?

And what was disturbing to me, as a former prosecutor and a civil rights attorney for the Department of Justice, was the fact that the attorney general beforehand surveyed the scene and then was on-site for the photo opportunity.

This is the executive branch of government whose job it is to enforce the law, enforce the law with the Constitution always overhead, always as the backdrop. And to forget fundamentally even the First Amendment, let alone the idea that what is being protested across the country -- and I'm not going to reorient the discussion on those who are acting in a different way and not in the following of the ideological protest. But what is being talked about is excessive force. Fundamentally excessive force.

And so your solution to trying to show, top down, what the government's stance is on excessive force is to violate one's -- violate the Constitution and the First Amendment and then to use excessive force to make your point? It is absurd is what it is.

And then you've got the notion that, on the one hand, is in his speech, John. He wasn't talking about the First Amendment. He kind of signaled, and your Second Amendment rights, as if that was supposed to be some way of conveying or insinuating something. Maybe it was dog whistling. I don't know what it was.


But what it was not was the leader of the executive branch of government, whose job it is to enforce the law, and the president of the United States arguing, instead, as commander in chief, to look at protests through the prism of combat and threaten to send in the military.

It is something that will never -- I have never seen before. Many people looking at this and wondering and disoriented: what country is this? What sidewalk was that? Because surely, it couldn't have been in front of the White House, which I know we've always termed the people's house. It wasn't yesterday. People were gassed. And why? For a selfie equivalent? It's absurd.

CAMEROTA: Bakari, it doesn't feel like anything is de-escalating. As Laura points out, the president is threatening to call in active military to crack down, a la Tiananmen Square. And the protesters don't want to stop protesting until meaningful change is made. And so how does this end or what happens next?

SELLERS: Well, I mean, I think -- and this is hard, but we have to remain hopeful, and we have to remain faithful.

And one of the things that I say that we have to do is keep having these conversations about justice. Everyone asking for peace, but not many people are asking for justice.

We're still waiting on the cops in Minnesota to be arrested. We're still waiting on the cops in the Breonna Taylor case to be arrested.

And Laura brought up the very interesting point, one I want to just dig into. How are we supposed to have faith in a system of justice when Bill Barr is cavorting around with the president of the United States and his abuses of power, standing there while he is doing anything but avocating [SIC] -- or advocating for justice in this country? Bill Barr is supposed to be the independent arbitrator thereof, and he proved to be anything but.

But my -- if people want to hit the streets today, I say please do so. And I always say do so peacefully, do so nonviolently, and raise your voices. Because right now the world is paying attention to the United States of America.

And please raise your voices for justice: justice for Breonna, justice for Ahmaud, justice for George, and justice for everyone who is living under the thumb of oppression and racism. And they will have to listen.

And that's my message this morning. Do it peacefully, but continue to raise your voices.

BERMAN: All right, friends. There's a lot of news going on. I'm sorry we have to cut this short.

The police chief in Louisville, Kentucky, fired after a protester fatally shot. The latest on that investigation, next. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)